GalleryHong Kong Part 1

Our first week in the East was a blur of friends, food and foreign sounds and smells. We came to Hong Kong, in Matt's words, for 21 meals. And we were amongst friends for every one of them. Thanks again Keiyu, Joyce, Henry and Michelle.

It was a whirlwind of new tastes for me. There was succulent Beijing roast duck, (cha siu bao) sweet pork buns, and spicy chicken feet. There was also bits of pork wrapped in feathery light rice dumpling wrappers still stewing in a light broth. We tried hot pot filled with thin, marbled slices of beef, tender fish balls scraped fresh from a paddle, and fried fish skins that tasted like papadum. We had our fair share of sweet local crabs and an oversized crayfish covered in sauteed garlic (whose name in Cantonese means pissing cockroach). View Gallery »

Floods come to Bangkok

In the worst flooding in Thailand since the 1940s, Bangkok is now at risk. The last three months of monsoon flooding have taken the lives of 365 people, and put 600,000 people out of work from 14,000 companies (including factories for companies like Sony and Toshiba), according to the NYTimes. Up until now, most of the damage suffered has been in the north and central provinces.

Thailand's tourism industry, which is mostly to the south, has been little affected by the flooding. Last year Thailand attracted 15.8 million tourists and brought in $19 billion in profits, according to Bloomberg. According to CSMonitor, the government expects this year's floods to take 0.9% of GDP. The industry has been on the recovery from the 2004 tsunami that killed more than 8,000 people (including those ... View Post »

StorySometimes you find yourself holed up

Yesterday we had a wonderful bike ride, whirring around the city with a local Thai named Tap. We found him through a local bike tour company called Follow Me.

It was all very exhilarating - cycling down backalleys and over uneven, craggy cement and by little food stalls and street vendors that only the locals know about (see, you can only find them outside people's backdoors.)

It reminded me of the one time I visited the Amalfi coast in Italy and tried to walk my way from the tippy top of Ravelo all the way back to the town of Amalfi. Just as it was nearing dinner time my then-boyfriend and I found ourselves snaking down these tiny, tiny little backstreets stuffed with houses barely higher than ourselves. We noticed we were looking in on everyone's backdoor, which happened to ... View Story »

To the streets in Rio de Janeiro

Oh Brazil, how we miss your curves, your expression, your colors. How we miss your lyrical Portuguese and your breezy air. It is a life we will not soon forget. 

StoryDosa by touch

My parents' kitchen is like a mechanic's shop for all things seed and grain. In addition to all the blending, beating and creaming we all do in our kitchen, she now grinds her own grains with a dry stone mill and as of today can make her own dosas in a wet grinder that my aunt Mona got for her. Mona, Atimbear (my uncle) and Patti are here in the states until the end of October, visiting the family. 

Dosa is a southern Indian grain pancake made of mostly rice with some dal mixed in. It's fermented in the fridge in water and then ground until completely fine and swirled like a crepe on a hot griddle. And like anything fermented, it gets better with a little age. It's divine with all sorts of chutneys and fillings and things. If you've ever been to a fancy Indian restaurant you may have ... View Story »

An unexpected ending...

Mouse: 2; Humans: 1. Chester didn't make it back to Connecticut because he was too interested in jumping out of the little plastic mouse house we made for him - twice. And we caught him - once. We managed to keep him in a little house with some grass, bark and a jelly jar cap filled with water for two days. We couldn't figure out what he'd want to eat so we gave seeds, nuts, cheese, and crackers all a try; he's a pretty picky eater for a mouse. But damn can he run. The second time he ran all the way across the kitchen and finally got under the radiator. So we figure good for Chester, bad for his family back at home in Connecticut. We hope he finds some food, and not under a mouse trap. And we wish he would have considered, for a second, that we were not trying to fatten him up to kill him ... View Post »

Al Jazeera in Booker, Texas

A good friend of our roommate Doug's, Brazil-based Al Jazeera reporter Gabriel Elizondo, is traveling across the US to document American's reactions to 9/11. We had the pleasure of meeting him while he was running the half marathon in Rio two days before he left.

While Gabriel was en route to Oklahoma, he decided to make a detour and try to film a football game in Booker, Texas. This blog post is the result. Read the account and then check the comments.

Exploring cheap flights

We're starting to plan our next steps, and are looking for dynamic ways to search for cheap travel. While not exactly dynamic or comprehensive enough, this Kayak feature is interesting to play with. It allows you to explore flight prices others have found on Kayak starting from a fixed place and allowing you to select a given time. Enjoy!

A video from our roommate, journalist Douglas Engle:

"Brazilian Soldiers patrol near the Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro Sept. 7, 2011 after a night of shootouts in the area. According to reports, members of a drug trafficking gang tried to retake the slum from the soldiers, who occupy it in a "pacification" operation since Nov. 2010."

GuideRemind me what this costs in the US

We thought this was like if we had a cereal in the states: Aspertame! But apparently it means sweet. Hell, Google translate thinks it means Cornflakes. So who knows?! Also, since when did Tony the Tiger's fists emanate white fire?

We're starting to learn about values and prices in Brazil. We've been told to expect to pay up to a 100% markup just from import taxes alone. So, at minimum, we wager that things should be at least 200% of what we would expect them to be, including what US brands would cost in New York City. But even some Brazilian products, including some beers, are more expensive than the imports.

For one, Brazil is on a mission to downgrade import taxes on beers so that all those World Cup goers can get their home beer for less than the local one. Of course they could just make Brahma real cheap and everyone would drink it, but why do that? Either way, those discounts have not reached this local store we visited in Botafogo. Remind me, how much does this stuff cost in the US?