Tales From the Road: Cambodia

Cambodia Narrative
by Tim Patterson Mar 5, 2010

Harvesting rice on Koh Preah Island, Stung Treng Province. Photos by Tim Patterson.

I like to say that Cambodia will make you cry both ways: From sadness and from joy.

You’ll see ugly things, you’ll see beautiful things and sometimes you’ll see both side by side.

Enjoy the stories.

1) How to Eat Fried Tarantulas in Cambodia by Darrin DuFord

Darrin Duford is a travel and food writer whose richly descriptive and humorous work stands up to the best of Peter Mayle and Anthony Bourdain. Although Darrin’s descriptions of fried tarantulas at Cambodian bus-stops aren’t exactly mouth-watering, he *almost* made me want to try one someday.

Adventurous eaters should take note of sage advice:

“Go for the crispiest critters, because the longer frying time reduces the squishiness of their abdomens.”

2) Breaking Bread with North Korea by Brendan Brady

Phnom Penh is rapidly becoming one of the most vibrant multicultural cities in Southeast Asia, a meeting point of cultures at the confluence of two mighty waterways.

Even reclusive North Korea has an outpost in the Cambodian capital. In this thoughtful essay from Global Post, Brendan Brady takes us inside The Pyongyang II, a restaurant where lovely North Korean waitresses will wail along to old karaoke standbys like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”.

3) Preah Vihear: On Top of the World by Andy Brouwer

Andy Brouwer’s love for Cambodia imbues all of his writing with exuberance and weighs it down with exhaustive detail. His frequently updated Cambodia Blog offers an honest and appreciative glimpse into life in Phnom Penh.

4) Where Gods and Soldiers Tend the Border in Cambodia by Daniel Robinson

I’ve never been to Prasat Preah Vihear, the temple on the edge of northern Cambodia’s Dangrek Mountains, but someday I’ll most definitely go.

Daniel Robinson’s feature from the NY Times travel section is a good complement to Andris Bjornson’s Matador piece on how to dirtbike to Preah Vihear.

5) Cambodia Now: Life in the Wake of War by Karen Coates

Karen Coates is a lyrical writer with a deep affection for Cambodia. Her book, Cambodia Now, is a literary portrait of post-war Cambodia. This touchingly rendered excerpt is typical of Karen’s unerring focus on impoverished Cambodian who would otherwise be almost invisible.

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