5 reasons to fly (Asean destinations)

My wife and I toyed with the idea of having two honeymoons. One would immediately follow right after the wedding to honor and celebrate our union, and the other, a more thought-out, well-planned vacation abroad that should probably happen within our first 12 months together.

One thing I learned after Honeymoon #1? A travel experience is not complete without trying the local food. We very much enjoyed our week in Boracay, but thought we needed to find an “adventurous plate” before we left. We ended up in some store that claimed to serve Singaporean Chicken Rice, only to get a dish which closely resembled dry tinola. It was disappointing.

Nevertheless, I’ve now a more profound desire to deliberately seek out the culinary secrets a certain town, city or island offers.

I bring this to mind as Cebu Pacific is currently promoting Asean destinations to visit from the Philippines, with its ongoing promo for as low as P999 (one-way base fare). The following destinations promoted are Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, with tickets on sale until Oct. 31 (travel period only until March 31, 2023).

The Philippine low-cost airline—which operates the widest network in the country—held an event on Oct. 14 at Whitespace Manila in Makati to promote the ongoing promo.

I’ve only been to two of the five countries mentioned. So please, allow me to share stories of the five dishes I’ve tried or wish to try should I get the opportunity to visit these destinations. I’d like to think of these as my five reasons to fly:

Nasi Goreng. I remember a trip to Jakarta back in 2019 where we had the opportunity to dine in the historic Cafe Batavia. I ordered its award-winning Nasi Goreng Roa, and remember enjoying it very much. It’s Nasi Goreng but intricately prepared and served with salmon roe.

Laksa. I recall having tried this spicy noodle dish in Singapore. While it was great and intensely flavorful, I remember having it as a snack right after I had a full lunch. I would like to be able to appreciate a good bowl with an empty stomach in the near future.

Nasi Lemak. I’ve had my fill of Nasi Lemak—fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and usually served with spicy samba, chicken, small anchovies, peanuts, cucumber and egg—but never in Malaysia. Surely, that would be an experience.

Pad Thai. Years back, pad thai got immensely popular thanks to a food stall named Banana Pancake Trail at the award-winning (Best of Cebu) Sugbo Mercado food market. This is definitely something I would try in Thailand for myself someday.

Pho. I’ve only heard of food and shopping adventures in Vietnam from a former colleague in the media. He knew his street food and shared stories of how the ones in Vietnam (I forget which city) were legendary. I need to try the original pho and banh mi there—some considerably priced much lower than the ones here.

How about you guys? Send an email and share your thoughts on what food items are must-tries in these places! Cheers.