Travel Blogs

Recommended Reading - Rich People’s Problems by Kevin Kwan

Recommended Reading - Rich People’s Problems by Kevin Kwan
Rich People’s Problems is a satirical 2017 romantic comedy novel by Kevin Kwan. It is the third and final novel in Kwan’s “Crazy Rich…” trilogy that looks at the rich and powerful families of Singapore (many of whom are Peranakans). Two years after the events that take place in China Rich Girlfriend, Nick and Rachel are happily married and living their life in Manhattan. Nick is informed by his mother Eleanor that his grandmother, Su Yi, has had a heart attack, and…

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Regional Recipe - Chicken Rice

Chicken Rice
Regional Recipe - Chicken Rice
This dish is famous in Singapore as comfort food, and is incredibly easy to make. Chile sauce is usually served as a condiment. Recipe   Ingredients for 5 servings: 1 whole chicken – about 4 lbs 3 cloves garlic 2 (1 inch) pieces fresh ginger root, peeled 2 green onions ½ teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons sesame oil 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 tablespoon sesame oil 2 shallots, finely chopped 5 cloves garlic, minced 1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped ½ cup…

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Crazy rich Peranakans

Peranakan shophouses
Crazy rich Peranakans
The word Peranakan is mentioned many times in the Crazy Rich Asian trilogy of books but is a term most Americans are not familiar with. Discovering the history and culture behind this small but influential ethnic group is one of the fascinating aspects of a trip to Singapore.  Peranakans are descendants of the migrant Chinese workers who traveled to the Malay Peninsula during the colonial era between the 15th and 17th centuries and intermarried with local Malayan women.  A female…

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Changi - an airport and a destination

Rain Vortex, Changi Airport
Changi - an airport and a destination
Singapore’s Changi airport is so amazing it has become a destination. Travel to Changi on Singapore Airlines, voted 2019’s Best Airline in the World by Trip Advisor’s Travelers Choice Awards, and see what all the hype is about.  Changi’s latest addition is Jewel, a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex on the landside of Changi Airport which welcomes about 300,000 visitors a day.  Savvy travelers build in extra hours at Changi just to experience Jewel’s many…

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Heritage Line Cruises, South East Asia

Heritage Lines Mekong River Cruise ship
Heritage Line Cruises, South East Asia
To travel solely by land through South East Asia is to miss half of its essence.  The Mekong River, known as the Mother River, is the artery that has sustained civilizations in six nations for centuries. A Mekong River cruise completes the S.E. Asia travel experience.  The Mekong, the longest river in South East Asia rises in China, flows through the eastern part of Tibet and Yunnan province, after which it forms part of the international border between Myanmar and Laos, as well…

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Recommended Reading - A Woman of Angkor by John Burgess

A Woman of Angkor
Recommended Reading - A Woman of Angkor by John Burgess
The time is the 12th Century, the place Cambodia, birthplace of the lost Angkor civilization. In a village behind a towering stone temple lives a young woman named Sray, whom neighbors liken to the heroine of a Hindu epic. Hiding a dangerous secret, she is content with quiet obscurity, but one rainy season afternoon is called to a life of prominence in the royal court.  There her faith and loyalties are tested by attentions from the great king Suryavarman II. Struggling to keep her…

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Regional Recipe - Vietnamese Beef Pho

Beef Pho
Regional Recipe - Vietnamese Beef Pho
Pho, pronounced Fa, is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat – usually beef, sometimes chicken, and is the perfect autumn meal – not too heavy, but warming on cooler nights.  Pho was born in Northern Vietnam during the mid-1880s. It is believed that the word “pho” is derived from “pot au feu”, a French soup.  Cooks blended the Chinese, French and native influences to make a dish that is uniquely Vietnamese. Pho is a popular street…

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Laos

Luang Prabang
Laos
The word that comes to mind when describing Laos is authentic. Laos is a destination where verdant paddy fields are dotted with rickety stilt houses, whose occupants still observe traditions that are being fast forwarded into oblivion in other parts of Asia.  Laos is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in S.E. Asia, and its people are welcoming to travelers.  Up north, the self-sufficient Hmong people live simply in remote mountain villages. In the south, traditional…

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Regional Recipe – Laotian Larb (Ground chicken with spices)

Larb serving idea
Regional Recipe – Laotian Larb (Ground chicken with spices)
The secret to a good larb is the roasted rice powder, which adds texture and also thickens the juices, helping them to coat the chicken – don’t skip that step. Served with some raw vegetables, or used as the stuffing for lettuce wraps, Larb makes a healthy, light meal. You could also use ground pork, beef or turkey. Ingredients • 2 tbsp uncooked white or brown rice • 1 tsp chili powder, or to taste • 1 tsp chili flakes, or to taste • 2 lb chicken mince • 1/2 cup fish sauce • 2…

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Regional Recipe - Ramen

Ramen
Regional Recipe - Ramen
Ramen means “pulled noodles” in Japanese. It consists of thin wheat noodles served in a rich broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, nori, soft boiled egg, and green onions. INGREDIENTS 4 cups mushroom or vegetable stock reduced sodium 3 cloves garlic minced 2 teaspoons fresh ginger root grated 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 1/2 cup shitake mushrooms sliced 2 tablespoons red pepper minced 9 ounces ramen noodles…

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Mt Fuji climb, Japan

Mt Fuji sunrise at the summit
Mt Fuji climb, Japan
Cherry blossoms, golden temples and bullet trains are much photographed icons of Japan. Another icon, Mt Fuji, offers a literal ‘boots on the ground’ experience that also comes with huge bragging rights. Don’t speak Japanese? Here is why communication isn’t an issue; a third of all Mt Fuji climbers are foreigners, which underscores just how popular this trek is. Bilingual guides are available on request. At 12,388’ high, this perfectly conical volcano is not only a rewarding climb…

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Recoomended Reading - The Calligrapher’s Daughter: A Novel by Eugenia Kim

Calligrapher's Daughter
Recoomended Reading - The Calligrapher’s Daughter: A Novel by Eugenia Kim
In early-twentieth-century Korea, Najin Han, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher, longs to choose her own destiny, though her country―newly occupied by Japan―is crumbling, and her family, led by her stern father, is facing difficulties that seem insurmountable.  Narrowly escaping an arranged marriage, Najin takes up a new role as a companion to a young princess. But the king is soon assassinated, and the centuries-old dynastic culture comes to its end. Najin pursues a coveted…

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Regional Recipe - Pajeon (Korean pancake with green onions)

Pajeon
Regional Recipe - Pajeon (Korean pancake with green onions)
This Korean green onion pancake (pajeon) recipe is easy to make and is always a big crowd-pleaser. It works as a hearty snack, an appetizer, or a side dish in a Korean or Asian meal.  As with most Korean recipes and dishes, you can tweak it to your own tastes by adding sliced red chili peppers, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, or kimchi. Ingredients: • 2 cups flour • 2 eggs (beaten) • 1 1/2 cups water • 1 bunch green onions (halved and cut into 2- to 3-inch lengths) • 1 teaspoon…

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Haenyeo - the women free divers of Jeju Island

Haenyeo diver
Haenyeo - the women free divers of Jeju Island
Until about 15 years ago, there were fears that the Haenyeo - also known as the Grannies of the Sea - were a dying breed, but the South Korean government – and social media – have rekindled support for this unique way of life.  Jeju is a subtropical island off the Korean Peninsula’s southern tip, easily accessed from the mainland by direct flights and ferries. The island has maintained its distinct culture, dialect and shamanistic traditions, and is well worth visiting for those…

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Regional Recipe – Mulligatawny Soup

Regional Recipe – Mulligatawny Soup
Mulligatawny is a soup derived from a spicy Indian sauce recipe and is most often served with naan. The name originates from the Tamil words mullaga/milagu and thanni, which translate into “pepper-water.”  Ingredients: 1/4 cup vegetable oil 3 cups chopped onions (about 1 pound) 5 garlic cloves, chopped 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander 1 teaspoon turmeric 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 bay leaves 2 cups dried red lentils 8 cups low-salt chicken…

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Recommended Reading - Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh

Recommended Reading - Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh
In 2010 Monisha Rajesh left London for India and travelled the length and breadth of the country via Indian Railways to write her first book, Around India in 80 Trains. Taking a page out of Jules Verne’s classic tale, Rajesh covered 25,000 miles - the circumference of the earth.  Along the way, Monisha discovered that the Indian Railways - featuring luxury trains, toy trains, Mumbai’s infamous commuter trains, and even a hospital on wheels - have more than a few stories to…

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Palace on Wheels

Palace on Wheels
Palace on Wheels
On any given day, 12617 trains run on Indian Railway tracks. The most luxurious of these is aptly named the Palace on Wheels.  Ready to be a maharaja for a day?  The Palace on Wheels offers a mesmerizing travel experience across Rajasthan, the “Land of Maharajas”, including Agra (Taj Mahal) - Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Varanasi and Khajuraho.  From the elegant exterior and interior infused with the nostalgia of a bygone era of fabulous grandeur reminiscent of the royal…

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Regional Recipe – Macanese-style Portuguese chicken

Regional Recipe – Macanese-style Portuguese chicken
This irresistible chicken recipe carries many Macanese flavors. The soft, tender chicken – soaked in a rich, coconut-infused broth – makes for a moreish combination and is the perfect main.  Serves 6 1½ lbs small potatoes, scrubbed and cut into large chunks (or left whole if using small potatoes) 2 inch piece of peeled root ginger, finely grated 2½ tbsp mild curry powder 1¼ tsp cayenne pepper 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1½ cups warm chicken stock large pinch saffron 2 medium…

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Macanese - the best cuisine you’ve (probably) never tasted

Macanese - the best cuisine you’ve (probably) never tasted
Macao used to be a Portuguese colony. Fortunately, when they vacated, they left behind a culinary influence that is as strong now as it was back in the day. This exquisite marriage of Portuguese and Cantonese flavors is heading east aboard a convoy of fun Food Trucks. Find out if your city is hosting them?    Taking place in San Francisco from May 30 - June 3, 2019, this educational and fun Food Truck event will allow consumers the opportunity to try a taste of Macao, both…

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ASIAN HONEYMOON INSPIRATION

ASIAN HONEYMOON INSPIRATION
When it comes to Asia, honeymooners are spoiled for choice.  Idyllic beaches, luxury hotels and private dining in locations ranging from poolside to treetop are easily arranged in South East Asia. Let’s take a look at some recommendations less traveled (at least by honeymooners) … Ryokan stay in Japan A stay at a Japanese Inn (ryokan) in a hot springs resort in Japan checks all the boxes for romance, especially as experiences can be done on a private basis. By booking a room with an…

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Regional Recipe - Sukiyaki

Regional Recipe - Sukiyaki
A Japanese hotpot dish meant to be shared, Sukiyaki means ‘cook what you like’, and consists of meat, veggies and noodles cooked in a sweet and salty soy sauce based broth. Full of bold flavors, it is eaten straight from the pot.  INGREDIENTS: 1-2 packages udon noodles - frozen or dried ½ head napa cabbage ½ bunch shungiku leaves 1 green onion 1 package enoki mushrooms 8 shiitake mushrooms 1 package firm tofu ⅓ carrot 7 oz shirataki noodles 1 tbsp canola/vegetable oil 1 lb…

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Recommended Reading - The Golden Light of Africa by Erna Gianotten

Recommended Reading - The Golden Light of Africa by Erna Gianotten
Emma ends up at a remote mission post near Lake Victoria in Africa together with her husband Tomas and their toddler. For Tomas, a dedicated tropical doctor, it is a childhood dream come true. But for Emma it is the start of a confusing adventure. In spite of torrential rain, creepy crawlers, the threat of war and life-threatening diseases, Emma manages - more or less. She feels alienated and lonely. Then she meets Sven, adventurer and wildlife photographer. A whirlwind romance evolves, set…

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Regional Recipe - Ayam Goreng (crisp fried chicken)

Regional Recipe - Ayam Goreng (crisp fried chicken)
Malaysian cuisine is a delicious mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian. Ayam Goreng, crisp fried chicken, is so popular that it’s on the McDonald’s Malaysian menu!  More Ingredients: 3lbs chicken drumsticks 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup rice flour Vegetable oil or canola oil, for deep-frying MARINADE 2 stalks lemongrass (white part only), roughly chopped 1 brown onion, roughly chopped 3 garlic cloves, peeled 1 inch piece fresh ginger 1 tablespoon fish sauce 1 teaspoon…

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The Ghost Bride: A Novel (P.S.) by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride: A Novel (P.S.) by Yangsze Choo
Yangsze Choo’s stunning debut, The Ghost Bride, is a startlingly original novel infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, and unexpected supernatural twists, reminiscent of Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter and Lisa See’s Peony in Love. Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has lost his fortune, and she has few suitors. Instead, the wealthy Lim family urges her to become a “ghost bride”…

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What’s Hot in 2019

Baby orangutan - future old man of the jungle
What’s Hot in 2019
While Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia are mainstays, Asia Answers is predicting an increase in travel to Borneo. Here is what you need to know about this fabulous destination. Borneo can be a bit confusing to prospective travelers as the island is shared by the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, Indonesian Kalimantan and the tiny nation of Brunei. Traveler’s will find the widest array of experiences in Sabah and Sarawak: SWIM WITH TURTLES in Sipadan Island off the east coast of Sabah.…

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Regional Recipe - Instant Chai Tea Mix

Chai Tea
Regional Recipe - Instant Chai Tea Mix
Like to make your own Holiday gifts? This instant chai tea mix tastes great and looks pretty presented in a decorative jar.  Perfect for a coworker. Recipe makes enough mix for 36 cups of tea. Ingredients: 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder 1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer 1 cup French vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer 2 1/2 cups white sugar 1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea 2 teaspoons ground ginger 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground cloves 1 teaspoon ground…

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Book Club: Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo by Birute M. F. Galdikas

Book Club: Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo  by Birute M. F. Galdikas
Love books about amazing women who follow their passion? You will definitely enjoy this one.  In 1971, at age twenty-five, Galdikas left the placid world of American academia for the remote jungles of Indonesian Borneo. Living with her husband in a primitive camp, she became surrogate mother to a “family” of ex-captive orangutans - and gradually adjusted to the blood-sucking leeches, swarms of carnivorous insects, and constant humidity that rotted her belongings in the first…

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Save an Orangutan and the Borneo Rainforest

Baby Orangutan
Save an Orangutan and the Borneo Rainforest
Located in the Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Borneo, Camp Leakey was established in 1971 by Birute Galdikas and named after the legendary Louis Leakey, who was both mentor and an inspiration to Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey.  Originally consisting of just two huts, Camp Leakey is now an assemblage of permanent wooden structures designed to provide a base for scientists, staff, students, and Park Rangers. Over the years, Camp Leakey has supported the research efforts of dozens…

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Claude Monet’s Strawberry Mousse

Strawberry Mousse
Claude Monet’s Strawberry Mousse
A genial host and avid cook, Monet “appreciated simple dishes made of fresh ingredients and prepared according to very basic yet authentic principles,” writes Florence Gentner, a museum consultant and author of The Monet Cookbook: Recipes From Giverny.  Organized into four sections, the rustic recipes are inspired by Monet’s culinary journals. This delectable dessert appears seasonally on the menu of Benesse House Restaurant, on Naoshima Island. 1 1/2 cups strawberries 1 1/2…

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Book Club: An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro

An Artist of the Floating World
Book Club: An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro is well known as the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of the Booker Prize–winning novel The Remains of the Day. His novel An Artist of the Floating World is more raw and riveting.  In the face of the misery in his homeland, the artist Masuji Ono was unwilling to devote his art solely to the celebration of physical beauty. Instead, he put his work in the service of the imperialist movement that led Japan into World War II. Now, as the mature Ono…

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Naoshima Art Island

Naoshima's iconic pumpkin, by Yayoi Kusama
Naoshima Art Island
Japan is an archipelago, and one of its Seto inland sea islands, Naoshima, is known colloquially as the ‘art island’.  For art and architecture aficionados, Naoshima is a destination in itself. For the rest of us, it’s a fascinating addition to any Japanese itinerary.    While many of the Inland Sea islands remain quiet and uninhabited, Naoshima has been turned into one of the most remarkable art and architecture destinations in the world. Visitors often refer to it as…

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Regional Recipe - Butter Chicken Pies

Butter chicken pie
Regional Recipe - Butter Chicken Pies
It might seem strange to choose an airline because of their inflight menu, but once you taste these Butter Chicken pies, you might just find yourself booking a ticket to anywhere on Emirates… INGREDIENTS: 3 Tbsp butter 2 cups chopped onions 1 tsp garam masala spice 1 24 oz jar marinara sauce 4 oz cream cheese, cubed 3 cups chopped cooked chicken 2 cups frozen peas and carrot Frozen pie dough METHOD: Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. Add onions; cook until tender and lightly…

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Top 10 things for Multi generational travelers to do in Thailand

"James Bonds" (Long Tail boats)
Top 10 things for Multi generational travelers to do in Thailand
Touring by tuk-tuk, bathing with elephants, and enjoying good old fashioned beach fun; Thailand is all this plus amazing temples, delicious food and great shopping.  Here are our Top 10 family friendly recommendations…  1/ Tour Bangkok by tuk-tuk. Now, we’re not encouraging tuk-tuk races, but we all know friendly competition and families go hand in hand.    2/ In Chiang Mai the saying ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’, applies to elephants as…

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Afro-Asian Mango, Coconut, and Lime Leaf Popsicles

Afro-Asian Mango, Coconut, and Lime Leaf Popsicles
Afro-Asian Mango, Coconut, and Lime Leaf Popsicles
Afro-Asian cuisine is a fusion of flavors from two continents. These refreshing popsicles are easy to make, healthy and a great summer snack.  INGREDIENTS: 1 cup coconut milk 2 tablespoons minced makrut lime leaves (about 20 small leaves) 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar 4 large ripe mangoes (about 12 ounces each), peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice METHOD: 1/ Combine the coconut milk and the lime leaves…

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Thailand Fam Trip

Phuket, Thailand
Thailand Fam Trip
Thailand is Asia’s most visited vacation destination, and two of its cities – Chiang Mai and Phuket -  appear on US News’ list of best Asian places to visit. Our Thailand fam trip, operating December 6 – 15, 2018 visits Bangkok, Chiang Mai plus Phuket and surrounds, and the emphasis is on Romance. Perfect for agents with honeymoon and destination wedding clientele who wish to increase their expertise with first hand experiences. For more information about the itinerary, price and…

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Recommended Reading - Stranger in the Forest, by Eric Hansen

Stranger in the Forest
Recommended Reading - Stranger in the Forest, by Eric Hansen
Eric Hansen was the first westerner ever to walk across the island of Borneo. Completely cut off from the outside world for seven months, he traveled nearly 1,500 miles with small bands of nomadic hunters known as Penan. Beneath the rain forest canopy, they trekked through a hauntingly beautiful jungle where snakes and frogs fly, pigs climb trees, giant carnivorous plants eat mice, and mushrooms glow at night. At once a modern classic of travel literature and a gripping adventure story,…

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Regional Recipe - Jungle Juice

Jungle Juice
Regional Recipe - Jungle Juice
Jungle Juice was not originally the centerpiece of collegiate parties, but has a storied history that dates back long before it hit the fraternity circuit. American soldiers stationed in the South Pacific during WWII were prohibited from importing liquor, so they began distilling their own alcohol. The punch made its way to the United States, and was often made with any old bottom shelf liquor and powdered punch mix.  Here, however, is a simple formula that is summery, easy-drinking……

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Borneo & Sumatra, Asia’s safari destinations

Komodo Dragon
Borneo & Sumatra, Asia’s safari destinations
The islands of Borneo and Sumatra are the only places on Earth where tigers, rhinos, orangutans, and elephants live together. The forests are also home to marvelous creatures like the proboscis monkey, sun bear, clouded leopard, and flying fox bat, and endangered animals like the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhino, and pygmy elephant. Did someone say safari?    The Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra, located on the Equator, are home to some of the world’s most diverse…

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SE Asia’s wildlife hot spots

Orangutan
SE Asia’s wildlife hot spots
For those with a wildlife check list, here are the places to go to see Asia’s most iconic animals.  All of these can be worked in to a general itinerary.  1.  Komodo dragon - Indonesia Also known as the Komodo Monitor, the world’s largest lizards are found on the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Flores, Rinca and Padar. The scaly giants can grow up to 12 feet in length, and weigh up to 150lbs. While the dragons are the main attraction, this region also offers some of the…

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Recommended Reading - A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding: A Novel by Jackie Copleton

Recommended Reading - A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding: A Novel by Jackie Copleton
Although not about responsible travel, this lovely novel was recommended by a friend who is a travel agent, and, after reading it, I agree that the story is powerful and the insights into Japanese culture are fascinating.  Pam and I have known each other for almost 30 years and, like many friends, enjoy recommending great reads to each other. If you have a book that you would like to let others know about, please feel free to contact me: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email…

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Regional Recipe - Responsible fried rice

Fried rice
Regional Recipe - Responsible fried rice
Responsible travelers eat local ingredients that have not been shipped long distances, and reduce their meat and dairy intake. This recipe is vegetarian, or vegan if you leave out the eggs. Use veggies from your garden or farmers market to be truly responsible!  INGREDIENTS • 1 ½ teaspoons + 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided • 2 eggs, scrambled • 1 small white onion, finely chopped • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped • 2 cups additional veggies, cut into very small pieces…

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In praise of public transportation

Rickshaw
In praise of public transportation
Flying is usually the largest component of the carbon footprint of international travelers, and it is largely unavoidable. But there are fun ways to avoid adding to that carbon footprint in country.  Public transportation not only reduces carbon footprint, but can be part of the adventure. Using subways, trains, buses, ferries, tuk tuks and rickshaws to get from point A to B is easily doable. In many large Asian cities, private touring by public transportation is the way to do more…

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Plastic water bottles

Plastic bottle pollution
Plastic water bottles
With good reason, international travelers avoid drinking tap water, but plastic bottles are a major environmental problem. Globally, humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute.  91% of all plastic bottles are not recycled.  What simple action can you take to reduce plastic, and urge others to do the same? Take a drinking flask. A flask also makes a responsible bon voyage gift.  Tuck a note inside asking the traveler to do this small thing to reduce the number of plastic…

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Asia for the Solo Traveler

Private guide in China
Asia for the Solo Traveler
Asia Answers Perfect Week journeys are locally escorted by a private guide, which provides great peace of mind for those traveling on their own. With a bilingual guide, travelers feel secure, have assistance with everything from bargaining at markets to ordering the right food in restaurants, and can even get advice for what to do and where to go after the guide goes off duty.  While a guide isn’t necessary for relaxing on a beach in Bali or Thailand, having a guide definitely enhances…

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Regional Recipe - Pad Thai for one

Pad Thai
Regional Recipe - Pad Thai for one
Finding a recipe for one can be challenging, but that doesn’t mean solo diners should sacrifice a great meal.  Here is a scaled recipe for that beloved Asian dish, Pad Thai.  INGREDIENTS • 4 ounces pad thai noodles • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil • 1/2 clove garlic, minced • 1 large egg • 3 teaspoons soy sauce • 3 teaspoons fresh lime juice • 1 tablespoon brown sugar • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce • 1 small pinch red pepper flakes (optional) • 1 green onion,…

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Recommended Reading - The Last Chinese Chef: A Novel by Nicole Mones

The Last Chinese Chef
Recommended Reading - The Last Chinese Chef: A Novel by Nicole Mones
In her satisfying, sensual third novel, Nicole Mones takes readers inside the hidden world of elite cuisine in modern China through the story of an American food writer in Beijing. When recently widowed Maggie McElroy is called to China to settle a claim against her late husband’s estate, she is blindsided by the discovery that he may have led a double life.  Since work is all that will keep her sane, her magazine editor assigns her to profile Sam, a half-Chinese American who is the…

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Regional Recipe - Garlic Green Beans

Garlic Green Beans
Regional Recipe - Garlic Green Beans
In 2010, the Din Tai Fung’s Hong Kong restaurant won a Michelin Star. Yes, it’s that good. One of their signature dishes is Garlic Green Beans, and this is a close approximation: INGREDIENTS: • 1 lb green beans, washed and trimmed • 6 cloves of garlic, minced • 1/2 tsp- 1 tsp salt • vegetable oil for frying • ice for water bath DIRECTIONS: 1. Cut green beans to half their length, making them easier to cook and eat. 2. First, blanch the beans. In a large bowl, fill with ice and…

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Hong Kong & Taiwan Dumpling Wars

Dumplings
Hong Kong & Taiwan Dumpling Wars
While hot sausage and mustard may have been what Oliver Twist and his hungry cohorts craved, dumplings and Chinese mustard would be more likely to inspire people to burst into song today. Two dumpling restaurants – one in Taiwan and one in Hong Kong – have earned Michelin stars and become destinations in their own right. Ranked as one of the world’s Top Ten Best Restaurants by The New York Times, Din Tai Fung has its roots dating back to Taiwan 46 years ago, when the owner of a cooking…

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10 most popular Japanese dishes for travelers

Bento box
10 most popular Japanese dishes for travelers
Japan is to Asia as France is to Europe – elegant, mysterious and unfailingly fashionable. It follows that Japanese cuisine is now as revered as French cuisine. Were the late Julia Child starting out today, it’s likely that she would be mastering the art of slicing sashimi as well as whipping soufflés. Beyond sushi and teriyaki, here is a glossary of the 10 most popular Japanese dishes you’re likely to encounter in Japan. Shabu shabu is a Japanese hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and…

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Recommended Reading - The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
Recommended Reading - The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
A classic, The Great Railway Bazaar is Paul Theroux’s account of his epic journey by rail through Asia. Filled with evocative names of legendary train routes – the Direct-Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Delhi Mail from Jaipur, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Hikari Super Express to Kyoto and the Trans-Siberian Express – it describes the many places, cultures, sights and sounds he experienced and the fascinating people he met. Here he overhears snippets of chat and…

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Recipe - Eastern & Orient Express’s Beef Pepperpot

Beef Pepperpot
Recipe - Eastern & Orient Express’s Beef Pepperpot
This recipe for Beef Pepperpot, by Jonathan Phang is a signature dish aboard the Eastern and Orient Express. Ingredients 2 tbsp vegetable oil 2 lb stewing beef (not too lean), cut into large chunks 1 habanero pepper, seeded and finely chopped 4 tbsp granulated sugar 2/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar 12 cloves 2 large cinnamon sticks, broken in two 1 tsp West Indian hot pepper sauce or Sriracha chili sauce Salt and Pepper to taste Instructions Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium…

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Iconic Asian Rail Journeys

Eastern & Orient Express
Iconic Asian Rail Journeys
Asia Answers’ team votes the following Asian rail journey’s their top three: Belmond’s Eastern and Orient Express from Bangkok via Kuala Lumpur to Singapore; the Palace on Wheels from Delhi to Agra, Jaipur, Varanasi and more; and Kyushu’s Seven Stars. Eastern and Orient Express – the golden age of travel lives on aboard the Eastern & Orient Express luxury train. Winding through some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic landscapes, it voyages through Singapore, Malaysia and…

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Recommended Reading: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians
Recommended Reading: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
The good news is that if, like most people,  you find this book funny and well written, there are more books by Kwan that are equally entertaining, and a movie version of this book is coming in August 2018. When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks…

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Mango Sticky Rice

Mango Sticky Rice
Mango Sticky Rice
Mango sticky rice, a popular dessert sold at food carts throughout Thailand, is synonymous with festivity and dancing in the streets Ingredients • 1 1/2 cups glutinous sweet rice • 1 1/3 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk • 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar • 1/4 teaspoon salt • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted lightly • 1 large mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into thin slices (at least 24) Instructions 1. In a bowl, wash rice well in several changes of cold water until water is…

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Whacky Festivals of Asia

Tiger Dance festival Kerala, India
Whacky Festivals of Asia
If classic isn’t of interest,  there is a plethora or weird and whacky celebrations to join or just photograph, because otherwise no one is going to believe you.  South Korea’s Boryeong Mud Festival has grown to an excess of 2.2 million visitors since its inception in 1998. While originally conceived as a marketing vehicle for Boryeong mud cosmetics, the two-week event has become popular Koreans and foreigners alike for its fun-filled, skin-friendly activities. India’s…

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Wonderful Festivals of Asia

Taiwanese Lantern Festival
Wonderful Festivals of Asia
Some of us like classic festivals that celebrate the seasons, honor ancestors or tastefully ring in the New Year. If that sounds like you, here are our recommendations… China’s Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is perhaps the largest ice and snow festival in the world. Taking place from 5 January to 5 February, this unique festival showcases beautiful ice sculpture artworks, ranging from small mythical creatures and beautifully lit ice lanterns to awe-inspiring…

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Japanese Sento

At the sento, olden days
Japanese Sento
The bath culture in Japan extends back to the 6th century. In Buddhist teachings, washing dirt from the body was considered to be an important duty. In the early 13th century, the first public bathing facility for people, called a “Sento”, was established, and by the 17th century the number of Sento in Tokyo grew to as many as 500.Heading to the local sento before bed was a daily ritual until homes with private bathrooms became common. Even in today’s uber modern Tokyo, there are still…

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Recommended reading - The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things
Recommended reading - The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy A modern classic first released in 1997, this Man Booker prizewinner and New York Times best seller may have escaped your attention. It’s a worthy place to start, and, like your first trip to India, reading The God of Small Things will leave you craving more.  The novel is equal parts powerful family saga, forbidden love story, and piercing political drama. Seven-year-old twins Estha and Rahel see their world shaken irrevocably by the arrival…

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Slow cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala
Slow cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
• 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into 1.5” cubes • 1 large diced onion • 4 cloves of minced garlic • 2 tbsp minced ginger • 1 x 29 oz can of tomato puree • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt • 2 tbsp olive oil • 2 tbsp garam masala spice mix • 1 tsp tumeric powder • 1 tbsp cumin • 1/2 tbsp paprika • 2 tsp salt • 3/4 tsp cinnamon • 3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper • 1-3 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on your heat preference • 2 bay…

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Doing yoga in India, the birthplace of yoga

Yoga
Doing yoga in India, the birthplace of yoga
Yoga started in India 5,000 years ago. A typical yoga class in the US has almost nothing in common with experiencing yoga in India. This is how it differs: YOGA WEAR – don’t bother packing your $150 designer spandex yoga outfit; most of your fellow yogis will be in pajama like outfits – and some may actually show up in their pajamas! Think loose, think cotton; and definitely leave revealing garments at home. INSTRUCTOR– will likely be a gentle, humble person who says very little.…

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Beyond Seoul – a traveler’s guide

Bulguksa Temple Gyeongyu
Beyond Seoul – a traveler’s guide
Seoul is a round-the-clock powerhouse city whose inhabitants have a firm work hard, play hard mentality. With that much energy propelling the city forward, it’s not surprising that South Korea is Asia’s 3rd largest economy.  Away from the city, however, tranquility is within easy reach. Here are our recommendations for those who revel in elegance and a slower pace. Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD) and the fourth largest city in the…

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Dragon’s Back Hiking Trail

Dragon's Back Hike
Dragon’s Back Hiking Trail
Considered the best urban hike in Asia, Dragon’s Back features trails that wind along mountains, through forests and down to the white sands of Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay). Gaze over Hong Kong and the South China Sea, and have time to swim or relax on the beach. The walk ranges from easy to moderately challenging. This is a year round hike and can be enjoyed in most weather conditions; it’s particularly great on sunny days or days with good visibility and best during the autumn…

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Recommended Reading - 13.67

Recommended Reading - 13.67
In the United States, there are the Edgar Awards; in Britain, it’s the Dagger Awards. In the world of Chinese-language mystery and crime fiction, perhaps the most prestigious is the biennial Soji Shimada Mystery Award established by Taiwanese publisher Crown Culture Corporation. Hong Kong writer Simon Chan Ho-kei, who won the Shimada award in 2011, capped that achievement in January when he took one of three fiction prizes awarded by the Taipei International Book Exhibition for his…

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Din Tai Fung style Egg and Shrimp Fried Rice

Mmmm Din Tai Fung style Egg and Shrimp Fried Rice
Din Tai Fung style Egg and Shrimp Fried Rice
Ingredients: 3 cups day old cooked rice 1 slice bak kwa, cut into small pieces (optional) 8 raw peeled shrimp 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 eggs, beaten (add half teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon oil) 2 tablespoons chopped green onions 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1 teaspoon mushroom seasoning or half teaspoon chicken seasoning 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Method: Clean and dry shrimp, toss in baking soda and set aside for 10 minutes. Rinse baking soda and pat shrimp dry. In the meantime, pour the beaten…

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Recommended Reading - The Living Reed

The Living Reed
Recommended Reading - The Living Reed
The Living Reed, by Pearl S Buck, tells the history of Korea through the lives of one family. Buck paints an amazing portrait of the country, and makes us empathize with their struggle for sovereignty through her beautifully drawn characters. This epic novel follows four generations of the Kim family, beginning with Il-han and his father, both advisors to the royal family in Korea. When Japan invades and the queen is killed, Il-han takes his family into hiding. In the ensuing years, he and…

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Regional Recipe - Bibimbap

South Korean Bibimbap
Regional Recipe - Bibimbap
Ingredients: 8 ounces lean freshly ground beef, turkey or chicken 1/4 cup dark soy sauce 2 teaspoons sugar 3 to 4 large garlic cloves, minced 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 1 cup medium-grain rice, steamed 1 teaspoon butter 4 cups thinly diced vegetables such as carrot, zucchini, cucumber, radish, green onion, and spinach or bean sprouts 2 eggs Gochujang sauce, to taste. To make sauce, combine 5 tablespoons…

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What happens at a Korean temple stay?

108 bows, Woljeongsa Temple
What happens at a Korean temple stay?
Typically, your day will start at 3 a.m when you will be woken by rhythmic drumming which summons everyone to the morning chanting service. At 4 a.m.you perform 108 bows, a practice followed by monks to cleanse the mind of earthly attachments. To bow, you get down on your knees, sit on your heels, place your palms on the floor in front of you, bow your head down, lift your palms above your head, and then get back up on your feet. Traditional Buddhist prayer beads are used to count to 108, and…

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Regional Recipe – Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken
Regional Recipe – Teriyaki Chicken
Not all Japanese dishes require exotic ingredients and time commitment, Teriyaki Chicken is easy, quick and healthy.  Ingredients • ¼ cup soy sauce • ⅓ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1½ medium or 1 large oranges) • 3 Tbsp honey • 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger • 1 tsp sesame oil • 1½ to 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat • 1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil • 1½ Tbsp butter or margarine • Green onion and sesame seeds for garnish,…

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Recommended Reading - The Ginger Tree

The Ginger Tree, by Oswald Wynd, a wonderfully researched, moving, historical fiction novel following a young Scottish woman’s experience in China and Japan in the early 1900s. This is a wonderfully researched, moving historical novel following a young Scottish woman’s experience among Chinese and Japanese mores and landscapes. It begins in 1903 and follows her through the beginning of WWII. It was made into a 4-part, 1989 collaborative mini-series by the BBC and Japan’s NHK.

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Inns and ink - are tattoos a no go at ryokan?

Onsen (public bath) at a ryokan
Inns and ink - are tattoos a no go at ryokan?
One of the paramount experiences in Japan is to stay at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn). One of the paramount experiences at a ryokan is soaking in the public bath.  But if you are covered in body ink, here’s what you need to know. Until recently, the only people in Japan who got tattoos were yakuza (Japanese mafia), a pretty rough crowd not known for their gentility.  To forestall any trouble, and without seeming to deliberately single out yakuza, ryokans made a rule that…

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Explore Land and Sea in Hong Kong

Explore Land and Sea in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a place still finding its own identity; still barely 19 years out of British colonial rule, the city is currently straddling the line between its past as a former colony and its handover back to China. This melding of cultures has helped Hong Kong blossom into a voice all its own, and its residents as well, from friendly fisherman in the floating village of Aberdeen to the chattering merchants of the night market at Temple Street. While Hong Kong may still be discovering itself,…

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