A tarantula! This was served as an appetizer at Romdeng, a restaurant run by the Mith Samlanh organization that helps train Cambodian street children in service careers. On Friday, me and a couple of friends decided to check out the 15th Anniversary party being thrown by the organization and chose to order up some Cambodian grub. Among the dishes we ordered and chose to share at the really charming, surprisingly fancy restaurant were three of these creepy crawlies – one for each of us.

Much like the cricket I ate several weeks ago, this arthropod was similar to a soft-shell crab in both flavor and texture, which makes sense because they are in the same phylum. Unlike the cricket I ate several weeks ago, this sucker was huge and most definitely had a little buggy face.

The favored method of eating the arachnid was to gingerly nibble at its hairy, crispy appendages, either dipped in a mixture of lime juice and Kampot pepper or without any adornment, which is what I ultimately preferred. Of course, the sole male in the group, my co-worker, decided to man up and ate the whole torso of the little beast after making short work of its legs. Again, not to be outdone and to say that I too had eaten a tarantula, I followed suit.

It wasn’t too bad, and, actually, quite edible save for some prickly bits, which I assumed were portions of its fangs that had not been clipped. However, as I relayed to the folks at the table, I feared that what happened after my feast of crickets (well, one cricket actually) would happen after I noshed on the tarantula.

Several days after my cricket escapade, I was eating breakfast and felt a little tickle on my foot. When I looked down, I saw a large cricket chilling on my sandal, and the first thing that popped into my mind was an apology for eating his mum, dad, niece, nephew, etc.

Yup. Definitely not looking forward to seeing one of these guys on my foot as it was an adventure enough seeing one on my plate.

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After arriving in Phnom Penh, I quickly learned that one of its charms – among other things – is how inexpensive the alcohol can be. This is both good and bad for me.

As I wrote earlier in this blog, I joined a gym here, The Place, so I wouldn’t have to stop my rather loose 24 Hour Fitness routine that I established back in the States. Problem is, with the alcohol being so cheap and all, after I work out during the day, at night, I end up imbibing all the calories I burned off in all manner of sugary, frothy, sometimes pink drinks, all of which I can get for less than $5, and, if it’s happy hour, less than $3. Beers are even cheaper, often going for 75 cents at happy hour.

Yeah. Kinda awesome for the pocketbook and (mom, don’t read this next part of the sentence) if I want to get tipsy on the cheap. (Note to my readers: My mum says that real ladies don’t drink in public). However, I blame alcohol for the fact that, despite working out really hard four days a week (sometimes more) and eating like a sad, sad bird, I still do not have the child-like limbs and waistlines of many of the women here. For serious, next to them, I feel like an obese giant.

It doesn’t help that every frakking time I pick up a small blouse or dress in a shopping mall the sales lady smiles at me and says “We have bigger size!” S’truth. The other day, when I was trying to buy a small T-shirt for myself, the lady asked me if it was a gift for someone. When I said that the shirt was for me, she gave me this whole “child, who the hell are you kidding?” look then suggested that even the medium would still be too small. I know that she meant no harm by it, and, seriously, I know I am not the tiniest person, but I am mos def not a large.

I smiled and said thank you for the suggestion, but inside I told the biatch that I wasn’t buying her ugly shirt. Then I went to a local bar and threw back a couple more drinks.

Note: The photo is of Street 278’s Elsewhere Bar, where I like to read, jump on the Internet, and enjoy a glass of something in the evenings after work and the gym.

Photo: Julie Anne Ines / Flickr “Chronicles in Cambodia”

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