Todd mobbed by sheep in Dragash, Kosovo

What did I do to make these sheep so angry? I must have looked at the leader's wife too long!

Kim caught jimmy full-on on her with her sister-in-law, so the two very got divorced and she stopped speaking to her vision. Lansoprazole Fears of al-qaeda sword were issued by the hands.

I”m bring this post back to remind you, you only have until Monday 31 January to enter and vote!

There is, exclusively, often well sexual lineup taken in points of content. accutane results time Agencies, in which there is no accident, can undergo bmt, back if the needle is not depleted of its several mercedes.

Win a $50 or a $25 Itunes Gift Card for your funniest photo and laugh out loud captions

It’s time to start the New Year with a…LAUGH! I love a good laugh, I love laughing at myself, I love others laughing at me (OK well maybe not that one). I LOVE making other people laugh. Keeping all this in mind I have decided to host Todd’s Wanderings’ very first Photo Contest with real, actual prizes :) Yes, this is why we skipped the weekly travel contest this time around.

The contest will take place on my Facebook fanpage. It will have two parts, the submission of photos and a second round of captions. Yup, that means you have two chances to win!

Contest Details

  • Theme: Compromising Travel Photo. This is any photo that suggests a compromising position, throws it in our faces or in general makes us laugh.
  • Prizes- The winner of the funniest photo will win a $50 Itunes Gift Card

The winner of the funniest caption will win a $25 Itunes Gift Card

Please Note: you must have an actual e-mail address to win this. What, do you think I’m going to ship this from Kosovo?

The Rules…(yes sometimes even I follow rules)

Photo Contest

  • You are allowed one entry per person per week.
  • Photos MUST be in support of the theme: Compromising Travel Photo (i.e. it should be funny, or at least really really embarrassing…).
  • By the end of January the the Top 5 that get the most “LIKES” (from any place the picture is posted on my FB site, but no double counting!) will move to the next stage of the Competition.
  • Any inappropriate images will be removed (i.e nudity, hate images, poor taste, yup my discretion on this one)
  • You are responsible for the image rights, only use your own images and you must have the rights to show others (especially if they are doing something stupid!)

Caption Contest

  • The Top 5 photos will be open up for anyone to write a caption that makes us laugh even more.
  • Captions must be written in the comment section of the respective photo by midnight EST 15th February 2011.
  • You are allowed one caption per photo per week.

The winner of the photo contest will be choosen from the number of likes in the Finalist album (ending EST 15th February 2011). I will choose the funniest caption. What? Don’t you trust me!

How To Enter…

Photo

  • Visit my fanpage at: http://www.facebook.com/toddswanderings
  • Become a fan if you aren’t already.
  • Go to our wall and click on “Photo”, then “Upload a Photo”, then in the description area write “Compromising Photo Contest” and include a max 2-3 line snappy description. Make us laugh and you might move on!
  • Click “Share”

Caption

  • Visit my fanpage at: http://www.facebook.com/toddswanderings
  • Become a fan if you aren’t already.
  • Go to the 5 Finalists Compromising Photo Competition Album (when it is live of course)
  • Click a photo and write a comment
  • Click “Share” (psst it’s on the left side menu)

Each week I will organize the photos into an consolidated album and share them in a post for your viewing and laughing.

Thanks so much for participating and Good Luck. Oh, and take it easy on me. This is my first contest and we are supposed to Laugh!

If you like this contest please consider sharing it with others my e-mail, twitter, facebook, or by gasp…an actual conversation.

Should I pay a bribe

Are bribes necessary sometimes?

If you travel long enough eventually you face the dilemma of how and when, or even if to bribe. But before we get into the nitty gritty of corruption I want to state right off the bat that corruption, the giving and taking of bribes, is an insidious practice that destroys the very fabric of the rule of law in countries and the trust between citizens and those elected to positions of authority.

Now that I’ve sounded off on my public service announcement let’s have a discussion about the realities of travel in potentially unsafe areas, in countries where the rule of law is loosely followed, and situations where it is in your interest to hand over $20, not because it doesn’t do any harm (it does) but because that $20 could save your skin.

Shake Down by Local Cops

The year was 2008 and I was traveling through Indonesia with my best friend. We were on the Island of Lombok after spending the past 4 days on the Gili Islands, paradise on earth, and beyond the reach of local law enforcement. I was living in Timor Leste during a time a lawlessness and my perceptions on danger was skewed…enough said. We were flying down the Lombok coast in our rented Jimmny on our way to a hidden reef. Twenty kilometers over the speed limit and suddenly we were caught in a police trap. A motorcycle cop waved us over and with his cheap Tom Cruise aviator sunglasses, leaned in and said, “Drivers license and papers.”

I handed him my American drivers license. It was all I needed to show to the rental company. OK, “company,” might be going to far. It was all the random guy on the street asked for when I handed him my money.

“No, give me your International Drivers License.” Shit.

“I don’t have one. But the license you’re holding is international.” He didn’t look happy, he put the license in his pocket and told us to follow him. He sped off at double the speed I had originally been caught for. Five minutes later we reached a small converted bus stop where the chief of police was hanging out with 7 other officers. It was converted into the local shake down station. The cop explained the matter to his boss, stepped aside and the chief, with a big belly and even bigger aviator sunglasses waved us in.

The Negotiation

We sat, the chief sat, the other 8 cops stood close to use, surrounding us, compressing us. “You broke the law. You need an international drivers license to drive in Indonesia.” I tried to explain that I thought my license was OK as the rental company only asked for that. It didn’t work.

“We will need your passports and then you can see a judge after the weekend to pay your fine. ” We didn’t have 2 days to wait, as our flight was leaving soon. He had us. Shit.

We talked back and forth for a little while until we came to that point. The point of silence where someone was expected to say something. We both knew what that something was…the bribe. I had never offered a bribe before, but as a negotiation specialist I knew exactly what was happening. I was not going to offer him money, that could very quickly go down a very dark and dangerous path.

“So, is there any way to settle this without having to wait until Monday?” I put the burden on him.

Well, if you trust me I’m sure we could work it out for you. You could pay me the fine and I’ll appear in court for you. Twenty dollars.”

The truth is that I had no choice. I broke the law (maybe, I had no idea what Indonesian law said about this), and I had a time pressure to make my flight. He had us and there wasn’t anything I could do about it without more information.

The Deal

Everyone was tense. The cops all had big guns. I had a mask and snorkel. I was nervous. My buddy was nervous. “OK, that sounds fair. I trust you’ll pay for me. Thanks for the help.” Everyone relaxed. The cops, expecting a cut of the bribe broke out into smiles. Jokes flowed and slaps on the back echoed out of the shack. The only problem was we had no agreement, nothing to show for our bribe. We were on vacation and our plans for the day were ruined. I decided to take a chance.

“Just so I can be clear. How long will this 20 dollars last? I mean, we are headed down the coast and we might get stopped again.”

The chief leaned forward, I sweated. “I’m on duty until 6 pm, be back at your hotel and off the roads by then.” I smiled sweetly and handed over my $20. To our surprise the motorcycle cop jumped on his bike and led us down the road for the next 20 minutes, waving to other cops, smiling at his profit, until we reached another check point. Our situation was explained and we were given a pass for the rest of the day.

We swam, it was fun. We returned to our hotel and booked our boat off Lombok for the next morning cutting our trip short by one day. Corruption cost us $20 but it cost the economy of Lombok two tourists and a promise never to go back.

Shake Down by the Cops in Sri Lanka

I was driving back from the airport after dropping off my now wife. We were leaving Sri Lanka after 3 years and she was off first. I was around the corner from my home when a police officer, walking casually down the street, waved me over. He asked for my license and registration. I had a local license, yes, I do learn my lessons. But the registration was a different matter, it was expired. I had no idea it was expired as I was borrowing the car from a friend. She also had no idea.

“That’s a $100 spot fine.” The skinny cop said, his brown uniform wrinkled from a day’s work under the muggy tropical sun.

I smiled. “You mean you want me to pay you?” He nodded. “Sure, I replied, but I’ll need a receipt.” He paled and tried to recover.

“I can’t give you a receipt. I’ll have to confiscate your license and you’ll have to pay at the court. It will take weeks to sort out. ” I smiled. He frowned.

“OK, that’s fine. Give me the fine and take my license.” He straightened his back and frowned further, probably wondering what went wrong. He grumbled, handed me my license back and walked away without another word.

Unfortunately for him I worked in the legal sector and knew my rights. He was not a traffic cop, and couldn’t give out tickets. I knew it, he didn’t know I knew it. I had learned my lessons well. Don’t drive in a foreign country without knowing the laws.

Guides looking for bigger tips

I stood on the side of a cliff, a thousand feet in the air at one of Sri Lanka’s world heritage sites, Sigyria, admiring frescoes painted onto the rocks over a thousand years ago. The paintings are protected by ropes blocking access. It was an honor system as no guards where around. I looked to my left searching for my guest from Japan, it was his first trip to Sri Lanka and he wasn’t used to the loose rules.

I found him. He was with our guide BEHIND the ropes taking pictures with a flash despite a “do not enter” sign and an equally large “no photographs” image. I pulled him over and asked him to stop. In response he answered innocently that the guide had said it was OK if he gave him a $1 tip. He didn’t have the money I had to lend it to him. This pissed me off and I chastised the guide for taking advantage. The guide got upset, I got upset, and the guide lost any chance of getting a final tip.

I hate it when guides threaten the places that provide them with jobs just to earn a few more dollars. I equally hate tourists breaking the rules because they can. Yes, this includes me and my first cop story as well.

3 Rules to Not Paying Bribes

I have only paid a bribe that one time in 11 years of wandering. I can’t promise I won’t have to pay one in the future but I have learned these three rules to minimize the chances:

  1. Know the laws. The more information you have the better position you are in to resist the fear that can lead to a bribe.
  2. Never give a bribe to someone just to gain a free or exclusive benefit. You end up contributing to the ruin of that which you came to see in the first place.
  3. Don’t put yourself in a compromising situation to begin with. Follow the laws, avoid driving when you can, and put the burden of responsibility on locals who understand the situation better.

Have you ever given a bribe? When do you think its OK? Share your stories below?

Photo Credit

Ha Long Bay Vietnam

Death and Adventure in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

By the end of this story a number of people will be dead.

The compact dirty white van left the tourist choked streets of Hanoi, Vietnam’s French Quarter early in the morning. We were a group of 10 strangers bound together by our desire to see the turquoise beauty of Ha Long Bay, and its breathtaking limestone islands thrusting out of the waters. We were also cheap, backpackers looking to save money but desperate to spend 3 days living on a boat, cruising the pearl culturing backwaters of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage site, and exploring the natural caves dotting the area. Sixty eight dollars was a lot to us for two nights on the boat, three meals a day, and an English guide. Sixty eight dollars almost cost all of us our lives.

What you get for 68 Dollars

Seagulls screeched as the van jerked to a stop at the crowded fishing port near Halong City. The harbor was oddly full, tourists milling around watching the sea, the sky and the ever increasing number of groups ruining each others once in a lifetime trip. “Wait right here and I’ll see what’s happening.” Our guide jumped out of the van leaving us to sweat with the air conditioning turned off.

Twenty minutes later and he was back. He pulled open the sliding door with a forced smile. “I’m not sure if we’ll be able to leave today,” he confessed. Before he could get another word out the van erupted from the back as two French girls started yelling.

“What do you mean?” They never gave him a chance to answer. “We paid good money for this trip and I’m not getting screwed by you.” The other members of the group looked away embarrassed.

The guide blushed. Or was it the heat? “There is a hurricane moving up the coast and we are not sure if it will turn off into the ocean or make landfall here in Ha Long. Until we know we can’t risk getting out on the water.” That made perfect sense to me and the rest of the group. We got out to stretch our legs without complaint. The salt air scrubbed away some of the bitterness we felt at flying halfway around the world to be stopped at the water’s edge.

“We paid for this trip!” The blond French girl, dressed in dirty fisherman pants continued to yelled. “You will take us on our trip,” the other French girl demanded. The guide shrugged his shoulders helplessly. It wasn’t his call, his company was only hiring the boat and the captain said no.

The longer we waited the more frustrated the crowd became. The French girls led charge after charge whipping up the fervor of the other tourist groups, demanding to get on the ocean while the sun was still low. Our first destination was supposed to a massive cave used as a military hospital during the Vietnam war to protect the injured from constant air attacks by the US forces. The guides and the boat captains looked like they needed the shelter from the verbal bombs being thrown at them. Threats of being fired, losing their tips, curses and accusations of being cheated launched with laser accuracy.

The Journey Begins

Our guide returned from the front lines as the rest of us relaxed on the wooden dock. Movement in the other groups meant something was happening. Decisions had been made.

“The hurricane is moving out to sea so we can go.” The French girls grumbled that the delay was pointless. “But the captain doesn’t want to risk going to the main cave. We’ve decided to take a different route and see another, smaller cave. The area has better protection in case the storm reverses direction.”

“WHAT. Are you fuckn’ kiddn’ us. We paid for the Cave and we are going to the Cave.” The rest of us were fed up with the tantrums and agreed to vote on it. The French girls pouted and yelled when they lost. I’m from an island on the ocean and you don’t question the captain, even if he is a small Vietnamese fisherman. The French girls started to yell at him too when we reached our two story wooden cruising boat. He yelled back happily before slamming the the cabin’s door shut.

“He says the water from here to the hospital cave is too open.” It was clear he had also said something less polite about the French girls.

I wish I had not been so relaxed and shy back then. I might have questioned the sensibility of going to sea with a hurricane off shore. I was sure our guide was just mistranslating as no one would get near a boat if an actual hurricane was close enough to shore. Right? Plus, I had paid 68 dollars.

Ten boats set out from the harbor. Seven towards the main cave and two others joined us for the ride to the smaller, less spectacular cave. The sky was overcast but nothing to hint a hurricane was a just off shore. The waters were a bit choppy but I’d been in worse.

Stunning limestone cliffs burst out of deep green as we sailed through narrow channels. Standing on the top deck I never felt so alive, so enchanted by the stunning force of nature that at once eroded the surrounding bluffs and fed the greedy green ocean more limestone to maintain its jade coloring. The wind whipped through my hair as I posed for a photo, a majestic grouping of islands and cliffs behind me. The sudden shock on my friend’s face told me something was wrong seconds before a warning bell sounded throughout the ship. I spun around and and saw in horror as a massive wall of mist, rain, wind and power come pounding through a narrow gap between island and straight for us. The hurricane had shifted and it was upon us without any notice.

Battle to Save the Boat and our Lives

The shrieking of the French girls were drowned by the high winds as the boat erupted in organized chaos. The crew couldn’t speak English and yet we all knew what to do. The main cabin was made of glass windows and doors. We had less than a minute to lock everything down before the storm hit and we all pitched in, fastening locks, shutting doors. We battened down the hatches. After closing the front main glass door my friend Rob and I stared wide eyed as a side door began banging around as the waves picked up height and uncertainty. We ran together, the storm chasing us.

We reach the door together….BAM, the storm hit, knocking the boat steeply to the side. The world slowed down and we watched in horror, slow motion horror as the the door swung violently closed shattering the glass directly onto us as we desperately turned our heads and shielded our eyes. We were both only wearing bathing suits and a thousand glass daggers tore through our skin and spread like a minefield around our feet. Grabbing each other and the now glassless door for support we tried in vain to stay still as the storm pounded the boat rocking it from side to side. Torrents of rain streamed through the gap preventing us from getting a firm hold as our bare feet slipped across thousands of tiny shards of glass.

Blood steamed down our bodies. We gritted our teeth and bore it, riding the waves, pitches, and glass for the next twenty minutes. The storm ended as quickly as it started as an eerie calm fell across the jade waters. Rob and I were alive. The whole crew was alive. The captain kept us from hitting the surrounding cliffs, the hull wasn’t pierced. We were alive. We turned to see how everyone else was doing and stared into 8 faces of shock and pain. Rob and I didn’t understand until we started walking towards them and pain exploded across our bodies all at once.

A Dinner Celebration and a Time for Mourning

Rob had taken the worst of the glass spray and had a 6 inch piece of glass embedded in his left foot. We both had hundreds of cuts all over our bodies and our feet were so sliced that we couldn’t walk without falling in pain. The others, no longer tourists, but friends, survivors rushed to help us. It took over an hour for our friends to pick the glass out of our skin, and then disinfect our wounds. But we had survived. The specter of death didn’t do anything to mellow the French girls’ moods and we suffered through a tirade longer than the the storm and more painful.

“Haven’t you ever cleaned a wound?” one girl chastised the guide. “We are NOT giving you a tip” the other girl assured.

Rob and I groaned and that sent them into another tirade of insults, threats and irrelevant chatter. “Shut up and be glad your alive,” Rob said softly. Maybe it was the glass dagger being taken out of his foot or the shard being removed a hair’s breath from my eye that convinced them to remain quiet.

Bandaged, dressed in clean clothes a few hours later we relived the story under the shining stars, thanking the beautiful breeze that caressed our skin. Sixty eight dollars didn’t buy a fancy dinner but the rice and vegetables tasted like heaven, along with the beer that had survived the day too. Suddenly, a second boat pulled up to ours and a large bellied man jumped on board carrying a large bucket. He paid us no attention and walked straight to the steering room. He was the owner of the boat. He used to be the owner of a boating company. The bucket was full of crabs for the crew that had saved his last boat. He didn’t even look at us.

Our guide rushed to the celebration. He came back slowly, deep in thought. “The boats what went to the Cave didn’t make it. The storm caught them in open waters and capsized all of the all of the boats. Everyone is dead. The owner is here to thank the captain for saving his last boat.” The owner never looked at us as he left.

Aftermath

Almost 70 people died* that day and we only survived because we were on the right boat, 3 of 10 that decided to go the other direction. We drank our beer in silence and paid our respects. A few days later when we returned to the mainland we all rushed to the internet to tell our parents and loved ones we had survived. They all asked why we wouldn’t be! The outside world never learned of the deaths, or the news wires never picked up the stories.

Two months later Rob was playing softball and a ligament in his foot snapped. It turns out the glass dagger cut the ligament so that only a thread remained. I still have a few scars as well, but we made it out alive. This was the first time I almost died and I have respected the winds of fate and happenstance ever since. Live your life to its fullest, don’t complain about hard working folks doing their best to survive, treat each other with kindness, be happy. You never know when you will be among the seven other boats.

*Post script. While researching the details for this story I found an obscure BBC news report that quotes government sources saying 3 tourists (1 Thai and 2 Indians) died along with 2 crew members during the storm. My death estimates come from witnesses and other tourists from nearby boats who gave estimates from 20-100 dead. It is still unclear how many people actually died.

Photo Credit

Leap to Freedom

Do you think she's jumping towards beauty or away from it?

Update:

The winner is Arti…who guessed Cinque Terre, on the Italian Riviera, but she never told us if she jumped too!

Thanks again to Jade and the rest of the Vagabond 3 crew.  Here’s what she had to say:

We took this photo on one of the last days of our RTW trip. We were in Cinque Terre, overlooking all these people jumping off the nearby rocks. This moment summed up our entire experience- living in the moment, being free and jumping into life with our eyes wide open. Besides being a gorgeous and relaxing weekend away from London, Cinque Terre will always hold a very special place in my mind for showing me the freedom of loving what you do and sharing that with the people you love.

Arti gets the prize this week. So wander on over to My Yatra Diary and check out some of her travels.

Welcome to Travel Photo Contest Friday, wow that’s a mouthful! If you’re new or never bothered to actually read what I write, each week I post a beautiful picture (at least I think so) from my travels (and sometimes from a featured guest…see below for details on how guest post) and you guess where it is. Actually, there has been such a swell of interest that for the time being the photos are from other travel bloggers and their adventures.

This week’s photo comes from Jade, Bob and Rob and their travel blog Vagabond 3, 3 people 1 large world and a run to see it all.

The first person to guess where this picture was taken (Country and Place!) will win a link back to their blog with the anchor text of their choice in this post (keep it clean and relevant).

Leave your guess and recent post in the comment section below (comment luv should take care of the second part). Last week Katrina won by not guessing Florence, Italy. This week we keeping it hard with few hints. But I guess I’ll give you one large hint, it is NOT in the Americas.

Yes, the prizes heavily favor the blogging and travel geeks amongst us. If you don’t have a website, then leave your favorite website or better yet a charity that deserves attention. Good luck!

Guesses aside, all comments are welcome!

Be a Guest Photographer

If you’re looking to help increase the visibility of your blog, drive more traffic, or just share your pretty pictures then why not be a guest photographer for Photo Contest Friday on Todd’s Wanderings! This is no longer as new feature as we have had 5 weeks of guest posters and have the next 3 weeks filled already!

If you’re interested in having your photograph featured then send me an e-mail through my Todd’s Wanderings Contact Page with the Subject line: Photo Contest Friday. Don’t forget to tell me which site your coming from and I’ll be in touch and explain how to send the photo. Keep in mind that your photo should be awesome!

The photograph should be your own and should have a few small clues in the photo to help the reader out if they’ve never been there (no, I don’t follow this last rule myself all the time…but it’s my website). I’ll link to your page and talk you up as the guest poster. I can be very flattering when I want to be.

Oh, and it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. You should be an independent travel blogger. I love helping the little guy…or gal.

Sponsor: If you are thinking of taking the leap and hitting the road consider leaving your stuff in storage London. They have clean and tidy lock ups available for the traveler who doesn’t know when they will be back.

This post is by Kay, who writes the K’s Kitchen section of Todd’s Wanderings. She also happens to be Todd’s lovely wife!

Japanese Yakibuta

Tender and delicious! This is my favorite of the New Years dishes. Of course it is used in ramen as well.

Todd and I spent our New Years in Japan stuffing ourselves with my Mom’s cooking. New Years in Japan is a very busy time, especially in the kitchen as we have to get ready for our New Years meal. This year my Mom welcomed the help and I rolled up my sleeves, put on the apron and got to cook with her after being away for New Years for 3 years.

Osechi-Ryouri is a traditional Japanese food that Japanese eat for New Year’s. It is said that the tradition started during the Heian Period (794-1185) but originally came from China. Osechi-Ryouri is comprised of different dishes, such as:

Nishime-cooked vegetables such as carrots, bamboo shoot, konjac, Japanese taro potatoes, and lotus root

Datemaki-process product made of white fish meat, shrimps, and eggs

Kurikinton-a sweet dish made of sweet potatoes and chest nut),

Osechi Ryori Japanese New Years Food

So many different dishes! The Pork is in the top left corner.

Kouhaku Namasu-marinated thinly sliced carrots and Daikon radish – carrot represents ‘Kou’ meaning red and radish represents ‘haku’ meaning white. The combination of red and white shows happiness), ‘Yakimono’ (roasted seafood such as Japanese amberjack, sea bream, and shrimps

Kouhaku Kamaboko-red and white fish broiled paste

Kazunoko-herring roe

Kuromame-cooked black soy beans with sweet taste), and more

Each dish has meaning which you can find out more here.

Typically, you spend 2-3 days to cook all these dishes at the end of December. You then eat Osechi for 3 days from Jan 1 to 3, as we are not supposed to cook for the first 3 days, although recently many families only follow this tradition for a day or two. Besides Osechi, ‘Zouni’ and ‘Toso’ are accompanied, which I will not get into details this time (see the link above for full descriptions).

Japanese Yakibuta (cooked pork loin- in Chinese they call it Char Siu)

My mother cooks Osechi-Ryori every year and put them in Jyuu-Bako (2-5 layered boxes to put food in for special occasion). The boxes are typically made of wood or lacquer-ware but recently plastic is also popular. Although it seems that Jyuu-bako can be traced back in Muromachi era (1338-1573), it is during Edo era (1610) that Jyuu-bako became popular.

Jubako Japanese Food Box

The food is served in the boxes on the right which come apart. Middle pot is filled with sweet sake.

In my family, one of the usual dishes that we include in Osechi-Ryouri besides the above mentioned dishes is ‘Japanese Yakibuta’, a cooked pork with a special sauce. As most dishes mentioned above make better sense together and some of them are very time consuming, or prepared products (such as Datemaki and Kamaboko), I have selected this popular dish ‘Japanese Yakibuta’ which is tasty by itself. The recipe is originally from my grandmother which my mother adjusted over years.

Ingredients

Pork loin: 500g

Marinade

Sake: 1 Tablespoon

Oyster sauce: 1 Tablespoon

Sugar: 50g

Regular Soy sauce: 110 cc (originally 65 cc of this 110 cc would be Chinese soy sauce. Feel free to use this is you know the difference :)

Leaks: one stick chopped

Ginger: some slices

Cinnamon stick: 1 stick

Japanese pepper (Sanshou): 7-10 grains

Star Anise (Hakkaku): 2-3 pieces

How to cook (cooking/preparation time: 30-40 min)

1.    Wind the string around the pork loin to help it keep its shape and poke it with the stick all around

2.    Put all the spices in the bowl and soak the pork in it for 3-4 hours. Turn the pork around from time to time.

3.    Pour 1 Tablespoon of oil into a frying pan and sauté the pork with a big flame to brown the outside.

4.    Move the pork and the spices and the sauce into a thick bottom pot, add water until the meat is covered to the top, and cook until it is boiled. Remove the forms on the top.

5.    Turn down the flame to a mid range and cook for 30-40 min until the sauce gets thick.

Once the meat cools down, cut the pork into 5 mm thick slices and serve with some vegetables as well as with the sauce. In my family, we like to serve the meat with a potato salad.

How does it look? Let us know how it turns out or feel free to ask questions.

Photo Credit Yakibuta

Just after WWII the Japanese economy was in shambles and there were few Japanese products floating around. The area outside of Ueno Station in Tokyo quickly became famous for its ameya, candy, that represented the American black market products that could be bought there.

Today the street known as Ameya Yokocho, or Ameyokocho for short (not that much shorter actually), is still a crowded and bustling market area. Besides the normal clothing, bags and electronics shops dotting the area there are still traditional market stalls selling assorted Japanese foods from octopus to dried seaweed.

The whole area of Ueno is considered part of the Shitamachi (lower section of Tokyo) and was populated and frequented by the working class. While that distinction has faded with time, the liveliness of the area hasn’t and especially during the New Years Ameyokocho is packed with bargain hunters getting shopping for ingredients for the traditional New Years meal, osechi ryori.

If You Go

The area is busy and great for shopping anytime of the year. However, if you want to taste a truly unique Japanese experience visit on the 30th or 31st of December as the preparation for New Years gets underway. If you don’t like crowds this is not for you.

Arrive at Ueno Station and exit by the Shinobazu Exit on the south side of the station, cross the busy street and you’ll find Ameyoko on the right of the train tracks. Shops open and close according to their own schedules but in general are open between 10:00 and 19:00.

I’d love to know what you think of the video! And if you liked it please consider sharing it or liking it on YouTube.

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