The Foodist Monk: Yunnan, China

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30 kilometers in 3 days – that was the goal of the hike through Southern Yunnan province, China. The lush, and pristine tropical rainforests of this area are popular amongst local Chinese. Many of the local people are non-Han (non-Chinese); ethnic tribesfolk. When I met my guide Ai Ni Pa (Sam) of the Bulang tribe, he was no exception. We met in the city of Jinhong; his reception was warm and he was excited to start the journey.

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We took a local bus from Jinhong to the town of Xiding, two and a half hours away, where we began our hike. The minibus seating 24 people took us over precarious dirt roads. I peered out the window of the bus as we slowed down around some roads that were washed away by the heavy rains in previous weeks. I marveled at how adept the bus driver was in maneuvering this vehicle through the maze of roads and how non-plussed the other passengers were on the minibus.

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We arrived safely in Xiding, and visited a local market for supplies. The local tribes would travel on foot up and down hills for several days to bring their food to the market to sell. The colours and sounds were a feast for the senses. Continue reading

The Foodist Monk: Singapore

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My travels always seem to be connected to a business trip. This journey to Singapore was no exception. Singapore is a dynamic city-state that is a harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture. Being very close to the equator, the weather is hot and humid in this island nation, even when I was there in April. And something I could relate to was: Singaporeans are passionate about eating.

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In almost every corner of the island, there is an endless variety of food, served hot or cold, at any hour of any day. Many of the dishes in Singapore are influenced by the cultural diversity of other countries, particularly China, India and Malaysia. So it was with this in mind that launched me on my journey of culinary exploration.

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One of the dishes I had heard so much about was Hainanese Chicken Rice. It was originally a dish brought over by Chinese immigrants from the southern province of Hainan and adopted into Malaysian and Singapore cuisine – a perfect example of food cross-pollination. Continue reading