A Call to Southeast Asian Arms

Before you go any further: this isn’t Barça related. But it is me related and that’s almost (but not quite) as interesting. Here’s the deal: this August I’m gettin’ all hitched and whatnot and our honeymoon is going to be in Southeast Asia in late August, early September. We fly into Bangkok, Thailand and out of Hanoi, Vietnam and in between, well, that’s where you come in.

We’re looking for ideas, for places to go, for things to see, eat, drink, and enjoy. If you have either traveled in the region or actually are from or currently live in the region, please email me at isaiah[at]barcelonafootballblog[dot]com. Whatever insight you can provide would be fantastic and highly appreciated. And, in case you were wondering, the more countries we can include, the better, though we’re probably “limiting” ourselves to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam for geographic and calendar reasons.

Northern Thailand. Photo from DJ-Ingen Photography, which is really, really worth your time. I’m already blown away by the beauty of it all.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.

85 Comments

  1. blitzen
    April 8, 2011

    Well, if you are in Hanoi anyway, you should definitely go to Bia Hoi corner for the cheapest and freshest beer in the world. Not the most delicious, mind you, but the experience of sitting on a plastic chair on the street watching the world go by is not one you want to miss.

    • Miguel
      April 8, 2011

      Cool! Show me the world, blitzen. 😀

      • blitzen
        April 8, 2011

        You can always trust me to find the cheapest places to drink, Migs. 😀

  2. footballfan
    April 8, 2011

    Any chance you are coming to Singapore as well? Not really that much to see, a typical ‘big’ city and it’s kinda expensive as well (relative to Thailand or Vietnam for example). If you do come to Singapore I think I might be able to suggest some places of interest.

    • April 8, 2011

      We very well might. It’s on our list of place to see before Madrid wins another La Liga title (we have decades to do it!)…so suggest away. We might end up there on a layover.

  3. Goo
    April 8, 2011

    I’d add Indonesia and the Philippines if you love beaches.

    • yelèna
      April 8, 2011

      I agree! I was there last winter, awesome places!

  4. April 8, 2011

    I just updated the post to reflect the timing: late August, early September, which could change some suggestions.

    • beeeef
      April 8, 2011

      I saw this video via @barcastuff too.

      Is that really Messi? It sure does look like him, but why is he wearing his training outfit? lol

      • blitzen
        April 8, 2011

        That is the most hilarious fake I’ve ever seen. Leo just hangs out at home in his training shirt, obviously. 😛

  5. K_legit
    April 8, 2011

    Singapore..oh how i love that place..its disneyland with a death penalty..if you’re gonna do a south east asia tour then eating the street food is a must..especially in vietnam..

  6. Eklavya
    April 8, 2011

    Too bad you’re not coming to India, I’m sure there are many people who could help you there. I haven’t been to the countries you mentioned, so can’t say anything. But, I hope you enjoy and have a good time! 🙂

    @Blitzen: That translation wasn’t me, it was Abidal himself who did it and posted it on FB (probably used Google Translation lol), in case you were wondering.

    @Kari: I seem to have missed something, have you joined Twitter??

  7. Eklavya
    April 8, 2011

    And since I know you’re reading comments, might I ask what’s on your avatar, Isaiah?

  8. beeeef
    April 8, 2011

    If you’re going to Cambodia, I assume you’ll visit Angkor Wat? If not, definitely consider checking out the temple complexes there. Stunning.

    I haven’t been to Vietnam for years, but I remember the trip very fondly. And if you’re an American history buff, there’s tons of sights to see. Check out the impressive maze of underground tunnels the VC constructed during the war, and eat plenty of Pho.

    Bangkok is a great city with sites to see and good food to eat. Otherwise, if you’re in Thailand you have to go to the beaches. Supposedly very nice.

    Never been to Laos myself. Tried to go last year, but ended up in peninsular Malaysia instead. Can’t say it was a bad turn of events, as we really enjoyed our (brief) time in the country. I know you haven’t included Malaysia in your list, but if you’re a food nut, you guys should definitely consider a trip to KL or Singapore (or both). The cuisine reflects the multicultural aspects of the country, so you get North/South Indian, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, Malay, and other influences in the food. Mouth-watering

  9. footballfan
    April 8, 2011

    Another thing: prepare lots of medicine. Most street foods aren’t exactly clean so you may experience some bad stomachache. Just be prepared 🙂

  10. April 8, 2011

    First of all – congratulations, Isaiah!

    It’s not in your itinerary, but I will be remiss if I don’t tell you to go to the Philippines for its beaches. We have the finest white sand beach in the world (Boracay) with all the water activities you can think of as well as varied cuisines. If you want a more laid back beach and commune with nature, you must go to El Nido. I will email you photos so you can see.

    I suggest you go to Siem Riep if you’re going to Cambodia as the temples (Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Angkor Thom) are incomparable. Bangkok has great streetfood and wonderful world class restaurants. Noodles at Soi 38 (street vendors), tea at the Oriental, drinks at Sirocco. That’s a rooftop bar with a view of Bangkok with great cocktails and very romantic. You can also fly to Chiang Mai and ride elephants, oxcarts, rafts in a jungle and visit night market, etc. We stayed in a really cheap but nice guesthouse. Food and everything else is reasonably priced everywhere.

    Have only been to an island in Laos so can’t say much about it but I’m sure it’s a great cultural experience to go to Vientiane and other places there.

    • 505
      April 8, 2011

      yes, the beaches of the philippines are paradise on earth!! the sand on boracay island is a very fine talc, and the water is clear for miles. watersports for the adventurous during the day, great nightlife for partying at night. in palawan island there is also dos palmas resort aside from el nido — both cozy and tucked away from city life.
      as far as prices go, everything in the philippines is midway-to-cheap, compared to other places in southeast asia — not as expensive as singapore or indonesia, but also not cheaper than vietnam or thailand

      • April 8, 2011

        505! You’ve been there too – awesome! Please persuade Isaiah to go. Ha ha. Don’t you think it will make his honeymoon more unforgettable?

        • yelèna
          April 9, 2011

          i think so too barcaleya! Isaiah should definitely go..especially to the more remote parts of the island in Boracay.

          They have the cheapest domestic airfares too!

  11. Jose
    April 8, 2011

    Congrats, Isaiah!! I’ve never been to those countries (nearest I’ve been is Hong Kong), so I can’t offer any advice 😛

  12. blitzen
    April 8, 2011

    Barcelona B line-up (official): Masip – Montoya Bartra Muniesa Abraham – Carmona DosSantos SergiRoberto – EduOriol Soriano Nolito

    Does that mean both Mino and Oier will be called up for the first team tomorrow?

  13. Miguel
    April 8, 2011

    Nolito almost scores off a corner. Grazed the post. Good movement & pressure up top thus far from the little guys.

  14. Miguel
    April 8, 2011

    Wow! JDS takes a corner then falls back and luckily gets the ball deflected back to him. He spanks a beautiful cross over to Nolito who then heads it towards an oncoming Bartra who nudges it past the keeper. Awesome goal.

    • blitzen
      April 8, 2011

      Nice play-by-play. I see a job as a sports announcer in your future. You’ll need to work on your hyperbole if you want to get RayRay’s job, though.

      • Miguel
        April 8, 2011

        Oh shut up. 😛 I’m pretty sure I could take Phil Schoen, though.

  15. Josep
    April 8, 2011

    Sucks that Fontas isn’t playing vs. Granada. Isn’t he from there?

    • Miguel
      April 8, 2011

      They should’ve been awarded a penalty there. Bartra(?) with some good play acting after he got sombrero’d.

  16. Miguel
    April 8, 2011

    Clear(not really, at first) handball in the area. Barcelona awarded a penalty. Grenada left down to 10 men. Goalkeeper stops Jonathan Soriano from converting it! Woah!

  17. Miguel
    April 8, 2011

    JDS, who admittedly got off to a shaky start, plays a quick 1-2 off a corner kick then swings it in to an unmarked Jonathan Soriano. Half-time. 2-0.

    Now don’t fuck this up.

    • April 8, 2011

      You’re so good at this, Miguel! This is what you should be doing at liveblog for the sake of those who can’t watch the game 😀

      B team’s passes are not so accurate yet. Bit loose and I think they’re trying to do those Xavi/Iniesta/Messi passes into an open space where someone should run to and which defenders didn’t anticipate or can’t reach – but they can’t do it yet. They should keep trying though. Watching this makes me realize just how good X/I/M/B and others are. But at least the B team keeps the ball on the ground.

      Well, nice header there.

      • Miguel
        April 8, 2011

        I’m much too busy drinking beers, watching out for Kari quips, and throwing things at my tv for commentary.

        • April 8, 2011

          I know what you mean.

          I have so much fun looking at everyone’s reactions at the Liveblog that I sometimes read more than watch. I’m amazed at how people here still pick up the technical aspects of the game while watching, reading and typing (and drinking beer and throwing things, apparently) 😀

  18. Josep
    April 8, 2011

    yeah those two corners were nice, especially the second.

    that handball was harsh but the PK was saved.

  19. Josep
    April 8, 2011

    where were you guys months ago, wasn’t that when he announced he’d be getting married?

    also that picture is amazing. clear photoshop.
    \

    🙂

  20. April 8, 2011

    Congrats Isaiah! I’ve only been outside Ontario once–that was to London in ’06—so I can’t give you any advice. Have an awesome trip!

    @Eklavya: I don’t have twitter. I said I’d probably get it if/when Messi gets it. Why do you ask? Do I have another impersonator or something?

  21. Nav
    April 8, 2011

    From the way Pep was talking about Puyol in the press conference, it seems doubtful he’ll be back in time for Almeria :/

    • Helge
      April 8, 2011

      I hope that he returns short before the first CL Clásico, I can even imagine to play (and win) the CdR final without him, but he better be back for the two most important matches of the year.

      • Jnice
        April 8, 2011

        I honestly think Puyol is done for the season. If he comes back this season it’s a bonus, but I’m not counting on it.

        • Helge
          April 8, 2011

          I’m not yet that pessimistic, but if there doesn’t occur any positive news about him soon, I will adopt your opinion…

        • Jim
          April 8, 2011

          I think we’ll get news one way or the other pretty soon. He has been out on the field and is running so if he’s still getting pain that’s not good . As others have said it’s a difficult injury ( tendonitis) but wouldn’t normally be taking this long to clear up, even given the hormone treatment that didn’t work, unless it was a serious bout in which case it takes as long as it takes. Maybe if our defence was playing better they’d have already called it quits for this season but I’m guessing with a heap of classics nobody has been brave enough to suggest that to Puyi. There’ll come a point where he’ll not lose much by giving it a go as he’ll have the close season to recover.

  22. Barka
    April 8, 2011

    Wow so Isaiah you are going to my country Vietnam? I’m so happy :D. I live in Ho Chi MInh City (formerly Saigon) so I don’t know much about Hanoi. However as Blitzen suggested you can drink some Bia Hoi (beer = bia in vietnamese, they sound the same too), eat Pho (Phở) and Banh da cua (bánh đa cua – quite good). I”m not sure about the price over there but here in HCMC, you can get a special bowl of pho for usually less than 40000 VND. As for places, you can visit the Hoan Kiem Lake, War Museum.. If you have time you should definitely visit the Ho CHi Minh’s Mausoleum. My mom and dad went there a long time ago and they want me to go there at least once.

    Beware though, there are some dog meat restaurants there (and everywhere)so if you see signs like “Thịt cầy” don’t go. The traffic is quite bad so you’d better be careful.

    Here’s a yahoo!answer and some links below if you want more information: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070914083227AA8xs7l

    • blitzen
      April 8, 2011

      Hah! Yes, as Barka says watch out for the traffic. Do NOT try to drive yourself and be wary of the ubiquitous scooter. Shell out for cabs, it’s not expensive and much safer!

      Now I’m jonesing for Vietnamese food. Luckily I live in the most multicultural city in the world. I see lemon grass soup in my future…

      • Barka
        April 8, 2011

        Yeahh Vietnamese food is good isn’t it? I miss my weekend pho here in Toronto ;_;

        • blitzen
          April 9, 2011

          You are in Toronto, too? There are tons of Vietnamese restaurants here!

          • Barka
            April 11, 2011

            Yeah I’m studying at a university here. I eat out occasionally but it’s quite inconvenient because I don’t have a car..

      • Barka
        April 11, 2011

        yep! It’s actually cold inside. Or so I heard..

  23. Lev
    April 8, 2011

    “I’ve only been outside Ontario once–that was to London in ’06”

    Too bad it was London, ON 😛

    • April 8, 2011

      Except London, ON is still in Ontario 😛

      (I just knew someone mention London ON.)

      • Lev
        April 8, 2011

        yeah, how could i not score from a pass like that?

  24. Para
    April 8, 2011

    For those who would like a bit of Barca history (I don’t know much, so I take it where I can!) there’s a profile of a Barca player, Paulino Alcántara, from the early 1900s on this week’s football ramble podcast. It can be found on their website and on iTunes.

    (If you’re not interested in listening to the rest of the podcast, the profile starts at about 41:45).

    • Ryan
      April 8, 2011

      I love the Football Ramble! I’d definitely recommend listening to the entire podcast.

      • Para
        April 8, 2011

        Oh, so would I! I just thought some people might want to know specifically where the profile was. I think the ramble is great.

    • April 8, 2011

      I’m proud to say that Paulino Alcantara is Filipino! He’s the youngest player to debut and score for the club at 15yrs old and is the clubs highest goalscorer – 357 goals in 357 matches 😀

  25. BarcaGirl_Indo
    April 8, 2011

    Southeast Asia but no Indonesia?

    just tell me if you wanna go here, Isaiah…
    maybe I can help you with some information… 😉

    and about Puyol, four El Clasico without him? meh… hope we get the La Liga title, CdR and UCL are big bonuses considering the defence…

    and is there any possibility Fontas will in El Clasico? he might be good, or not…
    but I think this kid needs playing time so he will be ready for next season…

  26. blitzen
    April 8, 2011

    Since no one has mentioned it yet, the B team won their game 4-0 today. Goals from Bartra, Soriano (x2), Sergi Roberto. Soriano is now the top scorer in the Segunda division with 23 goals, and Barca B is (temporarily) in 3rd spot. If Celta wins their game this weekend, Barca B will drop to 4th.

    Luis Enrique has always said that the goal for this season is to get the highest ever finish for a reserve team, and they are well on track for that. What an amazing job Lucho and the B boys have done! Pep Guardiola had this to say:

    “What he’s doing is amazing, unimaginable. They’re battling to be the best reserve side in the history of the Second Division, and are doing it playing great football, and I’m constantly taking players for the first team. It’s admirable and I want to congratulate them. The club is very proud of them”.

    • Miguel
      April 8, 2011

      Guardiola was in the stands for this game. He made up for that horrible peach sweater with a nice v-neck. Awesome first half. I caught glimpses of the second, too. Soriano’s the pichichi!

      • blitzen
        April 8, 2011

        So glad you’re on top of the fashion situation. 😉

  27. yelèna
    April 8, 2011

    awesomeness! congrats Isaiah.
    I was just in Southeast Asia too last February as a celebration for the MIX(Messi, Iniesta, Xavi)WPOTY nomination…and i had the greatest time!I was in thePhilippines, Singapore, and Hongkong. I was only in Indonesia for a day, but yes, the Philippines and Indo have amazing beaches! Some of my friends went to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam though, as reported, here’s what they did: SHOP in Thailand, SEE the SIGHTS in Cambodia (the temples, killing fields=), and EAT in Vietnam. Seoutheast Asian food is great, so don’t be afraid to try the street foods!

    BTW, to all Singaporeans, Filipinos and HKers in this site,juz wanna say thanks & I really enjoyed the hawker centers, sentosa, the beaches, Cebu, Bora…you are the nicest people! I promise to go back. S’pore is quite a football nation too!

    • April 8, 2011

      Yelena – so glad to know you enjoyed Cebu and Boracay. Where in Cebu did you go (Plantation Bay? Shangrila?) and where did you stay in Boracay? Isn’t it so beautiful and so fun?!

      • yelèna
        April 8, 2011

        i was in Imperial Palace in Mactan Island, near the Airport Barcaleya…twas a resort hotel, really nice. In Boracay, in station 2. I can’t believe the beaches there, it was the finest sands ive ever seen!you’ve got a really nice country!

        • April 8, 2011

          Thank you! We do have a really nice country. The beaches and the countryside, at least. I don’t like our cities. I am URGING Isaiah to go to Boracay. It’s worth it, isn’t it? I met this Brazilian who said he’s been to all their beaches and other beaches in the world but Boracay is the best. It really has the finest white sand anywhere.

          I’m in New York right now where it is still cold. Now I’m terribly missing our beaches. Ha ha

          • yelèna
            April 9, 2011

            i just googled boracay sunset, and i missed the place already.

            If we win another triplete (or if Bojan scores a hat-trick), I’d definitely go there, and then maybe Palawan, and prob Beijing.

          • April 9, 2011

            If you’re in Brooklyn, you should stop by Woodwork for the game today at 2pm alongside myself and the rest of the BK unofficial penya. If you’re in Manhattan, go to Mercat to watch it with the official Penya.

            http://www.woodworkbk.com/
            http://www.mercatnyc.com/

            I’m going to look up those beaches today and see what happens. So many suggestions, so little time in country! You guys are all amazing.

          • April 9, 2011

            Isaiah – I can walk to Woodwork from my place!

            I actually watched the manita El Clasico there. I would love to go there later at 2. How do I know it’s you guys? Would you have a banner that says “BK penya?” Do the bartenders know you? I guess I can ask them to point me to where your group is.

            If you see a girl by herself – that would be me.

    • blitzen
      April 8, 2011

      Isaiah, if you go to Laos, try the ant egg soup. It’s delish.

    • complotGP
      April 9, 2011

      I’m glad you enjoyed Bora! 🙂

      Isaiah, the Philippines has the best beaches in the world, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. 🙂

      • April 9, 2011

        Hi complot! Are you also Filipino? Happy to hear you say these kind words about the people and the beaches 😀

        • complotGP
          April 10, 2011

          Hi Barcaleya, oo Pilipino ako 😀 I’m always glad to hear compliments about our country, especially with all the bad press we get.

  28. SoccerMom
    April 8, 2011

    Congratulations Isaiah!

    I was in Singapore once. I remember a big polo field in the middle of town and thinking that Singapore Slings do not taste as good as they sound. I think I was hoping for something that pink to taste like a Shirley Temple. The shopping malls are very shiny and I did not see anyone repressed and there is a big strange Irish-American ‘Fridays’-like establishment in the middle of town. But mostly I remember being so jetlagged (not alleviated, by the way, by sloshing back several SingaSlings) that I fell asleep at a table on the Quays.

    But as Shane MacGowan croons, ‘We must say adiós until we see Almería once again!’

    • blitzen
      April 8, 2011

      LOL at your Singapore reminiscences. My brother was just there a few weeks ago. He loved it, although he was dismayed at how expensive everything was, and he is not so adventurous about eating street food as I am. He was there during monsoon season, which was less pleasant than he would have liked.

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