Eating pong tia koon – Cambodian balut!

duck-embryo

Pong tia koon is the Cambodian version of balut. It’s simply a fertilized duck embryo which adds a lot to the eww factor for a lot of people. We were in Siem Reap and saw a street vendor selling it – that’s the only way to eat pong tia koon! :)

eating balut cambodia

I’ve eaten balut in the Philippines before. On the streets of Manila, eating fertilized duck embryo is just a simple matter – you crack open the balut, suck out the juices and get a twist of salt to go with the egg. It’s just that simple.

cambodian balut

However, the process of eating pong tia koon is quite complex in Cambodia. Cambodians have a wide variety of condiments to add to the fertilized duck embryo before it’s ready to eat. There’s almost a ritualized feel to it. It’s balut, Khmer style! smirk

eating pong tia koon

The egg is cracked into a plate, with the embryo and juices flowing freely. Fine salt and black pepper powder is added to it. Fresh lime is cut while a mixture of garlic slices and chilli is liberally poured into the plate and Cambodian mint (laksa leaves) sprinkled before it’s suitable to be served.

cambodia balut

It’s delicious! I found the Khmer style of serving balut to be extremely tasty! I ordered 3 pong tia koon and it left me wanting more. It’s just 1,000 KHR (0.25 USD) per egg. The mixture of spices goes very well with the egg and also the tiny duck inside. I told Ling it just tastes like chicken soup and got her to eat some so she’s experienced eating balut before. :)

pong tia koon

The Cambodian pong tia koon is a lot more intense in some ways than balut in the Philippines – they keep the duck longer (19 days compared to 17 days) so you can see a mature chick inside. It’s fully recognizable as a baby duck!

balut developed chick

There’s a head staring back at you with huge eyes, a long neck, webbed feet. You can even see the rib cage of the baby duck! It’s delicious though – the sweet, sour and spicy condiments make this a truly delicious dish that you’ll crave for instead of something to eat just to experience. :)

My girlfriend’s two birthdays!

Birthday #1

ling birthday

This was my brainchild and happened on the day before her actual birthday (we flew to Siem Reap for her birthday vacation). I had planned a series of surprises for the week leading up to her birthday. :)

Patchi chocolates

patchi

The first was chocolates from Patchi. This has a special meaning for us (not the brand itself) but coz one of the first gifts I gave her was from Royce, followed by Godiva and this the trilogy of “premium chocolates”.

patchi chocolate store

I got their signature collection from MidValley – she was actually wondering what shop it was and I remember walking in the first time, saying I’ll get her a box and she looked at the price tag and said she doesn’t want it. I know, she’s really an *awesome* person like that.

patchi chocolates

I decided to drop the subject since I knew her birthday was coming up and I wanted this to be one of the presents…and thus, I gave it to her as the start of the birthday gifts. :)

24 pink roses bouquet

pink roses

I also planned to walk into her office with a bouquet of flowers that I got from Bloom (which actually has great service compared to Giftlab, the latter has rude delivery guys). I got the 24 stalks of pink roses at my condo, and drove out to her office with the intention of surprising her by walking in unannounced.

girlfriend birthday

It was foiled coz she was already standing outside, ready to go out. I didn’t make it in time before she headed out for lunch. Oh well, it was still a good attempt. :)

Giant macaroon birthday cake

giant macaroon

She didn’t want a birthday cake coz she already had some and I remember her saying something about macaroons when we first met that I’ve kept in my mind ever since. I ordered a giant macaroon in lieu of a birthday cake – I got two of them in fact, one pink (salty chocolate) and one red (lime flavored).

macaroon cake

I also got 3 candles for her 30th birthday and pretended I was too tired to stay up…before surprising her with the giant pink macaroon. Well, it’s not exactly gigantic (there are bigger ones) but it’s hard to maintain the crispiness when it’s huge. This size was pushing it.

macaroons

She liked it though and that’s all that matters.

Pandora’s box(es)

pandora

This was a series of surprise gifts I sprang on her. She was staying over since we had an early morning flight (turned out we didn’t have time to sleep at all). I bought her a charm bracelet and three charms from Pandora coz I remember walking through a mall with her and the little ones once and she looked wistfully at the collections.

I made a mental note then to get this for her birthday. :)

pandora charm bracelet

I actually asked the Pandora sales person to wrap it in 3 different packages (one of them I just took in the box since I wanted to present it to her in Siem Reap and it’ll be hard to pack a bag without her noticing) so I can do my sequential surprises. smirk

I gave her the charm bracelet first and apologized coz it’s empty and I didn’t have money to buy her charms.

pandora box

She said it’s okay, she’ll just wear the bracelet like that.

I said I bumped into a friend who told me I needed to get a charm chain coz if the charm bracelet accidentally opens, all the charms will drop out (thanks Wendy!).

pandora bracelet

…and I gave her another box.

I said that’s it, sorry about it being so empty and while she asked if I was going to put it on for her…

pandora charm protector

I then presented her with the third box, which contains a pink heart charm. It’s supposed to mean something which I only told her.

pink heart charm

I said that’s all I had, no more surprises (but notice I only gave her 3 boxes when I bought 4?). She was touched though and I’m glad I managed to make her happy during her birthday. :)

Birthday trip to Cambodia

birthday trip

We didn’t sleep at all and I drove to the airport the next day. I had booked a very nice boutique resort in Siem Reap which did all my requests for her birthday trip.

happy honeymoon

They wrote “Happy Honeymoon” on the bed and had a bottle of champagne chilled in an ice bucket waiting in the room.

campagne

I also arranged for a Cambodian birthday cake to be presented to her. I got this in advance since it was her birthday the *very day* we flew. We arrived in the morning so we had a day of going around Siem Reap (will post more on our trip soon) and I had to pay for the birthday cake without her knowledge, pretending to go out or forgetting stuff in the room while I was actually talking to reception about when to reveal the surprise.

The birthday cake was presented to her by the poolside (she was puzzled as to why I wanted to hang out there and was annoyed by the mosquitoes). The staff came out and sang “Happy Birthday” and a bunch of French guests there wished her a happy birthday too!

cambodian birthday cake

It was a 3D/2N trip, I told her to bring her passport and I’ll handle everything, from flights to currency, it’s her present so just bring herself! I gave her some USD so she can get back to the resort in case of emergencies though. I’ll write more on the trip later, the last surprise was close to midnight of her actual birthday when I gave her the Pandora charm that I had secretly packed to complete the dual charm collection.

It’s “I LOVE YOU” with a heart made of pure gold which I had hidden all the way from KL. <3 Birthday #2

checkers

This just happened last weekend! Ling and the two little ones came over to my place coz it’s closer to town before getting ready. We had a sit-down birthday dinner at Checkers. It was Florence’s idea – cheers for making it two weeks later so I could do the birthday vacation surprise! :)

cakes

The food was pretty alright – they had a decent cheese and bread selection…

hors d oeuvres

…and they had some nicely plated hors d’oeuvres.

lamb

But I thought the best part was the mutton / beef / chicken satay station and the fresh oysters.

tiramisu

The little one took this so it’s a bit blurry:

birthday photo 2013

Happy birthday dear, I hope this was a memorable one for you. I love you always. *hugs*

Cambodian pancakes, Bolt and 4G LTE: Fast. Faster. Fastest!

cambodia pancakes

I was in Siem Reap in Cambodia and found street vendors selling the ubiquitous meant-for-Caucasian-tourist pancakes that I thought are similar to the ones that are sold in Bali.

cambodian roti canai

They’re not the same!

cambodian pancake

This is actually a Cambodian style roti canai – it’s practically made the same way. You can have it with Nutella, banana, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, Milo or combinations of the above for just 3,000 KHR (0.75 USD).

banana chocolate pancake

It’s served differently though. We had a banana and chocolate pancake and it’s rolled up in a piece of paper so it’s easier to eat.

cambodian pancakes

It’s fast food, Cambodian style!

Closer to home, I saw this TV commercial featuring Usain Bolt running through KL city:

If you don’t know who he is, I honestly don’t know what to say. smirk He’s just the fastest man in the world, being the first person to hold the 100 meter and 200 meter world record and also the first to win 6 Olympic gold medals in sprinting.

He’s faster than you can imagine and he’s now the official ambassador for the Celcom network.

Celcom has come up with the 4th generation of wireless mobile communications, dubbed 4G LTE. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and it’s 10 times faster than what you’re used to. It’s 100Mbps so think of it as a classic Cat5 cable (LAN cable) running at max speed (that’s the reference for all computer geeks like me ;)).

It was the fastest speed we could go in our university back then and to put 100Mbps into perspective:

  • Downloading a 5 MB song will take 2 seconds flat
  • Downloading a 750 MB movie will be completed in 5 minutes

…and all that on your smartphone!

Celcom has officially launched this service and you can get the 4G LTE modem at only RM 199 for the first 1,000 subscribers! Just visit Blue Cube @ Sunway, Pavilion or Menara Celcom and you’ll even get the first 3 months of data subscription totally FREE! Get more details on the fastest speed in town here or try your luck at winning a FREE LTE modem with 3 months data + subscription with your best Usain Bolt pose on the Celcom First Facebook page!

Mi Char in Cambodia

mi char vendor

This is one of the common street food in Cambodia. You can see it being sold from mobile stalls on the street in the evenings at the Old Market in Siem Reap. Mi Char is basically the Cambodian version of maggi goreng! smirk

mi char

There’s actually two versions – one that’s made from a loh shi fun type of noodle and the more popular one made from instant noodles. The brand they use is Red Bear Chicken Flavored Instant Noodles. I noticed that all the mi char places in Siem Reap use the same type and flavor.

red bear instant noodles

It costs 4,000 KHR (Cambodian Riel) for each plate. That’s about 1 USD (RM 3) since everyone there uses a conversion rate of 1 USD = 4,000 KHR. USD is the default currency but you get small change back in Cambodian Riel.

mi char cambodia

Anyway, the mi char seller will cook one packet of Red Bear chicken flavored instant noodles and then fry it with some shredded cabbage and other vegetables. They’ll also put in the flavor sachet at this point.

fried egg

The 4,000 KHR dish comes with a fried egg! I was wondering if we kena conned e.g. got charged tourist prices, but everyone who came, even locals, were paying 1 USD for that, so it’s all good. Heh.

mee char

It’s a simple but delicious dish! The noodles are doused with chilli sauce before serving. We ate it sitting by the river watching the sun set in Siem Reap. :)

Chaul Chnam Thmey from Siem Reap, Cambodia!

cambodian new year

Sur sdei chhnam thmei! It’s the Khmer New Year here in Cambodia – there was festivities throughout the night yesterday. 14th of April is the start of the Cambodian New Year but we’re not here for that – we arrived one day earlier to celebrate Ling’s birthday! :)

happy honeymoon

I chose a boutique resort slightly outside Siem Reap for the privacy and I love the hotel! It has the famed Khmer hospitality, the place is beautiful and they decorated the room with flowers and leaves spelling “Happy Honeymoon” (which is the first time I’ve seen leaves used like this).

ling hb

We’ve been exploring the temples and chilling at the resort for her birthday weekend. We just came back from Angkor Wat yesterday.

I was in Philea Resort in Malacca during my birthday a week ago, I gave her a trip as a birthday present too. <3 villa kiara

Siem Reap is a wonderful place – it’s infested with tourists (smirk) but we’re having a wonderful time here – had a some interesting food adventures too! I’ll update again when we’re back! Hope you’re all having a fantabulous weekend! :D

Posted: 12:22 pm Siem Reap time (GMT/UTC +7) on Virak Wanabat, second day of the Cambodian New Year

Next stop: Cambodia

next stop cambodia

I had planned to go to Siam Reap in Cambodia tomorrow – the tickets
were booked through AirAsia a couple of weeks ago on a promotional
fare. I wanted to check out the Angkor Wat (which is closer to Siam
Reap than Phnom Penh, the capital) and perhaps smoke some old skool
opium if I manage to find an opium den. ;)

The trip was supposed to be for one (1) week – and I wanted to check
out Phnom Penh as well, using their internal transportation services,
just backpacking, roughing it out a bit.
(and smoke some opium in an opium den)

Alas, the trip was not meant to be coz one of our projects starts
next week and I’m heavily involved in that project, thus I cannot take
leave. AirAsia does not have a refund policy (they are a low cost
ticket less airline, much like Virgin Blue in Australia) so I’m
scrapping this trip. I’ll go again some other time.

In other news, I won back the cost of the tickets to Cambodia last night alone. ;)

Argentina vs. Serbia & Montenegro
Asian Handicap Odds: Argentina conceding one (1) goal
Bet: Argentina (RM 300)
Result: 5-0 to Argentina

It was an absolute trashing mate! =D I knew the game was in the pocket when the result was 3-0. ;) I won RM 300 from this match.

Netherlands vs. Ivory Coast
Asian Handicap Odds: Netherlands conceding a “half-ball” (1/2) goal
Bet: Netherlands (RM 300)
Result: 2-1 to Netherlands

It rose from 2-0 to 2-1 so this one is also in the bag for me. :)
The half-ball concept is not that difficult to understand – basically,
the team conceding the “half-ball” means you lose if the result is a
draw (since there’s a 1/2 goal handicap for Netherlands) but if the
team wins by even a single goal, you win all. I won RM 300 for this
match as well. :)

I won a total of RM 600 last night. That covers my Cambodia trip costs (plane tickets) that were not meant to be. :)

Oh well, I’ll just go traveling when work is less hectic…

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