Eating through Asia - 6 countries to excite your tastebuds

“Food is everything we are, it’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethinic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get go.” -Anthony Bourdain 


One of the best ways to experience a country’s culture is by eating the food. The amazing thing to be discovered in Asia is that you can do this without having to sacrifice your health or wallet. There are so many delicious, flavorful and exciting options that actually nourish your body at the same time as satisfying your stomach. The food tends to be fresher an filled with herbs and spices. You may try these foods in your country but there is nothing like trying the authentic food in the home land. Some of my most memorable experiences abroad are having meals with locals in their home.

1. Bali, Indonesia

Bali is the epitome of health and wellness that I found in Asia. I am not a vegan but I could happily and easily be one living in this paradise. There are too many incredibly mouthwatering places to eat, that don’t just taste good but are good for you. Vegetarian or not, there is something to meet your tastebuds. There are endlessly beautiful smoothy bowls, turmeric and charcoal drinks to detox and buddha bowls to fill your belly. Here are a couple of my favorite places:

Koloni, Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Koloni, Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Nalu Bowls, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

Nalu Bowls, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

2. Chiang Mai, Thailand

I was impressed with the city of Chiang Mai in so many ways, including the cuisine. Thai food is incredible, and Chiang Mai does not disappoint. I stayed in the trendy Nimmanhaemin area of the city with so many wonderful places to wander for a fabulously cheap massage or food of any kind. I didn’t capture enough of it, but the street food was also amazing. A couple of my favorite finds were:

Tom Kha Gai (coconut chicken soup), Chiang Mai, Thailand

Tom Kha Gai (coconut chicken soup), Chiang Mai, Thailand

Pure Vegan Heaven, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Pure Vegan Heaven, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Mango sticky rice, Chiang Mai, Thailand. I did not realize how delicious this could be!

Mango sticky rice, Chiang Mai, Thailand. I did not realize how delicious this could be!

3. Chengdu, Sichuan

Chengdu is my home away from home and the spicy cuisine capitol of China. It took some getting used to, but once I did it created a new love for spicy food. Real Chinese food is nothing like that you find in those little take out boxes in America. Every region has their own flavor and special dishes. I got to travel to many areas across the country and the Sichuan cuisine remained my favorite.

Tibetan hot pot by a local family in Sichuan, China

Tibetan hot pot by a local family in Sichuan, China

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traditional Sichuan hot pot, not just about the food but the company you share it with.

traditional Sichuan hot pot, not just about the food but the company you share it with.

4. Northern India

I could go on and on about my experience in India and a big part of what made it so amazing was the food. I would say the Indian food I have tried before going to India was that of the northern cuisine. I did not understanding the differences between the food in different regions. I don’t have good examples from the food I tasted in the south but the state of Kerala has amazing food as well. The food in Kerala had more seafood, a different spice mixture and the bread was more of the crispy or spongy type that I would describe as a sourdough flavor. I am not good to explain but you can definitely taste the difference, both equally tasty.

Kasar De daba, Amritsar, Punjab, India. Family owned restaurant over 100 years old Still hands down the BEST Indian food I have ever eaten.

Kasar De daba, Amritsar, Punjab, India. Family owned restaurant over 100 years old Still hands down the BEST Indian food I have ever eaten.

Freshly made street Chai, Chandni Chowk, Dehli, India

Freshly made street Chai, Chandni Chowk, Dehli, India

5. Singapore

Spending a few months in Singapore I did not get the chance to try all the places I would have wanted, but there is no shortage of options in this beautifully clean, safe and high tech city that at times feels like you have stepped into the future. With the population so diverse and consisting of Chinese, Malay, Tamil and more, the opportunity for varying authentic food is on every corner. The best place to find these are at the many hawker centers scattered all around the city. I did not take enough food pictures while I was there but below was a small hawker center in my neighborhood.

Hawker, Geylong area, Singapore

Hawker, Geylong area, Singapore

6. Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam has a special place in my heart. It was my first real overseas experience as well as solo travel, plus the food is some of my favorite. Vietnamese cuisine is filled with fresh herbs and flavor. Pho may be the most well known dish, but there is so much more deliciousness beyond that. 

Banh Mi sandwichs on the street, Hoi An, Vietnam

Banh Mi sandwichs on the street, Hoi An, Vietnam

Bun Cha (pork & noodles in a fish sauce) , Hanoi, Vietnam

Bun Cha (pork & noodles in a fish sauce) , Hanoi, Vietnam

These are just a few of the many incredible things and places to eat around these countries. I feel like I have only touched the surface. I can’t wait to continue to discover more amazing flavors around the world.

love, health and happiness,

Courtney

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Adventure awaits.

Adventure is the key to a happy life, in my opinion. Since I started traveling I hear a lot from friends, family and strangers “I wish I could do that” or “I am so jealous.” In my mind I am thinking really you can, though people will come up with every excuse under the sun why they can’t. The bottom line is, you have the ability to create your reality. Yes, you may have more obstacles in your way in order to the do the things you really want to do, but its not impossible. All you have to do is be willing to overcome those obstacles. Maybe it means saving extra money, finding a way to do it even though you have kids, or whatever your big excuse obstacles are. It is not impossible.

Mt. Rainer National Park

Mt. Rainer National Park

With that being said, having an adventurous and fulfilled life doesn’t mean you have to travel across the world. Though in my opinion, thats what makes it the best. There is most likely so many adventures you have not even taken in your own backyard. By backyard, I mean home state or country. This world is full of so much beauty if you are willing to appreciate it and go out and see it. Getting out into nature is scientifically proven to reduce stress, as well as, improve and benefit your overall wellbeing. 

I recently took a day trip hike into the incredible Mt. Rainer national park, just two short hours away from my home. I have been to over 11 countries but I had never been to this magnificently beautiful part of of my home state just a quick car ride away. To be honest, I am so ready for another adventure abroad, but it has also inspired me to want to do more and see more regardless if I am home or on the road. 

Naches Peak Loop Trail, WA state

Naches Peak Loop Trail, WA state

Living overseas everyday was new and exciting. I was constantly eager to explore and see new places near and far. An adventure for me in China was exploring a new neighborhood in the large city of 14 million I lived in. Taking a road trip or exploring a new nearby town can also be intriguing and spark that same feeling. 

Don’t let excuses hinder you when there is so much to be seen in this world. Also, don’t get so lost in routine and habit that you never get outside of familiarity. Travel near or far allows you to see what a small place you hold in the world as well as the diversity it holds. I believe a life of adventures, rather than things, is one that is far more fulfilling. Adventures are anything that are unusual or exciting and they are, my friends, something you are all capable of creating too. 

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.”

-Frank Herbert

love, health and happiness,

Courtney

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5 best things about living abroad

I can still remember the feeling of uncertainty when and nervousness on that first plane ride moving to China. I had left everything back home that I had worked hard for as well as my family and friends to make a life change for myself. It was a big risk that really did turn into a big reward. It doesn't make life perfect or easy all the time but making a change myself and really doing it sure does feel good.


Now that I am back home (in the US) for a short time I have had a lot of free time to really reflect on all my travels and time abroad. I can think of so many things I am grateful for but these are my top five best things about moving abroad.


1.Opens your eyes and mind

I am pretty sure I have mentioned this in most of my posts This truly is something special and really not something you can grasp until you have traveled and immersed yourself in a culture very different than your own. It makes you become more compassionate and understanding of others. You can truly realize that though we may seem so far opposite, that people really are the same all over the world and there is so much more you can relate to. It also helps you to appreciate what you have and be that much more grateful for where you come from.

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2. Lifelong friendships

I can’t express enough how much the people I have met along the way mean to me. When you are thrown into a unique situation where you must adapt yourself you really become close to those around you. They are your family, support system and the bond you create is very special. I am very lucky to have lifelong friendships with people I met while working in China as well as people who we came in contact with during our travels. It is truly special to know people from all around the world from all different walks of life.

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3. Travel

This is an obvious choice but the ability to travel to different countries while living in a country abroad is so exciting. It of course is less expensive to travel in Asia while living in Asia and so many amazing places to choose from. I had the opportunity to visit 5 other countries during my time there as well as several places throughout China.



4. Gain courage and confidence

I have always been somewhat of an introvert and quiet person and a part of me still is. However, this has helped me grow so much in getting out of my comfort zone, trying new things and opening up to people. I am not afraid anymore to travel alone and be alone. One of the main things that friends and family tell me is that they think I am so brave for what I have chosen to do. Maybe they are right but I have felt nervous many times its more about having to push past that to accomplish what you want.


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5. Let go of material things

I have not once regretted selling my car, home and most of my possessions before moving. I still buy more clothes than I need on occasion but it really has made me rethink what is important in life and belongings are not my first choice. It is also limited what you can take with you, so it forces you to be more conservative in your possessions. I choose to spend my money on my experiences over things, which gives me much more happiness in return than any cute outfit will.



My next adventure will be teaching in Singapore. I can’t wait to live, work and explore this beautifully clean and exquisitely designed city. I hope to encourage others to take risks in their own lives whether it be moving aboard or anything else. It may not come out exactly how you planned but the important part is to try. 


“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”


-Les Brown

 


with love,

Courtney

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