Travel Blogs

Regional Recipe - Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup

Regional Recipe - Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup
This hot and sour shrimp soup is super speedy, but it’s packed with fresh herbs and delicious Thai flavors. Serves 4 Ingredients: • 2 cups chicken stock • 2 small red chilies, seeds removed, finely chopped • 1 inch-piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced • 2 Tbsp fish sauce • 1 Tbsp tamarind paste • 8 ounces of glass (bean thread) noodles • 5 ounces green beans or snake beans, trimmed, cut into 1 inch lengths • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved • 16 large uncooked shrimp with…

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Book Club - Destination Thailand - The Lonely Hearts Travel Club series by Katy Colins

Book Club - Destination Thailand - The Lonely Hearts Travel Club series by Katy Colins
Instead of slipping on her something borrowed and tripping up the aisle to wedded bliss, Georgia spends her big day crying into a warm Sex-on-the-Beach, wondering where it all went wrong. Forced to make a bucket list of her new life goals by best friend Marie, it’s not long before travel-virgin Georgia’s packing her bags for a long-haul adventure to Thailand. Yet, Georgia’s big adventure doesn’t seem to be going to plan. More… From strange sights, smells and falling for every rookie…

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Phuket’s Finest Luxury Resorts

Rosewood Phuket - At an exquisite location along 2000 foot beachfront at Emerald Bay, Rosewood Phuket offers a secluded island escape and celebration of the brand’s ‘A Sense of Place’ philosophy, taking inspiration from the natural landscape, diverse cultures and unique sensibilities of Phuket. Six Senses Yao Noi – 56 Pool Villas provide generous personal space and present an uncompromised lifestyle. Some villas overlook the striking limestone monuments that rise out of the Andaman…

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Phuket - Thailand in miniature

Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, and features everything that travelers to Thailand come to love. It is not hyperbole to say that Phuket is Thailand in miniature. Mountains, temples and spiritual monuments, arts and crafts markets, hiking trails and idyllic beaches are all found in Phuket. Mountains - Phuket is mostly mountainous with a range running from north to south on the western side of the island. Elevation at the peak is 1,736 feet.  Spiritual monuments– Phuket is home…

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ASIA UPDATE

Phuket
ASIA UPDATE
Thailand, South East Asia’s most popular destination, has relaxed their current arrival quarantine requirements, and announced some very exciting news about openings on July 1 and October 1, 2021…  Phuket has won the government’s approval to welcome vaccinated foreign tourists from 1 July without having to undergo quarantine. Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health recently approved the required number of vaccination doses to be provided to Phuket residents, making the July…

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Recommended Reading   Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje

Recommended Reading    Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
By the author of The English Patient, this is one of the greatest Sri Lankan novels of all time, a memoir where the author is a minor character. In Running in the Family, Michael Ondaatje tells the story of man returning to his roots in Sri Lanka in the late 1970s. As he records his journey through the drug-like heat and intoxicating fragrances of that “pendant off the ear of India, ” Ondaatje simultaneously retraces the baroque mythology of his Dutch-Ceylonese family. An inspired…

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Recommended Recipe – Sri Lanka Chicken Curry

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry
Recommended Recipe – Sri Lanka Chicken Curry
Chicken curry is the quintessential Sri Lankan meal. This is a coconut milk-based curry full of flavor. Dial the heat up or down by increasing or decreasing the amount of chili powder.  Serves 6.  INGREDIENTS 3lbs skinless chicken thighs 2 onions, diced 2 teaspoons garlic, crushed 2 teaspoons ginger, fresh grated 2 tablespoons oil 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 tablespoon ground coriander 2 teaspoons paprika 1⁄2 teaspoon salt 2…

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What is a bio-bubble

Lavinia Beach, Sri Lanka
What is a bio-bubble
Visitors to Sri Lanka are required to follow a few simple rules designed to offer the maximum touristic experience with a minimum of risk. The plan was first tested in a pilot project with tourists in late December of 2020. Its success in containing covid outbreaks among the test group led to a full rollout last week. The simple rules are: Stay only in approved hotels (Asia Answers has the list) Visit approved sites at specific times (Asia Answers makes the reservations) Travel via private…

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Welcome to Sri Lanka

Hills of Sri Lanka
Welcome to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has been hiding in plain sight, at least from US travelers. Europeans love this pearl of the Indian Ocean, the place Marco Polo described as the finest island of its size in the world. Even if our choices weren’t currently limited, Sri Lanka is a destination not to be missed. Sri Lanka offers 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 2000 years of culture, ancient temples, unspoiled beaches, verdant tea plantations, rain forested peaks, wildlife galore, and cuisine that is as flavorful as…

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Recommended Reading - This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This Is How It Always Is
Recommended Reading - This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
For all the things it wasn’t, 2020 was a great year to be a book lover.  Books take us traveling when we are on lockdown, lead us from insomnia back to sleep, and broaden our perspectives when we are unable to meet new people. This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them. This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated. This is how children change…and then change the world. This is Claude. He’s five…

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Recommended Recipe - Maldivian Lady Cocktail

Maldivian Lady cocktail
Recommended Recipe - Maldivian Lady Cocktail
A tropical beach vacation wouldn’t be complete with a paper umbrella-decorated cocktail.  Word to the wise – this ‘lady’ packs quite a punch. INGREDIENTS 3 ounces white rum 2 ounces apricot brandy 4 ounces orange juice 4 ounces pineapple juice 2 splashes grenadine (leave out for less sweetness) 1 cherry and 1 chunk pineapple (to garnish) METHOD Mix the white rum with apricot brandy, in a shaker. Add to a glass filled with crushed ice. Add splashes of grenadine. Fill glass up…

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Where to Stay in the Maldives

Overwater Bungalow, Maldives
Where to Stay in the Maldives
With over 100 private islands to choose from, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. Here are Asia Answers recommendations, and why. Ultra luxury – Soneva Jani Soneva Jani is a fixture on Top 10 Resort lists with very good reason. For those who have decided to indulge themselves with every possible luxury and hedonistic experience, Jani is the answer.  Inspired by a word that means ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani is actually an atoll, comprising five islands, the largest…

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Making the Maldives Affordable

Snorkeling in the Maldives
Making the Maldives Affordable
While the Maldives private islands are not for the 3 or even 4 star markets, there are ways to maximize travelers’ budgets and put a luxurious vacation in reach.  1/ Advise clients to book early.  Almost every Maldivian resort offers specials for travelers who book 6 months or more out. This works well for honeymooners who often plan this far in advance, or are willing to meet the requirement. 2/ Ask about honeymoon offers upfront. If your clients will be honeymooning soon after…

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ASIA ANSWERS’ GOLD LIST

Haenyeo Diver
ASIA ANSWERS’ GOLD LIST
Asia is exotic. From its religions to its long and complex history to its tantalizing cuisine, a visit to Asia prompts a reevaluation of your system of beliefs and your bland pantry contents.  Asia Answers’ team members came up with their Top 5, but would have preferred to name Top 50… Lan Ha Bay, Vietnam  For many years, Halong Bay with its karst islands rising out of the waters, have been one of the most photographed locations in Asia. The area has become so popular that many…

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Recommended Reading   Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski

Recommended Reading    Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski
A deep and rich novel set among the hill tribes of Northern Thailand. A suspense story blending anthropology and Christian missionaries, it almost feels autobiographical. When his girlfriend takes a job in Thailand, Mischa Berlinski goes along for the ride, planning to enjoy himself and work as little as possible. But one evening a fellow expatriate tips him off to a story: a charismatic American anthropologist, Martiya van der Leun, has been found dead—a suicide—in the Thai…

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Recommended Recipe – Khao Soi (creamy coconut curry noodle soup)

Recommended Recipe – Khao Soi (creamy coconut curry noodle soup)
Arguably the quintessential northern Thai dish, Khao soi is a Burmese-inspired coconut curry noodle soup. Available in chicken, beef, pork or vegetarian options, this mouthwatering dish has a rich coconut curry base, boiled egg noodles and is garnished with deep-fried crispy egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime and ground chilies fried in oil.  Ingredients, serves 4: 4 ounces dry rice noodles 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 large shallot finely diced 2 tablespoons chopped…

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Nan, Thailand

Rice Plantation in Nan
Nan, Thailand
The province of Nan, Thailand is home to seven – yes seven - national parks.  In a country abundant in natural beauty, that is impressive. Nan might not have been on your bucket list before, but, perhaps it should be. On the border of Laos, surrounded by spectacular, misty mountains, Nan is festooned with ancient Tai Lue temples, verdant teak forests and abundant waterfalls. What Nan has to offer is just what we need now; a place with open spaces and fresh mountain air.  Nan’s…

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Indigo dyeing in Phrae

Indigo dyeing in Phrae
Indigo dyeing in Phrae
Phrae, in Northern Thailand, is the center of indigo dyeing, a 5,000-year-old art which creates textiles that are not only stunningly gorgeous, but which are kind to the Earth. Indigo, once prized in the royal courts of Europe, also happens to be a vital component of the contemporary world’s most popular item of clothing…  blue jeans! Yes, those comfy, wear anyplace, dress down or dress up wardrobe staples were originally dyed in natural indigo. Today, synthetic indigo is used for…

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Recommended Reading -  Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko
Recommended Reading  -   Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
A New York Times Top Ten Book of the Year and National Book Award finalist, Pachinko is an “extraordinary epic” of four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family as they fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan.  In Korea in the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant—and that her lover is married—she…

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Recommended Recipe – Bibimbap

Recommended Recipe – Bibimbap
Bibimbap simply translates to “mixed rice with meat and assorted vegetables“. You can make endless variations to this dish depending on your preference.  Ingredients (serves 4) Meat and vegetables: • 3.5 ounces beef mince • 1 Tbsp soy sauce • 1 Tbsp sesame oil • 1 tsp sugar – I used brown sugar • 1/4 tsp minced garlic • ½ lb spinach, chopped • ¾ lb bean sprouts • 3.5 ounces shiitake mushroom, julienned • 1 small carrot, julienned • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt…

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TOP 10 KOREAN DISHES TO TRY

Bulgogi
TOP 10 KOREAN DISHES TO TRY
While our supermarkets now routinely stock kimchi, and ordering kimchi fried rice with a side of kimchi is perfectly acceptable, Korean cuisine has much more to offer. Here (after quite a bit of internal debate), are Asia Answers Top 10 Korean dishes. Bibimbap (mixed rice) Bibimbap is essentially a bowl of mixed ingredients including rice, namul (sautéed vegetables), mushrooms, beef, soy sauce, gochujang (chili paste), and a fried egg. Bulgogi (marinated beef barbecue) A juicy, savory dish…

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BUDDHIST MONKS, BAD-ASS GRANNIES & SAUNAS WITH SNACKS

Haenyeo Diver
BUDDHIST MONKS, BAD-ASS GRANNIES & SAUNAS WITH SNACKS
South Korea offers visitors experiences that are found nowhere else, and epitomize the local culture.  Incorporating any of these into an itinerary will impart a deeper appreciation for your hosts, not to mention enhance your social media feed. While temple stays are possible in several Asian countries, the South Korean version is more of a crash course in Buddhism than a funky place to spend the night.  Guests are encouraged to check in for at least two nights, to allow time for the…

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Recommended Reading -  Pok Pok by Andy Ricker

Recommended Reading  -  Pok Pok by Andy Ricker
Our recommendations don’t usually include cook books, but Pok Pok is both a guide to bold, authentic Thai cooking from Andy Ricker, the chef and owner of the wildly popular Pok Pok restaurants, and a commentary on Thai culture. Not to mention that we’ve all become covid culinary masters and no cuisine is too tricky for us now! After decades spent traveling throughout Thailand, Andy Ricker wanted to bring the country’s famed street food stateside. In 2005 he opened Pok Pok, so named…

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Recommended Recipe – Bananas in Coconut Milk

Recommended Recipe – Bananas in Coconut Milk
Known locally as kluay bod chi, this widely popular and simple dessert comprises bananas cooked in sweet coconut milk. Served throughout Thailand, this dish can be enjoyed either hot or cold. Ingredients: 4 slightly green bananas 2 cups coconut milk 4 tablespoons of sugar ¼ tsp cinnamon Method: Peel the bananas and cut into bite-sized pieces. In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a boil. Add the sugar and cinnamon, stirring to dissolve. Add the bananas. Bring back to a boil,…

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Phrae, Thailand

Soap stall, Phrae markets
Phrae, Thailand
The province of Phrae, which neighbors Nan, is equally delightful in a different way. Among its many attributes, visitors make a point of overnighting in Phrae specifically for this event. Phrae’s Pratu Chai night market starts each day around 5pm and is famous for some of the best street food in Thailand at the lowest prices.  The perfect end to a day spent exploring Phrae’s most impressive temples, its fascinating teak house museums, and the Khun Tan railway station and tunnel is…

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Nan, Thailand

Nan
Nan, Thailand
Nan province is tucked into the northeast corner of Thailand, bordering Laos. What Nan has in abundance is pure balm for the post lockdown soul…Natural beauty and peace.  Known for its numerous national parks, Nan offers visitors the elemental healing power of walks along majestic limestone mountain trails among brilliant tropical plants to pristine waterfalls, at vast Doi Phu Kha National Park. For those who love wildlife, the heavily forested Khun Nan National Park is home to…

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Recommended Reading -  Enlightenment for Idiots: A Novel by Anne Cushman

Enlightenment for Idiots: A Novel by Anne Cushman
Recommended Reading  -  Enlightenment for Idiots: A Novel  by Anne Cushman
Nearing thirty, Amanda thought she’d be someone else by now. Instead, she’s an ex-nanny yogini-wannabe who cranks out “For Idiots” travel guides. However, she’s sure her new assignment to the ashrams of India will change everything. What she finds, though, is an ashram run by investment bankers, a model-obsessed guru, tantra parties, and silent retreats. India, it turns out, is not the spiritual refuge she’d pictured. But she finds a friend in Devi Das, a redheaded sadhu who…

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Recommended Recipe - Asian Chicken and Mint Salad

Asian Chicken and Mint Salad
Recommended Recipe - Asian Chicken and Mint Salad
Carb and comfort food bingeing is perfectly understandable in times of stress, and easy to hide in the sweats which have become our WFH uniform.  When the time comes to shed the pounds, this light and healthy recipe is a delicious warm weather go-to. Ingredients: 1 large garlic clove, peeled, minced 1 Thai chili, seeded and minced (optional if you like a bit of heat) 1 tablespoon sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce 1 1/2…

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Top 5 wellness experiences in Asia

Ayurvedic massage
Top 5 wellness experiences in Asia
From simple beach massages to yoga retreats and Ayurvedic consultations, Asia is synonymous with wellness experiences which range from hard work to hedonistic.  All of these can be included in a customized itinerary. Here are Asia Answers Top 5:    Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand The most popular program at Kamalaya is without a doubt its seven-night Comprehensive Detox & Rejuvenation Program. This is serious stuff; the program…

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More series books

Thank you to avid readers who offered their own series book recommendations in response to ours in the last edition!  In case you haven’t discovered this, the library app “Libby”  is a godsend while we can’t go to the library in person. Here is a link to learn about it https://www.overdrive.com/apps/libby/  And here are some series book recommendations: Ann Cleeves  The Vera Stanhope series is about a Detective Chief Inspector working for Northumberland and City…

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Recommended Recipe – Wagamama Chicken Katsu Curry

Chicken Katsu Curry
Recommended Recipe – Wagamama Chicken Katsu Curry
One of the enjoyable activities we can do on lockdown (speaking optimistically, of course; there is very little that is positive about this tragic crisis) is to cook, especially when celebrity chefs divulge their secret recipes.  Wagamama, a popular Asian restaurant chain, has recently revealed the recipe for its fabulous Chicken Katsu Curry. This is a mild, sweet Japanese style curry, not spicy, loved by adults and kids alike.  Wagamama Katsu Curry – serves 2 Katsu sauce 2–3…

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Low density travel in Asia

Naoshima gourd
Low density travel in Asia
While many Asian cities are densely populated, easily accessible rural areas are made to order for crowd avoidance.  Asia Answers has solutions in all of our destinations, here are just a few of our favorites, and they are superb places that we would recommend to anybody at any time.  Nan & Phrae, Thailand   Thailand is the most visited country in all of S.E. Asia. Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket are popular. Part of their charm is the energy and extensive tourist…

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Recommended Reading -  Series books

Recommended Reading -  Series books
With many of us spending more time than usual at home, here is a list of books that are not only enjoyable alone, but are also part of a series. Plenty to read while you are enjoying this unexpected down time.  Books stand alone, but are best if read in order. Here are my favorites, but would love to hear yours!  Louise Penny   Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is the main character in a series of 16 mystery novels. The series is set around the life of Chief Inspector Armand…

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5 Things Travel Advisors Should Be Proud Of

5 Things Travel Advisors Should Be Proud Of
Every travel advisor has been asked: “You’re a travel agent? I didn’t know there were any left!”. Here are a few things to be especially proud of, especially in our current environment.  1/  Your fees are unbelievably low compared to your consultant peers in other professions. Case in point, the kitchen designer. In Bellevue, where Asia and Africa Answers is headquartered, a kitchen designer charges $120 - $150 per hour, and requires a minimum of 20 hours for a design…

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TRAVEL ALERTS

As of September 23, 2021… BALI and INDONESIA:  Entry is currently NOT possible except for diplomats and some business travelers. Dates and regulations for re-opening are not yet available. BHUTAN: Entry is currently NOT possible except for diplomats and some business travelers. Dates and regulations for re-opening are not yet available. CAMBODIA: Entry is currently NOT possible except for diplomats and some business travelers. Dates and regulations for re-opening are not yet…

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Regional Recipe - Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad
Regional Recipe - Green Papaya Salad
Green Papaya Salad is a Thai staple that is easily made in any kitchen. Called som tum, with “som” meaning “sour” and “tum” referring to the pounding sound of the large pestle used to crush ingredients, it is eaten by itself as a snack, or with grilled beef and chicken.  Ingredients: 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice 3 tablespoons (packed) palm sugar or golden brown sugar 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fish sauce 2 tablespoons dried shrimp, chopped 4 garlic cloves, minced 3…

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Active Travel Options in Asia

Mt Fuji summit sunrise
Active Travel Options in Asia
Asia is brimming with active options for those who love to be outside. From jungle treks to cycle journeys to mud-slinging festivals, Asia Answers has you covered E-biking through Shikoku, Japan This is an excellent option for those who like to be gently active. Explore modern cities and old towns, marvel at cherry blossoms, tea plantations, forests, and temples. Each day spend 3-4 hours riding, then enjoy the destination by a soak in natural hot springs, walking through quaint towns,…

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Recommended Reading - The Night Tiger: by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger
Recommended Reading - The Night Tiger: by Yangsze Choo
This is an utterly transporting novel set in 1930s colonial Malaysia.  Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin plunges into a dark adventure: a mirror world of secrets and superstitions. Eleven-year-old houseboy Ren is also on a mission, racing to fulfill his former master’s dying…

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Traveling Mindfully

Traveling Mindfully
Travel professionals hear it all the time: the trip was amazing because of the people. Enjoying the company and culture of local people becomes the most lingering and powerful memory of a trip. Here is how to be the person whom the locals in your destination are uplifted by, and then pass that goodwill along to future travelers. Pack for a purpose - when traveling in emerging nations, there will be opportunities to help local people just by giving some gently used items of your own, or taking…

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The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See

The Island of sea Women
The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See
Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger. Despite their friendship, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences become impossible to…

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Regional Recipe – Toshikoshi Soba, a Japanese New Year tradition

Toshikoshi soba
Regional Recipe – Toshikoshi Soba, a Japanese New Year tradition
Toshikoshi soba is the traditional last meal of the year in Japan. Soba noodles are served in warm broth with sliced green onions and seaweed. Toshikoshi means “to kill off the year” and the long noodles symbolize longevity. After the meal, families venture out to hear Buddhist temple bells ring 108 times at midnight. Buddhists believe that man has 108 temptations to overcome before reaching nirvana. It’s thought that ringing the bells at the start of the New Year will help free our…

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FAMILS

Krabi, Thailand
FAMILS
In October, Asia Answers and Tourism Authority of Thailand teamed up to send a group of millennial travel agents on a wonderful and educational trip through Thailand. Like all famils, it wasn’t all fun and games; this is what our agents were tasked with doing each evening… Posting. Yes, posting their travels on Instagram. Not exactly onerous for millennials, for whom posting is second nature. It might have been harder for them to abstain. In any event, photographic evidence that Thailand…

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2019 Roadshow takeaways

Korea, one our 2019 roadshow partners
2019 Roadshow takeaways
This time of year is particularly busy as our annual Africa + Asia + Antipodes roadshow is held over the first two weeks of November. Not familiar with our roadshow? It’s a wonderful day-long gathering of our tourism partners, who present their destinations to our travel agent partners in 8 cities across the US, sometimes in their sleepwear. In 2019, we had many great Asian and African presenters. Here’s a list of who was there, and a brief take-away from their presentation. EVA AIRWAYS…

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Recommended Reading -  The Orchid House: A Novel by Lucinda Riley

The Orchid House
Recommended Reading -  The Orchid House: A Novel by Lucinda Riley
Spanning from the 1930s to the present day, from the Wharton Park estate in England to Thailand, this sweeping novel tells the tale of a concert pianist and the aristocratic Crawford family, whose shocking secrets are revealed, leading to devastating consequences. As a child, concert pianist Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the grand estate reminiscent of Downton Abbey. Years later, she reunites with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate and her possible…

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Regional Recipe – Thai-Style Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea
Regional Recipe – Thai-Style Iced Tea
It’s inevitable; spend enough time in hot, hot Thailand and you’ll become addicted to their delicious thirst-quenching sweet iced tea and Singha beer.  While we can’t help with a recipe for the latter, we can share how to make your own Thai iced tea at home.  Ingredients: 10 star anise pods 3 tablespoons of sugar 8 cups water, divided 1 vanilla bean 15 black tea bags ½ cup heavy cream ½ cup sweetened condensed milk Directions: Combine star anise pods, sugar, and 1 cup…

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Beyond Phuket and Samui

Krabi
Beyond Phuket and Samui
For those who already have been to Phuket and Samui, or those who want to strike out and find their own paradise, here are some options to consider…  Four Seasons Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai  Far from a beach vacation, the Four Seasons Golden Triangle offers the adventure of a lifetime in the natural surroundings of northern Thailand, bordering Burma and Laos. Interact with rescued elephants, explore spectacular mountain trails or bamboo jungles and unwind in luxury tents. Let the…

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Phuket or Samui?

Phuket
Phuket or Samui?
Deciding whether to honeymoon in Phuket or Koh Samui is undisputedly a first world problem, but can cause heated debate nevertheless. Here are some considerations. WEATHER  Choosing which island to visit depends on the time of year you plan to travel. Both Phuket and Samui have tropical climates with hot weather and monsoon seasons, but the timing of the monsoon season differs slightly.  In general, the weather on Phuket is better from November until January. The weather is better…

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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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