Imagine rows and rows of mouthwatering sizzling barbecued meats, fresh salads, salted fish, and yummy coconut pancakes…
Our Favorite Laos Street Foods
When it comes to eating out in Laos, the food markets are a treat! Whether you’re visiting the gorgeous Luang Prabang, the capital, Vientiane, or adventure hub, Vang Vieng, we guarantee there’ll be several excellent local street food stalls that you need to check out. Not to mention the fact that it’s an inexpensive way to dine.
Generally, the whole street food scene in Southeast Asia is a thing we highly recommend all travelers immerse themselves into – particularly in Thailand, Vietnam, and of course, Laos! In this article, we run through some of the best Laos street foods that made us super happy during our trip here and needs to be on that culinary Bucket List of yours!
There are many stalls selling barbecued meats. But unlike elsewhere in the country, the street food in Luang Prabang has been adapted for foreigners. In Laos, every part of the animal is eaten, so eating in a more local restaurant was hard for us – congealed pig’s bl00d in your noodle soup, anyone? Or chunks of pork fat or other insides…?
Our gay friend Shintaro from Tokyo tells us what Japanese gay life is like from his perspective in this fascinating interview. We love Japan. We’ve been fortunate to visit several times. Each time we leave, we say sayonara with a strong thirst to return for more!
As a gay couple traveling in Japan, we’ve always felt extremely welcome, everywhere, never receiving any judgment or raised eyebrows. To our foreign eyes, Japan feels like you’ve taken a time machine into the future. Everything is so much more advanced here, so clean, so impeccable, where trains arrive/leave on time, correct to the second!
And the Japanese themselves? Well, they’re just the icing on top – you couldn’t ask for a more welcoming and respectful nation. Everything is well received with a sweet, warm smile and a humble bow.
All About Japanese Gay Life
As we said, that’s through our superficial perspective as queer travelers visiting. What’s the reality like for the Japanese LGBTQ community? We often hear that whilst the Japanese are very welcoming to gay foreigners, on a local level, the country is very conservative when it comes to LGBTQ rights.
Our Thailand culinary fairytale began at our local Ting Tong Thai in Acton, West London. As soon as we tasted our first Pad Thai, we were hooked! But the thing with Thai food, it didn’t stop there – from the Som Tam, to the many different curries – yellow, red, green, Massaman, it just kept getting better and better…
Touchdown a few years later in the gay streets of Bangkok and our traditional Thai food culinary journey experienced one massive glo-up we’ve not yet recovered from! From the wide range of street food to the many different flavors and spices unique to Southeast Asia, we fell in love. Each region of the country has its distinct offerings.
It’s no reason why Thailand’s cuisine is known the world over. It’s easily one of our favorites. In this article, we summarise our foodie journey through the Land of Smiles, which we hope inspires yours. This is the ultimate Foodie Bucket List of the best traditional Thai foods that you need to try…tick them off as you taste each one.
How Did Traditional Thai Food Originate?
Thailand’s food is so diverse with a rich labyrinth of culinary wonders to discover! We found that eating out in Thailand is especially rewarding, particularly at one of the many street food local markets where you can sample lots of different dishes. Today Thai food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world and we can totally understand why!
Chiang Mai is one of the most liveable cities in Asia, but what is it like for us in lesbian Chiang Mai? We travelled to Chiang Mai to find out and found it to be one of the most gay-friendly cities in Thailand. With an abundant selection of gay and gay-friendly bars, nightclubs, hotels, cafes, and activities, gay Chiang Mai has a lot to offer LGBTQ+ travellers.
Don’t get me wrong, when you compare to gay Bangkok or Phuket, Chiang Mai’s gay scene is relatively tame. However, there is still plenty of fun to be had both during the day and at night. The gay scene aside, Chiang Mai is a cultural city, popular amongst backpackers, digital nomads and LGBTQ+ travellers alike.
What we love most about Chiang Mai is that it has all the perks of being in a city, such as great food, temples, nightlife, markets, cafes, and shops. But in as little as an hour, you can immerse yourself in nature. Escape into the jungle for hiking adventures and elephant sanctuaries, or go ziplining or cliff jumping at a nearby canyon.
It’s impossible not to fall in love with Chiang Mai. And this guide aims to provide you with all the information you need to have an unforgettable time. I’ve listed all of the hottest gay bars and nightclubs; gay-friendly hotels and hostels; the best LGBT+ centred events; as well as all the top things to see and do.
Is Lesbian Chiang Mai Safe for LGBT+ Travellers?
In short, absolutely yes! Thailand, in general, is one of the most gay-friendly countries we’ve ever visited. Here’s a statement from the Go Thai Be Free website:
“In Thailand, we believe that diversity is amazing. As the most LGBTQ+ welcoming country in Asia, we’re proud that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community – and all people – no matter how they identify; and whom they love; feel free when travelling in Thailand on vacation or holiday.”
When it comes to welcoming queer travelers, gay Taiwan is the only place in Asia that we think tops Thailand. They even have a temple dedicated to a gay god!
Taiwan is super gay – it has the largest gay Pride in Asia, it was the first place in Asia to legalize marriage equality and has a massive LGBTQ+ scene in Taipei. That’s before we’ve even mentioned the delicious food, breathtaking scenery and really friendly charming Taiwanese people – who will make you smile every time you speak to them!
In short, Taiwan gave us everything we wanted from our Asian gaycation. We’d go back in a heartbeat and know you will want to as well. Regardless of whether or not you’re a seasoned traveler or maybe thinking about your first adventure, Taiwan is a place to consider. In this queer country guide to Taiwan, we’ve put together our fabulous discoveries from our adventures together with safety advice, culinary inspiration and the best gay events to seek out.
Rights in Gay Taiwan
The first thing to note is that LGBTQ+ rights there are very progressive. More progressive than some Western countries so we even rate it as one of the most gay friendly places in the world. It’s no wonder that Taiwan is so welcoming to LGBTQ travelers. This was immediately apparent to us from the moment we touched down at Taipei’s airport. We never had any issues whatsoever and we felt so comfortable while we were travelling around.
Oh, Vietnam you really blew our minds with all those tasty dishes! Pho, Cao Lau, Mi Quang, Bun Cha – just to name a few… Fellow foodies will be in total paradise in Vietnam. It felt like one big gourmet exploration, discovering a different dish every day, with so many unique flavors and specialties.
We knew quite a bit about Vietnamese cuisine before visiting thanks in part to the large number of Vietnamese restaurants back home in Europe. Most people will no doubt have heard of the ubiquitous Pho, but throw into the mix influences from French colonization and even a few surprises like egg coffee and you’ll really start to appreciate our excitement for this destination!
This is our detailed summary of all our favorites and the tastiest traditional foods of Vietnam that we loved and think you need to discover during your visit.
How did traditional Vietnamese cuisine originate?
Like many Asian countries, Vietnam’s food has been influenced by what naturally grows in the region as well as the history of other cultures coming to a place and then leaving their mark.
Since Vietnam has been invaded/colonized by multiple countries (like China, Japan, France, and America) each one has also influenced the Vietnamese cuisine. With noodles from China and baguettes from France becoming an integral part of Vietnamese cuisine, the Vietnamese have taken these and created their own unique (and super tasty!) dishes.
It’s safe to say that most of us are tired of hearing the word quarantine. Equally true is our desire to resume our travels once again. Finding the right mindset to approach the new travel landscape can set you up to make the most out of your entire trip – including any hotel quarantine.
Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.
– Harvey Mackay
Sam recently traveled and needed to quarantine. While he couldn’t have imagined it at first, he ended up focusing on the positive aspects while traveling within this new normal.
The first thing that Sam mentioned was that being in a hotel room for several days actually helped him with his jet lag. He came from the U.S. and, after crossing multiple time zones, he found that the extra time that he got was actually beneficial for him. Indeed, Sam reported that he felt even more recharged when he joined a group trip the week after.
He noted that the required steps were all worth it in the end. The quarantine was undesired at first, but what Sam got from traveling during this time was, ironically, exactly what he had wanted. In addition to feeling more energized, traveling to places with fewer travelers got him to see the destinations on our itineraries in a peaceful and intimate way. Sam felt a deep connection to the region, noting the quiet beauty of his journey.
Some countries required a 14-day quarantine period while others required 21 days. It’s pretty clear: traveling now, and for the foreseeable future, will require a shifting perspective in how to view quarantines. But it also enables you to still see the world.
Here are some tips to make the most of your stay at the hotel!
Do you love taking baths? Hot, cold, or lukewarm – what’s your favorite? If soaking is important to you, make sure the hotel room you’re reserving has a tub. Taking a long, hot bath can be very rewarding and relaxing. You can use this time to re-energize and smell good at the same time. Now, go one step further… imagine yourself taking a luxurious bath every single day for a week. Now, this is hedonism: pursue your own pleasure, and be sensually self-indulgent. Come on, when was the last time you did that?
Keep in Touch
This gift of time is perfect for you to reach out to your loved ones. Your stay at the hotel will allow you to have extended time, and so you won’t feel rushed. Milk the moment and talk for hours with your loved ones. You can use video calls (i.e. FaceTime and Zoom) to catch up and give them updates on your journey.
You can even use games as a way to keep in touch with family members and friends.
NBC recently reported that Audrey Buchanan, 88, played the video game “Animal Crossing” for – hard to believe, but – more than 3,500 hours. She even used it to connect with her grandson, who lives far away from her.
Some people find it satisfying to write their thoughts and feelings down in a blank book, or digitally on a device. What better time to get reflective and express yourself, than when there’s not a lot of stimuli to disturb you? Dave Power, who is a writer, recently stayed at a hotel for a week during one of his travels. He told us that during that time, journaling was essential for him. He said heaps of ideas came out of the period when he was alone and could delve into his own thoughts.
Journals written during travel can prove to be especially satisfying later in life. Re-reading what you’ve written from a particular place and time can be rewarding, and even fun to share with others. We recommend writing first thing in the morning – recently out of your subconscious state, while thoughts are still novel.
If you watched the Olympics recently, you probably saw the cute image of Tom Daley knitting while waiting for his turn to dive. Maybe this is the perfect time to try your hands at knitting. Perhaps you already thought about starting knitting, but felt you didn’t have the time? And hey – if knitting’s not your thing, there are many other ways to express that inner artsy soul.
Try your hand at improving your scribbles. Maybe even sketch what you see outside your window! Consider bringing adult-coloring books that are fun to pass the time on.
Before your trip, go to an art supply store and pick something that you never would’ve chosen – pipe cleaners, modeling clay, or crayons. Or just pick something that you haven’t touched in a while, and have fun with it. Remember Legos? Remember Rubik’s Cubes?
Keep the Mental Juices Flowing
Stimulate your brain cells – with crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or even word search books. You can use them when waiting in line at the airport, too.
Break a Sweat
There are plenty of workouts you can do without any equipment. You can even practice some yoga stretches. People nowadays upload short videos of themselves working out or dancing to a catchy snippet of a song – on social media such as TikTok and Instagram. Join the fun and get some sweat out.
Note, you don’t have to be in your hotel room to do this – some hotels have rooms with balconies, and you can use that space to work out.
Earlier this year, videos of tennis players in Australia went viral, as they were doing exercises during quarantine, before tournaments. There have even been people who have run marathons within their hotel rooms!
TV and Movie Binge
We all love a Netflix and chill moment – so why not binge a whole television series and plenty of films? This is a good time to watch that movie or TV show that you’ve always wanted to watch or ones your friends have recommended.
Books and Podcast episodes
Some of you might want to reduce your screen time, and that’s okay! Apart from the aforementioned TV shows and films, we also suggest books and podcast episodes that you can read and listen to. Remember, you are never alone when you have books!
Everything To Sea runs all-male, clothing-optional trips on traditional wooden yachts in the calm seas of Indonesia. As a travel operator, they specialize in excursions for men of all orientations, that center around freedom, camaraderie, friendship, and honesty.
Since January 2019, Everything To Sea has been exploring natural environments and giving guys one-of-a-kind, life-changing experiences. Trips range from private journeys for individuals to small-group departures for up to 12 men. Their ships are also available for existing men’s groups, such as yoga or tantric communities, who are seeking unforgettable journeys.
With over 1400 islands to visit in the Land of Smiles, we say the Thai’s the limit when it comes to your Thailand vacation!
Thailand offers everything that us gay boys want when we venture out into the world. There are beaches packed to the brim with speedo-clad hotties, cultural ventures lurking around every corner, a terrific gay scene in Bangkok, and most important of all, genuinely kind citizens who greet every visitor with a warm welcome.
And that’s just the mainland! Believe it or not, the Thailand gay islands are somehow even more perfect because each one is incredibly unique. Whether you’re hoping to find a spot to get back in touch with nature, to explore the party animal within you, or to enjoy a romantic getaway with your sweet, sugar love, there is bound to be at least one island that suits your exact needs. Even if you’re looking to stay within a strictly queer environment, we promise that there’s an island out there for you. This is our comprehensive guide to the best Thailand gay islands so that you can achieve your vacay nirvana. Be sure to also read alongside our detailed gay guide to Thailand.
Side note: ‘koh’ means “island” in Thai, so most islands will have Koh or Ko written before its name.
Thailand Gay Islands: Koh Phuket
Ah, Phabulous Phuket… Where to even begin? There are hardly the words for this vast, beautiful destination. Perhaps the best way to describe it is by declaring it the largest and most famous of the Thailand gay islands!
Unlike other islands, Phuket has an officially designated gay area known as the Paradise Complex where gay businesses flood the streets. Whether you’re hopping into Zag Club, which is an energetic club most renowned for its outstanding dance music, or visiting the Boat Bar, which is our personal favorite for its eclectic crowd and classic pop music, it will be easy to see just how much this neighborhood thrives on its nightlife. Honestly, even without setting foot into a single establishment within the Paradise Complex, the gay scene of Phuket spills outside every evening when exotic dancers strut their stuff up and down the pedestrian roads.
China has the potential to be the gayest nation on our planet. Think about it: a country with a population of 1.5 billion people. That’s a billion! You do the maths, how many gays does that work out to…?
Today, the country is slowly emerging from an oppressive Communist rule under which homosexuality was criminalized and seen as a mental illness. It wasn’t until 1997 when it was legalized and then subsequently declassified as a mental illness in 2001.
Historically it wasn’t always like this. Homosexuality in ancient China appears to have been widely accepted well before the 1800s. For example, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) literature (like the Bian Er Chai – 弁而釵/弁而钗) portrays homosexual relationships as being positive, and writings from the Liu Song Dynasty (420–479 AD) allege that homosexuality was an everyday common thing!
The fabulous LGBTQ folk we met during our travels as a couple in gay China were confident of progressive change – albeit very slowly. During our trip in Xi’an we met the awesome Cass Chen who sat us down and gave us this interview about his experience growing up gay in China.
Pura Lempuyang (or Lempuyang Temple) is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Bali. It is also one of the oldest and holiest Hindu temples worth going to when traveling to this tropical island.
This sacred temple is two hours drive away from Canggu. The picturesque ride on your way up there is one to be enjoyed with such delight.
Visiting Lempuyang Temple during the pandemic has its good and bad side. There were only very few people (close to none) when we were there. On the other hand, not every temple was open.