An authentic experience can be hard to come by in many big cities in Asia. Cities like Bangkok, Siem Reap and Singapore are so entrenched in Western travelers Asia hit-lists that adventures can feel canned. Whether it’s the people jockeying for room to take a picture of Angkor Wat, fighting over merchandise at the weekend market in Bangkok or waiting in lines longer than those at Target on Black Friday to see some temple, travel can get taxing.
Thankfully, there are places, like Siquijor Island, that acts as an antidote to travel fatigue. There the food is delicious, the people gregarious and genuine, the sunsets vibrantly hued and the only other Westerners are those who have “gone native.” I already waxed poetic about the charms of the small Filipino island, but here are 16 more reasons why.
Continue reading Photo book: 16 more reasons to love Siquijor
From the sweet perfume of honey-marmalade topped pink rice to the lazy sensuality of a mongrel blend of spices rubbed into a rotating chicken, a myriad of scents assault my nose in the family-run market.
To my left were a group of middle-aged Filipino men, gathered around an old, flickering TV set, watching a sporting match that was evidently very exciting. Every few minutes the cacophony of raucous cheers and jeers and the toppling of chairs as the men leapt to their feet were heard throughout the open-air market. Continue reading Forever my favorite: Siquijor island, Philippines
Taking a long-distance bus, particularly an overnight one, in Asia can be a harrowing experience. During the two months that I spent backpacking in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand I took many night buses – not one of them went according to plan.
One particularly memorable bus ride in Vietnam involved an altercation between our driver and a drunk driver on the road. Both men leaned out their respective windows, shaking their fists and hurling Vietnamese curses at each other as they careened down the dark unpaved road at breakneck speeds. After a half hour of jockeying for the leader spot in their live action version of Pole Position, each pulled over and engaged in a short round of fisticuffs that ended with the bus driver getting beaned with a rock to the temple. At this point villagers emerged, the drunk took off and our driver hopped on the back of someone’s motorcycle, leaving his busload of travelers to sit for three hours on a Vietnamese back road at 1 a.m. Continue reading Tales of Night Bus Horror and How to Deal
Moalboal didn’t look like much. We’d just emerged from the heaving, paint-chipped bus from Cebu City, had extracted our bags from the bowels of the idling beast and were already sweating. Cooking in the midday heat, we wandered in towards town in hopes of finding four things: a bed, a dive shop, dinner and a beer (or three).
We found the first two easily enough, and after a long search, found the latter two. As we sat on the curb, sipping our Tanduay Ice, we debated reworking our travel plan: stay just two days, instead of three. We’d only been in the city for a couple hours and were already writing it off.
However, on day two, the sun seemingly rose over a brand new city. We found the charm of Moalboal in the retro Coca-Cola bottles, in the halo halo (a dessert made of fruit, ice, and ice cream), in the riotously colorful tricycles (many of which bearing gospel phrases or quirky names), in the stunning beaches with ombre hues of blue water, and in the personality of the people who call the little beach town home.
Continue reading Photo Book: Finding the charm of Moalboal
Hoi An, a little seaside 400 miles south of Hanoi in Vietnam, has long held a deep devotion to foodstuffs.
We’re talking 2,000 plus years of history here. From the 7th to 10th century it was the principal spice trading port of the Cham Kingdom and then it flexed it’s commerce muscles again as a major international port in the 16th and 17th centuries. While that port has since disbanded, Hoi An is still regarded as the culinary Mecca of Vietnam, acting as a beacon for foodies and novice cooks.
Though we indulged heavily in all the nourishment that Hoi An could offer, my camera lens was far more attracted to the people and paraphernalia that made Hoi An unique.
Continue reading Photo Book: 15 charming photos that will make you want to travel to Hoi An, Vietnam
Tiptoeing across the hotel room as to not wake my travel companion, I pick-up the various effects I’d scattered throughout the room the night before. Scarf: check; bag: check; wallet: check; temple pass: check.
I was shoulder-deep inside my backpacking bag, scrounging for a hair-tie, when a thunderous knock sounded upon the door. Both my friend and I audibly cursed. He pulled his pillow over his head and I answered the door to a mullet sporting Cambodian man in a blue polka-dotted button-up and cut-off jean shorts.
“You go tuk-tuk to temples?” he asked in a surprisingly gravely voice for such a small man. Continue reading Temple Run practice in Angkor Wat
I’m an adamant believer that one learns the most about a new city or country by eating in it. Specifically, while sharing a meal with the locals. It’s the most concentrated shot of culture – like the CliffsNotes version of the local lifestyle.
It answers questions like, do they use chopsticks, cutlery or their hands? Are there customs to follow, like who toasts first or who is served first? Is the pace fast or drawn-out?
So, because of this belief system or maybe because I like to pretend I’m some sort of culinary anthropologist, I also try to get into the kitchens of local cooks whenever I can. Continue reading Vietnam Cooking Class: Vy’s Cooking School