We headed down to the beach again this morning and spotted a lady with what looked like a tray of large shrimp balanced on her head. She told us they were lobster but upon closer inspection Kotoe identified them as “shack-o” (which is the phonetic Japanese spelling, as she didn’t know the English word for them and i’m pretty sure it’s not a crustacean i’ve ever eaten before). We bought 10 of the creatures to eat for breakfast, coated in black pepper and lemon juice. They taste similar to shrimps and are – according to Kotoe – used as bait to catch Snapper.
As we ate we were constantly interrupted by children selling bracelets, sarongs, and shrimps woven from colourful pieces of cotton. I bought a $2 anklet for a dollar from a cheeky little boy who can’t have been more than 7 or 8 years old but had already perfected some effective sales techniques. Later on in the day, at exactly the time my mouth was watering for some juicy pieces of mango, another little boy appeared and asked, “you wanna buy my fruit?”. At any other point in the day my answer would have been a disinterested “no” but on this occasion he secured my business simply by a very co-incidental piece of good timing. Having exchanged a large bag of ripe mango for a dollar, he skipped across the sand with a huge grin spread across his tiny little face.
This evening, having been given a flyer for Mick and Craig’s Mexican Restaurant earlier on in the day, we decided that the concept of tucking into a sour cream and chilli bean fajita sounded rather appealing. Unfortunately when we arrived at the joint, the prices weren’t so appealing (the seafood platter last night cost me less than most of the dishes on Mick and craig’s menu), so we politely drank a Vietnamese coffee and then departed, in search of a slightly cheaper dining option.
We chose Happa (Japanese for Leaf or Leaves), a newly opened and tastefully decorated Japanese and Khmer restaurant, which also sells locally made handicrafts. It’s run by a Japanese lady and a German man (who also speaks fluent Japanese) and I think Kotoe was pleased that she could actually have a conversation in her native language, for the first time in weeks. The food was rather slow in arriving but when it did it was well wortn the wait. We ate shrimp in a ginger and soy sauce, squid in Kroeng sauce (a Khmer sauce containing lemongrass, galangal, chillis, peanuts and coconut milk) and Okonomiyaki with oyster mushrooms and cheese. Okonomiyaki translates as “whatever you want, fried”, “yaki” meaning “fried”. When we left it was gone 11pm – we’d spent the best part of 4 hours chatting, eating and drinking the night away.
Photo is of Kotoe and our friendly shacko seller, Serendipity beach, Sihanoukville.