the taroko gorge, a summary


no, no, you’re not in the wrong place. it’s a bit more like andmoretravel here at the moment, but bear with me – for there are lovely photos to share!

the taroko gorge is a national park that often serves as a stopover or day-trip from hualien – and it was certainly a neat bit of scenery to see while in the area.

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not a dragon, nor a fly



I’m out of action today – bogged down by an inflamed throat and my efforts to get to work – and food isn’t really on the mind, really.

so here are a few shots of this beautiful dragonfly we saw on the way to a restaurant a couple weeks ago – so well-behaved, and amenable to more-than-a-few clicks of my shutter. those colours are just something, eh?

tulipmania, gardens by the bay (take two)

tulipmania was really a mini garden of imported tulip flowers within the larger garden that was the flower dome conservatory – strips of color delineated by tulip petals, as well as the distinction between buds and blooms. it was a gorgeous display – these flowers very obviously aren’t native to our sweltering, tropical climate, but the wonders of air conditioning and glass-domestruction meant I had the chance to share these beauties with grandma.

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tanah lot, bali


this rock-temple place was too touristy by half – and not the better for it: the beaches were dirty and the temple overcrowded – and I wish there had been less clouds so I could have grabbed better photos. I’ve put them here for sharing (so you don’t make your way down yourself!), and next time I think I might try for uluwatu, which holds another famous spot for sunset-spotting.

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ubud rice fields, bali


cascading terraces of green and scattered pavilions. even the requisite smattering of souvenir shops – we bought an indigenous instrument, a kalimba (also known as a finger piano) – add to the charm of this place. I can’t imagine what it’d be like at high tourist season, but for now it was quiet and peaceful – truly beautiful.

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goa gajah: elephant cave, bali


no elephants here – it’s so named for the grandness of the architecture, and it’s a beaut. an amazing carved stone temple, a trek amidst temple ruins and a stretch of padi fields, and the quiet beauty of balinese floral offerings.

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fruit farm and tasting, mekong delta



other than the scintillating milk fruit I told you about just a while ago, we also got the chance to visit a sort of village hall where we were treated to some local fruit and a musical performance – a couple of duets accompanied by some traditional instruments. on the platter were a couple slices of watermelon, baby thin-skinned raja bananas, longans, jumbo or water apples, and I think I might have missed out one or two – but we also leapt at the chance to try a local durian when our guide told us there were some available.

the other fruits were included in the trip, but the durians we had to pay extra for – not too expensive but we barely touched it after having a seed each. the durians had a strange sort of texture, like a taut skin over a very watery flesh – unlike the creamy, dense, unctuous flesh that characterizes the popular variants in singapore. the taste was likewise watery, with barely any sweetness and just a faint whiff of a durian. it was rather difficult to eat, actually, and I don’t think I finished the piece that I took.

this probably does explain why singaporeans hunt for specific variants of durian (as does my family), and why the good ones cost quite a bit – there is a great possible variance of taste, and for such a calorific fruit, the flavour ought to be well worth the indulgence.

p.s. if you don’t like durians, make sure you ask a well-informed singaporean to bring you to one! the best ones are undeniably delicious (and I don’t even eat much myself).

breast milk fruit, mekong delta





bet that got your attention. this isn’t anything so risqué, really – just a tropical fruit with a green rind and white flesh, and milky white sap that oozes out as you stick a spoon into it.

we were brought to a villager’s family home, where they grow these trees in abundant – the elderly matriarch of the house took a pole-mounted net, stuck it up the trees and grabbed us a couple of ripe specimens (while I frantically googled these fruit after our guide mentioned its very suggestive name) and very proficiently threw them into a basket. these fruit grow on tall trees, and look sort of like a very smooth green orb, a little like a smooth-skinned guava.

you slice them into half, stick a metal spoon around the inner circumference (where ripe flesh meet the rind), swipe your spoon around neatly to eject a hemisphere of fruit, then spoon bits to eat, spitting the seeds out as you go. the taste of the fruit is a little like a custard apple, really kind of mild, while the texture is a little like a silky mangosteen. a very interesting fruit, and my dad caught onto it very quickly, finishing quite a few right there and then. I personally found the experience a little strange – but it’s more a visual reaction than a flavour one: I found the white sap coming out a little unsettling, almost like cutting into actual flesh (I think my mind makes far too much of the name of this thing). didn’t stop me from having two-and-a-half of these milk fruit though.

do get one if you come across them; it was only after this excursion that we realized we had seen quite a few of these in the ben thanh market, very large, perfect green spheres sold with a bit of stalk and a leaf. let me know how you like them if you’ve ever had a go!

bee farm, mekong delta






this is the first of a set of posts I have on a side trip we took from ho chi minh to stay at the mekong delta. after years of only eating-and-shopping/tailoring in this city – not that those are insignificant activities to us – we decided to try something new, so I booked us on a two-day stay at the mekong lodge (their website here).

we stayed in one-storey bungalows along the mekong lodge, did a bit of guided sightseeing and local-eating, went out to see a local floating market and how some traditional delicacies were made – and let’s start with some pretty photos from the trip we took to a bee farm nearby.

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