Thom to Cham... but still a Kompong
Trip Start Jan 19, 2005
35Trip End Feb 23, 2005
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We made our way via mini-bus to Kompong Cham. Along the way we stopped at a small town named Skuon. More importantly though, it has earned the moniker, "Spiderville".
Usually when we stop at a given destination, the tour group is ambushed by needy children. However, things are a little different in Spiderville. The kids are no longer in sight as they have been effectively replaced by new entities... the "Spider Ladies"!!!
With trays perched on their heads or firmly grasped in their hands, each lady was equipped with their own tray of cooked spiders. I was truly astounded to see so many spiders
Furthermore, these were no ordinary spiders. The spiders I'm used to seeing in Canada are clearly the laughing stock of the arachnid world when compared to the monsters in front of me. Known in Khmer as "a-ping's", they are a breed of palm-sized tarantulas... and they are renowned throughout Cambodia, as being somewhat of a delicacy in this impoverished farming region.
Apparently, when Pol Pot threw everyone out of the cities during his rule ('75-'79), millions were faced with starvation as they tried to make ends meet in a newly established agrarian society. Spiders, wasps, and other insects were what kept many people alive. Fortunately for those residents living around Skuon, the "a-ping's" were (and still are) common to the surrounding jungle. Facing starvation, spiders became apart of the Cambodian diet in this region. It didn't take long before they were in fact regarded as a delicacy, and have subsequently been sold to people passing through Skuon ever since.
Throwing caution into the wind, I decided to partake in spider. I paid about 25 cents for one. Picking through the pile of spiders, I grabbed hold of one
I also got a photo of a live spider sitting on my hand, which was even more freaky than eating one. After he was removed, I could still feel phantom spider feet on me.
About 15 minutes later we were in Kompong Cham. Our hotel looks right out over the Mekong river. I'm quite surprised by the size of the river... it's huge. Also, it appears not many foreigners make it to either Kompong Thom or Kompong Cham, as the locals truly like to gawk at us. They're not ashamed at all. They'll just sit there and watch you, even if you make eye-contact with them. Truth be told though, I don't mind being away from the other tourists. It's a little more authentic this way.
Well, I'm off to rent a bicycle. Going to ride to an island (connected by a bamboo bridge) in the middle of the Mekong.