Archive | March, 2012

Photo of the Week #8- Minorities in Sapa

29 Mar

Where- Sapa, North Vietnam

The minorities in Sapa are truly amazing adding even more colour to the spectacular landscape. I ran into this lovely woman while walking through the markets in town and asked if I could take a photo of her and her beautiful baby and she obliged. She didn’t ask for money as many of the minority people do or ask me to purchase any souvenirs which was really lovely. She’s a beautiful young girl and I wish I had of had more time to have a chat and get to know her better.

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What to read before going to… Cambodia

28 Mar

Title- First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

Author- Loung Ung

The Plot- This autobiography follows the story of Loung, a young  Cambodian girl, the daughter of a military official, from the evacuation of Phnom Penh and the next 4 years under the Khmer Rouge and suffering from illness, hunger and constant fear of execution in numerous work camps.

I read this book after it was recommended to me by a friend who I travelled to Cambodia with. Unfortunately the Khmer Rouge is an unavoidable part of travelling to that beautiful part of the world and this book truly is a raw account of one Cambodian’s journey through years of oppression. The most difficult part when reading it is remembering that this is a child’s story. The book is so well written that the age of the main protagonist is so easy to forget. Loung was only 6 when she was forced to leave her home in Phnom Penh and shifted from work camps to eventually become a child soldier. What were you doing when you were 6? It’s a story that puts life into perspective for you. It’s not an easy book to read because of the theme but it’s also a book that is hard to put down.

The tragic thing is that when you actually visit Cambodia, most people over the age of 40 will have very similar stories to tell. I had a man tell me about how his parents and siblings died and he spent years under the Khmer Rouge standing in a field as a scarecrow, so many childhoods were lost in 4 years. This is a truly great story of survival and one that everyone should read!

 

Photo of the Week #7- Bling Bling in Bangkok

22 Mar

Where- Grand Palace, Bangkok

I really like Bangkok. With very little time in the city last year and the help of my Lonely Planet guide that I picked up at the airport in Sydney, I decided that a trip to the Grand Palace was in order. When you first see the golden dome in the distance you get the feeling that the place might be rather elaborate and the amount of gold in the place was mindblowing. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha was my favourite (in the picture above) with its mosaics, gold and the garudas guarding it. When you name a palace “The Grand Palace” you want to make sure it lives up to its name and I think they succeeded with this one.

A break of sorts

20 Mar

Hi Everyone

It’s definitely with a fair bit of sadness that I write this post but unfortunately for at least the next few weeks/month or so I won’t be updating the blog as much as I would like to. I have a whole heap of concepts and post ideas in my head but in the last few days I had a laptop die (it was like losing an old friend- has been around Asia with me twice) meaning I now have to make up for a heap of other work that I lost.

Never fear though! I will be back (hopefully sooner rather than later) and in other exciting news there may be a new destination to be added to the blog in the next couple of months. Until then feel free to explore the blog, find some inspiration and go exploring!

Thanks for your understanding 🙂

Courts

Photo of the Week #6- Argomulyo, Indonesia

15 Mar

Where- Argomulyo Village, Yogyakarta

Argomulyo is your typical Indonesian village. There are scrawny chickens running around, rice paddies and children playing. The only difference between this village and others is the fact that one of the world’s most active volcanoes looms over it. In the 2010 eruption of Merapi several people were killed in the village and even now they face the constant threat of lahar, cold avalanches of mud, ash and rocks destroying everything in their path. The amazing thing about this photo is that only 20 metres to the right the rest of the village remains completely untouched.

Eating my way through Southeast Asia

9 Mar

Food glorious food. The first time I went to Vietnam it was because I’d watched far too much of Luke Nguyen’s cooking show and had been inspired to go and explore the country and more importantly try these foods first hand. Eating is possibly one of my favourite parts of traveling particularly the opportunity to try local foods they rarely disappoint (except when I went to the Philippines). We’re quite spoilt in Canberra to have a wide selection of foods but nothing compares to trying them at the source. In this blog I’ll highlight some of my favourite Southeast Asian meals that I’ve had and over the next few months attempt to make them myself and share the results with you lovely people. So to kick us off…

Thailand

Thailand has a wonderful freshness to it with its chilli and basil. My top picks in Thailand are

Green Curry- It’s a bit of a staple with its spicy flavours and creamy sauce. A bit of jasmine rice (perhaps shaped like a turtle?) and an icy Singha to wash it down and your good to go.

Green Curry and Turtle Rice in Bangkok

Pad Thai- Oh I love Pad Thai so much. A friend of mine makes a version which rivals some of those I’d had in Thailand. Tamarind and delicious rice noodles. Whether you get your 2am fix from a stall on Khao San Road or have it in a restaurant it’s rather satisfying.

Or if that’s not your style you could eat some bugs…

Cambodia

I ate a lot of really delicious food in Cambodia which sort of felt like a clash between Thai and Vietnamese cuisine with lots of fresh flavours and brilliant curries. There is one thing that stood out for me though.

Sihanoukville BBQ- Super cheap, big, delicious meals on the beach accompanied by even cheaper cocktails. Heaps of options from all kinds of meats and seafood the standouts for me were the huge tiger prawns and the Coca-Cola pork ribs. I’m a fan of ribs so may have to give these ones a shot.

Indonesia

Indonesia has a lot of food that I really enjoy and a lot that I can’t stand. Also a lot of it I’ve tried cooking in the past and it’s proven too hard so I don’t really bother it anymore. While it’s probably wrong to put Indomie on this list (but I’ll show you how to make it better) a few of my favourites over here at the moment are,

One of my favourite Mie Ayam Warungs in Jogja

Mie Ayam- Chicken Noodles in soup. It’s oh so simple but tasty and refreshing and has Asian greens in it which I particularly enjoy. Best eaten on the side of the road sitting on the ground.

Nasi Goreng- People often ask me what my favourite food is and laugh when I say nasi goreng. Sure fried rice is incredibly simple but it’s super reliable and you never have two which are alike.

Vietnam

Fresh Spring Rolls- Definitely one of my favourite entrees and they’ll make you never want to eat their deep fried cousins ever again. Creating the perfectly balanced dipping sauce is hard but they a very versatile with fillings ranging from duck, pork and prawns or even a personal version of mine with kangaroo for a slight Australian fusion. Often a go to quick meal for me I’ll show you a few versions.

Pho- Possibly my all time favourite food and one that I have scoured Canberra trying to find a good version of it. Beef or Chicken is standard (although veggie and seafood versions exist) personally I prefer the beef. My mouth waters when I think of some of the pho I had in Vietnam and while it is super hard to cook from scratch (It took me 10 hours to get the broth ok) you can cheat and get pho seasoning cubes as I’ll show you.

Chowing down on some cricket at Khao San Road

So that’s it for now. Now to decide which of these delicious offering to cook first or you can let me know below and I’ll post the recipes and photos of the results (although it should be noted that I’m no masterchef )

What are some of your favourite countries to eat in and favourite dishes?

 

Photo of the Week #5- Junk in Vietnam

8 Mar

Where- Ha Long Bay, North Vietnam

With the fantastic culture in Vietnam it is easy to forget about the amazing natural beauty that the country also has to offer. Used as the back drop of movies such as Tomorrow Never Dies, it really is a magical place to visit with the stunning karst landscape and multitude of caves. A beautiful area which is a great example of the diversity of Vietnam.