The Way Overland… to travel is to live! But it seems, to travel overland is to experience it on a very personal level! This is what we learnt when we met Mark and Jolie from The Way Overland who stayed at Envoy Hostel while in Phnom Penh!
The Way Overland
At Envoy, we love travel and being in this industry we see a lot of people who similarly share this passion. However our recent guests Mark & Jolie from Australia have taken the art of travel to the next level! Their mission dubbed as ‘The Way Overland’ (T. W. O.) is to travel all the way to the UK by land in their compact Troopy! Now that sounds exciting! But wait, what is a Troopy?
What is a Troopy?
Think of a caravan crossed with a 4WD. A Troopy is a tough, fun and versatile vehicle perfect for adventure travellers like the The Way Overland.
As we were curious to find out if it was comfortable to travel in the Troopy, we asked Mark & Jolie to tell us more about it. Of course they were happy to tell us all about it. Mark even gave Chamnab a ‘tour’ of the Troopy 🙂 It’s neat and compact design really impressed us! Clearly, Mark and Jolie can travel in comfort and safety as the Troopy has everything you need plus more! It was surprising how much can fit into this car! It has a fridge, stove, sink even USB ports! We were already amazed! But as we thought it couldnt get any cooler than that, we found out that they even have an upstairs bedroom! Thats right! This sure is the perfect way to travel!
Luckily Mark and Jolie stayed while we were trialling our new breakfast menu items. They sampled our new tropical fruit salad and the pandan infused black rice pudding topped with fresh mangoes! And their feedback was…. GREAT! We were so happy they enjoyed the new dishes!
As they had a safe place to park on our premises, they ended up staying for one week. We really enjoyed hosting the The Way Overland (T.W.O – but there were actually 3 of them, Mark, Jolie and Troopy 🙂 ). It was sad to seem them leave. However, knowing they will be having many more wonderful adventures we bid them farewell. We hope to see them again one day. Likewise we hope they will stop by at our Envoy Hostel’s in Yerevan (Armenia) and Tbilisi (Georgia) as they cut across that part of the world to reach their final destination.
Hope you have enjoyed reading about them! If you would love to find out more or even to follow their adventures check out their website and social media.
When does art become meaningful? Art is quite subjective. An artwork can raise an emotion or move one person and leave another perplexed. However it may be, we recently had the joy of experiencing a unique moment in the history of envoy where a foundation of friendship and fellowship was cemented with a unique and very meaningful art.
A Spark is Lit!
Recent renovations at the hostel included an upgrade of our rooftop terrace. Its a space our guests love to hang out. In addition, the panoramic views of Tbilisi from the terrace makes it a place you just don’t get tired of. So it made perfect sense to make this an even more comfortable space for our guests. The plans included adding a small bar, aptly named megoBARi. Megobari in Georgian literally means friend. So its the perfect place to make new friends 🙂
After finishing majority of the renovations, we were left with one stretch of wall that seemed empty. This space was calling for something eye catching, something colourful… so the idea of a wall mural started to develop.
Meeting of Minds
Later that same day the idea had sparked, Dominic, one of our dear guests staying at Envoy as part of a group of German pastors declared that he had had such a blessed time that he wanted to say thanks by creating an artwork for us in the form of graffiti!! You can imagine our surprise and amazement at his suggestion! It was indeed the meeting of minds!
Step 1: Plan
In the famous words of Benjamin Franklin “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” So immediately we started to chat and decide how to tackle this project. We had the artist, now we needed a concept, a canvas and of course paint! All this in a tight time frame meant there was no time to be lost.
We managed to get all the essentials sorted quickly. We even found professional spray paint in a wide range of colour choices. As far as the concept, we were thinking something inspired by nature.
Any project has its challenges! Some you can predict in advance but some you come to face unexpectedly. This project was no exception. First it was the weather that concerned us. The whole day had been sunny and warm but as we started to get ready to do the painting, clouds gathered and rain was imminent. This brought on urgency to ensure our canvas wouldn’t get wet. We decided to lift the canvas to the rooftop to work on it under the covered area to stay dry.
As we tried to take our canvas to the rooftop where it was going to be painted and hung, we realised it was going to be trickier than we had thought. It took German ingenuity and a lot of teamwork but we successfully lifted the canvas at last!
Face to face with a blank canvas, spray paint in hand, question is, what should we paint? Following the inspiration of nature we searched for a meaningful muse. As we all love travel and enjoy the feeling of freedom when travelling/ flying, we started to focus on birds. However what type of bird would suit best? We remembered that the legend of Tbilisi involved a falcon (where King Vakhtang Gorgasali was hunting and his falcon caught a pheasant but both birds died in the nearby hot spring). This thought lead to the idea to paint an eagle as they also appear in the bible prominently and inspired by the specific biblical verse:
“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
And so our meaningful art project came to fruition! Dominic skilfully painted as we all watched in amazement. This artwork has so much depth of meaning to us, linking Tbilisi legends and our faith through to a constant reminder of our new formed friendships which we hope will last forever.
Thank you Dominic for this beautiful gift we will always cherish. Above all we thank God who lead you and your friendly group to our hostel, gave us the inspiration, motivation and of course talent to create this masterpiece. Praise God for His wonderful ways!
You travelled to Armenia and enjoyed the local coffee. Now you are wondering how to recreate and enjoy this drink back home? Well, we are going to teach you step by step how to make Armenian Coffee at home.
So what is Armenian Coffee anyway? A thick and delicious coffee enjoyed in this region which is certainly not for the faint-hearted. This small cup of coffee packs a punch! It gives you a caffeine boost that will keep you going for a while 🙂 This strong traditional coffee is how most Armenians kick-start their day.
But first here’s a little background on the traditions of this coffee.
We all know that food and drink brings people together. Similarly, this is not an exception for the Armenian coffee. It is very much a social drink, although you can enjoy it solo too, it certainly tastes better when shared. 🙂 It gives a reason for friends and family to gather around the table for a few minutes to enjoy this special drink together. Normally enjoyed in the mid-morning but there is no reason why it can not be enjoyed at other times of the day too. Regardless of time of day, it’s a cup best shared!
Art of Brewing
This coffee is fairly simple to make. However it has one critical step (Step 5 in the instructions below). The art of making this coffee is learning when to remove it from the heat. So if you master this timing and perfect your technique, you will be an Armenian Coffee barista. 🙂
How important is learning this art of brewing the perfect coffee? Well, in the ‘old days’, it was considered ‘time’ for a young person to marry once they could make this coffee with a nice head of crema on it. (This brings a deeper meaning to the phrase ‘for the love of coffee’)! So you can see how important coffee means to the local culture!
Its probably worth noting that it gets harder to create the perfect crema when making multiple cups of coffee. So once you perfect making a couple of cups, test your skills on making 5 cups or more!
Warning! For Coffee Lovers Only!
If you are not a coffee lover or don’t like strong coffee then this is certainly not the drink for you! This is a thick and strong coffee served in an espresso size cup. However if you love coffee then welcome to a new taste and texture sensation. It has a thick, almost grainy texture. For this reason, it is best to sip the coffee slowly. This allows the excess coffee to sink and sit at the base of the cup. You are not supposed to drink this sludge type sediment at the bottom of your cup (not even for the serious coffee lovers), it’s just too thick and dense to consume. So you are done with your cup once you reach this thick base.
Tools of the Trade
To make a good coffee, you need to have the right tools. The key to making this coffee is to own a ‘jazve’ coffee pot. We highly recommend you invest in one while you are in Armenia (many home ware shops sell these but also you can easily find them at the Vernissage Markets). A jazve makes for an impressive souvenir from your trip too (especially if you pick up an antique Soviet era jazve from the markets)! Imagine serving your coffee to friends back home in an authentic coffee pot! It’s guaranteed to be a conversation starter!
Jazve-s come in different cup sizes. The key is to select the right size jazve. This will promise best coffee results. A good cup of Armenian coffee is one that has a nice head of froth (crema) on top. This is why choosing the right size jazve is important. Too big a jazve and the froth will not form well. If you were to ask us what size jazve you should invest in, we would recommend a 2 cup (although there is even a single cup size too). You ask why? Well, as mentioned above, this is definitely a social drink and you will almost always have a partner in crime to enjoy the coffee with 🙂
So you say you left Armenia without investing in a jazve? What to do now? Simple – plan your return visit 🙂 Setting jokes aside, the best alternative is to use a small stove top variety milk warmer. Otherwise, look up a Middle Eastern store in your neighbourhood. The joy of embracing multiculturalism in the world means it is most likely to be a store you can source an authentic jazve from close by!
First of all, you will need the star ingredient: coffee! This fine ground coffee takes different names when buying it from overseas. The coffee will appear as Armenian, Greek, Turkish or Lebanese coffee, as all these nations enjoy this form of coffee. Note that Lebanese coffee is often cardamom infused. If so it will have a distinct flavour, different to the Armenian coffee, but still delicious and unique.
Other ingredients are simple to find, just sugar (if using) and water.
Now you are ready to start!
Making Armenian Coffee
Here’s a step by step guide on making Armenian Coffee:
Measure 1 (slightly heaped) teaspoon of coffee and place in the jazve.
If using sugar, measure desired amount and add to the jazve. Note that using one teaspoon of sugar will make a sweet coffee. Most locals drink with little or no sugar. So the amount of sugar is entirely up to your taste.
Using the espresso cup, measure one cup of cold tap water and add to the jazve.
Place the jazve on the stove top on low heat. Stir to make sure all ingredients combine well and remove the spoon. (if you accidentally leave the spoon in the coffee, it may heat up and burn your hand. It also effects the formation of the crema, so it is best to remove it).
Wait! Seriously 🙂 This step is the linchpin of the art of making Armenian coffee! Not only does it teach patience but it also tests your skills of making the perfect brew. As the coffee warms up and brews, it starts to slowly rise (this is when the right sized jazve helps as you will see the coffee rise in the narrow opening of the jazve). Let the coffee rise but do not let it boil over. Removing the coffee from the heat at the perfect moment, makes the difference of excellent flavour and creates a nice thick crema on top. If the coffee boils over, the crema almost completely disappears and the flavour of the coffee is compromised. So watch over the coffee during this step to pick the perfect moment.
Pour the coffee gently into the cup to ensure the crema gathers on top undisturbed. Call your friend or next door neighbour as its time to share your cup of coffee. 🙂 Best served with a delicious Armenian pastry’ gata. YUM!
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