Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cambodian Wedding Part 1

So I’ve realised a post about the rest of my trip to Cambodia is long overdue. Just to remind you, I went to Cambodia in May this year to attend a wedding. Al, my boyfriend’s sister-in-law (his brother’s wife) is half Cambodian and one of her half sisters was getting married. Al urged me to come to Cambodia. At first I was really hesitant to go because I’d be a stranger at the wedding. I mean, even Liam wasn’t going to be there because he couldn’t take time off work. But after some convincing, I said yes and I’m so glad I did.

The wedding was a 3-day epic. Think of the fanciest wedding you’ve ever been to and multiply it by 100. The night before the wedding, we went to visit Al’s family. Their house was still in the middle of construction – adding exquisite drapery and chandeliers to the house etc. By the next day the whole street was transformed into a dining hall, decked out with round tables, plump chairs and a red carpet. The street was tented in PVC, zipped up to trap the air-conditioning (yes, there were about 12+ air-conditioners!).

Earlier that day, Al and I went shopping for a dress. She wasn’t keen on wearing her traditional dress but she couldn’t find anything she liked. I looked around and found this black dress, which had a pleated skirt. We also got our hair and make up done professionally at a salon the hotel receptionist recommended. It cost me roughly US$12 to get my hair, makeup and nails done, including tips. The lady who did my hair was wonderful and I tried to tip her well. I LOVE my hair! My fringe is so bouncy!

The first day was a bit like a “giving away the bride” ceremony. This ceremony actually went for 1.5 days! The bride and groom were blessed by the monks, exchanged vows and the prime minister of Cambodia and his wife even made it to give them their blessings!

One of the highlights of going to the wedding was seeing the Khmer dresses. There were some amazing silk dresses. Khmer dresses are almost like the Chinese qipao, except it’s a top and a skirt, not a dress. Al had a custom-made lilac number on. The styles of dresses were roughly the same, some of the older women had more elaborate details and decals on theirs

It was a very long process, lasting several hours. It wasn’t necessary for people to be there for the whole ceremony. In fact the tables outside were set up with food for any hungry patrons. There were people there whose jobs was to offer drinks to everyone while they wait. The actual room where the ceremony took place was tiny so flat screen TVs were hooked up in the dining areas, streaming the ceremony.

Here are some shots of the wedding food. Not great photos because I was too busy eating everything. The food below was the spread for the whole 1.5 wedding ceremony. The food we had wasn’t exactly fine-dining, but there was so much of it! Think tables brimming with tasty traditonal, home-cooked dishes. I find Khmer food has a lot of Chinese influences. Think soy-based stir fries with ginger.

Pickled vegies. Its salty-acidic flavour is very addictive.

Some sweet egg rolls, probably made with lots of coconut cream.

Something wrapped in banana leaves. I didn't get a chance to eat that one.

Deep fried fish drenched in a sweet and sour sauce. Very tasty but nothing too amazing. It was a very tasty piece of fish. It actually reminds me of the fish my mum makes at home, except she makes a chinese salt and pepper version with allspice and lots of onion and garlic. 

Roast duck in some kind of soy-based sauce. I don't remember this one too well.

Steamed dish of prawns, squid and pork, topped with a mop of coriander. I felt this dish seemed quite Chinese. I had a bit of the prawns and it was nice but nothing exciting.

Deep fried battered bits of pork. Al really liked this. She said it went really well with the dip (pictured below).

Spicy fish sauce with bean sprouts. This was a very addictive dip that went really well with the meats. It wasn't too sickly sweet and packed a decent garlic punch. The bean shoots gave it some texture. I could have eaten it on its own.

Some kind of omelet. I think it had minced pork and wood ear mushrooms. I didn't have any.

Standard spinach stir fry with garlic.

This nasty piece of fish was so yummy. Speared with lemongrass, its flesh was so tender and sweet. I think it must have been grilled. Its tough skin acted as a steamer. It went so well with the dipping sauce with the bean shoots.

The full spread.

These are a dessert. It was a bit like lotus seed paste encased in agar agar. Very delicious. All the photos I took of the insides of the dessert were too blurry. Damn my amateur camera skills!

Anyway, I feel this post is getting quite long. It might be time to end it. I'll post a few more about the other wedding ceremonies and all the touristy stuff I get up to. I hope you enjoyed this!

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