Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Bit Heavy

I've been meaning to post for while and this week I have no excuse since things have settled down a bit. I was so focused on finishing up my tales of my February trip that I haven't really updated much about the move or anything like that.

From the living room of our new place.
I'm in Louisville now, and I had plenty of posts planned about all the things I'll miss about San Diego, or all the things I look forward to about Kentucky, or about notions of home. Plus, it's National Library Week, so I have been meaning to post about that. But somehow I just haven't been in the mood . . . And then I feel guilty for not keeping up with my blog, even though it's something I choose to do and therefore should be fun.

I guess I feel guilty for more than just not blogging. Instead of being productive by unpacking or looking for a job or even writing I'm squandering my time on the internet, playing trivia games or reading semi-informative but humorous blogs or not at all informative but wicked funny blogs or discovering new (to me) webcomics or browsing wikipedia for hours on end and then realizing I'm reading about Jack the Ripper or horrible sea creatures (aren't they all horrible?) when that wasn't my intention.

If you want insight into my brain and my life, go read this incredibly relatable Hyperbole and a Half post about being an adult. Even if you don't want the insight, read it anyway because the blogger is hilarious. This is basically what happened with my promise to correspond with a bunch of strangers, and I'd like to get that started again but I need to get to a point where I can trust myself to follow through, because everything went well for a few months but then I just . . . got distracted or something and again, the guilt has prevented me from picking up where I left off. For any of my pen pals that are reading this, I am sorry if I let you down.

Another thing that's bothering me is the behavior of our cat, who has been spending pretty much all of her time in the attic. If this door is closed, she will scratch, meow and pace in front of it until we open it. We don't open it when she scratches, but if she asks (meows) then we open it to let her explore.

Normally, she is a cuddle monster whose only desire is to sit on a lap and be petted. But since we let her come into the attic of our new place with us, all she wants to do is go back up there. She spends hours up there, just hanging out by herself. It would be different if she were a different cat. Plenty of cats are aloof and spend their time wandering around and maybe come to visit you for a few minutes a day. But not Snoopy. She lives for snuggles. In San Diego, when we were home she wanted to be in the room with us, preferably curled up on Matt's lap.

Besides, ignore her unusually social ways and she's still a cat, which means she should still come running for tuna. Well, she wasn't even interested in the tuna I gave her yesterday. I'd be worried that she got into something up there that was unhealthy for her but she seems to be eating, and when she does grace us with her presence she's not lethargic and demonstrates all signs of a healthy cat. Just not the healthy cat I know. I would blame the move, but until I opened the attic door to check it out and let her come along, she seemed like she was getting comfortable. Matt says it's probably a phase and I'm sure he's right, but I miss having her around.

Sorry to be heavy but I kind of felt like I needed to get that out. I don't really even feel lonely yet but I guess all the changes have me in a funk. On the positive side of things, I do like what I have seen of Louisville so far, and I'm meeting Matt downtown for dinner and a play tonight so that will be fun. Incidentally, for National Library Week I suggest you check out this NPR piece which points out many of the joys of a public library and is kind of targeted toward skeptics. As for me, I plan to get my Louisville library card before the week is through.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The famed Angkor Wat
Our time in Siem Reap, Cambodia was pretty much exclusively dedicated to the temples of Angkor. We only had part of two days there, as we arrived on February 22 and left on February 23. Consequently, our time there was jam packed with sight seeing and I'm actually really glad we didn't spend much time looking around town because the ancient monuments were worth it.

Since I was too busy moving to blog about this sooner, I have unfortunately forgot much in the last month. I do remember seeing Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and Angkor Thom. As my memory is poor, I resort to sharing some photos. Really, words and photos cannot accurately describe what it's like to see these wonders anyway.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kem: Ice Cream in Vietnam

At Công Trường
So I haven't posted about it much, but the fact is I am an ice cream monster. Matt likes to joke about my "ice cream stomach," which is how I find room for ice cream even though I am otherwise full (the best part of being a grown up is that I don't have to finish my dinner to get dessert!). Naturally, before going to Vietnam I did a little research on ice cream and sweets. Most of what I read suggested that the Vietnamese don't really do dessert the way we do here, or that they usually have fruit for dessert. That may be true, but it was not hard to find sweets there. I learned to spot kem, the Vietnamese word for ice cream, very quickly.

In Hanoi, we went to Kem Tràng Tiền, which we read described as a "motorbike drive-in." I can honestly think of no better way to describe it.

Teenagers dig this joint, based on what we saw. Many of them seemed to be on dates. It was really quite cute. They apparently do sell cones, but they were out. We tried their popsicles instead, and honestly, I found the flavor to be just okay and the texture to be grainy and completely disappointing. At least the atmosphere was good.

Kem NZ was a place I read about quite a bit before our trip. As near as I can tell, it's a New Zealand chain, so I wasn't planning on trying it because it wasn't actually Vietnamese. However, our hotel in Hue had a Kem NZ at the hotel, so we had some. I tried the sticky rice flavor, which was interesting. I don't remember what Matt had, but I remember his dad had the durian flavor so I tried a bite and learned that WOW, durian is not for me (his dad loved it though; durian is nothing if not polarizing). Overall though, the ice cream was pretty good, with an atmosphere more like what I would expect to see in the States (bright colors, trendy design).

Note the sign is even in English
On our second night in Hue we had some really good sorbet at the restaurant where we had dinner. Unfortunately I don't remember the name of the place but the "lemon" sorbet was wonderfully refreshing with an intense flavor. Notably, everywhere we went in Vietnam limes were referred to as lemons. I don't remember if we ever saw what I would call a lemon there. So it was really lime sorbet. I need to try to make lime sorbet sometime, because I do love it.

In Ho Chi Minh City, it was hot so Matt and I shared a scoop from a street vendor selling cones from the back of his bicycle. As with many of our street food experiences, we just held up a finger (as we were just getting one) and took whatever they guy gave us. It appeared to be chocolate, which I tried to stay away from, because I'm sorry but Vietnam just doesn't seem to have quality chocolate. When I tasted it, I was glad we only ordered one cone because it was chocolate with durian swirl. Fortunately, Matt likes durian.

Moments before discovering the flavor.
The best ice cream we had though, and my favorite eating experience in all of Vietnam, was at Công Trường. In researching places to eat, I discovered the Gastronomer, who has a food blog that was incredibly useful for our trip. Based on her reviews of San Diego restaurants, I felt pretty confident she was a reliable source so we took her advice on a few dishes and places. One such place was Công Trường. I found nothing about it anywhere else, but after reading her review I made Matt hunt it down with me. It was not near our hotel but we walked to find it. We ordered the kem dua, which was recommended by the Gastronomer. It's coconut ice cream, served in a coconut, with the juice on the side, and with bits of fruit and nuts on top. It is amazing.

The consistency of the ice cream itself was wonderfully smooth; the addition of the nuts and dried fruit and the fresh coconut from the bowl adds a textural element that complements the ice cream perfectly. The flavor was intense and sweet. The whole experience was made better by the hot weather, which made the ice cream doubly refreshing. I recommend checking out the Gastronomer's post for a better description, as she puts the experience into words very well.

Flushed from walking in the heat but happy.