When I told my boyfriend that Nauru was the next country I was going to write about, his reaction was “Na Who?” But who am I to blame, I had never heard about Nauru either several weeks ago. Also not that strange considering it’s the least visited country in the world. The name Nauru is derived from the Nauruan word Anaoero which means “I go to the beach”. Nauru get’s roughly 200 visitors a year, that doesn’t mean it isn’t special, because it is. It is just so hard to get there from the other countries, for instance it’s impossible for large commercial ships to harbour in the island because it’s surrounded by sharp coral reefs, that could damage the ships. Another reason why it’s not chosen as holiday destination more often is because everything is so expensive!!!! Not that strange considering everything has to be imported mostly by plane from Australia.
The island is shaped like a kidneybean and so small you could easily take walk around the island in the morning and be back before noon. Nauru is famous for its notorious weightlifters.
Once upon a time, Nauru was not only the world’s smallest island nation but also the richest per capita, richer even than the Gulf countries. Why was this BIRDSHIT! Yes, you read correctly birdshit! The discovery of phosphate in birdshit in 1968 has changed the country forever, phosphate makes the soil really fertile. For thousands of years, birds took care of their business all over the island. So you can imagine after this discovery the Nauruans, back then still a British colony start selling their extremely fertile birdshit infested soil. When they gathered enough money they gained independence from Great Britain. The mining companies rush to exploit the unusual natural resources. By 1980 they were the richest country per capita. The Nauruans weren’t yet used to having this amount of money, so they spend it all and they spend it quickly. For inhabitants of the island, almost everything was free: education, healthcare, dental services, public transport, even the newspaper was free. Even if you had a medical condition that was not treatable in the tiny hospital on the island you could fly to Australia at state expense to receive treatment. If you wanted to study abroad in Australia, the state would pay that too. They build state rental houses, whose rent was just $5 a month. As you can imagine this story is not going to end well. Eventually, they ran out of fertile soil to sell, and now the island is mostly barren, only coconut trees still grow on the island. They knew this was coming the minister of Finance said in an interview in the New York Times. They just didn’t care since they have a saying on the island “Tomorrow will take care of itself”
Things you didn’t know about Nauru:
- A 3.9km stretch of narrow gauge railway was built in 1907 for the transport of mined phosphate, the lynchpin of the island’s economy for decades.
- In 2015 it banned Facebook on the pretence of protecting residents from pornography, but really – many claimed – to stifle political dissent.
- Nauru is one of the 16 countries without an army. Australia is responsible for keeping Nauru safe and sound, although the island does have it’s own police force.
- The first Westerner to visit Nauru was the British whaler John Fearn, who dropped anchor there in 1798. He was clearly impressed, calling it “Pleasant Island”. The island is ringed by coral reef, which prevents it from having a port but makes it a perfect for diving and snorkelling.
- It is the only country in the world without an official capital.
Ok guys this one is really easy and child friendly if you leave out the the chilli in the mango salsa. Fruity salsa’s have special little place in my heart! I love the zinginess of the lime and spicyness, the Tilapia however is not my quite favorite fish, but hey that’s wat they got over there. You can definately substitute it for any other white fish like cod or halibut.Read the rest of this entry »
Myanmar or Burma (which is the old name). In 1989, the ruling military governement changed the name from Burma to Myanmar after thousands were killed in an uprising. The city of Rangoon also became Yangon and many other cities had a namechange. However, most people continue to use both names interchangeably without much fuss. Sometimes Burma is just an easier word to pronounce. Burma is considered to describe ethnic Burmans only, so Myanmar became the politically correct term, which is supposed to encompass all who live in the country. Myanmar is a beautiful country scattered with gilded temples, ancient forests and beautiful beaches.
Things you didn’t know about Myanmar:
- The fishermen of the Inle lake in Myanmar are world famous for fishing whilst standing on one leg. These fishermen developed a very unusual technique to be able to fish and row a boat at the same time.
- Kissing sounds are normal in a Myanmar restaurant because this is the sound they make to get the attention of the waiter. (ooooh that would piss me off)
- Myanmar is one of only three countries in the world that has not adopted the metric system of measurement. The other two holdouts are Liberia and the United States.
- You will see small children wear holy thread around their neck or wrist for protection from bad spirits or spells.
- Chewing betel nut is a national pastime. Small street stalls sell the palm-sized green leaves filled with betel nut, spices and sometimes a pinch of tobacco. The leaves are folded, popped in the mouth and chewed.
Mohinga is a noodle soup that is traditionally eaten for breakfast, catfish is not easy to find here in the Netherlands so i used trout. I liked this recipe but it was not what i was expecting, and personaly I would rather eat it for lunch then for breakfast.
- 1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
- 3 quarts water
- 3 stalks lemongrass, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 2-ounce piece ginger (unpeeled), thickly sliced crosswise into slabs
- 5 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 scaled and gutted catfish (i used 2 rainbow trouts, because catfish is kind of hard to find around here)(about 3 pounds)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 stalk lemongrass, minced
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 red onions, diced into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 10 ounces fine round rice noodles
- 6 eggs, boiled for 6 minutes
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- Thinly sliced red onions
- Heat the oven to 160°C. Spread the rice across a rimmed baking pan and bake, giving the pan an occasional stir, until the rice is an even golden color and aromatic, 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then pulverize in a clean coffee grinder.
- To make the broth, select a large wide pot that will fit the catfish comfortably with room to spare. (An 8-quart pot works well.) Add the water, lemongrass, ginger, bay leaves, black and white pepper, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Carefully lower the fish into the pot. The fish may not be completely covered in water, but that’s okay. Bring the pot to a brisk simmer, lower the heat, and cook gently for 15 minutes. Using tongs, carefully turn the fish over or at least rotate it slightly to cook the side that was sticking out of the water. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the fish flesh pulls away cleanly from the bone. Using tongs and a spider or slotted spoon, lift the fish out of the broth and transfer to a bowl. Turn off the heat and let the broth sit on the stove.
- When the fish is cool enough to handle, pull off the skin and discard. Separate the cooked fish from the bones, trying to keep the skeleton (or skeleton portions if the fish is cut in pieces) intact. Set aside the cooked fish. Return the skeleton (including head and tail) to the pot.
- Bring the pot to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The broth should have a mild ginger-lemongrass flavour and be slightly cloudy. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. You will have about 10 cups. Give the pot a quick rinse (when it’s cool enough to handle), and return the broth to the pot.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered rice and a ladleful of the broth until no lumps remain. Stir into the broth. Bring the broth to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until it starts to barely thicken, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cook the broth at a gentle simmer while preparing the soup.
- To make the soup, in a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the lemongrass, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the cooked fish, paprika, and turmeric, mashing the fish gently with a spoon to turn it into a coarse paste, and cook for about 1 minute. If you see any errant bones, pick them out.
- Pour the contents of the wok into the broth and bring to a brisk simmer. Add the red onions and fish sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes more or until the flavors start to come together. Taste the broth: it should be on the salty side because the noodles will not have any salt. If it’s not that salty, add some salt or fish sauce. (At this point, the soup can be cooled and served the next day.)
- To cook the noodles, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring often with tongs or chopsticks to prevent sticking, for 5 to 6 minutes or until softened. Turn off the heat and let the noodles sit in the water for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cool running water, and give the colander a shake to remove excess water. If not serving right away, mix some canola oil into the noodles with your hands to keep them from sticking together. (You can also cook the noodles in advance and soak them in warm water before serving.)
- To serve, divide the noodles among the bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles and serve the hard-boiled eggs, crackers, cilantro, and lime wedges alongside.
Montenegro is located in the southeastern European region known as the Balkans right along the Adriatic Sea. It is the least populated Balkan nation. The name Montenegro means “black mountain” in Venetian Italian. Although its name is derived from Italian, Montenegro is a Slavic nation and not Latin. That’s why they call their own country Crna Gora, which means “black forest”. It probably won’t surprise you that Montenegro has lots of mountains and forests. The best and by far the coolest way to see the 1300 meter high Tara Canyon is rafting, you know the tiny boats on a wild river. Also, don’t forget to make a stop at one of the many many monasteries especially Ostrog Monastery which is built inside a mountain.
Things you didn’t know about Montenegro:
- Montenegro’s Lake Skadar is one of the biggest bird reserves in Europe. It’s home to over 270 bird species and is a vitally important stop for migrating birds. Among the most popular on the lake are the Dalmatian Pelicans.
- They have a lazy Olympics in the town of Brezna. You can win about €400 for just being the one that lays down and does nothing for the longest.
- Montenegrins are known to be very relaxed. In that effort, they have their own set of commandments to live by. Among them are: “Love thy bed as you love thyself”; “If you see someone resting, help him”; and “If you have the urge to work, sit down, wait and you’ll see it will pass.”
- His Imperial and Royal Highness Stefan Cernetic, Hereditary Prince of Montenegro, Serbia and Albania has been attending gala dinners, giving out Orders (for a fee) and hobnobbing with celebrities and aristocrats for years.Montenegro hasn’t had a royal family since 1918. But that didn’t stop Mr Cernetic from conferring Pamela Anderson the title of Countess of Giglio in a ceremony, in which she knelt before him and thanked him for his generosity, in 2015.
- Montenegro is one of the founding members of the Red Cross
I love this rice dish. It is a popular meditarian dish and one of my favourites! The ink doesn’t only add color but also a rich flavor!Read the rest of this entry »
The Maldives are a playground for divers, snorkelers and sun worshipers Some of the worlds most picture-perfect beaches can be found with the some of the most exclusive resorts on the planet. Away from the tourist hotspots, the Maldives is known for intriguing Islamic culture and is shaped by centuries of seafaring and trade. However once again there is a downside… The rising sea levels caused by climate change are endangering this paradise-like nation. Since the highest point in the nation is just 2,4 meters above sea level. See the problem if the sea levels continue to rise… they are making preparations though to move the entire population to a new homeland overseas.
Things you didn’t know about the Maldives:
- World’s first underwater cabinet meeting was held here. For an island country like the Maldives, drastic climate change and rising level of oceans is a major threat. A number of islands have already been cleared because of the rising waters in the ocean and their interference in freshwater resources. For drawing attention towards the same, Mohamed Nasheed, The President, transferred the cabinet meeting of October 2009 right to the ocean’s bottom.
- It is an Island that was Formed by an Exiled Indian Prince. Though the exact date is not known, the tentative date was sometime before 269 BC. If legends are to be believed, at that time there was no government. Only a peaceful community who worshiped Sun and Water was living there. It is said that the first real kingdom here was founded by Sri Soorudasaruna Adeettiya, the son of a ruler of Kalinga, a kingdom in India. The king was extremely angry with his son and had sent him away to the Maldives, then called Dheeva Maari. The prince established Adeetta Dynasty in the Maldives.
- While in most of the countries on the globe, the weekend means Saturday and Sunday, it is not so in the Maldives. Weekend here is Friday and Saturday.
- Many people of the Maldives hold on to a strong belief in the supernatural, including black and white magic. In September 2013, a coconut was detained by police after being found loitering and acting suspiciously during the presidential elections. The questionable young coconut was found outside of a polling station and was accused of being placed there to rig the election. Coconuts are supposed to be a frequent ingredient in black magic spells and rituals; the police called in a white magician to examine the coconut for threats and curses. No such curses were found, and the magician deemed the coconut to be an innocent.
- Every element in the Maldives flag is symbolic. The crescent moon stands for Islam, the green section represents palm trees, and the red background symbolizes the blood shed by Maldivian heroes
This curry is spicy, delicious and quick, the perfect weeknight mealRead the rest of this entry »
Malaysia Asia’s true melting pot! Muslim Malays, religiously diverse Chinese, and Hindu and Muslim Indians all muddle along with aboriginal groups (the Orang Asli) on Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo’s indigenous people. Each ethnic group has its own language and cultural practices which you can best appreciate through a packed calendar of festivals and a delicious variety of cuisines. Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur is among the most modern and expensive cities in the world, where people taking the helicopter to the mall is a very normal thing to do. On the other hand for many visitors, Malaysia is defined by its equatorial rainforest. Significant chunks of the primary jungle – among the most ancient ecosystems on earth – remain intact, protected by national parks and conservation projects.
Things you didn’t know about Malaysia:
- Malaysia’s Kuala Kangsar district office is the home of the last surviving rubber tree from the original batch brought by Englishman H.N. Ridley from London’s Kew Gardens in 1877.
- The Japanese invaded Malaysia on December 6, 1941, the same day they bombed Pearl Harbor. They landed at Khota Baru and stole bicycles in every town they took on their way to Singapore, making the trip in 45 days.
- Among the Iban community on Malaysia’s Sarawak province, before a newborn baby is named, they are affectionately called ulat (“worm”), irrespective of their gender. When the baby is named, they must be named after a deceased relative, for fear that using a living relative’s name might shorten the baby’s life. When the parents have chosen a few names, rice balls are made, each representing a name. The first rice ball pecked at by a manok tawai (fighting cock) determines the child’s name
- Traditionally, pregnant Malaysian women may not kill, tie, or mangle anything, for this may result in birthmarks or a deformed baby. They also may not carry fire or water behind their backs or look at anything ugly or frightening.
- Malaysia’s national drink is teh tarik (“pulled tea”), which is a tea that is thrown across a distance of about 3 feet (1 m) by Mamak men, from one cup to another, with no spillages. The idea is to let it cool down for customers, but it has become a Malaysian art form
These noodles are delicious the sauce is easy and makes it so complex! And the fishcakes were a completely new ingredient to me but so worth the trip to the Asian supermarket! The meal is thrown together in minutes so perfect for a weeknight after a busy day at work!
Luxembourg a tiny crazy rich beautiful landlocked country smack in the middle of Europe. I wonder why people don’t go to Luxembourg more often. Because it is stunning, nature is unforgettable since one-third of the country is covered in forest with easy hiking trails since they don’t really have mountains, (even though they call them mountains) they have hills. The food is old school comfort food, things like wild boar with apples and fresh trout. It is one of they tiniest bust also one of the richest and most influential countries in the world. During both World Wars, they remained neutral even though they got occupied by Germany. They were one of the founding members of both NATO and the European Union.
Things you didn’t know about Luxembourg:
- Luxembourg has the highest minimum wage in the EU – paying workers a minimum of EUR 1,923 per month.
- The restaurant with the world’s largest wine list is in Luxembourg. If you visit the Restaurant Chiggeri in the city of Luxembourg, you can take your pick from more than 2,200 different wines.
- Luxembourg’s motto is ‘mir wëllebleiwewatmirsinn‘ which means ‘we want to remain what we are’.
- Just under half of the permanent residents in Luxembourg are foreign – with around 170 different nationalities living in the country. Portuguese make up the biggest group at 16.4 percent.
This dish tastes really fancy but it dead easy!!!
When I think of Latvia I think cold and woods full of pine trees. Which is not wrong, but not the only things identifying Latvia. First of all it one of the least densely populated countries in the European Union with only 2 million inhabitants. (compared to where I live in the Netherlands, 18 million people!!!)
Nearly half of the entire population lives in the capital Riga. The capital is an interesting mixture of somber Sojvet and ancient medieval buildings. Apart from the large forests, there are also beautiful beaches.
During Soviet times they were zoned off as a high-security military base, strictly out of bounds to civilians. The region’s development was stunted and today the desolate coastal villages feel as though they’ve been locked away in a time capsule.
Things you didn’t know about Latvia:
- Over 50% of Latvia is covered by forest, and it’s one of the most environmentally friendly countries on the planet.
- Latvia has the highest rate of fashion models per capita in the world.
- A Latvian-Jewish tailor invented jeans (Levi Strauss backed him financially)
- The Latvian culture still retains many Baltic pagan traditions, such as the celebration of the summer solstice (sees picture above), when Latvians go to the countryside to get drunk, to dance, light huge bonfires and do something called seeking the fern flower (having sex in the forest)
- When Swedish Vikings were at the height of their power around 1187, ancient Latvian chiefdoms not only stopped them from conquering their country but sent a fleet of ships to the then Swedish capital Sigtuna and burned it to the ground.
This recipe was kind of a bummer to be really honest, i didn’t really like the potato pancakes, they were a bit boring for my taste. The kotletes on the other hand were perfect quick easy meal!
Laos a country very very high on my list to go to! A sleepy mountainous country of barely over 2 million people, mostly rice farmers. To my surprise, Laos hasn’t always been so peaceful.
Though never truly at war with Laos, the Americans were at war with Vietnam, and they flew more than half a million missions over this tiny country. Dropping more bombs here than on Germany and Japan in all of World War II combined. This is a conflict known nowadays as The Secret War. I don’t want to get into it too much because that is not what this blog is about, but what happened was horrific.
Nowadays Laos is a very popular destination for backpackers because it’s cheap and the crime rate is very low.
Things you didn’t know about Laos:
- Laos may be landlocked – or ‘landlinked’ if you prefer – but that doesn’t mean a beach holiday is completely off the cards. If you head to Si Phan Don (literally “4,000 islands”) in Southern Laos, you’ll find serene sandy shores – and adventure – aplenty.
- Nong Fa Lake – a crater lake high in the mountains of southeastern Laos – is feared and respected by locals, who refuse to swim in it. Legend has it, a man-eating monster lives at the bottom. Nong Fa (which translates to ‘blue lake’ or ‘sky lake’) is quite remote and can be reached by only the most intrepid explorers.
- Lao silk stands apart from that of neighboring countries in that is it 100% hand woven. The exact weaving process differs from family to family as do the patterns, making them truly unique. The average rate of production is around a meter a day – or a few centimeters for an elaborate weave. Handwoven silk has a more ‘natural’, unrefined texture than silk produced on an industrial loom.
- While Laos is more than 50% populated by ethnic Lao (Lao Lum), there are more than 60 – some say more than 100 – different ethnic groups living within its borders. Lao’s people are categorized by altitude: 50 percent are lowland peoples, living around the Mekong; 20 percent live in the Midlands and highlands, and 15 percent live above 1,000 meters. The remaining 15 percent are Thai.
- Laos has the unenviable status of being the most bombed nation in the world. There are estimated to be 270 million unexploded bombs in the country.
This noodle soup has a lot of ingredients but it’s totally worth taking the time to make your own curry paste! It takes a little time but it makes they dish infinitely better! And most of the ingredients I had in my freezer; lemongrass, ginger, and galanga (Thai ginger) I always make sure I have in stock. I make a lot of curries and they keep forever in the freezer!
I’ll be honest… I had never heard of Kiribati! Kiribati is an island nation and consists of 3 island groups: The Gilbert Islands, The Phoenix Islands, The Line Islands. Unfortunately, due to climate change, two small uninhabited islands disappeared underwater in 1999, because of the rising sea levels.
I always try to be positive about countries… but this has got to stop people! The sea level will have risen 50 cm by 2100 and then it won’t be just the uninhabited islands that will disappear in the ocean, most of Kiribati will be largely be submerged! So we really really have to change our lifestyle…Or this vacation paradise won’t be there for long.
Things you didn’t know about Kiribati:
- Kiribati is the only country in the world to straddle all four hemispheres. The islands spread across both the equator and the International Date Line. In 1995, Kiribati changed the date for the easternmost islands, effectively creating an indentation in the dateline. This was done so that it would be the same date and day of the week across the whole country.
- Dancing in Kiribati is more than a form of entertainment. It is used to tell stories and as a demonstration of endurance and skill. Therefore, smiling while dancing is considered vulgar.
- Kiribati is known for a number of traditional martial arts, which were kept a secret within families for many generations. All of them are believed to have been given to humanity by an ancestral spirit. For example, Nabakai was given to a warrior of that name by three female spirits who would manifest in the form of a crab. Another is Tabiang, named after the village in which it originated. It uses speed and accuracy and its principle is “you give me one punch I give you four punches”. The spirit who taught it was called “Teraka”, and legend has it that this spirit also traveled to Asia and taught it to the people there, who gave it a variant of the name – “karate”
This recipe I honestly really went with my gut and sort of made up by myself, I read a lot online about the eating habits in Kiribati and read they use a lot of soy sauce, curry powder, coconut, fish and crabs, and lobsters but really no specific dish. So I heated up my pan and the dish came together, and let me tell you this is one of the best curries I ever made! Since crab is quite expensive (at least where I live) this is more of a weekend thing but it definitely qualifies as comfort food to me! I don’t know what it is about curries but they always have a tendency to make me instantly happy
Hiroshima has been through a lot, recovering from the atomic bomb as I hope everyone knows, and if you don’t please read up on your history!!! But really that’s really not what I want to talk about!
Hiroshima is located on the island of Honshu. Nowadays Hiroshima is known as the street food paradise of Japan, especially the tiny island of Miyajima that is a 10-minute ferry trip from the city center. Miyajima is also known for the deer that just roam the village freely, not scared of humans. If you’re lucky you can even pet them!
Things you didn’t know about Hiroshima:
- Hiroshima has been farming oysters since the 1500s. Today it produces 25,000 to 30,000 tons of oysters a year, 60 to 70 per cent of Japan’s total production. Known locally as sea milk for their nutritional value, they are eaten boiled, fried, grilled, with rice, in stews, or raw.
- After the war, Hiroshima needed to get its transport system up and running fast. Tram cars were donated from cities all over Japan and even abroad, earning them the nickname Mobile Museum. Today the tram fleet ranges from pre-war clunkers to the futuristic Green Mover Max. It’s the cheapest, easiest and most eco-friendly way to get around town.
- Kumano, a village 20 kilometers east of Hiroshima, produces 15 million calligraphy, makeup and artist’s brushes a year. That’s 80 per cent of Japan’s production. Of the town’s 27,000 inhabitants, 1,500 are brush craftsmen, hand-making brushes the traditional way. Visit on September 23 when 10,000 brushes festoon the streets for Kumano’s spectacular Brush Festival.
Okonomiyaki is a very popular takeaway dish in Hiroshima, you can add any ingredients you want so great for using up veggie leftovers! It would also be the perfect drunk food!!!! However, let someone sober make it for you because the transferring from pan to pan will be pretty hard once you had a few drinks.