Siem Reap was a surprise on many levels not the least of which was the “Pub Street” area filled with restaurants bars and shops. While a gathering place for locals and visitors alike, establishments did a good job of blending local esthetics with modern conveniences and tourist expectations. One place stood out for it’s “authenticity” was the Asana Bar at the Old Wooden House. “Progress” has changed the face of this town in a major way. Gone from the center of town are the traditional Khmer wooden houses on stilts having been replaced by concrete or wooden structure at street level. One enterprising entrepreneur obviously recognized that visitors would be drawn to the allure of Cambodia’s traditional architecture and instead of razing the building to make way for yet another storefront, opted to repurpose the building and grounds instead.
Mud and dirt beneath the building has been replaced with tile creating an inviting outdoor living/entertainment space with an outboard restroom building. Comfortable couches that gently swing from beneath the building lend a casual fun air to the place. Up wooden stairs the original building serves as a bar and kitchen area.
We remained “below decks” attending a cocktail making class specializing in using local herbs to make tasty concoctions. Some of the cocktails were good, while some, you may have to be a native to love. Most could not be reproduced outside the local area as the herbs (and in one case actually a weed) would not likely be available no matter how comprehensive the Asian market in your neighborhood. We definitely enjoyed the experience of creating and sharing exotic cocktails with new friends from around the world at this neat old place. The sampling (and finishing) each of the three cocktails put us in a really good mood to pack up and travel to the airport for the next leg of our journey.
Review Asana – The Old Wooden House, Siem Reap, Cambodia