At a bus stop along the way from Siem Reap to Battambang, the usual street vendors came around to sell us their fruit and whatnot. One woman carried a pan filled with crickets. I'd seen these on the street many times, but I never actually saw anyone eat any. I started to think they were just to amuse the tourists, especially because they sometimes charge tourists to take pictures of them. But then... the woman in front of us on the bus grabbed one and crunched down on it nonchalantly like it was no big deal at all. And then she popped another one, and Adam and I looked at each other in complete disgust. Of course, she then started coughing a whole bunch, and Adam claims a cricket leg came flying back out. To top it all off, the guy in the seat across the aisle from us proceeded to buy a whole bag of them! Just a little snack for the road! ;)
Anyhow, Battambang was a city in which we were obviously not locals, but felt very welcome nonetheless. Since the people there don't generally rely on visitors for their livelihood like they do in other tourist hotspots, it felt like they were friendly to us in an unforced way. Their curiousity about us was endearing and amusing.
If you ever make it to Battambang, I can highly recommend stopping for some food at Jaan Bai. The restaurant provides skills and employment for youth in Battambang, with all profits going to the overall sustainability of Cambodian Children’s Trust. The food is of superb quality, the atmosphere is very minimalist and idyllic, and the staff are really lively. You can tell that they really enjoy working where they do and that they are proud. And they should be proud!
Overall, I am so glad that we took the time to go somewhere else in Cambodia than Siem Reap. Had it not been monsoon season, I would have also liked to head down to the coast, as I hear they have some fantastic beaches. Next time!