My Peregrinations

Winging my way through life

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Checking in

So much for trying to update more in 2017. My family has had a rather rocky start to the year, with health problems that have been demanding plenty of our energy, emotions, money, and time. I want to think that we’ve come through the worst for now, and that things can only look up. Work has also become more demanding, as I’ve taken on a new portfolio in addition to my existing work scope, which means that there’s no time to daydream about holidays during office hours.

After a rough six weeks, I’m more than ready for my upcoming trip to Taiwan with the husband. I’ve planned our itinerary to include two nights in Hualien, and two nights in the Jiufen/Shifen area, with the remaining time spent in Taipei itself. I’m a bit concerned about whether we’ll be able to get by with our limited Mandarin. I speak only conversational Mandarin, and the husband, who rightfully should be fluent in the language having spent some years in a Chinese school, can barely write his own name. It’ll be an adventure, for sure.

 

Reset for 2017

It’s been months since I last logged in to this blog, let alone updated it. It’s the first day of 2017 so I decided to check in, make some changes, and generally try to be present in this space more often.

2016 was a bit of a rollercoaster ride, mainly in terms of work. It’s sad to ascribe success or failure to a year based mainly on my career, but since I did (and still do) spend most of my days in the office, it’s understandable. I’m starting 2017 on a much more even keel since I’m now working in a place that affords me greater security with less stress. Theoretically, that means I’ll have more time for personal pursuits, including travel. Theoretically.

Speaking of travel, this year looks to be an interesting one. In March, I’m headed to Taiwan for the first time. The man will be there for a trade show, so I’m tagging along as I’ve never been to Taiwan. I’m taking the National Day week off, during which I hope to visit a friend in Barcelona – another destination I’ve never been to. Our family didn’t go on a year-end holiday last year, so we’re planning a trip to Japan at the end of the year. It’ll be the girls’ first trip to Japan, and my second. Being newly-minted otakus, the girls can’t wait to go.

In between, I’m hoping to squeeze in a couple of dive trips to boost my dive count. Given that I’ve the aforementioned trips planned, I think my diving might be limited to Tioman this year. Which is OK, as my aim is simply to clock more hours underwater and to grow in confidence.

Travel aside, I hope to resume the fitness momentum I built late last year, before my routine got completely derailed by Christmas festivities. Since there is a Fitness First gym right across the road from my office, there was really no excuse not to become a member. I was working out up to four times a week last year, and will be getting back to that when the new work year starts in a couple of days time. Ironically, I’ve realised that the pain from pushing myself hard during workouts is a lot more manageable than the back and neck pain I get from being sedentary and glued to a screen. So back to the gym I go next week, and here’s to more regular programming this year.

 

Tom yum goong Banglamphu

Bangkok eats: Authentic tom yum goong

Every Thai eatery in Thailand and abroad likes to claim that they make authentic tom yum goong. Not being Thai, I have no idea which version of the soup is the real thing. So when a Thai friend offered to take us to eat what’s known as the most authentic tom yum goong in Bangok, I said yes, of course. She took us to Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu (ร้านต้มยำกุ้งบางลำพู), a streetside stall located near the Khao San Road backpacker district.

I had always been a little wary of eating street food in developing countries. But I changed my mind after a terrible bout of food poisoning on a trip to Vietnam last year. A meal at an upscale restaurant in the hillside town of Sa Pa made me so ill that I spent an entire day in the local hospital on a drip, writhing in pain. The locals later informed me that I should always eat street food, never restaurant food. The reason is, there’s no telling how they store and prepare the food in restaurants, whereas street food is always boiled or fried. I’ve since become less cautious and haven’t fallen ill so far.

Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu is located right outside the main Banglamphu multi-storey carpark. It’s not difficult to spot – look out for the elderly man who is in charge of making the tom yum goong, as he works with his back to the road:

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Our friend placed an order in rapid-fire Thai. It didn’t take very long for our food to be served, as the stall is run by an efficient team who churn out dishes and turn over tables in double-quick time to keep up with the crowd. Everything was fresh and very well made, but the highlight was the tom yum goong, naturally.

Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu

In Singapore, you get two kinds of tom yum goong – red and clear. Both versions are a thin soup with the predominant taste being that of spices. Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu’s version is a broth so enriched with shrimp fat that it’s creamy. It comes with a generous helping of fresh shrimp, too. Unlike Singaporean versions of tum yum goong, this version won’t have you sweating because it’s too hot. But it will leave you wanting to go back for more.

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While you’re there, try the stir-fried baby clams (hoy lai pad nam prik pao), puffy egg omelette (khai jeow) and stir-fried kai lan (pad pak kana) as well. These plus the tom yum goong and rice will put you in a food coma for sure. Walk it off by browsing the stalls in the market , and cool your burning palate with a drink from this juice shop just opposite:

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Find your way to Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu with Google Maps.

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