Monday, November 4, 2013

2014 Southeast Asia vacation planning post

Once again it's time to start planning the most fun part of my year. Planning my upcoming "discovery" vacation.

For 2014 I think it's time to explore Southeast Asia...

Thanks to my miles and points I have flexibility to lock in dates and places until February of 2014. After that I won't be able to change things around as much.

For places to visit here's my initial thoughts: Bangkok, Vietnam, Singapore and Japan.

The following is the tentative calendar:

Saturday June 28th - Arrive Beijing at 5 am and leave at 5 pm
Sunday June 29th - Bangkok
Mon June 30th - Bangkok
Tue July 1st - Bangkok
Wed July 2nd - Bangkok
Thu Jul 3rd - Vietnam
Fri Jul 4th - Vietnam
Sat Jul 5th - Vietnam
Sun Jul 6th - Singapore
Mon Jul 7th - Singapore
Tue Jul 8th - Singapore
Wed Jul 9th - Singapore
Thu Jul 10th - Red-eye flight from Singapore to Tokyo (arrive NRT at 9 am)
Fri Jul 11th - Tokyo
Sat Jul 12th - Tokyo
Sun Jul 13th - Fly back to Houston at 5 pm

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Buenos Aires recommendations

Thanks to my regular visits to Buenos Aires, I've gotten to give this post a lot of thought and experimentation.

Several friends have asked me for suggestions when visiting Buenos Aires, so I thought I'd store this post for future reference:

Buenos Aires has an amazing food scene, while it's very varied in all the kinds of food you will find, i have mostly stuck to the basics: Steak, pizza and pasta, and a few special places that I try to visit on every trip, because i find them awesome:
Before going into the "go-to" places, I will warn you about one, which is touristy and over-hyped. Do NOT go to Cabana las Lilas... it is priced for tourists and over hyped. If you're in Puerto Madero my favorite restaurants are: Mirasol (or Miraflor) a block away if you're craving steak, Sotto Vocce if you're looking for pasta.
For most places in Buenos Aires you will want to make reservations for dinner, keeping in mind that while most dinner places open at 8 pm people don't have dinner until 10 pm or later.
- Sipan (  - This is probably the clearest example of the last category i mentioned. The restaurant's specialty is Peruvian Fusion - the sushi is some of the best I've had, but their peruvian dishes like the Tacu Tacu and Lomo salteado are also great. If you can deal with spicy food ask them for some of their secret hot sauces.
- La Brigada ( For real Argentinean parrilla (steak house) this is one of the places to go to. The steaks are so tender that in most cases the waiter will make a show of cutting the steak with a spoon... THAT good!
- Juana M ( was recommended to me by a flight attendant who traveled often to BA. The quality of the food was amazing and probably the best value for the money I found. During that trip I found it so solid I went there twice because it was good food at very low prices... it's a bit tough to find though because it's in a basement with some strange vertical banners with the name.
- Campo di Fiori (at the corner of San Jose and Venezuela streets): Probably one of the best Italian restaurants in Buenos Aires. The pasta is made freshly on site and is a must if you ever crave Italy quality pasta outside of the home country. Remember Buenos Aires probably has one of the largest Italian backgrounds of any country outside of Italy.
- La Guitarrita ( One of the classic argentinean pizza places, make sure you also try their empanadas with a quilmes beer.
- Tancat ( Spanish Tapas. This place is right across the street from Sipan... i left it for last because I will save it for when I really need a change of pace from the great food in Argentina and want to taste something hard to find at home. The food here is like being in Spain for Tapas.
For Desert you have to eat Ice cream at Freddo or Persico, look for "Dulce de leche" flavors... my favorite/mandatory one is "Dulce de leche tentacion", beyond that just go crazy with tasting as much as you can. Also get an Alfajor at Havanna (actually, try one of each)
Enjoy a "Tostado" (Ham and cheese toasted sandwich that i love) and Cafe or Cafe con Leche at one of the thousands of coffee shops on the sidewalks (check out Florida street)... their Medialunas (croissants) are also worth the extra calories... make sure to try both the butter and "fat" ones. Any pastry with dulce de leche is one of the most wonderful gifts to humanity Argentina could deliver... actually, dulce de leche in any form is the best substance in the world (after Malbec of course!)
Go see a Tango Show at night. I went to "La esquina de Gardel" because we got a local contact to get us an awesome deal on it, but i'm sure your hotel can find a good option. Well worth it. Sadly enough you won't make it to see San Telmo during a Sunday. There's Tango dancers in the streets, and a lot of shops selling quaint stuff.
For shopping you'll find a lot of leather goods stores around the city, unfortunately I can't be sure on what is a good deal anymore and due to issues with the exchange rate I'd say Argentina is not currently "cheap".
Due to a different gravitational vortex, none of what i mentioned above makes you gain weight... until you leave Argentina! So enjoy your time there and ignore any semblance of being healthy while in the country....