Drinking Sake in Japan? Here’s What You Need to Know

Woman in a Yukata drinking Sake, JapanFor most wine enthusiasts in the Western part of the world, the fermented rice drink known as sake is nothing much more than a slightly exotic alcoholic beverage they tried once at a sushi restaurant.

But in Japan, sake (pronounced “sah-keh,” not “sah-kee”) plays an integral role in the sophisticated world of Japanese cuisine, which for most of us is already confusing enough.

If you’re planning on spending time in Japan, getting familiar with the customs and traditions of sake will go a long way toward helping you to truly understand both the country’s cuisine and its culture.

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Wok Cooking

There’s a reason why wok cooking is so popular. This extremely versatile vessel cooks delicious meals quickly. The wok originated in China and has become one of the most common cooking utensils in Southeast Asia, and is gaining esteem in Western kitchens. The wok is curved with a concave shape, which produces small, hot space that allows for intense heat, perfect for quickly searing food. Woks are used for stir-frying, but also steaming, deep frying, poaching, boiling, braising, searing, making soup and toasting nuts. Its large sloped sides permit for the “ tossing while cooking” technique. Creating yummy, creative and healthy meals is fast and simple with a wok.Asian Cuisine: Wok Cooking

Seasoning Your Wok

Just like a cast-iron pan, your iron, steel or carbon steel wok made of porous metals, and needs to be seasoned before cooking. The wok can absorb liquids and can rust over time. Luckily, your wok can also absorb oil, which will repel water and create a protective, non-stick layer, which protects your pan from water or acid exposure. Seasoning your wok will also add more flavor to your food over time.

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10 Reasons Tokyo Is Asia’s Most Popular Destination

Tokyo is a thriving, seemingly sleepless city that offers the visitor glimpses in Japan’s feudalistic past, traditional Shinto Temples and lifestyles while mixed in with the super high-tech world Tokyo is synonymous with. As reported by CNBC, Tokyo is the top destination for tourists in all of Asia, and there are many reasons for this popularity.

Tsukiji Fish Market

For seafood lovers, there is no better than the world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji. This open air fish market offers every type of fish, shellfish, ran and seafood you could imagine, all fresh from the day’s catch and straight from the docks. The scene here is manic but shouldn’t be missed.

Sumo

A long standing Japanese tradition and sport of humor, sumo wrestling is a top draw for locals and visitors. No trip to Tokyo is complete without going to at least one sumo match. Enjoy the traditions and betting these matches are known for.

Meiji Shrine

This is the most famous and revered of the Shinto Temples in Japan and is dedicated to the 19th-century Emperor who opened Japan up to the west, thus bringing it into the world.

Yoyogi Park

In this densely populated city, space is at a premium, which is why a stroll through Yoyogi Park is a top draw in Tokyo. Set amidst the cherry blossoms, this park sees runners, cyclists, yoga proctors, Tai Chi and every type of musician and performer you could imagine.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is almost the antithesis of Yoyogi Park’s manic pace and activity. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is traditional Japan at its best. Finely groomed gardens, bans trees and silent Shinto prayers are highlights of the quiet preserve within the urban throng of Tokyo.

Mori Tower

With the combination of the 52nd floor view of the city and the famous Mori Art Museum, a trip up Mori Tower is well worth the time. Bring your camera as the views from the observatory are some of the best of Tokyo, giving an expansive sight of this thriving metropolis.

Shibuya Crossing

Arguably the busiest area of Tokyo, the Shibuya Crossing has been featured in numerous motion pictures such as “Lost in Translation”. This area of the city will seem chaotic upon the first visit, but sit to the side and watch and you begin to see a pattern to this immense mass of humans, all going back and forth through the neon spectacle and arcades of the area. This is modern Tokyo in all its glory.

Ebisu Neighborhood

Eating out in Japan is very expensive, so do as many of the locals do and go to the trendy Ebisu Neighborhood and enjoy meals at street vendors, stand-up outdoor cafes and small cafes. Here you will be able to sample authentic Japanese cuisine while rubbing elbows with the hip and young of the city. This is where the locals go for drinks and dinner.

Karaoke at Smash Hits in Hiroo shotengai

Karaoke is a uniquely Japanese creation and its popularity has spread across the globe. Here in Tokyo you get to go to the best Karaoke joints in the world. One such place is Smash Hits in Hiroo shotengai (neighborhood). Enjoy drinks and serenade the other patrons who are there to sing their favorite and most trendy songs of the day. This is a truly Tokyo experience.

Daimaru’s Kimono and Yukata

Shoppers take note, Kimono and Yukata is one of the grandest department stores in all of Tokyo. Every trendy and boutique fashion label and designer can be found here as well as traditional Japanese garb. Of particular note is the 10th floor, not the usual stop for visitors as this floor is where Japanese women come for authentic and traditional kimono’s and accompanying accessories. Shopping the both floor is a popular draw even though most tourists just go to the floors to watch and see how traditional fashion and service is given.

Taking a trip to Tokyo is to see one of the great cities of the world. With SkyStub’s great fares from LAX to Narita (NRT) which serves Japan, there has never been a better time to book your trip to Japan.

 

Visiting Thailand? Here’s the Authentic Thai Food You Can’t Miss

authentic Thai foodOver the last few years, Thai food has become “the new black” in the dining world. Sure, most of us have eaten Pad Thai at the corner restaurant. But is that truly authentic Thai cuisine? It does owe its roots to traditional Thai food, but like other Asian cuisines before it, it has become Westernized.

If you’re planning a trip to Thailand — and assuming you’re an adventurous eater who enjoys spicy and exotic Asian foods — there are a number of classic and authentic Thai dishes you should absolutely search out.

Here are seven we suggest looking for:

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Overseas Travel with Children

Cheap flights to South Korea from Philadelphia and New York have increased the opportunities for families to take a vacation or visit relatives in Asia. At the same time, overseas travel with children brings its own checklist of things to do to ensure that families can travel safely and enjoy their travel with minimum headaches. The following are some major issues that, when addressed, will make the process go much more smoothly.

Lowest Fares on Overseas Travel-Children and PassportsPassport Requirements

Unlike adults, children can grow out of clothes quickly in just a few years. The same is true of facial features. That’s why the State Department requires children’s passports to be renewed much more frequently. While adults over age 16 can renew every 10 years, children must renew theirs every five years.

In addition, while many travelers can renew U.S. passports by mail, minors under age 16 must appear in person. Additional necessary documentation includes:

  1. Form DS-11 which is the standard passport application form.
  2. Evidence that the child is a U.S. citizen including a certified birth certificate or a prior passport.
  3. Proof of the relationship between the child and parents or legal guardian, which can be the same birth certificate if both parents are named, an adoption decree or court orders establishing guardianship.
  4. Identification of parents that can be in the form of a valid license, previously issued passport or current government or military ID.
  5. Photocopies of documentation from step four to be provided to State Department officials.
  6. Consent of parents either by appearing for the application or forms signed by guardians who are unable to appear in person.

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9 Reasons Tokyo Is Asia’s Most Popular Tourist Destination

Tokyo, Asia's most popular destinationTokyo is an always thriving city that offers visitors two diametrically opposed glimpses into the ever-fascinating country of Japan: the super high-tech and seemingly sleepless world that Japan is so often associated with, and the country’s traditional and feudalistic past.

It’s no wonder that CNBC recently reported that Tokyo is currently the top tourist destination in all of Asia. The following nine reasons explain why we couldn’t agree more.

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5 Reasons A Malaysia Vacation Should Be On Your Bucket List

Malaysia vacationAsk anyone who has traveled to Malaysia: It’s home to some of the most unbelievably stunning and undiscovered spots in all of Southeast Asia. Sure, Malaysia boasts any number of fascinating tourist attractions, but it also has more than a few surprises up its proverbial sleeve that most visitors simply don’t expect to find. What’s more, Malaysia has an especially vibrant culture, exceedingly friendly locals, incredible food, and world-class shopping centers. And that’s just for starters.  

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7 Priceless Hong Kong Travel Tips

Hong Kong travel tips

A busy day in Hong Kong

There’s no doubt that for those of us who are coming from the Western part of the world, paying a visit to the Far East is one of the rarest and most rewarding opportunities of a lifetime.

And that’s exactly why you should give yourself a fair amount of time to organize your trip and figure out a plan of attack, so to speak, before making your way to somewhere like Hong Kong.

Sure, you may have seen the pictures, read the articles, and even watched the videos from folks who’ve told you that traveling abroad is easy. And it certainly can be! But every person’s overseas experience is different, and that’s doubly true if you happen to be heading abroad for the very first time.

We’ve gathered a handful of crucial travel planning tips here for those of you who are heading to Hong Kong for the first time. Read ‘em, print ‘em out … and have a blast in the former British colony that’s known alternately as the Asia’s World City and the Pearl of the Orient.

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Giant Buddhas of Thailand

Traveling to Thailand Venerating the founder of Buddhism plays a key role in the spiritual life of many Thais, and as such monuments are found throughout the country. However, due to the key role the religion plays these are not the size of a crucifix in a Catholic church or many other statues in America. Rather, some of these can range in size to more than 100 feet. No matter where you plan on vacationing when you visit Thailand, there are likely to be giant Buddhas worth visiting.

Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho was the sight of the first university in Thailand and the entire site in Bangkok is worth checking out, being that the statute of the Reclining Buddha is one of the largest in the capital, as is the entire temple complex itself. It measures more than 150 feet long, all of it with gold leaf. However, while many visitors who plan travel to Thailand just take pictures of the statue itself, the temple is also a great place to check out.

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The 12 Best Hostels in China

Finding cheap fares from the United States to Far East destinations like China has always been something of a hassle. Indeed, for the budget-minded backpacker hoping to see Asia on a shoestring, airfare has always been the most significant financial hurdle.

best hostels in chinaBut thanks to cost-effective carriers like Asiana Airlines and flight aggregators like SkyStub, flying from the U.S. to China isn’t nearly as expensive as you’d probably expect.

If you’re already thinking about booking a cheap flight to China, head over to SkyStub’s booking engine and have a look for yourself.

And once you’ve made it to the Middle Kingdom? Finding an affordable place to hang your hat each night will definitely be one of the smartest ways to stretch your budget.

China, after all, has become an incredibly popular destination for students and other financially-strapped backpackers over the past decade or so. As a result, budget guesthouses and bunk bed-style youth hostels have begun popping up even in some of the country’s lesser-visited locales.

Keep reading to learn about some of the very best backpacker hot spots in the county today.

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