The 10 Weirdest Creatures We've Eaten (So Far)

Traveling opens the door to so many new experiences. Meeting new people, getting to know new cultures and seeing amazing new places are among the wonders of traveling. One of my favorites, however, is tasting new foods. I love trying strange foods and will hardly ever shy away from new dishes. Ricky, too, is beginning to be a more adventurous eater. Here is a list of 10 of the strangest things we’ve eaten so far. Now just to clarify, we list 10 different creatures, not parts of them. We’ve had cow stomach and duck intestines, but duck and cow aren’t that strange. The following list contains 10 animals that the majority of you probably haven’t tried.


Yes, they taste the way they look.
10. Silkworm

I’ll start with the creepy-crawlies, because, well, they're the worst.. First is silkworm, a popular dish in China. I tried them twice. The first time was disgusting and I couldn’t actually swallow it. The outside of the worm was a sort of chewy/crunchy texture, and when I bit down on it, the goo from the inside flooded my mouth. It was absolutely vile. The flavor was rancid, the texture even worse. I spit it up into a napkin.
The second time was much better. The inside was cooked  better, so it had the texture of a firm tofu. The outside was
chewable, so I could actually swallow it. The flavor was much better than the first time as well. Still, though, silkworm is not a great food, at least for my tastes.

9. Scorpion  
Who decided eating this thing was a good idea?
The scorpions I had were tiny little things, with not much to them. They were cooked on skewers that were almost as big around as they were.  And that’s pretty much it. There wasn’t much flavor, or actual edible stuff. Just a crunchy little tid-bit.

8. Wasp
All I remember thinking as I was about to pop this crunchy morsel into my mouth was this: “It’s looking at me. It can see into my soul.”
I will devour your first born child, with all your hopes and dreams on the side.

And then I ate it, and it popped a little.

7. Grasshopper

By far the worst insect I’ve eaten. First, they were huge. Second, they still had legs.  It took me about 5 minutes to eat one because everything kept getting stuck everywhere. There were legs in my teeth and exoskeleton bits stuck to the back of my throat. It was probably one of the most disgusting eating experiences ever.
10 months later and I'm still finding bits in my teeth.

***Just to sum up my bug-eating: never again. I thought before I started traveling that I would be an insect-eater. The thought didn’t really gross me out, so I figured I’d be ok with it. But it’s one of those things that is cool once for the novelty, but after that it’s just gross.  Bugs are definitely not something I could make a meal out of. But maybe I just haven’t met the right one…***

6. Ostrich
So tall and regal...and tasty.
This is one of my favorites on this list. We were given it raw, and then we cooked it ourselves on a barbecue. Raw, it was red and looked a lot like beef. Cooked, it still retained that beef-like appearance. 
The flavor and texture were delicious. It was tender, and the taste was rich. The Japanese must have eaten this when they discovered umami. 

5. Yak
So, this may not be way out there, because it’s pretty much just a cow dressed as Tina Turner, but we're still guessing that not many of you have had the pleasure—nay! The privilege!—of eating yak.  It is the most divine meat I have ever eaten.

Wear it, eat it. It's multipurpose!

 I had a yak steak and a yak burger in China and I could almost hear a choir of angels singing aloud as I chewed each bite. It was oh-so tender, full of flavor, and seemed to melt in my mouth. Each mouthful was a taste of heaven, and I was close to tears when it was all gone.

4. Dog 
Shame on me for using this picture. 
Not one of my favorite meats, but Ricky will eat it any time he gets a chance, mostly because it means that we’re in a North Korean restaurant, and he has a fascination with North Korea.
We’ve had dog twice, and the second time was my favorite. The first time, it was sliced up, and looked like roast beef. It came with a tasty brown sauce and was served cold. The meat was tender and flavorful, but for me there was a strange sort of after-taste…a very doggy sort of after-taste.
The second time we had dog it was in a sort of stew with onions and peppers, served over rice. I really liked it this time.  It was so tender and flavorful, with less of the wet-dog after taste.
Fresh puppy stew.

3. Snake
Ever since I saw Crocodile Dundee, I have wanted to try snake.  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom changed my mind for a while, but I decided if the snake was dead, I’d have no qualms.
So when Ricky and I went to a barbecue joint, we decided  to get a little snake to throw on there. Honestly, it was quite good. I think it was pretty fatty, because it shrunk up a lot on the barbecue, and it was fairly chewy.  But with a dip in the right sauce it was quite enjoyable.

2. Frog Legs
Now, I’m from Texas, so I had tried frogs legs before, nice deep fried ones.  This was Ricky’s first time though, and enjoyed it well enough. The meat was a bit bland, but the texture was nice. It was sort of a mix between fish and chicken. I liked it very much and could definitely make a meal out of it.

1. Crocodile
Tasty tasty meat. Really. The flavor of the meat was delicious. It was a little chewy for my taste, but the flavor was just right. Ricky and I ate this right up.  As a bonus, the day before, we had visited the local crocodile farm, so we got to take a look at this succulent creature before it ended up on our plate.
The many inhabitants of the local croc farm.
To the right of the bowl, frog legs. At the 11 o'clock, crocodile.

Redemption in Cambodia: Finding Paradise

Our last couple of posts about Cambodia haven’t been the most positive of posts. I would apologize, but that’s exactly how we felt, so I won’t. But I will tell you about redemption.

See, we got so tired of being so close to the beach in Sihanoukville but unable to go because we didn’t want to face the hawkers and beggars.  Some friends that we had met before told us that they were staying at another beach that was much better. We didn’t have much to lose, so we took a tuk-tuk out there. Because really, all we wanted was a beach.

Well, we found it.

We checked into the guesthouse where our friends were, with more than just a little trepidation. The room was up a short flight of ladder-like stairs. Inside was a mattress on the floor, with a mosquito net over it. The floors and walls were thin wood and the thatched roof was right above us. 

Our lovely room. We've already started decorating: note the roll of toilet paper and empty water bottle.

  We changed straight into our swimwear and headed for the beach, which we still hadn’t really checked out yet.

We were greeted by perfection. The strand of beach was pristine with soft sand. The sky was blue and the water was a clear emerald green and amazingly warm.

We finally found what we were looking for.

The view from our window

So we swam a while, lounged a bit, ate some food (pricy, but good portions, so we can share a dish), swam again, chatted with some folks, had an oil massage on the beach, and lounged a bit more.  After dinner we watched the sun set over the water.  And all of this with a minimum of hawkers.

Beautiful sunset on the beach.

We have vowed never to leave this place. Well, at least for a few more days, until we have to leave the country. For now, we will spend our days lazing on the beach, jumping off boats into crystal clear water, and eating fresh fruit in the sun. 

I'm so happy!

A day at the beach

So you and your girlfriend decide you would like to go for a swim. You go to your hotel room and get everything you need –towels and water and such—and change into your swimming clothes. You had a waterproof pouch that you bought before to keep your passports and money in while you swim so you know they’ll be safe while you’re in the water.

You arrive at the beach and it is paradise. There are headlands in the distance either side of you covered in palm trees, and the sand is so soft you want to bury your face in it. The sky is clear and blue but the water is even bluer. You dip in a toe to find that the water is the same temperature as the air, beautiful and warm, with a hint of sun-derived toastiness.

You lay your things down on a nearby sunbed , with no other sunbeds occupied nearby so you have lots of privacy. You get undressed,  and run straight into the water. It’s filled with beautiful little jellyfish-like creatures that you’ve never seen before. You swim around and it is perfect for just a moment.

Just then, you realize that the pouch around your shoulder with the passports and money has burst and everything is getting soaked.

You run back to shore trying to get the water out of the pouch and sit down on your sunbed. As you sit there a barman comes over and tells you that the sunbeds are for customers only and you need to order something, but as you are preoccupied you decline and continue to try drying out all of your money and passports. The barman stands and watches as a beggar comes over and spots your wet cash lying in the open.

The beggar holds out his hat and despite your disregards he just stands and stares. A woman comes walking down the beach selling boiled lobsters and offers them to you, but, seeing as you have some rather pressing matters, you decline, so she stands and watches you dry your $315 and passports. You are really hoping the ink on the stamp doesn’t run or fade. If it does, you could be stranded in this country for a long time with lots of problems.

Another woman with a gold tooth strolls up the beach and asks you if you want to buy some brown bracelets. You are trying to guard your belongings (because you’re new here and don’t know if you can trust anyone or if there is much crime) while trying to dry out your passports with a towel. You tell the woman with the gold tooth that you don’t need a bracelet right now and ask her to go away as you are obviously busy.

She takes a small step back and laughs with the beggar and the lobster lady at your misfortune. Another man comes along and sits on the sun bed next to yours. He says he is a shoe salesman and wants to “try out” your girlfriend’s shoes. She declines to which the man replies “Why?” Upon deciding to not justify why a man shouldn’t need to try out a pair of women’s sandals size 8, you try your best to work quickly as water is still running from your passport.

The barman has returned and told you that if you don’t order some food or a drink right now he is calling the police, which in this country means being “fined” up to a few hundred dollars mostly to subsidize the policeman’s bad wages. We tell the barman we will be leaving soon to which his reply is “fine, I’ll call the police.”

You grab your belongings, shove them all together, wet and dry, into your bag and storm through the half a dozen beggars and hawkers away from there as quickly as possible before the police arrive.

We are not impressed with Cambodia so far.

4 Reasons Why Siem Reap is the Most Aggravating City on the Planet

We just spent two and a half days in Siem Reap, which in my opinion was far too long.  See, Siem Reap is a place that just gets to you. It has some inexplicable way of getting right to your nerves and giving them a little flick.

Cambodia: More annoying than this thing.

4. The Children
I know what you’re thinking. I’m some terrible person that hates children and is annoyed  by crying and whining. Well, all of that is true, but is not actually why the children are annoying.  Unlike the children in Phnom Penh, who were often smart and charming and actually selling things, the children of Siem Reap just hassle you.  They will come up to you, holding their “little brother” and a near empty bottle and say “Don’t want money, only milk!” Now, I don’t really get this scam, because obviously a baby needs to eat. But when one girl followed us down an entire street telling us to go into a shop and buy milk, we saw her blatantly pinching the baby so he would cry, because he was “hungry.”  And there were kids everywhere doing this.  Now, I’m not so evil that I would let a baby starve, but I also can’t give money to every begging child, especially when things don’t seem quite right. Still, it's hard to say no, despite how irritating the kids are.

3. The “Salespeople”
Just to be clear, everyone is selling something in Siem Reap. Ricky commented that he would like to meet one person that wasn’t a tourist that didn’t want his money. It’s impossible.  This town is a tourist town, and all the people want is the dollar. You cannot walk down the street without being shouted at by people whose soul job is to sit outside a business and shout at you. “Lady! You have massage! Mister, you eat here!”  And it’s not an offer, either. It’s a command. These people are telling you to buy their stuff of partake of their service. In their mind you don’t have a choice. But you do, and most often that choice is no.

2. The Tourists
As I said a minute ago, Siem Reap is a tourist town, and boy is it ever.  Pub Street is exactly what it sounds like and has the largest concentration of tourists that I’ve seen in a long time.  You can’t get away from them. Once again I’m sure you’re all thinking “Good heavens, that Talia is one anti-social nightmare.” Well sometimes. But mostly Ricky and I  like to enjoy a place for its local culture.  With so many tourists, there is no local culture, unless you count the locals who own the pubs, guesthouses, and restaurants that cater almost solely to tourists.

1. The Tuk-Tuk Drivers
We thought we had it bad in Phnom Penh. We had no idea.
In Phnom Penh, tuk-tuk drivers would shout at you as you pass, wanting to you to know that he was there and ready to take you wherever you needed to go. If you said no, he might ask one more time, just to be sure, but would otherwise leave you alone.
In Siem Reap, however, the drivers just won’t let you go. They rarely sit in their vehicle as they ask you where you want to go. Instead, they wander the street, especially Pub Street, walking by your side as you tell them yet again, that no, you don’t want a tuk-tuk. And they just don’t listen. Instead, they talk.
“Where you go, mister? You want massage? You want eat? I take you. Where you from, lady?  What time is it? Where you stay? I take you there.”
There really is no end to their chatter, until you either shout a very loud NO, or walk further away from the tourist crowd than they are comfortable with.

Now, for you non-travelers, some of this may sound kind of petty, and maybe it is.  Maybe I shouldn’t be bothered by people just trying to do their job, or other travelers having a good time.  Maybe I should learn to be a little more patient in my travels.

In any case, I’m glad to be out of Siem Reap.

Overcoming Tragedy: A Walk Through Phnom Penh

I didn’t know what to expect from Phnom Penh but from stories I’ve heard and what I’d read in guidebooks etc. that  it was going to be a city of corrupt cops trying to get money from me, lots of thieves, scams, beggars and swindlers.

Unfortunately a large portion of that is actually true, but I’ll get back to that later. Phnom Penh has so much to offer as a city and though it’s always easy to focus on the negative, in Phnom Penh it’s so much easier to turn the negatives into positives. Taking an experience at face value can be much better and a more fun experience than weighing out options and reading between the lines, and our experiences in the city of Phnom Penh truly helped us see that despite the tragedy these people have seen, they live and thrive. They are lighthearted and cheerful, with a good sense of humor.

On a walk through the city, we passed an open area where tons of kids and teenagers were playing soccer. I of course had to join in. Meanwhile, Talia met and chatted with a local man and his adorable son.
Just chatting with the locals.
Ricky having fun.

Then, while sitting at a bar on the riverfront we were hounded at least once every two minutes by a beggar or a young child trying to sell us twine bracelets or counterfeit books. It really was non-stop! But once we actually engaged some of the kids and watched how the community of beggars and hawkers interact it all became quite an interesting encounter.

 For example, when one 8 year old girl with incredible English asked Talia where she was from, and Talia replied America, the first words out of the girl’s mouth were “Ok, what’s up dog?” and then “Why aren’t you black?” Then, as she tried to sell scarves and t-shirts, we said we didn’t have any money. To that she had the philosophical reply of “No money, no honey, no baby!” 

Talia and the smartest, most charming girl in Cambodia.

Following this girl, whose name was Pov,  was another small girl and a pantsless boy, walking like a boss down the street with a straw in his mouth, junk swinging from east to west. Pov explained that they were her niece and nephew, the children of her older sister who was also selling trinkets. She and Talia formed a weird sort of bond and ended up chasing each other up and down the street throwing chunks of ice at each other as other tourists looked on in either amusement or confusion.

Talia, no-pants boy, Pov, and her niece.

Talia and her loot, because she doesn't know how to say no to children.

While walking down the streets in the afternoon you can also quite likely see rats the size of terriers dead on the roadside but in a strange twisted way it all added to a beautiful charm in an indescribable way!

Yes, that rat is bigger than that foot.

Another example of the city’s charm lies in the tuk-tuk drivers. A tuk-tuk can be a range of things from a trailer with seats towed by a motorbike to a van with no …”walls”. The tuk-tuk drivers will shout at random passers-by non-stop to try and get that important tourist dollar into their pockets, which can easily become very frustrating very quickly for the tourist.

To abate the annoyance, I made a sign that said “No! I do not want a tuk-tuk!”

It actually worked out really well! I didn’t have to say “no!” every ten seconds; all I had to do was hold up the sign and the tuk-tuk drivers would erupt in laughter! It was quite amazing to see their good humor at being refused.

In Phnom Penh a simple street encounter with a stranger can lead to anything from frustration to a huge laugh, from a hefty fine to a new friend. It really is a city of lightheartedness where we noticed laughing, playing children, and adult men indulging in a little horseplay  on the streets.

As we walked past the Palace of the late king of Cambodia we were approached by a group of kids on rollerblades and scooters selling postcards. As soon as I spotted the kids rolling down this four lane closed section of road I hi-jacked one of the scooters with the kid still on and rolled away at full speed!

Inside a temple near the palace we ran and played with a different group of kids who were just running around and playing in their Sunday suits, paying their respects to the death of the king.

You can never get too many high fives from children running back and forth past you.

Phnom Penh really is a city where the worst imaginable atrocities have happened and from the ashes sprouted laughing children and locals. It’s a city where an honest smile is the most valued currency among the lower class, where strangers can laugh together in jest until tears come from their eyes.

I really liked Phnom Penh and apart from the traffic and that police man who tried to ‘fine’ us (all he got was an earful of F-bombs and some tire smoke) I would definitely like to visit again so I can remember the seven days I smiled like a fool.

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