Sneak Peek into our Oudong Mountain Adventure in Cambodia

Here’s a sneak peek of our little adventure to Oudong Mountain yesterday. It was my 3rd time to visit the place but yesterday’s visit was also significant as we were showing the place to our son.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Phnom Oudong is an ancient capital (from 1618 to 1866) of Cambodia. It is located in Kampong Speu Province, about 40 km northwest of Phnom Penh. It is a popular weekend picnic getaway for locals, especially at weekends. It is also a place visited by tourist who wish to safely witness a part of Cambodia that is a bit off the usual tourist trail.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

On the way in, we climbed about 509 steep stairs.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

At its peak there are magnificent temples and stupas and shrines dedicated to the by-gone kings such as PreahSanchakMonyChedai stupa (the newest stupa built there), Arthaross Temple, etc.

One of the beautiful golden doors in the newest stupa.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

The views from the top of the mountain are truly spectacular and breathtaking – the clear blue sky, the vast stretches of rice fields, the beautifully scattered coconut trees and palm trees, and the silvery fresh air.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

From the newest stupa, PreahSanchakMonyChedai, we walked to the south to see more old stupas and shrines and temples. We saw a huge Buddha statue in the last temple we visited.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

On the way back, we just kept walking down and followed the path from where the old temples and stupas were until we reached the base.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Overall, it was a great family day out. If you are visiting Phnom Penh, a half-day trip to Oudong Mountain is worth it.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • You can get there by motorbike, tuktuk, local bus, or a taxi. It takes about 1.5 hour by tuktuk and it cost $30 for a roundtrip plus waiting time.
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera – Oudong is very picturesque.
  • Go there early. The midday sun made walking up the hills a little tough.
  • If you are sensitive to humidity, you take the other way, south of the new stupa, PreahSanchakMonyChedai stupa. This way, you do not need to climb steep stairs. Once you get at the base, take the unpaved road, just keep going until you see a building and some stairs.at the very end (about 100 meters from where the souvenir shops are). Then you start there and begin your journey.
  • There are local restaurants and souvenir shops at the base of the hill, although please keep in mind that the food there is traditionally local and there are no foreign dishes available.
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Sun, Splash and Relax at Aquarius Urban Hotel in Phnom Penh

It was a quiet weekend for us, but what is better than a beautiful Sunday relaxing around the amazing rooftop infinity pool, swimming, enjoying a drink or two, an aperitif in the hand while watching a gorgeous sunset? With my two lucky charms, we headed to Aquarius Urban Hotel to splurge into an authentic afternoon escape.

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel is a haven oasis that nestles in the heart of the city surrounded by the consequential landmarks. It has an open sky bar and restaurant overlooking the charming city of Penh. The city view is unmatched – even at night as you can use the pool until 11pm. It’s shabby chic, tidy and calm. The food was good and the staff was friendly too.

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

We lounge by the poolside while enjoying our food and drinks. Even though we certainly enjoyed swimming in their infinity glass walled salt water swimming pool, our best moment there was when we watched and experienced the tranquility of a stunning sunset arm-in-arm with my boys, that was truly a marvel. To be honest, its rooftop infinity pool is really amazing and I think it is the highlight of the hotel.

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

All in all, it’s a great place to gather with family or friends and then stay for dinner if you are so inclined. If you are in the Penh and if you wish to spend some calm afternoon or nights in the hustling city center, Aquarius Urban Hotel is for you.

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Taste of Home: Sancocho

Last night, I cooked Sancocho, a traditional dish from Dominican Republic in Latin America, and I would like to share it with you. The Sancocho I made was a beef stew with yucca, plaintins, butternut squash and corn.

Sancocho

Sancocho is derived from a Spanish stew called cocido, and it has many variations depending on the region in Latin America.

In the Philippines, reflecting our Spanish influence, we also call it Cocido, a hearty stew usually eaten with fish, beef shanks, pork, ham and chorizo. It is often confused with a dish called Pochero, a stew also originally from Spain, which is usually cooked with chicken, beef, and sausages.

Sancocho is one of those dishes that get even better after being re-heated the next day.

Sancocho

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilogram of beef , sliced into bite size
  • 2 pieces of corn, peeled and cut into 1 inch
  • 2 pieces of big sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 5 pieces of green plaintins, peeled and sliced into 1 inch size
  • ½ kilogram of butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 pieces of yucca, peeled and sliced into 1 inch thick
  • 1 piece red pepper, chopped
  • 1 piece big onion, sliced
  • 1 kilogram of baby potatoes
  • 1 ball garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 6 pieces bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons  grilled black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pinches oregano
  • 2 pinches thyme
  • 2 cubes beef stock

How to make Sancocho:

  1. Marinate the beef with soy sauce and ground black pepper for about 20 minutes.
  2. Drizzle olive oil in a large cooking pot. Then sautéed the garlic and onion.
  3. When the onions are soft, put in the beef. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the meat turns white in color.
  4. Add 2 liters of water and beef stock cubes. Bring it a boil. While the stew is boiling, prepare the vegetables.
  5. When the stew starts boiling, lower down the heat to medium. Put in all the vegetables – red bell pepper, butternut squash, sweet potatoes baby potatoes, green bananas, and corn. Let it cook for about 1 hour and 45 minutes or until stock has reduced and meat is tender and vegetables are soft. Keep stirring it regularly (every after 15 minutes). While it is cooking, you would noticed that the pumpkin and sweet potatoes have melted.
  6. Serve stew with sliced avocado, a slice of lime and rice. Share and enjoy!

Taste of Home: Sausage, Chicken and Chorizo Paella

We have eaten and enjoyed many Paellas before, a famous rice dish in North Africa. Since then, it has become one of the three North African dish (Paella, Taboule, Cous cous) that we really love because it is tasty and nutritious. It has a bit of everything in it – cereal (rice), meat and veges.

Sausage, Chicken and Chorizo Paella

In our family, it is always Alan who cooks Paella, and because of my love for the dish, I tried to learn how to cook it from him. And to me, cooking Paella is one of the incredibly beautiful cooking experiences I’ve ever had.

In our recipe we use pork sausages even though the original recipe does not use pork. We also use Jasmine rice since it is the main rice variety produced in Cambodia. We also tried making Paella with pepperoni instead of Chorizo, and it also tasted great.

For those who would like to make Paella, here’s our simple recipe. Please let us know what you think of it.

Chicken and Sausage Paella

Ingredients for 10 servings:

  • 1 kilogram of chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • 200 grams of pork sausage, sliced
  • 225 grams of Chorizo, sliced
  • 2 kilograms of tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 big onions, sliced
  • 1 kilogram of sweet green peas
  • 12 grams of Paprika
  • 2 teaspoon of Oregano
  • 2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 5 table spoons of soy sauce
  • 2 table spoons of Olive oil
  • ¼ cup Cooking oil
  • 75 cL of water

 

Method:

Step 1: Marinate the chicken

  • Put the chicken in a bowl. Add 2 grams of paprika. Add black pepper and soy sauce according to your taste. Mix it well.
  • Marinate it for about 30 minutes.

Step 2: Prepare the vegetables and Chorizo mixture

  • Put the tomatoes and onions in a pan. Let it cook until the tomatoes have melted (approximately 15 minutes) above a low heat.
  • Stir regularly.
  • Once the tomatoes have melted, add the green peas and Chorizo.
  • Mix it well.
  • Then turn off the heat.

Step 3: Cook the sausages

  • In a separate pan, cook the sausages above a gentle fire for about 10 minutes (or until it is cooked).

Step 4: Cook the chicken

  • In a separate pan, put olive oil.
  • Put in the chicken and let it cook above a medium heat for about 18 minutes.

Step 5: Prepare the rice

  • Put cooking oil in a cooking pot.
  • Put 10 grams of paprika and a bit of oregano. Then mix it well.
  • Add 4 cups of Jasmine rice. Mix it well. Then fry it above a gentle fire for about 5 minutes or when the rice becomes whiter than usual with the pot uncovered.
  • Add water. Stir and cover the pot.
  • Stir it regularly so that it will not stick to the pan. You would notice that the rice is cooking because its volume is expanding.
  • Let it cook above a gentle fire for about 15 minutes.

Step 6: Putting everything together

  • Once the rice is cooked, put in all the other ingredients in the pot.
  • Mix it thoroughly.

Serve, share and I hope you enjoy it the way we do.

Top 12 Awesome Things to do in Brittany

I love the lovely region of Brittany. It’s one of the great historic provinces of France, located in the northwest. It’s my most favorite place in France for so many reasons – great diversity and unique with its remarkable history and Celtic heritage, spectacular natural landscape, gorgeous beaches, and excellent cuisine. To me, even the most idyllic postcard perfect picture of Brittany does not do justice to the place.

Brittany

Typical flower in Brittany

There are so many activities for visitors to enjoy during a stay in Finisterre – meander through the countryside or organize a tour of any of the region’s historic place. Brittany is all about living the good life – nature, heritage, good food and cider, and incredible people. Personally, after a month of stay in Brittany, I found it incredibly difficult to leave.

Love this garden in Roscoff

Since Brittany is a popular location for family holidays in France, here’s my top 12 awesome things to see and do when you visit this impressive region:

1.Wander along Carnac’s long and mysterious rows of standing stones.

The magnificent collection of Standing Stones in Carnac is one of the most extraordinary sites of Brittany. While you can find isolated manmade standing stones scattered throughout the whole region, Carnac features miles and miles of aligned standing stone. It has been protected by UNESCO World Heritage since 1996. We went there with our friends to see the exceptional 6000 years old Neolithic sites and the largest megalithic sites in the world.

Carnac

Carnac

2. Visit the 2nd oldest manmade  monument in the world.

The great Cairn de Barnenez is truly amazing – big pile of stones (75m long, 28m wide, 8m high) and very old (about 7,000 years old) as it was built between 4,800 and 4,000 B.C on a hill overlooking the Bay of Morlaix. It is known as the oldest and largest megalithic burial chamber in Europe, and the second oldest manmade monument in the world.
Did you know? It is about 2,000 years older than the first step pyramid of Egypt and it is much bigger than Stonehenge in the UK.

Cairn de Barnenez

Cairn de Barnenez

3. Explore the beautiful castles.

If you are tired of laying in the sunshine, there are quite a few beautiful castles in Brittany to explore and enjoy. We have visited the following: The Château de Brest (Castle of Brest), which has about 1700 years of history, and considered as the oldest castle in the world still in use. The Château du Taureau (Castle of the Bull), a 16th century defensive castle (about 500 year old castle) which has a messy past but also had lots of different uses in its history. The 16th century Château de Kerjean (Castle of Kerjean), which was originally built as a home for the Barbier family. It was open to the public in 2005 after being restored in the early 21st century.

The Castle of Brest

The Castle of the Bull

The Castle of Kerjean

4. Discover the amazing churches and abbeys.

In Brittany, I love the ancient, massive and elaborately embellished Catholic parish churches. We have visited at least 6 parishes: The Le Folgoet Notre Dame Basilica of the Virgin Mary is a gem of Gothic Flamboyant architecture as it has stunning beautiful Gothic style towers and stunning stained glasses. The Saint Thegonnec Church is famous for its funerary chapel and triumphal arch. The Guimiliau church in the village of Guimiliau is populary known for having the largest calvaries in the region, which are sculpted with about 200 figures. The Chapelle Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle in the little town of Locronan is one of the 12 stages along the pilgrimage route called Grande Troménie. The 16th century Notre Dame de Croaz Batz in Roscoff is well-known for its unique elegant Renaissance style bell tower.  The Cathedrale of St Corentin in Quimper is lauded to be the most beautiful gothic building in Brittany with its majestic stained glass windows.

Le Folgoet Notre Dame Basilica of the Virgin Mary

Saint Thegonnec Church

Chapelle Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle

Notre Dame de Croaz Batz

Cathedrale of St Corentin

5. Amble in the medieval towns.

There are so many medieval towns scattered everywhere in Brittany. Walking through the narrow, winding medieval lanes is all part and parcel of Brittany’s charms. In fact, we had a beautiful walk in the famous town of Locronan which has been listed as a Historic Monument in 1924 and has been awarded the title of most beautiful village in France. Landerneau is another gorgeous medieval town known for its remarkable architectural heritage most specifically the Rohan Bridge, built in the 16th century and inhabited for more than 500 years.
Did you know? Rohan Bridge is the only bridge in Europe that has still people living on it up to these days.

The little town of Locronan

Behind me is the Rohan Bridge in Landerneau.

6. Stroll in Foret de Huelgoat.

I love the stunning landscape and enchanting views in Foret de Huelgoat. It is a charming place to visit for an easy good walk or a picnic. Just time it right with the weather and stroll around the forest for a wonderfully enchanting excursion. In there you can find a great “chaos”, a large collection of huge boulders left after a glacier has melted.

Huelgoat

Huelgoat

7. Hill walking in the Moors of Cragou.

Are you fed up with seaside views but still up for a walk? In a beautiful area in Brittany, not far away from the ocean and with a fabulous climate, lies the wild Moors of Cragou. It is a Reserve area and serves as a haven for the wildlife so that the animals and plants can reproduce. In this area, people are forbidden to build houses, buildings or roads. The rocks stand 282 m above the sea level and remain untouched by mankind, with the exception of a few brave hill-walkers.

Moors of Cragou

Moors of Cragou

8. Day trip to Brittany’s islands.

Apart from its quaint villages, historic towns and breathtaking countryside, Brittany is also known for its pretty islands where you can have a perfect and peaceful break. While we were in Brittany, we hopped to Ile de Batz, one of its beautiful islands. We had a fantastic time there and one of the activities that I would never forget was when we leisurely walked around the whole island while enjoying its superb landscape. Indeed, it’s an exotic gem.

The island of Batz

The island of Batz

The island of Batz

9. Enjoy the magnificent coastal scenery.

Who wouldn’t love wonderful coastal scenery with rich flora and fauna, solitary lighthouses, pretty harbors, dramatic cliffs, amazing rock formations sculpted by the waves? There, the Channel sea meets the Atlantic ocean. The coastal area around Pointe Saint Mathieu provides a splendid views of the coast and a walking area for those who are nature lovers. The extraordinary coastal hamlet of Meneham is notable for its 17th century coastguard’s cottage with a stone roof surrounded by great boulders that are also scattered along the Kerlouan coastline. I am sure you’ll be bewitched by the serene landscapes because everywhere you turn the view is beautiful.

Pointe Saint Mathieu

Kerlouan

Hamlet of Meneham

10. Laze at Brittany’s lovely beaches.

Brittany has loads of great sandy beaches. I noticed that they are rarely really crowded because the water is so cold. Personally, I love the beach, though! We usually go to the Pontusval and Keremma. In Pontusval you can see a lighthouse, the water is very clear and many rocks that have formed intriguing shapes are scattered everywhere, while in Keremma there’s a 6km line of sand dunes (slowly disappearing though L) and translucent water. There are many seaside activities and watersports to enjoy – sunbathing, swimming, fishing, shellfish gathering, diving, sailing, kayaking, etc. The beaches in Brittany are simply a must see!

Pontusval Beach

Pontusval

Keremma Beach

Kerlouan Beach

11. Smack Breton luscious food.

Another thing that you should not miss when you are in Brittany is to try their delicious food – oysters, crepe, Breton butter cake and many more. If you are an oyster lover you can find great oysters in Cancale, a small town in Brittany. Crepe is a traditional Breton food. There are sweet crepes which are made with wheat flour and savory crepes made with buckwheat flour. The Breton butter cake (Kouign Amann) is a rich, mouth-watering dessert made of dough, butter and sugar.

Crêpe Flambée

Breton butter cake (Kouign Amann)

12. Don’t forget to taste Cider.

Even though Brittany does not produce wine, it produces Cider which is considered as Breton’s traditional drink. It is usually drank from clay cups to bring out the earthy flavor of the cider.

Taste of Home: Chicken Cordon Bleu

The name Chicken Cordon Bleu, sounds so complicated and difficult but it is a simple dish and easy to make. It is a dish composed of chicken breasts, ham and cheese, where the ham and cheese are stacked on top of the chicken breast and rolled together then dredged in bread crumbs. It can either be fried or baked; personally, I prefer it baked.

My family and I love this dish so much – so traditional and so delicious that my boys just wolf it down.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

In this recipe, I prefer to use Emmental cheese for my cordon bleu because it does not taste too strong. I have also tried with special bacon (not fat) instead of ham, and seems like my family prefer a cordon bleu with bacon because it is tastier than with ham. Overall, the chicken is tender and juicy, and the bacon and Emmental are just epically cordon bleu.

For those who would like to try making cordon bleu, here’s my recipe. Please let me know what you think of it.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pieces of boneless chicken breast.
  • 6 slices of pepper ham or 3 strips of bacon (not fat), slightly cooked and halves
  • 3 slices of Emmental cheese
  • 1 raw egg
  • 4 spoonful of melted salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • mustard
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • about ¼ teaspoon salt

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Methods:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius

Step 2: Prepare the butter-salt mixture.

  • Melt the butter. Once it is melted put it in a small bowl. Then add a pinch of salt, according to your taste. Mix it well.

Step 3: Prepare the egg mixture.

  • Crack and beat the egg in another pie plate. Add some mustard and a wee bit of salt according to your desired taste. Then set aside.

Step 4: Prepare the bread crumbs.

  • In a separate shallow dish, place the bread crumbs. Add a wee bit of salt. Mix thoroughly.

Step 5: Prepare the chicken.

  • Remove the tendon or tendon line and fat.
  • From the thick part of the chicken breast, cut it along the length.
  • Make sure the chicken is flat and the thickness is even so that it is easy to roll.

Step 6: Putting together

  • Brush the top with butter–salt mixture.
  • Sprinkle some ground black pepper.
  • Top the chicken breast with ham slices.
  • Put a slice of Emmental cheese on top of the ham.
  • Tightly roll the chicken breast from one end to the other end. Close the end of the chicken breast with a toothpick so that it will not roll back.
  • If there is still some butter-salt mixture left, combine it with the egg-butter-salt mixture. Whisk thoroughly.
  • Dip the chicken breasts in the egg-butter-salt mixture.
  • Coat with bread crumbs.
  • Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish.
  • Bake the chicken for about 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven.

Step 7: Slice, serve, share and enjoy!

Taste of Home: Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Chicken with creamy mushroom sauce is a rich dish that you can prepare for yourself, your family and friends for lunch or dinner. It’s a simple recipe that takes about 30 minutes to prepare. In fact, this dish is good for people who do not have that much time to spend on cooking.

Chicken with creamy mushroom sauce

In this recipe, the chicken is creamy, tender and juicy as the chicken breast is drenched in the most luscious, creamy, and hearty mushroom sauce, easily made from a few simple ingredients. You will need boneless chicken breast, fresh white button mushroom, fresh cream and cheddar cheese.

If I can’t find fresh white button mushroom in the supermarket, I replaced it with Bonduelle, it’s a good French tin mushroom. Before cooking, my family and I opted to sautéed the mushroom (fresh or tin) first without any oil or butter, slowly and over a gentle fire so that the water from it will seep out and it will just simmer in their liquid. As a result, it would taste good and not spongy and squishy.

Chicken with creamy mushroom sauce

Another thing I like about this recipe is that it’s great served up over pasta, steamed rice, mashed potatoes, biscuits, sautéed vegetables of your choice, toast, or whatever you like. And, to me, this creamy mushroom sauce is one of the easiest sauce I’ve had ever make.

For those who are craving for something creamy but easy-to-make dish – chicken with creamy mushroom sauce is just perfect for you.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pieces boneless chicken breast
  • 1 pack of white button mushroom, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium size onion, sliced
  • 6 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 20 cL cooking fresh cream
  • 2 spoonful chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoon of melted salted butter
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 ½ cup chicken broth
  • chicken powder
  • 2tablespoon of olive oil

Chicken with creamy mushroom sauce

Method:

Step 1: Prepare the chicken

  • Season boneless chicken breast with chicken powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
  • Melt butter in a pan over medium high heat. Add chicken breast until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.

Step 2: Prepare the mushroom

  • In a pan, sauté the mushrooms slowly without any oil and butter above a gentle fire to evaporate the liquid from it so that it won’t taste too squishy.

Step 3: Prepare the mushroom sauce

  • In a separate pan, melt the butter.
  • Add onion and garlic. Stir occasionally until tender and browned, about 4 minutes.
  • Gradually, pour in the chicken broth. Stir.
  • Add the fresh cream. Stir. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms. Cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the cheese. Stir constantly.
  • Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook. Stir constantly until slightly thickened about 4 minutes.

Step 4: Putting together

  • Put-in the chicken into the mushroom sauce. In between, spoon some sauce over the top of the chicken. Cook for about 4 minutes.
  • Garnish the chicken with creamy sauce with parsley
  • Serve it immediately with sautéed baby carrots and beans (or any vegetables of your choice) in butter, steam rice, mashed potatoes, biscuits, toast or whatever you like.
  • Share and enjoy your delicious meal with your loved ones.