Tag Archives: Travel

Airplane food upgrades to include banh mi

The hip airline company, Virgin America, has recently upgraded their in-flight menu to include Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches!  I have never been a fan of airplane food, but banh mi seems to be quite a convenient and yummy alternative to your conventional in-flight cuisine.  While Ipork_sandwich290.20090926012834.20091001204656 haven’t had the chance to try Virgin’s banh mi, I’ve been told that it actually costs around US$10 for one.  I think I’ll do my wallet a favor and hit up my local Vietnamese deli before I travel next time.

Thanks Danny for the link!



Japanese robots get no love in down economy

Even robots are losing their jobs these days.  In Japan, industrial production has slowed by 40 percent, forcing investments for robot innovation to take a backseat.  Factory robots sit idly, waiting for the next order of products.  And even though they are cool and creative, luxury robots like a $4000-robotic-feeding-arm have become an impractical luxury.

Still, what I wouldn’t give to get one of these guys to tackle the seriously overwhelming mountain of dishes in my kitchen sink:


For the full article, check out the NY Times article and slideshow.


Indian weddings reveal sari-loving fob within

7.19.09 002I love dressing up, particularly when it involves 9-yards of gorgeous sari fabric, bindis and lots of bangles.  Last weekend I attended my friend’s cousin’s wedding, and I’m now convinced that nothing delights (or perhaps amuses) Indian people more than seeing a random Chinese girl dressed in a sari.  My love for all things Indian stems from my growing up in Singapore, where Indians make up the island’s third largest ethnic group and where the president is Indian. Either that or I was Indian in my past life…


P.S. Check out my article on cross-cultural weddings, here!

Salty watermelon Kit Kats satisfy fob’s sweet tooth

Growing up, my parents always served watermelon with tiny dish of salt on the side.  At the time, this practice boggled me–why in the world would you want to put salt on something that was meant to be sweet?   Still, I mustered the courage to test this myself, and, to my surprise, found that a sprinkle of salt made the watermelon sweeter.

Watermelon kitkat

A few skeptical friends have dismissed my “salt on watermelon” habit as just another one of my weird eating rituals.  Well, I recently came across a bag of Watermelon and Salt Kit Kats at my local Japanese market.  Looks like this trend seems to be popular enough to be incorporated into Kit Kat flavors!

While I don’t completely understand the science behind how salt makes watermelon sweeter, I’ve noticed it’s a common practice in South East Asian countries to serve salt with tropical fruits, such as sprinkling salt on pineapple, or salty/sour plum powder on guava.

Next time you eat watermelon, try the salt sweetener trick!


Bourdain hails Singapore hawker centers foodie’s heaven

“If you love food, this might be the best place on earth,” celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain says of Singapore.  Bourdain, who has traveled to Singapore seven times, is a huge fan of hawker centers, or open-air food courts, which were the training ground for my foodie palate.


The hardest part about eating at hawker centers?  The abundance of choice.  Still, my favorite dish has to be Hokkien Mee, a delicious stir-fry of noodles, prawns, squid and pork.  And, as with everything I eat, I need a good helping of hot sauce.  Other favorites include the famous Hainanese Chicken Rice, Malaysian Nasi Lemak, spicy BBQ sambal stingray (my inquiries on where to buy stingray here in the US didn’t go over so well) and carrot cake (the Chinese pan-fried version made of white radish).  So good!

Strangely, Singaporean cuisine hasn’t generated the popularity and hype in the US that other Asian cuisines–like Japanese, Vietnamese, and even Burmese–have.  Looks to me like there’s a huge opportunity for the next hot food trend: America’s first Singaporean hawker center!

Check out this awesome clip from Bourdain’s Travel Channel show, “No Reservations,” featuring my hometown’s foodie hotspot.


Alternative transportation in Asia still greenest and cheapest

It might not be the speediest form of transportation, but it’s certainly environmentally-friendly.   In this new era of hybrids cars and natural gas vehicles, nothing is still quite as green as the bicycle trishaws  found in Asia.  These bicycle-driven vehicles are one of my favorite forms of transportation because it provides a unique view on the city that you can’t get from an air-conditioned car.

Different countries have their own names for these three-wheeled taxis–samlor in Thailand, trisikad in the Philippines, saika in Burma–but in all cases, they are zero-emissions and very affordable.  But, as with anything in Asia, make sure you bargain for the ride before you get on!


Thanks to my brother, Duncan, for the pic from Beijing!


Fobs prove versatile in restroom use

On my last trip back to Singapore, I realized that we fobs are quite talented in our ability to use a variety of toilet structures.  In fact, during just the commute time from San Francisco to Singapore, I had already switched toilet styles three times:

jet-airplane-toilet1. The Western-Style Sitting Toilet

Location:  Cathay Pacific flight CX879

Tips:  For hygiene reasons, use a seat liner.  If there aren’t any, line the toilet seat with toilet paper!

2. The Japanese “Washlet” with built-in bidet509px-JapaneseToiletBidet

Location: Tokyo Narita Airport during my layover

Tips:  Don’t freak out.  The water might startle you a little a first, but after using it, you’ll wish you had one of these in your home, too!  The bidet’s high-tech console, located next to the toilet seat, includes functions such as water pressure adjustment, water temperature adjustment and drying. They are usually accompanied with “sound” buttons that mimic flushing noises to hide the shameful plops your poop makes.  My favorite feature is the heated seat that warms your butt on cold winter nights.

3.  The Squat ToiletSquat_Toilet_Shanghai

Location: Singapore Changi Airport

Tips:  If you’ve never used one before, practice the Asian Squat a couple times first to get your balance right.  Also, make sure you’re positioned in the middle of the squat–there’s nothing worse than bad aiming! These squat toilets are still very common, and are even found in posh office buildings.