Random Notes 24

Posted by : foongpc | Monday, October 24, 2011 | Published in


1. Should I name this post Random Notes 23B? Most Chinese people do not like the number 24 as it sounds almost like 'easy to die' in Cantonese.

2. It is amusing to enter a lift in a condo and see buttons 4, 13, 14 and 24 missing. Instead, the 4th floor is replaced with 5th, 13th floor replaced with 16th and so on. So if you press button 25, do you know which floor you are going to actually? Let's see if you can do the maths! Haha!

3. I went to watch 'The Secret Life of Nora' musical at Istana Budaya KL a few weeks ago. I went there with high expectation but unfortunately it was not awesome enough for me.

I can only say that Adibah Noor and Aznil Nawawi's funny antics plus the outstanding dance choreography saved the show from being average.

4. Last month I received a gift from Filipino blogger Bluedreamer! It was a Kernel-Pult plush toy from the Plants vs Zombies game. Thanks Bluedreamer for this cute gift!

5. I had flu and a really bad cough a few weeks back that would not go away. The cough was so bad I could not sleep at night. I normally don't see a doctor for flu but I almost resorted to seeing one for this horrible cough. Then, my mom asked me to eat this leaf.

Do you know what leaf this is? I don't, but I have this plant in my garden LOL! I ate the leaf raw and I must tell you it was bitter and had an aftertaste that I did not like! But guess what? After eating just two leaves one night, I immediately stopped coughing!

It was like a miracle! Of course the cough was not completely gone but I would say it was reduced by as much as 80 percent! I even had a good sleep that night! It was definitely better than any cough medicine I know!

6. It had been some time since I last dine at the New Paris Restaurant in SS2 PJ. I had the opportunity to go for dinner with my brother and sis-in-law at this famous restaurant last month. The dish I liked best was this - watermelon chicken! So yummy!

7. Are you a fan of X Factor? Recently, I was engrossed in X Factor USA reality show on 8TV. Having been bored to death with American Idol, this new show is like a breath of fresh air! In fact I like all the 4 judges here especially Nicole Scherzinger.

Nicole Scherzinger photo courtesy of Judyhalone.com

There were so much drama and unexpected twists in this reality show that I was hooked. Besides, the contestants are all so talented, although not all of them have the X factor, I must say.

8. Do you like 'pun choy'? I am not a fan - in fact, I find it boring! - but I thought this one from Restoran LYJ in Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh quite good.

One side of the poon choy

The other side of the poon choy

The restaurant facade

9. Christmas is coming soon!! I know, I know, I should not be talking about Christmas when Deepavali is not even over yet, but I just love the Xmas mood! Cant wait for another Christmassy December and end of the year holidays!

I wonder if 1Utama shopping mall will put up this cute snowman again after it went missing for the past few years?


From Siem Reap To Phnom Penh

Posted by : foongpc | Thursday, October 20, 2011 | Published in


There are 3 ways to get to Phnom Penh from Siem Reap. You can take the boat, the bus or the plane. Jam, his friend and I chose the bus. We reckoned it was cheaper than the plane and more comfortable than the boat.

There are a few bus companies offering daily scheduled service between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. We chose Mekong Express Limousine Bus. It is known as the the No. 1 bus company in Cambodia offering first class comfort so it should be a good choice, right? Maybe.

With the help of our driver Xiao He a day earlier, we managed to buy 3 bus tickets at the price of USD11 per person. The bus company actually had someone coming over to pick us up from our inn to the bus station - not bad!

Our bus departed for Phnom Penh at about 12.30pm. Like most long distance express bus, it is air-conditioned, has a TV and a toilet. The TV was switched on throughout the whole duration of the journey. Jam and I were seated quite in front like, just behind the driver.

There was this lady seated beside the driver who would periodically give announcements over the PA system. She would also briefly describe the places we passed by during the journey.

All passengers were also given complimentary breads and a bottle of mineral water.

My problem with this bus is that the driver was driving way too slow! If I am not mistaken, he's driving at under 40km per hour! Do you know how slow is that with a straight road ahead and practically no vehicles in front? I remember telling Jam that at the rate this bus is moving, we would probably reach Phnom Penh by nightfall!

Another problem was the leaking window. It rained halfway during our journey (which I was quite happy about as I love the rain haha!) and water was seeping in through the window that was shut. Luckily I was not seated next to the window but Jam was! Talking about first class comfort...

The bus only made one stop throughout the entire journey, which was at Kampong Thom. Most passengers would have their lunch or tea at this restaurant.

As we had already taken our lunch earlier in Siem Reap, we did not eat at this restaurant. But we found a stall outside the restaurant selling these!

Fried crickets, grasshoppers and spiders! My oh my, I could hardly believe my eyes! And believe it or not, Cambodians eat them as snacks!

Fried grasshoppers

Perhaps the lack of food and starvation during the Khmer Rouge rule forced the Cambodian people to turn to these insects for food. Well, they are definitely high in protein and pretty cheap.

A scoop of fried spiders costs 500 Cambodian Riel while a scoop of other insects costs 300 Cambodian Riel.

Fried spiders each almost as big as your palm

Did you know that Angelina Jolie's adopted sons Maddox and Pax love to eat crickets? She said they would eat crickets like Doritos! Even Angelina herself indulged in this Cambodian delicacy likening them to potato chips!! Read about it HERE.

So did we eat any of those spiders and insects? Of course not!! Not even if someone were to offer me USD 1 million! Wait...perhaps I will eat one, just one grasshopper for USD 1 million. OK , maybe two. Haha!

But the spiders? No way in hell am I ever going to touch those! You would have to top up another USD9 million for me to even attempt a bite at one of those hairy legs! Yikes!! I would much rather eat a balut! LOL! Hmmm, I wonder what exotic food awaits me for my holidays to Egypt which I am planning for next year?

Besides those vomit-inducing delicacies, there were stalls selling fruits. Do you know what fruits these are?

Soon we were on our way again. That was sure an interesting stop! No regrets sitting this bus, I must say. Other than the leaking window of course.

Guess what time we finally reached Phnom Penh? With the painfully slow driving speed coupled with an unexpected traffic jam on the bridge above Mekong River in the capital city, our bus reached its destination at about 6.45pm - a journey that took more than 6 hours!

Once we got down from the bus, a good friend of ours who worked in this city helped check us into Asia Hotel, which I have already blogged a little about in The Case of The Missing Slippers.

I could not wait to see what Phnom Penh had to offer.

Wishing on a Falling Star

Walking The Streets Of Siem Reap

Posted by : foongpc | Tuesday, October 18, 2011 | Published in


It was our last day in Siem Reap.

After 3 days of temples, temples and more temples in Siem Reap, I was looking forward to 3 non-temples days in Phnom Penh. But then again, all these amazing temples had inspired me to visit the ancient pyramids of Egypt with its history and architectural wonders. Perhaps I should start planning for a nice Egypt holidays soon!

Jam, his friend and I would be boarding the bus to Phnom Penh in the afternoon. After visiting Artisans d'Angkor in the morning, there was still some time left so we decided to have an early lunch.

We opted to go to Khmer Kitchen at Pub Street Alley again. If you recall, we went there for dinner on our first day in Siem Reap - read the post HERE.

Before I blog about our lunch, here are some pictures I took along the streets of Siem Reap. This is the Tourist Information Centre which is located very near to Angkor Friendship Inn where we stayed for 3 nights.

This is Mandalay Inn which had a notice hanging on the top floor. Can you read it? No?

Let me magnify for you. Now can you read it?

Here is another guesthouse called Ei8htRooms which I thought was rather nice.

All these inns and guesthouses, including the one were were staying in, are within walking distance to each other. If you plan to visit Siem Reap, you might want to check them out as they are in the best location.

Can you guess what is inside each of these bottles?

No, they are not for drinking. It's actually petrol! I remember seeing petrol sold in bottles in Bali too - you can read about it HERE.

Oh! I learnt something new in Cambodia! Look at these bricks. Can you see they are hollow? Well, guess what? Hollow bricks are used in almost all buildings in Cambodia to save cost!

OK, so what did we eat at Khmer Kitchen Restaurant? I was thirsty and ordered this Khmer iced coffee. It was refreshing!

I had actually forgotten the names of the dishes we ordered so I would just give each dish a general name. This is spicy Khmer soup which contains mixed vegetables and meat. I could not remember whether the meat was pork or beef. This picture may not look yummy to you, but I assure you it was very delicious!

Next we had a type of Khmer curry which contains mainly meat (again not sure whether it was pork or beef) and vegetables. The curry was very delicious as coconut cream was added to it.

Lastly, we had Chicken Lok Lak - a popular Cambodian dish that is made up of stir fried chicken served on a bed of cucumbers, lettuces, tomatoes and egg. There was also a bowl of dipping sauce made with lime and pepper.

All three dishes cost USD3 each. My glass of iced coffee cost USD1. I thought the price was most reasonable! I have to say I enjoyed the food at this restaurant. If I ever return to Siem Reap in the future, I will surely visit this restaurant again!

After lunch, we quickly went back to Angkor Friendship Inn to check out. On the way, I snapped a picture of this huge tree. I wondered why I did that! Just for fun I guess haha!

I wondered how long it would take for the bus to reach Phnom Penh from Siem Reap. I don't really like to sit in buses for too long. Well, you will soon find that out in my next post, so stay tuned.


My Visit To Artisans d'Angkor In Siem Reap

Posted by : foongpc | Friday, October 14, 2011 | Published in


On our 4th day in Cambodia, Jam, his friend and I left Siem Reap for Phnom Penh by bus in the afternoon. We had some free time in the morning so we decided to visit Artisans d'Angkor, a workshop that is famous for its woodworking, stone carving, lacquering and silk painting.

This workshop is located at Stung Thmey Street and is within walking distance from Angkor Friendship Inn where we stayed.

Artisans d'Angkor was originally a professional training school by the name of Chantiers-Écoles to train unschooled rural youth to make a living from handicraft production. In 1998, Artisan d' Angkor was established with financial support from the European Union.

Today, it is completely self-financed, having trained young Cambodians in recreating the arts of their cultural heritage and at the same time offering them the opportunity to earn income for their families.

Entrance to the workshop is free. They also provided us with a free tour guide but we opted to tour on our own so that we could take our time and also without the hassle of being pressured to buy anything.

It was interesting to see the skillful workers carving woods. I think one needs to be highly skilled to be able to cut and shape the wood to turn them into beautiful sculptures.

A crouching elephant carving

Stone carving is an art dating back to the ancient Khmer empire with the magnificent Angkorian temples as fine examples of this art. Just like the Angkorian temples, stone carvings are mostly carved from sandstone.

Buddha heads?

Beautifully sculptured kneeling statue

Carvings of three Apsara dancers

A masterpiece of intricate carvings

Sandstone cut and carved according to the drawing

Completed sculptures and carvings on the shelf

Different colours of sandstones

After the wood and stone carving workshops, we entered the polychromy, lacquering and gilding workshop. Polychromy involves several layers of chalk being applied on the wood carvings. Lacquer which protects the wood, is then applied to the layers of chalk. The lacquer also smoothen out the surface of the wood or stone to make colouring them easier. Copper leaf is then used during gilding to create the ‘golden’ effect on the statues.

Below are a few photos of workers busy lacquering and gilding.

Can you differentiate between the lacquered and unlacquered pieces below?

I saw a worker busy with these tiny carvings.

They turned out to be elephant carvings! Aren't they cute?

A few statues in the corner of the workshop room

Next, we visited the silk painting workshop. The silk is produced at a silk farm about 16km from Siem Reap. There is actually a shuttle bus to bring you to the silk farm but we did not have time for that!

After the silk medium is set on a frame of predetermined size, motifs are drawn on it and colours using natural pigment are applied onto the motifs. Most silk paintings here are done by mute and deaf artisans.

Outside the workshop building is the courtyard of Artisans d'Angkor, where many impressive looking stone carvings and statues can be found.

Artistic statue of a Goddess inspired by Indian art?

Totem of the four faced Buddha?

Elephant deity Ganesha

Bayon face

Linga-yoni structure

We ended our tour of Artisans d'Angkor with a visit to the souvenir shop. This is not your ordinary souvenir shop found in the market place but is actually a high quality retail shop with air conditioning. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the shop.

I only managed to take a photo of the shop's entrance.

The products sold inside were wood and stone carvings, lacquer wares and silk items from the fine workmanship of the artisans in Artisans d'Angkor. They were of the highest quality, very beautiful and very expensive too!!

I ended up buying a T-shirt (forgot the price!) and the beautiful linga-yoni sandstone like the one in one of the photos above but in miniature size. Measuring about 3.5 inches in length and width and 5.5 inches in height, this linga-yoni sandstone was priced at USD29. You can see the picture of my linga-yoni sandstone HERE.

Now this linga-yoni sandstone is being proudly displayed in my home : )

Elephant of Mebon guarding outside the shop's entrance

View of Elephant of Mebon from the top

Carvings of devas and asuras pulling the Naga on a wall outside the souvenir shop

Artisans d'Angkor is definitely worth a visit so make sure this place is part of your itinerary should you travel to Siem Reap.

Coming Up Next : Walking The Streets Of Siem Reap