Cook­ing Va­ca­tion­va­ca­tion

In­dulging in lo­cal flavours.

Woman's Era - - Short Story - By Seema Ti­wary

es­ides nat­u­ral beauty, ar­chi­tec­ture, en­ter­tain­ment and other things, peo­ple nowa­days look for lo­cal flavours of food in a va­ca­tion. Gone are the days when peo­ple used to carry thep­alas, puri, pick­les etc along with them on va­ca­tions. Trav­ellers now want not only to in­dulge their taste buds with lo­cal flavours but also to learn to cook them.

Cook­ing had bro­ken the age-old stereo­type of be­ing as­so­ci­ated with house­wives and evolved as a fash­ion­able trend of creativ­ity. It has emerged as a pop­u­lar stress­free tech­nique for all the age­groups blur­ring the gen­der gaps. Cook­ing va­ca­tions are el­bow­ing aside all its coun­ter­parts and gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity, slowly but steadily. The suc­cess story of celebrity chefs, cook­ing com­pe­ti­tions on tele­vi­sion and food chan­nels are the ba­sic mo­ti­vat­ing force be­hind this trend.

Th­ese va­ca­tions bring the best hands-on cook­ing classes and cul­tural tours. Trav­ellers can learn lo­cal cui­sine with ex­cel­lent chefs and lo­cal ex­perts. Both do­mes­tic as well as in­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tors of­fer a huge se­lec­tion of hand­picked va­ca­tions, to suit ev­ery pocket, with the friendli­est cus­tomer care. A week-long va­ca­tion in the Tus­can coun­try­side, of­fer­ing to cook the Tus­can way from a friendly and en­thu­si­as­tic chef or a cook­ing trip to Spain which of­fers you a rainbow of vi­brant lo­cal cu­sine and cul­ture there are thou­sands of op­tions to choose from. Other than Italy, France, Spain, Por­tu­gal, Greece, Turkey and Egypt, our own coun­try is full of de­li­cious plat­ters. Its mul­ti­lin­gual and multi-eth­nic life style is repli­cated in its cu­sine.

They can be ei­ther week­end va­ca­tions or a week-long va­ca­tion. The size of the group varies from two to 15 de­pend­ing upon the size of the kitchen where classes are to be held.

The food can be ve­gan, veg, or non-veg. A de­tailed de­scrip­tion of the var­i­ous op­tions of the ac­com­mo­da­tion, itin­er­ary and cook­ing classes is pro­vided to choose from. Some cus­tom-made cook­ing va­ca­tions are also avail­able to suit the eth­nic and cul­tural taste of the trav­ellers.

But, be­fore ze­ro­ing in on any des­ti­na­tion, make sure it goes along with your eth­nic and cul­tural val­ues. Re­views of other trav­ellers are of­ten help­ful. The fo­cus of for­eign trav­ellers is on cu­sine of the coun­try they are vis­it­ing and the lo­cal ones are keen to learn cu­sine new to them.

So, this time af­ter a cook­ing va­ca­tion from, say, Egypt, get ready to sur­prise your mother-in-law, with crispy, de­li­cious falafel as a sou­venir.

Tem­ple at Angkor Wat

It is the largest re­li­gious mon­u­ment in the world built by the King Suryavar­man. It has be­come a sym­bol of Cam­bo­dia, seen on its na­tional flag, and the coun­try's prime at­trac­tion for vis­i­tors. It is ded­i­cated to Vishnu. We must be pre­pared to walk a lot in the ru­ins of the tem­ple and one can see sculp­tures re­lat­ing to In­dian mythol­ogy, that of Nar­simha and Hi­ranyakashapu, Vishnu etc. Even though Hin­duism was prac­tised dur­ing the reign of the Var­man kings, the present trend is to prac­tise Bud­dhism and we also get to see large stat­ues of Bud­dha and tem­ple of Bud­dha etc. It is a UNESCO World Her­itage site. The In­dian Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Depart­ment and UNESCO to­gether have taken up restor­ing this tem­ple.

The tem­ple at Angkor Wat is so vast that it will take at least two days to see it if you are look­ing for de­tails. Tall and ma­jes­tic, th­ese ru­ins look mag­nif­i­cent.

Siem Reap has nu­mer­ous ho­tels and spas. Foot and back mas­sage is so cheap here and they charge only $2 for a half-hour mas­sage. We spent at least an hour ev­ery day at the mas­sage place. We tipped them per­haps more than their charges since many stu­dents earn their col­lege fees do­ing this job. Cam­bo­di­ans charge only in US dol­lars for ev­ery­thing. It is as though their of­fi­cial cur­rency is US dol­lars!

One can take a hot air bal­loon flight over the Angkor com­plex at sun­rise or sun­set. It is much slower and less scary than a he­li­copter ride and an awe­some ex­pe­ri­ence. Angkor Na­tional park houses many tem­ples and is a won­der to watch.

The best way to travel in Cam­bo­dia is by tuk-tuk. It is a two wheeled car­riage pulled be­hind a moto. The driv­ers are not very fa­mil­iar with the ho­tels but lo­cate the ho­tels by the near­est mar­ket and hence it is the best way to make them un­der­stand the route. It is also ad­vis­able to used tuk-tuk parked near your ho­tels. The fare is rather cheap and ne­go­tiable. Make it a point to ne­go­ti­ate the fare be­fore hir­ing them. Most of the drive costs any­where be­tween $1 and $ 4 US dol­lars. One needs to take care of smart phones since they are very much in de­mand and get stolen at the wink of the eye.

Angkor night mar­ket are open only in the evenings. They sell in­ter­est­ing bags, shawls, hand­i­crafts and Cam­bo­dian sou­venirs. We need to make hard bar­gains to bring down the prices.

Fish spa

Go to Pub Street to ex­pe­ri­ence this. The Fish Spa is a very novel and Phnom penh

It is Cam­bo­dia’s busy cap­i­tal. On its walk­a­ble river­front, stands the or­nate Royal Palace, Sil­ver Pagoda and the Na­tional Mu­seum, dis­play­ing arte­facts from around the coun­try.

The struc­tures are beau­ti­ful and unique, a mix­ture of Kh­mer and French ar­chi­tec­ture. At the city’s heart is the mas­sive art deco Cen­tral Mar­ket. Other struc­tures in­clude Hor Sam­ran Phirun, Hor Sam­rith Phimean, Dam­nak Chan, Phochani Pav­il­ion (dance hall), Serey Monkol Pav­il­ion (royal con­fer­ence hall), King Jayavar­man VII Pav­il­ion, Vi­hear Suor (royal chapel), Villa Kan­tha Bopha, Villa Chumpou and Villa Sa­hame­trei.

The peo­ple are kind and friendly and ev­ery ho­tel pro­vides you with rice prepa­ra­tions since rice is the main pro­duce of Cam­bo­dia. Rice and fish are an es­sen­tial part of Cam­bo­dian cui­sine.

We need at least four-five days to see Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The ad­van­tage is since it’s visa on ar­rival, you can de­cide to leave with­out any prior plan­ning. All one needs to do is, buy tick­ets in Air Asia and book your ho­tels ei­ther way.

At the end of our trip, we leave with our hearts full of fond mem­o­ries of those won­der­ful sculp­tures, the beau­ti­ful ar­chi­tec­ture, the hot air bal­loon ride, the pedi­cure by the fish and the mag­nif­i­cent gi­ant stat­ues of Bud­dha.


Phnom penh

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