a blog of one’s own.


Dili, Timor-Leste at low tide, Cristo Rei in the background.


I decided to start this baby up again. Forgive the sputter of my writing but it’s been some time that I’ve written something other than a policy brief or someone else’s terms of reference. My brain’s been battered black and blue by bureaucratic life and thought maybe this could help save me. Did I think I could save the world by getting a master’s degree in bureaucracy and going to work for a giant bank? Delusions. Perhaps my emancipation can be found in this blog of my own. What do you say, Virginia Woolf?

A re-introduction: I’ve moved around with fair frequency since falling for a man in uniform and am often asked if I love the adventure or not. Yes, there’s an undeniable romanticism of living in remote tropical locations, drinking coconuts whilst gossiping about government scandals, blah blah blah. It’s all very Graham Greene. If you ask my brother, he’ll tell you he suspects we work for the CIA, tracking down Kim Jong-un as he makes unsavory deals with shadowy Vietnamese officials. The dismal truth is we both work for large bureaucracies on a tiny half island nation (one of the newest countries in the world) and spend most days under the constant hum of AC set at 20 degrees Celsius staring at the blue glow of our computer screens more than we stare at the turquoise blue sea (warning: if you didn’t yet realize, this is the self-pity kick-off post).

Unlike my previous posts from a few years back, I will chronicle both the beauty and the tragedy, the excitement and the frustration, the glamorous and impossibly mundane. Not just all the pretty places we go to and all the tropical fruit we consume in every form possible, but the frustrations of living and working in a developing country (e.g. rain = no electricity = no internet = washed out roads = flooded homes = sick employees with sick families). And all this whining will be mollified by posts of beautiful landscapes, delicious meals I’ve slaved over, and confections I’ve baked to soothe my soul.

p.s. I promise my next post won’t be so dramatic.


Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer

What thin places have you traveled to?

 – It’s nice to be home but I do miss the Thin places, where the distance between heaven and earth collapses, can relax us and transform us — or, more accurately, unmask us.

Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer

Tropical Popsicles


Meet the most delicious pineapple basil pops you’ll never eat. Unless you come over on a hot day and I feel like breaking out the zoku. I picked up a zoku popsicle maker right before we left for Indonesia since I figured I’d be melting under the equatorial sun and always in want of a popsicle. But being engrossed in work and other things, I completely forgot I had the damn thing until I was rummaging through my cupboards for something else.

The zoku is simple and immediately gratifying. I keep it in my freezer at all times and when the urge for a popsicle hits, I blend some fruit together, pour it in the zoku, and in nine minutes flat, I’m poppin.


One of my favorite things about living out here (no, it’s not the pollution and lack of infrastructure) is the abounding bounty of tropical fruit. And I believe it’s done wonders for my skin. There is not a day that I am without a mango, pineapple, papaya, banana, or kiwi in a salad, smoothie, straight up, or now in frozen perfection. I may have severe withdrawal symptoms and a yellowing pallor when I move to Ithaca in the dead of winter only to find squash and potatoes.


These are the mango honey pops with chunks of kiwi. I also made a gorgeous papaya yogurt mint pop kissed with raw honey but those went too fast to photograph. The possibilities are endless. In this eternal summer, every day is a good day for a popsicle. What would be your perfect popsicle creation?

Fast Hand Pulled Noodles


I’m not sure when it all began but I am having a love affair with noodles. If someone gave me the “okay,” I’d be slurping noodles six ways to Sunday. And the mie tarik (pulled noodles) from Mie Tarik Laiker at the Food Louver court in Grand Indonesia mall is by far the most addicting. There’s a Chinese place across the way that is supposedly more legit but it lacks the chewy perfection of these noodles, the deep shallot broth that rivals any soupe a l’oignon, and the perfect proportion of morning glory and crispy fried shallot sprinkled on top. Who says you can’t find good food in a mall food court?

Look at this guy go!  P1040903

Mie Tarik Laiker
found at food courts in
 – Grand Indonesia Mall
 – Senayan City Mall
 – Kelapa Gading Mall
Jakarta, Indonesia

Ben Thanh Market

I never posted this because I’m horribly inconsistent when it comes to the blogging. I keep saying I’ll get better at it but when it comes down to it part of me is lazy and the other thinks it’s self-indulgent. So let’s get actively indulgent!

Oh, the massive markets of Asia. When traveling, many of us go in thinking we need to get to the soul of a culture, whether it be through food, art, music, or simply meeting the people. You can often find all of that at a central market where you carefully eke through narrow aisles perusing stall after stall of everything.


Ben Thanh Market is in the heart of Saigon where many flock for its cheap goods whether it be lacquerware or nailpolish pens or a garment stall where they’ll make you 2 for 1 suits featured in the latest GQ magazine in two days flat for under $200. Those cats in the garment stalls are fast and dapper.


It’s always a good idea to see what the locals snack on. And I’m always curious to find out how the local dried squid is.


I saw this scene often on the streets. Women prodding each other’s faces to push out any facial impurities. Everyone in Vietnam is an aesthetician.


Fun felt ball imaginings!


Loads of lacquer and coconut shells.




I picked up plenty of tea and blue mountain coffee from this Vietnamese/Korean stall. We noticed a lot of Korean investment in Vietnam and a conspicuous lack of any U.S. products. This is the first country we visited with no Starbucks. And no need for one; Vietnamese coffee is roasted and caramelized to perfection.


Because I bought so much tea and coffee from these people, they threw in a few free filters. Vietnamese coffee can only be made this way. Don’t you dare put it through a regular joe coffeemaker. I’ll have to post the beautiful ceramic filters and cups I bought as well. I’ve been scheming to start a new series of posts called: LOOT. Let’s see how that fares.











I love crazy food art. I think it started with my brother creating a stand of trees out of broccoli in a landscape of snow made of mashed potatoes so I’d eat my veggies. This is a bit more refined but will I ever have the patience to learn how to do this? I’m always impressed with the Japanese women who make adorable menageries of sushi animals for their kids’ bento boxes. I want to say I will be that mom but I foresee lumps of leftovers in tupperware in my children’s futures.

Ok, I’m getting tangential. See you next time. Hopefully sooner than later.