Backpacking

Samarqand, Uzbekistan – hotel review, landmarks, market and restaurant food review

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Categories: *Backpacking Trip: Uzbekistan 2015*, Backpacking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PLOV!! – Uzbekistan National Meal

Today we had finally tried the Uzbekistan national meal of Plov in Samarqand, Uzbekistan. Costing only 12,000 Uzbek SOM each (just under $3), this delicious meal consisted of flavoured oily rice with cuts of meat and sweet carrots chopped into cubes. This was much more delicious then yesterday’s meal of ‘lagman’ the Uyghur noodles.

The restaurant was a small cafe on the side of the road recommended by our guide.

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Categories: *Backpacking Trip: Uzbekistan 2015*, Backpacking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Video – Short Clips of Guangzhou, China

Its been absolutely ages since we had uploaded a YouTube video so please do bear with us as we get back to Video Editing basics! For now, we have uploaded Short Clips of Guangzhou, China

Link: http://youtu.be/C3wcNqToYy0 

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Categories: *Backpacking Trip May 2014*, Backpacking, Guangzhou China | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day One – Tashkent, Uzbekistan

So we have finally arrived to Tashkent, Uzbekistan (well done to those that guessed correctly from the previous post!)

We stayed at a quiet backstreet hostel called Topchan Hostel.

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We spent our first day touring round the old Tashkent and visited old Islamic monuments. For lunch, we went to a restaurant that specialised in old Uyghur noodles which was delicious!

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Mixed with bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and other veg with soft tender meat in a tomato broth, with the famous noodles hiding underneath – which were completely handmade!
This was just opposite the mosque and museum that has the old Quran of Usmaan, approx 3-4minute walk away.

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After a long walk, the jetlagged feeling came back (as well as some travellers blisters) we decided to get a take away and headed back to the hostel.
We got a dish called Dolma, an authentic dish of rice and minced meat wrapped in vine leaves – a meal I was familiar with by my Turkish heritage.

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Thoughts of Tashkent – when we first arrived I had thought it would be like Kuala Lumpur where I didn’t enjoy the city- but it had a relaxing atmosphere amongst the busy traffic, only struggle is not a lot of people know English! But with the friendly Uzbek people, sign language and a few words here and there, does the job!

Categories: *Backpacking Trip: Uzbekistan 2015*, Backpacking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And we’re off again!

We are now off to our next Backpacking Destination! Can anyone guess where?

Hint: National food dish is PLOV!

Categories: *Backpacking Trip: Uzbekistan 2015*, Backpacking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

MALAYSIA – PHOTO GALLERY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: *Backpacking Trip May 2014*, Backpacking, Malaysia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MALAYSIA – Backpacking Trip: arriving in Kuala Lumpur and NO COACH?!

After our short stopover in Guangzhou, China. We had finally landed in Kuala Lumpur – we caught the 10RM coach (which is £2!) into the city where we arrived at our hostel near China town.
China town at night isn’t the most loveliest of sites to see but at that time, we just wanted to get to our room.
We came up to our hostel and finally arrived at our prebooked room (we only prebook the first couple of nights and then from there its all free flow travel). The room was clean, no window, had air con and the shared bathrooms were very clean. The receptionist was also lovely and as we settled into our room, we resorted to pringles for dinner!
(Cannot remember the hostel name – sorry!…but it did begin with a letter ‘M’).

After a good night’s sleep we used the new day to explore the local area as we knew the next day would be off up north!

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This dish was delicious!! Something I would have to try and recreate.

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Local artwork at the Islamic art museum in Kuala Lumpur which I would highly recommend!

A lot of people love Kuala Lumpur but we didn’t find it that attracting and couldn’t wait to explore the outer regions of Malaysia!

The next morning we had planned to take the 10am coach from Putra Jaya to Kota Bharu but after arriving there at 9:30am, we were then told that we were TOO EARLY!! The coach is actually at 10pm  – with nothing planned and the sun becoming more hot nearing midday – we frantically walked from different coach ticket stations in the heat until we were offered the 10am  coach to Kuala Terranganu which we had never researched before but knew it was near Kuala Besut  (which was our original plan as we had booked a place for scuba diving on the Perethian Islands). So for 45RM each one way, we took the 9 hour coach to Kuala Terraganu  with only 5minutes to make it to the coach from the ticket booth!

But thank God we had made it and have to stay, I loved that 9 hour coach journey and ever since that journey – I wouldn’t mind taking another coach for that long either as it was just beautiful and scenic.
Kuala Terraganu was everything we hoped for in Malaysia, completely different Kuala Lumpur and more of a ‘homely’ atmosphere with hardly any tourists but the most cheapest of hotels (50RM for both of us for one night – £5 each).

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This yummy looking meal was truly delicious – it looks bland but the Malaysians have stolen my heart when it comes to their food with the amount of flavour and you can tell how much love they put into their food. This meal (which I have completely forgot was called!) was made by a lovely lady, like a mum figure, with the most warming of smiles. Kuala Terraganu was like home

The next day we had to leave Kuala Terraganu and head towards Kuala Besut for the jetty onto the Perethian Islands.

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Categories: *Backpacking Trip May 2014*, Backpacking, Malaysia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LONDON – CHINA, Day One Backpacking Trip

Firstly, huge apologies for the lack of activity but I now plan to post more topics and recipes very soon! And what better way then to show you all pictures from our backpacking trip in China & Malaysia back in May 2014. Since it was a long journey, I thought to put up one post a day of each leg of our backpacking trip.

LONDON – GUAGZHOU,  CHINA
Our trip started off from London Heathrow to Gaugzhou, China via China Southern Airlines (which have to say was a superb Airline for such a cheap flight it had all the necessities and luxuries of a mid class flight! – ticket price was approx £400 each return via holidaygenie.com).

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The stopover in China was approx 23 hours long where the airline had also given us a free hotel for the night -another surprise! The hotel was very clean and the staff knew some sort of English which was perfect for asking questions regarding the shuttle bus and what’s for breakfast.

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Since we had a long stopover, we decided the next morning to explore more of China especially the old architecture and mosques. We first rang for a taxi from the hotel so we can get to the city which is a 40 minute to 1 hour drive depending on traffic.

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(Quick note, to get around China, make sure you have the place you want to go screenshot on your phone in Chinese chatters – NOT English. Oh and go for the green coloured taxis!)

We had wanted to explore the old mosque of Saad Ibn Waqas (companion of the Prophet, peace be upon him). When we had entered the city, it was bustling with loads of people and it now hit us that we were in a different country with the Chinese women riding their bicycles on the main road with straw hats and their weekly groceries shopping hanging onto their baskets. The air was so humid and sticky also as you hear the sounds of the Chinese language wherever you walked past…I loved it!!
We tried finding the mosque after walking around the main park while getting used to a few locals raising their heads twice seeing us walk past them – I guess you don’t get much tourist in Guagzhou, but yet I still loved it, they had a friendly nature to them and it was the help of a Muslim China man that lead us in the end to the mosque.
And what an amazing mosque it was!! Built in the traditional Chinese style but with elements to symbolise it was a place of worship, the mosque was nestled in a backstreet entering via a garden footpath that was completely cutoff to the hustle and bustle of the city. The atmosphere suddenly became so serene and beautiful with the constant song of the exotic birds in the garden – at this point I was mesmerised with its serenity even though still being in the heart of Guagzhou.

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After praying in the mosque we then kept walking along the footpath to find the tomb of the person the mosque was dedicated to – Saad Ibn Waqas.
(While bumping into a few locals and cats!) #catfans

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After we stayed there for an hour or so absorbing the surroundings and beauty of the area. We decided we had to quickly make it to the hotel as after all this was just the stopover and we didn’t want to miss our flight to Malaysia where our journey really began!
First things first, we had to figure out is how do we get a taxi? It was easy for us at the hotel as they simply called them to pick us up, being in a completely different country and not knowing the language I might add, we had to ask the locals – in our attempt with sign language and English!
This local told us how – just to simply wave your hand and flag one down! He was a very humble person and a local Muslim that lived in the area, after he kindly told us how to get a taxi he then went back to baking bread for his stall. Which I had to quickly take a photo of!

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After a few minutes we managed to flag a taxi down thankfully and then using our hotel business card as the directions on where we wanted to go – we were on our way back to the hotel!

We then quickly boarded our shuttle bus and was on the way to the airport to continue our backpacking trip in Malaysia – next stop Kuala Lumpur!!

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A quick snap of our airport food. It was noodle broth in a mix of seafood with omelette on top. This wasn’t bad at all and wouldn’t mind recreating this dish -minus the octopus though- the broth was the best part with it looking weak it actually had a lot of flavour!  This was accompanied by cute cherry tomatoes and freshly squeezed apple juice (we had to share one because of the high costs of airport food as we were on a budget backpacking trip).

Next post will be up this week of our trip in Malaysia!

Categories: *Backpacking Trip May 2014*, Backpacking, Guangzhou China | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 9: Last day in Cyprus!{Travel Log – Food Diary} the rescue chickens story…

Saturday 19th – Sunday 20th January – Last few days in Lefke…

Our journey on the beautiful Island of Cyprus was approaching it’s end with just our last day left, we started to feel upset already with the thought of leaving the wonderful people that we had met in the sister’s guesthouse, the sister’s from Italy, Russia, Manchester, Serbia and Indonesia and the peaceful atmosphere, the 5 times a day prayer routines, the dhikr circles, the delicious food that was always so filled with blessings, our teacher sheikh Nazim and…on the last day we found out it was snowing heavily in the UK, so another thing to miss was the beautiful sunshine in Cyprus as we were nearing our days the weather became more and more sunny reaching 20 degrees Celsius in January months. We knew it was going to be difficult to adjust to the climate back in the UK – and really it was!

So on our last day, aunty Samia made a very delicious breakfast with the usual home-made jams and molasses and fresh toasted bread, but this time with a big pot full of fresh free range eggs from the farm and tasty holloumi cheese!

Story of the rescue chickens

In Cyprus, our teacher Sheikh Nazim, found out that someone had a few hundred chickens that the owners didn’t want anymore. Because they were very skinny and hardly any meat, they were burying them alive under a large heap of soil. Once Sheikh Nazim found out about what they were doing, he took all their chickens off them and placed them onto his fields with the rest of his animals (goats, sheep…etc). Now they run around happily on the fields looking all healthy and chirping ecstatically  This story was told to us, while aunty Samia served us the breakfast made by eggs from those very chickens…

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And it was delicious!!! Blessings of the food at the guesthouse.

I would most likely be trying out this meal – recipe included 🙂

As a second surprise, was aunty Samia’s version of bread and butter pudding. Don’t let the image fool you, it was not burnt but tasted absolutely delicious! The bread was soaked in milk, eggs and sugar and topped with home-made jam and placed in the oven.

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You can also make this topped with banana’s and apples also!

It was time to end our journey in Cyprus, with teary eyes and heavy hearts we departed from Larnaca Airport back to London Gatwick to meet with the snow that was waiting for us in the UK. Goodbye Cyprus, you will be missed, even though it was an amazing trip also being on my homeland as my parents are from Cyprus, discovering the foods from my heritage and the holy sites around the small Island, it was definitely a spiritual and awakening experience where I will be taking back with me the love and warmth of the sister’s guesthouse, the teachings of our teacher Sheikh Nazim with the blessings of food and how not to waste, how to be a good person – through your work, your heart and doings, Cyprus I will be back again, God Willing.

To all my fans, I hope you enjoyed this Travel Log – Food Diary as much as I have enjoyed my experience in Cyprus and hope that you all have also gained something from the travel log and also not to forget I will be trying out many of the meals that I had in Cyprus and sharing with you the recipes!

This was my first Travel Log – Food Diary but as the name suggests ( The Wandering Cook 786) we intend to travel more, so this is not my last Travel Log – Food Diary, more to come from TWC786!

Thank you for reading 🙂

xxx The Wandering Cook 786 xxx

Where else to find The Wandering Cook 786…

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Categories: Backpacking, Day 9 - Last day, Northern Cyprus, Top 5 favourite meals, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 5 & 6: in Cyprus! {Travel Log – Food Diary} Butter beans dish, lamb kofte kebab and a mountain view over Lefke!

Tuesday 15th January – Sister’s Guesthouse, Lefke

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Today’s breakfast comprised of a mixture of variations with a similar rainbow salad as yesterday but this time in 3 separate serving dishes, one for the parsley salad, another a red cabbage and beetroot and this time one comprises of small cauliflower with white cabbage, all soaked in generous amounts of vinegar, olive oil and sea salt.

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The soup today was vegetable brother soup with pumpkins, fried onions and noodles!

I never ate pumpkin before, simple as we never cooked it. But having it in soup, was pleasantly surprising!

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Next up, was a cheesy pasta bake topped off with grater holloumi (helim – in Turkish) cheese, served with a variation of all the different salads. A nice treat that reminded me of back home as I tend to bake this pasta dish a few times!

4pm – Restaurant, Lefke

This time after our aftrnoon walk, we decided to get something to eat! Searching round Lefke, there isn’t much of restaurants as it’s a small village but we came across one tucked away along a hill full of other shops and supermarkets – I had forgotten the name! It had 1 table outside and a couple more inside so you can imagine how small the restaurant/cafe was, but we did have 2 guests with us, a couple of cats decided to join us in our meal – oh yeah, forgetting to mention in Cyprus you do see a lot of cats around, I will be uploading a video soon of all the wonderful cats around Cyprus!

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Yummy Lamb kofte wrap!! Made freshly on a hot grill with fresh Cyprus salad.

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Wednesday 16th January  – Lefke

Today at the guesthouse as there was more and more people coming to stay, I could only get a quick capture of today’s breakfast as it was keeping warm on the stove.

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Even though it was just the one photo for breakfast, this was the highlight of all the meals. I never tried this dish before and was really taken to it with its freshness and filling aspect, it gave me inspiration to do a meat-free month back in the UK with all the different variations of vegetarian meals and this one tops it off also!

This delicious meal was made by cooking butter beans until soft and drenching them with Cyprus olive oil, adding freshly cut parsley and finely chopped tomatoes on top with an extra drizzle of olive oil and seasoning. A simple dish but very appetizing!

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(if not noticed yet, but at the guesthouse and dergah, you use the same plate that you had your soup in for the rest of all the meals – with the amount of guests they cater for and all for free, I don’t blame them for not supplying different plates for each meal, plus that’s extra washing then!)

2pm-4pm – mountain walk across Lefke

After breakfast and prayers, we decided to tackle the mountain climb and head up to the mountains where a little hut/dergah has been made with the perfect view over the sea and mountains of Cyprus.

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I was just glad I had my Converse trainers to aid me in the walk up!

During our walk up, we had to cross over a river and walk on a bridge over the dam while enjoying beautiful views of Lefke’s coast. Here are some pictures of our trek up!

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local bee hives!!

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view of the sea while walking up

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nearly there!

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We had made it!!

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After arriving at the top and taking a break inside the beautiful wooden hut, I had to take a video before we leave to capture the beauty of the views! Sometimes photographs can’t depict how beautiful a view is without seeing it in real life, so hopefully this video helps in coming closer to showing the beautiful surroundings…

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just click on the image above to view the video or simple copy and paste the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKXM5S5ahLs

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   Days 7 & 8 will be up tomorrow with more delicious salads from the guesthouse and also a trip round Northern Cyprus visiting all the holy places including a yummy tomato and noodle soup!

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Categories: Backpacking, Day 5 & 6, Northern Cyprus, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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