Food, Tipple, Travel

A Tokyo Minute

There was always something in the air in Tokyo. Some call it a pulse, an energy – yet unlike its counterparts across the globe, in this city there’s an odd sense of calm amidst the madness, a stratosphere of zen that if you just reach for, the rest of the clatter dissolves away. A giant mute button as you watch it all go by, close enough to see it all, distant enough to observe it all.

So much of Japan and things Japanese have become almost a caricature of sorts. That restaurant where Uma Thurman beat up a bunch of ninjas! Men in traditional wear serve you food on paddles while yelling up a storm (I don’t understand a word but it sounds foreign and fun!)

It’s hard not to fall in love with the food in Japan. It’s beauty – inside and out, for the eyes and the palate.

Some cities have the luxury of a rural escape whenever the urban life gets all too much. Here you get a couple of hours of fresh mountain air and a sunset in silence, before returning to the city for your last meal of the day.

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In my mind this was the Earth and life as God intended it to be, before the centuries of civilisations lay waste to everything that was natural and green and beautiful

Travel

Flores

Flores, Azores :
In my mind this was the Earth and life as God intended it to be, before the centuries of civilisations lay waste to everything that was natural and green and beautiful

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Some cities stun and awe and make you fall in love at first sight; but then there’s the one that’s like the stranger you inexplicably feel comfortable with over a first meeting – these are the ones that feel like home away from home.

Mine is a place where I can walk around in Lululemons all day; where the avocados are creamy and firm; where the first inhale of a flat white can send tingles to my toes; and where there’s always a good bottle of red wine at dinner.

Travel

Some cities stun and awe and make you fall in love at first sight; but then there’s the one that’s like the stranger you inexplicably feel comfortable with over a first meeting – these are the ones that feel like home away from home.

Mine is a place where I can walk around in Lululemons all day; where the avocados are creamy and firm; where the first inhale of a flat white can send tingles to my toes; and where there’s always a good bottle of red wine at dinner.

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Travel

Persepolis

History has a way of rendering all things insignificant. They say there’s no such thing as an original idea anymore.

And what of our own lives filled with their own trials and tribulations? Of romance and tragedy, of suffering and of celebration? When the earth has lived for millions of years before your time and a billion other souls have come before you, every event in our life – somewhere, someplace, sometime ago – has already been lived by someone else.

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Travel

for Politics & Power

My visit to Iran had restored my faith in having a conversation just because two people were interested in what the other had to say – without an agenda, a profit motive, or because one had a point to make.

Here we sat, ensconced in the warm acapella tones of the locals singing. We couldn’t understand a word of the Persian songs, but their beauty was as stirring as the gold and amber of the sunset hitting the arches of Khaju Bridge, their stories as full as the centuries of secrets held in these walls of bricks and stone. We completely lose track of time. Time is a fluid concept when your entire existence is barely a speck in what these 17th century bridges have seen.

The latest set of sanctions hurt not the regime but the people. My heart aches at the thought of the ones who have to suffer the real, everyday consequences of these sanctions – being unable to purchase daily necessities and medical products; the increasing isolation as the world backs further away; the sheer loneliness at knowing your passport (and salary earned in Iranian Rials) won’t ever let you see the rest of the world. These are the ones who pay the price for politics and power – the people whose smiles were genuine, who offered help without asking for anything in return when we were in need, the curious who earnestly wanted to know more about where I came from and what I thought of their country.

No other country has touched me in the way Iran has. It’s there in every warm cup of saffron tea; in every “Salam!”, and in every smile you got from a stranger on the street.

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Food, Travel

Penang Street Food: Char Koay Teow

Char Koay Teow: one of the many reasons why one should always arrive in Penang with space in their waistbands. This is a popular street food dish of flat rice noodles and yellow wheat noodles fried in garlic, sweet soya sauce and lard, with ingredients such as Chinese waxed sausage, fishcake, beansprouts and cockles.

Here in Penang, the Malaysians use duck eggs instead of the usual chicken eggs (like we do in Singapore), and that lends an extra richness to the flavours in this dish.

Tiger Char Koay Teow – Jalan Dato KeramatGeorge Town

Lorong Selamat (Kafe Heng Huat) – 10400 George Town

No competition, Lorong Selamat wins hands down. Look out for the grumpy auntie with the charcoal fire stove and her weathered wok.

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Diving, Travel

Of an Afternoon’s Dream

Many a Malapascua afternoon was spent burrowed in this hammock reading in crisp jungle air, or chatting lazily on the beach while scrunching toes in the sand.

On one particular afternoon I sat out a dive and listened to the manager of the dive shop talk about his hopes and dreams for his son. On this little island, where every tiny business enterprise hangs on the continued existence of the thresher sharks swimming 30 metres beneath the surface, nobody dares to dream too big of an education and a career in a big city. How could you here? When even the nearest hospital is a good hour’s boat ride away? But thanks to his German customers-turned-friends (after more than a decade of their Malapascua dive trips) – he now does. Somewhere between their millionth dive and the surface intervals, the couple had turned to their trusted dive guide and volunteered to sponsor his son’s university education in Europe.

Can money buy happiness? From the look on his face as he spoke – Yes, I guess sometimes it can. That along with gratitude, pride, and hope.

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