Hot Chocolate at The Blue Pumpkin, Siem Reap, Cambodia

After two days of visiting temples I was ready for another hot chocolate. Today my tuk tuk driver, Chanthy brought me out of Siem Reap along a bumpy bright red dirt road to the stunning Bang Mea temple. One cannot escape the buses of Korean tourists which have even made it here (1.5 hours away from the city) but other than that one bus load there was no one else around and the place was very quiet. The temple hasn’t been restored yet so you can walk right into the buildings, climb over the rocks and feel like you have just discovered this temple in the jungle.

On the way back we rode through bright green patches of rice paddies, some with women in cone hats working in straight lines. Water buffalo could be seen ploughing fields, and whole families were riding together on tiny motorcycles. It seems that every single house we passed has children who run out to wave and shout “bye bye” as I pass.

From here we visited the Rolous Group of temples (also beautiful and much quieter than the main Ankor Wat Site) before we ride back into town. I ask Chanthy to bring me to The Blue Pumpkin which I had been wanted to try out for a few days already. The first time I visited it was just too hot to have a hot chocolate so I tried a big scoop of Khmer fruits icecream (highly recommended). This time it was much cooler so I invite Chanthy to join me. He has never had a hot chocolate before. We sit on the terrace and watch the city come to live in the early evening. There is a non stop stream of tuk tuk drivers dropping and picking people up. Next to us is a place called Dr. Fish massage where, for $2 you can dip your feet into a giant aquarium filled with little fish that will apparently eat all the dead skin on your feet, a very popular option with the backpackers.

The hot chocolate was nice, very light with a hint of chocolate but not very hot. I’m not sure if it has converted Chanthy to hot chocolates unfortunately, as he didn’t seem convinced.

Verdict: You won’t miss The Blue Pumpkin, they have several spots across the city and even at the airport that serve drinks, icecream (excellent) and lots of beautiful French pastries. The hot chocolate was nice and simple. The Blue Pumpkin, 563 mondol 1, svay dang kum, siem reap, Cambodia

Hot Chocolate Le Tigre de Papier, Siem Reap, Cambodia

While on a recent trip to Vietnam, I was lucky enough to be able to make a side trip over to Cambodia to visit Siem Reap. After a day visiting the stunning temples of Ankor Wat I decided to make my way to Le Tigre de Papier at 5pm for their cooking class. The class lasts 3 hours, starting with a  1 hour visit to the local market to buy some vegetables and fruits for our meal and then 2 hours of cooking. This is a very different kind of cooking class. First of all each of the 6 participants were allowed to choose their own starter and main course to learn how to make. We start by washing our hands and putting on red aprons and chef’s hats. Then we are brought to sit down around a table where we are all presented with a cutting board, peeler and knife, all individually wrapped in plastic wrap. We then are handed different ingredients to peel and chop for a good hour and a half straight. Every once in a while one of us is sent to the kitchen to fry something up but generally we are sitting there, talking and chopping away. Three hours later, magically, we each have two beautifully colourful plates ready for us to carry over to Le Tigre de Papier’s restaurant to sit down and enjoy. I’m not sure if we actually learnt how to cook anything but it was a fantastic experience and the food was of course delicious. I tried making a banana flower salad and a Samlor Machou Kroeung for main and was very happy with both. The dessert we shared as a group was a small pumpkin filled with sweet coconut custard and steamed for an hour. Delicious.

After we sat down together to eat our dishes (and try everyone else’s), I moved into the main part of the restaurant, just off of well known and very popular Pub Street to enjoy a hot chocolate.  Our 3 hour cooking class turned into a 4 and a half cooking class and dinner so by the time we were finished Pub Street restaurants were no longer showing traditional dancers and local music but instead had moved onto very very loud and thumping techno music and shots. The walls in this area are a soft yellow and covered in dark wood bookcases filled with a random assortment of used books that look like they have been deposited and shared by many travellers over the years. The weather was very hot today but because of a late afternoon rain it is cool enough for me to enjoy my hot chocolate which came to me almost boiling hot in a tall drinking glass. The glass has a large white straw in it because , even they admitted, it was impossible to pick up because it was too hot. My first sip I burnt my tounge pretty badly but as it cooled down I felt a bit like a kid drinking milk while everyone else on Pub Street was drinking beer. My hot chocolate didn’t really taste like chocolate at all, just a tall glass of hot milk with a hint of chocolate, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

As I leave five different men approach me saying “tuk tuk? Tuk tuk?” I politely refuse. My tuk tuk driver is patiently waiting for me just around the corner. I appreciate the walk, my stomach is very full, but happy.

Verdict: If you are looking for hot chocolate you won’t be satisfied, but it was simple and nice drink and a great spot to watch the craziness of Pub Street do its thing at any time of the day. Ask them to put the hot chocolate in a mug to save yourself from a burnt tongue. If you have the time, I recommend the cooking class too (only 13$!) Le Tigre de Papier, Pub Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia (2$)