Over our mid-year school break I decided to go to Cambodia. Emma and I were supposed to go together but I wanted to stay in Buengkan a few extra days and then I realized that it was Naga fireball time once again and I just had to stay for that. I was determined to see some fireballs. And I did! This year I actually saw the fireballs with my own eyes! I am a believer. They are real. Not as impressive as I had built them up to be in my head, but still a really cool unexplained phenomenon on the Mekong. What a privilege to have the opportunity to be living here and get a second chance to watch for them.
But back to Cambodia….it’s been a while since I have traveled anywhere new, much less gone anywhere on my own, so I was pretty excited to get out there again. Emma found this blog post about getting a bus and crossing the border into Cambodia by Arty Dubs, and if I could meet them in person I would thank them profusely and buy them lunch or something because this information was so incredibly helpful! If you plan on wandering over to Cambodia from Thailand, check out their blog, you wont regret it. The only difference I feel worth mentioning is the visa cost, which is now up to $30 USD. Ouch. Also, once you get into Cambodia your bus driver will honk the horn on average about once a minute, so…be prepared. I nearly lost my mind.
On the bus I met a lovely couple about my age and we decided to join forces in finding the cheapest accommodation possible. The three of us found a nice place just 5 minutes walk away from the city center and settled in. While we were hunting for hostels we stumbled across a small, posh looking restaurant called Bugs Café. Curiosity compelled me to stop and steal a glance at the menu, which piqued the interests of both Karin and I enough to want to return for dinner. Nati fervently protested our fine dining decision, but since it was two against one we found ourselves debating which bugs to snack on while Nati sulked. He refused to eat anything so Karin and I split a “discovery platter”, which consisted of tarantula, water beetle, grasshopper, crickets, flying ants, normal ants, and silk worms. The crickets and silk worms were sautéed and thrown together with vegetables in a wok, one the tarantulas was chopped up into a delicious samosa while the other was fried and skewered along with the grasshoppers and water beetle, and the ants were stuffed into pastries and spring rolls.
Everything was surprisingly delicious, and the only thing I struggled with a bit was the flying ants in spring rolls since they were still quite large. Karin and I munched on spider legs and scorpion tails while we discussed the various flavors and consistencies over the sound of Nati gagging, delightedly egging him on by offering various morsels. It was great fun! …for us at least. 😉 Between gags he claimed that Karin and I were “food soul mates” and I could stay with them as long as I liked because Karin finally had someone else to eat gross foods with her and actually enjoy it. After dinner we went out for a few drinks and finally gave Nati a chance to eat something of his choosing, which was pizza.