Vagabonding has given me the opportunity to experience things I could have never even imagined doing, such as hunting and eating cobra snakes from a Cambodian jungle.
*SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
The night before the hunt, Declan, Trebor and I were drinking the national Angkor beer poolside at our 3 star $5 a night hotel in Siem Reap. Toy, our tuk-tuk driver and guide who took us to the Floating Village the day before stopped by to join us for a drink…
As he lit up a giant joint he expertly rolled, he joked about how he can take us hunting for deadly cobra snakes, eat them and even take shots of their blood. An illegal and rare delicacy for the rich.
Not realizing he was joking, we said “YES!” at the same time.
Devious planning proceeded…
The next morning Toy picked us up and we left the city limits of Siem Reap and ventured deep into the countryside to seek out a snake hunter to guide us into the jungle and get us our bounty.
As the number of vehicles started to diminish and the roads turned into dirt paths, we could see the start of the jungle.
We hit a dead end arriving at the illegal “restaurant”.
We struck a hush hush deal for $120 USD:
This included the capture of at least 2 cobra snakes, cleaning, gutting, venom removal and preservation of the blood.
Toy’s wife took care of cooking the cobras later that night.
Our hunter and guide went by the name of “John Wayne”. A local Cambodian middle aged man that looked like he’s been through a few wars. Despite his name, he didn’t know any English at all but that was fine as our tuk-tuk driver did all the translating.
The Hunting of the Cobra Snakes
We set off into the jungle with very little gear, all of which was makeshift, save for our case of #beer and snacks.
Within minutes, John Wayne catches an adult monocellata cobra with his bare hands as his snare wasn’t set up yet.
While taking a break we hear erratic rustling approaching and John Wayne takes out his modified butcher knife instinctively. I followed and unsheathed my TDI knife as everyone else looked for a stick.
It was a massive wild boar doing its own hunting.
After the boar left, we had a few beers as John Wayne explained how to deal with wild animal attacks and some jungle survival tips.
Although I have experience hunting deer and bears in forests, never highly venomous cobra snakes in the jungle. John Wayne knew this about us so he did the hard hunting – against our wishes. But understandable as the last thing he needs is a dead westerner while doing something culturally forbidden and extremely illegal.
Regardless, this was one of the most unique and interesting experiences of my vagabonding journey so far.
On the way out of the jungle, we caught another cobra.
Preparing the Cobra Meat and Blood
The entire process of preparing the meat and blood took about a half hour, 3 people and a lot of work. It was an unforgettable sight.
With the heat of Cambodia still scorching after sunset, we had to get our spoils consumed quickly before they spoiled. The meat was in a plastic shopping bag, the blood in a water bottle mixed with whiskey and the organs in a disposable soup cup.
We went back to Toy’s apartment and his wife cooked the snake as a stew. While we waited, we all had shots of the blood. Interesting. The snake had a very firm and rubbery fish like texture but the taste is incomparable to anything I’ve tasted before.
But it certainly is nothing like chicken.