Saturday, February 18, 2017

It's Saturday!

Last week I posted about the big truck blocking the alley for the house that is being renovated. Later as I passed it, I saw that the door and wall are nicely decorated.

One evening this week we walked into the old city to Baan Nana. This is a restaurant and hostel and we've always enjoyed our food there.

Cashew chicken with vegetables

Penang chicken
We have frequently gone to the Saturday Night Walking Market near us and picked up food to bring home to eat. This week we decided not to go there, but to just go to the Chiang Mai Gate Plaza, which turns into a food court every evening. Tonight the traffic everywhere was heavy, as to be expected when Wua Lai Road is closed for the market (it's a major thoroughfare).

We went to a booth that makes Pad Thai to order, then got a seat at one of the many small tables. Here is a view looking across to the roof of the Chiang Mai Market.

Although we had already ordered, there was a menu on our table for a different booth. I don't know if you can read it, but it says:

Paste of rice flour (twice), Pork noodles, Noodle machine, and Ekaehla. On the other side it said:  Pork porridge, Pork egg porridge, Boiled pork, Rice machine, and Boiled fish. Your guess is as good as mine as to what these things are.

Across the way we could see the KFC Fried Chicken booth -- oops, I mean KFG. Yes, that is a 7-11 store behind it.

This lovely young woman was clearing things from the tables.

Here is one of the two Pad Thai dishes we had. I wish I were better at chopsticks, but I managed.

As we headed home, we passed a booth that was selling lots of fried snacks. We got these cheese balls that came with a nice little salad.

And a banana spring roll. The question was: "Do you want it drizzled with chocolate?" There is only one answer to a question like that!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Another Week

The smoke pollution has started up in Chiang Mai. It is due to massive crop-burning going on all over Southeast Asia and China. We are told it will be bad through March. Dan and I both have 3-M masks to help with the pollution when we are out. Sinuses are clogged; antihistamines give some relief.

Friday as I walked to my class, this butterfly followed me for a while. It finally landed on an old tire along the road and I got a shot. The poor thing has lost part of its right wing.

I posted a few times about the new building along the way. Here is one of the workers taking away the wheelbarrow on his scooter. He was happy that I wanted his photo.

When I got to the soi (alley) where I turn off the main road toward the Mind and Body Healing School there were some traffic cones closing it off. As I turned, I saw why. These roads are not very big and this was a big truck. There is some remodeling of a home going on and it appeared this truck was cleaning out the storm drain under the road. I was able to squeeze by.

Saturday evening we went back to the Walking Street Market. I wanted to pick up another cotton top like one I got a few weeks ago -- very cool and comfortable if not terribly attractive. I noticed that this place haste spirit houses, with plenty of offerings. We stopped by the artists' area and told them that the painting we had ordered was delivered to my sister in Indianapolis a few days before. I think they understood us...

For Sunday lunch we decided to revisit the River Market restaurant, where we went with Anjali and Domingos in early January. The view over the river is lovely and there was a nice breeze.

There are two kitchen areas that open right onto the dining area.

We had to repeat the Son-in-Law Eggs that we'd had before. The eggs are lightly fried, so they are a bit crusty, and are topped with caramelized onions.

This time Dan had the Penang Short Rib Curry and said it was delicious. The meat just fell off the bone.

I had the eggplant tapenade with barbecued shrimp, which was also very good. Each dollop of eggplant had a cashew on it and was topped with a grilled shrimp.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Back in Chiang Mai

The last day in Penang I didn't do much. Dan did the Hop-on Hop-off tour, but didn't get off anywhere. We went back to the Red Garden for supper -- more biriani and some chicken satay. Our flight was pretty early on Saturday and the hotel arranged a taxi for us to the airport. Nothing special about the trip, which is always a good thing. Changing from domestic to international was easy -- we had no lines at immigration or security, which we had to go through twice. We had a few hours to kill in the Kuala Lumpur airport, but the seating was pretty comfortable. I spent our last Malaysian Ringgit on some overpriced chocolate, which is now in our fridge.

Since we've been back, we've visited some of our regular restaurants -- the Blues Pub, Gai's Thai Cafe, Doo Dee, and Spoon De Best.

Gai's Pad Thai

Gai's Panang Pork Curry

Spoon de Best's Sweet & Sour Fried Fish

After leaving Spoon de Best Tuesday evening, we passed by the roti maker's stall again. It was irresistible!

We had banana and chocolate -- sliced bananas are cooked inside the roti, chocolate syrup and condensed milk are drizzled over the finished product. Notice the two sticks supplied so we can eat it right there.

The new building I walk by daily made a lot of progress while we were gone. The cinder block walls are being coated with cement and there are green cloth hangings up to hide the work. In this photo the woman below has just sent a wheelbarrow up by pulley to the worker standing on the second floor. I saw them doing this with all the bricks earlier, but this was the first time I caught a photo.

And to round off this post, two beautiful flowering trees along the moat.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour Part II

I got off the bus at the Penang Hill stop. I knew I wanted to see what this former British hill station looked like. As I headed into the ticket office, I saw crowds of people standing in line. I'd been told I could get a "Fast Lane" ticket if I was willing to pay, and I realized I was! That line had only about a dozen people compared to more than a hundred in the other. Once I had my ticket, I went through the special door and a train came very quickly. We got on first and then the others were allowed to board. Each compartment had benches seating about 8 and standing room for another 10 or so. The train is a funicular installed by the British in 1923 and last upgraded in 2011. I think they said the grade was 27%. There was one tunnel near the top. This photo shows the scenery out the window, with a glimpse on the left of the walking path with many steps.

On the way up I saw these bungalows, very similar to many we are used to seeing in Mussoorie.

At the top there was a huge food hall (with restrooms, yay!) and many tourist-oriented things. I walked on through and saw this beautiful wall with flowers blooming. 

I walked around a bit, getting a sense of the place. This is one view I saw from the road.

It would have been interesting to explore further, to see if I could find any of the places that were used in filming the BBC series "Indian Summers." It was filmed here because the buildings and area were less changed from the time of the British Raj than similar places in India.

I climbed the steps to Gun Hill, where the cannon still sits. It would have been fired daily at noon to give people the correct time.

At the top of the hill was an open area with a playground. There was a mosque on one side and this Hindu temple on the other.

Another shot of some flowers. Everything was very well cared for; it is obviously a good revenue source from tourists and Malaysians alike.

As I headed back to the station, there was a viewing platform to see the city below. Unfortunately, it was very hazy, but you still can get a sense of the views of Georgetown from here.

I only had to wait a short time before a train was heading down. When I came into the line, the woman working motioned me forward and took me into an air-conditioned room to wait. I think my walking sticks classified me with the others in there, one in a wheel chair. But I didn't mind. As I came out of the station I saw one of the Hop-on buses in its parking spot. I hurried across the pavement, hoping I could get on and not have to wait 30-60 minutes for the next bus. I did make it, the driver greeted me, I sat down and he took off. I was grateful.

There were so many sights along the way and it was hard to get good photos. I did notice this doctor's sign, however.

One of the places we stopped was the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. It has a very tall pagoda and a huge statue, plus monastery and more buildings. I decided not to get off and tour it.

One of the many Hindu temples we saw was the one below. I was fortunate to get a good shot of Krishna and Radha and the gopis (milkmaids), which were on the roof facing the road.

We ate dinner that evening at the Danish Briyani House, of which we had seen several in the beach area and in town. One is just down the street from us. We had very good Indian food, chicken biriani, palak paneer, and tandoori rotis. Yum!

We head back to Chiang Mai on Saturday.

Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

On Thursday morning we walked to the nearby Chowrasta market. Originally it was primarily Indian vendors and the name comes either from chowk (plaza or intersection) and rasta (road) or char (four) and rasta. Now it is mainly Chinese vendors. Many things are for sale and I found the following interesting.

The sidewalks here are frequently filled with scooters, spillover from restaurants, and other things. I thought this one was unusual, open for a long way, and with arches forming a covering.

This restaurant was a favorite with Chinese. There were large numbers standing around outside, waiting for a place, I presumed.

We saw several fruit vendors. I'd never seen this double-belled fruit before. Does anyone recognize it? In the rear are pomelos and papaya.

I've no idea what these supposed edibles are!

There were plenty of fish and seafood vendors. These giant prawns looked very fresh. Notice that they are sold with the heads on. They are frequently cooked that way, so you have to remove the head when you eat them. Not very appetizing-looking to us, but supposedly the flavor is better.

After we went through the market, we found the bus stop for my tour. The Hop-on Hop-off bus has two circuits, one for the city and one for the beach. Since we had just come from the beach, I wanted to do the city tour. There were a lot of people at the bus stop, but I was glad to see most of them get on a local bus. I sat down to wait and this young woman sat down beside me and asked if I was looking for the tour. We chatted quite a bit; she was very friendly. She told me this is her internship, working for the tour company. She took the voucher I had gotten at the hotel and gave me a 24-hour ticket. She said it can be used until 10:00 the next day. Soon the bus came and I boarded. It is a double-decker with the top front outside and the back part covered. I chose the covered part, as I didn't want that much tropical sun. 

There was English narration for the various sights and stops. We passed by a number of piers. Some of the sights we saw were things we had passed on our walk on Wednesday. I got a different shot of St. George's Anglican Church, which shows the gazebo in front.

Another interesting sight was the Protestant Cemetery, which I presume has many old English graves. 

A major stop was at the Botanical Gardens, where some people got off to tour them. The British set this place up and it has been well maintained. There was a rhesus monkey sitting nearby and people were oohing and ahing over it. However, I have seen more than enough of them in India!

We passed an enormous number of temples, mosques and churches. I don't think I've been anywhere that has quite so many. (Well, Chiang Mai certainly has a lot, but they are almost all Buddhist temples.) The population here is from India, China, and Malaysia. It appears to me that they have kept their communities somewhat separate. The picture below is one of the largest mosques.

At this point we reached Penang Hill, where we stopped and I got off. I'll put up another post about my visit there and the rest of the tour.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Red Garden and Our Hotel

We are very happy with our hotel, the Chulia Mansion. Not only do they have an outstanding breakfast buffet, but they also have tea, coffee, cookies and ice cream available from 2:00 on, and a free drink of wine or juice at the rooftop bar at 6:00. We partook of both -- after a large breakfast tea and a snack is plenty for lunch, and the view from the top is nice. The hotel is five stories high. Yes, it was raining lightly when we went up there at 6:00, but it didn't continue much.

Rooftop Terrace

View looking over some of the city
We decided to try the Red Garden for dinner, as it was rated quite highly on TripAdvisor (a great source for information on all kinds of travel-related topics) and it was a short walk from our hotel. It was a large food court with booths encircling a large area of tables. The tables are numbered and whatever you order will be delivered right to your table. The first thing we saw was this large rack of chicken wings barbecuing.

Every food booth had photo menus posted. Some were quite interesting. I'm not sure if these dishes actually had frog in them, or if the word means something else here (not likely?).

Some of the sausages and other meat items for sale.

Here is a view looking over some of the tables. It wasn't very crowded, as we were there before 7:00. I suspect it is a real mob scene later in the evening.

Everything was quite inexpensive, and all cooked freshly to order. We had some fried prawns and spring rolls to start.

We ordered an egg biriani. Even though the photo showed a hard-boiled egg, this came with a fried egg on top of the clay pot. A few papars were on the side.

Here is how it looked once we chopped up the egg and emptied the pot onto the plate. It was very good.

While we were at our table, I noticed this sign -- I wonder what is special about an OBAMA vegetarian spring roll?

We were told that oysters are big here and an oyster omelet is something we should try. However, neither of us is particularly fond of oysters.

We headed down to breakfast just after 7:30 when the buffet opened. We were amazed at the spread. This photo shows the fruits and some more. Along the wall were a number of hot dishes, mostly Asian, but including baked beans. You could order eggs any way you want, including Eggs Benedict.

These were all delicious; nice to have small pieces to try. (Spring rolls, Chinese BBQ puffs, and sausage rolls)

Here is what my plate looked like, a sampler of the hot foods -- noodles, macaroni, rice, BBQ chicken, and baby bok choy.

There was a beautiful tower of sweets, tiny pieces of various cakes and jelled desserts, some served in Asian soup spoons. But I didn't have room to try any. There was also an assortment of breads and rolls. The tea/coffee machines are very high-tech, including giving steamed milk for my tea.