Walking in Phnom Penh

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February 5th 2010
Published: February 5th 2010
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More or less the return route

We left Kampot early this morning. John and I sat where we could bird and were rewarded with Indian rollers (I saw a couple flying--wow!), White-throated kingfishers, Collared kingfishers, Red collared doves, Red-necked stints, and an Eastern marsh harrier. I really enjoy these long drives when I can manage not to have motion sickness.

We stopped at the Killing Fields--actually, Cheung Ek was one of many, but it was the one where prisoners from Toul Sleng/S-21 were executed. I find it a sad and uneasy place, though superficially very peaceful. The stupa contains something like 20,000 skulls that were disinterred after the war.

We lunched at Lotus Blanc in their newer in-town location. This is a training restaurant for an NGO that assists poor children who were trash-pickers in the dump, which is very dangerous. I'd eaten at the other location, and this meal was also lovely.

I was dropped at the hotel to check in while the group went to the National Museum. I took a tuk-tuk to the university to meet with my colleague there. I was pleased that a psychologist, who previously had a Fulbright there, was visiting on her sabbatical. We talked for about an hour and I passed on my gifts--a video on the history of AIDS (a request from my trip last year), a letter from a student and CDs of professional materials from another.

Before this appointment, however, I scoped out the back of campus, where Maddy and I saw hoopoes last year. None this time, but I did see an Oriental magpie-robin and another Coppersmith barbet. After the meeting I decided to get in a good walk before several days of transit, so I headed down Russian Boulevard, along which I saw a number of Brown-headed shrikes and prinias, to Norodom, where I saw no birds but a lot of bustle and commerce near the central market. It was around 3.5 to 4 miles in the heat, but it felt great.

Dinner was at another restaurant associated with Friends. We sampled a lot of prahok (fermented fish sauces and pastes). In Cambodia every village is proud of its particular prahok. I also tried raw green eggplant, green mango slices (pretty good with prahok), and galangal gelato. There were other gustatory treats to be had. Some were way not kosher.

I leave early tomorrow, so I'll post the route but maybe not much else until I'm back, depending on wireless opportunities. If I can't plug in, I'll see you on the other side of the Pacific, perhaps with a gear review.

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5th February 2010

Good try!
"Well, maybe not." I don't blame you Shoshana!:) You were much braver than I just giving it a try. I do wonder though, is there actually a "flavor," or do people eat these just because?
5th February 2010

I think for the same reason we eat potato chips. I didn't taste much but salt and oil, but a woman who ate the abdomen (I only tried th legs) said it tasted like crab and ate two. I was unable to master my gag response in order to eat the whole spider.

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