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T / not just temples – siem reap part two.

Here’s the thing about Siem Reap.  It’s not just temples.  Yeah, I know that 700 year old World Heritage Site there, emblematic of Khmer heritage and culture.  But you can still celebrate that and avoid waking up at 4am and getting clocked in the head with a selfie stick mounted with an iPad.  And for those of us who’ve been there more times than I can count, it’s also not a shabby place for a quick weekend getaway (see last week!).  Siem Reap is a base for so many artisans and innovators.  Basically, it’s where the cool kids are at, making gorgeous and delicious things and taking Khmer art and cuisine beyond anything.

I kept hearing from friends it was the place to be.  And many of these places are in Kandal Village.  No, not an actual village.  But a couple of blocks that you can eat and shop the heck out of.  Plus, these guys are organized like a tiny mafia of entrepreneurs, so naturally they’ve got an accessible map of it all that you can grab on the way in.  So when you’re all konked out from the temples, you can spend all your money here.

So on my last weekend in the little city, I wanted to go a little nuts and find all these places.

PS – this little guide is not exhaustive. A weekend is obviously not enough.  Next time – this food tour’s on my racket.


Start at Sister Srey in Siem Reap’s central market area – far enough that it that sufficiently avoids the obnoxious backpackers but still easily accessible.  This little Aussie-inspired café has built up a following among expats and visitors over the past couple of years and I finally got to check it out. In addition to being a training restaurant, they also serve excellent coffee and affordable casual fare like chicken schnitzel sandwiches and YES, avocado toast for brekkie.

When you actually get to Kandal village, your probably want another coffee. Or maybe that’s just me.  Anyways, our coffee Yoda and my buddy Corbett have been waxing poetic about Little Red Fox Espresso for ages.  Their creations are beyond solid. I can’t think of another place in Cambodia that can serve a ristretto.  Also – Montreal inspired bagels (which are apparently a theme in Siem Reap).  And if you’re still hungry in Kandal Village and want something a little more on the vegan side of things, check out Vibe, down the street. We just got one in Phnom Penh and the city is ecstatic about the acai bowls and all the nut milks in the world.

There’s pretty much only one reason I can think of to go to Pub Street.  If you haven’t been to Siem Reap before, then let me paint you a picture: fanny packs, drunken frat boys, gap year kids, and a crap ton of vendors shilling the same T-shirt.  And fish massage.  But I do have to say, this central tourist area has its charm – the little alleys with hidden treasures like Gelato Lab (Phnom Penhers – we’re getting one too!).  I don’t think I need to say more.  That scoop, above, is a Zabaione.  t tasted exactly like one should.  And I probably couldn’t find one anywhere else this side of the Mekong.

All of these eats and drinks have been recommendations from my buddy Mike. He has the luck of getting shipped up here a ton, so the man knows his lay of the land.  But by far, I am most grateful for this one, even if its namesake was off in Madagascar.  Georges Rhumerie was one of the most memorable meals.  They start you off with a complimentary shot of their home-infused rum.  And what follows is a meal (and series of drinks) inspired by Creole cuisines from the Reunion Islands and Georges’ own home of Madagascar.  That means foie gras served alongside chutneys, gratins that seriously pop and the best sausages ever.  Finish it off with baba au rhum and you’re fine.  A three course meal for two, with beverages will not shatter your wallet at roughly $45.  This is Siem Reap’s best secret that I may or may not have ruined.  So make reservations.

So one last thing.  I like me some good artisanal bread.  A starter that’s past through centuries.  A good pungent rye.  And bagels.  Zita and Jana started out on the farmer’s market circuit in Siem Reap and just finally broke their bread with Bang Bang (pronounced like the Khmer numPANG from which it’s derived).  Zita makes the bread and Jana’s all about the cakes.  Look at those babies!  We flew back with a massive loaf of perfect rye and a half dozen of equally yummy bagels (of the New York variety for you purists).


Siem Reap being full of artisans means that you’re going to find things you would never find in Phnom Penh’s drone of occasional repetition.  And most of the treasures you do find in the capital are crafted by the wealth of skilled artisans in Siem Reap.   Ceramics is an excellent place to start.  Before I left, my pal Hillary said I had to check out Louise Labourieres in Kandal Village.  Not only did I get to check out her gorgeous goodies, but I got to meet the lady herself (thank you for that recommendation to Bang Bang!).  Her collection of gorgeously designed and so well curated of pale pinks and torquoises that pair perfectly with the soft cream of her ceramics.

Then just up a couple of doors is Mademoiselle Thyda.  Basically – buy all of your foodie friend gifts here.  Everything in this store is regional and beyond Kampot pepper.  You’ll discover what’s happening on the spice route in the hilly and indigenous northeast, or tiny organic farms that are just starting to dot the peri-urban areas in Phnom Penh.

And next door (see how convenient Kandal Village is?) is Niko’s Studio.  I absolutely adore the French artist’s adornments painted on wooden Buddha carvings.  I got to meet Niko herself and learn about how she approaches each piece.  She even works in this studio itself so you might even get to see the piece you want crafted in action.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang.  Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for prices of long haul flights incurred.


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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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T / nitt witt ridge

Photo Credit: Tiffany Tsang

Each time someone asked me what my favourite thing on the Pacific Coast Highway was, I only had one answer. Nitt Witt Ridge.

Now remember.  I’m the kind of person who likes things that are more than a little off the beaten track.  Big weirdo, remember?  I also have a thing for created worlds.  People who live within their own minds, standards and stories, little soldiers carefully arranged gigantess Barbies (another fave is Marwencol).  You might know them as the crazy guy/lady who lives down the block and has ten thousand cats.  I might want you to tell me all about it and then ask you to introduce me to them.   

Which leads me to the subject of this piece.  Also known as the poor man’s Hearst Castle.  Created by a guy nicknamed Der Tinkerpaw who often opted not to bathe.  And canned or jarred everything he would eat.  Oh right, he was also the town of Cambria’s trash man.  So there. Now you have the 411.  But you have to see the place for yourself to understand why the state of California named it a Historical Landmark.

Arthur Harold Beal created Nitt Witt Ridge before ‘reclaimed’ was even a thing.  Every single structure, item, thing in the house was collected. From the trash, from the ocean, from the side of the road, for over fifty years starting from the Depression Era and well into the 1980s before Beal was carted away to assisted living when he was well into his 90s.   Of course, he escaped more than a few times to make it back to his kingdom of trash.  And in 2017, the place is as he left it. 

Naturally, I had to take photos.  The enormous property boasts glimpses into this peculiar mind.  It’s still standing, protected in its landmark status and cared for by eccentric, but less so, Michael and Stacy.  Parts of it ramble, and it remains a private property (see above), so tour guides are necessary.  The place is clearly in its winter, far from the golden era when ol’ Tinkerpaw would allegedly bring ladies in for private tours.  But you can get an idea of its grandeur and the sense that it would never ever be a completed project.

So if you’re chugging up the Pacific Coast Highway, you should stop here at precisely the moment that a tour is about to start.  It’s a piece of history, and a glimpse into an eccentric mind if that’s what you’re after.  And his throne too.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang.  Please request permission for use. Cait+Tiff are not liable for a sudden desire to reclaim everything you find on the side of the road.


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T / deserter

As I type this, it is 49°C outside (that’s 120F!!!!).  I’m not joking. Check Accuweather.  I also woke up all ready for the day and everything I have on my to-do list at…4am.  I am sitting at my desk working through all of the things I’ve missed through the past 3 weeks, and I can’t get this one thing out of my head.  I miss the desert.  Yup.  I never knew it would happen.  Cait’s always been the tried and true desert babe.  Turns out I too have an affinity for wide open spaces, a ton of sand and a bunch of curiously shaped rocks. And cacti.  All the cacti.

Three weeks ago, Cait and I reunited with not just one, but two of our favourite creative, coffee loving gal pals that we made all because of this blog! Cait found us the perfect Airbnb just steps away from Joshua Tree National Park.  We were supposed to be all professional, get up at the wee hours and have a photo shoot.  But it turns out we just wanted to enjoy each other’s company instead.  Because with these lives, who knows when we’ll see each other next?  These are just some of the silly shots from those blissful couple of days in the sand. I’m just so freaking lucky to have these ladies in my life.

Also – desert fever is a real thing.



All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for your dehydration and dry skin as a result of exposure to arid environments.


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T / all the pairings

Photo Credit: Tiffany Tsang

I’m listening to the Thomspon Twins as I write this.  You know the song, right?  The one you love to hate from that Adam Sandler movie?  It’s been in my ears all month.  The Psychedelic Furs too.  What can I say? I should have been a teenager in the 80s.

Over the past six weeks, I’ve had the chance to shoot couples. Three couples to be exact.  One newly engaged, another’s wedding, and a ten year anniversary.  Basically, all the best moments.  It was like a biweekly dose of all the oxytocin.  Because you can’t help but get dragged into all the warm feelings.   They should really bottle that and it would fly off the shelves.   I can’t believe these three wonderful sets of people invited me to shoot them at their most private and happy moments.  Can you imagine how awkward it is to shoot people making out?  I even told Corbett and Keiko that I felt like I was an intruder into their space.  It all felt so special in the most creepy way possible.  Cuz, you know – that’s apparently my style.


Patrick and Rose are newly engaged.  They American, but came together on a tiny, far off island in the South Pacific.  Not Fiji, not Micronesia.  Smaller.  A few years, countries and graduate degrees later, they’re killing it and there’s a ring on Rose’s finger.  So on a Sunday afternoon, I got them tipsy on G&Ts and captured all the most wonderful moments.  


You must remember Jojo and Jerome and their gorgeous lives and space in Yangon, Myanmar, right?  Over a year after we met, they wanted me to photograph their wedding.  In Kep.  I couldn’t say no.  And I felt so incredibly honoured that they even asked me, the novice with no wedding experience, to capture this incredibly special moment.  I did it.  I was so relieved to have happy clients.  Their wedding weekend was so fun, special and gorgeous.  I learned so much about what I did right and what I could do better.  And I got to put a wedding on my portfolio.   


I respect and have the utmost admiration of Corbett and Keiko.  So when Corbett, who has the most discerning of tastes, asked me to photograph them to celebrate their 10 official years together, all the feelings happened.  I was mostly terrified.  Would I screw it up? Would the photos turn out too twee?  All of those anxieties turned out to be false.  I could have spent all afternoon with them.  More than 12 countries, three cats, two very successful businesses later, and countless mixtapes later, these guys have it great.  


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait + Tiff are not liable for any sudden desire to snuggle.


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T / happy monday / le weekend

Photo Credit: Tiffany Tsang

The easy post to do would have been an easy share of this (because I’m at that age where my favourite band now reunites).  But instead I made this over my lunch break.  I had a busy weekend.  But a really great one.  Even if a big ol’ tropical storm got in the way of one of my four photoshoots.  I managed to squeeze in some video of intrepid and amazing Kate (and her tuk tuk!) as well as my friend Adilson and his capoeira partner Ricardo playing their instruments along the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.  Basically, I had a bunch of curious onlookers for both shoots.  Who be this barang lady driving a tuk tuk? And these ridiculously handsome gentlemen and their fancy fighty moves.  More photos this week. I’ve been shooting everyone.  It’s been a bloody mess.

A Weekend from Tiffany Tsang on Vimeo.


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T / apparently i make videos now

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures (and completely aspirational).

Somewhere in my mind, I decided that I should get into video.  I’d dabbled in it a couple of times, but it just seemed daunting.  Better let the pros take care of it.

Maybe it was because I was tired of the stop motion clips I was making.  Or maybe it was because I went total fangirl on Koheun and Justin’s gorgeous glimpses into their peripatetic life, while also living vicariously through this lady who gets all the fresh air.  And maybe somewhere along the way I met one of these guys and they said the magic words: “go for it.”  So I did.  I got a fancy (temporary!) traditional job that would help pay for all the gear.  And before I knew it, I got obsessed with wearing a GoPro while doing (almost) all the things.  I’m hoping to get better. I can’t wait to make things look brighter.  And sharper.  (The list of things that could be improved is neverending).  And I can’t wait to show you all the snapshots of these lives of Cait and I, of all the places we go.

Last Friday, my pal Adrienne suggested an impromptu drink in our neighbourhood’s new speakeasy.  I live in the [insert Williamsburg/Shoreditch/Kreuzberg/Noe Valley] of Phnom Penh.  Something is always opening.  It generally involves someone impossibly hip and in suspenders.  So I decided to start a brand spanking new series of all the wonderful local haunts.  Here’s my first stab at it (and you can see all the other mostly Crossfit-inspired stabs here).  I wouldn’t be doing any of this without all of your support.  So here’s to hoping that these videos only get better over the next year.

Tiff Does Happy Hour – Nissai Bar from Tiffany Tsang on Vimeo.


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T / ladies drawing brunch

ladies-drawing-brunch-headerSo last week, Rhiannon and I were chatting.  Specifically about how we both needed to draw more. And further, that we should draw together. And that we should invite other creative ladies in our lives to join us.  We wound up with two pros (Rhiannon and crazy talented visiting Nat) and a wonderful group of incredibly creative lady friends (including singers!).  Under the shade of the very hospitable Rambutan’s Phnom Penh Resort on a bright and cool Sunday in the city, we ordered tasty things, delicious leftover birthday cake was had, all pastels and coloured pencils came out.  And most importantly, we planned for future crafternoons. It was really the perfect thing.

ladies-drawing-brunch-tiff1ladies-drawing-brunch-tiff2I’m naturally easily distracted. Especially if I have a new toy with me.  So I was more than eager to shoot all the creating that was happening around me.

This afternoon was inspired by Leah Reena Goren’s new book, Ladies’ Drawing Night.  I’m a huge fan of her work.  Alongside fellow illustrators, Julia Rothman and Rachael ColeI love their push for this collaborative creativity.  We brought together a bunch of beautiful women, some of our dearest friends, some of whom had never met each other.  I was bursting with excitement watching new friendships form and hearing a desire for more events like these to happen. (Because I tend to be that creepy fly on the wall).  To be in this company of women?  Epic.

Rhiannon lead the session with timed drawing exercises surrounding a theme.  Your crazy uncle!  High heels!  Feet! The person sitting across from you! You have 3 minutes! Go!!  Check out what Rhiannon can do in that tiny speck of time.  Tiffany Tsang

Tiffany TsangWherever you are, I definitely recommend grabbing a bunch of your buddies, and spending a few hours letting your creative freak flag fly and discovering a side that doesn’t typically come out over just a glass of wine.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. Cait + Tiff are not liable for any pastel-related clothing stains.


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T / shooting emily

Tiffany TsangOh my word.  I cannot believe I got to shoot this beauty.

Taking photographs of professionals in the aesthetics industry is incredibly intimidating.  Because these cats know what they’re doing.  They know how to make people look good. So if you can’t get your light right, then you’re just ruining everything they’ve just worked on.  But the ladies who run the tools at Kate Korpi (you’ve heard us wax poetic about them before) put me at so much ease. Like when I was getting my first pouf.  Which is how I met Emily.

tiffany-tsang-emily-kate-korpiHailing from Arkansas, Emily first landed in Phnom Penh as one of Kate Korpi’s roving guest artists.  Uber talented hair stylists that they woo over to Phnom Penh to teach new cool things to KK’s students.  Then I guess Emily got bit by the Phnom Penh and Kate Korpi bug (the good bug, not the sucky belly kind) and wound up staying for a few months!

So in Emily’s last week  in the city, she asked me to take a couple of fun “senior shots” around the city.  And I basically cannonballed at the opportunity.  I made lists of everywhere I wanted to shoot this infectious red head in.  And over four hours and six locations, this gorgeous gal got all the shots.  We’re gonna miss this lady.  If you bump into her somewhere around the world, do get your hair did with her.  She might even introduce you to the poof.  Here are some of her shots 🙂


Wat shots are a must.

Wat shots are a must.

tiffany-emily-coocnut

Coconuts are my new favourite prop.

tiffany-tsang-emily-plants

I also like making my models hide in the foliage.

tiffany-tsang-emily-308

Thank you to whomever parked that Vespa in an incredibly strategic location.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  We are not liable for costs incurred for dying your hair red.


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T / jen’s taste explosion

coffee-headerIt’s National Coffee Day!  So of course I had to share this little amazing thing that happened for my birthday.  I wanted to do something different this year.  An adult alternative to a bowling party.  Not a dinner at one of Phnom Penh’s fine but finite number of restos.  But definitely still food related.  So I invited a small group of friends who have the most discerning of palates and appreciations and asked our coffee Yoda if she could host a coffee cupping in her own personal laboratory of magic.

No. Not Michael Phelps.  Or what they have been doing all over Asia for centuries.

A proper coffee tasting is what a traditional cupping is. But what we got instead (after I told Jen to go nuts) was a taste explosion.  It was epic.  Some are still talking about a certain menage á trois that happened. Taste pairings? More like illicit taste orgies.  I’m serious.

Our coffee magician explains it all.

Our coffee magician explains it all.

Our coffee magician gathered us first to get our palates ready with a bunch of opinion generating tiny things. The bitterest of chocolates.  Three teas with the tiniest of differences.  The fun of bacon fused with chocolate and a mystery ingredient.  All the pink drinks.

All the palate cleansing instructions.

All the palate cleansing instructions.

All the flavour notes being taken.

Flavour notes being taken.

And then came the coffee.  There was a lot of slurping.  It’s an industry standard, you know.  Jen walked us through the entire brewing process. You could totally tell all the minds being blown, knowing that they’d been brewing their beans a little to hot, too long, or not enough.  Bitter, sour, sweet, extraction, pow.

coffee-tastingTiffany TsangTiffany TsangOh right, there was also birthday cake.  But that naked and so lovely espresso red velvet wasn’t what my pals are now trying to recreate at home.  Instead, Jen invited us to put the following in our mouths, at the same time: blue cheese, pineapple and her spherified cold brew coffee jelly.

And then we fought over the last pieces.  As if raised by wolves.  Because that was how good it was.

Tiffany TsangFuture taste explosions are being planned in Phnom Penh!  Keep an eye out on your social media because I hear a bunch of culinary collaborations are in the making!

Thank you Jen for the bestest way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon in Phnom Penh!  I can’t wait to see what you concoct next!!!

Footnote: While we all agreed that everything was delicious. There was something clearly missing: Cait.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. We are not liable for any mishaps with production of spherified cold brew coffee jelly.