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.

Route Across Asia

You know, sometimes I can read your mind. If I tell you to get on a trip from St. Petersburg in Russia across the whole Asia and ending up in Bali, I am sure you are thinking: “I want to get on this trip”. So here it is a few words of what this amazing offer is about and maybe I tempt you to discover more about this route across Asia!

Many times we have heard about the train that runs across Russia into Mongolia. The Trans Siberian. I have personally never taken this experience but anytime I hear about it there is something that shakes in my stomach. Even if it is just a train, the whole story about crossing Siberia sounds by itself like an adventure.

Get your flights to Europe, take a connection to St. Petersburg, and you are at the edge of beginning the route across Asia, probably the dream trip of your life. You will run across the vast Russian landscapes in a guided tour offered by an adventure travel company, entering then Mongolia with the enormous impact between Western and Eastern cultures. Visiting many cities in Mongolia, including its capital, you will continue your journey into China, Beijing, the Great Wall, down into central cities and towns, back to the business world across Hong Kong, and then turning left to explore the countries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. After exploring these amazing cultures into real paradise, the trip will follow down to Malaysia, crossing and visiting the state of Singapore and finally entering Indonesia to end at the eastern part of it, in Bali.

The way this company prepares this trips in in a group of between 1 and 16 persons, with an expert guide for each country, and using several means of transport, many times local transport in order to make you feel the real life of these lands. No luxury should be expected, but if you love to be in deep contact with other cultures and experience life in it’s primitive sense, then this trip is for you. Staying at local guest-houses and cottages will be normal, although some good quality hotels have been included in the route. Some meals will be included with the price, which is probably the most astonishing feature of the trip. You could get all this for only 5000 Euros (US$7750).

Having experience in this market, I must lower my head and admire with respect these great guys who are able to place a guided 103 days adventure for this price. The only thing I can say is that I won’t miss this trip, and tell you guys that if you have the money and the time to do it, don’t think it twice. It “has” to be good, just because of how it looks when you draw the lines in the map!

3 Best Places to Travel in Asia

Asia has been recognized all throughout the world as the continent that houses heaps of marvelous beaches and rich cultural heritage. In fact, many Western travelers find several countries in Asia as their haven and perfect places to relax their body from a whole year round of tiring activities. What we have here are top Asian destinations that you and your family will definitely love.
 
Thailand
 
The country of Thailand receives millions of tourist visits every year. Despite some troubles affecting its current government, visitors and travelers are not affected with it since all they want is to have a place to relax and enjoy a perfect holiday. Spots like Phuket and Bangkok are two of the most visited regions in Thailand that boast their rich and crystal clear beaches.
 
Indonesia
 
People most associate Indonesia with the devastating tsunami that hit the country and few of its neighbors in 2004. But honestly, Indonesia is more than what we think it is. The country prides hundreds of world renowned tourist destinations such as beaches, live museums, and magnificent scenic beauty.
 
The towering temples and grand pagodas in the country are among the most popular destinations in Indonesia that continue to receive millions of visitor each year. Travelers, historians, and other visitors never miss to take photographs of these places during their visit.
 
Adding to that heritage are the enticing beaches populating the country. Bali in particular is a world class destination where pristine beaches are abundant. Hollywood movie stars often spend their vacation here and many newly webs are also taking pleasure in the island.
 
Philippines
 
Dubbed as the Pearl of the Orient, Philippines dearly proved that glory by showcasing tons of tourist attractions present in the archipelago. The country is not just home to luxurious beach clubs such as those built in Boracay, but also to compassionate and loving citizens. The country is also a sanctuary of several endangered species as the spotted dear.
 
For tourists who love to go by the beach, the country can provide many places to spend a fabulous vacation. Aside from Aklan where the famous Boracay can be found, places like Negros, Panay, Apo, and Palawan are also good places to spend a beach holiday.