Sunday, June 24, 2012

Coconut Shake

The fresh fruit juices and shakes of SE Asia are so refreshing and so very tasty.

I happened upon a stall in Vietnam that was making a coconut shake (ordered by Jenny) and learned how to recreate the deliciousness.

1 young coconut (important for it to be a young coconut versus a brown older coconut - the meat isn't as soft)
Condensed milk


1. Create opening to drain the coconut water into cup to be used later
2. Place 2 cups ice into a blender
3. Place 1 cup coconut water into blender
4. Open the coconut (use a sharp knife or wrap the coconut in a bag and hit with a weight)
5. Scrap the coconut meat into the blender
6. Add 3-4 tablespoons of condensed milk
7. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar
8. Blend

ENJOY!! (for a kick, add some rum)

Hello Cambodia!

The journey from Thailand to Cambodia started early. We took a bus to a gas station.  At the gas station a number of the travelers I was with applied for their Cambodia Visa.  I kind of wish I had done this at the border, too.  I purchased an E-Visa.  It was $25 online through the Cambodia website and only took 3-4 days to get the appropriate print out to stick in my passport.  However, it doesn't LOOK awesome. The normal Visa they will place in your passport and it looks all official and has all the nice stamps on it. It is also permanent.  Mine is just stapled into the passport. Boo.

Welcome to Cambodia!

We crossed the border on foot.  There is a market on the Thai side where people sell used clothing. The Cambodian side; however, has a huge CASINO!  Woo for gambling.  We also saw these baskets piled higher than the building being pushing through the border by 10 men.  It was quite a site, and something that a picture really can't capture. After going through border patrol, we hopped on a bus and to Siem Reap we traveled.

It's truly amazing what they can fit on things!

For lunch, I had my first taste of Cambodian delight.  It was a fish amok and it was delicious.  It was just too bad that it was soooo hot and humid and I was eating something soooo hot. Delicious but I think I could have also gone for an ice cream.  We arrived in Siem Reap.  It was really interesting seeing the dirt roads in the city...after all, it was a city and one of the largest in Cambodia. The accommodation were much nicer than I was expecting.  Shortly after arriving, I definitely needed a shower. Oh how I love you shower.

Fish Amok Mmmm

That night we headed to an organization that raises money to send kids to school. It costs $0.75 a day to send a kid to school.  It's a lot for parents in the area so a lot of children sell postcards or other nick knacks on the side of the road instead.  We got a tour of the rice patties and surrounding area.  The cutest kids joined us for the tour.  They were also such hams, posing for pictures and just being plain cute. The lady that ran the organization treated us to a traditional Cambodian style meal.  It was so delicious. I could have licked the plates. I really really wanted to lick the plates.  We then got about an hour to talk to the children.  It was the best.  Their English was so good and I was very impressed. I wanted to stay longer and talk to the kids but we had to head back because the next day we were going to be up at 4am to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat.

Cutest kids in the rice fields

But!! Before that, Jenny, Laura, Anne and I decided to get a food massage :) The heat and humidity and travel really did a number on our feet.  My feet were pretty swollen and it was nice to get a good foot massage in the comfort of my own room with some really wonderful people.  We also knew that the next day was going to be extremely long and wanted to "prepare" ourselves :)  The foot massages were awesome and the hotel was so awesome for scheduling last, 1 hr was only $6!! Man! Can't beat that! Can I have a massage twice a day please?!

Laura (left) and Jenny (right) getting amazing foot massages!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Elephants in Thailand

This morning I woke up happy.  I was going to see elephants today! Yay!

We left in the morning after breakfast.  On the way to the old capital, we saw the King's motorcade. It was crazy.  They basically blocked off the entire freeway and then there was a procession of BMWs and Mercedes. It seemed to go on forever and there were police at every on ramp making sure cars couldn't get on the freeway.  Apparently, this happens often and it can create quite the traffic jam.

We headed to the old capital (Ayutthaya).  This city has lots of old ruins.  The Burmese destroyed the city and so most of the temples have fallen apart.  I went for an elephant ride around the wats.  It was an interesting site seeing elephants crossing the street with motorbikes and cars zooming past. The ride was ok.  The guy that was steering the elephant used a kicking motion behind the ears of the elephant to get it to turn.  He had another guide take a picture of me on the elephant.  It was grateful but didn't really have a choice.  He made me tip the guy that took the picture which I was ok with...then he had me tip him, which I was confused about.  At the end, I think he stopped to have me tip him again, but I didn't.  Was that bad form? I'm not sure. I tipped him pretty substantially the first time because I didn't have small bills.

After the elephant experience, we drove around the other parts of the city.  Most of it was being restored and Aunt and Uncle couldn't get around that easily.  They started getting hungry and wanted to go back to the city to eat.  We drove back to Bangkok and had lunch at a Japanese restaurant that was known for their noodles.  It was very good.

I wanted to explore the surrounding area and do some shopping since that's where people from all over asia go to shop.  I went to the huge mall MBK.  I spent hours in it because it was 7 stories. I wasn't sure if I should haggle there.  Maybe I could have? I'm not sure. I didn't. I definitely could haggle on the streets but by the time I was done with MBK I was all shopped out and just wanted to walk around before the daily raining session.

Later that night, we went to this famous restaurant for curry crab.  It did not disappoint.  It was delicious.  We also had fish stomach soup, eggplant, whole fish deep fried with basil, tofu and a variety of other dishes.  Uncle likes his whiskey so we had that too.  It was actually quite good.

We headed home and I went to bed.  I had to be up early the next morning for my journey to the famed floating market.

I dreamed of elephants of delicious food. Life was good.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Journey Through South East Asia - Thailand

This year has been interesting for me.  It's definitely a year dedicated to myself and what I want to do with my life.  It started out rocky. I had some personal stuff going on compounded with the loathing I had for my job. It took a lot of courage and some split decisions to decide to leave my job in May.  I had the support of my friends and family...and another job lined up.  The stars just weren't aligning with the job in another state, and so I decided to stay in Southern California, decline the job and am currently a free spirit.  I also decided that I needed to go on a trip.  I think that was the best decision, aside from quitting my job, I've made this year.

I arbitrarily decided on South East Asia.  I had family in Bangkok and I've heard amazing things about Thailand.  I started researching and tend to like the places less traveled and decided on a trip that was centered around Cambodia.

My journey started on a Monday.  I flew Korean Air.  It was a great airline, good food and excellent service. I had a stop over in Japan and then a layover in Korea. I seriously don't understand the deal with going through security after getting off the plane again and again.  I got into Bangkok around 12am.  My Auntie and Uncle so kindly picked me up and fed me once again. :)  So much food!  Then I took a shower and headed to bed.

Buddha Worship on the Corner - you could even buy and release sparrows for 400 baht!

I don't feel like the jet lag really hit me.  I was out and about the next day, admiring the places of worship and heading to one of the many many malls.  There are so many malls in Bangkok.  My Auntie said that people from Hong Kong come down to just go shopping.  After Uncle came home, we went to see the Reclining Buddha.  The Buddha was crazy big.  The entire compound was amazing! The golds, the blues and the reds were all spectacular.

I'm in love with color!


Hello! Reclining Buddah!

After the Reclining Buddha, we were stuck in Bangkok traffic for 4 hours! Yes, 4 hours!! It was crazy.  We only had time for dinner at that point.  Uncle and Auntie ordered everything under the sun and I enjoyed it all.  There was this great chicken in banana leaves. It was my favorite thing in Thailand. Mmmm my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Mmm and all the lovely fruit! 

I tried Durian! It was durian from an ancient tree. It was smelly and the flesh was musky.  It was a sweet musky taste.  It wasn't what I was expecting.  I felt like a monkey when I was eating it.  I probably would have started acting like a monkey if my family didn't think I was weird.  Apparently, you are supposed to eat Durian followed by a "cool" fruit like the mangosteen.


Purple Mangosteen

So far, so good. Tomorrow - ELEPHANTS!!  And Curry Crab!