Category: Asia

Hit by a Motorcycle, Kicked by a Horse, Attacked by a Monkey

Have you ever watched, ‘Christmas Vacation’ with Chevy Chase? There’s a great line by cousin Ed, that goes something like ” Kicked by a mule, eyes go crossed. Fall down a well, eyes go un-crossed.” There was a day in November 2002, Siem Reap, Cambodia, where my husband and I repeated this over and over, laughing hysterically because that was basically how the day had gone!

Early in the day, we were in a taxi in the city of Siem Reap, when a motorcycle came out of nowhere and ran into the car we were in. The driver of the motorcycle went flew off the bike which skidded across the street. Shocked we started to jump out to see if he was ok, but he just got up, ran to the bike and off he went again. The driver of our taxi seemed indifferent to the event and muttered something like ‘idiot’ and off we went again, on our way to spend the day at the ancient ruins of Angkor.

The entrance to Angkor Wat

The entrance to Angkor Wat

The day before, we had a guided tour, so this day was going to be to ourselves to wander around and explore. My husband, Sean, loves animals. I like animals, but have an underlying mistrust for animals, I don’t know. As we walked the path towards Angkor Wat, we admired a horse tied to a stone, in the middle of a grassy field. There didn’t seem to be anybody around with the horse. Sean wandered over and gave the horse a pat. He kept trying to coax me over, to say hello to the horse as well. I said, ‘No thanks-I’ll just watch from here’. He kept insisting that I come, so finally I gave in and headed towards the horse. As soon as I was within 6 feet of the horse, he started to turn around so that his back was to me. Before we knew it, he was winding up for a kick. Sean, was between me and the horse, and our camera bag, was slung across his shoulder and sitting at his waist. The horse connected with the camera and therefore his hip which then slammed him into me and I went flying. We quickly retreated and luckily he was tied. The horse must have sensed that I was uncomfortable. In the end, we were a bit sore but no worse for wear and we continued to explore. Our camera, however did not survive and we had to take the rest of our photos with a disposable camera. (The camera was insured, and I’m sure ‘kicked by a horse’ must have been pretty funny to an insurance adjuster somewhere!).

The horse!

The horse!

Later in the day, we came across a tribe of monkeys, hanging out on the side of the road. The looked friendly enough and interacted with people at a distance. There was a roadside foodstand not too far away, and my husband spotted some bananas. Jackpot! We bought some bananas to give to the monkeys. Again, I was a bit nervous so I kept my distance. Sean was about 20 feet away, and he squatted down and pulled out the bananas to give to them. I wish I could have captured this on videotape. Probably the most terrified I’ve ever seen him look. One of the friendly monkeys, suddenly beared his fangs (who knew they had fangs?!) and started running at him full speed. Sean jumped up, tossed the bananas and ran for his life! Once a safe distance away the monkey gave up and went back for the bananas.

What a day! Lots of drama, many lessons learned, but not a scratch to show for it. It’s one we won’t forget.

Dreaming of Street Meat

The world is full of tasty delights.  While sitting down to a meal in a nice restaurant can be a great way to end the day, there are lots of other options that are easier on the pocket book and sometimes end up being the food you remember most about a country.  In many places ” Fast-Food” doesn’t involve looking for the golden arches, it is available direct from a local entrepreneur and prepared fresh in front of you.  My husband and I , affectionately call this ” street meat ” because the first time we encountered it, we were terrified that it would make us sick.  It turns out however, that every time we have been sick while traveling, it was after eating at a nice restaurant.

There are of course some guidelines, you need to follow, to ensure that the food is safe for your family to eat.  Always be sure that meat products were properly stored.  Watch to see if it is removed from an ice chest and make sure it is cooked fresh in front of you and hasn’t been sitting out for a while.  When possible, bring your own mug or glass, because re-usable drinking cups may not be washed in safe or hot water.

The following is a list of some of the best street food I’ve enjoyed.  Whenever I get home from traveling, I always want to eat like this but it seems that the key to these regional specialties is the availability of fresh food which we don’t often have access to in North America.

1.  Fresh Fruit, Bangkok, Thailand.- Fresh pineapple and melons on ice are peddled around in glass carts and sold on street corners.buying-fruit

2.  Corn over charcoal- Chaing Mai, Thailand.

3.  Donairs, Halifax, Canada- Atlantic Canadian version like the usual doner kebab, but uses a slightly sweet milk-based garlic sauce and tomatoes/onions. It should be very soaked and sloppy when served.

4.  Grilled mystery meat on any street corner in Asia.

5.  Fresh Seafood on the beach in Oualidia, Morocco.- The fisherman will come around to take your order then set up a BBQ and grill it right in front of you. Oysters are also on this impromptu menu if you are so inclined.Fish in Oalidia

6.  Orange Juice in Djamaa El Fna, Marrakesh- freshly squeezed but I recommend your own glass.

7.  Red Tea Djamaa El Fna, Marrakesh.

8.  Mint Tea, Fez, Morocco.- Made with green tea and fresh mint leaves steeped in you own tea pot with lots of sugar and poured using a special technique into what look like large shot glasses.

9.  Cheese, bread and sausages-Portugal, Spain, France and Italy- A staple found in any market, bakery etc.

10. Gyros,  Corfu, Greece.  – Consisting of meat (typically lamb and/or beef), tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce, and is served in pita bread.


 

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