Author Archives: Lena

South East Asia Food Court Etiquette

South East Asia Food Court Etiquette

If you consider yourself a foodie, you should definitely consider making a pilgrimage to one of the many hawker centers that are hugely popular with the locals in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Before you unbutton the top button on your pants and head out the door, I’d like to tell you about the rules at these establishments so you don’t look silly in front of the locals. Everyone is there to get yummy, cheap food so people will not tolerate a foreigner getting in the way of their goal.

Step One: Overcome your fears of street foods. Hawker centers are the source for very cheap meals that are often better than restaurants, where you will pay at least double. Hawker centers are open buildings without air-conditioning housing a few rows small food stalls that serve a various local specialties as well as favorites from neighboring nations. You can typically find your favorites from the following cuisines: Malay, Indonesian, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Middle Eastern. Also, you can find fresh juices, desserts. Everything is almost always prepared fresh after you order.

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Foods of India

Foods of India

Let’s see…What did we eat in India? A better question is: what didn’t we eat in India?

I kept telling Aaron that THIS is the best food of the trip so far (so far! Singapore was next, which blew our mind as foodies). First, it’s important to remind you that we traveled all over this vast country. Generally, Indian cuisine is divided into two major categories: North Indian and South Indian. When you go to an Indian restaurant in a western country, you will get a menu full of North Indian dishes. South Indian is hard to come by in the West. North Indian dishes are heavier and more greasy than the South Indian dishes, which have a light coconut base to them most of the time. Also, it is more difficult to find meat dishes in the South. Let me take you through our Nomnomnom journey through India:

In the overview of India blog, I already mentioned an awesome street snack we got in Mumbai: chicken tikka wrap – not to be missed:
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India: You Either Love It or Hate It.

India: You Either Love It or Hate It.

India. Wow, where do I begin? I jolted awake as we were coming in for the landing and saw endless lights of Mumbai pre-sunrise. I always get a rush of adrenaline and get really excited when we land in a new place. I long for being overly stimulated by all new sounds, views, temperatures and sights right as you step out of the airport. Mumbai definitely served up all that and more. As our taxi drove away from the airport, I was all eyes taking in this city before it woke up: endless buildings, people sleeping on the streets, piles of garbage and people drinking their first chais of the day. That’s when I thought:

We are not in the Greek Isles anymore.

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Physical and Emotional State of Travel

Physical and Emotional State of Travel

Something that Colin Wright, one of my favorite travel bloggers, was discussing in his My Exile Lifestyle ebook about his travel lifestyle really resonated with me. He talks about a time in his life when he was feeling simply content – in the middle of the extremes of human potential. He describes it as this:

I never felt incredible euphoria or extreme pain. Instead of reaching peaks and valleys of human experience, my capacity was limited to a small region right in the center.

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Backpacks and Bunkbeds Interview

Backpacks and Bunkbeds Interview

I was honored to be interviewed by Neil from Backpacks and Bunkbeds about my trip around the world and my general obsession with travel. He finds awesome travel bloggers in order to pick their brain and I’m thrilled to be this week’s interview. Here is a bit from our conversation:

Neil: Tell us a little bit about what you’re up to at the moment. Best bits, worst bits etc.
Me: My husband and I have been making our way around the world in the last 4 months. We’ve been to Iceland, Scotland, England, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Greece and India this far. We are currently traveling through India, which was a bit of a culture shock after the Greek Isles. After getting over it, we are having a great time exploring the cuisine, culture and currently beautiful backwaters of Kerala. It is such a unique country, like none I’ve seen before in my years of travel. Though it might take some getting used to, it is worth visiting, exploring and eating you way through, I know I am! Best food of the trip so far.

Neil: First travel experience?
Me: When USSR finally fell and Russians were able to travel, my family took a long weekend trip to Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden. I was blown away by the experience. I was 13. The next year, I crossed the Atlantic with my family and moved to the U.S. – that’s when the travel bug was truly planted. I get a high from adjusting to new cultures – it was a tough transition blending in with American teenagers in a high school located in the middle of a corn field, Ohio.

Neil: Future travel plans?
Me: On this trip we are planning to explore South East Asia after India. Right now the plan is Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong. From there, we are headed to South America. Argentina, Brazil and Peru are musts but we haven’t planned that far in advance yet…

For the full interview please go here

Love at First Sight

Love at First Sight

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As soon as I arrived in Istanbul, that very first day, after our tiring 16 hour bus ride from Trabzon, when we got dropped off by a clueless taxi driver at a side street off of İstiklal Avenue and had to walk for another kilometer, and ask a kebab stand owner for directions, I had already fallen in love with this city. Bam! It’s happens so fast. It’s the same feeling I got when visiting my home city again, St. Petersburg and first stepping foot in London. Just like those places, Istanbul immediately felt comfortable and home-like to me. Once again I thought to myself: “Wow, I can really live here.”

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