Monday, November 30, 2009


I know, at the rate I'm posting, it’d be Christmas but can I just say that it’s tough juggling a couple of start-ups, catching up with people and trying to spend time with my two little terrorists (also known as my nieces) before I leave NYC again.

Having been deprived of a whole year without Thanksgiving food (Thanksgiving in India), the menu this year was I think, the most extravagant it has ever been.

After many weeks of Food Network watching, my sister and I decided to ditch Ina and Martha and went with the New York Magazine Thanksgiving menu. All the recipes were written to feed 8 people and so we doubled the ingredient amount suggested. We had originally planned to cook for 18 people but 6 people flaked and did so just as the Fresh Direct man rings the doorbell with our Thanksgiving grocery delivery. We also added to the menu our all time favorite; green bean casserole.

Our cooking game plan/oven schedule, courtesy of Joe Kon

Ingredients used for Green Bean Casserole

The 20lbs turkey

Temperature of turkey *must* be 155 degrees

Sausage and Mushroom Stuffing

Joe preparing orange ham

The Thanksgiving banquet

Carve away Alf!

I wish I could say I was stuffed but after cooking (and smelling) food for two days, I didn’t have much appetite during dinner. In fact, I was so tired that I didn’t even bother carving the turkey, which to me, is like making the first cut on a perfect birthday cake. My favorite dish of the day is Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes.

To most Americans, Thanksgiving is about gratitude, thankfulness and appreciation. To us, Thanksgiving has always been about getting together to eat. As I grow older, I realize my ability to eat great amounts of food has declined and Thanksgiving is no longer about how much I can eat but about how much fun I have cooking with my posse.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Change of plans

I’ve been very productive with social events and being a tourist in the United States of America. If you haven’t heard, I’m back in NYC. How does it feel like being back? At first, it felt like I was in a dream, very surreal and wasn’t sure if it was due to jetlag or utter happiness. After about 2 days, it felt as though I’ve never left NYC.

I moved back into my little Chinatown apartment after being away for 15 months. Parts of Chinatown still smells like rotten seafood and the subway stations, despite the fare increase, still have a strong scent of urine. The mayor of Mott Street asked “You still doing computers?” My facialist tried to sell me another facial package; 15 facials for the price of 10, when I still have four more facials left from two years ago. My nieces Big J and Lil’ J are still the cutest little peoples in spite of the recently adopted princess-y attitude. I heart NYC.

A lot of people said I should update my blog name because I just turned 31, I finally came “home” to New York City and in the midst of my adventures in the past year I miraculously found a man (I call him my boyfriend, also-known-as “A”).

It was a tough decision but after much contemplation, I decided to maintain this blog as well as my current immigration status (B1/B2 Visitor Visa). This simply means I am not going to try to get a full-time, 9 to 5 (more like 9 to 9) job that sponsors, be in the mercy of Corporate America and have my ankle chained to the leg of an office desk for the next few years.

What will you do, you ask?

Here’s what I’ve been up to since I got back.

An Oregon Wedding

An NYC Wedding

A Berkeley Wedding

“A” visits NYC

Intrepid Museum

Times Square

Phoenix Concert @ Central Park

Po visits the West Coast (like twice)

The scenic drive in Oregon

Calatrava's Turtle Bay Sundial Bridge, California

San Francisco Bay bridge

And last but not least,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cleaning Bangalore

Before you start saying "Oh, why doesn't she just clean her own room", I just want to say that I'm doing this for a good cause.

"A" signed me up for the "Let's Clean Bengaluru", an event created by a Facebook group that inspires Bangaloreans to "Reclaim Bengaluru... It's Yours! Keep it clean". The day to clean was August 15th, 2009 and anyone and everyone can participate. You can clean the smelly clogged drain that your neighbors seemed to have successfully ignored for the past 3 months or your driveway or your neighborhood park. "A" chose Cubbon Park.

It started out with the four of us but "A" managed to convince three other friends, a group of kids and a few random men in the park to join us.

With a whole liter of homemade "lemonade", we managed to (happily) clean-up a good portion of the park in 4 hours.

According to the Facebook group "Here are the results: 4700 participants, 6000 bags of garbage, 5800 bags collected by BBMP, 200 bags failed to be collected by BBMP."

Our personal result: Approximately 40 participants, 11 extra-large garbage bags, and bags collected by BBMP: unknown.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bangalore Home Services

I was having my cuppa chai and cut fruits in the terrace this morning at "A"'s parent's home and heard a melodious voice singing loudly a word I cannot comprehend. When I looked down, I saw this man pushing a cart, piled with fresh vegetables. He stopped in front of the gate, I guess waiting for "A"'s servants to come out from the house to buy some.

I remember vaguely when I was very young, at the age of 5 or so, there used to be a little truck that passes our house every morning with a specific honking pattern that every servant or homemaker would recognize. My grandmother used to hurry outside to select the freshest produce and then haggle for the best price.

I also remember before I left NYC, there was a service call Fresh Direct where you'd order your groceries on the internet and it will be delivered to you in a couple of days. Not as efficient as the Bangalore's vegetable cart or the Malaysia's honking truck but you can't beat fresh produce at your doorsteps.

Camel Ride

On a random day in Bangalore, I was having lunch with "A" and his family when I heard bells from outside the house. Low and behold was a skinny camel guided by a skinny man wandering in the neighborhood, looking for small children to ride on his camel. Before I could say no, skinny man grabbed my left butt cheek and pushed me on top of the camel's back. I was riding a camel.

The very slow 10-minute camel ride included a few camera-phone shot stops by random strangers on the street. Apparently, this camel came all the way from Rajasthan to Bangalore, about 2000 km on foot. I'm trying not to encourage these sort of unethical, animal-abusing behavior but I have to admit it was fun going around the block on a camel's back. Cost of ride: Rs50 (USD1).

Skinny camel, skinny man and I.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I've been wanting to visit Badami since the last 3 times I came to India but failed to do so because unlike Hampi, Badami is pretty challenging get to.

Badami is a very pretty place but the lack of signage makes walking is a bit annoying. You will just have to be a bit more adventurous and explore small paths that may lead you to amazing sights.






Badami lanes
Badami Lanes

How to get there:
We went there by train, departing from Yeswantpur train station (west of Bangalore) to Badami train station. The trip took close to 14 hours, but it's an overnight train (back and forth) so you safe time and hotel cost. Cost of one way ticket for a 3-tier air-conditioned sleeper is about Rs900.

Where to sleep:
There's really no luxurious hotels like the Taj here mainly because it is still very underdeveloped, which is nice in a way. Lonely planet and some other websites suggested Badami Court and listed the rate at Rs2500/night but when we called, they say that was the rate back in 2004. Today, it costs about Rs4000/night. But this is as good as it gets, even though I think the price is a little high for the lack of quality (and cleanliness) they provided.
Email: or Telephone: 08357-720230 - 33

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Non-substance headache remedies

    Where the heck is Po? This week (and a week more or so), I'm back in Bangalore to see my boy "A" before I finally head back to NYC.

    For some reason, starting from last month, I was getting some really excruciating headaches around this time of the month. Last month, I was with my family in beautiful Redang Island so I thought this headache must've been caused by the heat and overexcitement of being around the pearly white sandy beach and crystal clear blue water. I found out this month, it's probably due to some hormonal changes.

    After taking 5-6 pills a day with little relief, I gave up on paracetamol and gave in to my dad's nag. My family has this traditional remedy call "pau sa" where you scrape the skin on your back with a porcelain spoon and salt water when you suspect your body have too much "heat". Excess "heat" in the body is believed to cause fever, headache, etc, so scrapping your skin till it becomes swollen and red will release the "heat".


    It doesn't look pretty and hurts like hell. This one here is done with fingers instead of a porcelain spoon. Using your index and middle finger, pinch a good amount of flesh and pull hard. Repeat for 50-100 times until your patient screams like her finger is being cut off. Or with a porcelain spoon, dip into salt water, then scrap the skin on the back over and over until the area turns reddish-black. This hickey-looking scar last for a week and a half. Result of "pau sa": no more headache after a couple of hours.

    So this month, not expecting the bad headache would return, I came to Bangalore without bringing a porcelain spoon. Again, after a full day and a half of very painful headache, "A" took me to a spa to get an Indian head massage. It was one of the most awesomest massages ever! Her touches were soft yet strong, gentle yet firm. I was in total bliss. She first parted my hair to apply some olive oil onto my scalp. Then she must've spent at least 45 minutes applying deep, long and careful strokes with her fingers and palms. Result of Indian head massage - instant relief!

    Uma, my Indian head masseuse

    Saturday, July 25, 2009

    Taman Negara

    I have heard of Taman Negara but have never been anywhere near it even though I've spent half of my life in Malaysia. I was convinced I had to bring "A" there when I read that Taman Negara is one of the oldest rainforest in the world, estimated at 130 million years old.

    Hiking in the peaceful forest.

    Taman Negara was a bit far and was difficult to get to (4 hours bus ride, 3 hours boat ride) from Kuala Lumpur but turned out to be quite pretty. Unfortunately, I think it got too popular internationally and with popularity comes touristy. During our stay there, there were two teams of TV people. We heard one was from MTV India and the other one from some Swedish reality show.

    We made hotel reservations with Mutiara Resort who also arranged land and river transportation and our daily itinerary. A 4 day-3 night package for two, which includes accommodation, buffet meals and a guide into the forest and cave, costs about RM4000. I think it was slightly overpriced for Malaysian standards and "A" and I would normally prefer to self-explore a new place but the whole trip turned out quite exciting and trouble-free.

    Boats at the jetty that will take us to our resort.

    Canopy walkway.

    Drumming on the roots of a tall tree.

    There were at least a thousand bats in Gua Telinga (Ear Cave). This human-ear formed cave has narrow, slippery and wet passages that is filled with bat-droppings. It was definitely one of the more challenging explorations yet.

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    Perhentian Island

    Crystal blue and calm waters of Perhentian.

    Our Resort

    "A" studying hard for PADI open water final exam in our chalet.

    Bubbles Resort is a pretty modest lodge cum dive center that is located on the southern tip of Perhentian Island. There are no roads leading to this beach and you can only get here on a boat. Beautiful as it was, I admit I was slightly nervous when I arrived because of small beach size and the lack of activities but that quickly changed. On our first night, we saw some 20-30 baby turtle hatchlings on the beach, which apparently is a very rare event. They looked so vulnerable and exposed, you just want to pick them up and bring them to the sea but we were told by the turtle-protecting volunteers not to touch them because the little hatchlings need to learn survival immediately after coming out of their shells. Two days later, we saw a large turtle laying eggs on a similar spot.

    Sand hole where the hatchlings came out of. I couldn't get any photos of the hatclings because I wasn't allowed to use flash on them.

    “A” and I got our Scuba Diver license in the Andaman Islands and finished our Open Water license here in Perhentian. Our instructor Eric a.k.a. Old Man here at Bubbles Resort was both comical and strict. During our dives, I must have seen at least five billion fishes but the one amazing experience I had was swimming among 20 bumphead parrot fishes, some must’ve been as long as 5 ft. They moved slowly around us and made a stone-scrapping sound when they use their big teeth to bite off corals.

    We also saw a 1.5 meter black tip reef shark and a 3-legged resident turtles and had our hands cleaned by some invisible cleaner shrimps.

    Proud divers.

    Merv - my bff and dive master.

    Big lizard under our neighbor's chalet. Apparently, a python went under the resort's restaurant during our stay there.

    Super friendly Bubbles Resort staff waving goodbye.

    Getting there

    The Air Asia flight (round trip RM230 per person) from Kuala Lumpur LCCT to Kota Bharu took only 50 minutes. We had prearranged transportation with Bubbles Resort in Perhentian Island, so a car was already waiting for us when we landed at the airport. Car ride (one way RM30 per person) to the jetty took about 1.5 hours and boat ride (round trip RM70 per person) from the jetty to Bubbles Resort took about 30 minutes.

    Monday, April 13, 2009


    I am a tad disappointed not because I didn’t get to see the man himself but because I was expecting something more tranquil. After all, this is where the Dalai Lama resides. By the way, it’s quite impossible to see the Dalai Lama unless he gives a public talk or you’re a famous someone who made an appointment 4 months ago. There is no doubt that the Himalaya is beautiful but I can’t help but to think Dharamsala is a bit strange.

    View from the plane of snow capped Himalaya mountains.

    On my flight from Delhi to Dharamsala, I saw an elderly monk in saffron colored robes, stroking the thighs of a pregnant woman, which could very well be his wife but it was strange to me because I didn’t think Buddhist monks were allowed to get married. Then, sitting next to me was another Buddhist monk, this one is young, handsome and well built and holding hands with a Caucasian woman old enough to be his mother.

    Anand, Auntie Sheila (his mom) and I stayed in McLeod Ganj, the alleged "backpacker's paradise". Apparently, this town was pretty dead until Dalai Lama and his entourage of Tibetan Buddhists claimed asylum here in 1960.

    Tibetan monks.

    McLeod Ganj town.

    The Hotel
    Pema Thang Guest House, site:, ph: 221871
    Price: Rs1500/night for 3 persons

    Anand and I really wanted to stay at Chonor House Guest House, especially knowing that this is where Richard Gere would stay whenever he’s in town. Unfortunately, we didn’t reserve in advance, hence, we ended up at Pema Thang Guest House, a humble hotel ran by some friendly Tibetans.

    Bedroom at Pema Tang Guest House

    View from Pema Thang restaurant - Buddhist script flags.

    The Food
    There is a wide variety of backpacker restaurants in McLeod Ganj. According to a travel magazine review, the food here is “as good as the ones back home” (home being Israel, Seattle etc). Unfortunately, I wouldn’t know because I had traveler’s diarrhea on day 2. So instead of some yummy international foods, this is what I frequently ate and drank on my trip.

    Curd and rice.

    Electrolyte drink is great for dehydration.

    And here're some local delights...

    Tibetan Tea - no sugar, just salt and a bit of yak butter and milk.

    I can't recall if this Tibetan noodle soup is call Thentuk, Thukpa or something else. The freshly made noodles were al dante and the broth was savory-sweet by vegetables and a few thinly sliced lamb.

    Tsuglagkhang Complex
    This complex consists of a temple, a monastry and some shops. The Kalachakra Temple is not the most impressive but has an absolutely stunning view. The Lonely Planet wrote that on most evenings, you could catch monks “sealing points of argument with great flourish, a foot stamp and theatrical clap of the hands”, debating topics of Buddhist metaphysics, around the Namgyal Gompa monastry. We came to this complex several times and asked at least 9 monks about the debate but no one seem to know what we were talking about. We gave up after the third try.

    Tsuglagkhang temple.

    No trees were harmed while building this complex.

    The conventional and traditional way of lighting candles or oil lamps.

    Kalachakra mandala (Wheel of Time)

    Buddhist Mantra

    Having a cuppa chai and lassi at the Namgyal Cafe.

    The Treks
    One of the nicest treks we took was on Mall Road, which would lead you to Dal Lake, the home of Tibetan Children’s village. I never made it there, but Anand said it's not much of a village and the lake looked sad.

    View from our treks around McLeod Ganj.

    More views from our treks around McLeod Ganj.

    I was taking pictures of an eagle that was flying above these guys and they started shouting "(give us) 50 rupees!" at me.

    Norbulingka Institute
    I think this institute made it worthwhile to visit Dharamsala. It’s about 6km from Dharamsala and was established to preserve traditional Tibetan art forms.

    Thangka painting.

    A finished thangka painting.

    Making Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche statue.

    Doll of a debating Buddhist monk at the Losel Doll Museum

    More pictures of Dharamsala