Archive for March, 2011

Sitting up on a plateau in the foothills of the Shan mountains, Inle Lake is one of the  most popular tourist spots in Myanmar. But it’s still incredibly low key, with most villagers focused on their day to day business rather than trying to make a quick buck from tourists.

Everything about the place seems to relax you.  The main draw here is the stilted villages of the Intha.  Whole communities are built out on the lake and getting around means going by boat – even to your immediate neighbour.  The famous Intha Leg Rowing is always  on show when a tourist appears, though I’m sure It’s not as popular as it once was.  As with nearly all of the people in Myanmar they are some of the nicest in the world, with not even a hint of danger anywhere.  This could be the friendliest place in the world.

One of my favourite places in the world.  Check out some photos HERE

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So i’m at work the other day and we’re doing steak tartare for our monthly Market monday thing, and all of a sudden I get a craving for more raw meat specifically what is problably Ethiopias most famous dish – Kitfo,  not quite like your average steak tartare.

So after a morning looking at cars in second hand yards I head down to commercial drive, Vancouver’s multicultural melting pot, to Harambe.  A local Ethiopian joint with lots of praise.  Inside the whole place is  covered in kitschy, colorfully dyed cotton, and surprisingly catchy Ethiopian Reggae is playing on the radio.  The waitress, the only other whitey there, brings the menu – but I already know what I want.

Kitfo is made from freshly chopped beef mixed with warm butter and an Ethiopian dried chilli powder called mitmita.  A little cardamon and seasoning and its good to go.  The main issue people have with this dish is the warmth of the Raw beef.   It really is a strange feeling in your mouth – I love it.

This is served with the traditional Injera pancake – with its distinct metallic flavour, bit like indian iddly – also a small side of greens and some of the sour/salty Ethiopian cottage cheese.   I washed all this down with a cup of spiced tea – which surprisingly had a sign reminding people to use fresh water.

After barely finishing I’m surprised how filling a plate of (warm) raw meat can be.  I only wonder if it’s as safe to eat in Ethiopia.  Can’t wait to try!

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Rajasthan, where the best and the worst of India really collide.  One of the poorest states but with a long cultural heritage and some of India’s most popular tourist destinations.  But you spend half your time trying to fend off people wanting to sell you carpets or jewels or silver or something, and harassment of western women is not unheard of.

On the other hand there are beautiful palaces to visit, intricately carved Jain temples, the jantar mantar, Bundi fort to name a few.  And much, much more than I saw before I got out of the furness.  At the time though, I just couldn’t wait to leave. I don’t know if it was the heat or the hassle, or both, but being in the tourist trap that is Jaipur sent me over the edge.  The constant battle to get the driver to go where you want, the hassle from pretty much everybody outside a tourist attraction and all this at temperatures above 40c.  Nightmare.

There were some highlights though.  Watching Octopussy on a rooftop while drinking beer illegally in Udaipur, hanging out with a dog and a bunch of agressive macaques looking out over blue Bundi, or just the random religious festivals that appear overnight in town centres.

Go to Rajasthan, just wait till winter.  Or just look at my photos here

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