Khmer Memos

I finally realized my travel goal for this year a few weeks ago when I visited Siem Reap to see the majestic Angkor Wat. 🙂 I wasn’t able to cross the border of Cambodia and Vietnam as planned but I think it’s a good idea to visit them separately to focus more on getting to know them more.

I blogged about some little details that I remember the most about Siem Reap (please click the links to read the full details). I haven’t finished everything yet but here are some random things that I’ve compiled so far:


Since I love coffee and sitting in the cafe always help me understand the place where I am by listening and observing every passersby and their way of life, I wrote about the best cafes that I found in Siem Reap. 

The Bloom Cafe at night

The “cool lounges” of our favorite, The Blue Pumpkin

Chilling (with fast wi-fi) with Indonesian lovely friends, Dita & Chichi


I rarely shop when I travel but this is the first time that I feel so regretful that I didn’t hoard this wrap around pants. I swear, for $6, this is one of my best buy ever!


Meet the new addition to my blogging network, the forgetful blogger–Kris. 🙂

I love being Asian. I love being Southeast Asian more because there’s something unique in ASEAN’s traditional clothes that I find so elegant and full of characters. Meet some of my favorite fashionable and lovely Southeast Asian bloggers.

Traveling to Cambodia anytime soon? Then, learn some of the useful words that will save you from hunger and other more inconveniences.

Som OrKun!


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Coffee in Cambodia

Having coffee in a nice cafe while reading a good book or having a beautiful conversation is my second truest form of relaxation (click here for the “first”) so wherever I go, I look for a place where I can have a quality time with my thoughts and self together with a cup of coffee.

BLOOM CAFE

A few weeks ago, I went to Siem Reap and since Cambodia uses USD a lot, I was attracted with “Air-con, Wifi, $1 Coffee” sign and with a testimony from a friend, Tonyo, I checked out Bloom Cafe.

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Aside from the $1 Coffee, Bloom Cafe offers Khmer food and popular Western dishes where it claims that NO MSG or chicken powder is used or put in every dish.

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But it’s not just what made me so interested with this cafe, it’s the opportunity for anyone to visit their workshop where they make bags from old rice and animal feed sacks.

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I am so in love with their bags and other accessories for sale which according to Tonyo (when he had the chance to talk with the owner) have been helping Cambodian mothers to earn a living for their families, raise their kids properly and develop self-esteem (through working) to help them value themselves more.

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BLOOM CAMBODIA RECYCLED BAGS started in 2006 while the cafe just opened in September 2012 (This is the time that I’m so grateful that the owner thought of opening a cafe. Yey! Haha)

But the Bloom Garden Guesthouse (since 2010) is Tripadvisor’s Traveller’s Choice 2012 and Top B&B/Inns in Asia (only one in the list that’s from Cambodia). Visit their website at www.bloomcambodia.com.

THE BLUE PUMPKIN

Everyone who came to see the majestic Angkor Wat might have been to The Blue Pumpkin in Siem Reap as well because it’s just like “Jollibee” in the Philippines… everywhere, like 7-11. 🙂

I didn’t do much research before my trip to Siem Reap but since Tonyo always tweet “We’re at Blue Pumpkin,” I got interested and tried it…not once but EVERYDAY. Haha. 

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TBP has six (6) separate locations across town now, all with Free Wi-Fi Access. You can find TBP at the following area:

  • Old market
  • Sivatha St. 
  • Airport
  • Artisan’s d’Angkor
  • Angkor Silk Farm
  • front of Angkor Wat
I first went to TBP in Old Market after a dinner in Pub Street and I couldn’t stop my excitement upon seeing this sign: (How cool is cool lounge?!)
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Upon seeing the “cool lounges,” I requested to the manager, who happened to be a Filipino, to let us sit in the cool lounge. 🙂

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Here are who I spent most of my Blue Pumpkin days and nights with (and the people who discovered that there are TBP amazingly in Phnom Penh as well), my Indonesian roommates/friends- Dita & Chichi

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The Blue Pumpkin is a cafe and bakery that also serves pasta, salad, sandwiches, burgers. Their pastries and desserts are one of the bests that I’ve ever tasted! My recommendation are Cinnamon Roll (actually try all of the pastries if possible) and Apple Pie La Mode (it’s actually an apple tart with pineapple sherbet and puff pastry), I think it’s the best in Southeast Asia!

The slices of apple are crunchy and juicy that goes well with the pineapple sherbet together with the pastry that really melts in my mouth. Oh! I wish there’ll be one branch in Manila!

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I also tried Mojito and some of their smoothies that are surprisingly cheap. I planned to drink a lot and just sleep in their “cool lounge” that didn’t happened. Haha.

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The Blue Pumpkin
563 Mondol 1
Svay Dang Kum
Siem Reap, Cambodia
TEL: (855) 063 963 574
FAX: (855) 063 760 742

e-mail: info.siemreap@tbpumpkin.com
www.tbpumpkin.com

Proof that we love The Blue Pumpkin so much, I googled The Blue Pumpkin and found that my Indonesia friend, Dita, blogged about it too. Haha. You can also read this for reference.🙂

Khmer Culinary Vocabulary

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Even though most of Siem Reap’s bars and restaurants have English menus and majority of the staff speak English, I still prefer to remember some of the useful Khmer words for eating.

I listed some words that might help you with your dining and travel adventure in the majestic Kingdom of Cambodia:

  • Hello (formal): chum ree-up soo-a
  • Hello (informal): soo-a s’day
  • How are you?: sok sa bai?
  • Excuse me: som dtoh
  • I would like…: k’nyom som…
  • Please: som
  • Thank you: Som OrKun/ Aw-ko-oon
  • Bill Please: som ket loi
  • Chicken: sait mowan
  • Pork: sair jerook
  • Beef: sait gow
  • Fish: trei
  • Fried: Cha
  • Rice: Bai
  • Grilled: ang
  • Roasted: dot
  • Water: tuk sot
  • Ice: tuk sot
  • Beer: beer
  • Red Wine: srah krohom
  • White Wine: srah sor
  • Cola: coca
  • Coffee (hot): ka-fei (gdouw)
  • Coffee (cold): ka-fei (tuk kork)
  • Tea: dtai
  • Milk: tuk duh goh
  • Sugar: skor

As a traveler, always remember that you have to keep your mind open and be more flexible to the country and people that you’re visiting. In Cambodia, since English is not their first language, there might be some point that even if you speak English slowly, they might not understand so always be patient and remember these words.

Or Kun!.

(Info from: Pocket Guide Cambodia)

Wrap Around Cambodia

Since I grew up in a country that is so exposed to American culture, seeing Cambodian men walking and biking around in a very hot noon wearing collared polo instead of T-shirt is an interesting sight to me. I realized, this is a casual outfit for men of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

I think I’ve seen more girls wearing what I’m used to as “casual clothes”- jeans, short, skirt and shirt.

I even asked one of the admirable Cambodian bloggers, Chak Sopheap, to stop for a while for me to take a photo of her very pretty pumps! Haha.

But I was very curious about what Khmer Fashion industry has to offer or rather, has been offering for the past centuries. Like Indonesia’s batik, I am fascinated by Cambodia’s silk and since it’s a neighbor of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, the Fisherman pants and the traditional Sampot are always in the list of “to-buy” for a first-timer like me.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find either of the two but found this wrap around pants in the Old Market, originally for 7USD but I haggled to buy for 3USD (that’s just around 125Php!)

The fabric is very light, comfortable and perfect for the very hot weather of Siem Reap and the Philippines. It looks like the traditional Cambodian trouser and can either be tied at front or at the back depending on your preference and style (I tied it at front in the photo above).

It can be worn as a casual pants paired with a tight top and a strap-y sandals like the one I worn when I went around to see the astonishing temples:

Because of its straight cut, comfort and elegance are both achieved with this pants. The simplicity of color and the high waist are perfect for an evening attire or even for a corporate attire paired with a simple jacket.

I tried to pair it with my mustard pointed shoes and black sleeveless top (Maldita) together with a gold long necklace with a few brown stones in a busy work-day and since everybody likes it (plus the fact that it’s affordable!), I just had a beautiful fun day!

So if seeing the temples is on top of your bucket list, don’t forget to include this pants too! It’s available in the Old Market and even in the Night Market near Pub Street.

It’s simplicity, comfort and elegance qualify it as a must-have. Plus! The thought that you’re wearing a piece of history and Khmer’s identity!

Just please be reminded that it opens in the sides since it’s just wrapped and tied. Though it doesn’t open widely when you walk, please be aware of how you sit or just wear a cycling shorts together with it if it’s not that hot. 🙂 Or else, you’ll look so ridiculous like this:

Hay naku. Now I know why the guy was so nice to take my photo, libre boso. Haha.

If you want to order online, you can check this very beautifully hand-crafted Khmer brand, Artisans Angkor, based in Siem Reap, which originally started as an avenue for young rural people to find work near their home village. But eventually has become a real showcase of Khmer workmanship for its silk fabrics and garments, stone and wood carving, lacquer ware, polychrome products, silver plating and silk painting.

Siem Reap: some pieces for home


“The air is different here,” that was my first description of Siem Reap, the home of the largest Hindu temple of the world, (and the place that I was dreaming about exploring by boat for the past months) and a place for the second largest airport in Cambodia and most “touristy”.

As I wander around the town by foot and by the usual Tuk Tuk that they offer you in $1, I battled with my feeling of doubt. Am I in the right place? 

I looked at the architecture, tried to converse in Khmer,  asked curious things to prove my doubts wrong, then yes, I was lost. 

The image of Cambodia that we traditionally grasp from the media that’s available to us feels different and surreal. I’m sure Angkor Wat is amazingly beautiful but talking about the “Cambodia now” doesn’t become a topic for most of us. 

Cambodia is beyond temples.


TONLE SAP RIVER SETTLERS

I was surprised that there’s a tour to see the poverty in Cambodia in floating villages. I was asking myself if Cambodia is doing this to gather more NGOs and minimally solve the problem of these settlers for now by inviting the tourists to donate something to them to support their basic needs

We didn’t go to the traditional tour and decided to see how the family living in floating houses in Tonle Sap River near the street. 


It was amazing how they move their houses from one place to another whenever they needed to especially if someone will park their boat or use it. Men of the families are usually in the water checking everything that they could do to support the family.



I find the Kitchen very efficient and neat.


And since I could never tell a story just by looking at them, I tried going around the river with some Filipino bloggers as we shout from time to time as the boat sways.


I have seen kids going to school in barefoot that shows how the current situation promises a wonderful future for Cambodia.



SAME BUT DIFFERENT

Like how we Filipinos adapt to the changing demands of our current society as the BPO Industry promises growth and slowly replaces our own language with English, I am seeing the similarity with Cambodia as it uses USD more than their Riel because of its growing demand in the tourism industry.



I feel sad at times that we, Filipinos, often speak English than our language but I feel the same whenever foreigners ask Cambodians why they don’t use their money most of the time.



I HOPE TO BRING HOME

Traveling is always a learning experience. When you travel, there always a time when you will realize that the world is big that keeps your humility.

As I travel to see the world and show the how it is to be a Filipino to the world, I’d like to bring some pieces of my Siem Reap visit to the Philippines by wishing that we have the following:

CLEANER PUBLIC TOILET.



and MORE TRASH CANS.


I still need to see the temples and the picturesque sunrise in Angkor Wat tomorrow but yes, I’m loving it here in Siem Reap- good conversations, beautiful people, wonderful merge of cultures and laughter. I’m truly grateful to have this opportunity to spend time with my neighbors, BlogFest Asia 2012 made it happen.

Twitter: @blogfestasia12