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SKUON,KAMPONG CHAM PROVINCE

Kompong Cham (town):
Cambodia's third largest, err, city, is but two hours or so from Phnom Penh by bus or share taxi on one of Cambodia's best highways. I've never spent the night in Kompong Cham so I can't comment on the hotels, but I did see most of what's worth seeing.

The main attraction, other than the Mekong and its peaceful banks, is Wat Nokor which is a curious combination of an 11th century temple and a modern pagoda. An interesting legend surrounds this structure and you can read about it here. A few kilometers further east are Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei, two hilltop pagodas with their own unique legend. The Khmer Rouge made a mess of things here and between the two hills lies one more of Cambodia's many killing fields. In this case it's nothing more than a cement shed and a pile of bones. Further away from the town sit several more temples and a rubber plantation which I have not visited.

The other area attraction is Koh Paen, an island in the Mekong. I haven't visited it, but people who have seem to enjoy the glimpse into rural Cham life.

Despite this seemingly limited number of attractions, I think sparing a day or even a day and a night in Kompong Cham would be a good addition to a Cambodia holiday.

Skuon:

A fried spider is a regional delicacy of Cambodia. In the small Cambodian town of Skuon in Kampong Cham Province , locals eat fried spiders as an everyday staple. Spiders are also available elsewhere in Cambodia in Phnom Penh for instance but the village of Skuon, a stopover on the road 90 kilometres north of the capital, is the centre of their popularity. The spiders are bred in holes in the ground in villages north of Skuon, or foraged for in nearby forestland, and fried in oil. It is not clear how this practice started, but some have suggested that the population might have started eating spiders out of desperation during the years of Khmer Rouge rule, when food was in short supply.

The spiders are a species of tarantula called "a-ping" in Khmer, and are about the size of a human palm.The snacks cost about 300 riel each in 2002, or about US$0.08.One travel book identifies them as Haplopelma albostriatum, also known as the Thai zebra tarantula, and notes that the same species' common name has been the "edible spider" for more than a hundred years. The popularity of the dish is, however, a recent phenomenon, starting perhaps as late as the 1990s.The same book details a recipe: the spiders are tossed in a mixture of MSG, sugar, and salt; crushed garlic is fried in oil until fragrant, then the spiders are added and fried alongside the garlic until "the legs are almost completely stiff, by which time the contents of the abdomen are not so runny.

The taste is mostly described as bland, with a textural contrast between a crispy exterior and soft centre. The legs contain little flesh, while the head and body have "a delicate white meat inside".The abdomen, however, many find not as pleasant: inside is a brown paste consisting perhaps of organs, eggs, or excrement. Some call it a delicacy while others recommend not eating it.

Spider Skuon Town

Spider Skuon Town

 

 

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