I can recommend two places:
1. Siri (that is how they pronounced it, I don’t know the transliteration), a small restaurant on one of the main streets in the center of Ramallah.
They serve hummus, foul, and foul ringed with hummus, get the latter. The accompanying vegetables were more strongly marinated than they typically would be in Israel, a plus in my view.
2. Laymoon [The Lemon restaurant], Ariha (Jericho)
The chicken musakhan, with piles of red onions and slivered nuts over bread, seasoned with generous doses of sumac and allspice, is very tasty. The restaurant is also a nice place to sit outside and enjoy the weather, or to catch an Arabic-language film on their large outdoor screen.
I walked by many other places and in general they looked good. The various fruits I purchased on the street were all winners, the small oranges and the dates most of all. There is much less variety, but dish by dish my impression from a small sample was that the food in West Bank cities is slightly better than that of Tel Aviv.
Ariha was attracting a lot of Nigerian church tourism.
Overall I noticed how much economic growth and globalized advertising were to be seen in Ramallah. My biggest surprise was how much being in Ramallah felt like…being in Israel. Except the citizenry seemed less religious.
Daughter Yana (“Dotchka”), who is almost 24, will visit Singapore (!) for the first time in the second half of December, flying from her current abode in India. What do you recommend she do and see there? When it comes to the social and economic dimension, she is interested in market urbanism, economics of infrastructure, Jane Jacobs and Adam Smith, health care management, and civil society more generally, not to mention historical narratives on the regularization of goods and services delivery toward cheapness and reliability. She has had a good meal or two as well.
Both she and I thank you in advance for any guidance you are able to offer.
It has its gruesome side, as illustrated by this look at a traditional site for visits, Haw Par Villa:
Thousands used to throng the park, and it once stood shoulder-to-shoulder with attractions like Singapore Zoo and Jurong Bird Park. “Every Singaporean over the age of 35 probably has a picture of themselves at Haw Par,” said Desmond Sim, a local playwright. Those pictures would probably include the following statues, each made from plastered cement paste and wire mesh: a human head on the body of a crab, a frog in a baseball cap riding an ostrich, and a grandmother suckling at the breast of another woman.
But the highlight of this bizarre park are the Ten Courts. A tableau of severe disciplines are shown in painstaking detail, along with a placard stating the sin that warranted it. Tax dodgers are pounded by a stone mallet, spikes driven into a skeletal chest cavity like a bloodthirsty pestle in mortar. Spot the tiny tongue as it is pulled out of a screaming man, watch the demon flinging a young girl into a hill of knives. Ungratefulness results in a blunt metal rod cutting a very large, fleshly heart out of a woman. Perhaps the most gruesome depiction is an executioner pulling tiny intestines out from a man tied to a pole. The colons were visible and brown. The crime? Cheating during exams.
The park may be closing down, with few remaining attendees, though from the article it seems you still can go. Hurry up.
You can read TripAdvisor reviews of the park here. Here is Wikipedia on the park. Here are Flickr images. There are further sources here.
Are these the cultural preconditions of capitalism and good governance? I know which of my colleagues will be most happy to read about this.
This is from the obituary of economist Alexander L. Morton:
At 42, Mr. Morton was well on pace in the ascension of his chosen career ladder. He had a doctorate in economics from Harvard, had taught at the Harvard Business School and was finishing a four-year assignment as director the office of policy and analysis at the Interstate Commerce Commission.
He then quit.
He had made enough money in real estate deals and investments to guarantee an independent income for himself. For his remaining 28 years, he was almost constantly on the move, visiting dozens of countries and often going off the expected paths from Western travelers.
He rarely spoke about himself and never discussed in detail his reasons for retiring in mid-career as an economist to pursue a life of travel. But his sister said he was ready for a change, had the savings to and had done as much as he wished to in the field of transportation deregulation.
To continue along the same path, would have been a case of “been there, done that,” she said.
Here is Alex’s earlier post on traveling more. Maybe Alexander L. Morton had some really good lunch partners.
That’s Westchester County, right? I will have time for one meal there, before a trip to IBM Watson. Where should I eat?
Chris, a loyal reader (natch), poses the following challenge. He is planning to travel, perhaps to Venezuela, but other countries are open. He’d like to profit from an arbitrage opportunity which could be due to official and un-official exchange rates or it could be a goods-based arbitrage. At one point, for example, you could do quite well bringing condoms to Russia but no longer. Nothing illegal especially on the import side or nothing too illegal. I get the feeling he would go for bringing in Cuban cigars if that were his best bet.
Thus, MR readers, the challenge. What country and what arbitrage?
As for me, I always eat well and get a haircut when I’m in a poor country (thanks Bela Balassa) but that arbitrage won’t pay for the trip. Can you do better?
Since the mid nineties I have been looking for a bibimbap that would stand above all others. A year ago I found it in Seoul, and yesterday I retraced my steps and visited again.
As I entered, the woman in charge appeared to recognize me and gave me a stoic look of “Oh, you again.”
This is vegetarian bibimbap, with egg, and you need to shake your lunch box many times. She will do it for you. They also serve a superb bean sprout and seaweed and rice noodle soup, and if that description doesn’t excite you, you need to get to Korea as soon as possible.
As a sideline, they sell Korean antique furniture out of the side room.
It is very close to Changdeokgung palace area, up the nearby street (first pass the Hyundai Cultural Center) with lots of shops and restaurants and old Korean roofs. French people walk there. I was told by another customer that the address was Jongro Gaedong 44, but on the other side of the street I saw the numbers 91 and 93, in any case this building is just short of The Cup Story and Uncle’s Bob stores. (02) 744-8130 and 010-9942-9967 are given on the business card.
It is worth visiting Seoul to eat this woman’s food.
And after you finish, it is about a ten minute walk to the Institute of Traditional Korean Food, where they have an excellent rice cake museum.
It’s good — really — and it is called The Signature of All Things. I also find the book was nearly ideal for a long plane flight. It has enough ideas to keep one’s interest, as I find that truly schlocky fiction bores me after a short while (it is better for short flights than for long ones). But it is also easy enough to read and the print is suitably large.
Which other books do you find to be ideal for long plane flights?
Gas stations have not historically inspired confidence as palate pleasers. Day-old (or longer) doughnuts or hot dogs rolling (and rolling) on a spinner grill come to mind. But across the Washington region, there are at least a dozen eateries serving delectable, sometimes organic, fare near the pump. There’s Korean bibimbap in Wheaton, authentic Mexican in Jessup, Thai in Leesburg and Latin American in the District. Corned Beef King cooks its meat for 11 hours.
And here are the economics:
The chefs and dreamers have found willing partners in gas station owners. Some have volunteered to cover the cost of building kitchens to tap new sources of revenue — from rent and increased foot traffic — as the margins on gas sales shrink even furtherand retailers such as Best Buy encroach on their quick-bite turf by stocking soda and snacks at the register.
Here is much more, from Michael Rosenwald.
Flights out of Venezuela to anywhere are 100% sold out, months in advance. Yet many planes are flying half-empty. Why? The official exchange rate is 6.3 bolivars per dollar but the black market rate is more like 42 bolivars to the dollar. Few people are allowed to convert bolivars to dollars at the official rate but there is an exception for people with a valid airline ticket. As a result people with an airline ticket can convert bolivars to dollars at the official rate and then sell the dollars at the much higher black market rate. Reuters has the story:
“It is possible to travel abroad for free due to this exchange rate magic,” said local economist Angel Garcia Banchs.
The profit is realized from an arbitrage process known locally as “el raspao,” or “the scrape.”
Credit cards are used abroad to get a cash advance — rather than buying merchandise. The dollars are then carried back into Venezuela and sold on the black market for some seven times the original exchange rate.
The large profit margin easily absorbs the cost of flights and accommodation for a trip.
“I’ve been able to buy new clothes and give some cash to all my closest family members!” said one delighted Venezuelan lady, just back from a trip to Europe.
…Some Venezuelans do not even bother leaving the country, but merely send their credit cards to friends overseas, who swipe the cards and send the cash back to Venezuela.
“This is the reason many airlines are sending half-empty planes,” Ricardo Cusanno, head of a local tourism council, told Reuters, saying the government should cross-reference flight lists with those requesting foreign exchange to outwit the no-shows.
Hat tip: Carl Danner.
Could it be Hmong Village, 1001 Jackson Parkway, in north St. Paul?
It is a large indoor market, set in a warehouse, Hmong stores and stalls only, a kind of Eden Center (for those of you who know Falls Church, VA) for Laotians. The produce and spice and bark sections are amazing. Along one wall of the warehouse are about fifteen small restaurants, barely more than stalls, mostly Hmong in their cooking but two served authentic-looking Thai food.
Based on visual inspection of the options, we dined at Houaphanh Kitchen, which was superb, don’t forget the dipping sauces. And I hope you like purple sticky rice. The other places did not look much worse and there were many more dishes I wanted to sample. Overall entrees ran in the $4 to $6 range. Highly recommended.
Here is some discussion, with good photos. Here are some useful Yelp reviews.
In honor of labor day here are a number of resources on the most pro-labor policy in the world, open borders.
1. OpenBorders.info, the uber-resource and the spearhead of the movement.
2. The Michael Clemens classic, Economics and Emigration: Trillion-Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk? (pdf) and Clemens interview with Russ Roberts.
3. Why Should We Restrict Immigration? (pdf), excellent Bryan Caplan article.
4. My interview on CBC radio making the case for open borders (starts around 3:18).
5. My article from 2000, Economic and Moral Factors in Favor of Open Immigration.
6. The Open Letter on Immigration from over 500 economists.
Hat tip: Daniel Lin.
Here is just one bit from a fascinating article, most of which concerns bears learning to use a road overpass:
But over the years, critics and transportation planners, even some environmentalists have groused about the idea: Taxpayer money, building overpasses for bears? Is that really necessary? Would they even use the things? Researchers have been methodically studying the crossings since 1996 to answer this. And it turns out that, yes, animals deterred by fencing that now runs the full 70-kilometer length of the highway in the park actually cross the road an awful lot like a rational pedestrian would. It takes them a while, though, to adapt to the crossings after a new one is constructed: about four to five years for elk and deer, five to seven years for the large carnivores.
The full piece is here, and for the pointer I thank Philip Wallach.
This undated photo shows two Xiamen Airlines stewardesses kneel in prayer at a shrine dedicated to being “on time”.
Here is more. By the way, this is part of the problem:
The latest statistics shows that the flow of air traffic accounts for as high as 40 percent of the total number of flight delays during the first half of this year. And whether the flight could take off in time or not, it depends on the fellowship with the air traffic controller.
Captain Wang Hai said that as long as one crew member on a flight personally knows the air traffic controller, the flight would be given priority to take off in time.
But some air traffic controllers explain that queue-jumping contributes to flights unpunctuality.
“International flights and those carrying important passengers, such as government officials, business tycoons and senior officials in civil aviation, do not have to wait in long queues to take off”, an air traffic controller in south China’s Guangzhou said.
Here is related coverage from The Economist, excerpt:
The first and oldest problem is that China’s armed forces control most of the nation’s airspace—perhaps 70-80% of it. This is especially the case above and around cities, leaving very narrow corridors for aeroplanes to take off, land and navigate nasty weather.
I will once again recommend to you the James Fallows book on aviation in China.
For the pointer I thank D.