Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blue Pumpkin Cafe

Some places you venture to, the streets don’t need names. All imagery blurs into one and you just know that you’re somewhere different. And that’s enough. You don’t want to know where you are, because being lost, or unsure in a nameless territory reminds us how human we are.

Recently when I traveled through Thailand, Laos and finally Cambodia, I become aware that these countries are so culturally traditional and not yet part of the consumerist landscape we traveled from. The slow economic advancements in these countries such as Cambodia are due to traumatic loss to their people, economy and destruction of cultural landmarks during times such as the devastating Khmer Rouge.

This is why I was surprised and confused when observing a distinct clash of old meets new, ancient meets contemporary. This cultural contrast makes for a very stirring and awakening mix. It’s not a mundane activity to wake up at 4 am in the morning to leave for an Ankor Wat sunrise and then later be sitting in a tech savvy café such as the Blue Pumpkin only mere hours later. As soon as you notice one of the stark, innovative, almost out-of-place urban hang-outs, it does take you by surprise and makes you wonder why has this not been introduced in a place like Australia?!

The Blue Pumkin Café, just steps away from Old Market and opposite the well known Pub Street is the destination where you're able to finally kick back and relax in some air-conditioning, a rare opportunity in Cambodia, where blistering heat and dense humidity means frizzy hair and the ‘no make-up look’ looks as if its actually in fashion.

Walking into this fine café you will notice that there are three levels, down stairs looks like a normal café with Fresh Danishes, tasty and fine pastries, ice cream and sorbet all made by Arnaud the blue pumpkins dedicated French Pastry Chef. You will at this point believe that you are still in a normal café.

However if you venture upstairs you will find you are greeted by a large glass door cutting the top level from the bottom. Putting one finger up against the glass door you will notice the chill that awaits you on the other side. The top level is sealed with cold air-conditioning, white walls, minimalist furniture, and sofa beds lining the walls making this tech savvy, free- wi-fi destination look alarmingly like a psych-ward, but soothing none-the-less.

The food was simple but perfect, the chefs here have mastered the basics (I didn’t actually expect it to exceed the décor that had enveloped around me) with the quality being high and prices low. I also noticed sitting up there that although this haven wasn’t packed (obviously this piece of air-conditioned paradise hasn’t been widely spread by word of mouth to all travelers yet) but there were a few back packers that seemed to have stumbled upon it like myself and western- business people quickly typing up emails etc on laptops who looked as if they frequented the place often as they spoke with employees on a level of friendship.

I’ve never felt so happy in my life to admit myself into a mental institution…or what looked like one, and will happily do so again if I am lucky enough.

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