Tag Archives: photography

Crazy eats of South America Part 1

In Mendoza, Argentina the famous Malbec wine region : The Malbec grape varietal thrives and where the best Argentina wine come from, also famous for its Dulce de Leche, a condensed caramelised milk product popular with Argentinians

Half spoonful of  Dulce de Leche, fill the other half with Malbec wine, gulp it down.
Chile has its terramoto cocktail drink, red wine, pisco (grape liquer), pineapple icecream. This is Mendoza’s version of very bad drink ideas that taste quite disgustingly weird.

Alfajores : Very typical biscuits of South America, you see versions of it everywhere, especially in Chile and Argentina. This Argentinian version consist of snow dusted sugar on 2 biscuits with Dulce de Leche filling (caramelised condensed milk) . Quite addictive and probably will kill your liver and kidney from all those sugar! You easily find them in shops, cafes and on the streets.

Cerviche in Easter island. Raw fish cooked in lemon juice along with raw local shrimp from the surrounding sea. Served with steamed banana bread (right) that is more banana than bread, local Tuna call Kana Kana (middle), fried plantains (left) with salad in the background.
One of the best cerviche tasted so far since coming to South America but deadly if you are not into raw fish and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Mendocino (Mendoza, Argentina) version of Paella :

Rice cooked purely in white wine and a bit of broth, but really mostly cook in wine.  Add  tomatos and fresh tomato, onions, salted anchovies, garlic. The octopus is cooked in red wine with carmelised onions. Local Mussles added at the end, Olives and Half boiled egg place on top along with Biondilo and Mendocino hard feta cheese. Cooking preparation & time s about 1 hour.

Eating out in Argentina is expensive and one can’t afford to eat out for all main meals daily especially when it cost 50-80pesos (us$13- us$20) for quite a sub standard dish. That’s just a dish not a meal. However Mendoza is a great place for beautiful vegetables, sea food, meats produce and cooking is fun if you have a great kitchen.

Empanadas are like the South America version of curry puff, pastry stuffed with meats, or cheese, or chicken. There is the fried and baked version. The pasteleria everywhere seems to make awful pre-prepared empanadas, but there are dedicated shops that make fresh versions when you order them. The fillings and the pastry matters a lot. The trouble is it is more of a hit and miss affair when choosing a good empanada shop. The standard varies and often the popular shops serve up quite crappy versions even if there are tons of folks buying it. The  freshly made fried empanadas taste better than the oven baked ones of course. This is what most Chileans and Argentinans have as cheap fast food. A typical cheap dinner will consist of at least 6 pieces.

Salted pig in Argentina, this is more traditional and often prepared only for the weekends. The whole pig with skin and hooves is cured in salt. It seems more of a spanish dish where you make a stew out of it.  The taste apparently is better than fresh pork. Preparation takes more than 1 day to soak the pig in water to rid of the salt then boiled and stewed with root vegetables or eaten just like so. I  have no clue what this taste like as I don’t eat red meats.

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Skin cutting initiation festival in the inland Sepik region

Initiates on the second final day of their skin cutting ceremony. Peeping through their fenced up spirit house to witness their sisters and mothers singing and dancing on the outside. Family members would encourage the initiates on throughout the whole night on the last day of the initiation. Plenty of singing and dancing, blowing on bamboo long pipes and other instruments. No sleeping for the whole night, all the villagers would sing and dance non stop on this final day before the initiates get officially released out of the spirit house.

In the inland part of the Sepik, with almost 1.5-2hours walk from the Sepik river, Yamok Village was having its annual skin cutting rituals for its boy’s initation.

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Deep Skin Cutting rituals of Blackwater Sepik River

One of the highlights of my Papua New Guinea trip would be the ceremonial initiation of boys. The ritual scarification when males would have their skin cut with razors deeply and repeatedly to form a decorative scars resembling the sacred crocodile spirit as part of turning young boys into men. In most villages along the Sepik river with exception of Blackwater villages, women are excluded in this ritual scarring.

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Vegetarian Festival like you never seen before

Think the Vegetarian Festival in Thailand is a benign occasion where meek vegetarians run around promoting eating vegetables and no killing of animals?

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It’s time for me to pee standing up

I have decided to pee like a man.

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Land of the Naga – last of the headhunters

I dreamt about Nagaland after I saw it on the map one day. Obsessed about the place, it took me a few years before I finally visited this strip of land between Burma and NorthEast India.

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Scuba diving while being sea sick is never a good idea

Q:How would you know you are terrified of water?

A;You never know until you learn how to dive and get sea sick under water.

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There are more humans in the cemetery at night

Taoist Mediums at the celebrations

Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore is one of my favorite month of the year. The month long celebration of when all hell breaks loose, releasing all the spirits out onto earth to run amok with the blessing of the gods … Continue reading

Climbing up the 18meter Baobab Tree

Midway up the Baobab climb.

One of the highlights of my Madagascar visit would definately be Morondava’s Avenue de Baobab. These thousand year old giant trees strangely look like it has roots growing from its top. According to the Madagascans legend, they believe that God in creating the first trees, made the mistake and created these trees upside down.

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Getting to Madagascar, cost and itinerary

Madagascar requires a tourist visa, but can be easily obtained at the airport via Visa on Arrival
I got mine at the Madagascar Consulate in Singapore for sg$85.

Visa
Madagascar Consulate
1003, #04-24, Technopreneur Center, Bukit Merah Central Singapore 159836
Tel:  62231316
Call prior application as person in charge may not be at the office
Tourist Visa given for 3 months and starts on the date of application
Application requires one passport photo, flight itinerary, passport and sg$85, processing time 1-2 day. My visa was given on spot without the additional sg$50 for same day processing. The office was closed the next day for some official matters. Yippee for me.

International flight
Flights were booked via Air Madagascar local agent in Singapore. International flight transfers via Bangkok, a short 1 hour stopover in La Reunion to Antananarivo, Madagascar.

WORLD EXPRESS
114 Middle Road #05-01 Singapore 188971, Tel (65) 6336 3877

Domestic Flights
Air Madagascar has the monopoly within Madagascar, so flights can get expensive. Best to pre-book all your domestic flights when making your international flight. 50% discount is given if you have a international flight ticket and quoted in US dollars instead of Euros if you book in Madagascar. Due to the limited flights within the country, suggest that you book your domestic flights prior.
All flights depart and return to Antananarivo, so it can be quite a hassle to waste a night or a day in Antananarivo to transfer from different cities. Domestic flights often experience delays and may take up to a whole 5-6hours just waiting about.

Flight cost
Singapore to Madagascar via Bangkok and La Reunion : sg$1650
Antananarivo to Tulear : Euro $225 return (50% discount if you have Air Madagascar international flight)
Antananarivo to Moroansetra : Euro$225 return
Antananarivo to Morondava : euro $220 return

Most Domestic flights were unavailable within my dates given, so I only managed my flight to Moroansetra

Total Cost
International Airtickets : sg1642.60 /Euro 963.70
Domestic Airticket : Euro 225
Food : Euro 179.80 / 459800 aviary
Water : Euro 4.97 / 12700 aviary
Hotel Accomodation : Euro 148 / 378418 aviary
Land Transport + airport transfer : Euro 29.04 /74250 aviary
Private car hire for 10 days : Euro 490
Non food items : Euro 2.74 / 7000 aviary
Activities : Euro 34.22 / 87500 aviary
Other items : Euro 137.31 / 351090 aviary
Other items : Euro 60

Total expenses (exclude gifts+international airticket) : Euro 1209.44
Total spent : Euro 2173.12

Average expenses  Euro$57.60/day
Average expenses for  include international airticket : Euro$100/day

At time of travel : 1 Euro = 2530 Aviary

(Note : Travel expenses shared by 2 persons, solo travel cost expense may differ)

Average Cost for travelling within Madagascar

Hotel average 20,000 aviary to 60,000 aviary per room

Food at Hotely are cheap, averages 2000 – 4000 aviary per dish consist of a meat + a large pile of rice + boiled rice water + soup.

Food at Hotels or Restaurants averages 3000 – 7000 aviary.
A plate of zebu steak cost average 6000 aviary, prawn dish cost average 5000-8000 aviary, chicken/fish dish cost 4000-5000 aviary comes with vegetables or french fries

Park fees : 15,000 aviary for smaller reserves, major reserves 25,000 aviary, private reserves 5000-8000 aviary

Guide fees : 25,000 – 35,000 aviary for 4 hours circuit walk

Airport Transfers : 10,000 aviary(shared shuttle) – 30,000 aviary Taxi (Anatannarivo airport)

Public Taxi Buses :
range 35000 aviary from Antisirabe to Morondava 10-12 hours
3000 aviary from Tulear to Ifalty 2 hours

My Madagascar Itinerary

Anatannarivo – capital city for travel arrangements

Private car hire with driver consist of 12 days drive from Anatannarivo down to Tulear return

Fanantenana-Andasibe National park – woolly lemurs

Antsirabe – city of crafts and major industries, great place to buy semi-precious gemstones

Ambositra – woodcrafts and precious wood

Ranomanfana National park – Sifaka lemurs

Finanarantsoa – second largest city in Madagascar, great place to stock up on water and other groceries if you are self catering.

Amabalavao – silk craft and the famous zebu market

Anja Private Reserve – semi tame ringtail lemurs and canyon walks

Ranohira – Isalo National Park – popular stunning landscapes, canyons and waterpools

Tulear – Tropic of Capricorn for its beaches

Mangily village at Ifalty beach

Drive Back to Amabalavao for the wednesday/thursday  zebu market

Continued back to Fianarantsoa and Antsirabe

Antsirabe to Morodava – 12hours by car

Morodava – Baobao trees for the full moon

Drive back from Morodava to Anatannarivo 13 hours by car

Fly Anantannarvio – Moroansetra

Moroansetra

Nosy Mangabe National Park

Annatannarivo – half a day at Haute Ville

– End