- Paul Theroux
Skuon Spider Town is the 'alternative' name given to the town simply known as Skuon, which is famous for where they hunt and eat spiders... or rather tarantulas. Maybe not the most well known of Cambodia tourist attractions, the town of Skuon is 55km north of Phnom Penh, but the unusual eating habits of the residents of Skuon are earning the town a growing reputation, as both visitors to Cambodia and locals alike stop here to sample these tasty snacks. These spiders were in fact first eaten during the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge when food was scarce and starvation rife. In Skuon they were most commonly found, but the custom has continued until the present day. Furthermore, hawkers hailing from Skuon now visit villages nearby and Phnom Penh to sell their goods.
As for the spiders themselves, they are big, black and hairy, we won't beat around the bush. But they are surprisingly delicious! They live under the earth and hunters will tempt them with bait before catching them. After an average catch of around 200 or so, they are sold to vendors who deep fry them before donning their hawker gear and taking loaded trays to tempt customers. The animals have been used in traditional medicine for many years and are believed to be good for the heart and lungs. The legs and head will be eaten first, devouring the large abdomen is one's personal choice. Many locals claim it's the best bit, others will turn their nose up. Children seem to enjoy these snacks the most, so there's no excuse for you not to give it a go! And the taste? Certainly NOT like chicken...
It's free of course to visit the town itself. The tarantulas which you've come all this way to sample cost around 300 Riel (US 0.30).
Anytime of the year is fine to visit the town. Hawkers will work from early in the morning until the sun goes down, and some through the night.
After you're full from all the tarantulas, head out on to the road to Kampong Thom where there are some very impressive temples if you decide to take that route out from Skuon. Also nearby is the town of Phnom Santuk which is home to a beautiful temple mountain where two small small temples and several Buddha statues await at the top.
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