Having free time before our late evening flight out of Cambodia, we enrolled in a cooking class. It turned out to be one of the most engaging and fun experiences we had on our vacation. We were partnered with a dynamic British family, currently expatriates in Singapore. They had two bright kids, Charlotte, 14 and Tollie, 5 years old.
We started off the session by shopping for the freshest ingredients in a very local market.
Chicken feet, anyone?
I too have always wanted to fall asleep among my chilis and bananas...
We spent the afternoon chopping, slicing, grating, and pounding our ingredients before we expertly prepared them under the fine guidance of our Cambodian chef. All the while, we got to know our new friends and shared some laughs.
In the end after about 3 hours, we had this fabulous spread of food to feel proud of and enjoy.
Cambodian feast, bird's eye view
Who can resist fried fresh eggrolls?
Tart mango salad
Tollie, posing with the spring rolls that he himself expertly rolled
At the end of our day, we sat with our new friends and chatted for about an hour as we dined on our meal. Inevitably, the conversation turned, as it often does anytime there's a Brit (or any foreign person for that matter) and an American together, to a questioning of why America does a certain thing this way or that. In my travels around the world, I've heard the gamut of observations on American ways.
This particular evening, the question was about American currency, a topic which I have fielded from disgruntled foreigners before.
"Why does America have bills that are all the same color and size? It's confusing and it makes it easy to make a mistake when you hand over your money," Tollie's father inquired.
"The trick is you have to keep all your bills stacked together in same denominations and lined up bank face. That way you won't give the wrong bill."
"I'm a banker, for heaven's sake. I'm a really organized person."
I glanced down at his wallet. "Okay, well there's your problem. See, you have a ten and then some ones, and a twenty back there and over here. They are all turned different ways."
Tollie's dad gave me an annoyed look and the conversation was over as he stuffed the bills back in his wallet.
After we said goodbye and we parted ways, from a distance, I heard little Tollie chastising his father about the currency, "Daddy, you did it all wrong. You've got to put all the ones together, and then the twos together..."
Cambodia Travel Tip #6: Le Tigre de Papier is not only a great restaurant in Siem Reap, but a wonderful cooking school. Classes are offered 3 times a day at 10:00 am, 1:00 am, and 5:00 pm. They last 4 hours and cost $12 a person.