Myles Harrington

Posts Tagged ‘food’

Vietnam Has The Nicest Thieves

In Vietnam on September 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm
Fellow travellers had warned me that the Vietnamese were different to a lot of other nationalities in South East Asia. I’d been told they were all out to make a quick dong, were rude and uninviting. I was prepared for the worst but what I’ve found so far is completely the opposite. Of course I still have a long time for them to piss me off, rip me off and leave bleeding in an alley but let’s not think about that for now.
My first rip off in Vietnam was an honest one. I stumbled out of Noi Bai airport in Hanoi after only managing a couple of hours sleep in the preceding 24 hours. The Lonely Planet didn’t mention how you should get to the city from the airport, or even how far it is. Why is it that they spend so long  finding the best burrito in every town but miss out the vital travelling information? Anyway, I decided that a shared minibus was the best, or only viable option and for the proposed $2 fee it was probably worth going for. Considering they won the war I don’t know why they are obsessed with the Yankee dollar. I ended up paying very slightly more than $2 because I paid in dong. The two old local blokes sitting next to me handed over 30,000 while I paid 40k. I asked the man dealing with the dough “Why do they pay 30 when I pay 40?” He replied in the way the Vietnamese have learned how to think when dealing with tourists, “They’re different, foreigners pay $2”. That’s just the way it is here. If you’re a visitor you’re going to pay more and you just have to accept it and at least he was an honest rip off merchant.

On My 24th Birthday I Had Pink Eye and Went to a Gay Club

In Thailand on September 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm

By the time it was September the 7th we’d already discovered that Chiang Mai would be a great place to spend a birthday. After three days in Thailand’s ancient capital, our group; Holly (Claire’s cousin who we’d picked up in Bangkok before Laos), Claire, Taylor (A good time American girl we’d picked up in Luang Prabang) and I were pretty pleased with the place. Mainly due to two nights at the amazing Reggae Bar with their live in-house  ska band and our hungover day trip to ride elephants, raft down a river and visit a butterfly farm.

Tay, Hols and the Elephant Man

And so it was my 24th birthday, now in my mid teens but vitally to the vain, still closer to 20 than 30. I found myself in the fortunate birthday situation of having a whole empty day ahead, being on holiday and with a girl who wanted to treat me. What a fantastic combination for a great day. The only problem was the illness that had plagued our whole group since Luang Prabang. The infamous Laos pink eye. Rumours around the tubing circuit are that one in every two people get pink eye within four days of their dip in the Nam Song. In our group it was one in one, all one at a time. At first it was Claire who we royally ripped the piss out of for catching, then Holly, myself and even Taylor and a guy we briefly met called Ryan were infected. My case was so bad it’s even worse than the example on Wikipedia and I made many women scream from the sight of me.

I hate people who wear glasses indoors

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Heeelllllllllooooooo Miiissstttteeeeerrrrrrrr

In Indonesia on July 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I think I jinxed us in KL. I said to Claire I missed the feeling of being like a minor celebrity in India. The attention you got was incredible purely because of the colour of your skin. It was great fun having kids running after you, or away from you and friendly locals inviting you for tea. In Sumatra the celeb status has been stepped up a level. literally everyone calls down the street when they see you, or as they swish past on their mopeds and every one of them without fail calls out “Heeelllllllllooooooo Miiissstttteeeeerrrrrrrr”. If I hear it one more time I think I might have to start hitting them, or perhaps just start to ignore them. It gets boring waving constantly and my throat has started to hurt from just saying hello. I don’t know how everyone learned this was what to say to tourists but it soon starts to grate.

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His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Me

In India on April 28, 2010 at 12:04 pm

It’s been a packed couple of days for me in McLeod Ganj. Yesterday I was woken early by the deep inhalations of the Canadian sleeping next to me so I decided to get up and have a wonder around the town at 6am. I stopped off at the main square and had a roll of delicious Tibetan steamed bread which is very similar to an English muffin and then wondered down towards the Dalai Lama’s temple and residence at the bottom of the hill.

The temple near the main square in McLeod Ganj

The temple in the main square in McLeod Ganj

There was a buzz in the air because the Dalia lama was making an appearance to pray for the Tibetans who have died in the recent earthquake there. I sat and had a chai and an egg roll from a street stand and watched as monks, locals and tourists gathered to see the man himself. We didn’t come back to the temple untill about 8am and by then the queue to enter was about 200 metres long and we thought we’d never manage it. Luckily they decided to open up the monk only entrance to the rest of the rabble and we managed to sneak in and get the best seats in the house! We were incredibly lucky as the buddhists didn’t have the heart to tell us we were blocking their view. I can’t describe the tense yet enjoyable feeling in the air as he walked past. It was hard not to get caught up in the moment as everyone bowed down in the prayer position following his every step as he entered the temple from his residence a short walk away.

Yesterday evening it was time for something a little more light hearted so we stocked up on Hide and Seeks and went to the illegal cinema next door for a screening of Scorsese’s Shutter Island. The film was, according to the bloke who took the extortionate entrance fee (just over two pounds) “DVD quality”, it was in fact a Russian download with bad syncing and it stopped twice during pivotal moments. I tried to get my chai for free because of the inconvenience but he wasn’t having any of it, he said we could go back for another film for free if we liked. I might take him up on the offer, as long as the film really is DVD quality.

Send me DVD copy so I can screen in basement cinema in India

Today we attended a fantastic cookery course where we learnt to make some delicious Tibetan specialties; momos. They are dumplings that can be filled with various fillings such as vegetables, mutton or even chocolate. We made the most traditional varieties of mixed veg, potato and sweet (brown sugar and sesame seeds). The lesson cost double the price of the cinema but the profits were all going to a local Tibetan charity so we didn’t mind paying a little more.

The gang chow down on some home-made momos

The gang chow down on hand-mad momos

My favourite was probably the mixed veg one and our efforts were much tastier than the street stall versions that I’ve eaten everyday since being in McLeod Ganj. I now appreciate the technical skill required to make them and can’t understand how the ladies in the street can afford to only sell them for 15p for four pieces! The teacher told us they can make about one or two hundred an hour and get up at 3am to prepare them for the day’s trading. No wonder their seasoning is slightly off.

Momo magic

The Rishikesh Rumble

In India on April 14, 2010 at 8:10 am

All was going well a I sat down to eat Mama’s delicious thali last night. I’d got talking to a bunch of Swedish people over dinner who were planing on heading off to Haridwar today for the mad and massive Kumbh Mela festival. I decided on a whim that I would go with them and we had to be up at 5am to make sure we could get there.

An early night was required so at 9am I tucked myself in and tried to drift off.  One hour passed, then two and three and all the time I didn’t have a Delhi belly, more what i now have coined the Rishikesh rumble. My stomach was bloated and gurgling and I didn’t have any antacids to heal my pain. Big mistake. Come about midnight I got ‘the rush’ sprinted to the toilet and proceeded to yack my guts up. Mama’s thali didn’t taste so good this time.

Eventually I did managed to get some very broken sleep and luckily wasn’t sick again so decided to tackle the day head on and arrived at the Swede’s guest house as arranged at 4.55. The first of my co-pilgrims greeted me and he’d been up all night being sick too. I thought it was going to be a pandemic and the day would be called off but he was the only one that was ill so was staying behind. We started off walking towards the town and all of a sudden I got ‘the rush’ again and spewed down the hillside like a volcano erupting curried lava. Still, at least the cows will have a tasty treat today. I went back to bed and thankfully haven’t been sick again…yet.

Red marks the spot for a tasty roadside meal for the cows

Destination Delhi

In India on April 8, 2010 at 9:49 am

After a rather eventful flight (i’ll explain later) I got to my hotel extremely easily at about 8am this morning. The taxi man was there, my bag was there and I was let through without a suspicious stare.

He only nearly killed three people with his mirrorless driving

I was delightfully surprised considering the nightmare stories I read here yesterday that my four pound a night hotel was actually not too bad. It was even better than some hotels in Oxford! Upon my arrival I was instantly upgraded to a lovely double room with air-con and in a lovely shade of pink. I think it was because they had run out of the cheap ones.

Onto the flight fracas – After a delicious mushroom and spinach risotto for dinner (it genuinely was quite tasty, not quite Jamie Oliver more a la Matt Hull) and wasting two and a half hours of my life watching 2012, I decided to try and get into the new time zone, which is randomly five and a half hours ahead, and have a sleep. The next thing I know as I come back round from an hours nap, there is a Gazza look-a-like standing in my leg room area pissed up even more than Gazza on a stag do wearing his sleeping mask and trying to open up the emergency exit, calling the cabin crew motherf*ckers and threatening to light up a fag if they didn’t give him another vodka and coke. God knows how he’d managed to get so drunk so quickly. I’d only managed to neck two double G&Ts and a glass of french dry white. He must have snuck on his own, note to self for next time.

When they eventually managed to calm him down and upgrade him (unbelievable) to the empty World Traveller Plus section he came back to us cattle in The World Traveller section (economy to everyone but BA) and insisted we should all upgrade ourselves to “2nd class ’cause it’s f*cking empty”, I felt like I was on the Titanic in steerage. Although his offer was extremely tempting, especially if they gave into his demand of unlimited vodka and cokes, but no way was I moving from my leg room luxury.

Better than World Traveller Class Plus even with free vodka

Delhi is absolutely mental, dirty and a major hassle. I crashed out when I first got into my bed at a cosy 16 degrees (thanks air-con), woke up three hours later and thought I should probably venture outside. A walk to the end of the road and I encountered a police riot; I thought the hassling tout was lying when he told me to go to Connaught Place the other way because it wasn’t safe. From what I could gather and from what i’ve been told as the word has spread about town, the government decided to rip down some illegal shops. Very exciting. So I took the advice of my con-man friend and walked the long way round. I can’t remember how many random mens’ hands i’ve shaken already today and i was only out for a couple of hours. There was the mobile phone shop owner, the student who got married at 16  from Jaipur and the fake tourism office man that was definitely approved by the Government of India.

I’ve also had my first taste of Indian food, a tasty vegetarian thali that was just as good as Masala Zone and it was only 80 rupees! It seems like i’ve achieved a lot so far so I am going to get back on it and do even more.