Here we want to share what we consider as our 3 best kept travel secrets (believe me, it’s really hard to pick just 3!) This article is a part of the Tripbase blog tag project: Three best kept travel secrets, it’s a cool project by Tripbase to gather a great list of top travel recommendations directly from many many travel bloggers’ own experiences. Thanks to Earl, from Wandering Earl, who tagged us to participate in this fun program. Earl himself just published his three secrets recently. So, after a tough time choosing only 3 between many of our favourite travel moments, here are our three best ones that you might not know:
Blue Mosque’s Ramadan night bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
If you are lucky enough to be in Istanbul during the Ramadan month, be sure to go to the Hippodrome beside the Blue Mosque in the evening, for the Ramadan night bazaar! Every evening this bazaar is full with people: locals and tourists from Turkey and neighbouring countries. They start arriving before the sunset, and many stay pass midnight. The Hippodrome beside the mosque is transformed into an amazing Turkish carnival city full with tents and stalls of food, souvenirs, toys, and shisha. There will be a lot of Turkish music and dance performances, including the famous whirling Dervish! Feeling peckish? You can find various types of kebabs, colorful sweets, various types of Turkish snacks, and my favourite one: chewy ice cream!
This ice cream is not your typical ice cream, and not served by your typical ice cream man! This ice cream man will perform tricks with your ice cream before you can have it. He would lift up the whole ice cream bulk from the container using a spatula, and swing it over his head. He will hand you the ice cream, and as you hold the cone, your ice cream disappear! Then you will see your ice cream actually stick back to his spatula that he swings around above you. It’s so much fun! The ice cream itself is a new experience to me. The texture is like what I imagine a frozen chewy marshmallow will be, but can melt and will drip like a regular ice cream. Very fun to chew!
After enjoying the bustling carnival atmosphere at the Hippodrome, go to the benches area in front of the mosque, the one that is facing the Hagia Sophia, for a calming moment. You will heard these quick chants “Chai, chai, chai, lira, lira, lira….” from the tea sellers. A lira for a cup of tea, served with sugar cubes. Sitting in the benches, enchanted by the beauty of illuminated Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, with a modest cup of hot sweet tea in my hand, this is one of my favourite moments during traveling. I’m so in love with it, we visited this spot nearly every night during our stay in Istanbul. (By Dina)
Watching seals in their natural habitat in Cape Palliser, New Zealand
Cape Palliser is located on the southernmost tip of the North Island, New Zealand. It’s rocky, remote, isolated, and beautifully scenic. It’s about 3 hours drive away from Wellington but it feels like you’ve reached the end of the earth. Along the beach you’ll see hundreds of seals basking, barking, and frolicking. You can get pretty close to them, but be careful that one doesn’t sneak up on you while you’re distracted. You also need to drive carefully as they can wander out into the road. There’s one lonely red-and-white striped lighthouse perched on the edge of the rocks peering out into the foggy ocean. It’s 258 steps to climb up to the base of the lighthouse but well worth the climb as the view is just beautiful. (By Ryan)
World’s Best Fried Chicken: Ayam Goreng Suharti, Indonesia
Like most travelers, one of my favourite things to do in every place we visit is eat. I love trying new foods, especially local specialties. Things you can only get in one place, that use ingredients and techniques found nowhere else. It’s never the fancy restaurant meals that stand out – what I remember are the simple things, found in little shops here and there or sold from carts on the street. I love almost anything that’s fried, grilled, served on a stick, wrapped in a banana leaf, or in a paper cone. When I reminisce about a place what I always think of first is the food, and when I think about my time in Indonesia I always think of Ayam Goreng Suharti. Ayam Goreng Suharti is restaurant with several locations around Java, Indonesia. We’ve been to branches in Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and Bandung. Nyonya (Mrs.) Suharti is the founder and is a sort of Indonesian Colonel Sanders. You can get pretty good fried chicken most places in Indonesia, but I have not found better bird than Suharti’s. This chicken is so far beyond what I’m used to getting outside Indonesia that there’s no comparison. It starts with the meat: they always use small free-range chicken, called kampung chicken. Nothing industrial or factory-farmed about it, so the meat is always rich and full of chicken-y flavour. The chicken is poached first with a rich bumbu, or blend of herbs and spices. Rather than just coating the skin with the seasoning, the whole of the meat is infused with the flavour of the fresh spices.
After poaching the whole bird is deep-fried, including the head, feet, and all. Heart, liver, etc. aren’t included but you can order them as sides. I sometimes get a bit squeamish seeing that deep fried head staring at me but Dina always polishes it off first so that doesn’t last long. The chicken is served with sambal (fresh chili sauce) and fried bumbu, the crunchy little crumbles of seasoning that were strained out of the deep fryer. Spread over rice the fried bumbu tastes incredible, with just the right amount of crunch and flavour. It goes perfectly with the rice which makes sure nothing ever feels too greasy. We always add an extra order of extra fried bumbu – it might not be on the menu but they’ll always bring you more if you ask. On the side, I’d recommend sayur asem, a delicious hot and sour soup made from tamarind, peanuts, and various vegetables. The sour and spicy taste is an excellent counterpoint to the sweetness and crunch of the chicken. Everyone eats with their hands, dipping bits of chicken in sambal and kecap manis (sweet, thick soy sauce) and then scooping up little fingerfuls of rice covered in fried bumbu. Wash it down with my favourite drink: Teh Botol Sosro, a strong, sweet bottled cold tea. I’m told by one of the workers that Nyonya Suharti is still actively involved with the restaurants, and travels around making stops in the kitchen at all her restaurants to make sure they are still cooking the chicken the right way. I missed out, but when you visit ask if she’s around – you might get lucky and meet the lady who created the world’s best fried chicken! (By Ryan)
The blog-tagging continues. We are tagging Ashley from the No Onion Extra Pickles and Nancie aka. LadyExpat from the Budget Travelers Sandbox to continue this 3 best kept travel secrets project. Ashley and Nancie, we are looking forward to reading your secrets! What about you? What do you consider as your 3 best kept travel secrets?
Update Here are Ashley’s 3 best kept “museum” secrets! Check it out, Ashley will tell you her favourite museums form Barcelona, Rome, to Beijing! I want to see that Colossus of Constantine!
The Travel Secret eBooks by Tripbase is up! Download it for FREE HERE! Now only it’s free, but for each download, Tripbase will donate $1 to Charity:Water to provide clean drinking water to those people that don’t have access to it yet. Great cause, isn’t it! We are proud to be a part of it. You will find these 3 secrets we are sharing in this post in that eBook. What are you waiting then?