When I booked a flight from Tokyo to Madrid, I didn’t imagine I’d be dragging my suitcase round a night market in central China. But that’s exactly how things played out.
A layover of 8 hours in Wuhan forced my hand; there was absolutely no way I was going to sit in an airport that long when a 24-hour transit visa exists. An adventure beckoned.
Daidarabou / 大大坊
I love adventures but sometimes I feel that I am a stranger in my flat, because I am home so infrequently. This weekend, I would’ve maybe tried to take it easy (I can hear my friends’ laughter echo as I write this….) but I had to catch a train to somewhere. Yes, had to. Let me explain… Continue reading
Exploring Tokyo – Tenso Suwa Shrine
It can be easy to get into a routine and move through the city in the same pattern throughout the weeks. I find that I normally plan to go to a place to eat – head straight there, and then leave.
This means that I don’t explore as much as I should, take the time to wander the streets and see what I find. It also means that every time I meet someone it tends to be for eating. Although I naturally love this, sometimes I feel like I should include a few more activities in my life…. Continue reading
This weekend was what is known as a “sanrenkyu” in Japan, or in other words, a three-day holiday. Although the Japanese have by law 10 days paid holiday per year for just 6 months of service, increasing thereafter to 20 days, due to the extreme work culture – which, incidentally is one of the least efficient worldwide – long-suffering workers only take an average of 9 days a year.
This gives national holidays a particular significance as everyone can legitimately take a bit of break. Which means that every hotel in a popular can area will be literally fully booked.
Which means it is normally a terrible idea to try and book last minute.
Which is something I always seem to end up doing. Continue reading
Cōng yóubǐng / spring onion oil pancake
Would I write a blog post dedicated to an oil pancake, a simple street food snack? Why yes, yes I would. To me, this is what is being a foodie is all about.
There’s been a backlash against the term “foodie”. The argument is that it has lost it’s meaning … and in a way, it has. That’s because it’s drowning in meanings. It can be someone who knows a lot about food, someone who enjoys their food, or someone who really appreciates high quality food and is probably/possibly slightly snobbish.
I would class myself as planting both feet and an elbow(?) in all three categories. Junk food is definitely out, but I’m flexible when it comes to the health benefits (or not) of different food.
So, no, my street food does not have to cost £9.50 and be soaked in truffle oil (London, I’m looking at you!). Continue reading
Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang / Yong He Soy Milk King / 永和豆浆大王
I know I may have written that I want to be Italian, but there is one other country I would happily claim some culture from – and that’s Taiwan. It all began with a fantastically fun trip to Taipei back in 2012, which was then followed by encountering someone who would become one my closest friends – and even get me into trouble for laughing too loudly. And that someone happens to be Taiwanese. We would joke that we were twins separated at birth. Except when I fervently photographed my food – at those times, she would sigh and say, “Why are you more Asian than me?!”
But if there were another a reason that I should be Taiwanese, it’s the fact that they take breakfast very seriously. There is a culture of crowding round street vendors or restaurants with street seating, buying all kinds of freshly fried and steamed treats. The news that I can stuff my face for under 80元 (~260 yen) whilst sitting on the street surrounded by all the sights and smells of breakfasting was a clear signal that Taiwan is a place where my stomach belongs. At least, in the mornings. Continue reading
There are some cities which are the attraction and some that are merely the base from which to see the attractions. Everything I read about Kota Kinabalu lumped it in the latter category with a shout-out to the food.
In many ways, this is true. If you look at Kota Kinabalu with the tourist gaze, there are very few sparkly things to catch your eye. If you look at it, however, as a the hub of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, where people are living out their daily lives, you’ll still see a small and scruffy city, but one that has an immense vibrancy. I do not exaggerate when I say I could happily spend a few weeks there, despite a city centre so small that it’s walkable in less than 20 minutes. This praise is more than about making my stomach happy with the fantastically cheap and tasty offerings but rather there is something about the atmosphere that is very appealing. I just want to sit in a cafe and hang out. Continue reading