I peered into a bowl at a bus station in Cambodia. Guess what I saw.

Location: Battambang, Cambodia
Date: December 2012

We booked a local bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. It didn’t sound too difficult; you hop on and hop off, and it takes about 6-7 hours.

All the seats were filled as we went on our way. Then the bus driver stopped to pick up a few villagers who stood along the aisle. Then he stopped again to pick up more people who sat along the aisle. Then he stopped again to pick up more people who sat on others, and the steps at the front of the bus. This is probably what my mother meant by – time and tide wait for no man. There’s money to be made, my friend.

I was drifting in and out of slumber on this hot, sweltering day. Each time I opened my eyes, more people were sitting on the floor of the bus and the steps. I thought this was a reserved bus. Are we ever going to get to Siem Reap?

I guess we will get there when we are meant to get there.

Along the way, we took a break at a service station. I walked around the corner and a group of people were standing around a small silver bowl. Curiosity got the better of me and I poked my nose into the bustle of the day. There really wasn’t much around the service station.

Holy moly. It’s a bowl of spiders! Not the tiny ones I find sometimes, trying to make a house in my house. These were fleshy, hairy ones. Tarantulas, to be exact.

This was on the floor of a bus service station enroute from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.

What do they use them for? I thought maybe they were fighting spiders.

A quick trip to Mr. Google, and I found out that fried spiders are a local delicacy. The village of Skuon is so infested with spiders, locals call it “spiderville”. I hadn’t found Cambodian food to be much of a character, but this. sounded. exotic. and. exciting.

So I found a place in town, and we went to try some creepy crawlies for lunch.

Plating spiders…as a hospitality graduate, I still don’t know what to think about it.

My friends who said, “I’ll just watch. You can eat.” ended up trying a leg or two. I must have made it look more appetising than it was. It tasted nothing more than seasoned soft shell crab with not much taste to it.

The locals don’t really eat them anymore; it’s more of a tourist attraction these days, but still, a little thrill ain’t gonna hurt nobody.

Moral of the story?

Poke your nose into something, and you just might get rewarded for being curious. In Singlish (Singaporean English) we say, be kaypoh. If curiosity kills the cat, hey, you lived.

Live in peace knowing that you have lived. Angkor Wat, Siem Reap.

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