Posted By Lester V Ledesma

#8) The Train to West Java




February 18, Indonesia: The cheapest seats have no frills in the Argo Parahyangan, and they promise a sweltering, three-hour ride in the tropical heat. Yet they also boast a feature that no swanky first-class cabin can ever have: open windows, and side doors you can hang from anytime.


On this train ride to Bandung from Jakarta, its easy to guess what I am planning to do. The trip is uneventful on its first hour, with the usual back city scenes flitting by. Once we hit the countryside, though, things get interesting. The railway slopes up and up, past greenery that makes Jakarta concrete a distant memory. Together with some seatmates – a group of Javanese backpackers – we rush to the train doors to ooh and aah at the surrounding scenery. We stick our heads out whenever the train crosses a mountain bridge. Below the carriage there is nothing but a thin strip of railway, and rice terraces far, far below. The cool highland wind, the stunning view, the rush. Priceless.


Of course, the adventure didn't end there - check out my article on The Ultimate Bandung Weekend.


#7) Osaka's Eat Street



March 30, Japan: There is Japanese food, and then there is Osaka food. For eight days in this country’s Southern culinary capital, I indulged in a food trip like no other. Osaka has been called “The Kitchen of Japan”, and a walk down its Dotombori district explains explain why. On one building façade a huge, motorized octopus beckons would-be gourmands to a helping of takoyaki. On another, a grinning chef robot brandishes kushiyaki sticks like they were nunchuks. There’s also those bizarre balloons that resemble fugu – the poisonous pufferfish – a tasty, somewhat deadly delicacy in these parts. All these came with the Osakan guarantee of perfection. And indeed, they all were. In fact, even the standard Japanese fare – the ramens, the gyozas, the katsu curries – seemed extra tasty when served under Dotombori neon lights.


My tastebuds were pampered, my olfactory senses caressed, but sadness accompanied this gustatory bliss. Because I knew that once I left Osaka, Japanese food would never again be this good.



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