The Good Banana Pancake Guide

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September 28th 2007
Published: October 5th 2007
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The Beach, ThailandThe Beach, ThailandThe Beach, Thailand

Kick back and relax on one of Thailand's beautiful islands. © L. Birch 2007
The wonderful thing about S E Asia is the variety of landscapes and experiences to be had there. You can mingle with remote hill tribes, be bowled over by hi-tech mega cities, climb an active volcano, explore the ruins of a 'lost city', trek through virgin rainforests or simply kick back on an idyllic beach. In the course of a year, we had done most of these things - and more. Moving on from the region would be hard for we had come to know it quite intimately. This wasn't the end however. We were still 5-months away from returning home. In the interim, there was still one last challenge - India.

Following our return from Australia, there was time to say "Goodbye" to S E Asia as we made our way slowly back to Bangkok. What memories would we be taking with us? They are almost too numerous to recount. We had seen beauty and ugliness, overcome personal adversity and self doubt, experienced life, albeit briefly, as it was lived by local people and - above all - had been touched by the generousity and kindness of people we had met along the way. We would never forget the
Rambutans, CambodiaRambutans, CambodiaRambutans, Cambodia

Try out new foods and experience some of Asia's tastiest fruits. © L. Birch 2007
experience of seeing life in modern-day Burma, a country recently in the news and still shackled by the ruthless dictates of a brutal military regime. And then there was the simple kindliness extended to us by so many people. Offers of food and accommodation in unexpected places and by people much poorer than ourselves. How could we ever forget them or thank them enough?

The Good Banana Pancake Guide

Most banal thing we would miss? It would almost certainly be that humble staple of the backpacker trail, the banana pancake. We had experienced this popular snack all over S E Asia, from Laos to Indonesia and everywhere in between. Some were served with panache others with indifference, all provided a tasty treat when an appetite for anything else was flagging. Here's a brief guide to our Top Five:

1. "Samuel's Kitchen", Toba

: Arguably the best tasted anywhere and certainly the best served locally. Large, well cooked pancakes stuffed with sliced banana, honey and a choice of either chocolate sauce or grated coconut.

2. Had Gruad, Koh Phangan: A close contender for the top spot. Thick, American-style pancakes served with your
Communist Flag, LaosCommunist Flag, LaosCommunist Flag, Laos

Find out what it's like to live under a military or communist regime in SE Asia. © L. Birch 2007
choice of fruit and covered in honey or condensed milk - totally diet breaking.

3. "My Friend's Place", Tioman: The little kampong kitchen here, turns out some remarkably good food at rock bottom prices. The banana pancakes are particularly good - thick, generous portions come with sliced bananas and are topped with fresh honey.

4. Khao San Rd, Bangkok: At night, small carts ply the roads around Khao San dishing up roti-style pancakes to order. Choose from a long list of options but the banana pancakes served with chocolate sauce and condensed milk are pretty unbeatable.

5. Nyaung Shwe, Burma: The "Bright Hotel" serves a mammoth free breakfast that includes a generous banana pancake. Aficionados might end up staying several days!

And finally, for all those following in our literary footsteps (and who might want to recap on some of our adventures) or for anyone else embarking on a tour of S E Asia, here is our guide to some of the best experiences on offer:

Jungles and Wildlife:
Want to rub shoulders with Orangutans or discover what it's like to explore rice paddies on elephant back? Follow the
"Lost City" Ruins, Thailand"Lost City" Ruins, Thailand"Lost City" Ruins, Thailand

Explore ancient city ruins and play at being Indiana Jones for a day. © L. Birch 2007
links below to find out.


Orangutans in Sumatra

Elephant Trekking, Laos

Lost Cities and Antiquities:
Fancy playing at being Indiana Jones or Lara Croft? The links below will take you to some of the most exciting ruins and ancient monuments to be found in Asia.

Plain of Jars, Laos

Forbidden City & Great Wall, China

Bagan Ruins, Burma

Angor Wat, Cambodia

Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand

You don't have to go to the Middle East or North Africa to experience wind sculpted dunes and desert vistas. Try Vietnam instead.

Mui Ne Dunes, Vietnam

Islands and Beaches:
South East Asia boasts some of the most beautiful coastal and island scenery of just about anywhere in the world. Wanna know what a full-moon party's like or where to stay on an island in the middle of the Mekong River? Check out the links below for answers.

Tioman Island, Malaysia

Koh Phan Gan, Thailand

Don Det Island, Laos

Concrete Jungles:
South East Asia's cities can be exciting, scary, overwhelming and... fun. Check the links below for a representative look at some of its largest and finest.


Singapore City

Penang, Malaysia

Indonesia lies squarely on the Pacific 'Ring of Fire' and has hundreds of volcanoes from sleeping giants like Toba
Bicycle Rickshaw, CambodiaBicycle Rickshaw, CambodiaBicycle Rickshaw, Cambodia

Experience the thrill of a train journey in 3rd class or a bicycle rickshaw ride in heavy traffic. © L. Birch 2007
to raging monsters like Java's currently active (and extremely volatile) Mount Merapi. Click on the link below to visit two of Sumatra's most accessible volcanic sites.

Gunung Sibayak and Toba, Indonesia

Great Journeys:
Want to know what it's like to spend two days on a boat down the Mekong or to take a train across China? Buckle up and click on the links below... you're about to find out.

Xiamen to Beijing by Train

Taking the Boat to Mandalay

Down the Mekong by Boat

For Grant....
Whose pancake habit will probably go unfulfilled in darkest Afghanistan.

Additional photos below
Photos: 6, Displayed: 6


Market Day, BurmaMarket Day, Burma
Market Day, Burma

Meet the locals and barter for your lunch at any one of Asia's many colourful markets. © L. Birch 2007

9th October 2007

Hello my little Darlings, Glad to hear you are both OK and still living the dream, Have been away myself for a few weeks so I am just catching up on your exploits. Hope to see you in the not too distant future all the best Ken and Pauline

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