Amazing Local Thai Food Just Off Khao San Road in Bangkok

One of my absolute must-dos for Bangkok was to sync up with fellow Arizonan expat, and travel foodie master blogger and YouTube sensation Mark Wiens of Migrationology. His food updates from Asia over the last few years have inspired me, and left my mouth hankering for a visit to Southeast Asia. Of the various folks who inspired me to make the trip to Asia and got me VERY excited about eating my way across the region, the two at the forefront were Mark (Migrationology) and Jodi (Legal Nomads).

So, when it turned out Mark was going to be in town and free to grab a quick meal, I was thrilled. After a meetup down in the Khao San Road area, we set out to find and introduce me to some fantastic local Thai eats.

The place Mark and his lovely wife/co-camera woman took me to was situated about 5 minutes walk from the tourist district, fully authentic and situated at roughly at 243 Phra Sumen Rd.

We settled in and I left the ordering to them. What followed was a mouth-watering, aromatic, eye watering, flame breathing culinary adventure and intro to a number of new dishes I hadn’t had the opportunity to explore yet.

It was good, it was fresh, at times it was spicy and just like a good dish always inspires, I was left struggling not to pick up and lick every plate along the way.

I also learned some great advice and wisdom: Know all those veggies in many Thai soups? They’re there mostly for flavoring, not consumption. Turns out, all these years, I’ve essentially been eating the equivalent of the garnish and wondering why it was so intense and pallet annihilating.

So, without further adieu, here’s Mark introducing the dishes we tried. For more bite-by-bite introductions to amazing foods from the region hit up Mark’s blog. Even if you’re not a food person, you’re going to find yourself watching more than a few videos.


Follow Mark at Migrationology or jump straight to his YouTube Channel.

You can also see Mark and Andrew Zimmern take on Bangkok’s food scene here in his video here.

Copenhagen’s Most Colorful Must-See Streets

Scandinavian countries, particularly Sweden and Denmark, have a long tradition of painting the facades of their houses bright colors. These often change from building to building creating a veritable rainbow of color as one looks down the street. While this practice is somewhat common throughout the city, there are several prime examples hidden away along the city’s historic back streets.  While the most famous of these is Nyhavn which can be found on nearly ever postcard from Copenhagen, the rest are far more obscure.  This list is intended as a local’s insight to showcase locations you won’t find in your average guide.

Four Beaches to Visit in Copenhagen During Summer

Summer has arrived in Copenhagen and it is glorious! It may lack the scorching heat or consistent sunshine of more southern climates, but it brings with it a fragile northern beauty only made possibly by its contrast with Denmark’s long dark winters. Where other regions throughout the world take summer for granted, the Danes relish it and throw themselves into the country’s long summer days with near reckless abandon. Work grinds to a halt, the parks overflow with people, and the city’s open spaces are overwhelmed by a tidal wave of sun-burned, partially-clad Danes often found with a disposable BBQ, six pack of cold Carlsberg, and a beaming smile. This sight is usually set to the soundtrack of local Danish artists blasted from modified Christiania bikes with full speakers and sound systems (sometimes even a DJ turntable) jury-rigged precariously atop three standard bike wheels.

Copenhagen City Tip – Visit A Cemetery

Unless you have some sort of obsession with visiting the final resting places of famous people, most folks don’t find themselves with a visit to a city’s cemetery on the top of their city to-do list. As someone not particularly interested in famous people, their eventual final resting place, and with a general aversion to cemeteries it took me a long time before I finally heeded the advice of my Danish friends.

When It Rains – Weekly Travel Photo

Rainy Streets - Perugia, Italy

The life of a street performer isn’t all showmanship and entertainment. I captured this patient, and more than a little forlorn, costumed street statue during a light spring rain in the historic part of old Perugia. Over the two days I spent in Perugia as a finalist in the Stories on Umbria journalism competition, a part of the Perugia International Journalism Festival, we had mostly sunny weather. Unfortunately, the 2nd evening brought with it scattered rain showers. While perfect for my relaxing walk through the city with my camera, it was far less ideal for this gentleman whose exposed face was painted completely white.

After capturing this photo and several closeups I chatted with him briefly. In return he smiled and with a flourish produced a tiny rolled scroll. The small piece of paper was held in place by a cut piece of pasta…very clever and Italian…and contained a small proverb. Of the various encounters I had in Perugia and Umbria during the trip, it was one of my favorites.

Make sure to head over to flickr to see the rest of the album.

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera.

How “Howdy” Has Made Me A Better Traveler – Considering Cultural Identifiers and Their Value


Each time we interact with a stranger there’s a significant amount of uncertainty. When that interaction occurs between people from different backgrounds, cultures, and languages that level of unknown is magnified significantly. To convey our background and express ourselves while reducing that uncertainty we dress a certain way, talk a certain way, and when it comes to travel, we present ourselves a certain way.

It’s a common desire among travelers to fit in. This has significant advantages in the form of increased safety, added opportunity for cultural immersion, and the chance for increased experiential engagement. However, it also makes it significantly harder for you to communicate basic information about yourself to the strangers you have an active desire to communicate with.

While we will almost always be readily identifiable as a visitor to locals due to the brands we wear, the camera slung around our shoulder, or the day-backpack we’ve got strapped to our backs it is fairly easy to start to blend in, should you desire it. At which point you’ll notice your interactions begin to change, both with locals and other travelers.

So, where does “Howdy” come into this?

The moment you open your mouth and utter a word the people you’re interacting with will know that you’re an outsider. Often, what they’ll have trouble identifying is where you are from, and how to engage with you. Unless, that is, you decide to help them. As an American from the southwest, that’s where the word howdy enters my equation.

With one word, I can share a wealth of information with the person I’m striking up a conversation with. It tells them I’m probably from the USA, that I’m a native English speaker, that I’m ok with a slightly more casual interaction, and that I’m likely friendly. One word used at the very onset of the conversation creates and establishes a baseline of common information upon which we can build a more comfortable interaction and less awkward conversation.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you always use a cultural identifier, only that you consciously add one to your vocabulary.

Hostel Inn Tango City - Buenos Aires, Argentina

A Few Examples

The first time I realized the benefit of using a cultural identifier, howdy in this case, was during an off-season trip to the Greek island of Crete. I’d been on the road for 2+ months already, and was apparently dressing more like a European than an American. When combined with my international features I could have been from almost anywhere. Time and time again in stores, or when interacting with street vendors they would approach me and begin to work through a variety of languages. Most started with German, then switched to French, then often Italian before eventually growing slightly frustrated and defaulting to English. These were individuals I wanted to communicate with (otherwise a simple smile and shake of the head would have been sufficient), but with whom I was accidentally making communication significantly more difficult. The moment I started responding to their inquiry with the same smile, and a howdy we immediately began communicating more effectively.

Hostel common areas provide another excellent example. In these spaces there’s really only one well grounded assumption to be made – that the people you’re about to interact with could be from anywhere in the world. In these spaces the level of social uncertainty is magnified. While almost everyone is eager to socialize and interact, there’s a high level of uncertainty in the initial interaction. In these types of situations everyone is hungry for any hint that helps them relate and connect with the other people. Once again, this is a perfect chance to use a cultural identifier to help reduce uncertainty and build common ground.

A third is when locals or other tourists approach you with questions, which I find happens surprisingly often. These instances can be somewhat awkward, as you may or may not have a decent familiarity with the area or subject they’re asking about. They’ve approached you, a perfect stranger, with the assumption that you’re probably a local, and have already taken a social “risk”. One made more awkward if you don’t understand their inquiry, or if you have to ask them to re-state it. A process which can be accelerated, or avoided all together with a word or two right off the bat. The added benefit is that words like bonjour and howdy can be spoken immediately, even if the other person has already started to talk without being impolite.

Subtle Language Requests

To be fair, when you use a cultural identifier like howdy, you’re doing more than just expressing information about yourself. You’re also subtly inviting the other person to have the conversation in your native language. If you’d prefer to try and remain in the other person’s native language it may be worth considering what regional salute is suited to that language, or opening with your own cultural identifier and then adding a brief phrase in the local language. This tells them your native language, but then also indicates that you’re interested in continuing in their language.

Think about your interactions both while abroad, and with visitors in your home region. Where are you from? What words might you use to identify yourself? Can you think of a time when you used a cultural identifier, or perhaps did not and should have?

Affiliate link: Itching to learn a language? Consider picking Rosetta Stone Software up over on Amazon.

Oslo Continued – Local Food and Playing in the Park

The Harbor - Oslo, Norway

When I last left you, Sten and I had just finished exploring a large portion of Oslo.  It was a fantastic insight into the city, Norse history and local culture. But, I wasn’t done.  In fact, my hosts still had  a few surprises left up their sleeves.

After a quick hello, and then a far longer nap (dare I cry jetlag?)  I eventually stumbled out of bed and wandered into the living room.  A bit groggy but generally feeling refreshed I settled into a stool and joined the others.  As it turned out, we’d all crashed for longer than anticipated. When the sun never sets, a nap here or there quickly turns into a great idea.

Local Food - Oslo, Norway

To my delight Hildur had picked up some pre-cooked whole shrimp on her way home from work, and had set to preparing a classic regional dish.  The ingredients were simple.  Boiled and well salted shrimp, sliced bread, mayo, sliced green onions and lemon.  Combine it all as pictured in the image above, and then enjoy.  It was delicious, and a meal I hope to replicate sometime in the near future.  The shrimp in particular caught my attention – the Norwegian shrimp are a different species than the ones I’m familiar with in the US. They’re a deeper orange-almost red when cooked, slightly smaller and have a saltier/stronger shrimp taste. Stuffed, we decided to enjoy the weather and set out towards the park.  Hildur grabbed a bag of blocks – which I later learned was a fun game to play in the park.

The 3 minute walk to the park was pleasant.  The weather perfect – riding that fine line between cool and warm.  The sun had started its ever so gradual descent leaving everything with the slight suggestion of Sunset despite the reality that it was still hours off.  As seems to be the case with most Scandinavian parks in summer, despite the late hour (it was perhaps 10PM), there were still lots of people out and about.  BBQing, lounging, drinking, chatting, and playing an assortment of park games.

For our part we set up shop next to one of the small ponds, then found a flat area to play our game.  To my surprise, it was one I’d never seen before.   Each team set up a series of rectangular blocks standing on end.  The blocks were spaced about a foot apart in a long line, parallel to your opposition’s blocks. Each team had 6 or 8.   Located in the middle – about 10 feet from either side – was a larger, taller rectangular block.

The goal?  Each individual used three foot long round, wooden, stakes which were lobbed straight at the opposing bricks.  The goal?  Knock as many down as you could, before eventually going after the central block.  The catch?  Distance, aim, and a few additional challenges which went with each block which you managed to knock down.

All in all the game was one of the more entertaining park games I’ve played in a long time (afraid I’m not a huge fan of Frisbee).  The company was great, and the setting…well…how often can you claim to have spent a relaxing evening playing in the park in the shadow of Norway’s Royal Palace?

Caye Caulker – Pictures, Video and Local Cuisine!

Caye Caulker Beach

Having already mentioned my delightful case of food poisoning in my previous post, I’ll refrain from re-telling the story and instead focus on a few snapshots I took around Caye Caulker during my remaining two days on the island.  You’ll note that the photos are often a bit dark and gray.   This is due to the large cold front which was rolling through the region.

Caye Caulker Waterfront

Despite the gray clouds, slightly cooler weather and rain it was still enjoyable – though it was cool enough to merit a light jacket from time to time.

Bird on Dock in Caye Caulker Belize

With a water bottle in hand and slightly pale tint to my complexion I meandered through the city pausing to take in the town’s small quirks and subtle beauty.

Cat on Lounge Chair in Belize

The good news was, though, that despite the weather – at least a few of the locals decided to hit the beach for a bit of sunbathing.

Boat with Signs

From there it was on towards the gap in the island where one of the most flavorful boats I’ve seen in a long time was tied up.  After all, what boat is complete without “No War” painted on the side, a reclined, palm frond sun shade, and live baby palm trees growing along the deck?

Seagulls and Pelicans relaxing

From there it was down a small dock – where the local birds seemed to be relaxing watching their own version of island TV.

Caye Caulker, Belize

As the day wound to a close (and my appetite finally returned) I found the “World Famous Jolly Roger’s Grill” – only open in the evenings, Jolly Roger’s was set up in a roadside stand along the main drag.  It consisted of a few beat up pick-nick tables, a small table for preparing food and the long grill pictured above.

Jolly Roger

My host – Roger – promised the best fresh grilled lobster in town at a great price.  A bear of a man, he had a a friendly smile and boisterous voice as he called to passing travelers and locals alike – wishing them well and inviting them to pause for a meal.

Grilled Lobster in Caye Caulker Belize

As I sat, watching Roger and his wife prepare the meal, I enjoyed the soft sound of rain drops hitting the hut’s tin roof.  The fresh smell of cooking food, fresh sea air and rain heavy in my nostrils I felt both refreshed and invigorated.


Curious about the meal?  I’ll yield the floor to Jolly Roger himself and let him introduce dinner!  Just click play and enjoy the video.

Jolly Rogers in Caye Caulker

As I chatted and slowly worked my way through my dinner, rum punch and desert I was quickly joined by a gaggle of travelers as Roger’s quickly filled up.  Several of which I knew – some of the girls from the night before, who were also booked on the Raggamuffin Sailing trip we’d be leaving on in the morning – while others were new friends, like a family who had met up with their daughter and were exploring Belize.  We mixed, mingled and socialized for a a stretch before I found my way back to the hostel, pulled out one of C. Descry’s books and turned in for the evening.

Tomorrow promised to be a big day.