Betel Nut: The Most Popular Nut in Papua New Guinea

Betel Nut

One of many interesting traditions of Papua New Guinea is the chewing of betel nut–the cause of countless, brilliant red-stained teeth and lips of the local men and women.

Betel nut, or what the locals call buai [boo-eye], grows in the tropical climates of South East Asia and is popular in the South Pacific Islands.

It can be found on every street corner in Papua New Guinea and is chewed as part of social occasions or as a part of everyday life.

Betel nut has a mild stimulant effect and in addition to reasons of tradition local people chew it for stress reduction, heightened awareness, and suppression of hunger.

Many foreign visitors try betel nut as a way to experience a part of the local Papua New Guinea culture. For many locals, it is a sign of friendship and respect. For example, if a visitor arrives at a local person’s house for dinner, the visitor will most likely be given betel nut as a welcome offering. In case you  are ever presented with such an honor, here are a few tips and tricks to living like a local:

1) Break the betel nut open by cracking the shell with your teeth. Take the meaty center out of the shell and start chewing it.
2) Chew the betel nut for 2-5 minutes. Do not swallow! Trust us on this.
3) Moisten and dip the mustard stick into the jar of lime powder.
4) Move the betel nut wad to the side of your mouth and then bite off the piece of mustard seed that has the lime powder on it. Don’t let the lime touch your gums or you’ll feel a burning sensation. Once again, trust us on this.
5) As you chew the mixture together, they will form a chemical reaction that will make your teeth and lips red and provide a mild stimulant.
6) Know that as you chew, spit out the fibrous residue of the nut as needed
7) Keep chewing until there is no more betel nut left. You may have a mild euphoric feeling because of betel nuts’ mild stimulant effects. Or if you’ve done it wrong-like many foreigners have done before you–well, you might feel absolutely nothing at all.

Betel nut is often compared to tobacco. It can be very addictive and habit forming. In many places in PNG you will find “no betel nut” signs that are similar to “no smoking signs.”

With all these steps, effects and risks- it becomes quite clear that this is a local’s only activity. Very few visitors actually practice chewing buai as they lack the social and traditional connection that the locals possess. If you want to abstain from chewing betel nut, but still keep some street cred, you could say “no kaikai buai” which means “I don’t chew betel nut” in Tok Pisin- Papua New Guinea’s main language.

In any case, whether you choose or refuse to chew, you now know a little more about the customs in Papua New Guinea.

Wine, Dine and Shine in South Australia

Barossa Landscape

South Australia has it all and combines these riches into regional bundles that are easy to manage, whether it means hubbing in Adelaide, sidetripping to Kangaroo Island, going on a mini-walkabout in the Flinders Ranges or heading into the scenic and quaint foothills of the local wine and food belt to taste what’s on the cutting edge of Australia’s culinary movement.

Adelaide gets much less attention from international visitors than it deserves. Its location in South Australia is 20 minutes from the beaches and Port Adelaide and at the same time 20 minutes from the hills of its celebrated wine country. With the Indian Pacific and Ghan rail lines at its doorstep, Adelaide makes a good starting point for travelers who want to head into the Great Red Center and onto the Northern Territory, or to the Western city of Perth. Similarly, Adelaide can be a terminus or starting place for rail trips to Melbourne and Sydney.

The town itself is a sleepy small city with plenty of attributes to be considered. The center of town is quite walkable with some 17 hotels within a few short blocks of each other, all buffered by open shopping promenades and markets, restaurants, museums and grand gardens. It was created in 1836 as a capital of the free British. Named for Queen Adelaide, the German consort of King William IV, the region saw an unusual influx of Germans to its shores, mostly fleeing persecution from the Prussian province of Silesia (modern day Poland). And they settled in the hills north of Adelaide where temperate climes created the perfect conditions for the blending of Cabernet Sauvignon and later, some the Australia’s most coveted Shiraz labels.

A bit of German history remains in such towns as Hahndorf, seen in the fachwerk buildings and cafes serving German fare. But folks roaming through the Adelaide Hills and the slopes of Barossa Valley are coming as much for the food as they are for the beauty. Australian is the fourth-largest exporter of wine in the world. It’s as big a part of the culture, as it is the economy and tourism. Visitors come for the kangaroos, the beaches and the wide-open spaces. But they also come for the wine.

Adelaide is surrounded by some of the country’s top wine regions: McClaren Vale, the Barossa Valley, and Coonawarra. In the Barossa, about an hour’s drive north of Adelaide, find what is considered Australia’s most famous winery: Penfolds, whose Grange, is possibly Australia’s most notable and expensive wine – pouring at a mere $125 a glass. The Shiraz (96%) and Cabernet Sauvignon blend retails at more than $400 a bottle.

For wine and food enthusiasts, a stop at Penfolds winery in Barossa is not only a must, it is a fun and unusual experience. The winery offers a laboratory where guests don white jackets, grab measuring flasks and bottles of Grenache, shiraz and cabernet and set forth to blend their own labels, getting messy and silly as the session wears on. The winery is often included on tours and group itineraries as a perfect icebreaker and one that allows guests to take home their own creations.

Beers is considered the Martha Stewart of Australia, although with a much more warmer appeal. She gained her fame in opening the Pheasant Farm Restaurant on the site, working magic with game and plying creative uses for her verjuice, which she sells by the riverful at her farm store on the same site. From her shop and restaurant she tapes shows and offers cooking demos of handpicked recipes. The stop is as popular with groups as it is with individuals, especially when cooking sessions are involved.

Travelers will find other attractions along the byways: Lyndock Lavender Farm, Jacob’s Creek Visitors Center, The House of Olives, the Barossa Farmers Market (Saturday mornings), Mengler Hill Lookout and the Williamstown Whispering Wall. It’s all put together through a South Australia Tourism concept called Barossa Butcher Baker Winemaker Trail, in maps and value card to highlight what the Barossa does with local ingredients. The trail leads to local wineries, bistros and dining venues and farm shops that offer intimate food and wine experiences and products made with traditional methods and ingredients. The trail provides a road not only to retailers and artisans, but also to special tours and gourmet themed programs, ongoing and seasonal. Brochures and maps can be found at visitor centers in Adelaide and Barossa.

Closer in, the Adelaide Hills east of Adelaide presents a lovely drive through 19th century European villages and historic mining towns. Mount Lofty Summit has the views over Adelaide Plains, complemented by a shady botanic garden. Nearby Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary has the potoroos, the platypuses, the bilbies, bandicoots and bettongs and, of course, kangaroos. Food lovers will want to visit Birdwood Wine & Cheese Centre for samplings of artisan cheeses and boutique wines, and have lunch at the Locovore Restaurant in Stirling, where only foods grown, made or distilled within a 100-mile radius are served. From the artsy village of Stirling it’s an easy drive to Hahndorf for quality crafts and galleries, and delightful cheeses. Beyond its nearly three dozen cellar doors, the area is dotted with a smattering of unusual finds: Fairyland Village in Lobenthal, the National Motor Museum in Birdwood, Melba’s Chocolate Factory at Woodside, the 54-foot-high rocking horse at Gumeracha … all about 20 minutes from the center of town.

Life is a Cabernet offers tailor-made tours from Adelaide into McLaren Vale, Clare Valley and the Barossa with great guidance from local wine and food lovers who are characters in their own right. Rates for customized private tours run $71 USD/hr, minimum four hours.

A Taste of South Australia provides full-day food and wine tours of the Barossa and McLaren Vale for apprx. $350 USD. It also offers comprehensive multi-day tours with car and driver and entrée to some exclusive spots. A very unusual option with plenty of appeal is the locally hosted dinner option that allows guests to enjoy a home-cooked gourmet dinner in the home of a local resident. Groups can reserve the local dinner option for $79 per person with a minimum of 8 guests (maximum 16) including transfers. Guests are asked to bring their own wine, however

Destination Wedding Spotlight: Jalousie Plantation

Jalousie Plantation, St. Lucia

Set picturesquely between the majestic Piton Mountains, this romantic island hideaway integrates charming historic structures into its 192 acres of lush, tropical rain-forest. This beautiful plantation sits on the site of a 18th century sugar plantation and sweeps down to Sugar Beach…awesome!

Treehouse treatment room, Jalousie’s Rainforest Spa

The sophisticated accommodations range from the Sugar Mill rooms to the 2-bedroom Grand Luxury Villas.

The lavish spa offers decadent treatments.

There is complimentary sailing and kayaking, and the PADI dive shop organizes excursions.

You can wed among the crumbling remains of an old sugar mill, on the powder-soft beach, or on a dock over the sparkling water.

A range of wedding packages offer a world of customizable extras, and wedding planners handle all the details.

When you are ready to book your Destination Wedding at Jalousie Plantation, give us a call at 310-722-3099 or email us at


Hermosa Beach House – Beachfront Bonanza just south of L.A

Hermosa Beach House Hotel

Barbie on the beach? You’ll find her jogging on the pedi-path or sun bathing on the sand in front of the Hermosa Beach House in Hermosa Beach, CA. This quiet surfers’ beach is a quintessential California experience without the crowds, the chaos and the come-ons of Venice and Santa Monica. Easily one of LA’s best-kept secrets, the scene is made all the sweeter through the top-shelf, yet value-minded accommodations to be found at the Hermosa Beach House.

The Beach House is one of the few hospitality properties in greater Los Angeles to sit right on the sand, and guests get to watch the Pacific Ocean from their private balcony, furnished with deck chairs. Because the Hermosa Beach House is also a condominium property, each guest room also comes with a gas fireplace, equipped kitchenette, pullout sofa, desk area/dining counter and large bathroom with deep-soaking oval tub.

Have your coffee in room or in the breakfast room attached to the lobby. A comely continental buffet breakfast comes with the tariff, which starts at $219 per night. Another surprise is the spa. The Beach House has one – actually a spa room with on-call masseuses that can deliver a massage or facial within hours of the call. At no charge, the massage treatments can be administered in the guest’s room upon request.

“It is all about choice,” says Kevin McCarthy, a hospitality veteran with Sheraton Corp. and now general manager of the Hermosa Beach House Hotel. “It used to be all about location and brand, but now it is about ‘unique.’ Independent or ‘boutique’ hotels are often very affordable and offer the most bang for the buck. You can still stay at a Sheraton or a Hilton but, for the same consideration, you can stay in a condo-style room at the beach. People who travel, whether for business or leisure, know this.”

The Hermosa Beach House, as an example, offers 96 suites on the sand of the Pacific, just 20 minutes south of Santa Monica. The sand is clean, volleyball nets stand at the ready, and a 22-mile biking, jogging and walking strand running from Redondo Beach to Malibu is right outside the door.

And the staff is ready to help with any request. For that special occasion take advantage of all the Hermosa Beach House has to offer. For an additional $95 to any guest room booking clients receive a bottle of Gloria Ferrer Brut Champagne, bubble bath, rose petals, complimentary valet parking and a late check out at 2:00 pm.

The property is just a block away from the heart of Hermosa: a pedestrian mall flanked by bars, shops, restaurants and boutiques all leading to the pier. Along that pedestrian promenade sits The Lighthouse, a legend in these parts. Once a beacon of sound for the beat generation with the hot names in jazz at the time and Blues icons such as Mose Allison, today it still brings in the names and the classic folk and jazz entertainment in a cavernous room of hard wood floors and exposed aged brick walls.

Also down the street is the Comedy & Magic Club where Jay Leno can be found on stage nearly every Sunday evening testing new material and engaging with audiences, who pay $30 for a reserved seat at the 7 pm stage show. Dinner menus are available but tickets need to be reserved early. (

Finally, dining in Hermosa runs the range: from burgers and beer, to tapas and wines, to Italian and martinis, to Mexican, and Japanese. But the big recommendation here is Chef Alba’s Bistro ( The small, unassuming cozy corner spot two blocks from the beach is the best place for steamers in Southern California, and where you want to have your Seafood Cioppino and not be overwhelmed by the broth. The restaurant delivers white-gloved service and finely paired wines by knowledgeable waiters, all put together by a serious chef who is passionate about her ingredients.

Outrigger Bhoput Beach

Where Buddhas and Big Sunsets Meet

Outrigger KohSamui Resort and Spa


Outrigger Hotels & Resorts is putting its stamp on a popular Thai island and bringing another welcome spot for affordable luxury in Thailand under the name of a trusted brand.

Outrigger Koh Samui Resort and Spa in Bhoput Beach, Koh Samui, has barely opened its doors this month to offer a full complement of resort amenities in a spot perfect for sunsets, walks and meditative moments under the island’s Big Buddha icon. Visitors get the benefits of luxurious pool villas, spacious pool access suites and Beach Deco rooms with Outrigger’s trademark bucket of amenities: a beachside restaurant, a Navasana Wellness Centre, a fitness centre, three swimming pools, including one beachfront pool, two bars and a Kids Club. Wifi is free throughout the resort.

Bhoput, on the northeast corner of the island, is five minutes away from Samui airport and 20 minutes from the main tourist area at Chaweng. The location is known for its tranquility, family-focused activities, dramatic sunsets and Big Buddha temple statue overlooking the sea.

Koh Samui attracts around one million tourists a year. The island has daily direct flight connections with Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and Utaphao (Pattaya). Samui is known today for its large variety of beach activities, water sports, ecotours, and sightseeing into the island’s picturesque interior and to the islands and reefs of the adjacent Angthong marine national park.

The 81 rooms, suites and private villas are steeped in Thai design but possessing some contemporary flair. Easy “wow” effects can be found in accommodations sporting an outdoor whirlpool spa or a private entrance to resort swimming pools, or luxury villas with vaulted ceilings, exclusive lap pools, and lounging decks.

The local “do’s” include a jungle safari through the island’s rainforest interiors on the back of an elephant; scuba diving the coral reefs of Koh Tao; ocean kayaking amid ancient caves and rock formations at Ang Thong National Marine Park; or a private Thai cuisine cooking class with the resident chef.  Visitors can also avail themselves of the resort’s access to free shuttle services to Chaweng, the island’s popular town for shopping and dining.

Carnival Splendor Sets Sail Again

Carnival Splendor

Following a three-month dry-dock repair of its engine room the Carnival Splendor set sail Sunday with a full load of passengers heading on a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise from its home port in Long Beach, CA.

It marks the first sailing for the ship since it was marooned at sea 150 miles off the coast of San Diego November 8, 2010 after a diesel engine generator caught fire in the engine room. The fire was contained in the engine room but the heat melted insulation that protected the ship’s 110 miles of electrical cables that would have allowed a second engine room to take over. The result was a total loss of power for three days. The beleaguered ship was eventually tugged into San Diego.

“These are not the things you expect to happen, especially not in a ship only two years old,” says Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO. “There are two engine rooms and you don’t expect to lose both aft and forward.”

The company added several safety measures to the new repairs: improved sensors, stronger insulation protection and the creation of a fire safety task force across the cruise line fleet – including better trained crew and stronger communications with land-based response facilities.

Damages from the incident, from the cost of repairs to the cost of reparations and lost revenue from cancelled sailings top $65 million, Cahill says. The Splendor incident in November displaced 47,000 passengers in all.

In a conciliatory gesture following the fire, the cruise line reimbursed the 3,299 passengers aboard the cruise, took care of passenger transfers and hotel nights and safe return to their onward, flights and sent them off with promise of a free equivalent cruise at a later date. Passengers who were booked on cancelled cruises were given full refunds and discounts toward a future sailing.

“We have not had any problems in rebooking passengers or with any passengers who sailed on the ship,” says Peter Ward, a travel consultant with Legendary World in San Marcos, CA.

But recent reports from some disgruntled passengers and travel agents say the cruise line has not been so forth coming.

“If there are some unhappy passengers out there we don’t know about them,” says Cahill.

The 3,006-passenger Splendor is one of three Carnival ships based in Southern California with sailings to Mexico. The Paradise sails out of Long Beach and the Spirit docks in San Diego for another 15 months before moving to Australia.

Stuffed Avocado with cooked Chicharron

Stuffed Avocado



• ½ Avocado
• Cooked “Chicharron Prensado”
• Refried beans
• Fresh grated cheese

Chicharron Prensado (Ingredients)

• 18 oz. Pork
• 1 Tomato
• 6 Serrano Peppers
• 1 cube of “Consomate” or “Chicken flavor Bouillon”


1. Wash the peppers and tomato. Roast them directly into the flame, let cool and peel.
2. The peppers are dried thoroughly and roasted with a hint of oil on low heat, covered in a pan, until you can discard the shell. Peel the tomato and ground everything in a “molcajete”.
3. Cut the “chicharron” into pieces and put in a pan.
4. Move constantly, and add the salsa from “molcajete”, the cube, and 2 cups of hot water.