Travel
Destinations
FIRST LESSON: START SLOWLY

FIRST LESSON: START SLOWLY

Published June 24, 2005

Here’s what I did learn from my head-first eating experiences. First, if you’re serious about street food in Thailand, it’s best to break in your stomach slowly by eating small amounts of fresh fruit and spicy foods at the start of your trip. It’s also wise to always stick to bottled water and stay away from ice. The cheap prices – a basic plate of pad thai fried noodles usually runs a whopping $1 – may encourage a dangerous all-you-can-eat streak. But new flavours, ingredients, and microbes require some getting used to. After a few days you’ll be ready to tackle the more mysterious local specialities. (I never did work up the courage to practice what I preach by “participating” in the crispy insect fritters, though.)
Second, I became wary of Western-style restaurants, which may rely on imported ingredients and refrigeration. (One of Chiang Mai’s oddest must be Bierstube, which serves German beer and schnitzel alongside Thai favourites.) We know someone who ate a poorly-frozen chicken burger and was laid up for three days with serious diarrhoea and a fever. When you’re ready to dive into the diverse dining scene of Chiang Mai, Heuan Sontharee is an enchanting first stop. Here you’ll find regular Thais alongside a scant supply of farang, all enjoying northern delicacies like nam, which are strong pork, rice, and garlic sausages, and steamed Ping River fish in fermented sauces. Local celebrity and folk singer Sontharee Wechanon owns the multi-tiered riverfront establishment on the town’s northern outskirts. Glowing lights and haunting traditional Thai music make for a memorable evening.
It’s here that I notice the irony of my diehard travel mantra. In their effort to blend in, the foreigners wear the vivid, hand-woven jackets and sarongs of the mountain folk. But the locals have long since shed their traditional attire, preferring Western dress shoes and button-down shirts.
In the same neighbourhood is Khao Soi Samoe Jai, where natives outnumber the brave farang 20 to 1 and no-nonsense waiters serve up some of the city’s best khao soi (egg noodles with meat in a curried coconut soup) and satay (grilled meats). Rumor is, the chef was once noodle maker to the king. Heuan Phen, in the centre of the old city, is also little known to tourists. An informal street-side eatery during the day, it has a suite of antique-decorated rooms open only in the evening. Just thinking now of their local dishes like laap khua (minced-meat salad) makes us miss Chiang Mai.



Travel
Destinations
<?php the_title(); ?>

Iceland In Miniature

by

Having planned to spend much of this summer—my first summer in Iceland, in fact—gallivanting around the country, I’ve instead spent most of my time in the city, close to home. But today, I’m lucky. In the name of research, my partner and I get twelve hours to explore the Snæfellsnes peninsula. This is “Iceland in miniature,” I’ve been told, a veritable “Best Of” sampler where many of the country’s most sought-out natural wonders exist side by side. Above The Lava Field Circumnavigating the whole peninsula would only take about three hours, but with limited time at our disposal, we decide

Travel
Destinations
<?php the_title(); ?>

A School For The Beer-Curious

by

In a small lecture hall doubling as a private bar, twenty men raise their glasses and have a big gulp of Egils Gull as Stefán “Stebbi” Pálsson begins the bjórskólinn (“beer school”) curriculum. The school is hosted by Ölgerðin, one of Iceland’s two largest breweries, and offers the obtuse a chance to learn more about beer and its culture. We recommend that students don’t arrive on an empty stomach and pace themselves, as even the hardiest of people can be toppled by the school’s free refills. We begin our adventure by looking into the history of beer and its culture.

Travel
Destinations
<?php the_title(); ?>

Furiously Chasing Tranquility In Ísafjörður

by

Through my travels, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a ton of Icelanders who have become some of my closest friends—I might call them family. At this point, I’m proud to say I’m fully enmeshed in the “Icelandic Connection” now, which means being open to Icelandic travellers (individuals, artists, musicians, grandparents—you name it) to my home in Philadelphia. The “Iceland Connected” have a code to my home’s lockbox for easy access. If you don’t mind cats, the place is yours. Be in touch. I’ve thus gone to Iceland a couple of times, and always greatly enjoyed my visits. This time,

Travel
Destinations
<?php the_title(); ?>

Where Are The Glowing Rocks?

by

As you would expect, many visitors to Iceland are more than eager to view the country’s famous volcanoes. They may, however, be surprised to discover little more than rugged, cold lava flows and non-smoking volcanoes. These are of course fine sights, but they’re not the glowing lava and fuming craters that many expect from one of the most active volcanic regions of the world. The explanation is rather simple: One needs to happen upon a live magma-spouting event to see those spectacular sights, and those occur roughly once every three to four years. ICELAND IS BORN Iceland formed gradually over

Travel
Destinations
<?php the_title(); ?>

Not For Your Average Latté-Drinker

by

“What are all these people doing here?” a guy asked his mate in the fourth row. “Beats me,” he replied, looking up at us as we walked past to find our seats on Air Iceland’s 37-seat Dash 8 bound for Ilulissat. Home to 5,000 people and 7,000 dogs, Ilulissat in West Greenland is not exactly your typical holiday destination. After all, its only international connection is Reykjavík, which is already in the middle of the North Atlantic—at least five hours from the United States and three from mainland Europe. From Reykjavík though, it’s just four hours to the west coast

Travel
Destinations
<?php the_title(); ?>

High Hopes For Husavík

by

The northeast of Iceland has been steadily growing in popularity as a tourism destination, and small wonder, as it has a lot to offer. Just off the Ring Road, there are the haunting Dimmuborgir (“Dark Cities”), which have served as inspiration for many a troll story as well as for a Norwegian black metal band of the same name. When you see the rock formations, which look as if they were sculpted by an artistically challenged Goth, you can see why. If the scenery looks otherworldly, you aren’t the first to think so. It was here at Eldhraun (“Fire Lava,”

Show Me More!