Saturday, June 23, 2012

moves like petra

Now this is truly a most useful instructional video.

Have you ever wondered how to dance properly in a club? That is, not look like an idiot? Meet Petra Mahalimuyak.

Time to practice.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

please come back

I waited a long time for this.

Who is Chris Botti, you ask? Oh, you Philistines.

OK, so we didn't have Sting last night, but it was still the best concert ever. I am so grateful that I was able to experience it. Worth every peso and the long drive to Resorts World Manila.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

first night in chiang mai

My official reason for wanting to go to the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center on 26 April 2012 was to try the khantoke dinner set.

But I was really looking forward to seeing the dancers.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

not the usual chiang mai

Actually, when we visited Wat Pha Lad on 28 April 2012, it was a whole day excursion for us. Our train back to Bangkok wasn't leaving until 6pm and we didn't really have anything planned, so we hired a songthaew (covered pick-up truck, similar to the Philippine jeepney but smaller) and went off the beaten track.

Armed with David's map, of course.

Our first stop was the lovely and peaceful Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

best temple award

This is David. He's an English dude who lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He and his wife Nuy own Funky Monkey Guesthouse which won's Traveller's Choice (B&B category) award for 2012.

I arrived in Chiang Mai armed with a list of temples to visit. It's compulsory when traveling in this part of the world. I asked David for directions, but he recommended that we discard my temple line-up and go to his favorite hangout instead.

After our excellent adventure at Warorot Market, which was one of David's tips, I became convinced that going to Wat Pha Lad might be worth the hour-long trip to the hills outside the city.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

food porn at warorot

As usual, before we went to Chiang Mai, I did my research: where to stay, what to eat, where to go. Chiang Mai is a small place, so guide books and travel websites tend to recommend the same things. They all agree that the Night Bazaar is a must-visit.

But this blog post is not about Chiang Mai's famous Night Bazaar. This is about what happens when you chuck the travel guides and take David's advice instead. This is about Warorot Market.

27 April 2012. After the elephant experience, we were hungry. I decided we should check out the street food and the market was calling my name. It was a leisurely 15-minute walk from our guesthouse Funky Monkey. When we arrived, there was still daylight and it looked like nothing was happening. Panic. Were we in the right place?

We saw a couple of tables near the end of the street. People were sitting around them, contentedly eating bowls of... I still don't know they are. There were no tourists at all, only Thais. Nobody spoke English.

We sat down on wobbly stools. The lady standing behind the table picked up a bowl of thin rice noodles and gestured at the pots of nuclear-looking soups (or sauce or broth or whatever). Pick one.

I chose something orangey brown with red chili peppers and tiny meatballs. She ladled the sauce generously over my vermicelli.

Then another lady who was already deep into her own bowl paused chewing just long enough to point at the plastic baskets of chopped vegetables, herbs and sprouts. Ah, garnish.

I mixed everything together and put a spoonful in my mouth. It was reminiscent of an Italian pasta salad, but with Asian ingredients. The soft noodles and fiber-rich toppings absorbed all the gravy, so it wasn't really soupy. And you could mix and match to your heart's content. Fantastic. I ate it all.

A special mention goes to the cool and sweet pandan-infused water that they store in aluminum vats. So refreshing, and free!

Monday, June 11, 2012

nature's great masterpiece

It was my first visit to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I knew that two nights was way too short, but we just had to make the most of it. So, how do you make the most of it?


Saturday, June 9, 2012

slow train

In theory, it sounded good. On 25 April 2012, take the number 13 train departing from Bangkok at 7:35PM, and arrive in Chiang Mai at 9:45AM the next day. And then, take the number 2 train leaving Chiang Mai at 5:55PM on 28 April 2012, and be back in Bangkok by 7AM Sunday morning.

I was pretty excited. I like trains. They're romantic, cheap and convenient. Usually.

We arrived at Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Station an hour before our supposed departure, only to be told that our voyage would be indefinitely delayed because authorities were still cleaning up a railway accident that occurred the previous day.

We went straight to our platform and were relieved to see that number 13 was already accepting passengers and cargo. Yes, we were going to be delayed, but at least our train was just waiting for the green light and ready to go.

At the train station's food court, we had some super excellent delicious Pad Thai. It was probably the best Pad Thai I had in Thailand, and for only 40 baht (US$1.25), probably the cheapest.

We pulled out of the station at 10PM. I calculated that we would arrive in Chiang Mai at 12:15PM, just in time for lunch. No problem.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

what i learned: luang prabang

I learned that Luang Prabang is one of the loveliest places in the world. Everywhere I went, I was surrounded by natural beauty...

other stuff we ate: luang prabang

There is one dish from Laos that I developed a craving for: the Luang Prabang Salad. The first time I tried it was at a nameless restaurant on Khounsua Road. It was more expensive than the one I had at Arthouse Café and it lacked an essential ingredient, phak nam (locally-grown watercress). But the dressing was ambrosial, and the vegetables were so fresh that I could hear every crunch reverberating in my head as I ate.

I've noticed that I'm liking soups more and more as I get older. So glad that I live in Asia, yay! This bowl of chicken noodle soup I found at a little stall beside Croissant d'Or was light and clean-tasting, and had a wonderful surprise at the bottom of the bowl: a bunch of watercress.

Near Food Street, there's a place which serves beef noodle soup like a Vietnamese pho bo, with very thinly sliced meat, a couple of beef balls and lots of veggies. If you want even more greens, they serve some long beans, watercress and basil on the side.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

street food at food street

Everyday at around 5PM, Sisavangyong Road in Luang Prabang is closed to vehicular traffic and the Night Market opens for business. Near the end of that road is an alley everybody calls Food Street. You'll know you're in the right place when you see a building with a table flanked by "Bakery" signs in front, with some marked-down breads and pastries laid out. Banana cake at half price, anyone?

At the mouth of the alley, there may or may not be this lady who makes fresh, hot biscuits right on the sidewalk. (We saw her on Monday, and then she was absent the next nights.) Fantastic packaging-- completely biodegradable!

Along the sides of the alley are tables groaning under the weight of all sorts of edibles.

Monday, June 4, 2012

shopping without buying

We spent four nights in Luang Prabang, and every night we ended up at the Night Market. It was impossible to avoid it because it occupies practically half of the main strip, Sisavangyong Road. And Luang Prabang is so tiny that everyone, and I do mean everyone, congregates at the Night Market after sunset.

The vendors lay their wares out on the ground, either on a piece of tarp or a raised platform made of plywood, and then they settle down for the next four to five hours for some multicultural haggling.