Sunday, May 26, 2013

Beer in Cambodia - Part II

Beer.  If you don't already know, I believe it is the best beverage ever created.  It is as complex and diverse, if not more so, than wine or scotch.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good glass of Speyside single malt, but there is something about beer that has captivated me for some time.  What food does beer not compliment?   Every situation you can dream of, where drinking is appropriate, there is a beer that corresponds.

As you likely know if you've read Part I of this post, good beer is hard to come by in Siem Reap.  This fact does not deter me in the slightest as I am on the perennial hunt for different beers.  I have found a few more since my last beer related post.  Sadly, there is only one new stout, but I do really enjoy it; the others were just watery lagers made for the heat.  There is a t-shirt you can buy here that says "Same, Same" on the front and "But Different" on the back.  At first it didn't really click with me and I found the shirt odd, but then I realized that everything here - the beer, the restaurants, the stores - is all basically the same, but a little different.  If I could find a good witbier or saison, I would be elated.  I have found Paulaner, Maredsous, Erdinger, Leffe, and even Duvel on draft at one bar/restaurant - so I can enjoy good beer here, but the variety is rather limited.  Recently we have been frequenting a German restaurant that servers dark and blonde Weihenstephaner, the blonde has been tasting great in this humidity.  I miss Binny's dearly.

When out and about in Siem Reap, you'll find Angkor, Anchor, Tiger and Cambodia Lager nearly everywhere.  They are the local beers that are easy to drink in the heat and humidity you live with here.  Below are pictures of beers I have recently tried.

it is a very dry beer

one of the wateriest beers I've ever tasted

not bad, tastes better than what you'd expect

I love the motto

I thought this was tea at first

clear taste?

literally tastes like 50% water 50% bud light

I drank it at optimal tasting temperature and it still wasn't good

best beer name in SE Asia

yes, another watery lager



but different

basically watery Heineken

City, I've only seen advertised in the country
(the Oban is by far the best thing about this pic)

you guessed it, watery lager

100% malt is deceptive

it replenishes your energy?

fun can

found this in Bangkok

also from Bangkok, actually decent

I drank this in Bali, a lot

Here are a few of the beers I was very glad to find in Siem Reap.  

I found these fun cans in Bangkok.

all German final this year

Messi and beer

Drink Good Beer, Responsibly!!!

Monday, May 13, 2013


Bali, a small Indonesian island, was quite different from what I expected.  Truthfully, I guess I was not really sure what to expect, but it felt a lot more like Cambodia than I anticipated.  It is nice, don't get me wrong, but it was not as "exotic" as I expected.  Maybe I felt this way because I had experienced living in SE Asian tropical environment for 6-7 months by that time.  Anyway, it was a great place to spend New Years Eve 2012-2013 and relax for a few days before heading back to work.  We visited two towns on the island, Ubud and Nusa Dua.  Ubud is an artists community and Nusa Dua is a true tourist town.

We flew into the Denpasar Airport and took a taxi to our first destination.  Ubud is a nice artist town near the center of the island.  Have you read or seen Eat, Pray, Love?  Well, that's where she was.  It is a small town full of local art shops and narrow, crowded streets.  You can find wood carvings, stone carvings, paintings, woven items, silver jewelry - basically anything you can think of in regards to Balinese art is found in this town.

At times when traveling around Bali it appears as if just enough of the jungle was cleared to fit in the buildings.  Since Ubud town is located in a mountainous area, the buildings are just cut into the earth at times and the streets are steep with a lot of switch-backs.  This also creates beautiful landscapes of lush green valleys with raging rivers and terraced rice paddies - your eyes are always looking at something amazing.

While in Ubud we traveled around to some gorgeous temples, a volcano, and an organic farm.  At the temples I wore a sarong and even at "fancy" hat at one point.  The temples on the island are quite amazing.  No matter how many temples I visit, I am always amazed at the intricate stone work and the complexity of the architecture.  It is difficult to take pictures that capture what I see when visiting.  The same is true of the volcano.  This symbol of the planet's awesome powers was huge.  Not currently active, some locals believe they are in for a big eruption soon.  One man told me that the caldera is dropping and he expects "something soon."  You can still see the impact of the last eruption several decades ago so you can only imaging future impact on the small Indonesian island.  At the organic farm I tried Luwak coffee and some amazing teas.  Luwak coffee comes from fresh beans eaten by a wild jungle cat that cannot be processed and are pooped out.  The beans are then washed and roasted resulting in really smooth, low-acid coffee.  It is really good.

carved into a cliff
carved into another cliff
this temple had countless steps
entrance to a temple
koi fish at a temple
me in a sarong
people bathing at a temple
a spire at a temple

another temple we visited

the coffee beans before cleaning and roasting 
me trying luwak coffee
Before we headed to the south-east coast of the island we stopped and saw a Barong Dance show.  This is a show that depicts good vs. evil.  It was a lot of fun to see.  The music was played live and the costumes were really amazing.  I did not expect to like it as much as I did.  Seeing the elaborate costumes and make-up, along with the over animated actions of the local actors made it a really fun experience.

Nusa Dua is a tourist destination, plain and simple.  Nice beach.  Warm, clear water.  It is what you expect to see when visiting Bali.  I don't have a lot to say about this town.  It is basically all hotels and restaurants and most people seem to stay on their resort's property unless they want to participate in some water sport activities.  We sat on the beach and enjoyed cocktails making those few days wonderful.

I was talking with a friend the other day who also visited Bali recently and we agree that Bali was likely a great destination about ten-fifteen years ago.  It is more commercialized than I expected and is in danger of become rather generic.  Retaining some local Balinese charm is seriously recommended for the small emerging tourist destinations.  Don't completely fuck it up and stick another Holiday Inn and McDonald's on the beach.  Anyway, I really enjoyed our time there and will have some great memories for years to come.