Food for those with a strong stomach and silk farm

March 10 ~ Siem Reap

Field rat being grilled roadside

Field rat being grilled roadside

The heat and humidity are draining and I’m struggling some today as we leave Battambang for a five-hour bus ride to Siem Reap. Keeping hydrated is a challenge as we perspire fluids as quickly as we take it in. 

To break up the long drive we have two scheduled stops in addition to one short break to use the “happy room” and get a beverage.

Rice fields (most have already been harvested)

Rice fields (most have already been harvested)

The first stop is along the side of the highway to see a wide variety of food being grilled. The most well-known, and what probably draws the most attention is field rat. Known as “star meat” in Thailand, and having already tasted it there, I had no need to have “seconds”.

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The food stalls were lined along both sides of the roadway, and we strolled past several to find interesting and unique selections that included grilled snake (both with and without skin), frogs on skewers, duck, fish drying in the sun, crickets, worms, and another dried or grilled sea creature that I think may have been small stingrays. There were also several items in jars that I could not identify.

Houses behind the stands

Houses behind the roadside stands

Also seen along the side of the road, usually at the end of the food offerings, was a display of plastic bottles filled with a yellow fluid. We found out that was gasoline which is sold for locals to fill up their motor bikes. It costs around 70 cents a liter buying it this way.

Gasoline being sold roadside in plastic soda bottles

Gasoline being sold roadside in plastic bottles

I was horrified to see the cruelty to the animals shown here. Two examples we witnessed today was a load of pigs literally bound together, stacked on top of each other, still alive and tied onto a wagon and another wagon taking a load of live ducks hanging upside down with their feet bound, also still alive.

Ducks hanging by their feet - still alive!

Ducks hanging by their feet – still alive! (picture taken through our bus window)

Small town we passed through

Small town we passed through

Stop number two was at a silk farm. We have also visited similar operations before in Thailand, but the tour and explanation here was well done and thorough.

Fed fresh mulberry leaves four times a day, the silk worms are raised until they are 24 days old. At that point they are placed onto round bamboo frames where they start to weave their cocoon. A small percentage are allowed to mature and hatch into moths to reproduce and continue the cycle.

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The remaining silk cocoons are placed in boiling water to kill the moth inside and then placed in the sun to dry. Then the pods are again placed into hot water and carefully (and skillfully) unwound to form the very fine silk threads.

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Tiny pieces of moth are painstakingly removed by hand and the silk is then prepared to dye a variety of different colors. The dye is made from plants and local flowers.

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Patterns may be created on individual bundles of thread during the dying process which are then used in a very specific order to create intricate patterns in the cloth.

Patterns done by tying plastic in place before dying

Patterns done by tying plastic in place before dying

Sample of pattern created

Sample of pattern created

The weaving process is painstakingly slow and tedious. We are more aware of why fine hand-woven silk products are pricey. And of course they have a showroom where you are invited to make a purchase from beautiful items ranging from scarves to purses, clothing to pillow covers and much more.

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Arriving at our hotel around two in the afternoon, in time for a late lunch and then the group broke up to explore, rest, or indulge in a massage. Feeling a bit like a wet noodle, I fell into a coma like deep sleep for a couple of hours, showered and got ready for our evening buffet dinner and cultural show called Apsara.

Soria Moria Hotel for three nights

Soria Moria Hotel for three nights

The food was OK, but Tim got a MSG reaction, which was not pleasant for him. I would give the show only a few stars out of ten, though the ladies were elegant, graceful and their hand movements slow and expressive. They have shaped their hands over years to be able to bend the fingers back into these artistic positions.

Tomorrow will be a BIG DAY for us – finally getting to visit Angkor Wat!

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for the healthy choices we have at home in the food categories, but found it very interesting to see and experience so many local options. Rat, snake and grilled frog are not at the top of my idea of a gourmet meal, but to each their own.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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13 Responses to Food for those with a strong stomach and silk farm

  1. I’d have to be pretty hungry to go for the rats. Even more hungry for the snakes. 🙂 (I have eaten rattlesnake meat, however.) I found the gas bottles interesting. Good post. Thanks. —Curt

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  2. Marie says:

    I remember all the cricket traps with their plastic tarps when I was there. I didn’t try any.

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  3. Nice post. I read during dinner and the fried rats kind of stunned me, lol. Also, the animal cruelty instances hurt to read (pigs are supposedly smarter than dogs) but at the same time, this is someone else’s culture and it’s best not to judge (though of course I’m judging, animal lover and vegan that I am). The silk farm was fascinating. Cheers and enjoy.

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  4. Brenda says:

    Great photos, and detailed descriptions are what I love about your blog. The silk farm and weaving process is fascinating, however the cruelty of animals in any culture is extremely disturbing. I quickly glanced at your picture, but reading that the pigs and ducks are alive–and their process of transporting them –is excruciatingly painful. It hurts my heart. I saw similar examples when I traveled to Malaysia in 1997.
    Thanks for sharing the beauty, as well as addressing some tough issues.

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  5. Thank you Brenda. I try to keep my writing on a positive note, but also want it to be authentic. Sometimes there is no way to paint a pretty picture, especially when witness to mass genocide or animal cruelty. Still I look at the world through rose colored glasses and hope I can continue to share our experiences in a way that others can learn from and (mostly) enjoy.

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  6. Thank you sooooo much for the great information about Cambodia. We will be there in November. Would you recommend the tour company you are using?

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    • This is our first time with Intrepid. They are a little more basic and stripped down than other tour companies we have used in the past, but we are enjoying ourselves. I think if you are OK with 2 star hotels, have a good sense of adventure, can keep an open mind and heart, be flexible and try to look at things through unbiased eyes, you would love the trip. We will be starting our Gate 1 tour next Monday and the first three days will be duplicates of the start of our Intrepid trip. After that I should be able to give a more objective and balanced comparison of the two companies.

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      • Midlifewalkabout says:

        I soooo appreciate your insight. We are adventurous and love diving into local culture so intrepid could be an option. Ankor Wat is definitely a bucket list destination so I am really enjoying your posts. Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

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