Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Stinky Tofu Incident

Can you imagine eating something that smells like a cross between sweaty gym socks, sickly-sour vomit and rotten fish? Better still, would YOU dare to eat it? Believe it or not, this is a wildly popular street snack in Taiwan!

I'm talking about Stinky Tofu. Yes, Stinky Tofu. That is the actual name of this olfactory-attack of a night market staple.

Stinky Tofu has kind of been haunting me for quite some time now. Also popular in China and Hong Kong, I've been assaulted with the formented tofu's (ahem) unique smell many a time. In fact, I live just mere blocks from a Stinky Tofu street in Hong Kong. I've tried on numerous occasions to gather up the courage to try the local specialty but every single time, the smell just literally knocked me back. Believe me. It's scary stuff.

While I was in Taiwan, I decided I had to try the infamous Stinky Tofu and unlock the secret for myself of just what makes it so darn appealing.

When I made my way to my first Taipei night market with Brett of Our Tasty Travels, I told myself to be brave. I was really going to do it this time. As we approached the night market stall, I was silently vomiting in my mouth from the pungent smell already choking me. Before I had a chance to run away, Brett ordered a plate and placed it before me. There was no turning back now.

I grabbed my chopsticks and plunged into the dish before my brain had time to process the danger ahead.

The Stinky Tofu was finally in my mouth! I had done it! I started chewing the crispy, deep fried outer skin of the tofu and found the texture surprisingly enjoyable. You cannot imagine my relief to discover that the taste also proved to be pretty darn good! The tangy garlic sauce that the vendor had drizzled over the Stinky Tofu was amazing, particularly since I don't believe in the phrase: "too much garlic."

Then the smell came back. This time it was coming from my mouth and it pretty much ruined the entire experience for me.

I'm glad I tried Stinky Tofu, I really am. Now I don't have to wonder anymore. Overall, it's not as bad as you would imagine if you base your judgement on the horrendous smell. To be honest, I like the taste of Stinky Tofu a lot. Unfortunately, the pungent and often repugnant aroma comes with the territory, which is enough to repel me away for good. That, and the fact that the smell of Stinky Tofu remained in my mouth for the next three days! No amount of teeth brushing and flossing could get rid of it. It was basically torture, like the ghost of Stinky Tofu Past coming back to pay me a visit.

See, Stinky Tofu haunts me. Hopefully, now that I've met it face-to-face, I can lay Stinky Tofu to rest.

Thanks again to Brett of Our Tasty Travels for showing me that I don't have to fear Stinky Tofu anymore!

© Connie Hum 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

#TTOT Round-Up: Family Travel

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! There are two scheduled sessions to join: 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT. Follow the #TTOT hashtag on Twitter and join in on the fun!

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Family Travel!"

Q1 via : Which destination would you suggest to travel with your family -why? 
  • Yellowstone National Park - Kids would love watch Old Faithful & the others sprouting out
  • : Thailand. there are lots of activities for kids and their parents. great beaches and lots of sun all year long
  • Dubai, it has everything for families including the fantastic Aquaventure at Atlantis, make sure you take plenty of sun cream! 
  • Turkey - warm hospitable people and very friendly to kids. Found it to be safe for single women too
  • : I can speak for what dazzled me as a child - nature and animals! African Safari, Amazon Jungle, Galapagos and Alaska
  • : Probably obvious but I'd say Disneyland. Easy peasy
  • : NYC is fabulous with family of all ages!
  • It depends where you live, travelling too far with young children can be difficult so try and find somewhere nice, closer to home

Q2 via : What kind of travel/destination would you never do with family?
  • Africa, way to rough on small children
  • : I don't like taking the kiddies into malarial or dengue fever zones. I'd be worrying all the time 
  • : Nudist resorts are a big No No!
  • : India is not on my list with family... Too dangerous for kids specially if they catch the gastro!
  • : Spring Break
  • : I am not a fan of Las Vegas for kids but my pal says his kids LOVE it 
  • Anything too crowded and dangerous.. I would defo not got to places with hostile forces
  • : The 'Stans would be very hard to do w family in tow - Delhi Belly the whole time!
  • : Burning Man
  • : A caravan in Wales. Being cooped up in a tiny space with family for days on end while it rains is hell on earth

Q3 via : What is your best childhood family travel memory? 
  • Pretending it was night when passing through tunnels on the annual train journey between Bombay and Kerala when we were lil kids
  • : Getting stuck in Malaysia for a month because of the Gulf War back home. To a 7-year-old, that equals paradise. Or to a 26-yr-old
  • : A deer started to eat my sweater when I was a kid at SeaWorld's petting zoo. That was pretty funny
  • 2 years spent with family cruising the canals of N. France, Belgium & Holland on a home built 60 ft catamaran
  • : Disney was a great memory I first went at 21 though does that still class as a child?
  • Visiting the upstairs lounge on a transatlantic 747 with Dad. I miss the piano player
  • : Our camper van trips down through France and Spain
  • : Playing the license plate game on road trips
  • : My first plane trip was amazing, pancakes with syrup ( I was 10) !

Q4 via : To what extent do you involve the children in the planning of a trip?
  • : Great to have kids involved in travel planning. Brings the family together and teaches them essential life lessons
  • : I always get my son's globe out - then we make a list of things we'd like to do - he loves to travel
  • Depending on the age, children should be considered but not consulted
  • : Did that once. All we ate was chocolate and chips for dinner
  • We were never really involved in the planning of a trip, but had a say once we got there
  • My parents involved me... I plan to do the same some day
  • We give them options of things to do in each city
  • : I dont have kids, but my parents would decide on the destination, and my sister and I could each pick one thing we wanted to do
  • : I try to involve him as much as possible. We do it as a team

Q5 via : What's in your in-flight survival kit?
  • : My parents used to give my sis a sip of brandy to make her stop screaming on planes. It worked!
  • Thinking up a collection of 'Eye Spy' answers pre-flight, Nintendo DS, Ipod, and Boiled sweets for take off and landing=a MUST!
  • Keep them occupied. Bring them something to eat - and make it something you'd like to eat yourself
  • : Sick Bag
  • : Nintendo DS - so I can toss it into a circle of brats and watch them fight to the death
  • : When I travel with my daughter, we play WWF back and forth, but I hate that she's old enough now to want the window seat! Argh! 
  • Chocolate! A problem solver for every age

And there you have it, "Family Travel"!   

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Customs from Around the World." Submit your questions HERE! And don't forget to follow the #TTOT every Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT to chat about all things travel!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the Family Travel discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Taiwan's Brown Sugar Bubble Tea

When I decided to travel to Taiwan, I started asking around for can't-miss cultural and historically significant sights to visit food to eat. Just about everyone told me that I had to try the bubble tea. Although Taiwan's famous bubble tea had made it's way to the States even when I was still living in California, and it's just as popular in Hong Kong as in Taipei, everyone insisted that the bubble tea in Taiwan was different. Special.

I'm going to be honest, I don't really like bubble tea, or tapioca tea, as it's sometimes referred to. In fact, I kind of hate the "bubbles," the small, brown tapioca balls, found settling at the bottom of your otherwise tasty milk tea. They're just too bland and chewy for my liking. I also find the "bubbles" to be a choking hazard. Beware of this. Sip slowly and cautiously. Trust me! And did I mention that they are brown? I don't know. There are a lot of reasons why I'm not a fan.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for bubble tea, I was intrigued to try out Chen San Ding and their brown sugar tapioca ball version. Brown sugar makes pretty much everything better so why not bubble tea as well?

Located in Gongguan near Taipei National University and the Gongguan Night Market, Chen San Ding is an extremely popular bubble tea stand, even by Taipei standards. The long line during a rain shower contests to how loyal a following Chen San Ding's brown sugar milk tea has.

Thankfully, the line moves rather quickly and in no time, I was close enough to smell the sweetness and glimpse the famed brown sugar tapioca balls. My excitement was growing to monumental proportions at this point.

Finally, after the exchange of a mere $30 NT (less than $1 USD), the brown sugar milk tea was in hand! Was this to be my special bubble tea experience?

With the added sweetness of the brown sugar tapioca balls, the milk tea itself was not as sugary as the traditional milk teas, but the balance was absolutely perfect. In fact, I LOVED it! I'm officially a bubble tea convert, so long as the tapioca balls are made of brown sugar. Such a simple ingredient to truly make bubble tea different. Special. And I guess that was exactly what I was looking for.

Thanks to Joan of A Hungry Girl's Guide to Taipei for making the recommendation and to Brett of Our Tasty Travels for joining me on both occasions when I gorged on the brown sugar bubble tea!

Are YOU a fan of bubble tea? Have YOU tried the brown sugar version?

© Connie Hum 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

#TTOT Round-Up: Festival Travel

Every Tuesday it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Follow the #TTOT hashtag to see what all the commotion and Tweets are about! There are two sessions to join, one at 9:30am GMT and the other at 9:30pm GMT.

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT: 

Q1 via : What's the first thing that comes into your mind when you think of Festival?
  • Bright colors, loud music and FUN 
  • : Tents! And delicious food. And outrageous outfits. And hopefully good music!
  • MUSIC!!! and mud and food that will really clog your arteries.....and beer. Lots of beer! 
  • : Good times. Lots and lots (and lots) of good times
  • : Those big feather headdresses all the girls wear during Carnival
  • Kegs, 1-litre tankards, yard glasses - not beer containers but instruments from which you drink from
  • : If that festival is in the UK then definitely Wellingtons!
  • : Doobies & boobies

Q2 via : Everybody loves music and food festivals - what are the other top scorers?
  • Hot air balloon festival in Quebec or the International Puppet Festival in Ontario
  • : Enchanted Forest Festival in Pitlochry - an illuminated forest at night, absolutely beautiful & on now
  • : And of course, I dream of Oktoberfest
  • I'd say Holi in India. Had the best times of my life!
  • : Film festivals are always fun!
  • Done it before but I'd do it again: "The San Marcos National Fair" in Aguascalientes. Mexico's biggest festival
  • The garlic festival in Gilroy, CA. Who wants garlic ice-cream?
  • : As a full-time theater geek and part-time movie geek, Theater Festivals and Film Festivals are awesome
  • : Cultural, reflective festivals, like the Feast of Immaculate Conception in Rome 

Q3 via : If asked to name just one, which festival would you like to attend? 
  • : The Sauti za Busara fest on Zanzibar - the friendliest music on the planet & the spice island
  • : Cioccolart in Taormina! Tons of chocolate all for you to taste!
  • : If you want to discover true Balcan music, don't miss the Guča trumpet festival in Serbia!
  • : La Tomatina Festival
  • : I must go to Burning Man at least once before I die - MUST!
  • : I'd love to go to Disney Food & Wine Festival
  • : Have always wanted to attend the Cannes Film Festival
  • I need to go to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival

Q4 via : What is the furthest you've traveled to for festival? 
  • Paris to Arras (near Lille) for the Main Square Festival to see Pearl Jam 
  • : Rode in the bed of a truck from Phnom Penh to dusty middle of Cambodia to celebrate end of harvest! 
  • : Flew from London to Germany for a massive rave in an old abandoned RAF Fighter Jet base
  • : UK > Portugal for 9 days of PsyTrance at Boom - OMG!!!!
  • : Traveled to Brazil for Carnaval - one of the best experiences of my life!
  • : From Malaysia to Valencian Town of Buñol, for La Tomatina festival.

Q5 via : What's the weirdest thing you ever experienced at a festival?
  • : My friend burst a bouncy castle shaped like Beyonce's bum at Leeds Fest. We all got trapped in Beyonce's bum!
  • : Watching Slayer fans repeatedly shout SLAYER at each other for hours on end at Reading
  • : In a mock jail cell at the Boryeong Mud Festival where they chuck buckets of mud in your face
  • A clean porterloo on day 3 of the Isle of Wight Festival, I felt like I had won the lottery!
  • : On one of the Love Parade wagons, they were filming a porno
  • : People dressed as pickles at the Picklefest in NY State - hilarious
  • : If you didn't experience anything weird, you were not at a festival

And there you have it, "Festival Travel"!

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Communicating with Home." Submit your questions HERE! And don't forget to follow the #TTOT every Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT to chat about all things travel!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the Festival Travel discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2011

Have You Seen These?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...