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T / how to get the shakes in chiang mai

There are only two things in Chiang Mai.  Maybe three.  Mostly just two.  This post only focuses on one.

When I arrived in Chiang Mai, I felt like I had been adequately prepared to have myself some good coffee (thank you coffee Yoda!).  And I was with some people who wanted good coffee.  Because there is nothing worse than to be with people who are not willing to have more than three cups of coffee within a 24 hour period when all you want to do is drink coffee.  Because it is literally all around you.  You can drive 100km up a mountain through a national park and still find a decent latte from an Italian machine.  And if Ponganes Coffee Roasters turns out to out to be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, that’s totally cool.  Akha Ama is just a hop and a skip away.  What about brunch? Well, Overstand, The Larder and Rustic & Blue make food their primary objective, but their lattes are still above the norm of what you’d get back home.  Also: see chicken and waffles.  So thanks to the massive list that blogger to the north, Alana, put together, I thought I’d leave you the top three ways you could have your coffee.

Sriracha Maple Syrup Chicken Waffles at Rustic & Blue.

Stay at an Airbnb in Chiang Mai.  For only one reason: you don’t get screwed by a hotel breakfast. Wake up and immediately leave the premises. Don’t be confined to very restrictive breakfast hours.  Walk around any corner and you’ll probably find a really good. Like a latte that’s shares a table with Sriracha Maple Syrup Chicken Waffles at Rustic & Blue, Or The Larder’s Chorizo Breakfast Hot Dog if you’re in the Nimman Haeminda neighbourhood.  Or the damn good breakfast pizza at Overstand in the Old City.  The list is literally endless.

So many delicious, coffee-adjacent cuppas at Graph Table and Graph Cafe.

So many points for innovation, going outside boundaries and being a little nuts here.  Sometimes it’s a little showy (yes, we get you won world’s best latte art), other times you’re thinking “how the heck did you get there?”  And sometimes your coffee winds up tasting like a Christmas chocolate orange.  Whether it’s fancy lattes with equally fancy names at Ristr8tto, or charcoal-laced concoctions at Graph Café and Graph Table, you’re going for something a little outside of the box.

So many coffee adjacent creative things at Graph Table and Graph Cafe.

Really get to know who’s growing your coffee at Akha Ama.

When more than one friend asks you to bring back coffee from Akha Ama, you get yourself a piccolo latte and their signature orange-infused Manee Mana cold brew concoction. The coffee served here is literally single sourced, when families from the Akha tribe in a northern town in Thailand cut out the middle man and began to not only produce, but process the beans themselves, all in a sustainable and ecologically free way (read: reduced use of chemicals).  Inside the cafe, they’re equally proud of what they’re making.  Baristas are coffee nerds to the highest degree. 

All photos by Tiffany Tsang.  Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for the shakes.


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T / bangkok love song

It’s become a tradition now.  Tiff gets new contract.  Then Emily says I’m coming to Bangkok.  Tiff immediately says I’M COMING (because having a new contract allows for flights of fancy).  Tiff gets the heck out of dodge.

But first, a little bit about Emily (read her stuff here! and here).  We met by chance outside the offices of this big organization in Phnom Penh nearly six years ago.  We share the same birthday and at the time of our meeting one friend, which quickly ballooned to 28.  Emily is also the one who introduced me to Cait.  And there was that infamous roll of Hello Kitty duct tape from Target involved.  And now we have this blog and amazing friendship and all these things I hold so dearly.  So now you get it.  She’s gorgeous.  The conversation, brunch, gin and wine are in constant flow.  We both love Emily.

And now about Bangkok.  It’s got to be my favourite city in Asia.  With the class and familiarity of Hong Kong (but without the prices, or my relatives), and the kids are so incredibly hip.  The culture is homegrown and authentically Thai.  It is so easy to get around (Uber and GrabTaxi are your apps to get) – and there are trains!  I’ve written about it before.  I’m writing about it again.  The place is delicious.  This time I hung out around the downtown center.  Here are some of my faves.

Start at The Commons.  You could in theory have all of your meals here. In my case, I actually did, over a 24 hours period.  With Em not getting in till the following morning, I landed, based myself in the super central and perfect Thong Lor neighbourhood, and went on to have dinner, drink, big breakfast and coffee as lunch (because if you’re a Thai barista that just invented a thing called Banacotta – why not) all at the best concept to have ever been developed.  Imagine if all the best restaurants in the city decided to open a small stand at a hawker center.  Then bring a few great designers, air conditioning, a great community vibe and you have The Commons.

Any trip to Roast requires two coffees. The special one you need to wait for (because it features cubes of espresso that will slowly melt into that ice cold cream). And the one you need now.

You can actually have coffee as your lunch here. Because you’re probably so full from all the other meals. But also because the crazy baristas at Roots decided to put banana panacotta in your iced latte.

Then Em arrived and we needed food.  Specifically Thai.  Thanks to our Bangkok expert, Jane, we were well armed with recommendations.  I originally thought Err was Jane’s way of saying that she was thinking.  It’s actually a really great rustic-style Thai restaurant down an alley near the Chaophraya River.  You feel every flavour.  Not because there’s a massive chilli in there.  The drinks are curated and so well designed around Thai ingredients.  I’m craving Issan sausage and green curry as I type.

Toby’s is where you might order 1.5 dishes.

Yet another Jane recommendation!  This one I had squirrelled away in one of our communication channels (there are at least 4).  When I found it, Toby’s on Sukhumvit 38 instantly became a brunch objective.  Because that’s apparently how I view food.  With our limited time together, every meal and drink had to be quality.  So that pumpkin scramble with smoked salmon had to be followed up by a ricotta toast topped with figs and dill.

Emily and I have fond memories of sunset balcony hangouts over G&Ts.  So naturally I made us attempt to drink every single gin concoction that was part of Bangkok’s Gin Jubilee earlier this year.  We only made it to two. But The Bamboo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental was by far the most memorable.  Just LOOK AT THIS PLACE.  It’s gorgeous in that colonial way you might feel ever so slightly bad about adoring.  Also – where’s Ernest Hemingway?

Cait’s written about JJ market (sorry – Chatuchak).  So I don’t need to add to the poetic waxing.  But this is where you can find one of our favourite bag companies, TA.THA.TA (hi Kivi!) and all the treasures, which in my case were cacti and succulents.

Some JJ tips.  It gets HOT.  Bring a big shopping bag because you’ll unexpectedly wind up with a bunch of tiny things.

I usually don’t go for the tourist sites in Bangkok.  But Jim Thompson has always stoked my conspiracy theory tendencies.  Not only did the guy helped reinvigorate and bring the Thai silk weaving traditions to the West, but he also went missing while “going for a walk” in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia in 1967.  So when Emily made the suggestion, I gave an enthusiastic YES and then went on to tell her all of my Cold War conspiracy theories (sorry Em).  But mysteries aside, the Jim Thompson House is a gorgeous museum of a very cool period in Bangkok’s history. His house is a traditional masterpiece that remains in sumptuous green despite being in the heart of Bangkok.  Also there’s a bunch of pretty silk on sale.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission to use. Cait+Tiff are not liable for a costly Bangkok habit.

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T / not going for the temples – siem reap part one.

You’d think that this blog having origins in Phnom Penh would have put up a Siem Reap guide or two by now.  After all, Cait and I have run our fair share of Angkor Wat Marathons, personally brought and sent visitors, the whole shebang.  This time around, I was looking for a getaway that wasn’t the usual haunts of Kep or Kampot.  I looked northeast, partnered up with the wonderful folks at MAADS, and got to check out Templation, their new 5 star property in Siem Reap that prides itself on sustainability.

A combination of burnout related sensations happens when you live in Phnom Penh.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this city and I’ve actually called it home for the past six yearss.  But even for this mild mannered freelancer, there comes a point in time where you need to get the heck out of dodge.

Templation is one of the brand spanking new hotels in Siem Reap that not only prides itself on the modern design, impeccable service and gorgeous setting, but also sustainability.  And they’re part of the MAADS family of hotels that I love so much (check out old faves here and here). So it was the obvious place I wanted to escape to with my partner when we both realized we were more than a bit exhausted.  This morning person sometimes needs a little lie-in.

And with reliable and safe flights going three times a day from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on Angkor Air, we found ourselves checking into Templation just three hours after locking up our apartment. The place is just fabulous and the moment you walk in, you know you’re in a MAADS property, bring warmly greeted by staff and lead to relax at their veranda bar by the pool while they get everything ready for you.

We were lead to our Pool Suite (read: PRIVATE POOL) and we never had any desire to leave the confines of our little 70 square meter escape.  When I did have to work (let’s be honest, the work is never done and I like to respond to clients immediately), I could retreat into the air-conditioned living room for some quick design edits, and then dive right into the pool again.

Oh right.  That pool.  It’s not the usual tiny bathtub that many hoteliers try to pass off as a pool.  This baby is huge.  And the whirlpool jets are cherry on top.  Also, those walls that line your private little space are high, and lined with all the green things so you know that your little foray into skinny dipping is for your companion’s eyes only.  

The other thing about the folks at MAADS is that they are experts at combining modernity with the local vibe.  Every little element I couldn’t help but think that this is how the future of Cambodia living could look like.  Concrete structures that felt warm and inviting.  The perfect amount of minimalism and sparseness in each room so you never felt boxed in by decorative elements.  The walk to your suite even feels like you’re strolling through a lush utopian planet on Star Trek.  And I mean that with the fullest adoration and fangirl sentiment.

MAADS properties also pride themselves on sustainability. But Templation takes this a step further.  They’re near completely energy self sufficient.  This means that they’re producing almost enough energy, from solar panels installed by Solearon, to power their operations.  All of those air-conditioners in their 33 suites and villas that have been designed to be energy effiicent, 21 pools private pools, spa, kitchen and other operations are covered.  And they’re the only hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia’s tourist mecca, to do this.  Oh right, they’re also committed to recycling and composting on the property too.  As a David Suzuki-bred Canadian who is trying to be a little more eco-conscious this year, I’m a huge supporter of this.  

So you could come to Siem Reap to see the temples.  But you could also just come to visit this cultural mecca of Cambodia with all the best artisans and most delicious food, and stay at Templation.  Their restaurant is delicious, with a superb breakfast that is the opposite of your typical buffet and is instead an unlimited a la carte menu that’s part of your stay (read: it’s classy).  Templation also boasts a Bodia Spa right on its premises with a free 15 minute back and shoulder massage offered to all guests (this also means Bodia products in all the rooms!).  So even if you did decide to go for that hike up Phnom Kulen, or rise at 5am to catch the temples at sunrise, you have everything waiting for you when you get back.  Seriously.  Not shabby at all.

Templation is located just minutes outside of the Angkor Wat Temple Complex.  Prices will vary according to season.

This was a sponsored post and thanks to Bernard and the folks at MAADS for reaching out for this collaboration.  We’re huge fans of the MAADS family of hotels in Cambodia and we can’t wait to see what you develop next!

PS – next week I’ll be posting a guide to all the new Siem Reap eats and shops!

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for any public nudity charges as a result of the luxury of a private pool.

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C / Hunt for Nyonya Popiah


I grew up in Tucson, the obvious hub for Malaysian food. It sounds weird, but I was lucky enough to have my friend, Michelle, whose family owned a Malaysian/Chinese restaurant, Seri Melaka. I spent a lot of time there in high school, draining the buffet of lo mein and orange chicken, but my 16 year-old dumb taste buds didn’t realize that the best stuff on the menu was the food from Melaka. When they opened a second restaurant, and I actually read the menu, I fell in love.

I went to KL last weekend to visit some friends and insisted on hunting down Melaka food, specifically one dish, Nyonya Popiah. Michelle’s restaurant served it and I ordered it every time, to the point where her mom would laugh at me for being such a one-trick-pony. It looks a bit like and Asian-inspired burrito, but is so much better than that.


The outside wrapper is sort of a spongey crepe, and the inside is filled with fried garlic, jicama, carrots, bamboo, lettuce, sambal sauce and probably some other amazing stuff I couldn’t identify. It’s a little salty, a little sweet, a little spicy and totally delicious.

Luckily, the internet provided me with information on The Straits Food Company (as in “Straits of Melaka”). This restaurant feels like two street food carts had a Malaysian hipster baby. The food was delicious, diverse, cheap, and served in a great atmosphere. Bonus points for the monster monsoon that provided the soundtrack outside.




So if you live in Tucson, go to Seri Melaka, and beg them to put nyonya popiah back on the menu. If you are anywhere near KL, get to The Straits Food Company, kind of right now. On the ceiling, in multiple languages, they have written “FOOD FOR ALL,” and we should be so lucky.


Who has two thumbs, a dumb grin and loves Melaka food? This guy.


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T / at the speed of light in Bangkok

Bangkok-HeaderAsian mega-cities. Oh man.  Imposing and intimidating they can be no matter where you are on the continent. But after spending a month in rainy, still emerging Yangon, my heart slowed to a more comfortable pace when the scape of a thumping populous city, home to over 6 million, came into view.  And then my taxi driver informed me that there had been another bombing.

Nonetheless, I was still determined to make up for lost time, and I wasn’t going to let acts of terrorism get in the way of that.  But I would have to be wary and listen to the advice of others.  I hadn’t visited Bangkok for over 18 months, and I was doing it with new eyes. This trip was no longer limited to 72 hours, nor was it constrained to the tiniest of budgets that would have relegated a much younger me to the famous Khaosan Road backpacker bubble or other more tourist-ridden areas.  23 year old Tiff was going to be high-fiving 30 year old Tiff big time.

And for the whirlwind of a day that I spent with my pal Jane, it never felt like it.  Both of us were taking a breather in the big city.  Catching up, spinning wheels and looms of ideas.  Jane’s spent more time in Bangkok than I have and she was super keen to show me to her favourite haunts while discovering new ones with me.  With the bounty of very efficient public transportation at our feet, I was so incredibly thankful (after hours spent in traffic in Yangon) to go hard and fast.  I wanted to share some favourite new bits of the city I discovered on this trip, adding more proof that Bangkok is one of the hippest cities this side of the Pacific.


Bangkok---Live-in-AriBesides hang out with these cool kids, the first thing I did in Bangkok was to get settled.  And where else than the emerging, hipper than thou neighbhourhood of Ari?  Recommended by nearly everyone in Yangon (who know their Bangkok well after more than a few visa runs), I found a perfect homey little AirBnb hosted by foodies Sara and Alex.  Upon arrival, they swept me off on a little food tour of the very walkable neighbourhood.  I loved staying here and if I ever relocated to Bangkok, I would definitely want to call Ari home.  Start with very good coffee at Porcupine (among others). Or have an espresso with some high quality bicycles at tokyobike.  Spend all of your money at Vick’s Weekend. Grab an apertif and perhaps even a delicious Thai seafood dinner at Summer Street. Finish off the evening with whimsy and delicious cakes at Puritan, or maybe an artisanal hot dog on a charcoal bun, right on the street.  Ari I heart you.

Start the day off fresh with a workout at CrossfitAri and then follow it up with some coffee at Porcupine Cafe, around the corner.

Start the day like you mean it with a workout at CrossfitAri and then follow it up with some coffee at Porcupine Cafe, around the corner.

Spend the afternoon admiring quality cycles at tokyobike

Spend the afternoon admiring quality cycles at tokyobike


Bangkok---Work-with-OthersAs a hyphenate, there’s always some work to be done and Jane had the perfect place to do it.  The Thailand Creative & Design Centre’s library sits on the top floor of the Emporium Shopping Complex at Phrom Phong BTS stop.  It’s a bit of a maze through the food stands to get to it, but when you do, it totally pays off.  Your first visit is free of charge (so long as you bring your passport), with free wi-fi and design resources up the wazoo included.  Your neighbour could be one of these guys. Plus respect for the quiety, plenty of desks and power outlets. It made the productivity side of my heart very happy.


Bangkok---Eat-SlowBefore you head into your work-related headspace, consider having some slow coffee and an indulgent ode to the eggs Benedict at Roast just below the TCDC.  Do it with a very good friend you haven’t seen in a while, and share stories and plan future travel together while that frozen cube of espresso makes friends with milk.


The tenderest roasted chicken (left) and spiciest duck curry (right) at Neverending Summer.

And invite others to join you for an even more generous dinner at Neverending Summer on the other side of the Chao Phraya river.  While contemplating dining options, Jane jumped at the chance to introduce me to this family run, Thai resto housed in part of an old jam factory complex refurbished into an epicentre of design and food in the Klong San neighbourhood. We were greeted by the matriarch of the establishment and thus began a night of slow food, with each dish deserving a good amount of time to ruminate over, be amazed by, (and on my part – photograph).  I’m still dreaming about that chicken.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. We are not liable for expenses incurred for sudden relocations to Bangkok.



T / beyond the pagoda in yangon


The view from the epic obelisk in Maha Bandula Park, with the High Court looming in the background.

This could also have been more aptly titled as 28 days in Yangon (the duration which a tourist visa lasts).  But I wanted to stick with what I wanted to show about this post – the city once named Rangoon beyond its white elephant: Shwedagon Pagoda. So in the fewest of words (and mostly verbs) and mostly images, I wanted to share with you the best that the city has to offer outside of those main tourist bits.


Yangon - EAT

Right: Start your day right with a bowl of mohinga, and follow it up with chicken and waffles for dinner at Port Autonomy.

The high and the low. The Indian, the Shan and the Myanmar. The street and the city down. This city has it all.  Much of it is hidden, but whether you are looking for a pop-up turned brick and mortar from a bunch of international upstart hipsters to the best local breakfast in the city, there is only one rule: go by the numbers. A packed stall or resto means business. Plus tummy troubles will hopefully be avoided.

Yangon - EAT---roti

The freshest roti on Bo Yarn Nyunt Street for 250 kyat a piece.

Yangon Eat Bien Mont

The best savoury pancakes are next to the freshest rotis. These wheel cakes are best fresh and dipped in crushed peanuts right out of the frier.



This will happen. You cannot avoid it. That is all.


TREASURE-HUNTMy pal Dustin was looking for a gramaphone. I also couldn’t say no to the invitation to go antiquing in Yangon.  Across the country lay treasures waiting to be discovered.  Whether they are vestiges of the colonial era and the trading that happened between colonies, or native artifacts which would be preferrred to kept in-country (or brought back in the case of Jojo and Jerome), there is so much to discover.  Treasure-Hunt-Grid

LONGYIThere is something to be said about the Westerner wearing the local garment. But judgers beware, the longyi is the best thing since sweat pants. From the moment I landed, I knew I could adopt this look.  And on men? Even better.



Just another night out at Hummingbird.

The city is filled with secret watering holes. From The Blind Tiger to Hummingbird and Gekko – they range in price and some would say quality. But one thing is certain: they definitely all adhere to a post-colonial, classic frame of mind.  Great conversations at the bar are a must.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.


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T / just below my feet in yangon

02a---headerI love a good secret bar.  I first fell in love with them while living in Manila.  Every must go spot to spend the evening was behind an exit door of a wine shop or your run of the mill office building.

Secrets are hidden all over south east Asia, and especially in emerging Myanmar.  Being stuck in an office, and even worse, a cubicle, I was having having trouble getting inspired by this enormous secret of a city.  Friends had wondered why I hadn’t posted more about the place.  I was having trouble finding the time to explore. But little did I know that today’s post was right beneath my feet.

01---DoorWhen my Airbnb host mentioned the speakeasy tucked away in our building, I knew I had to make a stop.  So after sitting in traffic for what seemed like eons, while a steady drizzle came down, I finally made it home, grabbed my camera and headed straight down to the Blind Tiger.  In the unassumingly trendy Yaw Min Gyi neighbourhood in downtown Yangon, there’s a little apartment building at the corner of Nawaday Street and Alan Pya Pagoda Street.  Head down the little corridor of a seemingly Myanmar residential building and you’ll see the glowing cartoon of a tiger beckoning you in.

And inside is exactly what you would find a speakeasy in Yangon to look like.  Its design sits halfway between a place Al Capone or a brilliant Myanmar democratic mind would sit, cradling his or her beverage, thinking thoughts of plans and stealth; and a place where a bunch of Shoreditch cultivated hip young things would bring vintage tufted leather sofas and ambient lighting.

05---Leather-SeatsThe-Blind-Tiger---Bar-SceneThe drinks are locally inspired.  The food, both in tapas that are affectionate to groups and hungry friendly large plates, are delicious.  The fact that there is a Happy Hour makes it even better.  And the tiny global community that is southeast Asia only means that while I was wandering around taking photos, my pal (and local fixer!) Laura would be shouting out my name from the loft above.  I couldn’t think of a better place to free myself from the cubicle on a rainy and gray monsoony Yangon Wednesday.

The-Blind-Tiger---PairThe Blind Tiger is located in United Condo, unit 1-11, at No. 2 Nawaday Street, at the corner of Alan Pya Pagoda Street.  Open 7 days a week, noon till late. 


Photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

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C + T / oh the places we go

We are four days into our Spring Break/Khmer New Year/Lazy week, and today we’re doing round up (brag post) of all our travel posts. It’s so much fun to go back through these posts and look at our memories and the fun things we did, and ate. Living in this part of the world gives us access to some of the prettiest beaches, biggest temples and best street food in the world. We try to take advantage of that as much as we can, and appreciate how spoiled we are by our surroundings.

It’s been a nice eight months. Enjoy!

September 11th- Kep Two Ways


September 30th-Goa, India


October 2nd- Sushi Yasuda in New York


October 30th- Malaysia Eat and Drink


November 4th- 36 Spare Hours in Dar-es-Salam


November 6th-Fewer than 24 hours in Venice


November 11th-Chaing Mai


November 14th- Sailing in the Andaman


January 29th- A Weekend Jaunt to Kampot


February 3rd-Nagar Glass Factory in Yangon


February 12th- Cambodian Mountain Getaway


March 25th-Kep Weekend


April 10th- Inle Lake


…aaaaand we are lucky to have TWO amazing post from friends this week.

April 14th- The Minimal Things Jen Brings


and of course, Yesterday’s Minneapolis Love

Photo Credit: Alissa Pries

Photo Credit: Alissa Pries

After putting this together, I want to plan another trip. Is it bad to plan a vacation, while on vacation?
xo, us


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C / Not Elephant Pants


For those of you who have been through South East Asia, you know what elephant pants are. Every backpacker has them, they are made of terrible fabric that is basically garbage, and wearing them around is a clear message to any local that you would love to pay 3x the normal fare.

Elephant pants, among other questionable decisions, are all over Cambodia. Like those decisions, they often become a representation of SE Asia to those who don’t know the area. The other common sartorial option seems to be a bad versions of a bandage dress that DOES NOT provide enough coverage for you to be riding a moto like that, young lady. When I landed here, I was not impressed with the fashion scene, local or foreign, but it is getting so much better. There are more and more interesting designs coming out of the region, and I am excited and inspired by people that are putting new ideas into the market here. A lot of those ideas are coming out of Thailand right now. Thailand has great art schools and a strong enough economy to provide funding for the design and fashion. The three designers I am highlighting below do not begin to capture the talent coming out of Thailand, but it’s a peak into some of the cool things that are happening. Enjoy!inspo-bannerthe-only-son

More here.greyhound-bannerGreyhound

More here.vatanika-bannerThai-Design-2More here.

I love the diversity in the design style of these three players. From the super-sleek, slightly scary lady at your office party, to the funky party girl who will wear whatever she damn pleases, to the other chick who has probably seen the Hunger Games too many times, I’m into all of it, and happy that it comes from my neighborhood.

Photo by National Geographic



T / Cambodian Mountain Getaway

headerPine cones exist in Cambodia.  Yes, there are indeed conifers only 11 degrees north of the equator.  As well as temperatures that go so low that you might want to wear a toque.  Basically, the little things that would make happy any Canuck that finds themselves in tropical climes.

And it’s only 91km away from Phnom Penh.

main-buildingSo seeking a little solace and calm outside this busy bee of a city, my man and I hopped on his black 1100cc cruiser and headed out and up to get a breath of fresh air.  With the new developments happening on the mountain (read more about that here), we decided to plant our tired butts down at scenic Kirirom Mountain Lodge; Alexis de Sureiman’s newest among his family of boutique hotels that he’s developed from colonial buildings in Cambodia, saving them from destruction.

After paying the 5 USD entrance fee to Kirirom National Park and riding about 20km up the mountain, we found ourselves facing a massive sign that would lead us up a bumpy road to the lodge.  We parked our bike at what seemed like the top of a cliff and were greeted by freshly white washed villas built in the style of New Khmer Architecture.  The loud grumbles of our bike also alerted the lodge’s general manager, Rhelimi Bouchaib, down to bound down the property’s staircase with big smile and hippie sensibilities.

roomwoodOur room (superior double, 65 USD), a simple, but well designed space, was both bright and warm with a modern (albeit tiny) bathroom and adjoining outdoor deck.  The very accommodating Bouchaib informed us the electricity would only be available from 6pm-9pm, but if we would like a hot shower after our long bike ride, he’d happily turn the generator on for us.  That said, we knew we wouldn’t be spending very much time in the room.  It’s not exactly that kind of lodge.

upstairs-rooftopAfter a light Mediterreanean meal cooked by Bouchaib himself and eaten outdoors facing a wide valley of pines, we parked ourselves on the main building’s rooftop veranda and whiled away the afternoon reading, enjoying the perfectly crisp 20°C.

And the silence.  Only the birds chirping and other sounds that nature is said to make.  The sound of air moving through trees.  I don’t think I’ve heard anything with the background of construction or traffic in the past few months.  This may have been the most shocking revelation and luxury.  The sunset over the Cardamom Mountains weren’t bad either.

sunsetSo if you are looking for a quiet getaway that’s not too far from the city, Kirirom Mountain Lodge is your deal.  I would pretty much give anything to be back up there with the moderate temps, fresh air and abundant silence.  You could choose the slightly lazier path we took of reading while sprawled on the comfy cushions of the lodge’s rooftop.  Or if outdoor activity is your thing, hiking paths surround the property, which also has a collection of quality mountain bikes for rent (10 USD/hour).

To get to Kirirom National Park, located in Kampong Speu province, drive down National Road 4, towards Sihanoukville and look for the appropriate signs about 87km outside of Phnom Penh.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.