Monday, December 30, 2013

Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Towers

My last post mentioned the Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Towers.  I thought I'd provide a photo so you get an idea of this massive architectural behemoth towering over Singapore's humid skyline. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Singa pouring

Like so many generations of sailors and traitors before us we pass through Singapore, using this humid, hospitable city as a stopover on our journey to somewhere else.  The late afternoon rain opened up on us like a curtain to a great show.  A steady patter of raindrops splashed onto our hotel window.  Now I'm not sure whether it will be worth it to risk a trip to the top of the Marina Bay Sands.

At fifty seven stories tall, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and towers offers the best views over Singapore.  Its observation deck, which stretches over the top of three towers, resembles a huge canoe floating above the city.  Even if you don't purchase an observation ticket you can still ride the elevator to the top where you'll be swiftly ushered to a swank outdoor bar.  Tourists all around vying for the best spot to snap their photos of the humid skyline.  You'll be reminded (by the drink prices) that the glass of wine you're enjoying is your observation ticket. 

Singapore has played its role once more.  It's welcomed another set of travelers and provided respite for their onward journey.  Tomorrow another flight awaits; another curtain will open and a new southeast Asian adventure will begin. Off to Penang Malaysia to meet up with family.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Chúc Mừng Năm Mới" (Happy New Year) Ho Chi Minh Style

Ho Chi Minh City greets us with the hot humidity that only a Southeast Asian city of 7 million can. Mopeds snake through the streets as we make our way to the local cafe for another glorious glass of cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee with condensed milk). The sweetness of this ice cold thick concoction lingers as the refreshing icy-ness of the drink unleashes the caffeine. My heart rate throttles up like a two cycle moped engine. Ready to hit the streets again.

Last night after a delicious dinner, my friend Jeremy and I stumbled upon Saigon's New Year's party preparations which were in full swing. A huge street stage that stretched on for half a block was surrounded by locals on their mopeds flocking to catch a glimpse of a performer spinning a huge metal cube in the air-- obviously a dress rehearsal for Monday night's New Year's street party. With the sound system fully tested and cube juggler rehearsal complete I think the applause rising from the throng of mopeds signaled that the party can begin!

"Chúc Mừng Năm Mới" (Happy New Year) Ho Chi Minh City!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Big Bird and a Tale of Bibimbap

Part of the excitement of travel for me is the journey itself. How we get there is sometimes as fun as why we go and what we're going to do. We are flying Korean Air so this afforded us the opportunity to fly one of the most advanced airliners in the world-- oh and by the way-- the largest! This big bird is the Airbus A-380. A behemoth double decker plane outfitted with a swanky all Absolute vodka cocktail lounge up top and a duty free boutique lounge on the lower deck. Unfortunately our tickets in coach did not grant us admission up the stairs to where the vodka flowed. Oh well, made the best of the duty free boutique if just for a place to stretch and window shop.

Once back at our seats and ready to tuck into the meal service "Lost in Translation" sets in. I'm so proud I've just ordered the Korean specialty Bibimbap (sliced meat and mixed yummy veggies and rice that you garnish with sesame oil and chili sauce). My tray is placed in front of me, I peel back the warm foil blanket to reveal a regular "westerner" meal! Do the flight attendants not know I can handle the heat? Please, please can I have the Korean food? I promise I won't turn red and run for the lavatory. The attendant is gracious and prompt once she realizes I am part of the 1%; a westerner with Asian taste buds. Thanks Anthony Bourdain.

My Bibimbap bowl hosted a delicious medley of mushrooms, rice, veggies, pickled cucumber Kimchi, and of course chili paste and sesame oil. Mix to your liking and enjoy!

Belly full and chili paste mini tube packed away to show off to friends when back home, I was now ready to risk being caught sneaking up the staircase to partake of the Vodka.

A quick connection in Seoul and then, if all goes as planned, Good Morning Viet Nam! We arrive in Ho Chi Minh city (still known by most as Saigon) late so we will battle the jet lag and dream of that wonderful butter roasted coffee bean java that awaits us in the morning!

*Further exploration: Bibimbap (비빔밥, Korean pronunciation: [pibimp͈ap̚][1]) is a signature Korean dish. The word literally means "mixed rice". Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating.[2] It can be served either cold or hot. In Korea, Jeonju, Jinju, and Tongyeong are especially famous for their versions of bibimbap.[3] It is listed at number 40 on World's 50 most delicious foods readers' poll compiled by CNN Go in 2011.[4].