In addition to guesthouse restaurants, the place to be as the afternoon turns into evening is along the riverfront where stalls set up selling grilled chicken, soup, and other Khmer staples. Don't expect anything grand. The Red Sun Falling (Rue Preah Sumarit; main courses $1-$4) is the liveliest place in town (which of course means it is actually quite quiet).
The Spiders of Skuon
In the town of Skuon at the junction between highways 6 and 7, people eat big, juicy tarantulas with relish. They are hairy, large, and they move alarmingly quickly (when not yet fried). Originally unearthed by starving Cambodians in the dark days of Khmer Rouge tyranny, Skuon's spiders have been transformed from vital sustenance of desperate refugees to a national delicacy. Black, hairy, and packing vicious, venom-soaked fangs, the burrowing arachnids common to the jungle around Skuon do not appear at first sight to be very delicious at all. For local people, the "a-ping," as the breed of palm-size tarantula is called in Khmer, is a source of fame and fortune in an otherwise impoverished region. At around 300 riel a spider, the eight-legged snack industry provides a tidy income in a country where around one-third of people live below the poverty line of $1 per day. Conservationists and vegetarians might recoil at the relentless pursuit of so many spiders for the sake of a snack, but locals are confident the arachnid population will hold up. According to aficionados, the best spider is one plucked straight from its burrow and pan-fried with lashings of garlic and salt over a traditional wood fire until its skin turns a deep red-brown color. Crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside, it should then be served piping hot. Many Cambodians also attest to its medicinal properties, especially when mixed in a rice wine cocktail. It is said that with the wine, it's very important the spiders still have their fangs, or the medicine loses its power.
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