For those of us who have grown up with the antiseptic florescent light washed aisles of supermarkets, the first time you see a real open air market (i.e. a place where real people sell fresh things they raised, grew, foraged, or made – and real people shop daily for the things they need for that day because there are not appliances at home) your senses are overwhelmed. This market is no Sunday Ballard, Seattle Farmer's Market where well-to-do liberal environmentally conscious people shop on a clean neighborhood street to better their fellow less well-off farmer. This market is a necessity, it is filled with blood, and motor bikes and fish scales and flies and fire and vegetables and dirt and smells that entice and disgust.
Open air markets in places that depend on them for their life blood and food, not to drink money from tourists, are the most amazing places I have ever visited in my humble attempt at globe-trotting life. They are visceral because everything is in front of you – in your face – and happening. You cannot deny you have five or even six senses. You actually experience new senses you didn't know existed because survival requires you to dance through hordes of humans who are buying and selling and driving bicycles and scooters and mopeds stacked with water spinach, and dead chickens past you and through the throng as you attempt to buy a curiosity for your never satiated adventure seeking western taste buds.
The orange bottle above is pumpkin soy milk, made by the lady sitting behind these bottles. We tried some when we made our way through the market – no sugar added, just pureed pumpkin and soy milk made recently from soybeans – so recently it was still warm.
Some pork with your durian? Or how about some durian with your pork?
Or perhaps some beef or sausage?
Or just some rice?
Cambodia used to be the home of over 2000 varieties of rice. That is why they make everything out of rice – even waffles.
Waffles that you can eat fresh from the waffle making lady just down the way from the jack fruit seller.
Who is just down the way from the fish monger
who is near the flower cutter
down from the vegetable stalls where the monks shop.
All of the things are all around you, asking to be looked at, photographed, experienced.
Chickens and bean sprouts and fruits and crickets.
You can find it all at the market in Siem Reap, Cambodia.