Want to drink coffee alongside snakes? Head to this Cambodia-cafe!
To overcome fear of water, you got to swim, goes a saying. Likewise, to get over your giddiness when you spot a lizard or a snake slither their way, you got to hit this cafe in Cambodia. Wondering why? Because this is a reptile-themed cafe, where along with sipping your latte, you can also stroke say an albino python, or an orange corn snake.
Located in Phnom Penh, the cafe's interior has reptilian presence
Located in Phnom Penh, the busy capital of the Southeast Asian nation, the cafe was founded by 32-year-old Chea Raty, who wanted "to do something different." And different he did! The interiors of his cafe is pregnant with reptilian presence too, with snakes of various lengths and colors encased in lit-up glass tanks, while a bright macaw screeches in the corner.
"They put the pythons around their neck, take selfies"
Located in the Russian Market area, there's no entry-fee and its beverages are also pretty cheap at 5,500 riel to 8,500 riel (Rs. 97-150). Chea's cafe was opened five months back and has gained quite a reputation already, with mainly youngsters and women visiting. Foreigners too come with their children. "They put the pythons around their neck, take selfies, and they are happy."
"Reptiles are beautiful and scary. Have never seen some before"
22-year-old Y Navim, a regular, says she was extremely scared of reptiles, especially corn snakes, as the orange-colored serpent kills its prey by constriction. But when she visited the cafe and started 'interacting' with a corn snake, she found it a beautiful experience. "I've never seen some of these reptiles before. They are beautiful and scary," she said, while caressing her new pal.
One can also find spiders, scorpions, mice, turtles
Apart from the aforementioned animals, in the cafe, one also can find iguanas, turtles, pythons, spiders, scorpions, mice, red giant cockroach, locusts, and birds. So how does he procure these exotic breeds? "My friend living at Poi Pet (a city in Cambodia-Thailand border) handles all legal requirements to bring in the different species of creatures that I have in my cafe," he says.
Not first business; was into selling computer spare parts
This, however, isn't the first business for the IT graduate who hails from Banteay Meanchey province. He was into selling computer spare parts, but when that failed, he "started forming the idea to open Reptile Cafe." He wanted people to know about the various types of reptiles, while also enjoying themselves. His idea, however, wasn't welcomed by his folks, who thought he was crazy.
Chea's love for reptiles when he saw iguana on TV
They also suggested him to open dog or cat-themed cafes, which is pretty common at that side of the continent, but he was smitten by reptiles. His romance with them happened when he saw iguanas, who are herbivorous lizards that are natives of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, on TV. His love doesn't end there. He takes ample care of them.
"It's my ambition to open a lizard farm some day"
"You must love nature and all that it offers, including the creatures at my cafe. I want to share that passion," says Chea. "I'm trying to breed iguanas-I've got a male and a female. It's my ambition to open a lizard farm some day."