Wok and Stroll to Find Unique Experiences – Your next surprise is just around the corner
I really enjoy walking around the more traditional areas of the big cities in South East Asia. I find you get can really get into the soul of the place if you are willing to get lost and explore. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and, of course, the smells – both good and bad.
Yes, you see other tourists, but they seem to be equally curious and open to new discoveries. I try to find street-side restaurants where the majority of other diners are local. A smile, some beer and discussions on football can break down most barriers. As mentioned in a previous post, it is the custom to share tables during the busy times, so you have no choice but to mingle with the locals and this might occasionally mean you share the same dips!
Some helpful Wok and Stroll Pointers:
Dress down. It is likely something will be spilt on you!
If you are a fussy eater or have food allergies, enlist the services of a private guide so they can communicate with the local chefs whose command of English might be limited to “Yes”!
Watch and observe. Take pictures but be sensitive to privacy and intrusion. I usually ask permission and then get asked to “Take again… Too ugly”. You might be asked to share on social media. Suddenly you have 500 new “friends”.
I have a constitution like an ox but tend not to eat too local the night before a long flight.
I tend to restrict my liquid intake to bottled water, a soft drink can or a local beer. Wine can easily be avoided – it’s usually not that great. Spirits can be an acquired taste and probably not the best idea if you want a clear head in the morning!
In Bangkok, I head for the China Town area, simply because there is so much choice. Even on a quiet night, the place is buzzing. In Saigon, I toured the eateries on the back of a moped. A brilliant way of seeing the city and I discovered places I would never have found on my own.
I don’t eat pork, so Hanoi was disappointing as pork seems to be the staple dish with most street foods in the north. Thankfully, the districts were interesting to walk around.
In KL, there are numerous hawker stall areas. These are essentially whole markets dedicated to street food. Be sure to go at night when the place really comes to life. Siem Reap is easy to discover on foot. On either side of the river, you will find many street-side eateries. I would avoid Pub Street. Not my scene, and I don’t go to Asia for pizza and burgers, but there are many side alleys with great local food with a French twist.
I am very much looking forward to sampling some tasty delights in Singapore and Hong Kong next month. It is not just the food, it’s discovering an area, walking around small side streets, finding a local café or, in the case of Bangkok & Saigon, some incredible hidden away speakeasy-style bars.
These experiences really make a difference to your appreciation of what the region is all about. There is an art to getting lost in a new place or culture. Make sure you don’t miss out the opportunity to do so.
Wok and stroll… You never know where you may end up.