Tag Archives: travel

things are falling into place

everything miraculously fell into place this past week.  my ticket’s booked, i have a place to live, i may already have made a friend and i have something to do….it’s amazing.

for the next few weeks (or until they get tired of me), i will be learning how to brew beer with james walton of storm brewing.  and i will be living 3 blocks away – right off commercial drive which is supposed to be home to vancouver’s counterculture coffee movement.  i think it’s going to be a neat neighborhood to call home for at least a few months.  and i do like counterculture.


projects and plans

i’ve been busy.  the specifics are unclear even to me but i’ve managed to successfully while away a few months trucking around the good old USA, visiting friends, soul searching, making various things, imbibing and just having a jolly time.  however, it’s time to leave again but i won’t be going far!

vancouver is my next stop and hopefully it’s going to be fabulous and awesome.  a local brewmaster has agreed to take me on as an apprentice.  would that be like putting a kid in a candy store?  perhaps.  but i’m super psyched.  more updates from vancouver to come…

in other news, i made more things since my last post.  a notebook for snuz – i used an ex-jiffy corn muffin box for the cover; more mini cards for the store; banana nut muffins for aunt joan’s science olympiad judges (84 to be exact).  we also started growing heirloom tomatoes for the garden – 6 varieties this year.  and heirloom asparagus too.

st charles, missouri, has been surprisingly entertaining and there are some honest, great people here that i’ve grown to love but it’s time to pack up the cook’s knife and microplane for a new adventure…

two months

i spent the rest of november in singapore with friends and family and more good food.  right before thanksgiving, i flew back to the US and had a pretty traumatic time getting through customs.  but i made it!  and spent thanksgiving with shiyan in boston which was fantastic.  i spent 2 weeks in december with the crew in baltimore – much debauchery and fun times.  katherine and i left for mexico on the 16th (of december) with the zerrs.  another 5 days of debauchery.  while playing beach volleyball, a few of us sustained minor injuries – a scraped knee, a stubbed toe, some bruised egos.  nothing major.

we made it back in time for christmas with more zerrs.  continued the tradition of spending christmas eve at the corner bar – classy.  christmas morning could’ve been worse.  i was starting to wonder if i would wake up every christmas morning with a hangover.  perhaps.  but i was in good company.  we opened presents and that was awesome.  i got 2 cookbooks!  gourmet magazine’s and julia child’s mastering the art of french cooking.  i haven’t made anything from either book yet but i already know which ones i’m going to start with…

new year’s followed pretty quickly and we were moping around the house wondering what to do when we spontaneously decided to drive to baltimore.  best surprise ever!  sarah strahorn might even have shed a tear or two.  more partying.  more good times with friends.  after a few short days, we drove 12 hours to chicago and spent 2 nights with katherine’s friends there.

and now we’re back in good old st charles, missouri.  glad to not be driving the god-forsaken rental car anymore and trying to find some direction in life.  hopefully that goes well!  i hope everyone else had a great holiday season as well – happy 2010!

oh, and side note.  i’ve been trying to craft whenever i get the time to and this year, i managed to make a few homemade gifts (my preference).  it’s been slow-going but very satisfying.

updates from home

in the past 4 weeks, things have happened!

we celebrated mooncake festival at my granddad’s house and it was good family fun. we grilled out, set some paper lanterns on fire (not a traditional practice), sampled different flavored mooncakes and appreciated the moon.

my dad turned 60 which seems to be the official senior citizen age according to the government. he decided to retire and is now proudly trying to dabble in ‘manly’ things like gardening and made-up DIY tasks at home. i say made-up because i think his idea of DIY is a little unconventional and hilarious. an example: in our house, we have sliding glass doors that separate the dining room from the kitchen from the living room….you get the idea. anyways, the other day, he had me help him to first remove one of the glass door panels (they’re not light) and then we hung it horizontally from the roof outside (with green nylon string) to act as a sort of rain screen. i meant to attach a photo, sorry. but just use your imagination. it ain’t stylish or zen at all. but at 20 cents a meter for the nylon string and free for the existing glass panel, it was cheaper than oh, let’s say, bamboo screens made for this purpose? it’s been about a week and there it still hangs. and i guess it must blend in with the surroundings well because it took my mom a full 4 days to notice the new installation. she wasn’t impressed.

i think my dad is enjoying seniorhood. i think he mostly enjoys the store discounts, free museum days, the cheap movie tickets and the inevitable respect from younger folks that comes with the territory (he’s offered seats on public transportation pretty often). he excitedly sent off his application for the senior version of the public transportation card and couldn’t wait to use it when it arrived a few days after his birthday. i think he even loves the special sound people with concession cards get when they tap their cards on the card readers. it’s quite adorable.

i went to the dentist. a norm for me when i’m home because i haven’t found a dentist in the US that i love. this time, instead of visiting my regular private clinic, my mom made an appointment for me at a government outfit. she stated that through the grapevine, she had heard that my regular dentist was ‘not as good as before’. can a dentist’s skill really go downhill? i didn’t argue. probably she was right. the country isn’t that big. rumors (and true facts) spread like wildfire.  however, i had my reservations. not because it was a public clinic but because it was a new dentist. lo and behold! i couldn’t have been more pleased with my visit. most favorite dentist visit ever! not painful, super nice staff, i was able to ask any question i wanted (a rarity with healthcare providers these days)….i was so excited, i even obliged and filled out a comment card when asked later. who gushes about a dentist visit? i know. it was that awesome.

because it’s food-obsessed singapore, i’ve been having food adventures – of both the restaurant and home cooked variety. we keep returning for the snow ice at traditional desserts (mei heong yuen) on temple street because it never lets us down. other worthy mentions are:

– the laksa pesto pasta at ps cafe

– inle myanmar restaurant

– desserts at mof

home cooking wise, i’ve been experimenting with new recipes from jamie oliver cookbooks and my thai cooking class recipe book. in addition to pasta with grilled vegetables, i now have more staples to add to my repertoire! thank goodness…no one needs to be as predictable as grilled veggies with pasta…

i couldn’t wait to be reunited with my crafting supplies in the US so i reshopped for more here. i’m hoping to start earlier this year with the christmas gift making process and make decent ones since i missed out on the gift giving situation last year. i’m excited! i’m officially in love with all things stationery…

more photos from vietnam

thank you, saigon

we finished vietnam in saigon with no more incidences of people telling me to go to hell or calling me a liar or getting anything stolen so i think that was a plus.

the lack of decent food makes me a little cranky and desperate.  and in vietnam, we were usually aiming for mediocre most of the time.  so when kenneth told me about anthony bourdain’s noodle soup lady adventure in saigon, there was no doubt that i was going to check it out.  we walked to the noodle soup stand after the war remnants museum and ordered the special of the day, bun mam (light broth with pineapple, eggplant, 3-layer pork, prawns, fish cake and noodles).  i was so pleased –  street food usually doesn’t let us down and vietnam was officially redeemed!  i wouldn’t have been able to find the stand without the help of a very detailed blog post (and kenneth).

we flew home to singapore on the 18th and have been eating well again since.  i think our next adventure will take us to indonesia, cambodia and australia but no concrete plans have been made yet.  photos to follow…


i’m in ho chi minh city (hcmc or saigon).  turns out, we managed to make it through the rest of vietnam after hanoi more or less unscathed.  in hanoi, we tracked down the real sinh cafe and booked ‘open tour’ tickets.  locating the real sinh cafe (now renamed the sinh tourist probably because of all the annoying copy cats) was no easy feat.  by chance, we had talked to two french travellers who had alerted us to the name change and then (just to be sure) we reconfirmed the fact with a little bit of digging on some travel forums.  open tour tickets are bus ticket packages that let you hop on and off buses along a particular company’s bus route.  a lot of people complain about the quality of the rides but i thought that it was pretty great value.  we managed to travel from hanoi to hcmc, stopping in hue, hoi an, nha trang and mui ne for US$33.

well then, where were we?  yes.  i’ll do a run down of the towns after hanoi.

hue – was nice enough.  ancient city.  lots of history.  we visited the citadel on the first day and did a city tour the next day.  boated up the perfume river, saw a tomb of tu duc, an emperor from the nguyen dynasty, blah blah….

hoi an- we breezed through on our way to nha trang.  we had read (and saw for ourselves) that it was very overrun with tourists seeking out cheap, tailor made clothing.  check.  in reality, i think it had more to offer but i think i was feeling a little tired of traveling and didn’t feel adventurous enough to commit to the town.

nha trang – we spent a total of 3 nights here.  nice, un-crowded beach.  not too much going on except lounging around and the many scuba diving outfits leads me to believe that there could be good diving in the area.

buon ma thuot – surprise destination!  i had read about this town in the central highlands supposedly famous for its coffee at very decent prices.  so off we went on an adventure in search of cheap and good coffee.  semi-success!  i got coffee but not as cheap as i thought when i comparison shopped afterwards.  however, i did manage to get my hands on some weasel-esque coffee.

mui ne – the lack of a town here made us decide to only stay 1 night.  the waters were pretty choppy and the strip of beach our hotel was on was pretty narrow.  no worries.  i was too sunburnt from nha trang to sit in the sun anyway.

hcmc – we arrived in the evening and as usual, went hunting for a place to stay.  the nice thing about the open tour situation (with sinh cafe at least) was that we usually got dropped off in town as opposed to a bus station way out in the middle of nowhere.  anyways, we were looking around for places to stay in the backpacker area of the city  and as usual, touts would not leave us alone.  ugghhh.  this one small old-ish lady followed us up and down one street.  she provided us with this highlight…

old lady: hello!  you looking for room?  i have room!

us: silence (which is the smartest answer if you don’t want them to REALLY start pressuring you)

old lady: i have room, you come look!

i began to shake my head because at that point, i was pretty sick of touts.  didn’t they get the message?!  if nobody seems to respond positively to constant hounding, it’s time to change marketing strategies!

old lady: hey!  where you going?!  you going to hell?!

me (half laughing at this point): yes, i’m going to hell.

old lady: ok!  you go to hell!

you’d think she’d just quit.  but she walks with us a little more.  tells us to go to hell one more time.  and then goes away.

out of desperation for some relief from the touts, we checked out one hotel with a decent looking lobby.  it turned out to have a not so decent room.  tiny room with no window with a few ants in the bathroom plus a medium sized roach to complete the whole happy insect welcoming party.  re-jec-ted.

almost immediately after walking out of the hotel, another lady tout spotted us…

lady: hello!  i have rooms.  $4, $8, $10.  very cheaper.  you come look!

me: no, thank you.  we have a booking.

lady: no!  you liar!  you no have booking!  you come look at my rooms.  cheaper.  everybody have the same price!  you lying!  you no have booking!  you come look, i have cheap rooms!

us: no, thank you.  no, thank you.  no, thank you.

lady: you lying!

that was pretty much our welcome to hcmc.