Tag Archives: South East Asia

Backpacking South East AsiA – A Beary Nice Hostel in Chinatown, Singapore

During my solo backpacking South East Asia month in 2011, I mostly stayed at hostels and dorm-type accommodations. So, even when I was momentarily joined by two friends in the Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia leg, they were made to follow the backpackers way of hostel-type accommodations. And, I would like to think that we all had a very good experience staying at the Beary Nice Hostel in Chinatown, Singapore.

Singapore - Beary Nice lobby
it’s a beary welcoming reception

Back in 2010, I have wanted to stay at the Beary Good Hostel, also in Chinatown, during a very short couple vacation in Singapore. We decided otherwise and it was only during the 2011 backpacking trip that me and my friends stayed at Beary Nice Hostel, which happens to be a sister hostel of Beary Good. Continue reading Backpacking South East AsiA – A Beary Nice Hostel in Chinatown, Singapore

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Foodie Friday: Khmer Goodness At Stall No. 29, Angkor Wat Complex, Siem reap

After kilometers of biking, marveling and picture-taking (aka camwhoring) in and around the Angkor Wat Archaeological Complex in Siem Reap, you’d end up really hungry and I would personally recommend for you to satisfy that hunger for Khmer food at Stall No. 29.

Foodie Friday - Goodness of Stall 29 - Fish Amok
Fish Amok (curry) served in a coconut shell

It was Julian, the Spaniard-but-based-in-Ireland-whom-I’ve-met-in-Phuket (whew!), who told me about the place. Since he arrived at Siem Reap and Angkor Wat complex a day before I did, he had the chance to try the place out.

Foodie Friday - Goodness of Stall 29 - Stall
Food stall area

He said that apart from Stall No. 29, he tried another place too. But he chose for us to come back to Stall No. 29 not just because the Khmer food was better but also because the people are nicer!

Stall No. 29, located inside the Angkor Wat Archaeological Complex in the stall area near the Terrace of the Leper King, Terrace of the Elephants and Prasat Suor Prat, is a family-run food stall (restaurant). Granma runs the kitchen, Mommy serves the food, and the daughter takes care of customer relations. (I’m really sorry that I have now forgotten her name)

Foodie Friday - Goodness of Stall 29 - Landmark
I think this is the Terrace of Elephants. Go further down the road to the right to find the stalls

Don’t get me wrong. I mean, I am not recommending the place just because the people are nicer but it’s because the Khmer food they serve is really yummy. And the price, in thousands of Khmer riel (I think USD1=KHR4000 at the time) seems reasonable at 20-30000 for a dish, and looks like the same range of prices anywhere else.

Foodie Friday - Goodness of Stall 29 - Vegetable Soup
simple-but-complex clear vegetable soup (mainly young bok choy, sweet potato, carrots and lettuce)

Well, it’s quite expensive in a sense that it’s a roadside stall and in that price, you can get a full meal with drinks and dessert in some restaurants/restobars here in the Philippines. But hey, this was real deal Cambodian food and Khmer goodness while marveling at temple ruins. Seriously, that ought to cover it. And, did I mention that the food was really good?!

Foodie Friday - Goodness of Stall 29 - Lemon Grass
I forgot what it is exactly but I think this is chicken in lemon grass curry

Khmer food are usually curry-based, with a lot of coconut powder and lemon grass. During my stay in Cambodia, I’ve had several Khmer food and none of them matched the goodness I’ve tasted with the food from Stall No. 29.

Foodie Friday - Goodness of Stall 29 - Chicken Amok
Chicken Curry (coconut-based)

Not even the dinner buffet at the Apsara dance performance or the free food at the Bousavvy Guesthouse where we stayed. There’s a certain way about Grandma’s fish amok (curry), served in a coconut shell no less, that when I tried to order another fish curry at Phnom Penh, I wished I hadn’t.

Foodie Friday - Goodness of Stall 29 - Fish in Lemon Grass Soup
Fish soup (lemon grass mode!)

Grandma’s version was smooth, rich and flavorful. I know I probably sound like a TV show host selling food via home channel right now but really, that’s what it tasted like to me. Whether it was a spicier chicken curry (not as hot as Indian curry of course) or a simple-but-complex clear vegetable soup, Grandma knows how to tickle one’s taste buds and leave you wanting for more.

Foodie Friday - Goodness of Stall 29 - Angkor Beer
Simot sarap goodness (nothing but the bowl left!) with Angkor beer

Whenever we taste Cambodian food goodness at Stall No. 29, Julian and I would always leave full and satisfied. Plus, during the meal, we get entertained by the daughter’s stories about Cambodian culture. At the time, especially when I was on my last day at the Angkor Wat complex, we mostly talked about marriage and married life. I saw a wedding photo shoot and she was already thinking of marrying her boyfriend. The way she shared her stories made me experience it too, perhaps more than I should. Hehe

Foodie Friday - Goodness of Stall 29 - Stall 25
Shopping at Stall No. 25. They are friends with Stall No. 29 and help each other out

Another reason why I am recommending Stall No. 29 is because I believe in their genuineness. Of course, it is a business. But, it is a business which they run with sincerity and willingness to share. Stall No. 29 also reminds me that there really is good in a person, even when we are with strangers. On my last day and Khmer meal at Stall No. 29, I accidentally got my left leg burnt by a motorbike’s exhaust. After learning about this, the daughter disappeared and came back with a new tube of Colgate, bought especially to be applied to the burnt skin to soothe the heated pain. I was, of course, touched deeply and was at lost for words.

Foodie Friday - Goodness of Stall 29 - Family
Stall No. 29 and The Family

So yeah, when I said Khmer goodness at Stall No. 29, I didn’t just mean Cambodian food. There’s a different kind of Khmer goodness that Stall No. 29 and the family have shared with me and Julian. If in case you are heading in Angkor Wat complex and heading to Stall No. 29 to taste and experience Khmer goodness, enjoy the food and I’d appreciate if you can give the family my regards. Smile

Backpacking South East Asia: Vietnam – Cu Chi Tunnels Tour

Last night, at the Thirstday Thursday CouchSurfing Manila meet-up, there were two CouchSurfers from Vietnam and with other Filipino CS members, we talked about Cu Chi Tunnels, perhaps one of the most visited and most popular tours in Ho Chi Minh city.

Backpacking SEA Vietnam Cu Chi Tunnels - Entry Door 4
Raising the roof, literally! This is how the Vietnamese get inside the small rectangular “door” at Cu Chi tunnels (photo taken by Sid or Sulabh)

Together with Indians-but-Singapore-based Sid and Sulabh, whom I met in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I went to Cu Chi Tunnels in the morning (it’s a half-day activity) to see for myself how the Vietnamese lived underground for years during the Vietnam War. Continue reading Backpacking South East Asia: Vietnam – Cu Chi Tunnels Tour

FotoFolio: Water Puppet Show, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Yes, you read right—there really is a water puppet show and you can watch it at Vietnam’s capital, Ho Chi Minh city!

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The Water Stage is set

And no, it’s not like any other puppet show you’ve seen before. Neither is it set on a stage with fake water/waves scenes as the backdrop. The puppet show here in Vietnam really is on water!!!

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Rong Vang (Golden Dragon) Water Puppet Theater

Held at the Rong Vang Water Puppet Theater (aka Golden Dragon) in Ho Chi Minh City, the show presents the amazing craftsmanship and dedication of its actors/puppet controllers. Imagine, you have to be underwater to be able to control the puppets! I think that in itself is amazing!

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If I remember correctly, the story is about a fisherman who wants to be a soldier and bring honor to his family and village

The only thing though is that the story is told in Vietnamese so you really won’t be able to fully understand what’s going on. Unless you speak Vietnamese of course. Or, you’re just really good in following storylines. Hehehe

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Dancing Water Puppets

So, if you’re like me, you’d read up on the story based on the sheet of paper distributed before the show. Then, you’ll focus all your energy in watching the movements of the water puppets and feel the rhythm of traditional Vietnamese music, sung and played live from the sides of the theater!

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Live traditional Vietnamese music

Also, if you are like me, you will be amazed and captivated by the water puppets. Whether you’re waiting for the puppeteer to show up gasping for breath or trying your hardest to understand what’s going on, the water puppets will surely keep you engrossed.

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I wonder how many puppeteers controlled these water puppets in this scene

Some people are asking whether watching the water puppet show at the Golden Dragon or Rong Vang Water Puppet Show is worth it or not. I can’t remember the exact price that we paid for but I sure got value for my money. I mean, it’s probably just me, and the two Indian travellers I was with, but we felt that the water puppets and their puppeteers performed well.

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The Water Puppeteers

Besides, it’s not often that you see puppets in the water! Really, the water puppets show is something I will always remember about Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam!

FotoFolio: The Helix Bridge and Singapore Flyer

I have been to Singapore twice: first in April 2010 for a quick 4-day Singapore and Kuala Lumpur birthday holiday and second in October 2011 as part of my 4-week backpacking South East Asia trip.

Helix Bridge and Singapore Flyer
Helix Bridge and Singapore Flyer: Metallic Wonders

The first time we went, as we had limited time in Singapore itself, I think we only saw a glimpse of the Singapore flyer and the newly-[half] opened helix bridge. The entire Helix Bridge, which connects the Marina Bay area, officially opened in July 2010.

Inside the Helix
Shaded walkway for a fine afternoon stroll

When we came the second time, we spent almost an entire day just walking around the streets of Singapore. And of course, when we visited the Marina Bay Sands area before heading to the Singapore Flyer for our ride, the Helix Bridge served as a pleasant, interesting and [most importantly] shaded connecting walkway.

View from Helix Platform
The Singapore River and Skyline (leftmost is Fullerton Hotel, with the small Merlion a little to its right; rightmost is the Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay, with a bit green of The Float)

Not only that. When you walk through the walkway, you also get a chance to have a different vantage point (opposite side of the Merlion area) to appreciate the calm Singapore River with the bustling skyline in the background.

Happy walking! Click here to read the Wikipedia entry for Singapore’s Helix Bridge.