“Angkor Wat”, “Pub Street” and “Angkor Night Market” are the buzzwords that you will usually hear in Siem Reap. I have earlier posted a blog about our cycling trip to the famous Angkor Wat but I have left out mentioning about Pub Street and Angkor Night Market. So, what can we find in these two other places? Little did we know that we were about to encounter the more “exotic” side of Siem Reap.
Well, we first came across Pub Street in the noon time on our 1st day in Siem Reap while looking for Lilypop Restaurant to have lunch. In fact, at this point of time, we didn’t know that the street we were cycling on was actually Pub Street. This is because most of the shops here were closed during the day. It was more like a sleepy, boring street and we were just passing through without taking much notice except for a Banana Leaf Restaurant which we are familiar with back home.
Our trip just got extended
We were due to fly back on the 3rd day early morning which supposedly leave us no time to check out Pub Street and the Angkor Night Markets. However, our flight which was scheduled to leave Siem Reap at 8:35 AM never took off, leaving us all stranded at the airport. It was 2 hours past our departure time before AirAsia decided the plane was not going to take off that day and checked us all in to a hotel for an additional night.
We took a rest in the afternoon since we had to get up early that day and in the evening, we flagged a tuk tuk to bring us to town for shopping and food. As we were walking along a quiet dark street, from a distance, something caught my eye.
Everywhere else was dark except for this signboard with a grasshopper logo. As we walk closer, I was thinking to myself that it couldn’t be a restaurant serving bugs and insects. We arrived at the restaurant and immediately took notice of the name of the restaurant.
We were still in doubt as to whether what we were seeing was actually what we thought it was. Since there was a menu placed at the entrance, we decided to check it out. It soon became pretty clear to us what kind of restaurant it is, the moment we opened the menu. The restaurant owner took notice of us and immediately came out to introduce some of the dishes in the menu. He recommended us the platter which has a bit of everything in it and said that he is always looking for ways to make it taste good. After going through all the menu items, we thanked him and told him that we would think about it and went on our way.
I have definitely eaten a couple of ants in my lifetime and possibly some worms in rotten fruits unknowingly, but I will not eat them on purpose or for fun. If you would like to know more about eating bugs and whether you should eat bugs, here’s an interesting animated video to watch.
Well, I would say that I am adventurous when it comes to travels, as long as it is safe. However, I cannot say the same when it comes to food. Even if I were a contestant on Amazing Race where I could possibly win $1 million, I will still not do it. At this moment, I am also confident to say that even for survival, I do not believe I will put any kind of bugs or insects into my mouth, cooked or uncooked.
Less than a 100 meters from Bugs Cafe, we came across another unique restaurant which, to my knowledge, only exists in Cambodia.
Happy Siem Reap Pizza
The name “Happy Pizza” definitely does not come across as unique. However, when you focus on the word “Happy”, it literary has a special meaning to it. We have earlier read about the “Happy Pizza” on an in-flight magazine on AirAsia which mentions about it having a special ingredient in it. And this ingredient is none other than marijuana or cannabis.
We were greeted by a bulky male staff who looks more like a bouncer or a member of a gang. He seems friendly and welcoming enough, so we took the opportunity to inquire more about the pizza. He tells us that we could just order a normal pizza or if we wish, we can add an extra $1 and they will add a spoonful of “happiness” into the pizza. And if we want to be “happier”, we just need to add another $1 for an additional spoonful. During our conversation, we were given the impression that the government was not able to do anything about it. However, if you googled it, there has been a crackdown on these restaurants before where tourists and operators were arrested.
Well, I was not about to take the risk of getting addicted or doing anything illegal in a foreign country, so we went on our way. I guess I have been watching too much of Locked Up Abroad on the National Geographic Channel to not want to take this risk.
Angkor Night Market
The Angkor Night Market is about 200 meters walk from Happy Siem Reap Pizza and the ambiance changed almost instantly. The first thing we spotted were the sea of tuk tuks that were parked there. Lots of people had already gathered at this street and we had to weave ourselves through. Here, we found several street vendors offering cheaper exotic eats for tourists who are more game to challenge themselves. You will be able to try some grilled snakes and other delicacies for $1 each. Even to take a photo of these exotic foods will cost you $1. We managed to get away without having to pay for it by quickly walking away after taking the shots.
After Angkor Night Market, we stumbled across Pub Street again and this time, it seemed like a different place altogether. Neon signs, loud music and tourists filled the streets and restaurants from one end to the other.
Walking along Pub Street, we came across the Cambodian BBQ restaurant. The restaurant was almost full house except for one table inside the restaurant. Since it looks extremely popular and even had a TripAdvisor sticker, we thought we would give it a try. We sat ourselves down and the waiter gave each of us a menu. Upon opening the menu, we immediately went… “Oops!” Here’s a glimpse of what Cambodian BBQ restaurant is famous for.
Cambodian BBQ serves 14 different types of meat which are beef, bar fish, espadon, chicken, crocodile, snake, duck, frogs legs, kangaroo, ostrich, pork, squid, shrimp & shark (dogfish). We asked whether we could change some of the meats given in the set, to which the waiter said yes. However, in the end, we had second thoughts about it and excused ourselves.
Well, we ended up not trying any of these exotic foods. However, I must say it was a really eye-opening experience. The restaurants mentioned above certainly have received great reviews and feedback from those who have tried them. So do give it a try if you are game for it.