Out of the 14,000+ islands in Indonesia, we only made it to the widely beloved Bali (which we had to see for ourselves) and its neighbouring island of Java. But even with our very surface experience, it was evident that Indonesia is home to an incredible amount of diversity - just not in the sense that we’re used to back home. There aren’t a lot of immigrants here, there isn’t a ton of international food, but there are migrants within the islands and there is a wealth of regional food that gets transferred throughout the country.
The food scene in Vietnam is all about the masters of one - restaurants named after one dish, serving one dish. You’ll find places with “Bun Cha,” “Pho,” or “Bun Bo Nam Bo” in their name, and the only options you have are whether your Bun Cha comes with or without spring rolls, whether your Pho has rare or well done beef, whether you want Bun Bo Nam Bo or nothing. The only way for these people to stay in business is to make their one dish really well, so you can feel confident that you’re going to get an excellent meal.
There is no such thing as ‘bad’ food in Thailand. While it's true that there are both tourist-Thai and local-Thai restaurants, even the tourist ones serve up pretty exceptional food. One week into our trip and we were still expecting disappointment every time we opted for a sit down meal rather than a take-away local meal from a market, but every time we were shocked by the results. Whether we ordered pandan-wrapped fried chicken, a classic curry, or some cashew chicken cooked on an open fire, there was no such thing as a bad meal.
From the moment we landed in Phnom Penh to the last meal in Siem Reap, Cambodia showed us a world of opportunities and paths less travelled. The country hands you endless new smells, tastes, and sights that you turn into your own adventure - sometimes it works out for the better and sometimes it doesn't. But that's the fun of it! You really learn to be spontaneous here.
That's the most common question we've asked each other in the last week. For us, this trip is less about the sights and more about the smells, tastes and textures. Don't get me wrong, the sights are important and beautiful, and we've loved learning more about Cambodian culture and history, but that's just the side dish. The main course is the main course.
You've just arrived in Taipei and you want to get your hands on some of the best oolong tea on the planet. You go online and do some searching but can't find any conclusive information. The stores you check have wildly different prices and you don't know why. Which stores can you trust? Is it better to buy at a farmer's market? Do you buy the nicely packaged tea with beautiful labels, or will all that packaging just artificially inflate the price?
As you've seen from Reid's previous post, we made it to Taiwan!
The first two weeks with my family were a great introduction to the island. We ate and shopped our hearts out in Taipei, caught waves in the coastal region of Kenting, then harvested tea and soaked in the sunrise in the mountains around Alishan. I'm really lucky to have the family that I do.
We're settled at last. It's been a crazy busy/really relaxed couple of weeks of hanging with the Lo fam while we settled into our temporary home, but we've finally got a bit of time to breathe and to write. For those of you who care enough about us to notice the drop in content, but don't know where we've gone, the answer is Taiwan.