Wednesday, July 30, 2008

TALAT SAO | Vientiane's Morning Market

Just like any of our capital cities, Vientiane has its own “central market” -- Markets that serves as a “landmark” aside from the usual “local-style” shopping. The most important "gift" that these markets can offer us is the opportunity to have a glimpse of the local life on grassroot level.

Bangkok has the world-famous Chatuchak, KL has the touristy Central Market, Manila has the pleasingly “air-conditioned” Divisoria, Phnom Penh has the magnificent Phsar Thmei, and Singapore has…uhm…Orchard Road? LOL

Compared to the central markets mentioned above, Talat Sao of Vientiane isn’t like any of it. It is simple, modest, uncrowded and curiously quiet. This is how Vientiane used to be 5-10 years ago. Not very “market-like” you say? Think again…

Talat Sao has many things on sale that are NOT displayed.

Aside from the permanent stalls inside the building that sells the usual local stuffs like Lao silk, silver, gold, clothes, electronics, textiles, local crafts…AND watch out for peddlers and hawkers around the building.

They sell bottles of rice wines with cobras & critters in it! I was particularly interested with the guy that sells baby parrots…

…my friends had to practically remove me from the guy’s face because I was pissing him off!

I kept giving a mean look to anyone who shows interest of buying those poor baby parrots! I wanted to smack the guy’s face but I can’t do that – I’m allergic to policemen nowadays.

Don’t let the name confuse you – the Morning Market isn’t open in the morning. Well, not officially. Other stalls are open but not “entirely” (depending on sections). Everything will start to swing just after lunch and would stop swinging just before 5pm.

It is quite easy to find the Morning Market -- Practically everybody knows where it is. It is the city’s “Meeting and Drop Off Point”; the center of it all. Vintage Mercedes Benz taxis are just outside the grounds and Tuktuks would be eager to show you around.

Don’t forget to explore this place on your visit to Vientiane. You’ll never know what you’ll find…highly recommended. And I almost forgot to say – please do not confuse this place to the modern mall next-door.

Happy shopping! Enjoy exploring!

-- Pisanu in Vientiane
27 Jun 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

OUR ICONS: The Patuxai | Laos' Middle Finger

Some say it looks curiously similar to the one in Paris. Well, maybe because the one in France is famous all over and it is the only point of comparison for description.

Patuxai is very Laotian, that’s for sure. It is Southeast Asia’s only structure of its kind and no other country in our region has actually imitated it because Vientiane had it first.

Believe it or not, Patuxai is one of the highest points of Vientiane. You can climb the top and have a 360 degree view of the city. This makes Patuxai a tourist-must-see. Very daunting, very majestic.

Notice the intricate designs of the structure. Kinnari figures all over! Very Laotian, very Southeast Asian!

The Kinnari (half-woman, half-bird mythical creature), by the way, is the only iconic figure that connects almost all of Southeast Asia – from Siam to LanXang (Laos), from Khmer Empire (Cambodia) to Surigao (Philippines), from Java to Burma. Our ancient people have Kinnaris in their cultures one way or another.

Patuxai means “Gate of Victory” in Laotian. It was built in 1968 and was first called the Anousavari Monument dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France.

This is a good place to meet local yuppies and youngsters on weekends and practice your Laotian (or practice THEIR English!).

To those calling Patuxai the “Vertical Runway” in an attempt to be sarcastic – piss off! In reference to America giving the funds to Laos to build an airport but built a monument instead…shut your faces!

Do you even know how much bombs America dropped on Laos in the Vietnam War? Laos wasn’t even in that war! Even if America pays $10 Billion a month to Laos for 20 years, it won’t be enough payment for the damage America cost the Laotians. There, take that!

The Patuxai is one big middle finger aimed at America.

The Patuxai – Pride of Laos, Treasure of Southeast Asia.


--Pisanu in Vientiane
27 Jun 2008

Note: Patuxai is pronounced as /Pa-‘too-‘sai/

Friday, July 25, 2008

OUR CULINARY GEMS: Sien Savanh | Lao Beef Jerky

This dish is very common in Laos. It is found in just about every corner and restaurants because it’s easy to prepare and has a long shelf-time.

Sien Savanh is similar to Dendeng of Indonesia, Bakkwa in Singapore (but its pork), Thit Bo Kho in Vietnam, Tapa of the Philippines and Neua Dej Diao in Thailand. [thanks to Pisanu for the local terms]

Alors! As I said, it’s easy to make! Try it tonight, sun-dry it tomorrow morning and have it for lunch or dinner tomorrow and impress your friends with this exotic dish.

Find the recipe here…


1 lb Beef flank steak (thinly sliced into strips)
3 cloves Garlic (minced)
1 tbsp Ginger (chopped and minced)
1 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tbsp Sesame seed
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
5 cups vegetable oil


1. Put the beef strips in a large bowl.

2. Add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seed, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Mix well and marinate for at least 2 hours.

3. Then put the beef strips on a tray and dry in the sun for an entire day, turning the strips occasionally to make sure both sides are dried.

4. When the beef strips are dried to your preference, then heat the oil over medium heat and deep fry the beef strips until lightly crispy to crispy (according to your preference)

5. Best served sticky rice and fresh cucumber. Or great with beer as finger food!

Bon appetite!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I got exactly 21 emails of the same subject. And I don't know what to do with it. One reader sent me the same email 4 times "demanding" I should react on the matter and post it on my blog.

What is it about?

It's about that ancient Hindu temple on top of a hill sitting between the Thai and Cambodian border.

Honestly, I never heard of that temple until a week ago. If not because of the high media coverage -- over reacting, as usual.

They reported the incidence as a "war sign". It wasn't as bad as the world media were trying to project. Trust me.

As if the world needs another war. Shame on those "sensationalizing" media.

Anyways, I won't react on the incidence. When things happen like these, it's the job of the politicians and diplomats. What are we paying them for?

One thing I can assure you...


And no overeacting media people, trigger-happy political cartoonists, nor non-Thai or non-Khmer "nosy arbitrators" can make us give in to what they wanted to see.

Monday, July 21, 2008


SABAI DEE! When I and my friends wanted some peace and quiet without the sands in our Speedos, we head to Laos. If we feel a little nostalgic and wanted to live a simple life, this is the place to go to.

I have seen Laos evolved in 3 stages: From the “unfamiliar” country to the “newest” Southeast Asian destination to the “most-sought-after” exotic paradise. And they did it within 5 years!

Laos would still remain the most exclusive travel destination in our region. Although there was a "backpacker's invasion" in recent years, still not too many people come or have the balls to visit. Even though most of the people I know travel extensively, I never fail to amaze them with my Laotian adventures.

Morgan, Sofia, Tommy and I flew from Hanoi to Vientiane on Vietnam Airlines flight 825 yesterday. Arrived at Wattay International Airport around 5pm. Only 7 airlines serve flights to the capital – Bangkok, Thai, EVA, Vietnam, China Southern, China Eastern and of course, Lao Airlines.

We’re going to meet some more BISEANers from Malaysia (Farah & Rhys), Indonesia (Xtian) and the Philippines (Francine & Michael) here in Vientiane, stay a couple of days; shake some money in Dan Savanh Casino, head to Luang Phrabang and the World’s Largest Waterfalls – all in 10 days.

I can’t wait to get out of my hotel room onto my bicycle! Woohoo!

Watch out for my posts!

--Pisanu in Vientiane
21 Jul 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008


We're goin' to the World’s Largest Waterfalls in a few days. You might be thinking Niagara well, dude, you have been watchin’ too many American movies. So, think again. Nope… not the one in Africa either. Well, anyway…

There are 10 kinds of Waterfalls – the most common and famous ones are plunge, cascades and tiered. There are also 10 types based on average volume of water flowing by algorithm.

I have seen most of the tallest, widest, grandest waterfalls in our beautiful region – from Java to Mindanao, from Borneo to Central Thailand, from Champasak to Kelantan – and gahd! All the trips were worth it.

They are called Thác in Vietnam, Air terjun in Malaysia and Indonesia, 瀑布 by our Chinese bros, Talon in the Philippines and Nam Tok (น้ำตก) in my native Thailand.

Here are Southeast Asia’s Tallest Waterfalls...

Name/ Height / Tallest Drop / Location

1. Karom Falls (World’s 162nd)
1,300 ft / Cascade / Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand

2. Aliwagwag Falls (World’s 208th)
1,110 ft / 100 ft / Davao Oriental, Philippines

3. Ton Te Falls (World’s 223rd)
1,050 ft / 100 ft / Mueang, Thailand

4. Chelik Falls
984 ft / N/A / Malaysia

5. Lata Kinjang
984 ft / N/A / Malaysia

6. Boripath Falls
920 ft / N/A / Phatthalung, Thailand

7. Limunsudan Falls
870 ft / 400 ft / Lanao del Norte, Philippines

8. Jelawang Falls
820 ft / 820 ft / Kelantan, Malaysia

9. Si Gura Gura 820 feet / 820 ft / Sumatra, Indonesia

10. Busay Falls 800 ft / N/A / Albay, Philippines

11. Jerangkang Falls, 738 ft, Malaysia
12. Lata Cemerung, 700 ft, Terengganu, Malaysia
13. Binaytuan Falls, 656 ft, Laguna, Philippines
14. Lata Seminyang, 656 ft, Malaysia
15. Madakariapura, 650 ft, Java, Indonesia
16. Bukit Berembun Falls, 594 ft, Pahang, Malaysia
17. Stimson Falls, 500 ft, Philippines
18. Payakumbuh, 492 ft, Sumatra, Indonesia
19. Sai Rung, 492 ft, Trang, Thailand
20. Tamaraw Falls, 423 ft, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines

The tallest waterfalls in Singapore is the Jurong Falls at 100 ft. It is also the World’s Tallest Artificial Waterfalls since Singapore has no natural ones.

The tallest in Vietnam is DamRi Falls in Dalat, 295 ft.

We’re still waiting for info of the tallest waterfalls in Burma,Cambodia, Laos and Timor Leste.


-- Pisanu in Nha Trang
18 July 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


There was a bit of “uptightness” */if there’s such a word/ to it. The audience were strangely “behaved”, edgy and there wasn’t much “fans” that came. It was dry, dry, dry as a nerd's convention.

I've been attending Miss Universe & Miss World live for the past years and never seen an event as “bland” as this…

Is it because the lady Vice President was there, sweetie? The President himself snubbed the worldwide event, maybe he was still in bed */it was quite early in the morning/. Sorry to say but there was a bit of “we-are-a-bunch-of-communists” looming above the whole ambiance. I certainly did not enjoy it. No cameras for the non-Press people. Whatever.

Where were the unruly */but fabulous/ Boriqua fans? The Mexicans made their presence known alright but where were the Asian fans? It was more of a diplomats-and-embassy-employees-get-together.

I wasn’t surprised with Thailand’s Best National Costume Award. */It was painstakingly chosen from 897 designs on a national level/ I just knew it would be the one. ไชโย !!!

Although online forum posters “encouragedmassive cheating and rigging the online voting…nope, their candidate did not make it. Sorry, sweetie. MUO has learned their lesson. The Miss Photogenic Award was scraped out because of this. I was told.

From where we were seating... We were quite sure Spain would win. But when she came out with that “fresh-out-of-the-living-room-window” evening gown…we changed our mind and picked the USA. But still...

When she dove butt-first on stage…we shifted to Russia because there won’t be any thrill at all if we chose Venezuela. Venezuela is a safe choice annually.

It was the right girl. Venezuela was loving it. During commercial breaks, she was very natural and at ease. She keeps talking to other candidates unlike Colombia and Dominican Republic who are sooo into the audience. Colombia reminded me of Thalia -- that Mexican soap actress.

During the whole program, Morgan, Pisanu and I, wasn’t choosing where our money went. We bet online for Japan, Korea, Canada and Singapore. Only Japan made it, but not quite enough though. So, we lost $3,000 on betting. Fokken out!

Riyo came out wearing a tux! Japan won’t stop with these “statements” to the last moment, would they? She just landed again in MU history as the first */and only/ to do such! You are forever genius, Miss Ligron -- Utterly genius!

I don’t think Miss Universe would come back to Vietnam soon, sweetie. It was a disaster. It was supposed to be enjoyable, not uptight. It’s about time to bring it to Europe, so the girls won’t be walking around with their sweaty dresses and oily make-ups. */Pfffft!/

-- Sofia in Nha Trang
15 July 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Southeast Asian MISS UNIVERSES:
How Do They Look Nowadays?

Our region has 4 Miss Universes so far.
The last one was crowned 20 years ago.
They were the World's most beautiful women of their time.

Have you ever wondered how they look nowadays?

See 'em here...

Apasra Hongsakula อาภัสรา หงสกุล, Thailand
Miss Universe 1965 crowned in Miami Beach

Southeast Asia’s FIRST Miss Universe. It is said that Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand herself gave personal tips to Apasra how to pose like a queen in the pageant. She’s now a Cultural Ambassador, President of Raymond Weil and a spa magnate at the age of 60.

Gloria Diaz, Philippines
Miss Universe 1969 crowned in Miami Beach

She is now a well-respected film actor at the age of 58.

Maria Margarita Moran, Philippines
Miss Universe 1973 crowned in Athens

She’s a businesswoman now (owns Pearl Farm Resort) and 53 years old.

Porntip Nakhirunkanok ภรณ์ทิพย์ นาคหิรัญกนก ไซม่อนม Thailand
Miss Universe 1988 crowned in Taipei

Southeast Asia’s last Miss Universe. Today, at age 40, she manages her own charity works for children and currently an Ambassador of Goodwill for the U N.

Apasra, Gloria, Margarita and Porntip...

Pride of Southeast Asia.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Southeast Asia’s LARGEST OCEANARIUMS | โลกใต้น้ำ

As if everybody in our region is so tired of going to Hong Kong to see the world's largest oceanarium -- here we are, pulling heaven and hell, to build our own so we won't go so far.

And as customary, we would claim it is the largest here and there, even before it is completed. *sigh*

Here are the largest oceanariums in our region (as of press time) and ranked by total floor area: (and some useful infos too!)

1. Siam Ocean World 10,000 sq.m Thailand
Southeast Asia’s largest Oceanarium is located at the Siam Paragon, Rama I Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok. Open between 09.00-22.00 hrs. Admission is 750 Baht for Adults and 600 Baht for kids. Wanna sleep over? It’s 1,500 Baht for Adults and 990 for kids!

2. Underwater World Langkawi 8,798 sq.m Malaysia
Is located at Cenang Beach, south of Langkawi Island. Open daily from 10:00 am - 06:00 pm. Entrance fee is Rm38 for adults and Rm28 for kids. It has a 15m walk-through tunnel and check out their penguins!

3. Manila Ocean Park 8,000 sq.m Philippines
Located at Rizal Park along the Manila Bay and still partly finished. The walk-through tunnel is 25m long! Open from 10am-9pm Mondays to Fridays and 9am-9pm on weekends. Admission is Php400 for adults and Php350 for kids.

4. Singapore Underwater World (Sentosa) 6,000 sq.m Singapore
They may not be the “largest” any longer but they are still the BEST in the region! Anyone who hasn’t been here wouldn’t understand what I’m talking about. The acrylic tunnel is 83 meters long has a travellator *which is a bummer! =( Hard to take photos.* Located in Siloso Road, Sentosa and open daily from 9am-9pm. Admision is SGD 17.30 for adults and SGD 11.20 for kids.

5. Aquaria@KLCC 5,110 sq.m Malaysia
Located at Suria KLCC Mall under the shadows of the World’s Tallest Twin Towers is this unexpected huge marine theme park. Open from 11am to 8pm. Admission is Rm28 for adults and Rm22 for kids.

6. SeaWorld Indonesia 4,500 sq.m Indonesia
Located within the grounds of Ancol Theme Park (huge!) in Jakarta; the admission here is separate from the main theme park. Admission is Rp30,000 on week days and Rp40,000 on weekends; 9am to 6pm.

7. Underwater World Pattaya 4,200 sq.m Thailand
Two hours drive from Bangkok. Located in the beautiful and action-packed city of Pattaya. It has a 100m-long walkthrough tunnel which is the longest in SE Asia. They change rates all the time.

8. Nha Trang Aquatic Park & Oceanographic Institute 3,400 sq.m Vietnam
This is mainly an academic attraction -- Rare species, exhibits, extensive oceanographic library. There’s a water park for leisure swimming. 6km south of the city center. Entrance fee: 15,000 Dongs.

Come and visit!


Thursday, July 03, 2008


If you’re in an event and representing your country by proudly wearing a sash across your torso for the world to see –

-- And it’s MISSPELLED…would you wear it or not?

Jennifer of the Philippines must be such a nice girl not to refuse or at least complain that her country name was misspelled. Or maybe she did complain nicely…but

…judging on the number functions she attended with the erred sash… how long did it take her to notice?

I’m sure correcting the mistake by printing another sash would only take a few minutes. *sigh* And how can an event as big as this ever make a mistake like that?

See what I mean in our previous post:
Of the World’s Most Insulted Countries”?


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chào bạn from Nha Trang

Hello sweeties. It’s been a while since I wrote here.

We left Kathmandu earlier on Vietnam Airlines (1742) to Nha Trang at 1:50pm. I managed to persuade */read as "tricked"/ the guys to change our itinerary and offset 2 weeks of our scheduled trip to Kuching and Surabaya.

Nha Trang, as you already know, is the venue for this year’s Miss Universe.

This is the newest city-showcase of the beautiful and unstoppably-progressing Vietnam. Nha Trang is spotless! Clean, crisp and fabulous. Reminds me of my hometown Pattaya, but Nha Trang is in the “wholesome” genre. LOL!

We were “socializing” earlier at a famous chill-out strip. You know, the tourists-meet-tourists kinda places, sweetie. Not my cuppa tea, but it was…uhmm…interesting.

I noticed lotsa Americans this time. Maybe because of the pageant. Lotsa Filipinos (they’re everywhere!), Indians (them too!), a couple of Spanish-speaking gorgeous guys carrying make-up kits */wink wink/. Interesting.

I should also mention that of our 6 delegates here…Singapore is the one making waves. Everybody knows her by name – Shenise. Other girls are referred to by country. But this girl is known by her first name. Really interesting.

Since this is actually what we came here for, ok, “I” came here for…I’ll hop around and do some investigating, ok sweetie? I might change my previous “prediction”. LOL.

As they say here in Nha Trang, sweeties
Hoan nghênh. Welcome!

--Sofia in Nha Trang


He got the presence, that's for sure.

Luke Jickain is a model in the Philippines. He was born in 1980 to a Filipino mother and a French father. He is the brother of one of our previously featured Perfect Specimen (and equally hot!) Martin Jickain.

More photos of Luke here...

Eurasians are the hottest people on Earth.


*Thanks to Sugar for the photos.

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