Beijing street food at night market

This post will be about street food in Beijing. To be honest after previous travels in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia it was nothing new to us. I think trying daring food is good to do once and then you can just stick to whatever is tasty.

Now what do I mean by daring food? Insects, chewy creatures of the sea, internal organs that never end up on western plates.

Street food that we love is stir-fry, fried rice and noodle dishes, meat skewers, satay, crepes/pancakes…

More on:


Pitigliano, Tuscany, Italy

What I was really looking forward to in Italy was food. I love pastas, coffee, wine, tiramisu, frutti di mare, Bruschettas, pizzas, oil of olive, olives, cheese, garlic, prosciutto, smoked and cured meats… I could go on and on.

We all know Italian food is not the same outside Italy. We also know Italian food in Italy where tourists are is mostly crap and we only got tricked once.

We landed in Rome at a wrong time. Lunch time. Just as we found our Rent-A-Car called Hertz, packed up and left the bypass of Rome it was too late to get anything to eat. We were not easily defeated, mind we didn’t have anything to eat since 8 or 9am in Greece. On our journey we even found this amazingly located restaurant on a shore of a lake which would be so nice to eat in. This is the view:

Italy lake in TuscanyThe lake is called Lago Di Bracciano, the restaurant Alfredo and the town Lungolago if I found the right place on google maps.

We lingered on but they wouldn’t even tell us when the restaurant will be opened. By, by lake, time to head on.

We found our apartment without much trouble. Just asked at the gas station for directions. Then waited for the owner to come with the keys. The moment we put our bags inside we were on the way to get some food. Still to early…

We had to see the whole city before restaurants started to open, but when they did we made sure we chose the right one!

Locanda del Pozzo Antico. Trattoria. A trattoria is an Italian-style eating establishment, less formal than a ristorante, but more formal than an osteria. There are generally no printed menus, the service is casual, wine is sold by the decanter rather than the bottle, prices are low, and the emphasis is on a steady clientele rather than on haute cuisine. The food is modest but plentiful (mostly following regional and local recipes) and in some instances is even served family-style (i.e. at common tables).

So now you know: plenty of good food and low prices – TRATTORIA.

pizzaYum Yum

I had calzone with porcini mushrooms which were in season then. Yum, yum.

The other thing I love about Italy is the cul-de-sacs. Narrow alleys with washing hanging outside the windows. Planted flowers and plants. Quiet, yet in the centres of towns, cities. Occupied by nonne e nonni, talking, playing cards or knitting. Now is the part with too many pictures, but there will be text at the end of it so pay attention!

I love street life of Italy after the dark in summer. The heat eases and people come to life. The energy of chatter is vibrant and energizing. Pitigliano was very quite in the evenings comparing to what I would experience in other places on my previous visits. Still we at least got a glimpse of it.

I love the cute tiny cars which can park anywhere. Lovely design.

And my favorite picture:

Oh and the funny bit:

We were looking to have breakfast somewhere in centro historico. Difficult again. You know how they have sweet things in the morning with espresso? We wanted a proper sandwich before our journey to therms (next post). In the end we found a place where we were the only customers. And ordered latte, cappuccino, cornetto con cioccolato and a sandwich. Hahhahhaa and A got foamed milk!

latte – milk

cafe latte – coffee with milk

Donna was surprised but cliente è re so he got his milk hahahhaha. All three of us had a good laugh to start the day. Now enter the four grumpy old Italian men. We spent the breakfast listening to Italian conversation and songs from the 80’s. Loved it.

Sandakan, Borneo, Malaysia

We decided to take a bus from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan. 319km took us 7 hours instead of 5. The ticket costs MR48.

On the way we enjoyed European techno music from early ’90s and karate movies including:

The views are spectacular. The road meanders between high mountains and you can admire valleys covered with forests. The slopes are strengthened with concrete to avoid stone avalanches which might make the journey less picturesque at times. We got to Sandakan after dark and took a taxi from bus station to the hostel we picked from our guide (MR20). Our taxi driver was quite unusual. He told us that the government tells taxi drivers to describe their village to foreigners. “Village” is the word he used. He showed us the hospital where he was born, where the English Tea House is, Catholic Church and day market. He also told us about Orangutan Sanctuary and Discovery Center.

Sandakan BackpackersWe got out in front of Sea View Hostel but we didn’t like it all that much. After short search for a place to stay we ended up in Borneo Sandakan Backpackers.  There we got picked up by Raf (Rafael) from Switzerland. He recommended this Irish place to us called Shamrock Cafe. Hahahhaa if we were expecting Guinness we were totally disappointed. Typical Malaysian beanery. We joined a merry company already enjoying cold beer on the side walk and had a great night out.

One of the people we met was Jonathan who turned out to be a Manager of the hostel we were staying in. The other Mao a tourist guide and Jonathan’s friend. We had a really nice evening discussing culture, tourism and life while drinking cold beer. A bucket of beer (4 bottles) was MR27 and 2 large ones MR36.

Shamrock restaurant Sandakan Borneo

Even though Malaysia is a Muslim country the Sharia law includes only the followers of Allah. Muslims have their own police. It turns out that for a wife you need to pay MR1000, the better educated the higher the price. A woman with higher diploma “costs” MR20,000. A child can only get an ID if parents are married and a wedding costs between MR40,000 and MR80,000.

There is no such a thing as Malaysian cuisine. It’s a mountain country and hasn’t develop it’s own cuisine. The food available is a mixture of Chinese, Thai and Hindu dishes. The best dishes they could recommend us was sea food and Satay.

Best satay in Sandakan

Jonathan recommended the best satay in town to us. The picture above shows the place where it’s done. We were the only foreigners there. I can’t unfortunately say I liked it more than the ones I tried in Thailand. The main attraction in Sandakan was Orangutan Sanctuary. It turned out to be a day trip.  Other than that we just walked around the city, visited market and enjoyed the sun set in the harbor. Just to warn you the food there is not great and it’s very expensive. One of the dishes that got my attention was hot pot. Looked really good but was mild not to say tasteless and I.’s lemon chicken dish had 3 pieces of chicken in it. So do go there to enjoy the view but not for the food.

Next post on Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre but for now some more pictures of Sandakan.

Promenade in Sandakan

Patrol Sandakan

Red Horse beer

Soup Sandakan

My favorite dish in Sandakan, Borneo

My favorite dish in Sandakan, Borneo

A. favorite car in Sandakan ;)

A.’s favorite car in Sandakan ;)

Sandakan city center

Sandakan city center

Badmington real feather aileron

Doctor educated in Ireland/UK

Doctor educated in Ireland/UK

One of 2 restaurants which I can recommend in Sandakan

One of 2 restaurants which I can recommend in Sandakan

Second of 2 restaurants I can recommend in Sandakan

Second of 2 restaurants I can recommend in Sandakan


Food Market, Kota Kinabalu, Borneo Malaysia

Just next to the harbor in Kota Kinabalu there is a huge market. Part of it is located in concrete building with stalls full of souvenirs, clothes, bags, scarfs, shoes, jewellery, drums and many many more. Next to it there is an open air food market with fish, meat, fruit and veg. You can also sit down and have something to eat and drink. Have a look yourselves.

Food Market at sun set Kota Kinabalu Borneo MalaysiaFood Market Kota Kinabalu Borneo Malaysia

The best duck ever! Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

This is the place where we had the best duck I ever had in my life! Ti’s an opinion shared by all the members of our group. Everyday since we discovered this place we had at least one meal there. It had recently been opened and didn’t even have printed menu!

You could see how they chopped the duck with your own eyes and every time it was perfect! Crispy skin, layer of fat and then soft and juicy meat. Heaven!

Last day of our stay we went there for breakfast. A. ordered the whole duck with the waiter on our way to the table. We were still considering if we want noodles or soup before ordering. The waiter was going from one table to the other but avoided ours somehow. Finally we called him and asked for another dish. He seemed in a hurry and didn’t take the order from the other 2 people from our group. This seemed quite strange. So we called him 2nd time and ordered two more dishes. He didn’t seem to understand. And finally it turned out he couldn’t believe the whole duck was for one person! He thought A. ordered for all of us! Greedy Europeans!

Ming Ge cafe is located at Jalan Pantai, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Business hours from 7am to 2pm so don’t sleep in too long ;)

Business Hours: Daily 7am-2pm
Jalan Pantai

Canary Wharf London UK

Canary Wharf London

I still remember that before I went to London I spoke to one of my friends who worked in Canary Work and he told me it’s like a modern version of Amsterdam with canals and steel buildings everywhere. Well maybe not quite like Amsterdam but…

Canary Wharf stationI remember the first time I arrived in Canary Wharf. Taking DLR from Britannia Village I arrived underground in the tube station and took an escalator to the ground level. The wind hit me. The concrete choked me. The people jostled me. The station was full of people in well tailored suits and dresses. Everyone was in a hurry. Everyone was indifferent. Everyone was cold and grave.

The atmosphere put me down straight away. Overwhelmed I walked around and observed. I felt quite sad instead of being excited. I guess this was not the best beginning to me living in London. Thomson Reuters Canary Wharf LondonI guess I was more overwhelmed than I expected and than I wanted to admit. Not impressed, overwhelmed. I remember my friend A. from New Zeland remarking everyone looks like robots no smiles, no eye contact, just going about one’s own business. This is the first impression. It lasts unless you make your own circle of friends and walk around with them.

Canary Wharf is very windy all year round so definatley I don’t recommend it in winter. With time I became used to its ambience but never felt comfortable there.

Clocks Canary Wharf LondonI remember insane moments when planes approaching City Airport seemed to fly right into One Canada Square building or the wonderful setting sun reflected in the glass of skyscrapers. I remember I liked to sit in a restaurat/pub in the West India Quay after dark with panorama of Canary Wharf, lights in some offices creating a chaotic maze.

One Canada Square building was used in the last two episodes of the second season of the popular British science fiction television series Doctor Who – Army of Ghosts and Doomsday. According to the action series it housed the secret alien technology research institute called Torchwood.

If you like movies like I do check out this Canary Wharf movie map before you go over.

My favourite places:Morgan Stanley Canary Wharf London

Gaucho – Argentinian restaurant. The best steak in Europe (that I tried) besides Restaurante Parilla or Caballito in Madrid, Spain. I looked up the one in Madrid on Google maps and street view name is the first while Google map gives the second. Anyway we went there when I was on Dukan diet and couldn’t eat any fat or sugar, only protein. I was eating meat for quite some time and then encoutered this heaven on Earth, mouth watering, full of flavour with no oli steak. Canary Wharf LondonOhhh I still dream of it. The service was excellent. Our waitress showed us a wooden board of meats. Explained which is which, which part of the cow it comes from and then how it’s best served. We had to change table in the middle of the meal which wasn’t a problem. I was really impressed. I recommend it if you have a few quid to spare.

During the same diet I used to be a frquent customer of Caffe Nero in Jubilee Place. I spoiled myself with Classic Frappѐ Latte with sugar free caramel syroup yum (you can forget the sugar free option in Poland, there is no demand for it, as well as for sugar free low fat yogurts… can’t really blame Polish people). Canary Wharf LondonBut the biggest temptation for me there was always White & Dark Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake. Rich, creamy, baked layers of white and dark chocolate truffle cheesecake, on a crispy chocolate biscuit base, topped with swirls of white and dark chocolate. Very sweet, my friend couldn’t finish it, but also very chocolaty yum yum. I just want a recipe so I can make it myself!

Canary Wharf LondonLa Tasca – Spanish restaurant, crowded but cozy with warm interior. You can choose from wide selection of tapas. House wine is nice but you might have to wait for the service. From my experience also it’s better to book in advance. Don’t take it the wrong way, it’s not the best place I have been to in London but I find it comfortable and full of joyful live instead of fast and minimalist modernity if you know what I mean. You probably don’t though.

Rum and Sugar – the cheapest place to eat in Canary Wharf with best pub hamburger and fries. Most of the time full. Funny toilets. I liked to eat sushi in Itsu Jubilee Place. I have a friend in that. Isn’t that right K.?Cabot Place Canary Wharf London

I was refused an account in HSBC. I had a job but I have been in London less than six months. They wanted to force me into Passport Account which is expensive. I just wanted a regular account with no overdraft option. The refusal was too much for me, I felt humiliated and burst. I don’t think I was ever so rude for a Sales Assistant before or since.

Later on just before I moved back to Poland I used to be a Lettings Negotiator in Canary Wharf. Yes, I did go into those fancy top floor aparments, but also the less fancy ones. I be honest, it’s just not me at all. I prefer nice cottages or mansions with big gardens in rustic style. But well I had many clients very impressed. The medium expensive places (as for CW) were small or even less than small, the bright ones were always expensive. Most of them are not stackable. But well whatever makes you feel good.

Top floor apartment Canary Wharf London

I think the biggest disappointment for me was the apartment I saw in Port East. Pan Peninsula studio apartments are just insane for the same price you can get far more spacious option. Altough I have to say you get a inhome cinema for residents, amazing pool and gym as well as top floor bar which will impress all your friends surely. Let’s not forget about Spa. Still the stuios are awful.

Canary Wharf panoramaThe above view is from my favourite apartment to let we had. It’s top floor in small apartment block in the south part of Isle of Dogs. It has a narrow balcony and panoramic window overlooking Millwall Park and Canary Wharf. I will write another post on Isle of Dogs separatley. Now a bit of history and additional pictures in slideshow. New Providence WharfHahhaa before that, one more picture from an apartment in New Providence Wharf. Look at this magnificent view! Picture on the left.

Let’s start with that Canary Wharf is a major business district one of London’s two main financial centres. The West India Docks where it’s located, once formed part of the busiest port in the world. It was closed in 1980. Canary Wharf itself takes its name from No. 32 berth of the West Wood Quay of the Import Dock. This was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines for the Mediterranean and Canary Islands fruit trade. At their request, the quay and warehouse were given the name Canary Wharf. The recovery began with Credit Suisse wanting to build here their back office. The idea was then sold and developed into a bigger project involving creating new business district. First buildings were completed in 1991. Canary Wharf in progressThere is a picture above escalator showing the construction in progress. have a look on the right. One Canada Square became the UK’s tallest building and a symbol of the regeneration of Docklands.

The area is full of people during working hours and during the time of after work drinks on Thursdays and Fridays. It tends to be deserted over the weekends. I suppose everyone just hangs around their homes not where they work. There are many events in Canary Wharf trying to make it more sociable and alive. This include fashion shows, food festival, ice rink, operas, movies under the sky, exhibitions and others.

The Idea Shop in Canary Wharf is poorly stocked and therefore I appeal for more books!

Two more remarks: if you take photos in CW be prpared a policeman can come over and ask you to show them to him. If he thinks it’s a threat to security he will ask you to delete them. Second there is a statue of a man in W India Ave. I think he is happy and free cos he quit working in a corp.

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Toast – the history of boys’ hunger

From the moment I saw its trailer for the first time I wanted to see this movie.

Director: S.J. Clarkson
Stars: Oscar Kennedy, Victoria Hamilton and Colin Prockter

toast-movie-posterI didn’t know it is adaptation of Nigel Slater’s bestselling memoir. Read Nigel’s post on the BBC TV blog. It seems that if you have a passion there is a time when a way comes so you can pursue it. I hope this is true for everyone. I hate canned food. If I can I do everything from scratch.

I didn’t really understand why he didn’t like Mrs Potter so much. Maybe in the book there is more to make reader more involved in this hatred, but film doesn’t do it for me.

The lemon meringue looks delicious lemon meringueand Mrs Potter neighborhood very British. I also liked the sense of humor in this movie. At the end I have to say I feel little unsatisfied and would like to see more of what happened next.

Chiang Mai elephants, white water sealed with reggae rooftop bar

Well it looks like it’s going to be my 100 post. special number, special place: Chiang Mai.

I think I liked Chiang Mai the most from the places visited in Thailand. No beach which for some people disqualifies it straight away. Not for me.

We flew from Bangkok and on arrival were welcomed by rain. rain in Chiang MaiNaturally we didn’t have place to stay so asked our tuk-tuk driver to recommend us a cheap place to stay. I can’t remember the place too well, I know we moved on the next day to a different accommodation in the same street which business card I have in front of me. VIPA HOUSE Mrs. Rabiab Pantkul, 14 – 14/1 Loikroh Lane 1 Rd, T.Changklan, A. Muang, Chiangmai 50100.

SinghaI’ll be honest with you I don’t even know where to start to give the true account of the city and our adventures.

This is my 100 post so it will be more funny than informational, I will write another bit about monuments later on. Now let me share our first meal with you. soupHave a look, yummy… funny thing: before our meal we saw a dog in the courtyard of the restaurant, barking and running around… while we ate there was silence and the dog didn’t show up until we left ;) Yes… you are right this is a useless example of European sense of humor…

Each one of us ordered something else so we could try more dishes and see which one we liked. I think we didn’t have any proper Thai meal before because all we ate was street food. noodlesGod, Thai food especially in Thailand is the best in the World. Spicy and not spicy, rice, sea food, soups, noodles… I’m getting hungry while thinking of it. When I lived in London we used to have a very nice Thai restaurant just around the corner oh I wish I could afford to go there more often than I did. Anyway back to Chiang Mai.

Rooftop barFirst night we found our favourite spot to hang out: THC Rooftop bartop roof reggae bar. I wasn’t a big fan of reggae but this place was simply awsome. It’s called THC Rooftop Bar, 19/4-5 Kotchasarn Road | On the 3rd Floor, Chiang Mai. One of us of course did not want to go… no names… but now he is the biggest fan of the place! Give it a try when you are around! You sit on the bamboo mats (and some carpets) next to low tables and you can see the city from the top of a roof. Amazing. Everything is colorful and even fluorescent.Making notes Quite out of space. The funniest is the toilet. Oh did I mention that you need to leave your shoes and then climb the ladder to get in? And what I just realised I lost pictures from Thailand, some of them anyway. I think the ones I have will have to do. Ah by the way this is before I started to take any interest in photography so composition among others is not the best.

As you can see on the picture I had a note book thatNasi tu byli I filled in with notes almost every day. I can’t find it! The thing is I was moving so much from the time I was in Thailand it can be everywhere. I can’t believe I lost it. It needs to be somewhere. I will keep on looking.

somehow didn’t have much time, we could not decide on one tour. Meaning we were given a choice: One day safari and long neck tribe/bamboo rafting tour or trekking and white-water rafting tour. Hard choice. thanks to A1 Travel Info (398 Tha Phae Rd, Chiang Mai, 50300) tour agency we were able to organise it differently. Tuk Tuk Chiang MaiWe were to go to see the elephants in the morning and then on white water rafting in the afternoon. Tight on time but as everything do-able in Thailand.

We met our tuk-tuk driver in the morning as arranged. You can see his picture on the left. You may not remember or not know that in 2008 thousands of anti-government protesters in Thailand have gone to streets. They blocked airports and some of the goverment buildings, radio and TV stations. On 30 October a grenade attack was conducted,Tickets elephant trekking Chiang Mai targeting guards for the anti-government camp. Read more on BBC. Back to our story. So there we were heading for elephant ride and suddenly found ourselves in anti-goverment camp. If you are not familiar with the army it looked quite dangerous. I think our driver was just checking on news from his friends or famili living in tents. Anyway it gave as an opportunity to be in the center of action.

Guiness World Record Chiang MaiThai elephants are playful and loveable. We fed them with bannanas and then went on a ride which ended with bathing in the river. You should see how happy they are to get into the water! A. lost his whole bench of bannanas when an elephant decided he was bored of waiting for him to tear one off. We also saw how they pat people on the head, and take their hat off and put them back on. Elephants Chiang MaiThere is a football field in Maesa Elephant Camp where games on elephants are played. A. made me feel bad he said it’s animal cruelty and we shouldn’t do it. I’ll be honest I don’t know what to think about it. In the end we gave up our freedom and live in states. this means we are not running free, we have to work, earn money and be part of this big machine for the sake of feeling secure and be provided for in terms that we no longer have to hunt, make our own clothes, homes etc Elephants are not Elephant & mefree and have to earn their living but they have shelter and food and are safe from natural enemies (like humans e.g.). So in a sense elephants don’t have a choice but do we human have it? I don’t think the animals are treated badly in this camp.

When we finished we had to hurry to catch our bus into the mountains to join white-water rafting group. But when we found our tuk tuk driver he said:Elephant trekking

“Tuk tuk broken. Don’t start” and he turned the ignition on a couple of times but nothing happened. It wouldn’t start.

“How come it’s broken?”


“How are we gonna get to Chiang Mai. We don’t have much time!”


“What do we do now?!”Tuk tuk negotiations


(M. trying to start the engine…)

(We discussing what to do and trying to talk to the driver again)

and so on…

“We paid you! you have to get us back!”Waiting on tuk tuk replacement

“I call my friend”

“Yes do that”

Calling… speaking… waiting… waiting… waiting…

Finally there he was. He came to speak to our driver, then tried to start the engine… and again… and the time was running… He thought about something went to his tuk tuk and came back with a rubber tube. he connected it to both gas tanks. We were all bending over the tube to see if it’s working hahahha and then suddenly we felt the smell of the gas and looked up on our driver who was smoking cigarette while bending over with us. In a split second we all jumped away like the was some kind of a bomb there. Must have looked really funny.

Bamboo rafting Chiang MaiWell this didn’t help and so we insisted on the other driver taking us to Chiang Mai. First problem: too many of us, second problem, payment, third problem… our tuk tuk driver was drunk and the only thing that helped to get us out of there was to threaten to call the Tourist Police. It always worked when we were in trouble BTW. So the we were 6 people in a tuk-tuk on our way to Chiang Mai in this crazy world of Thai traffic.White water Chiang Mai

But we made it! We got back on time to catch our bus. When we arrived on the river bank where the start point was we saw other people doing the bamboo rafting. It looked wet, maybe not entirely safe but well they looked more happy than scared. We had a brief trianing, got divided into two teams for each raft and wearing a helmet and life vest carried the raft to the river.

Chiang Mai white water raftingIt looked so much fun! We got into the raft, the river was quite calm, some lady took a picture of us, all in smiles and then the hell began… it started raining and the rain was coming from the upper reaches of the river so suddenly there was twice as much water and it was going faster and faster. For the three of us in our raft it was first time on white water, we did not really know what to do with the paddles, we were obeying orders as well as we could. Have to say our lider was reassuring but the other one in the second boat was crazy! Actually both of them! Suddenly the other boat filped upside down and all of them ended in water. We couldn’t catch the other boat when it was floating away, neither paddles, even though M. tried really hard. We were lucky because nobody was hurt, well A. was battered but well enough to curse. When we all got back to the boats the other team was attacked by huge red ants coming down on them from the tree. So they ended back in the water. At some point our guides decided to rid the boats so we had to walk bare feet in the jungle. We got back to the boats and struggle some more with the water. For me it was just pure fun. I guess if I ended in the water not being able to make head or tail where the surface and where the bottom is I might not be saying that, but I didn’t. This is not all. You see when we reached calm waters just before waterfall the other team lider decided it will be funny to filp the raft again! we were laughing but the other people cursed. I remember Canadian girl telling us she went to all different kinds of white water but never it was so dangerous.

So we reached the safe shore… and had to climb on top of two wet rafts stocked on the pickup. Did not expect that! No seat belts, everything wet and slippy and the driver thought he is taking part in some kind of race. The mountain roads were narrow and winding. Crazy nation!

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