Hello all. I just came back from a 17days eco-trip to India, Darjeeling, Sikkim & Bhutan. Having seen a glimpse of the third highest mountain in the world, the Himalayas mountains, snow capped mountains and snowball fights in Gangtok, Tsomgo Lake, Sikkim, a best and most perfect sunrise in my whole life on top of tiger hill, Darjeeling, hikking and trekking in the Valley of flowers.
The best part is, i even get to guest ‘lecture’ at a local school in Sikkim where the spirits of these happy children melt my heart despite the poor conditions of their classrooms. It’s a very meaningful experience that makes one want to really cherish all that we have now in our life and to reach other out to others, helping them to get a better life and making this world a place to live in. I am so grateful that i am born in Singapore, having all the necessities, a good upbringing, good nourishing food and talking about this makes me want to bring up the topic about food.
My days in India and Bhutan was extremely good and bad in terms of the food we eat. India, i get to eat chapati, naan, curry & spiced flavoured dishes. In Sikkim, for 3 days up in a mountainous region, Lachung, the hotel only served vegetarian food, which was exceptionally good. Main dishes like Tibetan bread, Toast, porridge with vegetables, served with sauteed french beans, potatoes with cheese, apetizers like raw cucumbers, fresh red tomatoes, onions with lime, desserts and fruits like bananas and more bananas. The diet seems like a detox diet and for such a non-vegetarian like me, i did get accustomed right after the first meal when they served a dish very similar to our Singapore chinese dish, mee hun kway.
However, when we travelled to Bhutan. It’s entirely different. Almost 99% of the Bhutanese live on chillies. Red, green hot, big, dried Chillies and i’m not kidding. Ematsi, a traditional Bhutan dish was their staple food apart from red rice and buckwheat noodles, comprising of spicy chillies with cheese. The past one week, we mainly ‘survived’ on potatoes with cheese, chilli cheese, stir fry ferns and asparagus, fried brinjals, Yak(a herd animal found in the Himalayas) meat, pork dishes and etc. We were pretty selective with what we eat as the chilli is indeed too hot for me and we are not used to some of their cooking styles and tastes. No seafood, only freshwater fishes call trouts that’s filled with so many tiny bones and the size of the fish is about a average person’s palm length. At one point of time, we were so sick of cheese, we love cheese but were shocked they ate it everyday and perhaps, in Singapore, we were so pampered with such a wide variety of food. We longed for our Singapore local dishes over there. Oh, and because chicken was banned in Bhutan, so no chicken for us, who don’t take yak and beef because of its overwhelming and strong smell. It’s slightly tougher than beef and Yak is actually considered more precious and expensive than beef and etc.
The thing to take note is for my case, getting use to an entirely different type of diet will take some time for your body to get accustomed to. Having adjusted to a ‘no-meat’ diet for about a week and missing local food so badly, i went for sumptuous dinner right on the day i landed. Its my favourite ‘wok hei’ Cantonese style restaurant, we had dishes like stir fry ginger chicken, prawns with beancurd, beef with kailan, fishhead. Too wonderful, too delicious and i ate too much. That night i couldn’t sleep. My stomach feels bloated and weird. The next morning, i had no appetite and i only take some light snacks, porridge, milo and biscuits, food is easily to digest. It took about 2days for my body and stomach to function well and get used to my usual diet. A word advice for those who travels for the first on long haul flights or trips, when you come home, take something light and less oily for the first meal. Go easy on your stomach has your body clock is still experiencing a bit of chaos if you switch to a rich local diet too quickly.
And, being a Singaporean, we are so spoilt for the wide and delicious variety of international cusine, from malay to indian to arab to french and more. In some countries, it’s a tradition and way of life and they are not as educated about healthy food. We are so fortunate that good and healthy food is right at doorstep and it’s all about informed choices of what we eat. Our health and Promotional campaigns like 2 servings of Vegetables & 2 servings of fruits is beneficial. And, i’m also very proud to be a chinese, as i believe what we eat is a well balanced diet. For my household, a daily dinner usually comprises of a soup, a vegetable dish, a meat of fish dish and fruits. Maybe its my upbringing and my mother’s great cooking made me a healthier person that i am so grateful today. So, make informed and good food choices, for that is a very important step to good health. You are what you eat.
P.s: If anyone of you has similar experiences or other good advices to share, feel free to drop a comment. Cheers.