Asia


BOTTOMS UP AT ASIA’S BIGGEST BEER FESTIVAL

Posted on February 17th, by Steven in China, Uncategorized. No Comments

Beer festivals generally conjure up images of clangy, repetitive oompah bands, sausages, vaulted beer halls, and busty beer maids. In America we have our share of beer festivals, but they tend to be small caricatures of European festivals. I was surprised to find out that China actually does the beer festival pretty well, albeit with skewered, mysterious meats instead of sausages; and shirtless, busty men instead of busty waitresses.

The largest beer festival in the world is Octoberfest in Munich, Germany. The largest beer festival in Asia is The Qingdao International Beer Festival.

Qingdao is the home of the plentiful and cheap Tsingdao beer, which was founded by Germans when the city was under German control in the late 1800s. It’s an amazing seaside city, a great place to visit any time of year and an even better place to visit in … Read More »



15 CRAZY THINGS I’VE EATEN IN ASIA

Posted on February 8th, by Steven in Asia, Cambodia, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, The Philipines, Uncategorized, Vietnam. 5 comments

There is an old saying that:

“the Chinese eat everything that flies, except airplanes; everything with four legs, except tables; and everything that swims, except submarines”

Food is central to Asian culture, not just the Chinese, but throughout all of Asia. Asian food is generally delicious, and often very strange, to an American traveler. Asians tend to use the whole animal. Sometimes the results are great, sometimes not so.

Here are 15 of the strangest foods I’ve had:

15. CHICKEN NECK
Qingdao, China

It’s the neck of a chicken, skewered on a stick and served with cheap drafts of local Tsingtao Beer. It’s mostly skin and bone. I actually like spicy duck neck, as there is some meat to enjoy on there, but the chicken neck is just not much of anything.

IS IT GOOD?  2/10

14. GOAT BRAIN
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Goat brain came served in a hot … Read More »



SO, YOU WANT TO VISIT BURMA (MYANMAR)?

Posted on December 12th, by Steven in Asia, Burma, Uncategorized. 1 Comment

Hi. What’s your name?

“Before 1989, I was known as Burma. To separate me from my colonial past, my military government now calls me Myanmar. Both names come from the local Bamar ethnic group. The local intelligentsia and socially conscious travelers will still refer to me as ‘Burma’ to make a point. You can call me either.”

Do you speak English?

“Quite well. The British were here from 1824 to 1948. Today, English is widely spoken along the tourist routes and most locals are happy to communicate with you in basic English.”

When should I visit you?

“I hope you like the sun. Southern Burma, including the largest city of Yangon, is hotter and generally wetter, while northern Myanmar gets cool in the wet season and is generally drier. The hottest months throughout Burma are March and April. May to October comprises the ‘wet season’ … Read More »



IS ASIA EXPENSIVE?

Depends on what you’re here for.

 

Different countries = different prices for different things.

Do you want to explore cities, see the big attractions, or experience the food and drink? For example, if you’re here to party, the Philippines generally has the cheapest drinks at restaurants and bars. In contrast, Chinese bars and clubs are expensive- comparable to North American prices, but the daily Chinese necessities (subway, street food, bottled water) are damn cheap, so if you’re here to take photos and explore the city life, China will be cheaper than the Philippines. Accommodation also varies in quality, type and price. Your sleeping standards could make or break your budget. In Vietnam, $10 may get you a comfy room with A/C, wifi and free breakfast. In the Philippines, a $10 room is nearly impossible to find.

Asia is a place that people … Read More »



YANGON: BURMA’S EXOTIC GATEWAY

Posted on May 19th, by Steven in Asia, Burma. 5 comments

Once considered the “rice bowl of Asia” for its wealth, Burma is now one of the most economically poor countries in the world. Despite the poverty, it is a stunning travel destination, filled with golden pagodas, colonial towns, beautiful beaches, and friendly, smiling locals along the way.

The largest city and gateway to all of Burma is Yangon (formerly Rangoon). Few large cities are as exotic as Yangon. This will be soon be changing, however. In the not-so-distant future, all of those sleepy, colorful, and crumbling British colonial buildings lined amid dark, quiet streets will be housing Japanese-Burmese fusion restaurants and British pubs playing six football games at a time via satellite. Thousands of tourists will swarm the city each day wearing Chang Beer tank tops and getting psyched up for their obligatory pub crawl. The sounds of LMFAO will be … Read More »



5 QUIET PLACES IN ASIA TO TAKE A BREAK AND REGROUP

Posted on April 28th, by Steven in Asia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, The Philipines, Travel Tips. No Comments

“I was driving myself, pounding out the miles because I was no longer hearing or seeing. I had passed my limit of taking in or, like a man who goes on stuffing in food after he is filled, I felt helpless to assimilate what was fed in through my eyes. Each hill looked like the one just passed. I have felt this way in the Prado in Madrid after looking at a hundred paintings—the stuffed and helpless inability to see more. This would be a time to find a sheltered place beside a stream to rest and refurbish.”

–John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley (1962)

Travel can be hard work. Adrenaline may keep our heads spinning and our feet moving, but it’s important to consider the hidden exhaustion of long trips. Weeks of momentum, scheduling and packing/unpacking will take its toll on your body and dull … Read More »



THE 5 BEST ROOFTOP BARS IN ASIA

Posted on September 17th, by Steven in Asia, Beijing, Booze, China, Malaysia, Thailand, tips, Travel, Vietnam. 2 comments

“Come Quickly. I have tasted the stars.”– 19th century champagne print add, often attributed to Dom Perignon

5. LUNA BAR, Kuala Lumpur

Located just across the street from the KL Tower (the city’s unmissable ‘space needle’) on the 34th floor of the Pacific Regency Hotel, the Luna Bar offers a spectacular view of the Petronas Towers and Kuala Lumpur skyline. After 10pm, secure a spot on the upper deck for the best view of KL available. Unfortunately, the tempting swimming pool in the middle is only for hotel guests. But, what’s the worst that can happen- you get kicked out? Finish your drink and hop in.

 

 

4. XIU, Beijing

Another sprawling Grand Hyatt rooftop bar, Xiu is modestly located on the 5th floor of the hotel. The design is a combination of sleek contemporary and traditional Beijing architecture (recreated, of course). The … Read More »



LAKE TOBA, INDONESIA: TAKING A BREAK

Posted on September 17th, by Steven in Asia, Indonesia, Travel, Uncategorized. 1 Comment

Lake Toba is a place where people come for a week but end up staying for a month, sometimes never leaving at all. Located in northern Sumatra, the largest of Indonesia’s many islands, Lake Toba sits at a high altitude that gives it a year-round cool and comfortable climate. One hundred kilometers long and thirty kilometers wide, Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world. Not only is the lake of importance in archeological history, it is also a spectacularly beautiful and peaceful travel destination which offers an alternative to the thumping pop music and traffic-filled beach destinations of southeast Asia.

My trip to Lake Toba offered me the chance to take a break from the hectic pace and thick air of many Asian cities. The lake water is clean, warm and perfectly inviting for swimming. The lake also … Read More »


WHY IS ASIA SO SAFE?

How is there so little street crime?

Don’t get me wrong, there is crime in Asia. There is government corruption, bribery, domestic abuse and organized crime. However, a traveler is highly unlikely to get caught up in this. “Street crime” such as robbery, assault, rape and murder are astonishingly low, especially in North Asia (Mongolia somewhat excluded). In large Asian cities, I have no fear listening to my iPod and walking home through unknown neighborhoods for two hours in the middle of the night.

Travelers and expats appreciate this quality over here, yet can’t seem to explain exactly why it is. Rich and poor are living together. Surely, there are plenty of “opportunities” for crime walking down the streets. So why is Asia so safe?

Here are a few factors that likely influence the low street crime of Asia:

THE SHAME FACTOR

In the USA, … Read More »



6 LESSER-KNOWN REASONS TO STAY IN ASIA

Posted on September 16th, by Steven in Asia, eating out, StreetFood, tips, Travel, Uncategorized. No Comments

Travel guides and websites entice westerners with the images of serene temples rising over a jungle fog, shining skylines, pristine beaches and elephant rides through the jungle. These Asian attractions exist, and you’ll enjoy them. But if you ignore your return flight home and stick around here- as so many do- you can get to know this continent in a way that the casual tourist could never begin to. Here are six little-known reasons to enjoy, and stay in, Asia.

 6. URINARY FREEDOM

The American Age brought with it armies marching out into the world and “spreading democracy”. Perhaps, as China and East Asia emerge, we can look forward to regular “pee-freeing missions” as the 21st century progresses. It seems men can pee everywhere in Asia. It almost feels encouraged. Picnic-tabled streetside restaurants stay open into the late hours (offering large bottles of cheap beer, of course) … Read More »





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