Ever since our first experiment with AirBnB (where we snagged a New York City...
When we arrive at a new destination, it’s not uncommon for us to quickly, easily step into rhythm with the place. But sometimes, we get off on the wrong foot. Which is exactly what happened in Battambang in western Cambodia.
Battambang was a late addition to the itinerary. We rolled into town tired and sweaty after a seven-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh, only to be given a mosquito-infested room at our not-inexpensive hotel. Dinner at a recommended restaurant was dismally mediocre, while a walk around town showed that the preserved colonial architecture the city is hyped as having really isn’t all that picturesque.
Our less-than-stellar start in Battambang had us wondering why we even bothered to detour there on route from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. If we hadn’t already booked a four-night stay, we might have hastily left town…and that would have been a shame. In Battambang, we ended up having some of our most memorable experiences in Southeast Asia so far.
“Amp-ah-nada? What’s that?” asked a grandmotherly woman about the delectable little filled pastries so popular throughout Latin America. Her skeptical sneer told me she wouldn’t discover the delights of empanadas anytime soon, or probably ever.
That reluctance to experiment with new foods is a leading reason why foreign cuisines take so long to find a foothold. People who don’t grow up eating certain foods are unlikely to change their eating habits as adults. That’s especially true for those who live in rural areas with limited ethnic and culinary diversity. It’s not only that they might not sample new foods, they might not even be exposed to them.
But those factors by themselves don’t explain why Indian food has taken so long to gain acceptance in the U.S. According to a Washington Post article purporting to solve that mystery, “there are, after all, more than 40,000 Chinese restaurants around the country, and roughly the same number of Mexican restaurants, but only about 5,000 Indian restaurants.” Why?
We had begun to feel a little underwhelmed by the sightseeing at some of our last few stops in Asia. The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh cured us of that.
Refining the contents of my backpack is a process that will last as long as I’m on the road. With space at a premium, every item that goes into the bag has to be well thought out. I’ve downsized and streamlined, but I’m always on the lookout for resourceful products that make packing easier and take up less room.
Here are a few of my favorite finds: