For our day in Angkor, we scheduled sunrise in Angkor Thom. We scaled the crumbling steps of the Bayon as the first breath of pale-indigo sunlight drifted over the forest. We’d planned ahead, and as we watched the giant stone faces brighten in the morning light, we had a breakfast of Earl Grey muffins and slices of banana bread that we’d purchased at a café in Siem Reap the night before.
By the time we finished exploring some of Angkor Thom’s more overgrown temples several hours later, the muffins were starting to feel a little insufficient. We scanned the open dirt centre for food, not expecting to find much other than touristy Khmer food stands. Thankfully, we spotted a woman selling one of my favorite Indochine foods, baguette sandwiches. While Bordeaux waited for our order, I picked out a ripe mango from a bicycle fruit shop.
With our brunch in hand, we found a shaded spot among a ruined wall. A stone face smiled up at us, it’s eyes worn away with age and its jaw trimmed with moss. The sandwich was just what I had been craving. The crusty baguette had a nice crunch that complemented the soft filling inside. Compared to the sandwiches I’d enjoyed recently in Vietnam, this one was less salty, and quite a bit sweeter. Rather than a combination of pate and cold cuts, it had chunks of fatty pork and a dressing of sweet chili sauce. In place of cilantro, it had strips of green papaya, which added a nice crispness. The mango too was steller- so soft that it slid off the bamboo skewer as we pierced it, so rich and melting that it tasted like ice cream. It was the perfect brunch for Angkor; as exotic and engaging as the ruined city itself.