Sweet tooth cravings: a fruit smoothie prepared by moi and some ice cream

Sweet tooth cravings: a fruit smoothie prepared by moi and some ice cream

Mini mangoes!

Mini mangoes!

Over the last few years, Singapore had been popping up into conversations more frequently.  Its location served many times as a layover for those in transit to/from Australia and as a gateway into Asia.

When I left Australia en route to Thailand, I found myself there with less than 24 hours.  Luckily, my time was quickly filled as my Couchsurfing host, Hang Seng, was a local and had some time to show me around.  One of the things I really enjoy about traveling is getting to know the people who live there, especially if they've grown up there.  You learn so much about the country, the culture, and their people.  Here are a few snaps that were captured:

In the last picture, if you're curious as to what flavors I chose, I had to go with the local flavors that I would only find in this area.  The light purple scoop is of pulut hitam, a sweet dessert made of black glutinous rice porridge with coconut milk and palm sugar.  Sitting below that is a scoop of chendol, another sweet dessert consisting of coconut milk, rice flour jelly noodles that are dyed green, and palm sugar.  If it sounds familiar, it's because I had it when I was also in Malaysia, but in its original, non-ice cream form

After that, it was back on the road and catching quick glimpses of sites like the 165 meter-high Singapore Flyer before getting to Changi airport and flying out.  To no surprise, it is a very, very clean country worth stopping over for to gawk at the high-rises, enjoy some street food, buy some electronics, and get you to where you need to go.

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Authorlinda

A few days in Peru was not enough.  The country has so much to offer and I dream of going back there again soon, spending a few weeks or months to really get to know the place (read: to eat and taste and cook and experiment with ingredients).  Its cuisine is definitely one of the most underrated in my experiences so far but luckily, chefs like Gaston Acurio are out there spreading the word of all the magnificent delights they have to offer.

One year, I'll decide to skip the winter in the Northern Hemisphere (who am I kidding, I live in Southern California so it's really just an excuse to travel) and head for the summer on the opposite side of the world in the Southern Hemisphere.  Or who knows, maybe I'll end up there for their big food festival Mistura in September one year.

I created a list to remind me of what places are like.  Just going through it again has me salivating for a fresh and citrusy ceviche along with a side of chicha morada.

PERU is....

...colorful

...non-stop Salsa music

...unorganized

...long lines

...asking folks on the street

...onions and potatoes and limes

...ponchos plasticos

...walking sticks

There's nothing more exciting than taking off on a plane to somewhere new.  The thrill of going into the unknown and immersing myself into a culture to find out more is quite addictive and a breath of fresh air to revive my free-spirit soul. While it's tempting to revisit the places I've been to before (and I will), there is also an urge to venture into new territory.

One of the main reason why I love traveling is to learn about different cultures.  A big part of culture lies in the food they eat.  It absolutely fascinates me to think about all the little details and how a certain dish has been formed, from the land where the ingredients are grown and where they are sourced from, to how it is prepared, where the recipe develops from, the changes it goes through, the variations of the dishes, and much more.  My mind is simply blown when I start digging deeper.

After being more exposed to the Peruvian culture in Sydney, thanks to the large immigration of South Americans (predominately Peruvians, Colombians, Brazilians, Chileans, Argentinians, and Uruguayans), I found myself drawn with my eyes wide open.  Thanks to a special deal on an airline, I booked a ticket and flew off finding myself exploring both Lima and Cuzco (plus the surrounding areas like).

Below are some recollections (the horizontal collection) of my trip there:

It’s been almost 2 months since I've left Sydney and it’s amazing how quickly time has flown by and how much has happened, both in the months and collectively over the years.

A reflection on the past
Back in 2010, I decided to leave home.  The decision didn't come easy as the familiarity and steady paycheck from a previous job provided comfort, but there was an inkling that had been kicking me for awhile.  It’s called, the TRAVEL BUG.


So I took action: researching options of where I would go, how I was going to go about it, and I took a leap of faith.  Not everything was planned, in fact, not much was planned like the rest of my life (finish college/university, intern, travel, work for a few years, save, etc.) so the idea of having so much flexibility was novel and quite nice.  I ended up in Sydney, Australia and the next thing you know, 2.5 years passed and today, I sit here writing upon these reflections.

It wasn't always an easy, breezy journey – in fact, they were some of the most trialing times but it’s these experiences that add to your character and who you are in the present day.  With me are memories that I’ll never forget, the times that I've shared with friends and much more.


Before leaving Sydney, I thought to myself, “What will I miss about the city?  Is it the breathtaking view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House? Is it the beaches with the cliff-side walks?  Is it being able to take public transport: the trains, the buses, the trams and the ferries?”  While I do miss all these, I found myself busy with a “MUST EAT BEFORE LEAVING” list.  One of those places was a local bakery in the Surry Hills neighborhood called BOURKE STREET BAKERY and it was certainly going to be a place I missed.
Ever since trying it for the first time, I knew I was going to be trouble.  And so began my regular trips down Bourke Street….

A friend of mine had gifted the Bourke Street Bakery book to me (more like a bible) and I was in awe, mouth agape and everything.  The pictures were all so beautifully taken, the layout, the stories, the recipes, I couldn't help but give the book a big hug (yes, I give attention to inanimate objects).  Anyhow, before leaving Australia, an idea popped into my head: I was going to get the guys at BSB to sign my book.

I wrote a love letter of appreciation telling them how much I thoroughly enjoyed the fluffy and delightful carrot cake that forever changed my life and the amazing-ness of their pork and fennel sausage rolls (among the other savory pastries) and how it was a joy to experience it flaking off so easily.  Just talking about this makes my mouth just water (yes, I am a nerd).

My e-mail bounced back.

I tried again and it bounced back again so I let it go.  Then, I refused to let it go and tried again (this time, I changed the subject line) and VOILÁ!

Pressed under time, I began to think that I wasn't going to get it in time and would need to get it shipped out, but everyone there was so accommodating and made it work so that I got it before I left.  Can we say WHEW?! FTW (For The Win)!!!



So a HUGE THANKS to Bourke Street Bakery for making it possible that I went back home with a signed copy of the book and for all the delicious treats and memories that will remain intact.