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Trip to Siem Reap (Day 1): Angkor Wat - A MUST-SEE Place

>> Thursday, September 26, 2013

Finally! Time & energy are in my hands now (sorta) :P

Some of you would have known that I've been on several trips since mid of this year, but never had the time to sit down & blog on those places (and the food offered, of course!). I now have the time to do so & in this post, I would like to share with you on the sights & tastes of Cambodia.

My family & I were in Cambodia early June 2013 & we did a 'country-tour', whereby our journey covered 3 of the major provinces in Cambodia i.e. Siem Reap, Battambang, & Phnom Penh. In this post, I'll share with you on the approximate budget, spots that we visited & the food that we ate as well. Do bear in mind that most of the tourist places in Cambodia are architectural buildings & temples. We did LOADS of walking & seeing the different temples although non of us are Buddhist/Hindu.

Map of Cambodia
taken from Wikipedia

Summary cost for tour in Siem Reap
Return flights by Air Asia = RM491.02/person (USD159.42/person)
Transport SR - Hotel =
Tour Angkor + Guide + Fee = RM271.04/person (USD88.00/person)
Hotel SR (2 nights $37/night/room) = RM113.96/person twin sharing (USD37.00/person)
Mini van SR - BT ($70/mini van/way) = RM35.93/person (USD11.67/person)

Day 1: "Small tour"
Upon arriving in the Siem Reap International Airport, we were greeted by our van driver, who took us back to the Khmer Cuisine Bed & Breakfast to "check-in". I found the hotel through Agoda.com & I'm pretty pleased with the place although it wasn't some "wow" hotel. It's a humble place to stay, with air-con rooms & clean beds. The hospitality provided by the staff were also commendable. I won't mind staying there again :) We left our bags there & started our tour with a simple breakfast nearby, followed by a whole day of sight-seeing.

Our B & B - simple & cosy

Inside the B&B 

Khmer Cuisine Bed & Breakfast
Along Siem Reap River
100m northern of Siem Reap Catholic Church
Tel: 855 63 963 728
Fax: 855 63 963 726
Note: I requested the hotel's help for tour + van arrangement. They're VERY helpful & it saved me LOADS of hassle. Prices aren't very different from engaging with a tour guide + transport myself.

Our 1st meal, breakfast, at a nearby restaurant

The food we ordered...not too bad for a humble restaurant near the hotel

The bill came up to approximately USD4/person 

Thida Spean Neak Restaurant
St. 60m, west of Spean Neak about 200m
Treang Village
Sangkat Slor Kram
Siem Reap City
Siem Reap.
(near Khmer Cuisine Bed & Breakfast)

Once we're done with breakfast & energized for a whole day of walking (okay, maybe just half the day of walking), we left for the "Small Circuit" temples around Angkor Wat area by air-con van! It was REALLY hot & we're all VERY glad to have chosen the air-con van for 6 pax instead of taking 3 tuk-tuks.

1. Angkor Thom Temple Complex
The 1st place that we visited was the Angkor Thom temple complex. The entrance of the temple complex is 'guarded' by 1 row of gods (on the left) & another row of demons (on the right).

2. Bayon Temple - built during the late 12th or early 13th century
This temple is easily recognized as it is a temple with many towers & carvings. We had a really good guide (has a degree in history! fuh), who explained to us in detail on the history of the various temples. Every stretch of carving has some story to tell & it was quite interesting to know which king does what & why :P (kings at that time are deemed as gods)

See the stacks of stones? Signs of animism

3. Preah Ngok Pagoda
This temple features a large sand-stone statue of the Buddha sitting crossed leg with its eyes opened only slightly. It's one of the Buddhist temples in the Angkor area during the 13th - 15th century. (info from: khmer-geo)

4. Baphuon Temple - built in the mid 11th century
As every temple has different criteria, this temple is a three-tiered temple mountain built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. (info from: Wikipedia)

5. Royal Palace & Phimeanakas Temple - built around end of 10th century
Phimeanakas is built during the reign of Rajendravarman (from 941-968), then rebuilt by Suryavarman II in the shape of a three tier pyramid as a Hindu temple. On top of the pyramid there was a tower. (info from Wikipedia)

Exit to the Phimeanakas & Royal Palace area

6. Elephant Terrace
This is just a simple terrace for the king to view his army's victorious return from war at that time. The name is derived 'cause of the carvings of elephants on the wall. We find it really mind-boggling to know that the palace/temple area is SO huge that it contains various 'temples' & buildings within a circuit. Imagine how it was when it was active & still in-use! Fwah...

7. Ta Phrom Temple Complex - built around the late 12th - early 13th century
Ta Phrom is another Bayon-style temple complex. The unique feature of this temple complex that you will never miss is the tree roots growing over the walls of the temple. It's so 'jungly' & a good reminder that nature's forces are much stronger than any man-made items.

That was like half a day of pure walking & climbing. We were really tired & the weather didn't help at all! Lunch was much craved, so the driver & tour guide took us to a nearby restaurant. We didn't expect much from that restaurant as it was inside the circuit, where most tourist will frequent. Prices are definitely higher, but surprisingly not terribly high. SO different from Malaysia! Hahaha...

Kolab Angkor Restaurant
Pretty comfortable environment with decent food. A rice set costs an average of USD6.50.

Curry & Amok are very popular in Cambodia - must try when you're here

Kolab Angkor Restaurant
Opposite of Angkor Wat
Trapeang Ses Village
Sangkat Kork Chak
Siem Reap City
Siem Reap.

Right after lunch, we were energized to continue walking & touring. It's time for the highlight of the day: Angkor Wat!

8. Angkor Wat Temple Complex
No explanation is needed as there are many articles written on this majestic temple complex, that was once a Hindu temple, which in the end was converted to a Buddhist temple. The carvings & structure of the building is just amazing - how many years it took for the whole complex to be completed with the technology of the olden days? :S Enjoy the photos!

The temple complex from outside
During certain times of the day (according to the sun shine), the complex's reflection can be admired on the still waters :)

The library (one on each side) 

The place to view the reflection of the entire Angkor Wat during sunrise 
At certain angles, you can view more 'stupas' or peaks of the temple. There should be 5 peaks.

Check out how the slabs of stones are 'joined' 

Pillars must be odd numbers because odd numbers are believed to be auspicious 

Amazing carvings, telling a story as you walk past 

Looking back at the hundreds of photos that I took brings back lovely memories of the trip. It just amazes me how the people in the empires & kingdoms of the olden days are so clever & 'spiritual'. Everything in their life resolves around gods & temples. Kings are revered as they are looked up as representatives of god.

Our current world is a far fetch from the majestic & glorious days in the past. What has changed for the worse & what has improved for the better? I'm in awe in the God whom I believe & in His creation. If earth can be like this (once upon a time), what more Heaven, which I await to return to? :)

Stay tuned for the next post on Day 2 in Siem Reap!

Feeling nostalgic,


Guest post: Woods Bio Marche – heaven on earth for vegans in KL!

>> Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This is my 1st time having a guest blogger on my blog! Put your hands together & welcome Edith McMan, blogger of Apples on Sticks, who will introduce a vegetarian restaurant in KL to all readers of The Ruthless Eater :) Enjoy her write-up!

I was so happy to have found this place for a vegetarian like me, wandering the streets of Kuala Lumpur in search of some food I could do with. After my first week in Asia I was already suffering from heartburn from all the spicy food, and I couldn't really find anything that was both healthy and vegetarian. I was sick for a week from food poisoning, been to the doctor and also used Gaviscon for health issues, when my friend called me up and insisted I went to this place called Woods Bio Marche. "It would be perfect for me", he said, so I went. And I haven’t stopped going since …

Photo taken from Renegade Travels

My visit to KL was really hectic, eating out all the time, moving from one place to another, going to bed late – and on top of that, I had serious problems with enjoying the local food, as it was mostly
a) non-vegetarian,
b) unhealthy and
c) too spicy for me.

It shouldn't have been a surprise that I was suffering from heartburn from time to time, and ultimately had to start using Gaviscon pills to calm my stomach down. I was mostly just going from one restaurant to another, ordering the same two things that I knew were vegetarian. It got quite boring at one point. If you have a sensitive digestive system like me, you might find this info-graphic quite useful during your time spent in Asia:

But thanks to my friend, I discovered Woods. Woods has a nice, relaxing ambience in addition to serving vegan and healthy food. You get to enjoy Asian food as well, such as Dim Sum and Miso Soup, but my all-time favorite has to be the Soy Burger, which consists of a Soy patty, salad and a delicious sauce.

Carrot, Okra, Lentil Burger

For a warm drink, you might want to go with the soy cocoa. I also tried and loved the tahini sauce noodles, and the corn rice. But the whole experience doesn't end when you leave, because Woods features an attached shop where you can buy your organic fruits, vegetables, seeds, pasta etc. Pretty awesome, right?

Curry Soy Noodles

Kale - Steamed Cabbage with Tumeric 

As far as the setting goes, the whole place has this feel to it that calms you down as soon as you enter. The door chimes cling as you open the door, and the staff welcomes you. You can choose your table, and all of them are large made of sturdy wood, with comfortable seats.

Aphorisms available on each table

Picked out an Aphorism that came in the form of a song! ;)

A row of mirrors cover the wall on the inner wall, and there’s no distracting music being played, which has a calming effect. You get your menus and you’re ready to order; depending on what you order, you get to improve the health of your body. If you had a rough night in the weekend, go for something like Liver food. And if you’re looking for a refreshing drink, go for the Lemongrass water!

So if you’re in KL, I say try it out! Woods is such a nice place, you can enjoy the food, the ambiance and the service, all the while being sure that you get all your nutrients and you are full, too. It’s very centrally located, in Bukit Bintang, and easily accessible. As the name predicts, it’s a natural place with natural food in a natural environment.

Map to Woods Bio Marche

Restoran Woods Bio Marche
Lot G-02, Ground Floor, Wisma Bukit Bintang
28, Jalan Bukit Bintang (opposite Federal Hotel)
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 2143 1636
Business hours: Daily 11:00a.m. - 9:00p.m.

About the guest writer:

Edith always liked to write and has an opinion about almost anything. Therefore, it only occurred naturally that she started up her own blog, with the latest being applesonsticks.com, where she posts random stuff about her broad interests. She is currently working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which inspired her with a lot of new thoughts to share, especially about food.

I hope you enjoyed Edith's write-up :)

One & only,


Review: Casahana (喜月堂) Mooncakes 2013

>> Monday, September 16, 2013

Celebrate this mid-autumn festival with Casahana's extensive variety of mooncakes. From the traditional pure lotus seed paste to the modern pomegranate, yam, & more, people from all walks of life will be able to find something that will suit their preference!

Pretty packaging, suitable as gifts to business partners, family & friends :)

Be spoiled for choice with the 16 different flavours of mooncakes, with prices ranging from RM14.90/mooncake - RM17.90/mooncake.

Among the many existing favourites this year are 3 new flavours i.e. Scarlet Snow, Empress Magic and Violet Harmony, which are rather unique mooncakes in my opinion! Who would have thought of using pomegranates, rose petal, apples, ginseng & sweet potato for mooncakes? It does feel rather contemporary & perhaps too bizarre, but it's like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out such flavours while they're around :P

I've eaten Casahana's mooncakes before & I found it to be a pretty tasty mooncake brand compared to the many in the market. I was given 4 more-classic mooncakes to try, so here's my review:

Packaging: Contemporary with a traditional touch - very presentable

Overall mooncake: Thin layer of mooncake skin covering a generous portion of smooth & sweet filling a.k.a. "pei pok ham leng' (Cantonese)! It's not too oily (VERY important factor for me), not too sweet, & not dry - perfect!

Price: Standard - it's not more expensive than its competitors, but the quality of the mooncake is indeed commendable.

Pure Lotus 1 Yolk (RM15.90/mooncake)
A classic favourite that most people will go for - the pure lotus with 1 yolk. Somehow having a pure lotus mooncake with 1 yolk is a must in a box of 4 :D Salted egg yolk with sweet lotus paste is just delicious! 

Jade Custard (RM16.90/mooncake)
I'm a fan of pandan-flavoured lotus paste & this particular flavour came with a 'custard' center that resembled the salted egg yolk. It's a good choice for those who don't like the egg yolk or prefer to have something with lesser cholesterol.

Check out how thin the skin is!

Macha Red Bean (RM16.90/mooncake)
The green tea filling is actually quite nice, but as I'm not as fan of red bean paste, I find the red bean paste center not very appealing to my tastebuds. The red bean paste was also slightly 'grainy'/coarse as I think it lacks oil.

Pumpkin Taro (RM16.90/mooncake)
I felt that this was one of the 'weirdest' combination of mooncake that I've eaten. I can't really taste the pumpkin nor the taro when I eat it together. It's my least favourite among the 4 flavours in the box.

We've 3 more days to mid-autumn festival this Thursday, so do bring home some Casahana mooncakes to enjoy with your family & friends this Thursday night beneath the bright moonlight :) (that's usually what my family does with my relatives each year...hehehe)

Casahana Mooncakes are available at all major supermarkets in KL, JB, Penang & Singapore. Enjoy!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

HYT Food Industries Sdn. Bhd
7 & 9, Jalan PJU 3/47
Sunway Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya 
Selangor Darul Ehsan
Tel: (+603) 7805 5339 
Fax: (+603) 7805 5393
URL: HYT Food Industries Sdn. Bhd
FB: https://www.facebook.com/Casahana

Looking forward to mooncake festival,

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