Koulen II Restaurant
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Koulen II Restaurant Siem Reap Reviews
dinner and cultural dance show; entertaining, but not a "must" Jul 25, 2012
Siem Reap is a good place to take in a cultural Khmer performance of classical dance, often known as “Apsara Dancing.” We wanted to experience that; one of the staff of Mandalay Inn suggested we should visit Koulen II Restaurant to catch a traditional Khmer dance performance. Packaged with a buffet dinner, and for only $12.00 per person, surely we did go! The staff at Mandalay Inn made the reservation in our behalf.
The restaurant and the food:
We arrived at the restaurant an hour before the dance show, but at past seven in the evening; buffet dinner had already started. From the outside, the restaurant looked small, but once inside it has the widest and the most spacious dining area. A staff met us at the entrance door, collected our tickets then ushered us to a table. Front tables were all occupied apparently; you pay more to get this spot. Our table wasn't that far away to the stage; we could still see the performers, clear from where our seats were.
The staff asked if we want any drink, but not included with the dinner/show cost. We ordered two soda Sprite in cans. Like I mentioned; the dinner is buffet style with countless choices of East Asian foods. All of the food looked delicious but since, not accustomed to Cambodian or Burmese food, we didn’t know which to pick. Honestly, Cambodian food didn’t appeal to my taste buds, so I didn’t enjoy the dinner part. After an hour or so the dance show started.
The Apsara Dance show at Koulen II restaurant lasts about an hour. And what exactly Apsara Dance is all about? And how it connects to Cambodian culture? I expected a narration about the dance at least before they start performing. Regrettably, not a word was said about the origin and meaning of the dance moves. Nonetheless, watching the cultural dance was still interesting and worthwhile. The dance show was rather short though. And, food stopped arriving at the dining hall once the show started. A traveler to Siem Reap, CURIOUS about Apsara Dance, may include in their itinerary, but only if interested. Otherwise, it is perfectly okay to let it go. It is not "a must."
In fairness though, watching the dancer's arched back, and feet; their controlled facial expressions, and the graceful "prim & proper" dance moves were quite entertaining. Their costumes are exotically ornate! And mind you, the girls are very gorgeous!
A tidbit of information I've gathered:
Apsara Dance is a classical Khmer “dance-drama.” Every finger curled backward is meant to deliver a message. Although, the origin of this cultural dance is unknown, yet, the Khmer people attribute the beginning of this dance culture on the Angkorian art era. After visiting the Angkorian temples, it made sense to me this is where it all started. That's because of the numerous relic images of celestial female embedded on the walls or entrance doors of Angkorian temples and palaces (now ruined.) Apsaras, I believed are considered goddesses in Hindu religion. The images of these goddesses inspired the costumes and appearances of today's Apsara performers. Back in the Angkorian times perhaps Apsara dancers, were the major entertainers to royalties and their guests. The Khmer Rouge had frozen this part of the Cambodian culture for a while but re-lived by one of the previous Queens of this nation. Today, almost all the restaurants and hotels in Siem Reap conduct an Apsara dinner show.
5 / 5 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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