Travel: Finding Peace in Pokhara – The Himalayas, Nepal


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The triumphant sun emerged, beaming over the valley still rousing from slumber. The mountains shrugged off its shroud of cold mist that dissolved into the warm, comforting glow of the rising orb. It kissed the mountaintops, and caressed the pointed roofs of the vibrant painted houses. There is a profound silence in the first moments of the day that reaches deep inside you. The morning was filled with an incredible, calming peace. But as with all beautiful moments, it’s short-lived. Soon, the roosters crowed, the dogs barked and people came out of their houses to wash, water their plants and rev up their scooters for a day of work. The city came alive almost suddenly against the backdrop of the breathtaking Himalayas.

Welcome to Pokhara, the gateway to the Annapurna mountain ranges.

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There are few places with more natural, untouched beauty than Nepal. I made a trip there alone a few weeks ago to do some work with a local orphanage (more on that soon!), and was reminded of why I fell in love with the place when I was backpacking there some years ago.

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Political strikes marked my last stay in Pokhara. This was in 2011 before the earthquake of 2015, and the time when the Maoists were taking over. It was exciting, but much of the city was stopped in its tracks. People gathered in large crowds on the streets, shouting, chanting and raising banners with political slogans. Some lit large fires, shopkeepers closed their businesses and buses stopped running. I remember cycling through the streets and marvelling at all the overwhelming emotion, anger and activity. It was a fascinating time to be there as a foreigner, but it didn’t showcase the city at its best.

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This time though, I experienced the true warmth of the community. What I thought was amazing hospitality the last time, was only amplified without chaos in the streets.

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Some of the simplest but most sublime pleasures is just to sip Nepalese Chai in the Himalayan gardens. Instead of just pouring boiling water onto a teabag and adding milk and sugar as a haphazard afterthought, so much love and individed attention goes into each delicious cup.

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Finely-ground tea leaves are placed into a saucepan before milk and sugar are added.

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Musings: I Left My Heart in Siem Reap, Cambodia


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There are just some places you go to, and people you meet that you never quite recover from. They leave an indelible mark on your soul. They change you immeasurably. And you marvel at how people you spend such a short time with can nudge the needle on your inner compass to a truer North.

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In 2009, I made my first trip to Siem Reap to volunteer in an orphanage run by a lovely Australian couple called Wat Preah Yesu. I’m more partial to secular aid, but am very cognisant of the fact that sometimes, it doesn’t matter why people do good things, as long as it makes the world a better place. As someone who sees aid and charity work as a core goal in life, I struggle with vetting potential organisations, rampant corruption, deciding what form of aid is best, and constantly evaluating if the projects are really helping these people in the big scheme of things. I’m still chipping away at all of this, and learning as I go. But at the end of the day, you learn to question only to a certain point. Because once you allow paranoia to set in, you will lose heart. And without it, we are but animals.

I want to share the story of two children who have changed my life. Everyone, meet Sert and Neng.

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Review: Tae Woo Korean Restaurant, Clarke Quay


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Oodles of mouthwatering noodles! Just look at that glistening bowl of savoury, caramelised goodness. It’s the craving for a bowl of delicious Jajangmyeong (Korean Black Bean Noodles) that lured us into the cosy embrace of Tae Woo Restaurant in Central Mall.

It’s a great place to unwind with friends and tuck into a good variety of simple Korean fare. They could be more generous with some of their ingredients, but overall, the food was rather comforting, much like a home cooked meal.

Overall: ★★★1/2 ☆☆
Price: $$

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First off, the wooden tables, chairs, decorative fruit, cookware and little spice cabinets made the whole place feel cosy and like you’d just entered someone’s home. We were led by very friendly Korean service staff to our seats and presented with the menus.

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Totally famished, we decided to go for the Summer Course of 6 seasonal dishes at roughly $29 per person (minimum order of two portions).

After a simple Naengchae (cold dish platter), we had this rather interesting Nurungji Ge-sal (scorched rice with crabmeat soup).

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The texture of the egg whites in the soup is quite unique and took a little getting used to. While it wasn’t really a hit with my fellow diners, I actually quite like the fluffy, light texture of the egg white bobbing on some light broth. There wasn’t much by way of crab meat although the scorched rice lent a fragrant, toasted flavour to the otherwise mild soup. The textures came together quite nicely, and it was interesting to try a soup so different than anything I’d ever had.

Next up, the Yoo Rin Ki (Fried Chicken with Hot Soy Bean Sauce).

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I really liked this dish. And i’m not even particularly a big fan of fried chicken. I think it had a lot to do with the way the tender meat was coated in a thin, tasty batter fried a beautiful crispy golden brown. And drizzled with a generous helping of a sauce that was at once sweet, sour and packed quite a kick with all the chopped green and red small chillies. All of those incredible flavours just coming together in the mouth.. This was highly addictive.

And then, something light. This Gochu Japchae & Kot Bbang (Sautéed Shredded Pork with Green Pepper).

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Travel: The Little Black Forest Town of Gengenbach, Germany


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Straight out of a fairytale from the Brothers Grimm, Gengenbach’s magical appeal lies in its excellent location in the scenic Black Forest, its nostalgic old world charm, and the fact that barely any tourists have discovered its beauty. Triberg, Baden-Baden and Schiltach are the more popular of the Black Forest towns, but I’d decided to make a day trip here for more peace and quiet, and to soak up its picturesque architecture and hill views.

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Oh, and of course, sampling some authentic Black Forest Cake! But more on that in just a bit. Let’s take a little stroll around town.

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The first thing that strikes you is the truly unique, old-fashioned Fachwerkhäuser (timber  framed houses)This style of architecture was popular before the 19th Century and is characterised by its use of lumber posts and beams to create a solid foundation before the rest of the house is filled in. Germany and the Alsace region are home to the most number of these beautiful structures.

Town Square

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Let’s head to the middle of the town square, where like many European towns, there’s a farmer’s market. I love the smell of fresh bread in the air and the gorgeous array of colours and smells. There was an abundance of fruit, vegetables, flowers, spices and teas.

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Jakobskapelle (St Jakobus Chapel)

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A real highlight of my day spent here was the short hike up to Jakobskapelle. I’d heard of a little chapel on a hill that boasts spectacular views of the nearby towns and mountainous region of the Black Forest. But it was so obscure that it didn’t even show up on GoogleMaps.

Quick Tip: Just type in this address to find your way there — Auf dem Abtsberg 4B, 77723 Gengenbach, Germany

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This was the stunning view about halfway up. I felt my spirits instantly lifted with the cold, fresh mountain air, the gravel crunching beneath my feet, the grass still glistening with dew.

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