Whenever I travel to a new place, I like to steep myself deep in their culture, of which food is an extremely integral part. Cambodia was no different, especially since I had heard great things about the food here. So, it seemed but natural to enrol for a cooking class while I was in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. Khmer food includes a lot of fish, fish sauce (which I fund a bit too strong fro my liking), chicken and pork. They also feast on many insects, which we were not adventurous enough to try.After referring to trip advisor about various cooking schools, we chose Veasna's Cooking class (Veasnainthekitchen.com) as we could customise the menu and have a private class for ourselves. Veasna came at 8:30 am to our Hotel on Sisowath Quay and off we were to shop for our ingredients.Just after a few minutes' walk, we reached the market where every fish, meat and vegetable imaginable were being sold. The sights were very fascinating; women filleting fish with the same skill of a starred chef, milk being extracted from coconuts with specialised equipment, mounds of the famous kampot pepper filling the sir with their aroma, fresh lemongrass and kafir lime leaves made into a ready-to-use paste and new vegetables that I had never encountered amongst others. WE spent a goof 45 minutes walking around and buying produce for our meal. On our way to the cooking class, we picked up a huge tender coconut inside which we were to cook fish amok - Cambodia's most popular dish (and my favourite).
Day 2 - Was travel day to Pattaya.Thanks to a very minor accident,we had to postpone the travel to early evening and not morning as planned.We took a bus from Ekkamai bus station to Pattaya.Buses leave on time here and hence it is best to arrive early enough.It gets very humid in Bangkok and hence best to ensure that you consume enough fluids through the day.We arrived at our hotel in Pattaya,relaxed for while before we headed to the streets nearby.Pattaya can be very much on your face initially.Definitely not my favorite place!Travel tip - shared tuk tuks are really cheap.Do ensure that you confirm the price per person before boarding these shared tuk tuks.Day 3 - By now,we were getting used to the weather,food and streets in Thailand.The strong cooking oil odor is everywhere and takes time getting used to.Day 3 started by a walk down the Pattaya beach road.The beach is strictly okay here.Travel Tip - Buy water from 7/11.It would cost anywhere between 9-18 THB.Restaurants charge a lot for bottle of water.After a long walk down the beach road and lunch at an Indian restaurant,we were back at our hotel ready to move back to Bangkok.The bus ride from Pattaya to Bangkok feels very similar to the bus ride from Mumbai to Pune.Since,we had an early morning flight to Phuket next morning,we booked a hotel (G9 Bangkok) closer to the Don Mueng airport.Travel Tip - If you are short of food and it is very late in the day - just walk upto a 711 store and buy packed food for 35-60THB.They would warm it at their store for you to carry back to your hotel.We had to do this because all restaurants in the area had closed by the time we got ready for dinner.If one has time,chatuchak market is a must visit.Day 4 - Travel to Phuket!A very different place compared to cities in North Thailand.The approach to Phuket runway is lovely! There are several small hills dotting the sea below!It looks gorgeous from the top.
Here I was at the Sea Farm Model Royal Project, gazing in disbelief at the massive eels, salt pans and freshly-prepared spa salt. Then came the moment of truth, when I was told to taste the fresh sea weed.