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Sunday, 13 September 2009

Fried Spider anyone?

Welcome to Cambodia. So far I’ve found testicular looking balls of something in my soup and have been dazzled by other local delicacies including the likes of fried spiders and grasshoppers. Much to everyone at Serif’s disappointment, I’m afraid I had to draw the line at both food stuffs. Quite frankly, the spiders look just a little too much like spiders for my liking, although fellow volunteer Simon said they didn’t taste too bad (having said this, he only ate one leg and put the rest in the bin). The photo above shows the spiders neatly stacked at a local service station on our road trip up to Kompong Cham – they were selling like hotcakes and if I ever wanted some extra income, apparently they aren’t too difficult to find lurking about in corners. I very much hope I NEVER find one, and am beginning to think that maybe I should have tried to fit a spider-catcher in my suitcase after all.

Spiders allegedly became a favourite during the Khmer Rouge years when almost everyone was forced to hide food and eat whatever they could find, spiders and lizards included. I appreciate I haven’t spoken much about the Khmer Rouge yet, I will do – I’ve lots to say already and have heard several personal stories, but I’m trying to think of a way to best put across what happened. Every person over the age of 30 in Cambodia remembers the Pol Pot years and quite openly has a story to tell, and I feel no less shocked every time I hear one.
Back on the subject of food, spiders aside, the food here really isn’t too bad, although I’m trying hard not to focus on the prospect of eating nothing but slimy vegetables and rice for a year. Generally, the food is nice and is as good from the market stalls as anywhere. I’ve also succeeded in buying my own vegetables, eggs, bread and tinned tuna from the local market in the hope of one-day fending for myself. Unfortunately the tuna wasn’t tuna but some other form of non-descript fish (with a spine) in a tomato sauce (not sunflower oil as I’d hoped).But still, it tasted okay. We were in a small village the other day as well and had some rice and banana concoction that was wrapped up in a leaf, which is a new personal favourite. I’m also a fan of sugar cane juice and coconut milkshakes – of which there are plenty.

I’m really enjoying Kompong Cham and learning the language and I look forward to the day when I say something in Khmer that isn’t met with a look of confusion. Already I’ve started to feel a bit more at home, which is being helped by the fact that my jet-lag has gone and I don’t need to go to the toilet as frequently as I did when I first arrived. Kompong Cham is a nice, small, manageable town. I can ride my push-bike and brave the roads (which aren’t actually too bad at all) and it doesn’t matter if I get it wrong and drive on the wrong side of the street because everyone else does too, and people are used to it. Here are a couple of photos, there’s one of the local three-legged, one eyed monkey and one of the view from the roof of the VSO house – and one of a shack, where a lot of the locals live on the river.


  1. Eeeew spiders!!! *shudders*

    I'm glad you're getting on better with the food, I imagine that could be a real problem with being in such a different country from home. Definitely stay away from the spiders though ;)

    Sarah W

  2. Nom nom *crunch*

    Not as good as monday morning cakes though I imagine ;)

  3. There's no point in going to a foreign country if you don't eat the food. You would eat pizza in Italy wouldn't you? Fried spiders are like big macs over there.

    Seeing as you are refusing to post photos of amputees I expect at least a before and after shot of a consumed spider, with you pointing to exactly how poisonous it was in some some of Cambodain Spider encyclopedia.

    And don't tell me they don't drive around with chickens precariously blanced on their scooter handle bars because we both know they still do.

  4. Yeugh! I can't cope with spiders lurking around in corners, let alone basking on my dinner plate! Give me cupcakes any day (especially yours)!
    Biking sounds fun - erratic, even without chickens blocking the view. At least you've got more time to travel about now you're not stuck on the loo.....
    Miss you lots, mum and dad xx

  5. Yikes!! Don't listen to them all Jen - you stay well away from the spiders - they are not meant to be eaten, under no circumstances!!

    I'm pleased you're starting to settle in - I'm loving your blog:-)

    Take care,
    Ellie x

  6. Woo hoo finally someone is helping keep the spider population down! I am liking Cambodia! Unfortunately Lee and me have seen about 10 in as many days (big house spiders) and although they end up dead, they are not eaten haha! So glad you're enjoying it. I'm expecting a full cambodian meal cooked for everyone when you get back :-) Looking forward to the next update!

    Lots of love,
    Jo xxx

  7. Yum Yum fried spiders! Maybe you could introduce them to BBQ Guinea Pig and see if it turns their stomachs!

    Looks amazing over there, I thought for a minute the river side shack might be your house, glad you cleared it up in the story.

    Don't miss us too much ;)


  8. Spiders and grasshoppers...would hate to think what Cambodia's version of Ready Steady Cook would be like!!!

    The pictures look amazing and your journal really brings these to life. Its a world apart from demoing software on an industrial estate. lol.

    Look after yourself and keep up the compelling account of your journey. It makes great reading :)