It used to be that the only way to travel in or out of Stung Treng was by boat on the Mekong River. Those days are long gone, and we had trouble finding a boat -any boat that would make the journey down river. The road is now in such good condition (though still not paved) that it has rendered river travel largely obsolete -so we hopped a bus toward Phnom Penh. The road essentially follows the course of the river through Kratie, and crossing at Kampong Cham. From there, it was onto the little town of Skuon that is nothing more than a junction of two major roadways. There we found the most unique street food yet -fried spiders. (Apparently spiders became popular cuisine in this area during the time of the Khmer Rouge when food was particularly scarce.)
Needless to say, they were a little unpleasant to look at, and it took a bit of convincing by locals to believe that they were actually a snack food, but my curiosity got the best of me. After seeing a few of our fellow bus passengers purchase heaping bagfuls of up to ten critters, I had to try at least one. Ann gave me all the encouragement I needed -and was soon sorry she did. When the situation moved from a photo stunt to me actaully eating an entire spider, she was completely grossed out. I wouldn't make a habit out of eating fried spiders, but it wasn't bad. Really nothing more than a crunchy, salty beer snack -I just needed the beer!
We found plenty of other tasty tidbits along the road. Rice and beans cooked in a section of bamboo made for great travel food. They fit easily into a day pack, don't crush or bruise, and were not only delicious but healthy! (Not to mention fun to eat.) Ann saw a strange fruit from the bus window, but we weren't quick enough to buy any. Never fear -she just traded a few of our bananas with another passenger and we were munching away. We're still not sure what we were eating, but the fruit is mostly a sponge-like green material that houses pods containing some type of nut or seed. Not my choice among pineapples, mangos, oranges, or bananas, but worth a try. We also encountered two more plates in the bug department. I tried the small black ones, but by this time I was plenty full, and the large green ones had to wait.
There's nothing quite like streetfood on the road in Cambodia!