Thursday, October 31, 2013

Phuket: Phang Nga Bay Tour

Our second day in Thailand started early with a trip to Phang Nga Bay. We arranged our tour through Phuket Sail Tours, another company I will happily recommend to others. Even when one of the motors died on our speed boat, our guide was quick to alter our course and ensure we did not miss a single spot.

We were picked up at our hotel and arrived at the pier around 7:45 AM. Boarding our boat, we were fed donuts and other snacks as our guide went over our day's events.


Our first stop was the white sand beach of Krabi. We were itching to get into the water so we quickly donned snorkeling masks and paddled into the sea. The visibility was hindered by a rain storm which had come through earlier in the morning but we were still able to see tropical fish and enjoy the beautiful location.




After swimming until our toes were pruned, our next stop was cave canoeing around Hong Islang. We were met by our oarsmen who expertly navigated us through caves and under hanging rocks.




A quick stop by the iconic James Bond Island, where Man With The Golden Gun was shot, and then it was off to lunch. We headed to the fascinating Kho Panyi Fishing Village, a village of over 1,700 people built entirely over the water.



After exploring Kho Panyi, we boarded the boat again and were off. As we passed Kao Kee-un, known as Drawing Mountain, we saw 1,500 year old paintings of fish, dolphins, and monkeys.


Our last stop of the day was Phanak Island. Thanks to a low tide, we were easily able to walk into one of the caves. Hidden inside was a large lagoon known as Mangrove Hong. The area was covered with mangrove trees, fiddler crabs, and even a few frisky monkeys. I'm not a fan of monkeys so despite the photo, I was happy to keep my distance. They were rather active while we were there, if you get what I mean, so I apologize in advance that the last picture is a little NC-17.



We had a wonderful time exploring Phuket by boat and each family member voted it their favorite Thailand activity at the end of the week. Yes, I make all my guests rank their visits. Consider this your warning.

To book a tour to Phang Nga Bay, contact:
199/20 Moo 5, T. Srisoonthorn
A. Thalang, Phuket 83110, Thailand
Telephone from within Thailand: 087-8970-492; from outside of Thailand: +66-87897-0492

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Phuket: Kata Thai Cooking Class

So that vacation I mentioned to Thailand? I figured you wanted to hear a little about it. We spent a week in Phuket, soaking up the sun, frolicking in the water, and eating copious amounts of food. Thai food happens to be a favorite among my family members and in order to get out fill, we decided to take a cooking class our very first day.


We signed up for classes through the Kata Thai Cooking Class and I cannot recommend them more enthusiastically. The owner Kelly responded quickly to my inquires and picked us up directly from our hotel. We were taken to her classroom where we learned how to make Tom Yum soup, Green Curry, and Pad Thai. Pretty much my three favorite Thai dishes.


Kelly was wonderful at explaining not only the steps required but also elaborating on the types of ingredients we were using. I can honestly say that I never cooked with shrimp paste before.


After tasting and prepping our ingredients, we were off to the kitchen to try out our new skills.



Once our dishes were complete, we were allowed to taste (or in my case gorge on) our creations. Hands down, the best food we ate throughout the entire trip. It was perfection.



Interesting in the Kata Thai Cooking School? Contact Kelly at:

5 KetKwan Road, Karon, Muang
Phuket 83100 - THAILAND
 Tel.: +66 (0)76-284510 | +66 (0) 81-7875895

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Shanghai Eats: Where to eat Xiăolóngbāo

Earlier this week, I gave you a lesson on how to eat xiăolóngbāo. But what good is this information if you don't know where to eat them? To be honest, there are tons of places around Shanghai where you can try xiăolóngbāo and you likely will leave satisfied. But I've provided you with three restaurants that I find myself going back to, time and time again.

Where to eat Xiăolóngbāo


Din Tai Fung (There are numerous locations in Shanghai. I can usually be found at one of these spots: Grand Gateway, 5th floor, 1 Hongqiao Lu or Shanghai Center, Ground Floor, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu)

Let me start by stating that this is a chain restaurant. But with locations throughout China as well as the US, this is a great place to try out your first xiăolóngbāo. The menu is in English and the staff speak English as well. I started my xiăolóngbāo journey here by first trying the chicken version. Just know that you are going to pay more here for both a higher level of service and cleanliness.


Lin Long Fang (There are two locations though I prefer the first: SML, Basement Level 2, 618 Xujiahui Lu near Ruijin Er Lu or 10 Jianguo Lu near Zhaozhou Lu)

I actually stumbled across this spot while lost under the SML center. The place was empty so I almost didn't stop but a bowl of scallion oil noodles lured me inside. You might want to order some in addition to your dumplings. The staff don't speak English here but it's easy enough to point at what you want on the English menu.  I'd consider the cost midrange at 27 rmb for 12 dumplings.


Loushi Tangbao Guan (601 Nanchang Lu near Xiangyang Lu)
If you want to practice your Chinese, this is the spot to try. No one speaks English and there certainly isn't an English menu. But their dumplings are juicy and wicked cheap at 6 rmb for 8 dumplings.

So who else is hungry now?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to eat xiăolóngbāo

In the past, I've provided you with an easy how to guide on eating Chinese baked goods. Today we have a lesson on eating xiăolóngbāo.

So what exactly are xiăolóngbāo? Xiăolóngbāo are classic Shanghainese soup dumplings that set my heart aflutter. They consist of a thin dumpling wrapper, filled with pork and a savory broth. Yes, that's right, I said pork. Longtime readers will remember that I hadn't eaten pork in 20 years thanks to an incident with Charlotte's Web as a child. But um, I sort of started again just so I could eat these dumplings. Yes, they are that good.


How to eat Xiăolóngbāo

Step 1: Pour some vinegar into the small dish provided to you. Trust me, this stuff makes the dish.

Step 2: Use your chopsticks to carefully grasp the top of the dumpling and dip it into the vinegar.

Step 3: Place the dumpling on your soup spoon.


Step 4: This is the important step. Seriously. Unless you want molten lava to burn your mouth and ruin your entire meal, you better pay attention here. Gently bite a small hole in the top of the dumpling to allow steam to come out.


Step 5: Allow the dumpling to cool for a moment and then slurp the soup out of the hole. Yes, slurping is not only okay but encouraged when eating these babies.

Step 6: Once the dumpling is a more reasonable temperature, use your chopsticks or spoon to slide that dumpling right into your mouth. You can add a little more vinegar before doing so if you choose (I always do).

Step 7: Return to Step 1. I think you get the idea.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center

Tucked away inside a residential apartment complex, the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center is worth the extra effort it takes to find it.

The museum exhibits posters from the Maoist period of communist China, with a large focus on the Cultural Revolution. The museum's founder, Yang Pei Ming, started collecting the posters as a hobby and now shares his collection with others as he feels the posters "serve as a valuable historical document and provide an idealized account of a key period in global history". While not a huge museum, the museum is easily worth the small 20 rmb entrance fee.


The gift shop located inside is also full of gems. Featuring both original posters as well as reasonably priced prints, you can happily pick up your own piece of history. I was particularly drawn to the Shanghai Calendar Girl prints.

The museum is open daily from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm.

Basement, Bldg B
868 Huashan Lu, near Zhenning Lu
Xuhui district

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Golden Break

It's vacation time here in the PRC which means I jetted off to Thailand with my husband and parents in tow. I'll be back soon with my regular posts and usual self deprecating humor.

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