Okayama Delights

Moving on from something good can sometimes be very difficult. And that was exactly what happened to me after my first trip to Japan last year. It was not the country itself that had me utterly captivated, although many things I observed and experienced there […]

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A Tale of Three Cities: Jakarta

What is there to love about Jakarta? That was a question I asked myself when I first moved to the city back in 2008. The city’s traffic has been consistently ranked among the worst in the world for many years. In my first few years […]

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A Tale of Three Cities: Singapore

The Little Red Dot is a nickname Singaporeans love to use to describe their country: a small but dynamic dot in Southeast Asia. Despite its size (roughly 40% smaller than Rhode Island or 40% bigger than Andorra), Singapore is today among Asia’s leading financial hubs, […]

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A Tale of Three Cities: Hong Kong

This is a story of three Asian metropolises whose modern hustle and bustle dates back to many generations ago. Money and trade had helped propel these cities into prominence, and they will continue to do so in the years and decades to come. One is […]

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Pokhara: Beyond the Hiking Trails

One morning in the middle of Nepalese winter, I woke up to the sound of children singing and playing from a house a few hundred meters behind our hotel. I opened the door to the balcony, stepped outside and let the cold and crisp air […]

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Baluran: Into the Wilderness

Our driver carefully navigates the gravel path, flanked by trees and shrubs, tall and low, that cuts through the dense forest. From the national park’s entrance off the main road that connects the East Javanese cities of Banyuwangi and Situbondo, it is a good 13 […]

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My Son: Beauty in Desolation

Indochina, a region that comprises most of Mainland Southeast Asia, has been both an entrepot and battleground of influences from two ancient superpowers in Asia, India and China as the region’s name suggests. Coined in the early 19th century, the term has been used to […]

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Osaka Calling

One morning, more than twenty years ago when I was still living in a small city in the westernmost end of Java, I was having instant noodles while watching a Japanese anime on TV. My father who had been noticing this new habit I was […]

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Food Nationalism

Chapter 5, Part 6 Several years ago, the headlines of Indonesian media suddenly flared up with nationalistic fervor against Malaysia following their claims (both official and not) over some cultural items that Indonesians are so dearly and emotionally attached to. Like sibling rivalry, netizens in […]

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Sweet Food from the Heart of Java

Chapter 5, Part 5 Indonesia, a vast country which looks rather small on Mercator maps, is a nation comprising somewhere between 13,000 to 17,000 islands, where hundreds of ethnic groups speak different languages and practice their own customs. When it comes to food, each region […]

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Here Come the Europeans

Chapter 5, Part 4 Long after being considered merely as medicine, in the 15th century the Europeans’ perception toward spices began to shift as they were used more in local cuisines. Spices added an exotic taste to the continent’s traditional dishes, and demand from royal […]

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Influences from Bharat

Chapter 5, Part 3 At a heritage house in Kumarakom on the bank of Vembanad Lake, a part of Kerala’s iconic backwaters, I discovered one of the biggest surprises during the Spice Odyssey. On the day James and I arrived, we were served several dishes […]

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