Now that our time in Southeast Asia has come to an end, it’s time to look back on the spectacular sweets, eats, and food from the street.
Papaya salad: A classic Laos dish packed with complex flavors and tons of heat. It is mixed with shredded unripe papaya, lime, chili peppers, garlic, sugar, green tomatoes, and a variety of other ingredients. This dish is prepared with a mortar and pestle and mixed right in front of you. This is so you can give input about how many chili peppers to add, how much sugar, and how you’d like it to taste. Sour, spicy, and perfect for sharing with friends at the local night market.
Thai iced tea: Heaven in a glass. This tasty treat is quite different from the American style. It is rich, thick, orange in color, and served with milk poured right on top. We may have ordered one of these bad boys at every coffee shop in Thailand. So when you have the chance to try this super sweet concoction, you may want to make it two.
Mango and sticky rice: Rice as dessert? Yeah, that’s what I originally thought, but don’t shoot it down until you try it! One of the best times we had this dish was with fresh mango fruit, coconut milk ice cream, and black sticky rice. Refreshing, sweet, and rich.
Thai fruit: We could probably write an entire post about this category, but we’ll keep it brief. You may see some familiar fruits here such as bananas and mangos, but head to the market and prepare to be blown away by variety. Thai fruit is just as beautiful to look at as it is to eat. Vibrant purple dragonfruit and deep plum mangosteens line the street markets luring in customers with their intoxicatingly sweet scent. A popular fruit you’ll spot at the markets is rambutan. Don’t be fooled when you see it though. It appears to be a sea urchin-like creature but is actually a sweet fruit with a clear center. If you’re not a fan of eating whole fruit, we would recommend it in a fruit shake.
Yakult: This intriguing little drink actually hails from Japan. After spotting kids on the street and people on the train sipping this mini drink, I had to find out what it was. It’s actually a nutritious drink filled with tons of bacteria for good digestion. It tastes like melted sherbet and is devilishly cute.
Thai seasonings: When you sit down at a restaurant in the US you’ll expect to see salt, pepper, and ketchup at the table. In Thailand, this is not the case. At basically every restaurant and food stand you’ll spot a basket filled with condiments for 4 flavors: sweet, spicy, salty, and sour. As you taste your food it’s common to add whichever flavor you prefer.
Well, there you have it. Our favorite bits and bites from Southeast Asia. Can’t wait to go back and try some more!
Tell any backpacker that you’re visiting Laos and they’ll fire this question at you: “are you going tubing in VangVieng?!” What started off as a few travelers floating on inner tubes down the river with local children has turned into an infamous floating bar crawl. How it works is you stop by the tubing office to pay admission and a deposit for renting an inner tube. A tuktuk drives up to the start of the Nom Song River and drops you off. At this point you can hop on your floating device and coast along the rapid river to find a specific bar or just follow the crowd. The first bar on the water was pretty bumping, so we decided to stop. As we climbed the stairs, we saw a water gun filled with whiskey to welcome the party people in. The crowd consisted of fun-loving backpackers decked out in neon colored clothing, spray-painted bodies, and buckets of drinks in hand. Everyone was chilling and talking when someone shouted “whiskey train!” We stepped back and observed a mass of travelers assemble into a line sitting on the floor while bar employees ran up and down the train pouring Tiger whiskey into the thirsty travelers’ mouths. When the crowd started dwindling, we grabbed our tubes and crossed to the second bar where Lao guys threw out ropes to pull us in. We spent a bit of time here dancing in the rain before our crew moved on to the next spot. We decided to travel to the “bar with a slide” so our group could give it a go. This bar had a huge waterslide, lots of dancing platforms, and a volleyball mudpit. After getting the waterslide fix, our final bar stop was at Mr. LaoLao where the rain was pouring and the music was rocking. Kim and I started the party by dancing on the platforms to lure tubers in. Mr. LaoLao’s was cranking out a killer playlist filled with Chris Brown, Katy Perry, and Ke$ha and passing out headbands sporting “I Love Laos.” When the sun started to set, we organized our group to cross the river, get a tuktuk back into town, and return with tubes in hand to receive our $40,000 deposit back. Let’s just say easier said than done. We made it back muddy, soaked, and exhausted after surviving our totally tube-ular adventure.
What country are you most excited for?
Coley: Thailand! I’m a sucker for markets. So just the fact that we’re going to a floating market, flower market, and street markets? SOLD!
Kim: Well obviously I’m excited for each country for different reasons, but if I HAD to pick one I’d say New Zealand because the scenery will be unbelievable and we have some pretty crazy adventures planned. Thailand is definitely a close second because it will be completely unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before.
What are your pet peeves of other travelers?
Coley: Living up to the “American travler” stereotype. For example: expecting everyone to speak English, being loud and obnoxious, high maintenance, etc.
Kim: Ughhh I cannot stand travelers who don’t appreciate culture or who are culturally insensitive. I just don’t see the point in going halfway around the world so you can just do everything exactly the same as at home.
What qualities make a good travel partner?
Coley: Kimmy Kimmy Cocoa Puff is a real go-getter. She is super adventurous and delightfully hilarious.
Kim: Coley Ravioli will be great because she’s pretty go-with-the-flow, has an uncanny ability sleep almost anywhere, and knows how to have a good time.
Do you think something will go wrong?
Coley: More than likely, but every misadventure is part of the experience.
Kim: Yes. That’s half the fun though right?
What is your favorite international dessert?
Coley: I’m a big fan of gelato, but since we’ll be quite a ways from Italy, I’m looking forward to trying pavlova!
Kim: I loved pavlova and Tim Tams from Australia. Also, I hear New Zealand has this awesome ice cream called Hokey Pokey, so I’m really looking forward to trying that.
Coley: To hear? English. To impersonate? Southern.
Describe your travel style.
Coley: Low maintenance. Eager to learn. Ready to have a good time.
Kim: Organized but spontaneous at the same time. I try to do as much as I possibly can in the time that I have. I’d much rather go out, explore, and have an adventure than lay on the beach and relax.
What are 3 things you couldn’t leave home without?
Coley: Camera, chapstick, & comfy shoes
Kim: Camera, journal, and my favorite pair of jeans
If you could choose a celebrity to travel with, who would it be?
Coley: Danny DeVito (preferably as Frank from Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
Kim: Umm…does Jim from The Office count?
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten!?
Kim: Probably kangaroo…tastes like chicken 🙂
What’s your favorite place you’ve been so far?
Coley: Innsbruck, Austria. It’s simply charming.
Kim: Melbourne, Australia is the perfect city in my opinion. I’m really excited we’ll be going back to spend 5 days in Melbourne so I can really explore it more. Ask me again after this trip and we’ll see if my answer changes.
What are you going to miss most about home?
Coley: My whole family! My nephew will be turning 1 in July, so I’ll be missing his birthday.
Kim: Mexican food, hot showers, and some privacy
What’s your favorite cereal?
Coley: Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Kim: Hands down, Cinnamon Toast Crunch…a childhood favorite.
3 things you’re planning to cross off your bucket this list summer?
Coley: Ride an elephant in Thailand, go zorbing in New Zealand, and tubing in Laos
Kim: Bunjee jump in New Zealand, ride an elephant in Thailand, and blackwater raft