Tag Archives: food

London marathon


I don’t recommend a London crash course weekend! Yet, that is exactly what we did thanks to my poor planning. We flew from India to London for 3 nights/2 days before our final destination, Brazil. While we maximized our feet walking 26+ miles and seeing some wonderful history and culture, London deserves more respect and I hope that someday we may stay longer.

Double-decker Bus

Take a deep breath, put your power walking shoes on, and enjoy the snapshot. We essentially took 4 walking tours in 2 days:

Walking shoes

During a typical London fashion rainstorm, we trooped through with our free guide (but not so free) who entertained us with royal history on Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and a canceled changing of the guard – when it rains…


The second tour was a night trawling for the grim reapers of London’s dark side. Sebastian & I saw criminal history including Jack the Ripper.



Our third was a self-guided walk of Kensington Palace & Gardens where the most talked about royals, Prince William & Kate, reside. This included a lovely fashion exhibit showing the royal styles over the years including many Lady Diana dresses.

Nice hips!

Nice hips!

Kensington Garden

Kensington Garden

Fashion Rocks

Fashion Rocks

Finally, London would not be complete without a Tower tour. The fortress that guards the Crown Jewels and has kept many aDSCN6555criminal jailed as well as queens and consorts that fell out of favor. The Nepalese Gurkha guards happened to be on duty which reminded us of our times in India and the shakes of Nepal’s earthquake only weeks earlier. We walked across London Bridge to Borough Market for a fantastic lunch on whatever your heart desires. Louisa and I shared a meat pie from The Pie Minister while Sebastian and Leti chowed down on pulled pork and dogs.

Nepalese Gurkha

Nepalese Gurkha

London Tower Ladies

London Tower Ladies

Borough Market

Borough Market


For our big night out, we went to the Royal Drury Lane Theater for Charlie & Chocolate Factory. Despite our nosebleed seats from above, the show was fun and entertaining for the whole family. CCFAnd if that’s not enough, we did our best to eat like kings. We dined on burgers and beer at famous Patty & Bun – something we all craved. Leti ate her favorite meal – chicken livers while I enjoyed a classic fish & chips at the Royal Automobile Club where we stayed. The girls had a chance to spend an afternoon shopping and English tea at 5 star Brown’s Hotel while the boys climbed Monument that is like a lighthouse in the center of the city with great views!

As you can imagine, we departed London in exhaustion and ready for some Rio beach time!

English Tea @ Brown's Hotel

English Tea @ Brown’s Hotel

English Tea @ Brown's Hotel

Love the dress!

Royal Automobile Club

Royal Automobile Club











The Red Box

The Red Box

Horse Guard

Horse Guard

Shwedagon of Rangoon

For starters, I’m not a fan of the Yangon, Myanmar naming and prefer the old style of Rangoon, Burma. Part of it has to do with my inadequate language skills and the other reason is history. Did you know the name Burma comes from Portuguese? While that may be, much of the remaining colonial feel is all British as our first night happy hour beer was around the corner from our hotel at the posh Strand hotel.


We set low expectations for Burma believing that accommodations would be subpar, technology (school) a haphazard risk, and full board tourist gouging. Doesn’t sound like much fun but Leticia has been determined to visit Burma so we go. We consolidated our backpacks by only taking 2 for the trip and leaving 2 in storage at the airport – brilliant idea and so nice to travel light!

Our flight was on Air Asia which our dear friend, Ed de Chant (retired United Airlines pilot), has been adamant about us not flying any Asian airlines due to poor pilot training. Sorry Ed but we had slim pickings to choose from in getting to Burma. However, we do warn everyone traveling in Asia to abide by Ed’s words of wisdom; the accidents are not a result of plane problems (Boeing or Airbus) but pilot error. Fly with more experienced pilots and airlines.


We arrive safely in Rangoon to an impressive airport – to give you a comparison, nicer and cleaner than Rio – and we easily arrange taxi as well as our bus ride to Bagan which is a good thing because tickets were nearly sold out!


Daily newspaper prep


Buddhists, Shoppers, and Synagogue


Second impression is our hotel, Aung Tha Pyay, which I dare you to say 10 times fast! Not as bad as I would have imagined and moving in the right direction. For instance, there is a stocked bar in the refrigerator and a flat screen tv to watch Bollywood movies and football. And for the ladies, a Western toilet and hot water shower is always welcome. We requested a family room which we got for 3 people…they looked at us and yes, a family room in Asia is for 1 child, not 2! Doh! Less than 10 minutes later a new bed was added with sheets and everything. Consistent service throughout our stay speaks to the great job that management has done in training and this is a reflection of what you see around much of Rangoon.



Neon sign at the Shwedagon Pagoda!


The two highlights of our stay in Rangoon were pagoda Shwedagon and the food. The pagoda is very large and you walk up quite a few steps to reach it. It’s considered one of the oldest in the world (est. 2,600 years) and claims to have some of the Buddha’s hairs which drives many a follower to visit. The main golden dome dominates the skyline of the city and it’s very impressive. As you walk around it, there are a number of smaller temples and monuments including a prayer spot for each day of the week. Since I was born on a Sunday, I went to Sunday and performed the ritual of pouring water on the Buddha six times while making a wish; if the kids stay in school, I have no fear that my wish will come true! Shwedagon is my favorite temple of all the religious spots we have visited.



Dining in Rangoon left us both happily full and impressed with the quality of our meals and service. We covered both low to high end: 999 Noodles which is a 2nd generation dive establishment that serves great local Burmese food for a grand total of $11. We spent the same amount on 2 rounds of beers at the Strand Hotel which was just as rewarding for its historic significance. We escaped the city by visiting Rangoon Tea House which sits on the second floor of a busy street; however, you wouldn’t know it thanks to the jazz music and large open space that immediately calms you. They serve traditional tea faring food which includes Crab Rangoon, Bao and Samosas along with Burmese minced meat with spices on a piece of Naan. Ohhh, we ate to our hearts content and Leticia had the largest coconut water I’ve ever seen. We expected to have a low key dinner after the lunch fest but…that changed quickly at Gekko, a Japanese/Korean trendy spot near our hotel. Leti went in with the plans to order a Miso soup and share some edamame. But when the rest of us ordered Korean BBQ ribs and fried chicken along with some spicy string beans, well, everyone indulged! Dessert was a nice mix of creme brulee with passion fruit poured on top. Fortunately, the walk home was short and we rolled into bed.


The stories of Burma will continue and we shared some wonderful life experiences including ballooning over Bagan at sunrise but I’ll let the rest of the family share that with you. One final message is that the people of Burma are really kind. I had many experiences of simply talking to locals because they are curious about us and others where a local would help us simply because they wanted to.


Green noodles w fish eggs – Yum!


Bicycle taxi


I ♥ Bangkok

We departed Siem Reap, Cambodia, early in the morning via bus to Bangkok. Compared to our 2 awesome bus experiences in Singapore and Malaysia, this version was truly the cattle call from start to finish. Just picture a bunch of western tourists waiting on the side of a busy polluted Siem Reap road to the fear of said same group nearly losing the bus at the chaotic border crossing into Thailand and you get the idea. But we survived, tired and dirty and arrived in Bangkok late in the afternoon. Our Airbnb host, Toy, picked us up at the bus station in Chatuchak which in itself was wonderful after the long ride.

It was the 2nd visit to Bangkok for Chris (1989) and myself (2008) and we were both excited to return to this crazy city. We split our 9 days in Bangkok between 2 Airbnb apartments. The first half we stayed in a trendy building – Urbano Absolute, in the Riverside area. Imagine working out in the gym followed by an infinity pool swim on the 40th floor with 360 degree views of the city. We walked to the Hilton Millennium SkyBar for drinks/appetizers and of course amazing views. Another day we toured the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and its Reclining Buddha where the kids made contributions to the 40 different wishing pots – I hope they come true!

IMG_1848 DSCN3879

Another day we shopped the Chatuchak Market. Louisa quickly became the guru of negotiations by befriending many a vendor to wheel and deal for all kinds of goods! It is entertaining to watch your daughter negotiate with people and she certainly did a great job! We also got lost in Chinatown meandering around and rode the touristy tuk-tuk for a ride. We also visited Sky Asiatique, a riverfront area with tons of shops and restaurants, and the highest ferris wheel in Thailand.

Our 2nd apartment relocated us on the same street of the fabulous Jim Thompson House in Siam Square. I liked this area better because of the action and activities nearby. Skytrain, the National StadiumMBK Shopping Center, Siam Paragon, BACC, and many other fun things to do are just steps away.  The Jim Thompson House was certainly my favorite attraction and a nice break from the temples. The architecture and peaceful garden are unique, not to mention the cute store with beautiful silk items! We even returned for dinner at the JT restaurant and were not disappointed as the food and service were excellent and we enjoyed the Thai delicacies.

DSCN3849 DSCN3873 IMG_1818

I could not finish the blog post without mentioning Thai food. Just as in Penang, food is a vital part of our trip and it could not be any different in Bangkok. The street food is really out of this world and generally safe to eat. Just on our street, for example, there was a nice lady with her food cart every day and we became regulars trying nearly all of her dishes. I love all the fresh fruit and juices that you can buy on the street too. My favorite dessert is Khao Niaow Ma Muang (sticky rice with mango), which is a Thai classic. So yummy!  The malls also have some amazing and diverse food courts. We enjoyed the 5th Food Avenue at the MBK and the fantastic Eathai, at the Central Embassy mall, the upscale street food court with a wealth of regional Thai food.

Why do I love Bangkok? Well, some visitors may think that 2-3 days in Bangkok is enough. I, on the other hand, think that 10 days cuts you short! There are so many interesting sites and one of the best things about Bangkok is simply sitting at the food stalls and observing the surroundings, the people and the chaos. Yes, it is a chaotic city but it has also a touch of ultra-modern and cosmopolitan attractions, just like in Singapore, but keeping it a lot more real, diverse and true to its origin.

IMG_1796 DSCN3829


Sebastian’s favorite soccer player is here!


The boy scouts