July 30, 2014
Cambodian cuisine is a tricky one. As an ex French colony, with influences from China, Thailand and Viet Nam, some foodies may find it hard to pinpoint an identity. But what really defines Khmer food is the emphasis on simplicity and freshness. Unlike Chinese food and Thai food, Cambodian dishes are shy with spices, creating a much more elegant taste.
For anyone who finds South East Asian cuisine too overpowering, Cambodia can offer beautifully cooked and very simple ingredients with very relaxed flavours that don’t overwhelm your taste buds.
If you’re new to Khmer cuisine, here are 5 must-try dishes that will get your mouth watering…
1. Khmer Bor Bor
This won’t be love at first sight. And it won’t be love at first taste. Bor Bor is an overcooked rice dish which is essentially a savoury porridge. It can be cooked with or without meat and is often served with some freshly chopped spring onion for added flavour and texture. Khmer Bor Bor is something you will grow to love. After a few bowls, you’ll be craving more. It’s such a basic dish and here’s a fantastic recipe so you can recreate your Cambodian food experience at home.
2. Bai Sach Chrouk (Pork and Rice)
This is South East Asian cooking at a very basic level, but the emphasis is on freshness and the simple flavours and textures. Thinly sliced pork is grilled slowly and then served on a bed of rice and finished off with ginger, spring onion, pickled cucumber and radish. Such a light and refreshing dish, perfect for hot weather.
3. Fish Amok
This is a popular dish with tourists and travellers and is served in a lot of restaurants and hotels. (For hotels deals, visit The Holiday Place online). This fish dish is actually a popular meal in a number of neighbouring countries. But the Cambodian version uses a local herb (called Slok Ngor) which gives is a bitter edge to differentiate it from the rest.
4. Rouge Khmer Curry
If you’re expecting the heat and tickle of Thai red curry, you might be disappointed. The Khmer red curry does not use chilli powder but takes its main flavours from coconut mash liquor, eggplant, coconut milk, blady grass, and a spice paste called Kroeung.
5. Beef with Red Ants
Insects and grubs are popular street food snacks in Cambodia. It can be quite daunting for some insect-eating rookies, but this dish is extremely popular with locals. Served with lemongrass, shallots, garlic, ginger and kaffir lime leaf, the finished dish is beautifully flavoured. Unsure about the ants? Take a look at how it’s made on this blog post.
This is a guest post by @magstheblogger, a travel writer at The Smart Girl’s Travel Guide.
July 30, 2014
The popularity of Thailand as a travel destination only seems to be increasing, amongst young and more mature travellers alike. It boasts diverse and breathtaking scenery which is unlike anything you are likely to see anywhere else in the world, and is steeped in rich history and fascinating culture which attracts visitors from all over the world.
Many people associate a visit to the Kingdom of Thailand with an oversized rucksack and endless nights spent in cheap hostels or camping on the beach, and it is these factors that deter certain people from visiting. If a shower-a-week and living out of a rucksack almost as tall as you for the duration of your holiday doesn’t appeal to you, then fear not, as there are plenty of alternative and much more appealing options to entice you to visit Thailand.
Although a great deal of Thailand has become more touristy in recent years, there are still unspoilt parts which don’t involve endless nights of boozing and days spent in search of that beach. We’ve all heard of places such as, Ko Phi Phi, Samui, and Phuket, but if you want to experience the less tourist ridden side, then here is a short guide to a more luxurious trip to Thailand.
Where to Stay:
Unless you’re an aging hippy, still stuck in the 70s and trying to stay forever young, or a twenty-something year old attempting to find yourself on your gap year, then chances are you’re probably going to want a little more from your holiday accommodation than the top bunk in a hostel dorm. If you do a little research then, actually, you can discover some hidden gems in the form of luxury hotels. Companies such as Chic Retreats have a whole host of stunning boutique hotels, in equally as stunning locations, meaning you can explore the surrounding area and after a long day adventuring, retreat to your cosy hotel bed in your private room, without the worry of being disturbed by one of the twenty other strangers in your dorm coming in from an all-night beach party.
Where to Visit:
If you don’t fancy mingling with swarms of English tourists, then avoiding the popular destinations such as Phuket and Samui are the best way to do so. Of course, you will still want to experience as much of Thailand as you can, and so instead, head for the Northeast of Thailand, known locally as the Issan. The Issan is Thailand’s poorest area, full of paddy fields and non-English speaking locals, and here you will be able to experience Thai life, unspoiled by tourists, and incredibly cheap too. Do a little research and you’ll be surprised at just how much of Thailand is actually unspoilt and you can discover your own, truly incredible side to Thailand.
What to Do:
Thailand is home to some of the most breathtaking landscape in the world, and of course, travelling half way across the world, you will most definitely want to see some for yourself. Unfortunately, so much of the coastline has become a tourist magnet, especially since certain parts of it have appeared in Hollywood blockbusters. To avoid the all night beach parties and the tacky beachside bars, head for the more unspoiled coastline such as Prachuap Khiri Khan in southern Thailand and its neighbouring beaches. Here you are able to snorkel, or walk the endless sands, take in the stunning coastal scenery, sample delicious local cuisine, but enjoy the pleasure of not bumping into huge crowds of tourists.
What to Eat:
Thai food is exotic, delectable and uses only the freshest ingredients, and contrary to popular belief, doesn’t all consist of toasted beetles and skewered rats. Whether you’re a vegetarian, or a meat lover, there is something to accommodate all tastes and requirements, and you won’t be disappointed. When you eat in Thailand you’ll have such a high standard of service that you’ll barely be able to believe it, with high quality for a small amount of your money and the friendly nature of the locals. You may think you have experienced amazing Thai food at home, but you could not be further from the truth, especially when it comes Pad Thai, a mix of noodles, tofu, fresh vegetables and plenty of delicious sauce. Other dishes to sample are Geng Kheaw Wan – a spicy green Green Curry and for dessert, the unusual but moreish mango sticky rice.
There is so much more to Thailand than just a traveller’s paradise, and if you venture a little further out of the overrun tourist favourites, you’re bound to find some hidden gems and have the holiday of a lifetime.
July 28, 2014
What could be better than a cruise in the Mediterranean, where the sun always seems to shine and where the sea is always bluer and cleaner than the summer skies? The Mediterranean can be a magnificent spot for a vacation alone, with the loved one or with the family and it can be perfect for everyone out there as well: from those who like to party all night long to those who like to explore places that have a rich culture and history. Because of the location of the Mediterranean and the fact that everywhere is easily accessible by boat, it is one of the best cruise locations in the world. If you’re looking for a company that offers great cruises around the Mediterranean, check out Cruiseabout and for more tips of what to do and see, read on!
You can’t get more culture and history than this. With architecture that goes as far back in time as the ancient years and with many islands from which to choose from, Greece can really be one of the most amazing places to visit. Go to its towns and cities to discover the Ancient Greek ruins or go to one of the amazing dream-like islands to lie on the beach and sunbathe. Santorini and Rhodes are some of the most beautiful (and famous) islands, but you can find places that are less crowded and purer as well. Traveling on a cruise is a great way to hop around the beautiful Greek islands, you can see a lot in a really short time.
If you are in for a culinary experience that will leave your taste buds craving for you to go back there, then do try Italy. Even if the entire country may seem small on the map, the truth is that it is as diverse and as gorgeous as a country can get. Every area has its particular attractions and its special kind of food. You can explore Rome, the Vatican, Venice, Florence or Milano and you can lie on one of the amazing beaches the Italians have – and you will be always breathing the fresh and energising Mediterranean air.
The French Riviera
For an exclusivist and luxurious holiday, choose the French Riviera. It can hardly be compared to anything out there. If pizza and pasta are the “hot spots” in Italy and if the stunning scenery and culture are the greatest things in Greece, the French somehow manage to bring both culinary art and amazing culture together in a place that seems to be absolutely magical. Beautiful people, amazing and breathtaking scenery and the best wines in the world all meet together on the French Riviera. Although generally perceived as very expensive, the truth is that there are spots on the French exit to the Mediterranean Sea that are very much affordable as well.
Not many people associate Spain with the Mediterranean Sea, but it has a very good portion with a wonderful beach exiting right into this beautiful water. Andalucia, Murcia and Levante, and the Mediterranean part of Catalunya are some of the most beautiful places here and they will range from party-oriented spots to spots offering the utmost relaxation. Don’t forget to have a good portion of paella before you go because there is really nothing out there like this dish when it is prepared at home!
July 24, 2014
Vietnam is a country steeped in history and culture, and it makes an incredible holiday destination. Popular with people traveling all corners of the world, Vietnam is a country which boasts everything from bustling markets, to stunning coastlines, and from museums to incredible mountain ranges. If it’s an adventure filled holiday, with something to suit everyone, then Vietnam is the ideal location for you. With so much on offer, here’s a list of some of the things in Vietnam, you just must visit.
1. Chu Chi Tunnels
Vietnam is well known for playing host to the notoriously violent and devastating war in the 1960’s, and so it goes without saying that if you visit the country, then you must see some of the history and devastation left behind, and The Chu Chi Tunnels are the obvious choice. This astonishing network of underground tunnels were well used throughout the war by the Viet Cong, and played a huge role in the success of their surprise attacks and undeniably clever war-tactics. In the Chu Chi district alone there are 250km of tunnels which at the time, even stretched under the US Military base, and feature a huge number of trap doors which allowed those who frequented them, to appear and disappear as they pleased. Consider booking a guided holiday tour so you don’t miss out on any of the fascinating history.
2. War Remnants Museum
Having visited the physical reminder of the Vietnam War, you may want to see some of the photographs, military vehicles and examples of weapons that were left behind. These can be found on show in the War Remnants Museum, which is home to some of the most shocking and disturbing evidence into the true effects of war, you will ever see. Previously known as the Museum of Chinese and American War crimes, the building plays host to many artefacts, such as photographs evidencing the devastation of the bombs and some of the once military classified bombs. Although there are parts of this exhibit you may find distressing, it is a definite must see and is a fitting reminder of the devastating effects war can have.
3. Ben Thanh Markets
Of course, as is the case with any holiday, you’ll want to take reminders and souvenirs home for both yourself, and your loved ones. There are plenty of markets, all offering an array of different goods, one in particular, the Ben Thanh Markets, should not be missed. Offering just about everything, ranging from scorpions, to jewellery, and from spices, to tobacco, there really is something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Signs may read, fixed prices, but do remember to haggle! Other notable markets worth a visit are the An Dong indoor market and the Old Market, which sells every kind of imported good you could ever imagine.
4. Dai Lanh Beach and Surrounding Areas
With all the walking around you’re bound to have done whilst traveling around Vietnam, you’re bound to want some time to sit back and relax, and there is no better place to do so than the beautiful beaches of Dai Lanh. The quaint fishing village of Dai Lanh can be easily recognised by the red-tile roofs atop its houses and is situated not far from the 1920’s constructed seaport of Nha Trang, a city almost as beautiful as its surroundings. If it is particularly warm, you may want to consider a boat trip, which will allow you to not only sit back and relax, but to visit some of the many islands which surround it.
Vietnam is an incredible destination to visit, and whether you are passing through on a round the world trip, or are there for just a few days you can be certain you will never be bored and there really is something for everyone, making it somewhere the whole family can enjoy.
July 22, 2014
Studying abroad is highly rewarding, academically, culturally and personally. Students are taken out of their comfort zone, at least to some degree, and learn to be independent and to communicate effectively with people from other cultures. Adaptability, flexibility and strong interpersonal skills are much sought after by potential employers, so studying abroad can significantly improve their career prospects.
Take the UAE, for instance, and some of the leading universities in the UAE, such as the United Arab Emirates University and the American University of Sharjah, which is licensed in the UAE and US. Other highly ranked overseas universities that have branch campuses in the UAE include Heriot-Watt University and the University of Wollongong, among many others, so there’s plenty of choice for international students. In the case of the UAE, the sub-tropical climate, with hot, humid summers and warm winters and, of course, the prospect of tax-free earnings after graduation, are other attractions.
Students who dislike examinations (but then again, who likes them!) might prefer to study in the United States instead, where continuous assessment is the norm, but they also need to be aware that tuition fees in the US can often run into thousands of pounds, as they do in Australia. By contrast, European courses are more heavily dependent on examinations, but some European countries, such as Norway and the Netherlands, charge little or nothing by way of tuition fees. The European Commission’s subsidy scheme, known as Erasmus, and other similar programmes allow students to study abroad as part of their degree relatively cheaply.
Travelling abroad is an experience in its own right, but studying abroad allows students to experience day-to-day life in the country in question, much of which remains out of sight of traditional holidaymakers. This is particularly true of language students, who are wholly, or almost wholly, immersed in the foreign language and learn from native speakers how it’s used to complete everyday tasks and activities. Fluency in a foreign language isn’t necessarily a requirement for studying at a university that teaches in that language, but it is worth checking what language level is required.
Of course, homesickness can still be a problem, but with roughly two-thirds or more of the population of Europe, Australia and North America and roughly two-fifths of the population of the Middle East connected to the Internet, keeping in touch via Skype is straightforward enough (and often eases the longing for home). For other problems, such as finding suitable accommodation or simply dealing with the culture shock of studying abroad, help is usually available locally from a variety of sources, including an accommodation office and a welfare office.
Studying abroad is highly beneficial. Once you get into the swing of things, you hardly notice that you’re away from home. In fact, you can have so much fun while you’re out there that you may even have to remind yourself that you’re there to study!
July 10, 2014
As amazing as flying is, it can be really hard especially if you’re flying long distance. Long haul flying can take a real toll on your health and energy levels. Jet lag is a real problem, especially if you want to make the most of your holiday or business trip. As someone who has been on countless long flights, I have a number of tips to ensure a stress free flight which might help make your journey more comfortable. Here are my tips for a stress free flight:
1) Check The Flight Information Online
What’s worse than being at the airport for a four hour delay? Being there when you didn’t have to be. Check the flight information online in advance and you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on and exactly what time you need to be at the airport to clear security and ensure a stress free departure.
2) Wear Comfortable Clothes
I love to look good – who doesn’t? But flights are not the time for fancy dresses and tall heels. Be comfortable and practical and your flight will be infinitely better. If you can’t let fashion be pushed aside, wear whatever you please but bring a change of comfortable clothes, such as some skinny jeans, trousers and a loose fitting top. I also like to bring socks along as I prefer to remove my shoes and my feet would freeze otherwise. Comfort will make a big difference when you’re trying to sleep on that pesky long flight.
3) Stay Hydrated
Drink water, and lots of it. Many people make the mistake of drinking alcohol or caffeine before and during their flights. Because of the different air pressure and the recycled air, you tend to get really dehydrated when flying and this contributes to jet lag and fatigue. Try to drink a glass of water for every hour you’re in the air – and using the bathroom a lot is a great way to keep your legs moving while on the flight.
4) Arrive Early
Have you ever had to do a mad dash to the airport? You know the feeling… frantically checking your watch every minute to see whether you’re going to miss the check-in time. I’ve been there, and it’s not nice. I’ve been that person running frantically through the airport, arriving at the gate and everything closing up behind me. My heart was racing, I was sweaty and felt anxious. This is not a great way to start your flight off. I prefer arriving earlier than necessary and relaxing before a flight.
Flying can be a fun experience if you plan ahead, look after your body and are realistic about when you need to be at the airport. Do you have any tips for flying? I’d love to hear them.
July 1, 2014
Although usually referred to as the ‘business capital of Asia’, Singapore is a fascinating place – it is an island, a country and a city, which is home to people from multiple religions and mainly three cultures – Chinese, Indian and Arabic. It is an extraordinary place, where you can’t chew gum, yet there are huge entertainment theme parks that can fully compete with Disney World. This unique gem located in Southeast Asia combines architectural miracles and ultramodern business centers, skyscrapers and mazes of traditional Chinese houses. While it is influenced by such rich and different cultures, it remains to be one of the cleanest countries in Asia, with strict rules that both locals and visitors must adhere to. Amongst the numerous things to do in Singapore, here are my top picks.
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June 27, 2014
Travelling South India and looking to beat the heat? Board the next bus to Ooty, and retreat into a little mountain cool. Perched 7,347 above sea level, the weather here is refreshingly pleasant, and the crisp mountain atmosphere is literally a breath of fresh air after the heat and bustle of the cities below. Even its most famous products speak of an atmosphere of relaxation; Ooty is known for its high quality teas and chocolates. While it’s possible to arrive by bus or train, getting around tends to be most successful by taxi so you can explore the captivating countryside. Just don’t choose drivers offering to take you to shops or restaurants – the places will likely be overpriced, and the driver is collecting a commission, not just making a recommendation.
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May 6, 2014
If Kate Melua is to be believed, there are 9 million bicycles in Beijing. Since the Chinese capital has a massive population of 21.5 million people, that figure isn’t hard to believe. While a metropolis this size has more to experience than can possibly be summed up in one travel piece (or one trip for that matter) there are some must-sees visitors to bustling Beijing should be sure to include in their itineraries.
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April 29, 2014
Vientiane, nestled along the Mekong River, is a backpacker’s dream. Free of the bustle of other Asian capitals, the Laotian capital has a laidback small town feel. It’s the place to go when you’re ready to slow down a bit – things here tend to move at an unhurried pace that can be frustrating if you don’t bring the mindset for it. If you’ve had enough rush for awhile, however, this easygoing city is sure to bring a smile to your face. While the experience of being in a country classified as one of the world’s “least developed” can be eye-opening in heartbreaking ways, the friendliness of this city will make you feel right at home. Accommodation and food here are incredibly inexpensive, making it a perfect destination for backpackers on a budget.
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