Monday, August 30, 2010

Laotian Currency inspired T-shirts!

The currency of Laos is the Kip and that also happens to be the name of one of the characters in the movie Napoleon Dynamite.  Another t-shirt that I was wishing I could buy when I was travelling, now available HERE.

New Intoxicated Forum!

Check out the new Intoxicated Abroad Forum HERE.  This is a great place to post questions, request or recommendations about nightlife and travel around the word.  I will do my best to answer any and all questions.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Favourite Travel Photos: Thai Royal Palace, Bangkok

Friday, August 27, 2010

International Beer of The Week:Cerveza Imperial

Country: Costa Rica
Best Enjoyed: In the cool mountain town of Monte Verde

With its iconic logo adorning tourist T-shirts across the country Cerveza Imperial is the most popular and widely distributed beer in Costa Rica. Wherever you find yourself within the vibrant tropical republic of Costa Rica you can be assured that a cold Imperial is never far away. 

Imperial is brewed by the Costa Rican company, Florida Bebidas S.A. which has a long tradition in the country and  has been brewing Imperial since 1924. An industry leader in Latin America, Florida Bebidas was the first Latin American brewery authorized to produce the Heineken brand, and was among the first to introduce light, ice brew and non-alcoholic beer.  Florida Bebidas currently produces 1.5 million hectoliters of beer per year and its brand portfolio includes Imperial, Imperial Light, Pilsen, Bavaria Gold, Bavaria Light, Bavaria Dark, Heineken, Rock Ice, Rock Ice with Lemon and Kaiser.   Imperial is Florida’s most popular and widely accepted beer, both nationally and internationally, and thus has a dominating market share in Costa Rica.

Although Costa Ricans hold true to the saying Pura Vida, they do not uphold the German purity laws in their brewing process. This style of Beer is an "adjunct lager' meaning that the source of sugar (usually Barley) is supplemented with other grains known as adjuncts.  In this case the adjuncts are rice and corn which are used in addition to traditional barley.  It is not uncommon for lesser developed countries and countries is hotter climates to produce adjunct lagers due to the cost of importing barley which does not cultivate well in hot climates.  Typical American mass production beers such as Budweiser and Coors are also Adjunct lagers in which adjuncts are used to cut costs.

The resulting beer from the use of adjuncts is typically not of world-beater quality but more often produces a lightly coloured lager with very mild flavours.  Imperial is no exception, the beer pours as a very pale yellow with very little head.  Mild hop and grain flavours are present in what tastes fairly typical for an adjunct lager.  The beer is somewhat watery which can be refreshing in the tropical humidity.

Overall Imperial is not a terrible beer and in when in Costa Rica it is all you're likely to drink anyways. Appreciate this beer for it's refreshing qualities and it's awesome logo, and hey, if you're a fan of Budweisers and Silver Bullets then you may enjoy the flavour too!

Pura Vida!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shots Abroad, International Spirits: Rakija

Rakija (also known as Rakia) is a both potent and tasty spirit that is popular throughout the Balkans. Produced from the distillation of fermented fruit; it ihas an alcohol content of normally 40% ABV, but home-produced rakia can be stronger (50% to 60%). Common flavours are slivovica, produced from plums, Kajsijevaca, produced from apricots and lozovaca, made from grapes.

Rakija is usually colorless although with the addition of herbs or other ingredients are may appear golden, or even brown. Some types of rakia are kept in wooden barrels (oak or mulberry) for extra aroma.

In Croatia a herbal rakija, known as travarica, is usually served at the beginning of the meal, together with dried figs.

Rakija is also served in a "cooked" variety (Croatian: kuhana, Serbian: kuvana or grejana).  To reach it's 'cooked' form rakija is heated and sweetened with honey or sugar and spices are added. cooked Rakija is often drank winter at open air festivals.

I had the pleasure of sampling some slivovica (the plum variety of Rakija) during a stay in Dubrovnik.  The aroma and flavour of plums are what first meets the palette before the overwhelming taste and burn of alcohol takes over. I really did burn all the way down, although I like to assume that better quality Slivovica may have been a bit smoother.  All in all, it did the job of  generating one hell of a night out, which is all I can ask from any alcoholic beverage.

Love it or hate it, rakija is sure to warm you up in the winter, or make you sweat in the summer, a must try for any drinker visiting the Balkans.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Favourite Travel Photos: Borobudur Temple

Borobudur; a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist monument near Jogjakarta, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A UNESCO heritage site and Indonesia's most visited tourist attraction.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

International Beer of The Week: Federbräu

Country: Thailand

Best Enjoyed: At an upscale Bangkok nightclub

Thai Beverage Group (ThaiBev) is one of thailand largest producers of alcoholic beverages. They own and distribute a significant brands like Chang beer and Mekhong and Sang Som rum (basically most of what I consumed while in Thailand). Since 2008 ThaiBev has also produced a premium beer called Federbräu.

As is reflected in it's German name Federbräu is a mild German-style beer with 4.7% alcohol. Federbräu literally means feather brew in German, a reference to this beers lightness in alcohol and body.

Prior to the launch of Federbräu, foreign imports like Heineken dominated Thailand's premium beer market. Thaibev sought to domestically produce a premium European style beer that could become an industry leader.

So as to ensure the beer's premium quality Federbräu is the only beer brewed in
Thailand that is certified by the prestigious German institutes VLB of Berlin and Weihenstephan of Munich as manufactured according to the strict German Purity Law; using only the finest natural ingredients, an exacting manufacturing process and fermentation method.

Poured from a bottle the beer is clear light yellow colour with an average frothy white head. A The flavor is moderately light with sweet malty flavours alowg with some hoppy bitterness .  The beer tastes like a slightly below average German lager.

Federbräu is a decent attempt a German beer by a Thai brewer but overall if the prices were par I think I would opt for a Heineken.  That being said Federbräu is a must try simply for being the only thai beer conforming to the Reinheitsgebot (purity law).

ไชโย!   prounouced 'Chuc-dee'  (Cheers!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Top 10 European Old Towns for Drinking

10. Nuremberg

Nuremburg is home to many great beers an breweries(the surrounding area has the largest concentration of breweries world wide) and even in the Nuremberg itself. Despite major destruction during the second world war, Nuremberg has retained it's fortified city walls and much of the old-town's medieval architecture. Brewpubs and Discos can be found within the old city centre.

9. Vienna
Despite Vienna's stuck-up attitude this is a city that knows how to party once the 'Bier' starts flowing. The café scene often continues into the early hours many bars and clubs are found throughout the old-town (particularly the Goldon Triangle area). Additionally there are many traditional neighbourhood bars some which also have Viennese food (mmm schnitzel...).

8. Pamplona

Once a fortified city, Pamplona was for centuries the capital of the ancient kingdom of Navarre. Pamplona is famously known worldwide for the San Fermín festival, from July 7 to 14, in which the running of the bulls is one of the main attractions. Like many other European cities, it is very easy to distinguish the "old city" (Casco Viejo) from the new neighbourhoods. The oldest part of the old city, Navarrería, which lies within in the former boundaries of Roman walls is home to a thriving nightlife that caters for almost any taste in music and food. Three streets in particular, Calle San Nicolás, Calle Estafeta, and Calle de Jarauta, are lined with tascas, bars, bodegas, and pubs.

7. Cologne

Devastated by Allied bombing during World War Two, much of Cologne's Altstadt was reconstructed to preserve the old-town feel. Cologne has it's own regional style of beer, Kölsch, as well as an abundance of brewhouses that produce it. There are so many bars and pubs to choose from that you could spend most of the night going from one bar to the next. Traditional breweries are numerous in the Altstadt around the Dom, where the famous "Früh Kölsch" brewery resides.

6. Dubrovnik

A major feature of the fortified medieval city of Dubrovnik is its massive walls that run 2 km around the city. The system of walls turrets and towers once intended to protect the vulnerable city now encapsulate the cities touristy cafe culture. Small pubs and cafes found within the maze of narrow streets and steps blast increasingly louder music throughout the night as the town gradually shifts from family friendly fun to drunken debauchery.

5. Bruges
One of the best preserved pre-motorised cities in Europe, Bruges, is breathtaking.
Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact and its historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. And Bruges doesn't just have a pretty face, Belgium's rabid beer culture ensures that there is plenty to drink before you bombard the streets pretending to be a medieval knight. Pubs disco's and cafes are all abundant within the border of the moat which encircles the town and this being Belgium, some of the bars stock 100's of different beers.

4. Prague

With of Europe's most beautiful and romantic skylines Prague is also home to some of Europe's best nightlife. Pubs line the streets throughout Prague and are an important part of local culture. Czech beer is the perfect light beverage with which to start the night off before heading to one of the many discos pounding electronic beats.

3. Amsterdam
Amsterdam for drinking? Thats right, Amsterdam isn't just about hookers and weed it also has it's share of watering holes. The oldest area of the town is known as de Wallen (the quays)lies to the east of Damrak and contains the city's famous red light district. Leidseplein is the center of Amsterdam's nightlife, with some of the city's most popular restaurants, bars, and nightspots all within dancing distance of the square. Another city square, Rembrandtplein Plays host to pulsating clubs that stay open late into the night.

2. Krakow

The unofficial 'Cultural Capital of Poland'is a stunningly beautiful city that knows now to party. Kraków's historic centre, covering the Old Town is on the UNESCO list but that hasn't had any negative effect its vibrant nightlfe.  It has been said that there are more than 300 drinking establishments in the Old Town alone and their proximity to each other makes Krakow's numerous watering holes ideal for bar hopping. Whether you prefer to drink in cafes, bars, of nightclubs, this epic old-town has it all.

1. San Sebastian

Known officially as Donostia-San Sebastián, this Basque capital boasts one of the best in-city beaches in Europe. You can literally sunbathe and swim right next to major historical buildings  and even better, you can drink within them.
Parte Vieja (Old Part) is the traditional core area of the city and within the boundaries of the former city walls is a plethora of bars and cafes serving up local wine and beer.  A walk through the old  town on any night is sure to attract the attention of bar promoters directing traffic into their place of business. There are  many bars in the small old town making pub-crawling an ideal option.
The Kalimotxo (pronounced "calimotcho") is the local specialty. Made with 50% wine (cheap red wine) and 50% Cola, it is somewhat of a local take on Sangria.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Vietnam Tourism: New Slogans

When I was travelling through Vietnam the most common jokes I heard told between travellers were in reference to Vietnam's humorously named currency: the Dong.  I think the Vietnamese tourism industry needs to embrace these jokes and start selling t-shirts.
All shirts are available for purchase here:

Favourite Travel Photos: Old and New in Kuala Lumpur

The old colonial architecture contrasts the modern skyrises of KL.

Friday, August 13, 2010

International Beer of the Week: Früh Kölsch

Country: Germany (Cologne specifically)

Best Enjoyed: Fresh, from Brauhaus Früh am Dom.

Kölsch is to Cologne (known as 'Köln' to Germans), what champagne is to the Champagne region of France. It is their signature drink that can be brewed nowhere but Cologne. Kölsch is part of Cologne’s identity and it is part of what sets it apart from its long-standing and bitter rival Düsseldorf.

Kölsch is a clear, light, straw-yellow beer that is less bitter than the standard German lager beer. Kölsch is top-fermented at a relatively warm temperature (13 to 21°C, or 55 to 70°F) making it one of only a few traditional German ales. The other is a dark ale known as Altbier (literally ‘old beer’) that is brewed in Cologne’s historic rival city of Düsseldorf. Ordering a Altbier in Cologne will certainly be met with dirty looks and may even receive a sarcastic response stating “If you want a dark beer we can turn the lights off for you.”

Kölsch is typically served at cellar temperature in long, thin, cylindrical 0.2 liter glasses. This glass is known as a Stange (pole), but also has a few nicknames such as Reagenzglas (test tube), or Fingerhut (thimble).

The first written evidence of a beer brewer in Cologne is around the year 1170. Mention is made here of a house being sold to “Ezelin bruere” (Ezelin, the brewer). From this date on, the names of brewers and breweries appeared repeatedly in the records as Kölsch breweries sprung up throughout the city.

One of the most prominent beer halls in Cologne is that of Früh Kölsch. Peter Josef Früh founded the original brewery 1895 and in 1904 the brewery was opened in its current location on the city’s main square just below the massive spires of the Kölner Dom cathedral. Following the bombing raids of World War Two Früh brewery was the only brewery in Cologne left standing and with suck luck Früh remains to be a favourite of both locals and tourists alike.

Früh Brauhaus
Früh , as presented in the 'stange' glass is clear yellow in appearance with  two-fingers of creamy white head.  The taste is of floral hoppiness with a crisp citrus finish and it is a smooth and refreshing drink.  Overall Früh produces a great example of the kölsch style and with their Idyllically located brauhaus it is a perfect introduction to Kölsch and Cologne.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Visitors to the Island of Bali, Indonesia will likely find themselves sampling the local 'fun sauce' during their stay.   Bali's local liquor is called Arak, a name that has it's origins in the middle east.  Arak means 'sweat' in Arabic and in the middle east it widely refers to an aniseed flavoured spirit. The Arak found in Bali differs greatly from its middle eastern cousin.

Arak in Bali refers to a distilled spirit from palm sap or rice, with a 20 to 50 percent alcohol content. Arak can be found at most corner stores in Bali and, while I strongly recommend against it, can be bought on the street in in its bootlegged form (may contain methanol).

Western tourists have given rise to the term ‘Arak Attack’ (referring to the quick onset of drunkeness) and a drink of Arak and orange juice has taken on this namesake.Variation of the drink, such as 'Energy Attack' (Arak and Redbull) can be found at bars in the Kuta beach area.

As the origins of the drinks name suggest, this 'sweat' is not the finest or the smoothest alcohol around. It's prime selling point is it's price (far lower than anything else available), and it is the main reason it remains a favourite of budget travellers and surfers .

Drinking Arak can be considered as part experiencing the local cuisine, although most will simply see it as the cheapest way to get drunk.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Favourite Travel Photos: Interlaken

Interlaken, Switzerland:  Gorgeous Scenery and a great place to party, what more do you want?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

International Beer of the Week: Žatec

Country: Czech Republic

Beer Style: Czech Pilsener

Best Enjoyed:  -In the old town of Žatec
                          -Anywhere in Prague anytime

Žatec(pronounced zshates), the self titled "Finest of Czech Beers," is brewed in the town of the same name.  The town of Žatec (from which the beer takes it's name), or Saaz in German has been world renowned for its hop cultivation for nearly 1000 years and today Saaz hops account for  more than 2/3 of the total hop production in the Czech Republic. Given the town's famous 'hoppy' history it should be no wonder that since it's founding and to this day Žatec Pilsener continues to be awarded accolades numerous times at various shows and exhibitions.

The Society of Žatec Privileged Brewers was established in Žatec in 1261 and such a demand for their beer was created that it was finally decided to build a new brewery in 1797.  Žatec brewery announced the commencement of brewing on July 26, 1800 and in 1801  brewed 840 kegs containing 4,200,000 liters of beer.Today the brewery produces a range of beers popular in Czech republic however they have failed to gain the international success of Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser Budvar (Czechvar in North America).  Žatec brewery is one of only two Czech breweries with a tradition of continuously brewing beer in a single location for over 700 years. With all that experience one hopes that the beer lives up to the hype.

When poured from the bottle the beer is medium straw to golden in colour with a tight white cap of head that fades quickly, leaving some thin patches.
To taste is of sweet malt up front  fading into floral hoppiness, and then slightly drying at the end. Very easy to drink with the low ABV (4.6%) and light body.  Overall a fairly tasty and refreshing example of a classic Czech Pilsener and perhaps truly in the running to be "The Finest of Czech Beers."

Na zdravi! (cheers)

Favourite Travel Photos: Bayon Temple, Cambodia

A mighty lion looks out as if to be guarding the massive faces adorning Bayon Temple, one of the temples of Angkor in Cambodia.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Top 5 Global Backpacker Foods

So much for pizza and instant noodles. These 5 meals have won me over as the best eats on the streets when travelling on a budget!

5. Fried bananas

I came across my first battered and fried banana in the mountain town of Dalat, Vietnam and my life was forever changed.  Never again can I truly enjoy a standard unfried banana with the knowledge of how much more delicious it could be.   Known as Pisang goreng in Maylay and Indonesian, fried bananas are a snack food found throughout Southeast Asia.  Usually sold from street vendors it makes for a great sweet treat.

4.  Burek

Burek is another great greasy snack grabbed while on the run in Eastern Europe. Burek is made from layers of phyllo dough, alternating with layers of other fillings in a circular baking pan and than topped with a last layer of dough. Traditional it is baked without any filling ("prazan"), with stewed mince meat and onions or cheese. Modern bakeries offer cheese and spinach, apple, sour cherries, potatoes, mushrooms, pizza-burek as well. Traditional meat was my favourite and made for an excellent post-bar indulgence.

3. Banana and Nutella Roti

Mobile push carts can be found serving up Roti to the masses of backpackers and locals alike in most Southeast Asian cities.  The dish is composed of dough containing copious amounts of fat, egg, flour and water. Rotis are prepared by flipping the dough into a large thin layer before folding the outside edges inwards. The dough will then be heated on a hot plate. Bananas, Nutella and sometimes condensed milk are added before it's folded and flipped to seal in all the sweet goodness. A sweet and greasy desert that is not to be missed.

2. Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a classic Thai dish of stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce tamarind juice, red chili pepper, plus any combination of bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken, or tofu, garnished with crushed peanuts, coriander and lime.  
Brought to the ancient Thai capital of Ayuthaya by Vietnamese traders, It was first made popular as a national dish by the  prime minister during the 1930s and 1940s. As an element of his campaign for Thai nationalism and to reduce rice consumption in Thailand the poor were educated in the production of rice noodles, as well as in the preparation of these noodles with other ingredients to sell in small cafes and from street carts.
Street carts remain to be the cheapest way to get your fill of this Thai icon, found on the streets of any Thai city. 

1. Shawarma, döner kebab, gyros, donair or whatever you choose to call your rotating pillar of street meat.

A meal that is popular with backpackers and any hungry person on a budget around the world, Shawarma, is a Middle Eastern sandwich-like wrap of shaved lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, or a mixture thereof. The meat is placed on a spit, and may be grilled for as long as a day.
The rotating pillar of meat goes by many names: In Greece, it is called gyros, meaning "turned"; In Armenian, it is "Tarna", literally meaning "to turn"; and in Turkish it is called döner kebab.
After a quick count I believe I have eaten Kebab in at least 17 countries across North America, Asia and Europe and fancy myself a bit of a street meat connoisseur.  The ingredients and sauces vary from country to country with only the spinning meat remaining constant.
My all time favourite Shawarma was had in Krakow, Poland where the kebab is served with fresh cabbage salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and other vegetables, added to the meat in a sandwich which is topped with a choice of white or red sauce (I don't exactly know what the sauces were, but i assure you they were delicious).
No matter what country you find yourself in, there is probably a Kebab shop somewhere within your 100m radius. So if your looking for something cheap check out the local 'spin' on this fast food classic. 
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