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5 Asian foods created during World War II

World War Two (WWII) brought a lot of changes into the world including the food that we eat.

During the war, food supply was low in Japanese-occupied Asian countries because priority was given to the military.

There were even incidents of animal captives in zoos being sacrificed for Japanese military food.

When people are pushed into desperation, they tend to get creative.

Here are five Asian foods invented during WWII:

1.Nasi rames of Bandung (Indonesia)

When the Japanese occupied Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) during WWII, food was scarce.

In order to help the Dutch community in Bandung, a Eurasian cook named Truus van der Capellan or Tante Truus ran a soup kitchen there.

She put together a balanced meal of rice, vegetable and meat onto a plate and called it nasi rames.

Other people in other places also had the same idea like Tante Truus but they mostly called it nasi campur.

2.Banana ketchup or banana sauce (Philippines)

During WWII, tomatoes were rare in the Philippines.

Food technologist Maria Y. Orasa (1893-1945) then invented the banana ketchup using bananas instead of tomato.

It is made using banana, sugar, vinegar and spices.

To make it looks like tomato ketchup, its original brownish-yellow colour was dyed with red colouring.

3.Darak (Philippines)

Orasa was also responsible for creating Filipino superfood during the war: the Darak.

It is a rice bran powder rich in thiamine and other vitamins which could treat beriberi.

Moreover, she created a Darak cookies recipes which saved many civilians.

Orasa’s original recipe was quite simple.

It needs 1/2 cup of rice bran powder, 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of lime zest, 1 egg, 1/2 cup of butter and oil for lining the sheets.

First of all, beat the eggs and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Then beat the butter until it turns creamy. Mix in sugar, rice bran powder, flour egg and lime zest gradually to make the dough.

After that, drop cookie dough using teaspoon and flatten them so that they can cook evenly.

Make sure the cookies are about two inches apart. Finally bake them until they turn golden brown.

4.Soyalac (Philippines)

Along with Darak, Orosa also invented the Soyalac (a protein-rich soybean powder) to help in the war.

In order to fight the Japanese, she joined Marking’s Guerrillas and became a captain.

The guerrillas hired carpenters to insert Soyalac and Darak into hollow bamboo sticks.

These sticks were then smuggled into prisoner-of-war camps.

These wartime foods saved the lives of many POWs who were starving during the war.

Unfortunately, Orosa died on Feb 13, 1945 after being hit in a bombing raid.

5.Instant noodles (Japan)

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While this food is not exactly a wartime food, it was created as a subsequent effect of WWII.

After the war ended, Japan was still suffering from a shortage of food.

The United States was supplying wheat flour to the Japanese people so the Ministry of Health encouraged their people to eat bread made from this flour.

Momofuku Ando then had the idea to make instant noodles. After many trials and errors, he succeeded and introduced it to the world on Aug 25, 1958.

Since the first original flavour chicken, Ando called it ‘Chikin Ramen’.

Besides being known as the inventor of instant noodles, Ando is also known for creating the world’s first cup noodle.

10 interesting facts about the 19th century Iranun pirates

Forget about Captain Jack Sparrow, the most fearsome pirates in this part of the world were the Iranun people.

Although the Iranun people are native to Mindanao island in Philippines, they also had settlements on the west coast of Malaysian Sabah as well.

During the 19th century, they were infamous for their piracy activities.

The British gave them the exonym ‘Illanun’. That is where the Malay term ‘lanun’ or pirate came about.

Here are 10 interesting facts about the 19th century Iranun pirates:

Illanoan Pirates
Illustrations of Illanun or Iranun pirates circa 1800s. Credits: Public Domain.

1.The Spanish called the Iranun pirates “los Illanuns de la Laguna”

This was because their main stronghold was located on the shores of a lagoon in Mindanao island. Besides being a stronghold, it was also where their wives and children lived.

2.They also had settlements in Sabah

Apart from Mindanau island, the Iranun pirates also had settlements along the coast of Sabah including Kota Marudu, Ambong Bay and Tempasuk back then.

3.The Iranun pirates were the fiercest pirates in this region during the 19th century.

According to author Owen Rutter, the Iranuns were the fiercest and most powerful pirates of the Eastern ships.

He wrote, “They never hesitated to attack European ships, and, while they might give quarter to a native crew, to white men, they showed no mercy, owing, it is said, to the former treatment they had received at the hands of the Spaniards.”

4.Their favourite weapon was called ‘kampilan’

A kampilan is a single-edged long sword, traditionally used by various ethnic groups in the Philippines. Apart from kampilan, the Iranun pirates were also known to use spears, kris (a type of dagger) and guns.

5.The Iranun pirates marked the number of heads they took on their kampilan

Remember Killmonger from Black Panther? He scarred his body with every kill he committed. As for the Iranuns, they marked their kampilan every time they beheaded someone. According to Rutter, he had seen an Iranun kampilan with no less than 27 markings.

6.They preferred to kill in a single blow

A kampilan had a long enough handle to be wielded with two hands. Combining the weight of the kampilan and the force of two hands, a single blow was enough to cut someone’s head off their shoulders.

Garay warships of pirates in the Sulu Sea
Piraguas piratas de los Joloanos c.1850 A depiction of garay warships used by Sulu pirates. Credits: Public Domain.

7.They cruised not only in the Sulu Archipelago

Although their piracy and sailing skills were well-known in the Sulu Archipelago, they also roamed the Malay peninsular, throughout the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Java, Sumatra, Bay of Bengal and all the way up to Penang.

8.An Iranun squadron was usually up to 40 big vessels

Sometimes a fleet might be numbered up to even 200 vessels of different sizes. One man would command the whole fleet while each small boat had its own captain. Each small boat was usually made of their own relatives.

9.They had two main objectives for their piracy

The Iranun pirates had two reasons to commit piracy; plunder and slaves. They stole from the ships they boarded and they took slaves from the coastal villages they attacked.

In Borneo, they were known to attack the Melanau people who settled along the coast of Sarawak.

10.The Iranun pirates usually disguised themselves as traders

Their modus operandi was to disguise themselves as traders so that they could board a ship. They were cunning thieves as well; even when they robbed a ship, they avoided taking objects that could be identified easily as stolen property.

Rutter explained that this would be so it was difficult to prove that they were anything but peaceful traders when their ships were being overhauled.

Read about how the pirates killed the first European man who wrote about the Kayan people here.

6 gorgeous Hollywood filming locations you can visit in Southeast Asia

Have you planned out your 2018 travel destinations yet?

If not, how about walking the paths of Hollywood stars by visiting beautiful filming locations in Southeast Asia?

Here are the top six scenic Hollywood filming locations to visit in 2018:

1. Palawan, Philippines – The Bourne Legacy

One of the best beaches in the world is located in Palawan.
One of the best beaches in the world is located in Palawan. Credit: Pixabay.

El Nido in Palawan served as one of the filming locations for 2012 American film The Bourne Legacy.

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) and Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) were shot riding a boat to El Nido.

It is currently ranked number 4 in Conde Nast Traveller’s list of “20 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World”.

With its white sandy beaches and limestone cliff, that is not a surprise.

Some of it’s best places of interest are Seven Commandos Beach, Simizu Island, Bacuit Bay and Cadlao Island.

2. Khao Phing Kan, Thailand – The Man with the Golden Gun

James Bond Island
Khao Phing Kan is mostly known to many as “James Bond Island”. Credit to Pixabay.

The names Khao Phing Kan and Ko Ta Pu might not be familiar to most tourists visiting Thailand as most may know them as James Bond Island.

Ko Ta Pu is a 20 metre tall islet located about 40 metres away from Khao Phing Kan.

Before the 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun where it served as a hideout for Bond’s antagonist Francisco Scaramanga played by Christopher Lee, the island was relatively unknown.

The island became part of Ao Phang Nga Marine National Park in 1981. Since 1998, tourist boats have not been allowed to get too close to Ko Ta Pu to prevent any more erosion of the base of the limestone islet.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t see it at all: according to, the two best ways to view James Bond Island are from boats or from the small beach on Khao Phing Kan.

Thanks to various factors including shallow water depth, stable warm temperature and rich nutrient supply from mangrove forests; the area is abundant with marine life.

It plays home to organisms such as blue crabs, mud lobsters, black sea cucumbers, brain coral, and striated herons.

3. Angkor, Cambodia – Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

One of the filming locations for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
Ta Prohm, one of the filming locations for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Despite the success of finding a real-life Lara Croft, Angelina Jolie’s 2001 action-adventure film received generally negative reviews.

Angkor may have become the winner in this scenario, however, as it left such a great impression on the screen that more than 2 million tourists visited it in 2013.

Ta Prohm, one of the temples in Angkor was widely associated with the movie. So much so, it was dubbed the ‘Tomb Raider temple’ among tourists.

These 12th century ruins were originally built as a monastery and university by Khmer King Jayavarman VII. Today, one of the distinct features of Ta Prohm that make it a photo-worthy destination are the trees growing out of its hallowed halls.

To top it off, the temple is almost in the same condition it was when it was rediscovered at the end of the 19th century.

Its solemn ambience, intricate wall carvings combined with its jungle surroundings make it one of the most visited temples in Angkor region.

4. Maya Bay, Thailand – The Beach

Maya Bay
The view of Maya Bay in low season.

Maya Bay is one of two shallow bays besides Loh Samah located at Ko Phi Phi Leh island surrounded by 100-metre high limestone rocks.  Besides it’s gorgeous beaches, it is also a protected nature reserve under Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park.

Being a protected nature reserve, however, didn’t protect Maya Bay during the filming of The Beach (2000). Although the world was introduced to one of southern Thailand‘s great beauties, filming a Hollywood movie there turned out to do more harm than good for Maya Bay.

In an effort to make Ko Phi Phi Leh more “paradise-like”, 20th Century Fox, the studio behind The Beach (2000) reportedly bulldozed and cleared some sand dunes of native vegetation.

A group of environmentalists filed lawsuits against 20th Century Fox, the forestry department and the Thai agricultural ministry  for damaging the ecosystem in the island which they won in 2006.

Regardless of the lawsuit, Maya Bay is still famous among tourists – perhaps too famous – that it has recorded 5,000 visitors taking up the 250 metre long beach in one day. And that was the number recorded during low season.

Maybe the pristine white beach and crystal clear water of Maya Bay are just too irresistible.

5. Bali, Indonesia – Eat Pray Love

Will ride a bicycle through terraces of rice field like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love?
Will you ride a bicycle through terraces of rice field like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love? Credit: Pixabay.

Eat Pray Love (2010) starring Julia Roberts was filmed over a number of locations which include New York, Rome, Naples, Delhi, Pataudi and Bali.

In Bali, the film was shot in Ubud, a town surrounded by rice paddies and in Pecatu, a resort popular for its beaches.

In the film, Roberts was shot riding a bicycle through rice fields and swimming in Padang-padang beach in Pecatu.

Although not many were happy with the film, from critics to media including a travel blogger who wrote ‘Avoiding Julia Roberts in Ubud, Bali’, the island is lovely to visit.

Many are sold for its lush green paddy fields, surf-worthy beaches, colourful corals and unique cultures.

6. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam – Kong: Skull Island

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Credit: Pixabay.

In 1898, a huge sea snake in Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province was sighted by a ship’s sublieutenant named Lagredin and his crew.

The story was even reported on The Hai Phong News, a French newspaper.

One century later, another creature emerged in the bay, a 104-foot-tall ape named King Kong in the movie Kong: Skull Island (2017).

The film was also shot in two other provinces in northern Vietnam, namely Quang Binh and Ninh Binh provinces.

The bay has up to 2,000 islets, most of which are limestone.

You might not find a huge sea serpent or a giant ape but it is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 faunal species.

Other movies that were shot here were Pan (2015) starring Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard and Life (2017) starring Jake Gyllenhaal.