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5 Of The Weirdest Foods Found In Asia

As we’ve mentioned several times when discussing our visit to the food stands of a night market in Beijing, or our culinary exploration of Taiwan, there’s very little food we don’t like or, at least, won’t try – even the dishes that are labelled as the “weirdest foods in Asia”. We’ve even surprised a lot of locals when they offer us different dishes that foreigners typically consider “weird Asian food”, and we eat with hearty enjoyment, but the Nomadic Boys, another couple of travellers whose culinary explorations always capture our attention, have put together a list for us of some weird foods they’ve tried in Asia, and we think that these may cause even us to hesitate.

Here’s their list, and experience, with 5 of the weirdest foods found in Asia:

Nomadic Boys Dive Head First Into Some Of  The

Weirdest Foods In Asia

 

Nomadic Boys mermaids photo

 

We are Stefan and Sebastien, a gay couple from London. Stefan is second generation Greek Cypriot, born and raised in North London and Sebastien is from Lyon in France.

We first met over 6 years ago in London and have been together since.

We have two main passions in common: food and travelling. So, we decided to combine the two and eat our way around the world together, starting with Asia. Nomadic Boys is our travel blog chronicling our adventures with our food discoveries.

Along the way we’ve encountered some delicious food, particularly in places like Sri Lanka, Vietnam and China.

But along the way we’ve also tried some pretty weird foods, and here’s 5 of them:

#1 Peking Duck Feet in Beijing, China

Stefan and Sebastien from The Nomatic Boys eating Peking Duck Feet in Beijing, China, one of the weirdest foods in Asia

 

Beijing is famous for its duck dishes (named after the city’s former name, Peking) and they are delicious. We had lots of yummy duck dishes ranging from roast to crispy.

But, the Chinese eat all parts of the duck. Literally, every single part of the duck is eaten including the face and the feet. Ok the face may have some flesh and is easier to stomach, but the feet?

We struggled with this a little bit.

#2 Airag (Fermented Mare’s Milk) in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Stefan drinking Fermented Mare’s Milk one of the weirdest foods in asia

Airag is fermented mare’s milk with a slight alcoholic content and popular with nomadic families throughout Mongolia. It dates back to the days of the Mongol empire in the 1200s when traditionally guests to a nomadic ger (their fast-to-assemble nomadic home) would be offered a bowl of airag along with a plate of dairy based treats.

We were quite excited to try airag as we had heard a lot about this drink before arriving.

But it’s absolutely disgusting: bitter and sour, like a yogurt that has passed its sell-by date by several months.

It is also supposed to have “cleansing” qualities and you are warned to go easy on it. We did not need to be warned as a few sips was more then enough to satisfy our airag curiosity once and for all.

#3 Vu Sua Fruit in Hoi An, Vietnam

Sebastien from The Nomadic Boys eating Vu Sua Fruit in Hoi An, Vietnam, which is considered to be one of the weirdest foods in Asia

Vietnam has the ideal tropical climate to keep us fruit lovers happy and we were spoiled with a variety of mangoes, dragon fruits, papaya, passion fruits…

In Hoi An (Central Vietnam), we stumbled upon a new fruit we’ve not yet come across in our travels around Asia: the breast milk fruit!

Actually it’s more formal name is ‘Star Apple’ (or Vu Sua in Vietnamese).

Star apples are juicy and sweet. They are so nicknamed because as you peel them, a few white milky drops dribble out, just like, er breast milk!

#4 A Platter of Bugs in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Fried crickets and silk worms anyone? Washed down with a platter of spring rolls with chopped red ants with fried giant water bug, tarantula and scorpion? All of this topped with a samosa containing chopped feta, spinach and tarantula…?

a plate of bugs and some of the weirdest foods in Asia- courtesy of The Nomadic Boys

Okay, we’re showing off now, but Cambodians make the most of what they have and cook these high-protein-easy-to-maintain creatures for a crunchy and quite chewy meal.

We were too shy about trying cooked bugs from the streets vendors in Cambodia, but instead visited the famous BUGS cafe in Siem Reap and sampled their discovery platter.

Sebastian from the Nomadic boys eating scorpion - the weirdest foods in asia

The fried scorpion particularly excited Sebastien. After he got over the whole psychology of ‘UN SCORPION…QUELLE HORREUR: IT’S A FRIGGIN’ SCOPRION!’ , he found it to be palatable, chewy and not so bad – almost like eating a prawn.

#5 Balut (Duck Embryo), The Philippines

Sebastien eating one of the most weirdest foods in Asia, Balut (Duck Embryo), in The Philippines

Now THIS bad boy always raises eyebrows with every foreigner visiting the Philippines.

Balut is a developing duck embryo boiled and eaten as a snack in the shell and with a splash of vinegar.

It is a popular street food snack that originated in the Philippines and is also frequently found in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Stefan from The Nomadic Boys eating Balut (Duck Embryo) in The Philippines, one of the weirdest foods in Asia

The ideal age of the duck embryo is 17 days (called balut sa pulaI), when the chick is almost fully formed with feathers, beak, claws and bones. Let’s just say it has a slight crunch to it…!

The alternative is a younger balut (known as balut sa puti): more mushy and gooey…equally as, er, tasty.

We tried a few baluts at Puka Beach on Boracay island in the Philippines and absolutely, er, loved (!) it. It tastes like a very concentrated egg flavour but with a very gooey, jelly-like texture with pieces in it.

What is the weirdest food in Asia you’ve ever tried? Comment below and let us know! 

 

 

 

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Unique Things To Do In RioOff -The Beaten

The Wanderbaums caught our eye with their fantastic Instagram account, and once we read their blog, we knew we wanted to have them as guest bloggers! They’ve written more about their time in Rio de Janeiro on their blog but have put together a great round-up of off-the-beaten-path must-dos while there, including some more of their great photos! 

5 Unique Things To Do In Rio de Janeiro

rio de janeiro, rio beaches, brazil beaches, brazil

Thanks to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro is quickly popping up on everyone’s radar. By the end of August next year, people everywhere will be exposed to the breathtaking views, the culture, and the must see spots all over Rio.

We were fortunate enough to visit back in 2013 and still haven’t gotten over how amazing this city is! Not only for all the top attractions like Sugarloaf mountain, Christ the Redeemer statue, Copacabana beach and dining at an all-you-can-eat steak house, but also for the smaller, hidden experiences you can discover in a city of 6 million people.

We’ve put together our top 5 “off the beaten path” things to do in Rio.

1. Try Some Local Delicacies

rio juice, juice in brazil

We are self-proclaimed foodies and when we travel, we get serious when it comes to researching restaurants and local cuisine to try on the trip. Many guide books will make sure you are aware of the Brazilian classic dish, feijoada, which is a beef and stew lunch favorite and many times served with the national drink, a caipirinha (South American take on a margarita). Though those may be the most popular local choices, a couple of our favorite treats turned out to be dulce de leche churros and coconut water straight from the fruit, both sold right on the beach.

coconuts on the beach rio de janeiro

Brazilians are much more into juicing than coffee or tea so we stopped at several juice bars to get some fresh pressed juices. The açai berry is extremely popular here in the states, but it originates in Brazil so do yourself a favor and get an açai smoothie the second you arrive- and every day until you leave!

churros brazil, rio brazil,

As for real substance, we enjoyed Spanish tapas the most. We took a taxi to a place we researched and when we arrived, we got out, the taxi left and we weren’t in the right spot. So we walked down the street and found a different tapas restaurant set in a beautiful white house, Entre Tapas. We were the only non-Cariocas (cariocas are people from Rio) and relied heavily on origins of words to order from a Portuguese menu but we had some of the best authentic Spanish tapas ever! A pleasant happenstance indeed.

2. Hit Up A Hippie Market

hippie market rio, rio de janeiro

Hippie market, flea market, open-air market, whatever term you prefer, use it and find one in Rio! We were dropped at the Hippie fair in Ipenema and found a huge array of artisan products from handmade pottery and jewelry to mugs and t-shirts. We found some amazing art that was priced so well we wound up buying several pieces and bonus, most of it was unframed and worked well to pack in our luggage.

3. Checkout Escadaria Selarón

Selaron Brazil

This alley is pretty popular now thanks to Pinterest, but it’s most definitely a photo worthy stop. A little west of the city center is a winding pedestrian street with mosaic tile art covering the stairs leading up to the Saint Teresa neighborhood. Just don’t go too far up the path because they lead to a rough, impoverished area. The Selarón artwork is much more touristy now so safety is less of a concern, but being aware is just as important.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Venture Into the City Centre

rio de janeiro city center

Going into the heart of the city, where the locals work and live, is not great for English-only speakers, but it’s very doable to get by. I’m going to get on my soap box for a second so bare with me… Honestly, we came across many language barriers in Rio, but we were blessed with wonderfully friendly Cariocas that were willing to give us directions, help us understand the ordering system at restaurants, explain road signs for us and they did it with the friendliest smiles! Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re lost or confused. Guide books can only help you for so long!

Travessa do Comercio rio de janeiro

Anyway back to the city center… It’s beautiful, full of gorgeous 17th and 18th century architecture and it has the most authentic spot for cafés and pastries. Specifically, the Travessa do Comércio area where the cobblestone alleyways are filled with restaurants and coffee shops. It sounds a lot more like Italy than Rio, but that’s what we loved about the city, so magnificently unexpected!

5. Explore A Different Beach

ipanema beach rio de janeiro

Most moderately priced hotels will be on Copacabana beach which is why many tourists stay put, but if you venture just a little south, along the coast line, you’ll hit Ipanema and Leblon beaches. If you like your space, Leblon tends to be less crowded and Ipanema is famous for its views of the twin brothers (Dois Irmãos) mountain. It’s worth the
visit just to see it at sunset.

Both areas offer restaurants and wonderful shopping just across the street from the sand. It’s like taking a taxi from Soho, New York and ending up at Miami beach… Does it get any better?

twin brothers rio de janeiro

If you plan to visit Rio de Janiero in the future, we hope these things make your list. Also, check out our detailed blog post about the more popular and frequented visited places in Rio.

 

Do you have a favourite off-the-beaten-path destination in Rio? Comment below and tell us about it!

 


From The Wanderbaums!

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If you are interested, please visit our site over at www.wanderbaums.weebly.com.

We also want to thank Carolann and Macrae for allowing us space on their site to tell you all about our Brazil trip! Thank you guys so much!!

Until Next Time, C + D


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4 Years, 38 Countries, 1 Man and His Bike

Friends and Family Across the World

Since we started our full-time travels, we’ve met so many amazing people. On our first day in Beijing, we made an instant friend – yes we’re talking about you Emily – and since then we’ve acquired a travel family, the Wagoners, a Thai family through Airbnb, a Taiwanese-Serbian family through couchsurfing and made friends and connections, across the world.  While we are still in contact with many, some people we met were just fleeting interactions that left long-term impressions on us, like the loud, friendly American from Long Island we met at a Thai restaurant in Chiang Mai who told us his life story, or some of the Airbnb and couchsurfing hosts we stayed with, who took time to talk about their life and travels. It’s crazy how many connections you meet, how many lives touch yours and how small this world really becomes when you travel. We’ve consistently run into people from a variety of walks of life, doing all manner of things, and we’ve been continually in awe of how many incredible stories there are.

Recently, we met Taro in Fukuoka, Japan. He was helping host the Airbnb rental where we were staying and when we met up at the restaurant where he works to pick up the key, we took time to chat with him and hear one absolutely inspiring travel story.

Meet Taro:

taro

Now 31 years old, Taro has only recently returned from 4 years of travel… on a bicycle. If you’re not as astonished as we were, we’d be very surprised. He said that more than 90% of his travel from Japan to England, and back again, was via his bicycle, with only a few flights in between when absolutely necessary! Born and raised in Osaka, Japan, Taro was working as a store manager for several years at a popular CD, DVD and comic store. He had travelled to several countries prior, including Mexico, the US, Cuba, Vietnam and Taiwan, where his love of travel thrived and grew.

We felt a kinship with Taro. Here was someone who also loves to visit new countries and really get to know the culture and people. We could tell, just by listening to him share his stories, and his videos – which you can watch on Taro’s YouTube channel – how happy travel makes him and how much he looks forward to his next adventure.

taro cave

We wanted to share his travel story with you and decided to ask him a few questions about his decision to leave, and his journey back to Japan:

Q: Why did you decide to travel? How did you do it?

A: Just out of curiosity. I just wondered if I could do it by bike or not, so I saved money and left.

Q: What was the route you took, did you map the way you went?

A: The route I took:

Started from Hongkong-China-Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan-

Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey-Greece-Italy-France-Spain-Morocco-

Spain-Portugal-UK-Ireland-UK-Denmark-Sweden-Finland-

Poland-Czech-Slovakia-Hungary-Serbia-Bulgaria-Turkey-Georgia-

Armenia-Iran-Dubai-India(by air)-Nepal-Thailand(by air)-Myanmar-

Thailand-Laos-Thailand-Cambodia-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore-

Taiwan(by air)-Okinawa-Japan (3weeks cycling to my home)

taro sunset bicycle

Q: Why on a bicycle?

A: I wanted to travel a path, not point to point. The slower the speed, the more we can see the things we don’t notice when moving at a high speed. The same can be said about our lives in general.

Q: What did you take with you?

A: Too much… 40kg of luggage plus a 20kg bike. The luggage included a tent, sleeping bag, mat, cooking stove, bike repair tools, GPS, clothes, spare bike parts, emergency food, etc.

Taro Bicycle travel

Q: What was the hardest part of your travels?

A: The hardest part was when I was in Kyrgyzstan.  Even with everything I brought, I didn’t have enough stuff to protect me from the freezing cold when I experienced terrible strong winds and hail at the top of the pass.

taro winter camping

Q: How long did you plan to travel? How long were you gone for?

A: I was planning to travel like that for 2-3 years, but for some reason (mostly laziness), I prolonged it. Sometimes I felt like stopping for a while at one place. I didn’t want go out, not even from the bed of my guesthouse. In total, I travelled for 4 years.

Q: What was your most memorable experience? 

A: In Nepal. I tried to climb up to the highest pass (altitude of 5416m) with my bike. I took a difficult route to get to the top, and gave up near 5100m. I’ll never forget the colour of the sky above 5000m altitude.

taro climbing the pass

Q: What is your favourite place that you travelled?

A: Nepal. Everything is perfect for me – the people, food, prices and landscape.

Q: Why did you go back home to Japan?

A: Simply, I spent all my money. I also felt like doing something new. Maybe i’ll go on a different style trip or for business. Right now, I’m working out the details.

taro campsite

Q: Where do you want to go next?

A: Bhutan, Mongolia, the Kamchatka peninsula and New Zealand.

Q: What did you learn through your travels?

A: My own strengths and weaknesses as well as to value and fear nature and humans.

taro amazing view

 

Q: What advice do you have for others who want to travel as you did?

A:

  • Just endure the first couple of weeks, you’ll get used to the circumstances.
  • Don’t try to do ridiculous things.
  • Prepare yourself for the hard times.
  • Also, humans are the most frightening aspects of travel, so don’t compromise when you choose the place to pitch a tent.

Q: What’s your best travel tip?

A: Do the same as the locals do.

 

Taro’s story is a unique one. It’s not everyday you run into someone who has travelled for four years, mainly via a bicycle and sleeping in a tent. Comment below and let us know if you would do something like this.

Don’t forget to check out Taro’s YouTube videos of his amazing journey: Taro’s YouTube channel

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Visiting the Faroe Islands with MappingMegan

 

This photo is of a traditional wooden church in the small village of Giljanes on the island of Vagar in the Faroe Islands and was graciously provided, along with the below, by Megan from MappingMegan.com as our first guest blogger post.

The Faroe Islands are easily the most beautiful in the world. Between inspiring scenery, untamed nature, and dramatic landscapes, the islands are unspoiled, unexplored and absolutely unbelievable. Every scene is spectacular, and every view takes your breath away.

Faroe Islands is a small archipelago of Islands in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. The islands are some of the most remote in the world, and as such, have remained largely unchanged by time, and uninfluenced by modern societies.

The islands are made up of small villages with beautiful traditional buildings, some of which date back to the Viking age. Traditional wooden churches are constructed across the islands, with each more beautiful than the next. One other particularly noticeable feature of Faroese architecture is the prevalence of houses with grass roofs. Look very closely at the picture above and you will realize many of the homes have green roofs. These are made from grass for insulation during the winter months. 

This is one of just many photos which will make you want to jump on a plane to the Faroe Islands

 

mappingmegan

 

About The Author: Adventure traveller and blogger Megan, is travelling, writing, photographing and experiencing the world with her husband Mike whom she met while in Africa. Together they showcase the best of adventure travel from around the globe. For more about their adventures, check out MappingMegan.com