Monthly Archives: December 2009

new travel plans

So now that I’m unable to obtain a Russian visa in time, I’ve decided on a new travel itinerary.  Instead of Russia, I’ll spend a few days in S Korea instead.   Now the plan is:

  • Northern India for 10 days
  • Kerala for a month
  • Sabah for 10 days
  • Sarawak for 10 days
  • Korea for 10 days
  • Back to UB for a day or two
  • Then flight back to the US

Still somewhat ambitious, but should be fun, hopefully!


merry christmas!

It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. ~Dr. Seuss

Sukhbaatar Square, Ulaanbaatar, Christmas Night.


a little something about traveling

It’s not for the faint of heart.  At least, a 3-month trip spanning 5 countries and 2 continents is not.   But just a few things I’ve learned:

  1. Round trip does not have to start or end in the same place to be roundtrip.  Saved $700.
  2. Promptly spent $700 on a 1-way that might not be worth it, much like the US Gov did with that surprise money from TARP.
  3. Trips originating in developing countries are cheaper.
  4. Round trips are cheaper. Sometimes by half.
  5. Russia makes it obnoxiously hard to get a visa. I have to provide invitation letter, tourist voucher, application, and a lot of money.
  6. Rumor has it the visa office is only open for an hour in UB.
  7. Thank God I already have my Indian visa and don’t have to worry about getting it.
  8. I might have to get an exit visa for Mongolia.
  9. Soviet bureaucracy is time-consuming.
  10. It’s still snowing in April in Siberia.

Tomorrow I go to verify that I can get my Russian visa before I leave UB, or else I’m not taking the train.  Once that is verified, I will gather paperwork, and then proceed back over there to drop off my passport and hope for the best, while shelling out a LOT of money for this adventure.

Tagged ,

candied ginger

I’ve been experimenting with cooking lately, and a few weeks ago, I made some crystallized ginger.  The recipe is simple, but requires a bit of precision.

The best way to make it is, of course, with a candy thermometer, so you can get the sugar syrup to the right proportions.  But I don’t have one, and can’t be bothered to get one, so I went with the eyeball test.  Basically, I cooked the syrup until it was the consistency of thin honey, and left it at that.  I’ve also heard that you can take the syrup and drip a bit in a glass of cold water.  It should form thin threads but not congeal into a ball.   Cook it any longer, and you’ll have hard candy.

The process is pretty simple:

  1. Take some ginger, peel, and slice thinly.
  2. Boil in plain water for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Take equal parts sugar and water and mix in the pot. Add a touch of salt, and the ginger slices.
  4. Cook until the liquid is the consistency of hot thin honey.
  5. Let rest for about an hour or two.

One can leave the ginger slices as is, at this point, or, while still warm, remove and roll around on a plate of sugar.

Once cool, I store either in the syrup, or drain out of the syrup and store in a ziploc.  If they’ve been sugared, I’ll brush off the excess sugar and store in the ziploc.

The sugar syrup can be used for other things, like perhaps with a bit of sparkling water or soda, or maybe even added to some champagne and orange juice.

You’ll notice there are no measurements in this recipe – I think it depends on how much you want to make.   The rule of thumb is that you need enough sugar syrup to cover the ginger pieces, but that can also depend on the size of your pot.  In my most recent batch, I used 4 pieces of ginger about the size of thumb, sliced thinly, and cooked in 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar.


cute movie

This is a trailer for a cute movie coming out in April.  It’s making the rounds here, mostly because there is a Mongolian baby in it, but also because it does look like it’ll be quite interesting.


future travel plans

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

~ Saint Augustine

Before my eventual arrival in the US, I am planning on traveling a little.  Right now, the plan is to:

  • Depart UB and fly directly to W India to stay with family for a week or so, then,
  • Take the train to Kerala, then,
  • Wander my way down the coast to Trivandrum, then,
  • Stay at a beach resort with yoga studio attached for a couple of weeks, then,
  • Fly to Sabah, Malaysia, and climb Kinabalu, then,
  • Meet my cousin and family in Sarawak at Mulu Caves, then,
  • Fly to Seoul to hang out with a friend, then,
  • Make my way to Vladivostok to hop on the Trans-Siberian, then,
  • Fly from Moscow/St. Petersburg back to the US.

All very ambitious, so we will see how much of this truly ends up happening.  But for now, this is the plan, and I am hoping to fit it all in!  Stay tuned!



I’m rebooting this site with a different focus, looking at at travel, professional interests, and a little bit of personal reflection.   Currently, I’m in Mongolia, blogging at  Land of Blue Skies.  I also have a second project at Cereal and Milk.

In a month, I’ll be departing Mongolia and traveling through Asia for a couple of months before heading back to the US for gainful employment.   I’ll be blogging here about the experience.