Just a quick post – probably to be deleted later – so that I can share my vacation pictures with a few friends.
While in Singapore, most of the pictures will be about food. Because the food in Singapore is fabulous. Then a bunch from Cambodia – which are mostly temples. Then more Singapore pictures, which are almost all about the tropical fruit that we bought.
We got ice cream while walking down Orchard Road. One option was to get your ice cream – which was cut into rectangles rather than scooped – on bread. My nephew selected red bean ice cream on bread. (I went traditional with mint chocolate chip on a waffle wafer.)
Clockwise from the top right – meatballs, steamed dumplings and chicken feet.
Century eggs. They taste earthy like mushrooms, and I found them very tasty, if strongly flavored.
The Marina Bay Sands – one of the most recognizable buildings of the Singapore skyline and home to a luxury mall, hotel and casino.
It’s hard to convey how modern and sleek and pretty the nighttime skyline is. The panoramic pics I took would be so tiny on here, and the regular pictures don’t do it justice.
The Banana Leaf Apolo Restaurant has changed since the last time I was here. Now they put a tray underneath your banana leaf and they give you silverware automatically. It used to be much more basic – banana leaf right on the table as your plate, and you eat with hands. Still, the food was delicious, if a bit too spicy-hot for me.
From the lower left, the dishes are prawns, lamb, stuffed squid, chicken, papadam (the cracker-like wafers), and fish cakes.
The temple is nestled in a mix of high rise buildings and two-story store fronts. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to find around the next corner in this city.
Our dinner of Steamboat. Broth on the left is laska-flavored (a local noodle dish) and on the right is chicken broth. Jurin ordered a whole bunch of delicious mushrooms, bean cakes, shrimp and pork balls, and meats that she cooked in the broth. Super yummy.
Now pictures of our visit to Cambodia, which is mostly about the temples and the night market.
Everyone entering Cambodia needs a visa that you can get when you land at the airport. My passport was handed off between about 15 people, each one of which stamped or signed or dated or glued that visa. Even still, the process only took about five minutes. Even entering the country is a bit of an adventure.
Diet Coke, in case you couldn’t tell.
A view from our boat as we toured the floating villages. Each group hires their own boat, so it was just me, Graham, our tour guide (Nol), and the boat driver.
Up and down the river, children paddled around in cut-off 55-gallon drums. They were really really good at maneuvering around in them, too.
Our first temple – Pre Rup. Originally a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, it was later used as a crematorium.
Banteay Samre. Note the complete absence of other tourists. Remarkable.
Banteay Srei- the lady temple. Due to the very high quality of the stone, the carvings are particularly detailed and delicate.
The mini-mart around the corner – a faux Seven-Eleven. Almost every Asian city I’ve been to has at least one Seven-Eleven, so it’s a well known chain here.
Preah Khan again. This time a close up.
Preah Khan. This temple was only partially reconstructed and, like most of the temples, is surrounded by a water-filled moat.
Angkor Wat – the best known of the temples, and the one with the most tourists. But we got there early, and the place is HUGE. By the time we left around 8:30 or 9am, crowds were starting to form. You can climb up to the top level of the main temple and look all around. Oh, and there was a whole monkey family – including some littles ones clinging to their mother, that greeted our arrival.
While the temples are old and often only partially restored, we saw several monks coming in to pray and tend to little shrines around the temples. Here is a temple that people visit to ask for favors from the God(s) and to thank them when favors are granted. Note the whole, roast pig laying right in front.
Graham and I in front of one of the faces at Angkor Thom. In high season, such a picture would either be impossible, or would require a long wait while shooing away lots of people. We just waited for one woman to leave and then had the spot to ourselves.
A view from the top of yet another temple in the Angkor Thom complex. You can see the long causeway leading from one of the temple gates up to the temple itself.
Yet another view of yet another temple.
This is The Tomb Raider temple, which (like most of these temples) was over run with large trees. But this one was only partially reconstructed, with some of the most dramatic trees left in place.
This was another partially reconstructed temple. But this one wasn’t in the guidebook and we had it ALL to ourselves. The moss-covered stones and thick rope-like trees were amazing. Made better by the complete absence of any sound. It was almost as if we had just discovered it ourselves.
While the tree is dramatic, the most remarkable thing about this picture is actually that there is no one in it aside from me and Graham. Our guide kept saying “In high season? This not possible!”
From the outside, the night market in Siem Reap looks like an ordinary collection of shops. But there are aisle ways that lead into the depths of the market.
You can see a jewelry counter, and several displays of scarves, as well as a watch stand. Each of these little stalls is a separate business, with a separate salesperson who calls out to you as you pass. “T-shirt, madam?” “ You need scarf?”
One of the little stalls in the interior of the market, to show you the colors and visual kaleidoscopic of the shops.
And here is a stand selling dried fish. A lady was just starting to set up a display of blouses, t-shirts, sarongs and dresses in front of the fish, and the fish stand was starting to close up shop. Apparently, they co-locate.
This is a glimpse of the wet market buried deep amid the stores.
This vendor is selling almost exclusively spices and cartons of cigarettes. Not quite sure what the connection is between them, but there you are.
Amok is the local fish stew served at every restaurant featuring Khmer cuisine. Each version is a bit different, but they all have fish and coconut milk. This one was particularly delicious. Which is good because we had a TON of trouble actually finding the restaurant. After searching the area for at least 30 minutes, we eventually asked the hotel to help us out, and jumped into a tuk-tuk to take us there. (The tuk-tuk set us back $2.)
My nephew, Graham, took several stunning photos during our stay in Cambodia – so I’ve just put them here without comment.
Back in Singapore – so more food pictures.
Durian is a very sweet, creamy, pungent fruit. To me, it smells like rotting onions, and most westerners can’t stand it. But to the Singaporeans (and to our Cambodian tour guide) it is delicious.
Here we are at the durian stand. They have a Facebook page, so just look for “Ah Seng Durian” here on FB for more info. My hostess, Jurin, is a huge durian fan, and was a bit disappointed that they were sold out of the best durian varietal. She assures is, though, that the one we had was still quite good. You can see the whole, spiky fruit on the cutting board, and signs showing the varietals that are currently available
Here is the fruit. The skin part is very loose over the soft soft custardy inside.
Snake fruit in the market. The inside is very firm, almost crispy, but not particularly juicy. I didn’t care for the taste, which was a bit like a mild durian.
Some kind of weird fruit that I don’t know what it is.
Lychee, which is in season and thus juicy and sweet and delicious. The thin but tough skin covers a mild juicy fruit with the consistency of firm melon and a pit on the center. They had free samples so we each ate one.
Rambutan. Juicy and like lychee.
This is what the red dragon fruit looks like inside. It’s not got a strong flavor, but is nice and juicy. The regular dragon fruit is white inside, with the same small black seeds.
You pop open the thick mangsteen rind by squeezing the fruit. It has a juicy segmented inside – but despite how they look, they aren’t citrus. They are sweet and fleshy.
In the center of the mangosteen is a pit, covered with a thick gelatinous layer.
Our Singaporean / Malay desserts. The one on the left is iced kachang. It’s a HUGE bowl of shaved ice with various syrups and fruit juices poured over it. Beneath the ice there are cubes of green agar and red beans and corn.
The one on the right is frozen coconut milk with corn, beans and gelatin to stir into it.
Both are delicious, as is everything in Singapore, apparently.