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Dalama Adventures Tale of two corporate types ditching their jobs and traveling the world for 14 months... check out all photos, blogs & interesting tid bits at http://www.dalama.net

The Cambodian Strip-Mall

CAMBODIA | Saturday, 30 June 2007 | Views [2449]

Many enterprising Cambodians line the streets in highly touristed areas - each of the big temple/sites in Angkor, and on the streets of popular tourist cities of Siem Ream and Phnom Penh, into what we'll term as the portable "strip mall" or Cambodian strip stalls.  Getting out of a tuk-tuk at one of these areas, we hear the common chorus of vendors all vying for our business.  "Hello lady, hello sir, buy my food!"  It's overwhelming, but they're a bit less aggressive than what we've experienced elsewhere - all standing several feet in front of their food stalls and make-shift tented portable restaurants with plastic tables & chairs.  There's an imaginary line they all seem to stand behind, like the invisible electric shock fence some people use in the States to keep their pets in the yard.  They all wave their menus in unison at us; there's maybe 20 of them and four of us... how to pick?  They all have the same menu and prices, so I consider the tactic of an auction scene and turn it into a game... “Ok, who has a mango shake for $1?”  They all scream "me, lady, me."  So then I say, "ok, who has mango shake for 50 cents?"  They still all scream "me!"  And then I inquire further... "if you really have mangoes, show me your mangoes... I see bananas hanging, but where are your mangoes?"  (you see, it's the end of mango season, and very few if any have them).  One woman steps forward, beyond the imagery line, and pulls something out of her bag... it's a can of processed tropical juice.  No one has mango.  We thank them all, and go with the woman to stepped out of the crowd, to buy a can of coke from her.  That started a rage of angry women saying, "you said you only buy mango, I have coke, and you don't buy from me, why you buy from her?"  I guess I should have just gone direct to one, and not played the auction game... but after the same scene site after site, we needed to jazz up the buying process a bit for the consumer.

Our favorite strip stalls are the multi-insect vendor types.  In Cambodia, their treats top the ones we've seen in Thailand.  Big, black, crispy fried tarantulas, BBQ'd grasshoppers and crickets so big that they are literally skewered on sticks, crunchy big larvae that look like giant puffed up leech carcasses, heaping piles of smaller crickets, and silver-dollar sized shiny black deep-fried beetles.  Somewhere among the inset stalls Darrin found a popcorn vendor wedged in.  It's been six months since we've seen popcorn and while the bugs were tempting (Darrin really wanted to experience what it would be like to be on Fear Factor), we opted for the corn versus the tarantula.  

Tags: Markets


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