Taiwan, Cambodia, Macau | Trip Summary

Coquitlam, Canada

Early January, my sister and I did some hilarious (i.e. stupid) things, and I got an eyelash perm. I also packed up my travel bag with plenty of homemade baked goods, books, popcorn, and info sheets with health tips. Read more, and find more photos, here.

Taipei, Taiwan

Before I knew it, we were in Taipei after a twelve-hour flight. Though most of the first days were uneventful (we had errands to run), it was exhilarating to be back in Asia, and I loved browsing the markets. Read more about it here.

One of the highlights of my time in Taiwan? We visited a famous Taiwanese breakfast house, where I tried savoury soy milk, and ate egg pancakes, “shao bing”, Chinese crullers, and more. We also visited a temple, some old friends, and had a seafood meal with my two of my six great-aunts. I also got a massive taro ice cream (hands-down one of my favourite ice cream flavours, next to pistachio and chocolate-hazelnut). Then, we flew to Cambodia! Read more about it here.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In Cambodia, we arrived at our hotel in Phnom Penh. I loved our hotel room, and the restaurant downstairs, where I enjoyed baked snails, risotto, and other incredible dishes. Dipping my toes into the pool was so special, and then we headed to an authentic Cambodian restaurant. Read more about it here.

We spent one sunny morning at the Royal Palace, where we took some of my favourite photos. I also enjoyed the lunch we ate at Daughters of Cambodia, a café that trains young women trapped in the sex industry. Then, we visited the beautiful National Museum. Read more about it here.

At Khéma, a stunning French restaurant, the three of us enjoyed a spectacular meal. I also loved taking photos outside our hotel, in the beautiful, yet busy, streets of Phnom Penh. We visited a market in the morning and had a lovely brunch together. Read more about it here.

Dad and I visited Wat Phnom, a Buddhist temple built in 1372 to mark the centre of Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. There were so many photograph-able places. In the afternoon, we took a tuktuk to a Cambodian restaurant, and I saw a little gecko in the bathroom! Read more about it here.

Our last day in Phnom Penh involved another visit to Daughters of Cambodia, some time by the hotel pool, and tasty tapas. After a breakfast buffet in the hotel, we took a six-hour bus ride to Siem Reap, a city in Northern Cambodia. We ate an unforgettable seven-course meal at EMBASSY, a French restaurant with a Cambodian twist. Read more about it here.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Finally, I got to check off “Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park” from my bucket list! We woke up at 4:00 AM to buy tickets and watch the sunrise. Despite a torrential downpour, I was thrilled and amazed to get a glimpse into these legendary temples surrounded by forest. Read more about it here.

The next morning, Dad and I did some exploration before enjoying breakfast at the hotel. I tried jackfruit for the first time, before we completed Angkor Archaeological Park’s Grand Circuit, visiting temples in the outskirts. This was one of my favourite days of the trip, and made me realize that I’d love to visit more historical world heritage sites. Read more about it here.

Kep, Cambodia

After a final meal in Siem Reap, we took a night bus back to Phnom Penh, had breakfast at our old hotel in Phnom Penh, and took a three-hour to Southern Cambodia, where we enjoyed our time in a resort in Kep. We completed a short hike in Kep National Park, and I had the best fish dish with spicy garlic coconut sauce. After brunch the following morning, Dad and I visited Bokor National Park, where we saw the Old Palace (built by French settlers prior to 1920). Read more about it here.

Since Kep is famous for their peppercorns and fresh crab, we took advantage of the situation to devour plenty of prawns, crab, and fish! I loved wandering around our resort, where there were plenty of bright, colourful plants to photograph. One afternoon, Dad and I visited the caves of Kampong Trach, which was a little disappointing since they were dry (it is dry season), and there was no waterfall. I also made a list of things I had the opportunity of eating for the first time in Cambodia. Soon, our Cambodia adventure was over, and we found ourselves back in Taipei. Read more about it here.

Macau, China

A trip to the night market kicked off our one-day stay in Taipei, and then we were off to Macau, the City of Dreams. We ate a scrumptious dinner at Bene, an Italian Restaurant near Sheraton, our hotel. I also made the mistake of ordering (and solo-eating) two large desserts. 10/10 would do it again, though. The next day, I had a delicious quiche before a lovely spa treatment, and we had dinner at the famous Din Tai Fung. Read more about it here.

Delicious buffet meals and incredible dim sum were enjoyed in Macau, and we had the opportunity to see some wonderful performances. I also got to do the Sky Walk on Macau’s highest tower! Read more about it here.

Taipei, Taiwan

During the last few days I spent in Taiwan, I enjoyed a variety of night market treats, had a tasty meal with family, and watched The Death Cure. Read more about it here.

On one plane ride, I had the opportunity to compile a list of tips for those travelling with elderly parents or grandparents. Like I mentioned in that post, many special memories were created during our trip to Cambodia, and I gained a valuable appreciation for my grandfather. Most importantly, the time that we spent together was a gift that I will cherish for a lifetime. Read more about it here.

Then we were back home! 🏡

Night Markets, Eel Rice, and Airport Adventures | Last Days in Taiwan

Hello, everyone!

I hope you are all having a wonderful week so far. It’s now Friday morning, and I’m happy to be back home with my family in BC. Next Thursday, I’ll be flying off to Australia, so I’m thrilled to have some time to unwind, unpack, and… repack.

But first, let’s look at some eats!

On one of our last days in Taiwan, we had breakfast at the buffet at our hotel, the Taipei Hero House. I ate two plates, and particularly loved the steamed bun (mantou), pickled turnips, Taiwanese braised pork rice, and sautéed cabbage.

At Yum Cha, a dim sum restaurant, we ordered:

  • siu mai with pork and shrimp
  • wok-fried beef strips and wide rice noodles
  • eggplant with spicy pork and salted fish
  • glutinous rice and chicken in a lotus leaf

Another morning, I had a lovely quiche from a coffee shop in the airport. This quiche was labelled as “chicken and vegetable”, but I didn’t detect a single piece of chicken in here. That was no problem, though, because it was stuffed with onion and mushroom – it was super flavourful.

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That night, Dad and I went to a night market called Raohe Street Night Market, which primarily caters to tourists. First up: an oyster omelet with plenty of sweet and sour sauce. I love oyster omelets, and this was a great way to kick a the night of eating.

Then, I ate:

  • deep-fried taro ball filled with cheese
  • deep-fried taro ball filled with red bean paste and salted egg yolk (unpictured)
  • taro milk
  • cheese bubble waffle
  • stinky tofu with pickled cabbage
  • Taiwanese tempura with pig blood cake (made with pork blood, sticky rice, broth, and steamed or cooked in a hot pot)
  • wheel cake filled with radish
  • wheel cake filled with cream
  • bolo bao (pineapple bun) filled with vanilla ice cream

The next day, Grandpa and I went to a botanical garden in Taipei and ate dim sum. The creamy salted egg yolk buns will always be my favourite.

We enjoyed food at a Japanese grill for lunch before watching a movie. The restaurant was packed with people, and the line extended for a block! Everyone in the restaurant ate very quickly, and I felt like I didn’t have time to enjoy my meal to the fullest.

I ordered the small steamed rice box with eel. I love eel (unagi), and my mom used to make it for me all the time when I was little. On the side, we enjoyed deep-fried oysters with Japanese-style “tartar” sauce, sautéed vegetables, grilled squid, blackened pork kebabs, and miso soup.

Then, we went to watch The Death Cure. Guys. If I’m not eating, sleeping, or studying, I’m probably somewhere obsessing over some YA novel or its movie. Anyways, The Death Cure came out early in Taiwan (as most movies do), and I watched it with my great-aunt, dad, and grandfather. Sorry Seline – we planned to see the midnight premiere together. 😥 No regrets on my end, though. Definitely need some more time to process it.

I thought the movie was absolutely electrifying. I like the Maze Runner series more than Divergent, and I felt like the movies certainly did the books justice. It is also refreshing to have a courageous, yet emotional, male lead in a dystopian YA film. The Death Cure had funny snippets of dialogue and expressions that added comedic relief – interlaced with shocking parts that I never saw coming. Did anyone else see this yet?

After the movie, my mind was muddled with bombs and explosions and moral corruptness, and we went to Starbucks for some coffee and chatting. Dad and I also had time to go to Carrefour (similar to Wal-Mart), where we picked up some slippers to bring home for guests.

After some more walking, and shopping in old Taiwan’s local market, we ate wontons. These wontons were smothered with a delicious sesame sauce, soy sauce, and plenty of scallions. They were delicious!

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At the Taoyuan International Airport, more food: delicious soup dumplings with soy sauce and ginger. I love soup dumplings, but would never believe that an airport could make such tasty ones. This was lovely, and I had a great mug of dark hot chocolate from Godiva.

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Then I established this lame, but exciting-to-me, list!

Things I got to eat in Taiwan:

  • beef noodles
  • soy milk
  • Chinese donut
  • bean curd
  • fried oysters
  • milk tea
  • beef intestine salad
  • tian bu la (tempura)
  • pig blood cake
  • shaved ice mountain (bao bing)
  • mochi
  • pineapple bun
  • glutinous oil rice
  • fried cruller in a baked flatbread (shao bing you tiao)
  • stinky tofu
  • fried stinky tofu
  • taro milk
  • braised pork rice with eggplant
  • oyster omelet
  • beef rolls

Things that I sadly did not have the opportunity to enjoy:

  • egg pancake (dan bing)
  • salt and pepper chicken
  • ba wan (Taiwanese glutinous meatballs)
  • fried buns
  • pineapple cake
  • scallion pancakes
  • gua bao
  • sun cakes

Twelve hours later, I found myself giggling with my sister back home!

At Earls, my family enjoyed lunch together. My plate included fried salmon with a dill and pepper sauce, buttery asparagus, and jasmine rice with scallions and fried onions. This meal was incredibly flavourful, and it was great to eat salmon again!

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That is it for today, mes amis. 🙂 I hope you all have a fantastic Friday.

Night Market + Meals in Macau

Dad and I went to the Raohe Night Market on one of our last days in Taiwan. I tried some of his sugarcane juice (not my favourite – have any of you tried this?!), one incredible deep-fried taro balls filled with roasted shredded dried pork and egg yolk, and one deep-fried taro ball filled with salted egg yolk and red bean (my favourite), and a grilled corn on the cob.

 

I also had some bubble waffles! Dad and I bought one peanut bubble waffle and one cheese bubble waffle. I really liked both, since they were so hot, crispy and chewy, and fresh off the waffle iron. Then, I ate a tasty cheese wheel cake and two steamed rice balls (one sesame, one peanut). I love night markets, and next time I want to try the cheesy potatoes and pineapple buns.

 

The next day, we headed to the airport in the early morning for our flight to Macau. I had some Godiva hot chocolate and pork steamed soup dumplings, which came with shiitake mushroom and chicken soup.

 

It was one of the shortest flights I’ve ever been on – less than two hours.

 

We had the opportunity to wander around Sheraton, our hotel, for a little while. I love how Macau, from what I’ve seen in half a day, is a fusion of China with Portugal. This was surprising to me, but nice to see those great flaky Portuguese custard tarts amidst all the Chinese desserts.

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For dinner today, I was really hungry and got a stomachache after eating so much. First, I had some unpictured bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Our entrees came shortly:

 

  • Dad ate the carbonara, which was placed into a cheese wheel and tasted incredible (I ate a lot)
  • Dad and Grandpa both had the tomato seafood chowder with garlic bread
  • I loved my braised pork and beef ravioli with porcini mushroom sauce and black truffle topping
  • Grandpa enjoyed the seafood spaghetti, and I ate lots of his scallops, salmon, and shrimp
  • For dessert, I ordered two because I still wanted to eat. I had:
    • Hazelnut delight with whipped cream, hazelnut cream, hazelnut gelato, and hazelnut cookies in a parfait (this was so much larger than expected, and I inhaled the entire thing)
    • Apple crumble with almond polenta crispy pieces with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon on top (the cinnamon truly did it for me – I adored this dish and easily ate all of it)

It’s such a shame Dad and Grandpa don’t like sweets – it’s 100% my fault, for having such a sweet tooth, but I always end up with a major stomachache from eating too much!

 

In the morning (Thursday), I woke up at around 7:00, but lounged around in my bed for some time. Afterwards, Dad, Grandpa, and I watched The Amazing Race and American Ninja Warrior on TV for a little while. The athletes in American Ninja Warrior blow me away every time. They make it look so easy!

We had breakfast at Palms, the café/bar downstairs. Grandpa liked his combination congee breakfast, which came with Chinese donuts (crullers) and an Italian sausage sandwich.

I ate a parmesan, thyme, and chili quiche, and Dad had a chocolate donut. I also drank some lovely TWG black tea with milk and sugar, and a mango, milk chocolate, and hazelnut cake. Is there anything better than chocolate cake for breakfast? After an amazing quiche?

In the afternoon, I had a spa treatment. I was very lucky because we had some hotel credit that I got to use up, and I loved the milk bath, massage, hot towel, and body scrub that were included in my treatment. The Shine Spa at the Sheraton Hotel is beautifully-decorated and so ornate.

Afterwards, we went to Din Tai Feng, a restaurant famous for their soup dumplings!

They were all really, really tasty. I had a Hong Kong style milk tea, along with:

  • black truffle and pork soup dumplings
  • plain pork soup dumplings
  • a vegetable and mushroom steamed bun
  • black cloud fungus salad with sweet vinegar

Next up: sweet treats!

  • black sesame steamed bun
  • taro steamed bun
  • red bean paste dumpling with chestnut
  • cold taro sago

That’s it for today. Have a beautiful rest of the week ❤

The Best Seafood Dishes of Cambodia

For dinner one night, we ate at Kimly Restaurant, a traditional Khmer seafood place near the crab market of Kep. We ordered:

  • prawns with deep-fried garlic
  • coconut milk crab with lemongrass, garlic, and onion
  • vegetable fried rice (no picture)
  • fish amok (no picture)
  • pineapple for dessert
  • caramel ice cream and chocolate ice cream with chocolate cream and Oreo for dessert

 

The next morning, we had a lovely breakfast at The Secret, a restaurant opened by Veranda Resort. It was a 12-minute walk from Le Flamboyant, our resort.

 

  • Dad had the seafood pizza, which had oysters, shrimp, and squid on tomato sauce with mozzarella cheese
  • I ordered the Khmer omelet, which was surprising because it was a fried egg dish with scallions, and raw vegetables on the side, and lots of white rice
  • Grandpa had coconut water and garlic bread with spaghetti bolognese
  • My dessert was a coconut tart with vanilla ice cream

 

Our resort is so lovely. There are a lot of unique tropical plants and flowers that I’ve never seen in Canada. Their colours are so vibrant and pretty.

 

In the afternoon, Dad and I visited the Kampong Trach caves. We were a little disappointed because the caves had dried up. It isn’t rainy season, so the caves, which are typically filled with crystal-esque blue water, was completely dry, with caked mud on the ground. There also should’ve been a waterfall, which we didn’t see either. We also didn’t get to see bats! I love bats, so this was definitely a disappointment.

 

We took a tuktuk to get to the caves, and our kind tuktuk driver allowed us to loop around the way back, giving us the opportunity to see Kep beach, which was full of locals, and the famous Kep Crab Statue. It was pretty cool, though I can definitely see why it’d be underwhelming if you’d come a long way just to see the statue.

 

Here is a skeleton of our time in Kep:

FRIDAY

  • 3:30 Kep National Park
  • 5:30 Sailing Club Restaurant dinner (no reservation)

SATURDAY

  • 11:00 La Baraka
  • 1:00-6:00 Bokor National Park
  • 7:00 Kimly

SUNDAY

  • 11:00 The Secret by Veranda Natural Resort
  • 2:30-5:00 Kampong Trach Caves
  • Kep Crab Statue (20 mins from hotel)
  • Kep Beach (20 mins from hotel)
  • 7:00 Holy Crab

MONDAY

  • 7:45 pickup for airport
  • 7:45-10:45 drive to Phnom Penh airport
  • brunch at the airport
  • 12:45 flight from Phnom Penh to Taipei

Since that was pretty much our whole experience in Cambodia, let’s commemorate with a list of all the tasty traditional things I had the opportunity to eat:

  • coconut milk dessert in the food stands
  • dragonfruit
  • jackfruit
  • prohok ktis (traditional fermented river fish, pork, coconut milk)
  • Cambodian Khmer red curry with baguette bread
  • fish amok (curry in a banana leaf)
  • omelettes
  • tropical sour fruits
  • Cambodian sandwich
  • grilled and fried bananas
  • Num sang khya l’peou (pumpkin custard with coconut milk on top)

And, sadly, a list of things that I didn’t get to try (next time, right?!):

  • bai sach chrouk (grilled sweet pork, broken rice, broth with onions on the side)
  • lok lak (stir-fried beef in brown sauce of oyster/soy/palm sugar)
  • ang dtray meuk: grilled squid
  • kuy teav (pork broth rice noodle soup with garlic, scallions, shrimp, lettuce, etc.),
  • kdam chaa
  • lort cha (stir-fry noodles with greens, bean sprouts, egg)
  • bobor congee
  • samlor korko (pumpkin soup, pork ribs)
  • Ah Ping
  • beef saraman curry
  • kaw (braised chicken or pork, topped with egg, sweet sauce)
  • tai krolap tea
  • lemon tea (tai kdao kroich chhmaa) with sugar
  • mango salad
  • Cha houy teuk (sweet jelly)
  • num banh chok (breakfast, thin noodles with green fish gravy)
  • bread with cream cheese
  • fried crickets

Here we have vegetable fried rice, crab amok (simply the best), onion rings, fish tempura, and clear fish soup. I loved my crab amok so much, and it was quite a generous serving, so I asked for even more steamed jasmine rice after finishing my serving so I could enjoy every drop of the curried, coconutty amok.

 

The next day, we had to take a plane from Phnom Penh back to Taipei. That morning, we left Kep at 7:45 to go to Phnom Penh – it was a three-hour drive to the capital of Cambodia before our flight at 12:45. Since we were early, we had time to eat a delicious breakfast. Here’s what we ate:

  • Dad had the English breakfast with baguette, tomatoes, potatoes, two fried eggs, and sausage, with an iced coffee
  • I liked my salmon eggs benedict with avocado and asparagus, which came with fried potatoes and grilled tomatoes as well (also some Earl Grey tea with milk and sugar)
  • Grandpa had the one-egg breakfast with toast, mushrooms, potatoes, and tomatoes

 

Before we knew it, we were in Taiwan! That night in Taipei, we ate at the local food court which was only a five-minute walk from our hotel. Also, look at that cutest dog ever, which was actually a stray doggie that we saw on the streets of Kep, Cambodia. I’m not a huge animal person but I have to say that this was one of the top three cutest pups I’ve ever seen in my life.

  • Dad had the dried tossed noodles with pork
  • Dad and I shared an oyster omelet, one of Taiwan’s special foods
  • I had the eggplant and braised pork dish, which came with rice, cabbage, and seaweed soup

 

That’s pretty much it! I’m now writing this in the plane on our way from Taipei to Macau. We will be spending five days in Macau, and I’m excited to see the shows, eat good food, walk around, and maybe do some spa treatments or something.

Have a good rest of the week!

Angkor Archaeological Park

Yesterday, I got to check off an item from my bucket list.

✓ visit Angkor Wat!

Angkor Wat is actually one of many structures in Angkor Archaeological Park, which involves many other magnificent remains. The park is in north Cambodia, about 6.5 hours from Phnom Penh, the capital. Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple are also famous. While Angkor Wat is the grandest temple of the Angkor Archaeological Park, Angkor Thom is the ancient capital.

We woke up at 4:00 AM, hopped on a tuktuk at 4:30 AM, bought tickets, and arrived at the park by 5:30 AM for the sunrise. There was a massive rainfall, and all of us got soaked before finding cover in the blackness, but even our wet clothes and shoes didn’t distract from the overwhelming historic beauty of Angkor Wat.

Angkor Archaeological Park is over 400 square kilometres of subtropical forest, featuring the stunning remnants of the capital of the Khmer Empire of the 9th to 15th centuries. It is the largest pre-industrial city in world history. Around 25 years ago, Angkor Archaeological Park became a UNESCO World Heritage site. I felt so honoured and amazed to get a glimpse into these legendary temples.

The Angkor Archaeological Park itself has no accommodation and very few facilities (no bathrooms near the temples), so tourists stay in a nearby town called Siem Reap, which is 6 km to the south. I was surprised to find that Angkor Archaeological Park is truly located within a jungle, with monkeys, hogs, wild dogs, and centipedes (?) swarming the area.

Interesting note that I discovered with some reading: the word ‘wat’ means temple in Khmer (Cambodian language). The structure, however, doesn’t quite look like a temple. Researchers believe that it is a temple where Lord Vishnu was worshipped, and later became a tomb for the Khmer (Cambodian) king.

The remains of the Bayon Temple were my favourite. It was richly decorated, and most likely built during the 12th or 13th century for a Buddhist king.

Another structure, Ta Prohm, is famous because trees have interlaced themselves with the stonework, resulting in strange, but marvellous, beauty. One website describes Ta Prohm as “a stunning display of the embrace between nature and the human handiwork”, and I couldn’t say it better myself.

Ta Prohm is world-renowned, and immensely popular, because of the wood-stone combination, and because of various scenes in Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider. I found the sides of the Ta Prohm complex quiet and magnificent, with unstable bits of rubble and stone debris. Many sections have been blocked off, since they are at risk of collapsing.

For lunch, we dined at Sister Srey Café, which I adored.

  • Grandpa had the creamy pumpkin soup with bread to start, and then grilled mackerel with steamed jasmine rice and sauteed spinach
  • Dad enjoyed savoury stuffed French toast with cream cheese, bacon, and tomato chutney. To drink, he had two caramel milkshakes
  • I loved my corn fritters (surprisingly, both vegan and gluten-free!), topped generously with feta cheese and served with a poached egg, smoked salmon, and tomato chutney

For dessert, Grandpa had some chocolate ice cream while I enjoyed an amazing carrot cake with cream cheese icing and plenty of walnuts. This was tender, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and had great texture and crumb. I do wish, however, that there was more cream cheese icing.

Then, it was back to our hotel for a much-needed break from all the walking!

Tapas, Buffet, and a Seven-Course Meal

Good evening from Siem Reap on this warm Tuesday, January 9.

Recently:

  • Seline often sends me screenshots of conversations that she has with Mom. I thought this one was particularly sweet, and it made me reminisce the wonderful time we spent at Sunshine Coast during both 2015 and 2016
  • Spiders at ROMDENG, a restaurant in Phnom Penh – I chickened out 😥
  • Dad and Grandpa on a tuktuk this morning; it was in the high 30s temperature-wise

The Wat Langka temple was timelessly beautiful and impactful. We also had the opportunity to see the Independence Monument (second photo), and buy new sneakers for Grandpa from the local Adidas store, since his old ones broke on the train ride from Taipei to Taoyuan (the city in Taiwan where the airport is located).

For brunch after the temple exploration, we enjoyed another meal at Daughters of Cambodia. They are truly so lovely for their great cause (everything goes towards helping girls forced into the sex trafficking trade in Cambodia, to learn skills like cooking, massage, sewing, and more).

  • Dad had the baguette BLT, which had bacon, cucumber, spinach, and tomato with an onion chutney
  • Grandpa enjoyed corn chowder and a fish burger with fries
  • I loved my creamy parsley pumpkin soup and cheesy garlic baguette

We purchased a few things from Daughters of Cambodia; namely, some little coloured pouches with powerful words in the Khmer language such as ‘dream’, ‘pray’, and ‘believe’. Grandpa will give these to his family doctor, teacher, and dentist.

We spent the afternoon lounging around the hotel pool. Grandpa was happy with his fresh coconut water. It’s astonishing how much larger these coconuts are, compared to the ones he’s enjoyed in Macau, and even back home in Vancouver.

For dinner, we went to a restaurant called Friends, which is part of a greater company called TREE. TREE is a series of training restaurants that invest profits in students who train there. Money goes towards social programs that help them become skilled, productive, healthy and happy young workers with secure future careers. They not only provide high-quality service and food, but also help young people in developing countries (most are orphans, former street children, or other marginalized, at-risk groups) develop skills that they need to be employable in the hospitality industry. The training that runs here helps build confidence and skills, so students graduate with better futures. 10/10 for sustainability and impact, in my book.

For the tapas, Friends recommends ordering one or two per person. Since the three of us went, we decided to order five. These were some of my favourites (okay, I ended up listing them all):

  • Crispy zucchini and cheddar fritters with Thai Sriracha mayonnaise
  • Fish cakes with garlic, leeks, roasted red pepper puree (these were unbelievably good)
  • Burmese chicken curry with crispy noodles, smoked chili, pickled mustard greens (super spicy, but incredible flavour)

  • Crusty bread with EVOO and dukkah spice

  • Ricotta gnocchi with spinach and corn (I truly loved these, and my dad, who typically doesn’t like gnocchi, enjoyed them!)

For dessert:

  • white chocolate ice cream for Dad and Grandpa (I had a taste, and it had a superb white chocolate aftertaste, unlike some white chocolate ice creams which are simply excessively sweet)
  • black sticky rice pudding with coconut ice cream, caramelized pineapple, and roasted peanuts

The next day – this morning – was a little hectic because we had to clean out the hotel room and check out before a long bus ride to Siem Reap. I was a little sad to say goodbye to our lovely hotel room.

Breakfast buffet in our hotel.

I enjoyed:

  • a cheese omelet
  • two Cambodian sandwiches with ham, cucumber, and spicy mayo (I didn’t think I would like this, but I wholeheartedly enjoyed it. The bold flavours stood up to the fresh baguette, and everything seemed to work well)
  • baked beans
  • chive potatoes
  • fresh passionfruit and dragonfruit
  • banana bread
  • blueberry muffin (crumbled over the plain yogurt)
  • dragonfruit custard danish (surprisingly delicious for a not-crispy Viennoiserie! I wanted another.)
  • plain yogurt
  • mango yogurt with vanilla cream swirl
  • toasted wholemeal bread with butter and pineapple-papaya marmalade (it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed toast, plain and simple, with butter and jam – this was absolutely delightful)
  • raisin custard danish
  • apple cinnamon muffin (crumbled over the mango yogurt)

Both my stomach and my heart were incredibly full as we boarded the Giant Ibis bus at around 9:45 AM for our 6.5 hour trip to Siem Reap.

The views were unlike anything I’d seen before. One thing that stood out to me was the houses that were built on stilts. Most houses between Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia) and Siem Reap (North Cambodia) were on stilts, with hammocks and shelves and tables underneath for shade.

The bus stopped three times, with two of the three stops being rest stops for bathroom breaks, and one for a 30-minute lunch break.

Lunch at the Banyan Tree restaurant had a number of options, which was a pleasant surprise since I’d assumed very few options for a food place in the middle of sand and palm trees.

When we arrived at around 3:30, we boarded a tuktuk with all three of our suitcases and two backpacks to go to our hotel, the Riversoul Residence. Riversoul is about fifteen minutes from Angkor Wat, which is why we chose it. It is modern and beautiful in a unique, complementary-colours kind of way, but I do miss the traditional nature and French influence of our first hotel, Raffles in Phnom Penh.

I was amazed by the lack of people in the hotel; it was very empty when we checked in, and my dad attributed this to the fact that the Riversoul Residence is fairly new.

Check out that swimming pool and those lawn chairs which are styled to look like boats!

We took a 10-minute walk to the old market of Siem Reap, which was close to our dinner restaurant, EMBASSY.

EMBASSY has a set menu for each month of the year. They serve French food with a Cambodian twist, using fresh, seasonal, local ingredients from Siem Reap and the surrounding area. All of the stems, leaves, flowers, and garnishes were completely edible. We really did devour every drop.

The three of us ate this seven-course meal:

  1. AMUSE BOUCHE – steamed Chreau village tomato with minced shrimp stuffing
  2. APPETIZER – Kampot scallop with ground toasted rice, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, lemongrass, passionfruit sauce
  3. SOUP – traditional Kdat Soup with turmeric paste, green bass leaf, black chicken (by far my favourite dish of the day, since it was rich, hearty, with a beautiful blend of textures and unique, yet familiarly comforting ingredients)
  4. SORBET – soursop fruit sorbet with fermented black sticky rice and alcohol drizzle
  5. MAIN COURSE 1 – grilled Tonle Sap fish with soybean pickle, ginger, green onion
  6. MAIN COURSE 2 – pork shank from Takeo province, slow-cooked in sugar palm caramel, mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes with coconut milk (also delicious – the meat was very tender and mildly sweet, with great unami flavour from the mushroom gravy)
  7. DESSERT – cashew mousse with red dragonfruit ice cream (the cashew mousse part was spectacular. You can truly taste the cashew, and I appreciated the crispy, chewy, and sweet brown sugar crumble that complemented the nutty mousse)

It was delicious, and now I am dead from deliciousness and excitement for tomorrow, because we’re going to see Angkor Archeological Park!