Sunday, September 20, 2009

Twitter Twit Twittering.... Tweet!

So I've finally given into Twitter. Now anyone can track me down by either checking out the Twitter Gadget on the right side of this blog, or following me on (please add me!).

Now I can let the world know when I am stuck in a squatter toilet with no toilet paper:

delucajon OMG, that Vietnamese sandwich I ate at lunch wanted to get out fast, squatter- and no tp hehe LMAO-literally. sent from mobile 22 minutes ago

In reality, it's because of my new job. As communications officer, I was given the responsibility of "figuring out" social media (probably because I am the youngest at work). How can I resist? I can spend hours reading about how Twitter and Facebook can help raise awareness. And my boss can't tell when I'm on the organisation's Facebook account or my own!

All this reading on social media convinced me my life would be much better if only I could summarise it in a 140 character message that's beamed across the internet.

So......   follow me!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cockroach Encounters

Photo: Definitely not the largest I've encountered. This was in a bathroom in Halong City. 
The other day while cooking some pasta, a cockroach popped it's head out from my house mates cupboard just above the stovetop. I panicked. I grabbed a can of Raid (or more like Rade, considering the knock-offs they have here) and trembled as I tried to extinguish it's life. 

I thought above writing a post about this in story-form. But then figured it might be boring. So I thought, why not write it from the Cockroaches perspective?
'Exquisite!' I say aloud. A little bit too loud, so I glance over at my little larvae hanging out near the bottle of olive oil to make sure they are still asleep. I've come across a bag of Swiss muesli, a welcome change from the usual cupboard full of dried noodles and bottles of soy sauce in the next house over. Though I usually avoid lighted areas, I slowly make my way to the other side of the door. I am kindly rewarded. Underneath me is some sort of giant shiny cylindrical object that is rattling faintly and spewing steam from its sides while a comfortably hot airy mass hugs it's way up the cupboard. I rub my antennae together, soaking up as much heat as i can before i retreat back into the frigid 35 degree cupboard and it's strange foodstuff.

But wait- Sensing something i quickly freeze my antennae. Just beyond the silvery cylinder, a shadow slowly comes into focus. It looks strangely assembled. I long vertical body, with a silly and round top, and only two visible limbs. It moves closer, and then notice it is awkwardly moving on another set of two limbs. What a strange and sad creature. Surely, it too has come to bathe in the steam and warmth of this cylindrical god i have come to worship.

This sluggish creature moves so slow, i think to myself. It's surely taken it a whole 2 minutes just to saddle up to this silver steam god. Quickly, i notice this creature is also in possession of some strange metal cylindrical god. In one of its limbs it holds it up above the steaming god, closer to me. I then notice that attached to this large limb, there are four more limbs – no- five. Four are wrapped around this new cylindrical deity while another is firmly sitting on top.

SHIT – It dawns on me.... This is the monster from the tales grandma told me about. The ladybug coloured metal cannister filled with a water so potent it will send my exoskeleton into shock. I quickly dart to the other side of the cabinet. I wait to see if this sluggish creature can catch me in time, I can hardly contain my breath. I dash back over to where I emerged and the loudest most shrill screech escapes from the metallic devil. Deafened not only by this deathly noise, but also from my pin-head sized heart pumping, I finally seek refuge inside the cupboard. Shaking, I wait between a package of oatmeal and a bottle of fish sauce.....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Vietnamese Recipe: đậu phụ sả ớt (tofu with lemongrass and chili)

One of the main things I do here is cook (and eat). I will be posting some recipes that I've found, formulated or adapted.
This dish is for tofu with lemongrass and chilli. I learnt this one in Hoi An,
  • 200g of tofu
  • 2 tsp of oyster sauce (or veggie oyster sauce or kecap manis or you can leave out)
  • 3 tsp of stock powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 or 2 small red chilli (depending on level of spiciness)
  • 2 stems of lemongrass, chopped (or you can use dry slices, maybe a couple of tablespoons?)
  • 8 large cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 tbs oil
  • 2 tbs water
  1. Cut tofu into cubes, and fry in a lot of oil until the cubes are sufficiently browned. Drain and set aside 
  2. Put garlic, lemongrass and chilli in a mortar and pestle and grind to a paste. You can also use a hand blender.
  3. Fry the lemongrass and garlic mixture lightly in oil on medium high heat, to let out the fragrance. Maybe a couple of minutes.
  4. Then add the rest of the ingredients: sugar, sesame oil, stock powder, oyster sauce and water
  5. When the mixture starts to bubble, lower the heat and throw in the fried tofu.
  6. When thoroughly heated through, it's ready to serve.
This recipe serves maybe two people if you will eat other dishes, à la Vietnamese style. Otherwise I would definitely double this recipe.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lao Trip Part 2: Kayaking in Pictures

Day One: we had no idea what was in store
We also didn't know we'd be eating delicious vegetarian food off of a banana leaf.
The team.
Along the way we passed many random Lao sightings. Kids fishing, families bathing, livestock...
It started to rain at one point. This is me and Lélé. We bickered about half the time, but quickly smiled for this rainy shot.
Day 2: right before we went into a complex of rapids. Not the scariest, I only thought I would die about 2 times.
I think I got a urinary tract infection after this swim
At the end of day 2, it also started raining.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lao Trip

The trip to Lao was incredibly amazing. Not only because everyone living in the house went, but also because it seems we packed so many different things into one trip. For one, our transport was quite varied:
  • Walking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Swimming
  • Tuk-Tuk
  • Jumbo (like a tuk-tuk, but a retrofitted pick-up truck)
  • Rickety wooden boat
  • Long ferry boat
  • Kayak
  • Elephant
Compared to Vietnam, Lao is a peaceful sleepy country. The city of Luang Prabang, where we spent most of the week, is a World Heritage City. I suppose mainly because of this UNESCO designation (of which Quebec City is as well), the city is a tad bit too touristy for my liking. Too many French-style cafés serving baguettes and croissants. I suspect the average Lao or Luang Prabang resident doesn't (or can't afford to) eat in these restaurants.

Here are some photos of my trip

Kids egging on a monk to throw down jackfruits.

After losing 3 house mates because of the treacherous climbing and the unkown reward, we came upon this beautiful set of cascading waterfalls. Amazingly deep and blue. We spend way too long here.
The village we overnighted in during our kayak trip. Complete with chickens, boars, palm trees, a giant hornets nest in the room, friendly Lao people, and the drunk Lao guy who we heard vomit all night long.

We took an hour and a half boat ride to see a whole in a cliff (a cave, they call it) with 2000 buddha's in it.
The scariest ride I have ever had in my life. I kept thinking of how the inability to sue people for responsibility in much of the developping world means that safety provisions haven't been instituted. It was raining and muddy going up these mud cliffs. I kept seeing my housemate's giant elephant slip in the mud, and wondered how my seemingly less-experienced and smaller elephant would be able to climb it.