5 best floating markets around Asia

When traveling, it’s always fun to head over to the local open-air markets and gain some insight into the culture and their products. To make the browsing experience even better, some markets forgo street stands and set up shop right in the water. To see this for yourself, checkout this list of the five best floating markets around Asia.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Ratchaburi, Thailand

While there are myriad floating markets in Thailand, one in particular stands out for the rest. The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is located about 60 miles southwest of Bangkok and is best experienced early in the morning before the crowds arrive and the heat gets unbearable. The market is very colorful and lively as merchants paddle down the canal in their canoes selling fresh fruit and vegetables which are usually grown directly by the seller. The market also has some history behind it, as Damnoenssaduak was the name of the canal made by military soldiers and local people during King Rama IV’s reign. Back then there weren’t rivers and canals, making transportation quite limited. This was a concern for the king in terms of the country’s economic growth, and the result is the canal that is now home to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.Cai Rang Floating Market
Can Thao City, Vietnam

Located about 3 miles from Can Tho City is the largest floating market in the Mekong Delta. Hundreds of boats gather to sell food, plants, fruits, and vegetables, hanging their goods on a tall pole so that potential buyers can easily see what is being sold. If you don’t want to drive the short distance from Can Tho City and instead want a more relaxing, scenic experience, opt to do the 12 mile boat loop. Just make sure to leave early, as the market begins at 5AM and closes before noon. Bonus: Seeing the sunrise over the Mekong Delta, the sky glowing orange as life on the river begins for the day, is a can’t-miss experience.

Banjarmasin Floating Market
Banjarmasin, Indonesia

The Banjarmasin Floating Market is located on the Barito River and takes place from 5AM to 9AM each morning. It is very traditional, and a way for locals to trade goods such as handicrafts, seafood, spices, fruits, and vegetables from boat to boat. To get there, the journey will take about 20 minutes by waterway.

Aberdeen Floating Village
Aberdeen, Hong Kong

The Aberdeen Floating Village is more than just a market (as you can probably tell by its title). On the Aberdeen Harbour reside about 600 junk boats that house approximately 6,000 people. These boat locals are mainly Tanka people who arrived in Hong Kong around the 7th-9th centuries and hold a long history of marine and fishing culture and tradition. To sample fresh seafood, you can visit one of the many boat restaurants, the biggest being The Jumbo Floating Restaurant which is a major tourist attraction that serves high-quality Cantonese-style seafood.

Srinagar Floating Market
Jammu and Kashmir, India

Every morning from 5AM to 7AM the Srinagar Floating Market takes place on Dal Lake as vendors go to buy, sell, and trade vegetables. Most of the produce has been picked only hours beforehand, so you know what you are getting is fresh. In fact, about 1,250 acres of land surround the lake and are used for cultivating veggies. A visit to this market will not only guarantee a cultural experience, but also beautiful scenery as the lake is lush with lotus flowers.

10 unusual foods from around the world

Who doesn’t love trying new and exotic foods when traveling? Maybe some spicy curries in India, a selection of savory tapas in Spain, or some authentic…Pig’s Blood Cake? Check out this list of 10 unusual foods from around the world and see if your perspective on trying international cuisine doesn’t change.

Fried Tarantulas, Cambodia

According to Victoria Brewood at Bootsnall, you can find this delicacy in the streets of Sukon, Cambodia, fried whole with their legs, fangs, and all. Apparently, they taste great pan-fried with a pinch of garlic and salt and have a crispy outside and a gooey inside.

Pig’s Blood Cake, Taiwan

This unique dish is prepared with sticky rice and hot pig’s blood. When the mixture becomes solid it is coated with peanut powder and cilantro then formed into a flat cake and sliced. This meal is usually dipped in various sauces such as chili sauce, hot sauce, or soy sauce.Haggis, Scotland

This Scottish dish contains the internal organs of a sheep, including the liver, heart, and lungs. Mix this with some chopped onions, raw beef or mutton’s fat, salt, and spices. Once this is ready, you stuff it into a sheep intestine as sausage and simmer inside the animal’s stomach. Dinner will be ready in 3 hours!

Drunken Shrimp, China

When hearing the name of this dish, I had kind of hoped it was a cute play on words of some kind. In reality, the name should be taken very literally, as these are shrimp that are actually stunned with strong liquor and then consumed alive. Not shockingly, there have been some problems with this meal of uncooked seafood as there is the health risk of Paragonimiasis, a food-borne parasitic infection.

Live Octopus, Korea

I can’t help but think of Fear Factor as I write this entry. Sannakji, as it is known, is an octopus that is prepared and cut while still alive. It is served while still squirming, and should be chewed well as the suction of the tentacles can stick to the inside of your mouth and throat.

Silkworms, China

This insect is cultivated and bred in factories and sold in local markets for cooking. While you can prepare them anyway you like, popular silkworm dishes include Crispy Silkworms and Silkworm Kebabs.

Bear Claw Stew, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan

Soup made from the claws of bears is a delicacy in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and is literally sold for hundreds of dollars. The bear meat in the stew is actually believed to be a health and sexual-performance booster. According to nerdygaga.com as well as factsanddetails.com, environmentalists are protesting the practice of making bear claw stew, as bears are being tortured in front of diners before being cooked, as it is said to make the meat taste better.

Casu Marzu, Italy

This decomposing cheese made from sheep’s milk is, according to Alka Sharma of Environmental Graffiti, full of squirming white worms. Casu Marzu is made when the cheese fly lays its eggs, which is usually about 500 at one time, and the maggots that hatch eat their way through the cheese. Because the digestive system of the maggots breaks down the fat of the cheese, it gives it a very soft texture. The key to eating this unusual food is that it must be eaten while the maggots are still alive and wriggling, unless you want a bowl full of dead maggots (this, apparently, is considered unfit for consumption).

Ying Yang Fish, China

This fish is unlike most seafood delicacies, as it is half dead, half alive. While the top half of the fish is uncooked and moving, the bottom half is deep fried and covered in sweet and sour sauce.

Corn Fungus, Latin America

Also known as Corn Smut, this food, which looks very similar to grey brain matter, is a “pathogenic plant fungus that causes plant disease on maize (corn)” and is often used as filling for quesadillas. According to Martha Mendoza on MSNBC.com, Corn Smut is actually good for you, as it contains protein, minerals, and other nutritional values.

How to: Climb the highest mountain in Hong Kong while on a layover

Let’s face it. Nobody really loves sitting around airports on a long layover. Well, maybe there’s someone out there who does, but unless you’re a fan of long lines, excessively repetitive loudspeaker announcements, attempting to sleep curled around the inconveniently placed armrests, and being forced to buy overpriced everything, you probably aren’t one of those people. I suppose there are those who while on layovers enjoy the luxuries of business lounges and receive complimentary foot massages and free beer, although I would have no idea what that’s like because I have never been a member of such an elite club. Hence my notion that they dole out free foot massages.

So when I get am presented with a layover that allows enough time to get out into the surrounding region and explore, I literally jump at the opportunity. As one of the primary hubs for travel into and out of the Asian continent, throngs of casual and business travelers constantly pass through the Hong Kong airport en route to someplace else. If you, like me, are in no mood to sit and wait idly around, why not go and do something a little different next time, such as climbing one of the highest mountains in Hong Kong. While we here at Gadling recently presented you with a list of Top 10 Hong Kong experiences you could also choose from while on a layover, this particular adventure centers solely around hiking up Victoria Peak. As an added oomph to get out and explore, nearly all nationalities require no visa to visit Hong Kong, and visitors who arrive and depart on the same day are relieved of having to fork out the usual departure tax, so really, there’s no excuse for not getting out and doing something.One of the major tourist attractions in the region, “The Peak” as it is known stands 1821 feet tall and is actually only the highest mountain on Hong Kong island, not the entire country. Nonetheless, the view from the top looking out over Victoria Harbor and the sprawling Hong Kong skyline is well worth the trek.

The first step to climbing the mountain is of course to get yourself out of the airport. While there are options ranging from taxis to the popular Star Ferry, I feel that the Airport Express train is the most convenient option for reaching Hong Kong island, where it deposits you neatly at the sprawling Central Station.

After a 24 minute journey and a $23 round trip purchase, you suddenly find yourself transported from the marble floors of the international airport to the buzzing streets of the Hong Kong financial district. Though it’s easy to amble only down the main streets of the city, the beating heart of Hong Kong isn’t found in the Prada or H&M stores, but rather down the narrow side streets that swim under red lanterns and house restaurants that consist of a single plastic chair and one gas stove.

Though there are trams, minibuses, and taxis that all make their way to the famous view at the summit, those with the time would do well to stroll the market-strewn alleyways and hopelessly distracting sidestreets on a winding journey towards the top. Though there are few signs that lead the way, the ubiquitous stairs and steep hills point the only direction that a summit-seeker would logically head for: Up.

Once the makeshift butcher shops have given way to apartment complexes being renovated with bamboo scaffolding, the apartments eventually give way themselves to a concrete hiking trail and the forgotten sounds of the forest. It’s a 30 minute walk beneath a corridor of green ferns and vines you certainly won’t find in the airport, and for a brief moment in time it’s easy to forget you’re standing in one of the most heavily populated areas on the planet.

Finally, after a solid push up the steep urban trail, it would be nice to think the summit was a windswept rock cairn draped in Tibetan prayer flags only experienced by hearty explorers with with ice-covered beards. Although China may share a border with Mt. Everest, this is nonetheless still Hong Kong, and the only fitting thing to put atop the mountain would be a multi-tiered shopping mall with escalators and, just like the airport, overpriced everything.

For a $4 fee you can ascend to the viewing platform for the ultimate view of the city center, the airport where you would normally be spending your time an afterthought lingering somewhere hidden on the western horizon. Having conquered the commercially covered summit, all that’s left to do is either reverse your steps down the trail or catch the tram ($7) or a local bus ($1.25) back to the Central station

Total time away from the airport for climbing Victoria Peak: 3.5 hours. Now go sleep it off on the plane.

One man dances in beautiful and remote locations all over the world

When I first watched this video, “Dance Like Nobody is Watching”, my first instinct was to try to see how many of the places in the montage I recognized. The next time I watched, I became entranced by the talent of Ki’une as he danced and recorded himself in different locations around the world. By my third time watching, my travel itch was feeling like it definitely needed a good scratching.

When I asked what some of the destinations were that he traveled to in order to create this piece, Ki’une responded that he could name about half the regions off the top of his head. Not surprising, since the video encompasses a vast array of locations. Some of these include National Parks such as “Yosemite, Yellowstone, Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Olympic, Cascades, Banff, Badlands and Jasper.” Other regions you may recognize are “Squamish, Vancouver, Toronto, Capilano, Kyoto, Osaka, Quebec City, Hong Kong, provincial parks in Ontario, Oregon Coast, all around California, all around U.S. Midwest, and Kentucky.”

While I can not say for sure what you will feel when watching this video, it would be hard not to feel something. Lissa Rankin, MD, a motivational speaker and founder of Pink Medicine Revolutionary posted on Care2, a healthy living website, “I cried when I watched this video, not just because it was so beautiful, but because it’s such a potent visual reminder of how I define a healthy life. This guy is putting it all out there. He’s living a dream. Taking a risk. Dancing his heart out.”

What will your reaction be?

Video of the Day – Hong Kong Honey

Having spent six months in Hong Kong in 2009, I thought I knew the city fairly well at the end of my stay. I could navigate the night markets, had committed the sleek metro system to memory and even attended a few local weddings. But there was one facet of the city that I was completely oblivious to; Hong Kong’s beekeepers.

Hidden among the thousands of rooftops that comprise Hong Kong’s iconic cityscape, there are nearly a dozen beehives that are being cared for by a community of beekeepers, artists & designers. Their aim is to harvest the honey for use in local cafés and design products that relate to the growing trend of urban beekeeping.

This vivid portrait, produced by Sean Mattison, features a short interview with Designer / Beekeeper Michael Leung & sheds a little light on a practice that, at first, seems out of place.

Have you encountered a surprising community or practice on your travels? Share it with us! Leave your video suggestions in the comments below or submit photos to our Flickr Group. There’s a good chance we’ll choose your picks for our next Photo / Video of the Day!