While still in Cusco, I told Maria whom I was going to meet in Lima, that even though at the time I’ve already been in Peru for 3 weeks, yet have still not eaten a Peruvian ceviche. Since we maintained contact the whole time on the internet and finally set up a date to meet up in real life, I thought it would be the perfect time to finally try ceviche.
Under normal circumstances, I take the masculine role in a relationship, but whereas I’m not familiar with Lima and she is from there, I gave the responsibility for picking up a suitable restaurant for my first time pure Peruvian ceviche to her.
She picked a restaurant called El Chef y El Mar, and it did not disappoint. Located in San Miguel where I was staying, the more upscale restaurant had the prices to match the quality and the atmosphere, but that only made the place more perfect for the occasion.
At El Chef y El Mar, there were several dished with ceviche on offer. We picked a platted for each consisting of two different forms of ceviche and a creamy rice with the calamari. I asked for my ceviche to be extra spicy, Maria went for medium spicy. It was delicious to the last bite. I could not have asked for a better place, company, and type of food to start my addiction to ceviche.
Ceviche is considered one of the flagship dishes of Peruvian cuisine, being one of the most traditional meals offered in Peru.
According to the Peruvian historian Javier Pulgar Vidal the name ceviche comes from the Quechua word “siwichi“, which means “fresh fish” or “tender fish“. One hypothesis proposes that the words Siwichi and Sikbaǧ were confused during the conquest of the Inca Empire by the Spaniards, which caused that it was transformed into the name with which we know it today.
Peruvians claim that ceviche originated in the Mochica Culture on the Peruvian coast, more than two thousand years ago. However Ecuadorians maintain the pre-Inca Empire people along the Ecuadorian coast used to prepare the same cold fish dish for just as long, claiming the origins of ceviche were not exclusively Peruvian.
In both cases, ceviche was originally being prepared by marinating the catch from the sea with chicha – juice that comes from corn.
Later, with the Hispanic presence, two ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine were added: lemon and onion. The development of the lemon farms in the lands helped to shorten the time of preparation of this ancestral dish.
Put bluntly, ceviche is basically raw fish marinated in soury, vinegar like solution. If you like raw fish in sushi, you will likely love ceviche.
From my standpoint – having come to Peru from Slovakia, where what is known in Peru as Ceviche is commonly available in its Slovakian form as “Zavinace” and purchasable from pretty much any grocery store for under a Euro, I was already familiar with the type of fish and had taste buds tuned in to it.
Ceviche in general is not the cheapest dish to eat, but a trip to Peru would simply not be complete without giving it a try in some proper restaurant where it is properly prepared.
Caution eating ceviche is however well warranted, as improperly prepared ceviche can be the bearer of bacteria that could seriously harm your health and screw your entire trip.
Fish used to prepare ceviche should be fresh out of the sea and should be eaten early in the day. As a way to honor this requirement, many ceviche restaurants close in the afternoon.
Concluding the First Date with Maria
After enjoying the wonderful triple dish of Peruvian ceviche for the first time, with our bellies happy, I took Maria to a billiard club where she played pool for the first time in her life, and then to a bar where we downed a few Cusquena beers. Late at night, we parted our ways after what for both of us was a highly fun and fulfilling date. We had one more day to spend together afterward, and we both looked forward to it.
I was happy with my squishy, but cozy room in a Sunset View Bungalow on Don Det Island. The sun was intense and I was sweaty and tired after a long bus ride so as soon as I dropped my backpack off in the bungalow, I headed for the restaurant spot in the middle of the grounds to join a group of backpackers who were chilling with a bottle of BeerLao in their hands. I really couldn’t wait to have a cold one myself and the atmosphere could not have been more inviting.
Someone’s netbook was connected to an amplifier playing back trance music from large speakers while several joints were being passed around. I fit right in. The moment of truth revealed that large bottle of cold BeerLao was mere 11,000 Kip (about $1.35 US Dollars). This has instantly made Don Det a heaven on Earth in my mind. BeerLao is in my humble opinion the best beer in Asia so even when I was in other countries where it usually costs more than local brews, I used to buy it every once in a while. Hence, I always viewed BeerLao as a treat. As something you pay a premium price for, because it delivers unrivalled enjoyment and satisfaction.
And here I was in the homeland of this famed beer and find it’s available for the price that’s mere 40% of what I used to pay for it elsewhere. You didn’t have to ask me twice to make each day a “drink BeerLao day”.
Sunset View Bungalow had a self service fridge filled with lots of BeerLao as well as other beverages available for any of their guests to help themselves to at will, but guests were requested to mark what they took in a notepad dedicated to their bungalow. The desk nearby had several notepads on it, each with a number corresponding with the number of one bungalow so depending on which bungalow you were in, you would mark what you took from the fridge in your notepad and pay for it at checkout.
This is a very convenient way to keep oneself cheered up, but one must not lose control of how much they drink as it’s easy to go overboard and it does add up over a period of days. Bottled drinking water was also provided so you could keep yourself hydrated and cooled down without the need to go to a convenience store at the opposite end of bay.
It felt good being in Laos. People were really nice, which felt so liberating after Cambodia. You could tell by looking at other travelers that they felt far less stressed out and pressured in Laos which left them with more energy to truly enjoy themselves. I spent whole night hanging out with other backpackers, drinking lots of BeerLao, playing guitar, smoking pot and just generally having a good time. Life was good and it only further assured me about the fact that spending any more time in Cambodia, where you’re constantly under pressure made no sense whatsoever.
A traveler comes to Laos expecting everything to be cheap but is surprised by high cost of goods and services associated with travelers’ needs. I was the same guy myself – everything from accommodation, transportation, food, drinking water and rentals is expensive in Laos, but there is one thing that’s not and that makes up for it – BeerLao. The national beer of Laos is what I would consider the best Beer in South East Asia. Some may argue that better promoted Singapore brewed Tiger is the best but I beg to differ.
There are many good brews a beer drinker can enjoy during his time in SE Asia – I actually liked Sihanoukville, Cambodia brewed Angkor Beer (except when purchased in places like Temple Club on Pub Street in Siem Reap where draught beer is diluted with water) but each time I felt like indulging myself, I shelled out for a bottle of BeerLao and had myself a real beer aficionado moment.
Since BeerLao is slightly on a pricier side outside of Laos, I mostly stuck with good local brews while visiting surrounding nations. A large, 640 ml bottle of BeerLao usually sold for an equivalent of $2.50 US in neighboring countries so I can admit I was pleased when I found out that the same large bottle of this fine beverage could be had for 8,000 Kip (roughly $1 US) in its home country. An equivalent of $1 gets you a measly can of beer elsewhere.
To compare prices – Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country so alcohol is heavily taxed (aka expensive) but certain areas, such as Langkawi island have been granted a duty free status so you can buy alcoholic beverages there for very cheap. Many travellers head over to Langkawi for that very reason yet they are not getting the real value for their money. One can of Tiger Beer on a duty free Langkawi costs 3.50 Ringgit which is more than $1 and it’s just a can. Large bottle of Beer Lao, which can be had for less in Laos than a can of Tiger on a duty free Langkawi is not only superior in taste, it also provides you with more beverage than you would squeeze out of the can.
How much you will pay for a bottle of BeerLao depends on where in Laos you are. All restaurants and bars in Pakse sell large bottles of BeerLao for 8,000 Kip but standard going rate in Vientiane is 11,000 Kip for the same. If you look around Luang Prabang, you may be able to find places that only charge 10,000 Kip per large bottle but as everything else, most establishment will have their prices unreasonably hiked up. Large bottles also cost 11,000 Kip on Don Det and other islands of 4,000 Islands.
Laos may be otherwise expensive for tourists, but what you spend on transport and accommodation, you save up on beer. Laos is a beer drinkers’ dream come true. Cheers!
My initial days in South-East Asia were accompanied with excitement. Not only am I a big fan of Asian kitchen, it was also encouraging to see that I could buy a complete meal for some $3 in Cambodia. I have a stomach of steel that doesn’t get easily upset, but when I realized that I will be eating homemade, cooked food for the next little while, I started looking forward to significantly improved health. Swapping canned dishes and junk food from fast food restaurants with cooked, restaurant-style meals is bound to positively affect my overall health, right? Well, that’s what I thought.
That’s why it shocked me when shortly after arriving to Cambodia I started experiencing severe stomach pains. My stomach, which handled most dubious foods in the past without a wink started giving me insane problems shortly after my initiation to Cambodian food. It was making no sense. I expected to start feeling better, not significantly worse. The cramps were not something I could easily ignore either. When a cramp got me, it delivered intense stomach pains as if I had an Alien trying to rip out of my innards. It would take a hold and not let go for good two minutes.
Search for Causes of Stomach Problems
I was really having hard time trying figure out what could be causing it. After more than a week of persistent stomach pains, I knew I needed to start looking for the reason that causes them. There was no way a simple change in diet could have had such severe effect on my digestive system. I knew there must have been either particular food or a particular drink that was causing it. I only drank bottled water and even brushed my teeth with it, so I didn’t anticipate the cause of problems originating from there, but I was determined to nail it down at any cost. I deployed the elimination method.
Each day I completely left out something out of my diet what I used to eat during my stay in Cambodia so far. If stomach problems continued even after elimination of that particular food or drink, I would go on to eliminate something else until it becomes clear where the cause of problems lied. I even suspected beer as I used to have a couple glasses every day but to my joy it wasn’t the case. I enjoy a good glass of cold beer so having to go without would be rather painful, but I guess I would just need to try a different brew which was not a big deal. I really couldn’t imagine beer possibly causing any stomach problems, but I needed to be sure so I tried. Luckily, it wasn’t the beer that cause my stomach problems.
Food Additives and Stomach Problems
As I kept moving forward with my experiment, it became clear that this was strictly food related and nothing I was drinking was causing the problems. However, it also became clear that it’s not just general food, it’s something added to the food that causes it. I could for example eat Cambodian Lok Lak dish and not get cramps from it, but if I ate Cambodian Amok Fish, the cramps would be there. However, grilled fish with rice caused no problem at all. It was not fish, it was not rice, it was not vegetables or fruit and it was not other meat. So what was it?
I kept getting closer and closer to the answer but didn’t quite have it nailed down until the last day of Pchum Ben. I was invited to take part in the celebrations by the villagers from Sras Srang village in the Angkor area and it involved big lunch on the side of the moat surrounding Angkor Wat. Munchies were done the Cambodian way – everybody joined the food they brought with the food of others creating a feast of available dishes and everyone was free to load up their plate with whatever they liked. Since I didn’t have the kitchen in my room, instead of cooking, I brought a bunch of fruit.
Truly Cambodian Food
I followed the example set by the villagers who gathered round for the lunch and put a little bit of every dish available on my plate. I expected the same or similar tastes I was exposed to in local restaurants so far but these village dishes were nothing like that. Each of them had a very overpowering taste of some bad seasoning that was defeating the taste of everything else. Fish didn’t taste like fish, it tasted like that seasoning. Soup with herbs didn’t taste like soup with herbs, it tasted like that seasoning. The smell and taste of it was so distinct and so unpleasant, I was having hard time swallowing anything but rice.
Even though rice was the only dish that was seasoning free, at least there was one such. It tasted bland because it was cooked without any salt, but at least I had something to put in my mouth. To my disbelief, villagers also brought extra bags of that seasoning that each of the dishes instead of plain rice already had too much of and kept adding spoonfuls upon spoonfuls of it to the mix on their plates. It was a white, powdery substance similar in look to sugar but smelled horribly and made food that contained it taste like crap.
I asked what the substance was and was told that it’s a seasoning they always add to food because it makes it taste much better. I picked up one of the bags and through a bunch of Cambodian script writing I was able to distinguish a few words in English – MonoSodium Glutamate.
This discovery of MSG was a key point that eventually lead to the elimination of my stomach problems. It was just shocking to see how Cambodian villagers think MSG was the best thing since sliced bread and can’t imagine their lives without it. Local shops that specialize in business with the locals sell more MSG than anything else and have shelves full of it, usually placed at the most prominent location of their store. So much love for such a bad thing.
Having been in Siem Reap for almost a week, I had to go to town’s most prominent entertainment venue – Temple Club. Located in the center of Pub Street, Temple Club is Siem Reap’s heart and pulse of night life. There is a big sign above the entrance on the canopy which reads: “Recommended by Lonely Planet”. This was precisely why it took me a week to pay a mandatory visit to the venue. I’m not particularly fond of places where “everybody else” goes. This is my personal review of the Temple Club as seen and experienced through my own eyes.
Pub Street comes very much alive at night. While it is true that the very reason why the town sees so many tourists lies in the temples of Angkor, when the sun sets and the area falls dark, all those foreigners come out to take advantage of extremely cheap beer (2000 Cambodian Riel which is about 50 Cents US) and well priced food. They are all naturally drawn to Pub Street because that’s where all they are looking for is available at high density. It was no different with me. Even if you’ve never heard of Pub Street, once you come to Siem Reap you’ll learn about it quickly and end up on it one way or another.
Cambodian police come to Pub Street every evening and block both sides of it with their motorcycles to prevent access of any motor vehicles to the street. This is because the street gets so busy at night that there is simply no room for vehicles and besides, something needed to be done to protect those drunk tourists from being run over. There is a lot of movement on Pub Street and a lot of noise from local pubs too. Since Temple Club tends to be the loudest, you notice it right away. You make your first visit to Pub Street after dusk and you’ll be well aware of Temple Club and their bragging sign that they are recommended by the Lonely Planet.
Aside from deafening music, Temple Club also attracts passerbys’ attention by visual leads – laser disco lights the beams of which make it all the way to the street. The thing with Cambodia is that it’s located in the tropical zone, so it’s always hot there. As such, none of the clubs or restaurants have any windows. It’s all wide open, patio style street sitting everywhere you go. This makes Temple Club wide open to the strollers randomly checking out the Pub Street at night and as they hear the music and see colorful lights, they are naturally attracted and come to see what is going on there.
Temple Club – What I Liked
Location is great, food albeit slightly above average for Siem Reap, is well prepared, extremely delicious and well presented on a plate. Beer is definitely above average for Siem Reap, being priced at $.75, making it 50% more expensive than most other restaurants on Pub Street but still not too bad. Service is decent and as is the case with most of Cambodia’s hospitality establishments, you are not expected to tip, even though tips are always appreciated. The biggest positive of Temple Club – free Apsara shows.
I have already witnessed Amateur Apsara Dancing, but was eager to see an actual choreographed show with paid to dance dancers and musicians. There are several venues throughout Siem Reap offering paid Apsara dancing shows but for the most part they are obscenely expensive. I went to enquire about the price at Apsara Theater near Wat Bo temple, which is supposed to offer some of the finest Apsara performances in Cambodia, but their entrance fees were obscene. Several upscale hotels offer free Apsara shows, but as a guest, you are usually expected to at least order a meal the price of which usually matches their primary clientele.
Having a club on Pub Street offering free Apsara shows every evening is invaluable for travellers on a budget who would like to experience this must see Cambodian art form. Temple Club offers their free Apsara Shows every day from 7.30pm to 9.30pm on their upper floor. Lower floor has small dance floor, pool tables, large screen TVs playing sports channels and a DJ playing gay music, hence that’s where drinkers hang out. Upper floor is dedicated to visitors who seek more from a visit to a Lonely Planet recommended club and anticipate quality dining experience as well as cultural uplift. As such, the upper floor delivers.
One of the biggest positives (and the only reason why I’ve ventured to Temple Club more than once) was fast wireless internet that’s available to their customers. My initial visit to Temple Club was to attend my first Apsara Show. I didn’t have my laptop with me, just a camera for a few pictures and couldn’t stay for too long because of mosquitoes. My subsequent visits were strictly related to the use of their fast wifi internet. I unpacked my laptop, asked for a password and surfed the net without any member of staff coming to imply that I should order something. The internet is fast (for Cambodia) and reasonably reliable.
Temple Club – What I Didn’t Like
Temple Club is too busy, often full of finest sample of loud and obnoxious tourists who take good advantage of cheap beer. Music they play downstairs is absolutely atrocious. I don’t even understand where they are able to pull this crap from. I’m surprised shitty music of this kind is not illegal. Every now and again they would hit an odd good song, but overall it’s all about truly awful crap hip hop and mainstream junk. I’m also not into sports so there was nothing to attract me on their big screens.
Being the hottest club in Siem Reap, Temple Club is frequented by prostitutes and con artists. Theft is very common as are other forms of scam so hang on to your belongings really tight and never ever assume that this local person is nice because they like you. They never do. They only like themselves and the only reason they treat you like you’re a goddess is because they want to brainwash you into trusting them so they can take advantage of you.
If you are one of the guys who attract mosquitoes like honey does bees, you will be having damn awful time at Temple Club. This downside is not unique to Temple Club though, rather to most similar venues in Siem Reap and elsewhere in Cambodia. They are wide open leaving you thoroughly exposed to the blood suckers. If you forget to cover up in bug spray, you won’t last very long. This was unfortunately my case too. I went to see their free Apsara Show on my last night at Two Dragons and couldn’t even stay until the end as I was getting eaten alive. This is never any fun in areas where malaria and dengue fever are endemic – such as Cambodia.
What I didn’t like about Temple Club the most was the fact that they are so obviously bragging about being recommended by Lonely Planet. There’s a thing – even though Lonely Planet contributors plea they never take incentives to recommend certain places, everybody who’s not entirely naive can understand that it’s not quite the case. There is a lot of money in stake and this cross promotion gives it all away. Besides, from what I understand, owners of Temple Club seem to be on the mission to monopolize Pub Street. As far as I know, there are several restaurants and clubs on Pub Street alone that are owned by the same people who own Temple Club (including Khmer Family Restaurant). Any business that’s too big and spreads uncontrollably destroying all smaller business owners around gets a thumbs down from me.
Temple Club Personal Review Conclusion
I’ve enjoyed free Apsara Show provided upstairs at the club and found it to be a must visit gig for everyone who comes to Siem Reap. If you like big crowds of drunk people and enjoy attention con artists and prostitutes give their potential “clients” until they get what they want from them, then downstairs of Temple Club is for you. Being Siem Reap’s epicenter of petty crime, one needs to be very careful about their belongings or should not bring any valuables with them and only as much money as you are going to need for food and drinks. I personally prefer more intelligent entertainment venues so I’ve only visited Temple Club a couple of times. It is definitely worth visiting if you just want a beer or two and need to get on the internet with your laptop while you’re at it. Just keep it low profile so you don’t attract too much attention of truly dangerous Cambodian con artist upon yourself.
It rained most of the day today and at one point it was coming down so heavily, the streets were filled with three feet of water. There didn’t seem to be any drainage system in place in San Pedro de Macoris even though the town is right on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. Driving through flooded streets near disabled my brakes. I was in a 4×4 SUV so I could plow through it, but as I got out of the flood, brakes would not work. There was no resumption for a while but I kept stepping on them after acceleration to heat them back up as I figured they don’t wark because water cooled them down rapidly.
Domingo tried calling the number of the potential notebook theft suspect, but there was no answer. We made appointments to appear on live radio shows the following day and decided to wrap this one up as it was nearing midnight already.
Domingo mentioned that he told his wife about me and how I was robbed by a girl I was helping and said it made his wife very upset. She was angry at the girl for doing it and could not take it off her mind. Since it was nighttime again and I was as stressed as can be because my time in the Dominican Republic was running out yet I still have not recovered my stolen laptop, I asked Domingo if he would go for a beer with me again and asked him if his wife would be interested in joining us. He phoned her up and made arrangements for her to dress up so she’s ready by the time we get to his house.
Domingo has a beautiful wife. They ended up in this weird relationship because she was once married and had two children but her husband abandoned them. He simply picked up one day and disappeared never to come back. Domingo on the other hand was also married and had two children with his wife whom he caught on several occasions at home doing bumping business with another man. He was putting up with it for as long as he could but eventually had to go his own way. Now he’s married to a woman whose previous marriage didn’t work out either, but they seem very happy together and create a beautiful couple.
I knew Domingo didn’t drink and I was sure his wife didn’t either. I was gonna have my Presidente Grande again and thought Domingo will do a small one, but didn’t want to drag his wife into this drinking game so I suggested that take her to an ice cream parlor. The plan was to get a big ice cream for Domingo’s wife so she can savor it while the two of us are sipping on Dominican beer.
We walked into that ice cream place which was just on the opposite side of the road from those mini bars by the shore and as we were choosing which ice cream to get, a girl working there offered us samples of a caramel one. I had my taste buds focused on beer which I was gonna chug in a minute but I gave that ice cream sample a try and was blown away. That ice cream was so good I don’t think I’ve ever tasted ice cream this irresistible. One small sample and my mouth was watering with lust. Dominican ice cream is the best. It was so insanely awesome I was seriously contemplating ditching beer and having a cone instead.
Despite amazingly tasting ice cream I have resisted the urge and stayed true to my original intention to grab a beer before sleep. We went back to the bar where Keira served us the night before, but she was not there and their bar was closed. That was kind of disappointing but Domingo explained that many social places in the Dominican Republic are not open every day. Sometimes owners get a better gig somewhere else, sometimes they simply take care of their private matters and sometimes it’s simply not worth it as some days during the week are generally slow. We ordered beer elsewhere, I took Domingo and his wife back to their home and set out on my own way to get some sleep. Still insanely stressed out because of that laptop theft. but I tried my best to get some rest at night. That Dominican ice cream was seriously yummy, though.
Domingo directed me to a road that stretches along San Pedro’s malecon, which is the sea-side of this coastal town. Southern side of the road, the one closer to the sea is lined by small booth like, independently owned and run bars. These look like roofed hot-dog stands you would take with you to a fair to sell from, but inside they were full of shelves with booze and fridges with cold beer. It was already almost 10pm and there were many cars parked along this side of the street but I was able to find one spot and poked my rental there. We sat at the booth closest to the car.
The booth seemed served by a mother and daughter. One young lady in her early 20’s and one in her 40’s looked strikingly similar to not be mistaken for family. Pretending I was joyous I ordered myself one large beer (Presidente Grande) and a small one for Domingo (Presidente Pequena) as he insisted he couldn’t do the large one – he’s a non drinker, but made an exception for me. Young bar lady served us these beers right from the freezer with frost covering the glass. We were just meters from the sea so the sound of waves bashing against rocky shores accompanied our drinking time. Unfortunately, as it goes in the Dominican Republic, many of surrounding bars were competing in who has the most powerful speakers and played that atrociously irritating Dominican Music extremely loud. Luckily, the tiny outdoor bar we were in was a bit further from main sources of noise so we could actually talk to each other and hear what we’re saying.
I was eager to try to forget the ordeal I was going through at least for a couple of minutes which was luckily not difficult since Domingo was a really nice and positive guy who made me feel comfortable even though I was still in the country I started to perceive as extremely hostile. To top it all up, young bar girl who served us beers joined the debate and tried her English skills with me. It was funny because she lacked knowledge of fundamental vocabulary, but was familiar with phrases I would not expect a beginner to know – such as “give me five”.
Despite difficulties and utter sadness, I felt happy for a moment. Domingo was a great companion and that bar girl added her gracious presence to the equation so I could take my mind away from the pain I was feeling inside. Domingo told me that he’s seen way too many people like me being robbed by bad people of the Dominican Republic. He confirmed that I was not the first, nor will be the last who had something valuable stolen from them. He also said that relying on the police in the Dominican Republic is completely futile not only because they won’t do nothing, but also because if they did find my stolen laptop, they would not give it to me. They would simply keep it for themselves. That’s the way it works in the Dominican Republic and whether I liked it or not, my presence was not gonna change it.
When we were done drinking I had to take Domingo back home to his wife. he had school to go to the following day anyway so I couldn’t keep him up too long. I was really happy to have found a friend in this country despite of all the trouble I was experiencing because of bad Dominicans. Domingo was right – there are too many dishonest Dominicans in this country who will not hesitate to steal from a person who is helping them, but he also insisted that among all the bad apples, there are some good people here too. I knew he was one of them and after the bar girl learned about my ordeal, she offered a great deal of compassion and support too. This day I made two new friends who made the rest of my stay in the Dominican Republic more enjoyable. As we were leaving, the girl introduced herself to us as Keira. It’s not a typical Dominican name but it’s cute and suited her well.
The first thing that went through my mouth in Cambodia was Angkor Beer. I went to have my first Cambodian meal at Khmer Family Restaurant on Pub Street in Siem Reap and since I was there in the morning (aka while business is slow, as Siem Reap comes alive in the evening after tourists have returned from exploring Angkor Wat temples), the “happy hour” value prices were in effect (happy hour lasts form opening until 6pm – they call it “happy day” since it’s in effect most of the day, rather than just for an hour). Drink was included in price of meal which only totalled to $3, making it an overall great deal for a westerner. The choice of free drink included local beer, soft drink (coca cola or similar) or fresh coconut. Fresh coconut sounded tempting, but coconuts taste pretty much the same everywhere in the world. I wanted to get a taste of local cuisine and local drink. Beer was my pick.
Since food is prepared fresh on per order basis in the kitchen of each restaurant, it takes about 10 minutes to get it on the table after ordering. You can enjoy your drink while you’re waiting which is served quickly. I was truly looking forward to my beer which came soon after ordering and bore the name of place I came to see – Angkor Wat.
Angkor Beer prides itself on being the National Beer of Cambodia. I thought that name must count for something and sure enough, the beer tastes great. I consider myself being a little bit of beer connoisseur (or at least a passionate beer drinker – explains the beer gut on me) so I truly appreciate quality beers. And Angkor beer does not lack in taste regard. I have never felt any unpleasant after-taste following a thirsty gulp. Angkor Beer always comes down your throat smoothly and feel very enjoyable to drink.
Drinking Draught Beer in Cambodia
Cambodian laws are not as strict about alcohol as laws in my home country of Canada so beer is served freely in most establishments. You will see signs advertising sale prices for draught beer set down to $0.50, often claiming that this is today’s special. It’s never a special, these are regular prices offered by each establishment every day, they just use fancy advertising slogans to entice you into buying a beer from them. More upscale bars and clubs sometimes sell draught beer for more (Temple Club charges $0.75, Island Bar in Night Market sells draughts for $1).
The only thing that sets draught beer served in Cambodian establishments apart from draught beer at home is size. Sure, beer here is darn cheap ($0.50 for a draught is a great price any way you spin it), however you are not getting a whole pint for this money. I don’t know how much exactly it is, but it looks like it could be half pint. Still great price for draught beer, just be ready for drinking from the smallest beer glass you have ever seen.
Angkor Beer Factory in Sihanoukville
I was interested in learning more about Angkor Beer as I truly did not think they knew much about brewing beer in Cambodia, nevermind brewing of tasty beers. I was wrong. Cambodians are actually big beer drinkers and the history of beer drinking goes a long way back in Cambodia. There are pre-historic drawings in caves showing drunk men laying around after drinking rice beer from coconut shells. Not much has changed in this regard to this day. Cambodians still enjoy drinking beer and do so each time there is an occasion worth celebrating (basically any time).
Angkor Beer is brewed by Cambrew in Sihanoukville, Cambodia – the town most famous for best Cambodian beaches. I have not been to the brewery nor Sihanoukville itself yet (though I’m planning on going soon), but I’ve heard the brewery is on top of the mountain overlooking Sihanoukville, only about 10 minutes from downtown.
Angkor Brewery started brewing Angkor Beer in 1963 and produces over 250 million cans of beer per year, making it the biggest beer brewery in Cambodia. Aside from being the most popular beer in Cambodia enjoyed by both tourists and locals alike, Angkor Beer is also exported to countries all over the world.
Other Cambodian Beers
While Angkor Beer seems to be the most popular and most served beer in Cambodia, it’s not the only beer produced by this beer hungry country. Tiger Beer seems to be on the rise with lots of advertising and sponsorships of major sporting events across South East Asia. Anchor Beer seems to ride the tail of Angkor Beer by having the name that resembles the more popular alternative. There are also rumors that Carlsberg Beer will be opening a brewery in Cambodia soon. Japanese Asahi Beer is also available throughout Cambodia, even though it’s usually a bit more expensive.