Sunday, March 8, 2009

Random Musings on Cambodia

It's sad to see the huge income disparities in Cambodia. Despite all the tourism dollars flowing in (mind you, Siem Reap is not cheap to tour), there seems to be so little of the money actually filtering down to the people. In the little villages just bordering the main tourist road, the poverty is still so acute that there is no running water, modern sewerage systems, or electricity. Two-thirds of the children in Cambodia do not complete even primary education. One would think that it is the duty of the government to provide public goods like transport infrastructure, electrical networks, street lights and so on. But sadly, the money is siphoned away by corrupt officials at every level (On the Corruption Index, Cambodia has one of the highest if not the highest scores in the world). In the meanwhile, the people suffer and the country languishes.
Back to happier food topics. Khmer Kitchen in the Old Market area (The Alley) serves wonderfully tasty khmer cuisine at very affordable prices (USD4 per pax on average), though it is jam packed with tourists (one could say that about every single restaurant in Siem Reap since the locals just can't afford to eat out). I like Khmer food since it relies very heavily on the use of fresh herbs like lemongrass, thai basil, galangal and has a very light and fresh taste to it -close to Thai food but with a sourish twist - not so rich and less chilli hot. We also tried this Cambodian BBQ place which was interesting if not exactly in the realm of great food.

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