September 23, 2018

Siem Reap Travel Diary: Banana Tree Restaurant and Cafe

I’m one of those people who believes that travel breaks down routines, monotony and brings back some adventure, excitement, and exploration to people’s lives. For the most part of last year, my life was just pre-occupied with work, blogging-related events and random brunches and night-outs with friends. Nothing really spectacular or mind-blowing. And that, if not for most people, will cause some burn-out. And nothing can cure that for me than board a plane or a boat or a bus and go somewhere, wherever... You know, to fall in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met. (Yes, I got that from a quote which I like so much.)

Together with three of my friends, we planned for an out-of-the country multi-city trip. And these places were our dream destinations for years now. This trip was supposed to happen last 2016 but got put off for unforeseen reasons. Since June of 2017, after booking our flights, I’ve been looking forward to the day when we finally get to board the plane and start our 6-day journey. 

You know how that can be daunting, waiting for around 6 months for something to finally happen. The main airport in Manila is near where I work, and almost every few minutes I can hear airplanes passing by, and I would be so disconsolate thinking about when I’ll get to board one of those planes again and wishing that I can fast-forward time and make it December already. And then time flew fast and it was December.
I couldn’t be more excited as I’ve already done all that I need to do, bought all that I need to bring, planned even the outfits I’ll wear and started packing 2 weeks before the trip. The destination? Siem Reap, Cambodia and Bangkok, Thailand. For the next several posts, I’ll be writing a series about our Siem Reap trip and then we’ll get to Bangkok later on. These blog post series won't be about our itinerary or a guide or review (because for sure there are a hundreds of that already on the internet) but will tackle about my experience during this trip and all other thoughts. Besides this is written 6 months past that trip so this will be more of a reminiscing journal. 

We board a plane to Siem Reap on a late night flight and arrived around 10 or 11pm. The hotel we were staying at sent a tuktuk to pick us up, and I couldn't be more ecstatic because by the time I set foot on this foreign land I already got a taste of its culture. Siem Reap for me looks just like any rural tourist area in the Philippines, even its people, the only difference is that all the signage et al, is written in Cambodian.

Our tuktuk driver and tour guide, Sarath (who speaks very good English btw) suggested that we take the Angkor Complex tour the first thing the next morning which everyone agreed to. We have to be up by 3am the following day so we were not able to go out of the hotel to get some grub or even check out Pub Street. We just cleaned up and went straight to bed.

Since we only have one and a half day to spend in Siem Reap, I was doubtful if I'll ever get to experience their culture through food - which is most of the time the driving element as to why I travel. During our visit to the Angkor Complex, there were two events that day: Buddhist Monks Day Celebrations and a fun run. These caused a lot of delay to our tour as some of the roads leading to the temples were closed. 
After hours of walking around temples at the Angkor Complex, me and my friends of course got hungry so we asked our tuktuk driver Sarath to bring us somewhere we can eat, also while we wait out the road closure to Ta Prohm. He took us to this restaurant called Banana Tree Restaurant & Cafe just outside the walls of Ta Prohm. Here I got to somehow fulfill my plan of trying local and authentic Khmer cuisine. 
The place is cozy and there are so many seating areas. There’s an area where you are surrounded with banana trees; there’s also an indoor and air-conditioned area and there’s this area where the tables are elevated/floating and below is a pool of water. This is where we decided to seat. The place did have a nice local feel to it.
Here are what we had for lunch: 

Mee Cha - stir fried yellow noodles with shrimps and vegetables. 

Chicken Amok -a thick Cambodian curry which is steamed instead of boiled with chicken, coconut milk and vegetables and is served with steamed rice.  

Kuy Teav - a soup consisting of pork stock, pork strips and vegetables. This dish is generally assumed to be a dish of Chinese origin. 

The food was ok and so was the service. I was expecting that the flavors would be strong but they weren’t. The servers here though understands less English than those hawkers/sellers that we encountered at the temples but they were quite friendly especially the manager. Just like most of the restaurants within the Angkor complex I find the prices of the food a bit pricy and the quality not above average. Either way, the experience dining here was a memorable one because of the ambiance and its location.

Near Ta Prohm
Krong, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Read more of my Siem Reap 2017 trip:
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Tanei Boutique Villas
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Prasat Bayon: Temple of the Mysterious Stone Face Towers 
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Prasat Ta Phrom
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Banana Tree Restaurant and Bar
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Old Market
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Temple Bar at Pub Street
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