What is Lao cuisine? I arrived in Laos knowing next to nothing about it, and was eager to learn more. As a first step, I signed up for a one-day cooking school in Luang Prabang, highly regarded and once visited by Gourmet’s Ruth Reichl for her television series.
“See you next time when it’s drier.” That was the message we received from Poom, a Bangkok resident and family friend who had graciously agreed to host us, gently telling us that—in the face of Bangkok’s “worst floods in fifty years”—it probably wasn’t the best time to come for a visit.
We recently completed 22.5 hours of door-to-door travel. This marathon featured a six-hour drive, an international red eye, a short domestic flight, and a lot of sitting around at airports. This was not in the original itinerary, but with the flooding in Bangkok, we made some changes (more on that in a later post). I thought I’d share some tips we’ve picked up about surviving situations like this:
The Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Crossing through the Main Gateway and approaching the Taj on foot (Jude in backpack), we gazed up at the magnificent palace—resplendent in the North-Indian sunshine, a shining white beacon visible from miles around, the crowning achievement of the Mughal Empire—and it was easy to see how it made the list.
Sitting on the roof-deck of the small Delhi hotel, fireworks exploded overhead as we devoured plate after plate of delectable curry. It was the end of our first day in India, and also the first day of the Diwali Festival (the country’s largest festival, which also marks the beginning of the Indian New Year).
We were flattered when Global Basecamps (a company that focuses on sustainable travel) recently asked us to contribute to its blog. Here is a link to the piece we submitted (“Bathing with and without Swimsuits in Budapest’s Thermal Waters”). As we’ve blogged, Budapest is one of our favorite cities. The thermal bath scene there was definitely a highlight of our visit. If you enjoy the post, please “like” or “share” it!
For Jude, the best part of visiting Budapest was definitely going on a pony. Jude and I were hanging out at a small petting zoo in City Park (while mom soaked in one of the city’s thermal baths nearby) when we saw a little girl (maybe 3 or 4) taking a pony ride. Jude was captivated, but didn’t want to get too close as he has always been scared of large animals. When she was finished, I told him, “Now it’s Jude’s turn.” “No!” he screamed. Sensing that he would have a change of heart, I picked him up while the screaming continued, and placed him on the pony. I had to wave off the woman in charge who gestured in surprise that I would put a screaming child on top of her pony. Sure enough, the screaming quickly subsided and Jude ended up loving the experience. He talks about it still pretty much constantly, and even did a second ride to show mom how brave he had been after she got out of the bath.
Paprika is ubiquitous in Hungary, and comes in many different variations (certainly, many more than I’m used to seeing at home), from mild and sweet to very hot. While visiting Budapest, we made three trips to the Great Market Hall and I spent a lot of time looking at the different kinds of paprika sold there. I asked one vendor the difference between two types of spicy paprika she was selling, thinking it was the level of heat, and she told me instead that the peppers were grown in different areas of Hungary, each with its own unique flavor.