April 27, 2014

Kachidoki Farmers Market

Marché of the Sun, otherwise known as the Kachidoki Farmers Market. It began only September of last year, and sells fresh produce and natural products from farmers all over Japan. 

The market is held one weekend a month in the newly-developing Kachidoki area of Tokyo. It is either sponsored or "supported" by Mitsui Fudosan Residential, a real estate giant that most likely wants to entice visitors to move to the area. 

The "marché" in the official name gives you an idea of how it wants to be perceived -- upscale and for a younger generation. Another indication is the impeccable official homepage. Its design and features are magazine-perfect. They even have a series that introduces participating farmers and their farming methods. 

Truth be told, Kachidoki is a lovely, very livable area. The historical Sumida River, which cuts through a large swath of Tokyo, is right nearby. And while Kachidoki itself screams "new area", immediately neighboring it is Tsukishima, which has a more traditional vibe.

To wit: to get to the market area from Kachidoki Station, you have the option of two bridges: a foot bridge or an automated escalator (to the left).

Contrary to what you would expect from a farmers market, though, the produce is far from cheap. A single strawberry cost 100 yen (1 USD)! This is definitely a market for those who can afford to be conscientious.
On the other hand, you get to see a lot of vegetables that you would never find in a supermarket, so simply going from stall to stall and browsing is a joy. For example, I'd never seen naganegi (Japanese bunching onion) so close to flowering before!

 A sesame stand that shows how sesame oil is distilled.

 Artisanal coffee.

 Yam babies, as tiny as a pinball.

This looks like goldfish but is actually chrysanthemum jam. 

 A stand selling shaved dried bonito, which you can use as a base for miso soup.

A handful of food trucks were out as well.

 Sour cream cheesecake.

One of the many nearby rivers that feed into Sumida River. 

 Jellyfish are a common sight.

The next market will be on May 10th and 11th!

April 13, 2014

The Borann L'Auberge Des Temples Hotel

The Borann L'Auberge Des Temples Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Located only about 10 minutes' walk from other major hotels, this nicely spare hotel is popular among European travelers.

Breakfast is included. The pineapple juice has a strong, pulpy texture, as if the outer core has been blended as well.

Jams, butter, and salt and pepper.

Poolside tables.

The anti-mosquito spray was slightly unsettling to watch -- and smell, as it seeped inside our rooms.

Found a small frog in the courtyard.

The bathroom, which has a sink in one corner and a toilet to the left. It took me a day to figure out how to make hot water come out, but I quite appreciated how spacious the room was. The body soap and shampoo are locally produced, and very good.

The big vase was filled with water to pour over your head when you shower. I don't know if this gecko was startled and fell in, but it rather valiantly swam with its head above water for a good five minutes before I fished it out. Every now and then, it would try and scramble out, giving the surreal impression that it could walk on water.

Creatures on the Island

The great thing about Apulit Island was that it was a more than comfortable resort, but also has retained a lot of its natural ecosystem. Therefore, we were able to see so many plants, animals, and fish that we'd never seen before in our lives. (As comfortable as Tokyo is, it certainly does not have enough nature.)

The first time I saw a monitor lizard, I had to laugh, because it was almost terrifyingly large. After that initial encounter, I saw them all over the place, but it was impossible to be frightened because they are so noisy. There's never a chance of being caught off guard.

Paw prints in cement.

Fly? Moth?

The geometric print would make a great skirt.

These birds seem to make their nests under the cottages and on the thatched roofs. Luckily these roofs were new, due to the recent hurricane.

A sandpiper.

A kingfisher, which we were lucky enough to see on our very last morning. I caught flashes of electric blue and orange as it flew above us.

Flower-spotting on Apulit Island

The nature guide showed us how to suck the nectar out of the stems of this flower.

The flowers also showed up at a dinner on the beach one night.

Everything was transported onto the sand for a night.

A hardy plant perfectly able to survive in sand. I think this flower is also commonly found in Japan.

A lily in a tree.

I can't remember the name of this flower, but the name "half" is in there, a reference to its shape.

The Trees of Apulit Island

The most magnificent tree at the foot of the beach.

A parasite plant had covered the original tree completely.

Something that I found hard to believe: this tall tree is part of the orchid family!

The proof is in the little flowers that have scattered all over the ground.

A close-up of the overlapping leaves.

A member of the staff had climbed up a coconut tree to cut down a bushel.

Fresh coconut juice for dinner!

A nut tree with pretty casing.