DSC_0632This would be so illegal in Canada but I wish we had a vibrant street food culture like many places around Asia.

I first spotted this pizza shop on a tuk tuk (motorized taxi) around Siem Reap, Cambodia when I was bicycling. The fire caught my attention and I went closer until I realized it was a woodfire oven right at the back of a scooter.

The pizza chef is originally from Phnom Penh and many people stop for pizza as he goes around town. Once you place your order, they make it fresh on the spot for you.

I always spotted him when I wasn’t looking for him and when I tried to find the tuk tuk pizza, I couldn’t find him. My good friend and I promised that if we passed him on the way back home, we would stop for a pizza. It was pretty good for a fresh, street pizza.

But because he is business savvy, you can take his business card and they do free delivery.

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Must-go restaurants in Battambang

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I’ve been to Battambang City in the north of Cambodia a few times and for a quiet little town, I’ve been very surprised by how delicious some of their restaurants are. Even the $0.50 iced condensed milk coffee is tastier than any one I’ve had in Siem Reap at the local market.

It’s easy to find the most popular restaurants in Battambang but if you only have a day or two, I strongly recommend saving one or a few meals for Eden Cafe and Flavors of India.

Eden Cafe

Eden Cafe is connected to a local organization that focuses on investing in the futures of Khmer people by empowering them with new skills and creating jobs. The cafe has a modern design where people can enjoy a delicious meal, air-con and fast Wi-Fi while supporting the work of a fantastic organization.

The prices are a bit higher with the average price being US $5.00 per dish, but if you don’t eat a lot the portions are generous and can easily be shared between two people.

I’ve had the fettucini alfredo meal three times during my last two trips in Battambang, that’s how good it was. It’s simple but it is the perfect comfort food.

This is the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had in Cambodia and is probably the best in Cambodia. I’m picky about hot chocolate and they make the perfect creamy, marshmellow texture at the top of the drink.

I thought I would branch out from my fettucini alfredo and try the Huevos Rancheros (Black Bean, Egg, Salsa, Tortilla, Sour Cream, Bacon) for breakfast. A lot of times Mexican food is either a hit or miss in any country, so I’m always a bit skeptical. But this was a great meal and all of the ingredients blended well together to create a great flavour.

The Cobb salad dressing was good and big enough to feed two people.


Flavors of India

Flavors of India is a chain that began in Phnom Penh but has locations in Battambang and Siem Reap. I don’t find the Indian food that great or memorable in Siem Reap. I’ve gone to Flavors of India twice in Battambang and the flavors were always delicious and their chai tea is one of the best I’ve ever tasted of all the countries I’ve visited.

The best deal is their sets, which includes a naan bread, jasmine rice, dhaal, and two curries. One set is definitely enough to share between two people and if you try a naan bread with your curries, order a garlic naan.

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11 Reasons why Changi Airport is awesome

The airport has these simple rating systems that makes it easy for passengers to give instant feedback. I have never seen so many feedback tools  in any other airport I’ve been to.

You know an airport is amazing it becomes part of your travel itinerary. I’ve been fortunate to travel around Europe, Asia, North America and Mauritius and the Changi Airport is by far the best and most functional airport I have visited.

I have a strong appreciation for spaces that are very well-designed to facilitate an efficient flow of traffic for people and transportation. Excellent design includes having clear signs for where to go, functional bathrooms, and ways for people to give feedback. Compared to North America and some parts of Europe, everything from the moment you land in Changi Airport everything feels smooth and efficient.

I can see why Skytrax, a consultancy from the UK that conducts airport reviews and rankings, named Changi the world’s best airport for 2015. The way Changi operates reflects culture of efficiency and continuous improvement in Singapore.

We didn’t have time to visit the Butterfly Garden, movie theatre, Sunflower Garden, and playgrounds in the airport. But my reasons for why Changi Airport is awesome includes more functional aspects of the airport.

These are my 11 reasons why Changi Airport is awesome:

1. Fast check-in

The passport control is very quick. You’re not interrogated needlessly by immigration officers and have dogs checking your bags for drugs like many of the airports in the U.S.

2. Continuous customer feedback

You can even rate every toilet you go to around the airport. The screen says “This screen is sanitzed regularly.”

You can rate the customer service at some of the food stalls.

3. You can get food all day and night

The food gallery has a mix of Asian and Western food.

4. There is a designated area for smokers

Some airports don’t have designated rooms.

5. Charging stations

There are charging stations around the airport. This may sound like a simple concept but not every airport has charging stations at the gates or around the airport for passengers.

6. Drinking water

There is public drinking water available so you don’t have to spend a crazy amount just to get water.

7. Clear signage

You can’t get lost at the airport because there are clear signs in the right places that make it easy for people to direct themselves.

8. Internet stations

There are internet stations around the airport and there are no chairs so people can only spend time on the computer for as long as they can stand.

9. Clean and functional bathrooms

The bathroom are very clean and also functional. Every stall has a hand sanitizer, a hook on the door, and enough space to put your luggage. Again, this may sound simple but many airport bathrooms don’t leave enough space to put your luggage or your bags.

10. Sports gallery

You can watch sports in the food gallery.

11. Reducing waste

There are recycling bins around the airport, making it easy for customers to reduce their environmental impact.

Snacking by the airport for fun

Beautiful sunset drive to the airport from the centre of Siem Reap city.

People often ask me what my favorite country was to visit outside Canada and I am very biased because I’ve spent three years in Siem Reap and had the time to discover all the places tourists never have time to see, develop lifelong friendships with the wonderful people here and always discovering new hidden gems. I’m not sure what my answer would be if I had lived a few years in Bali, Laos or Chiang Mai.

Hanging right outside the airport gates with Konnitha and her daughter Hannah.

The benefit of living in a new place for a long time is there is always something new to discover, especially if you mainly have local friends and every day can be a surprise if you have an open mind and heart during your stay.

After I finished a 5-hour bike ride in the Angkor complex, which seems to have an endless number of routes, my best friend Konnitha asked me if I wanted to drive with her and her 2-year-old daughter Hannah around the Angkor area and hang out by the airport to watch the planes.

The people who have opened up food stalls right outside the airport gates as more people are spending time watching the planes land and fly.

“You can hang out by the airport?” I asked Konnitha.

“Yes, you can buy snacks to eat and watch the planes. More and more food sellers are setting up their business by the airport because people come to watch the planes every day,” Konnitha said.

Me being a touristy passenger.

So we went on a beautiful drive during sunset around the Angkor complex, bought some snacks to munch on and sat on a mat just outside the airport with Hannah. We saw two planes fly by and it was just a beautiful and unique way to pass the evening.

There is no way I would ever find out you can do this if I didn’t have local friends.

The next generation of female footballers

footballI first joined a football team in October 2014 in Siem Reap and I thought it was mainly going to be expats who played. But I was very happy to see many Khmer (Cambodian) players and more women playing than I thought there would be. The reason I was surprised is because there are still many families who don’t encourage or allow girls to play sports and often raised to be housewives.

I always admire the strong women on my old football team because several of them went against their families’ wishes for them to stop playing football or go to school. They found their own jobs and funded their own education to enhance their knowledge and skill while continuing to find ways to play the sport that they love so much. We recently had a friendly game with a team of teenage Cambodian girls who were trained by a professional coach. I was ecstatic to see how fast, coordinated and well these young women played. They beat us but we were lucky to even get a few goals in for that game because they were so good. Football

One of my teammates coaches young Cambodians to play and I hope to see an increasing number of young women playing football to increase their confidence and so they continue to have the belief that they can play as well or do anything that the boys are allowed to do.

Mega catchup on posts

This has been my very bad habit with my travel blog. I was taking my parents around for two weeks and then began catching up with friends and work in Siem Reap.

I have so much to share and write about including how to find food for less than $3.00 a meal in Singapore, how the food in Bangkok makes non-shoppers like me enjoy the malls, and VIP treatment from the heart in Cambodia.

More to come next week after I catch up on some other writing assignments.

Thank you for your patience and for people who have recently subscribed to my blog.