A Culinary Tour of Asia

The very heart of your Asian vacation isn’t the exotic locale, the invigorating massages, the majestic ancient temples, or even the warm, friendly people. It’s the food. When you’re at home, food is a centerpiece of activity and fun-the backyard cookout, the Friday evenings with friends, or the romantic dinner. When you’re on vacation, it will be even more memorable if you keep food enjoyment high on your list of priorities.

Food is more than mere sustenance. It is a social experience, and a sensory treat that will be remembered long after you return home. Asia is well-known for its exotic cuisine, and no Asian vacation would be complete without thoroughly enjoying the food. In every major Asian city, you’ll find your usual array of the familiar favorites from back home: KFC, McDonalds, Sizzler, and so on-but why not enhance your foray into the unknown with something new on the menu?

The cuisine is as varied as the continent, ranging from the aromatic curries of India, to the fiery-hot tom yum goong of Thailand, to the European-influenced Macanese cuisine found in the Chinese autonomous region of Macau. Wherever you travel, you’ll find unique and fresh ingredients, presented delightfully in authentic surroundings and delivered by friendly, smiling staff.

You’ll find your environment as memorable as the food itself. You may find yourself sitting under a straw roof, sitting cross-legged and eating off of a banana leaf, or enjoying the most elegant, five-star posh surroundings you’ve ever witnessed. And don’t neglect the local specialties. A meal of dim sum (“yum cha” in Cantonese) in a Hong Kong tea house is an event unto itself that will never be forgotten. Take a boat cross the bay to Macau for a trip back to old Europe, where you can enjoy High Tea in the afternoon, and one of the country’s characteristic egg tart specialties. And when you tour Japan, you’ll discover that there are dozens of different varieties of sukiyaki, which is customarily cooked right at the table.

You’ll also find very informal street cafes throughout most of Asia, which are little more than a handful of plastic tables and chairs on the sidewalk, overlooking a kitchen that consists of a propane tank and a wok. If you’re adventurous enough to try one of these places, you’re likely to find very local cuisine that you can’t find in the “normal” restaurants, including wild game, insects, and parts of animals that you never knew you could eat.

Desserts are not to be missed. Unlike the rich, gooey, chocolatey sweets of America, Asians tend towards the lighter, more delicate tastes in sweets. A Chinese sweet red bean bun is very tempting (and does not have the usual disagreeable side effect that beans often do). Japanese sweets (wa-gashi) also frequently use sweet bean paste and are quite delicate. In Thailand, you may enjoy bua loy naam qing (literally, “floating lotuses in ginger water”), which delivers an enjoyable contrast between the strong ginger tea and the delicate rice flour sesame balls floating within.

Often overlooked are the unusual tropical fruits found throughout Asia. If you think of fruit as apples and watermelons, think again-the taste of the lichi, mangosteen, and rambutan are incomparable and a sheer delight to the senses. Beware of the infamous durian though, the heavy, spiky “king of fruits” that has a decidedly foul, almost fishy smell and is definitely an acquired taste.

You’ll find that in most Asian countries, meals are very social, and are often served to your table communally, as opposed to the Western style of each person ordering individual dishes. Don’t be surprised if your host serves you and continues to refresh your drink throughout the meal. Bone up on how to use chopsticks. Here’s a chopstick etiquette tip: You’ll sometimes see diners at inexpensive restaurants rubbing together the chopsticks before eating. This is done when using the inexpensive, wooden disposable chopsticks, to make sure there are no splinters. Avoid rubbing your chopsticks together at somebody’s home or at an upscale restaurant, as it would be considered an insult-you’re saying that the chopsticks are inferior when you do that. But, not every Asian country uses them. Thais eat European-style with a fork and spoon. In China, you’ll use chopsticks, but will never see a knife at your place setting, because it is considered aggressive. In some very rural parts of Asia, such as in the Laotian countryside, you’ll eat with your fingers. But regardless of how you convey the food from plate to mouth, you’re in for a real treat.

Cambodia Buses – A New Asia Scenic Attraction?

When the first of the bohemians first started rediscovering the Cambodian kingdom after the Vietnam war, using the term roads was merely an easy way for saying improved tracks of endless quagmire; axel snapping, oil pan crushing quagmire, at that

A soon to be announced major scenic attraction millions of years in the making, is the road between Sre Amble and the Thai border at Had Lek as you will cruise through one of the largest, only slightly plundered, primal jungle forests left in the world. This vast tract covers million of acres, with several very distinct water sheds. You will be mesmerized by ripples of dense foliage that fade from black and silver green into grays that ultimately merge with the clouds with few if any signs of mans presence.

Today 3 of the 4 major bridges that were memorable river crossings in the past are open with the 4th promised to be online by Khmer New Year. The adventure of these river crossings will be missed, while at the same time it will be possible to make it from Phnom Penh to Bangkok in a little over 12 hours; today the best you can do is around 16 hours.

Considering the distance traveled, bus travel is still easily the cheapest way to go to Bangkok , expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $30 for instance from Phnom Penh to Bangkok compared to $75+ with fuel surcharges tax’s airport fees to Bangkok cheap flights on Air Asia or Bangkok Air.

Enjoying the scenery has always been one of the real treasures of travel in Cambodia, as you skim along side the shimmering ponds of rice with sugar palm sentinels allowing you to take mental pictures for lasting memories of this exotic land.

Miss People’s Republic of China – The New Times of China

A Brief History of Miss China

When Zhuo Ling, a native of Shangai, was named Miss China Universe of 2002, she, an attractive fashion model, became the first Chinese woman to win a modern beauty contest in the People’s Republic of China, one of the world’s last Marxist nations in the 21st century. But there’s more, of course. In the previous decades, the Communist rule, as a number of Marxist states in Eastern Europe, among them the USSR and the Democratic German Republic, did not send entries to Miss Universe and Miss World.

China Under Mao Zedong

After China’s independence in 1949, Madame Chiang Ching, “First Lady of the Cultural Revolution” (1966-76), and Mao Tse-tung (or Mao Zedong), who said which “women hold up half the sky”, proclaimed total war against the capitalistic traditions: tourism, beauty pageants, and western clothes. During that time, the cult of beauty was replaced by the cult of Mao Tse-tung. The People’s Republic underwent over 25 years of Maoist government.

In contrast to the People’s Republic, Taiwan sent a handful of contestants to Miss Universe and other international pageants in the 1960s. Against all odds, Taiwan became one of the world’s beauty pageant superpowers, along with the United States, Argentina, and Britain. On November 9, 1961, Grace Li Shiu-ying was first runner-up to Miss World in the United Kingdom. During that year, Lily Wang Li-ling was a semi-finalist at the Miss Universe contest in America. In addition, Dolly Ma was one of 15 semi-finalists in the First Miss International in Long Beach, California. On July 14, 1962, Miss Taiwan Universe Helen Liu Shiu-man finished in the Top Four in Miami Beach, Florida. Nine months later, Helen was first runner up to Miss Asia-Pacific in Tokyo.

At the end of 1964, Taiwan’s delegate Linda Lin finished third in London, behind Great Britain and Argentina. Meanwhile, four months ago, Lana Yu Yi made the Top Five in Miss Universe 1964. Otherwise, Macy Shih earned the 1968 Miss Asia-Pacific title in Quezon City, Philippines. Finally, Patsy Wu was crowned Miss Queen of the Pacific Quest in Australia in 1969.

During Cold War, Taiwan was not the only Chinese territory in the pageants. Hong Kong, a British dependency from 1842 until July 1, 1997, also competed in the United States and London. But there’s more. The 24th Miss Universe was held in 1976 in Hong Kong, a few kilometers from the People’s Republic. In the subsequent decade, Eric Morley, Chairman of the Miss World Organization, chose HK to host the 1989 Miss World.

Goodbye Madame Chiang Ching!

After the fall of Madame Chiang Ching, an admirer of Sweden’s actress Greta Garbo, the new Chinese leaders, among them Deng Xiaoping, put an end to the Maoist policies. However, despite the end of Maoism, women weren’t allowed to compete in beauty pageants. That’s why China, on the other hand, decline to participate in the global contests in the 1990s.It was not until 2002 that the Marxist country held its first beauty contest. Since then, China was one of the last places, apart from the likes Vietnam, Cambodia and Mongolia, in the world to hold a contest. Before the Communists came to power in 1949, this nation had had several beauty queens.

Zhuo Ling — A Pioneer in China

Against all odds, Zhuo Ling was crowned Miss China Universe in the early 2000s. After winning the crown, she went to San Juan de Puerto Rico, host to Miss Universe 2002. Without the financial advantages of so many of the world’s beauty queens producers, Miss China participated in Miss Universe, where she had three tests: firstly, a physical fitness evaluation, (finished fourth); an evening gown competition (first place);and finally an exhaustive personal interview with 12 international judges, among them Tatjana Patitz (fashion model), Marisol Malaret (former Miss Universe), and Christopher McDonald (performer). During an interview for the New York Times, she told, “Generally when you’re picked as your country’s representative there are some special events and you’re given some tutoring, I didn’t have a chance to help my country. And I didn’t have a former Miss China at my side. It made me pretty sad.”

But China gave a more than satisfactory showing in its first-ever involvement in MU in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Surprisingly, Ms. Zhung, who speaks fluent English with an Asian accent, made history when was first runner-up, ahead of some of Latin America’s most beautiful girls, among them Vanessa Mendoza (Colombia’s representative) and Cinthya Lander (Miss Venezuela). According to the new results, she finished second, behind Justine Pasek, Miss Panama (Russia’s Oxana Fedorova had won but she was disqualified by the Miss Universe Organization).

Miss China

Once the People’s Republic of China became a member of the Miss Universe Pageant, several beauty contests popped up like never before in Shangai, Beijing and other Chinese metropolises, as well as Tibet. At the same time, Amelia Vega, 2003 Miss Universe, arrived in China for a visit. Likewise, it hosted a host of global events, including Miss International (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 ), and Miss Tourism Queen International (2004-2009 ). Since November 2003, up to 800 foreign beauty queens have arrived to Beijing and other cities, including entries from countries which does not have diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic.

From 2003 to 2005, Hainan, a tropical island in the Chinese Sea, hosted the Miss World competitions. Two years on, at the end of 2007, Zhang Zi-lin, a well-trained contestant, was crowned as the new Miss World, making it the first Communist country in the world to produce a Miss World title since 1989.