Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Batu Ferringi

The place we are staying is the Bayview Beach Resort in Batu Ferringi, on the north side of the island of Penang. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we head into Georgetown, the main city on Penang. While we are here we have been enjoying the leisurely pace of a beach resort. Our days have consisted of a buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant, sitting on lounge chairs in the shade talking and reading with a couple of swims in the pool thrown in, and going out for dinner in the evening.

Half of the pool; it was never too crowded

Watching parasailing from our lounges

Menu from the snack kiosk -- just over 4 RM to the dollar
 Monday evening we decided to find the Andrew's Kampung restaurant, rated number one in this area on TripAdvisor. We walked along the road; it turned out to be much further than we anticipated, at least a mile and a half. But there were many sights along the way, including many stalls similar to the Night Market in Chiang Mai. We passed this restaurant I had noticed on the way when we drove in -- we wonder what Danish Biriani would be like!

Andrew's Kampung did not disappoint. It was crowded but we managed to get a table -- in the air-conditioned room, not on the coveted terrace. We didn't mind, as it was a very warm evening. We started with spring rolls, which tasted quite different from the ones we are used to, but very good.

We had a deep-fried fish, which you can see was partially eaten before I managed a picture. It was delicious and not very bony.

This photo shows some of the fish meat with a sauce provided, sort of a sweet and sour.

We had a very good Malaysian fried rice, which was also delicious.

We ordered a vegetable dish called Kang Kong, supposedly a specialty. It was our least favorite of the dishes, similar to what they call morning glory in Thailand, and quite spicy.

We also had a chicken curry, which looked similar to many other chicken curries. Again, it was delicious.

Monday, January 30, 2017

First Day in Penang

Saturday morning we were up very early to catch our flight to Kuala Lumpur. We used Uber to get to the airport. It was easy, reliable and good. We weren't sure if there would be many rides available at 6:00 AM, but we only had to wait about 5 minutes.

At immigration we were stopped because we had a 30-day visa and it was day 31. I miscounted, forgetting that the arrival day was day 1! We could have been slapped with a hefty fine, but the agents conferred and graciously told us we should be more careful in the future. Believe me, we will!

I snapped a few photos as we came in for a landing at KL airport. This one was the best.

We had about two hours between flights. It was a very long walk from the gate where we landed to our departing gate (my phone app said 1.2 miles!). Immigration and security were almost empty and simple to get through as we were transferring. I am used to seeing all manner of odd clothing in airports, but I had to take a picture of this one:  Guilty Parties Paradise; at the bottom it says God Bless You. What?? Is that supposed to be Jesus? Or a saint?

At the Penang airport Dan changed some money and we got a prepaid taxi. We expected about an hour's drive, but it was a good bit more. The traffic was extremely heavy, especially on the main road that runs along the shore on the north side of the island. Since it was Chinese New Year, I guess it wasn't surprising. It has continued to be very heavy, especially in the evening. We think it might ease up a bit after the weekend revelers are gone. The hotel is full and it is big.

We got checked into our room, which is very nice and spacious. We called our friends Reid and June, who had arrived the day before and met up in the lobby to have supper. We went across the street and had some Indian food, OK but not outstanding.

We decided to have breakfast at the hotel -- a very large buffet with a huge variety. I decided to have some eggs and got in the line at that station. I had quite a wait, as the two people in front of me each ordered 3-4 orders for other people. They made omelets or scrambled eggs to order. To the left of this photo, a young woman was making fried eggs. The silver bucket to the back was full of eggs that were already broken and beaten; the omelet-maker could just ladle them out.

We spent the day on lounge chairs on the spacious and shady grounds. We could see the ocean, but it was not recommended to get in, as there are many jellyfish. We did go in the large swimming pool several times. The weather was perfect, warm with a mild breeze blowing off the water.

The small restaurant near the pool would take orders and deliver. I was surprised to see him delivering on a bicycle! The area is quite large so it makes sense, but I can't imagine carrying a tray of drinks with one hand and riding at the same time.

Dan had taken a walk in the morning and saw a restaurant names Beirut Spring nearby, so we thought we would try it. When we got there it was closed, so we backtracked and went to a place that offered Malaysian food, which we wanted to try. We started with lassis (mango for three of us), which came in these small pitchers. They were frozen, like a slushy, and very good.

We had two noodle-based dishes that our waiter recommended, although I don't know the names. This one was a bit like a sweet-sour sauce. Notice they leave the heads on the shrimp as they do in Thailand.

Tom Yam soup is a staple in Thailand. This one came in a coconut. The white cover is actually a piece of coconut, and there were other large pieces in the soup. As it was cooked, it was very soft.

This noodle dish was a bit like Pad Thai. 

And the piece de resistance was a sea bass covered in a spicy red sauce. It was delicious!

As we walked back to the hotel, I got a photo of the front lit up with all the greenery. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Getting Ready to Go Again

We leave Chiang Mai on Saturday for a week on Penang Island, Malaysia. Dan will be getting his 60-day tourist visa while we are there. And we are meeting up with friends at a beach resort for a few days. In the meantime, here are a few sights of recent days.

You may know that the long-lived king of Thailand died in the past year. He was much beloved by all. There is still mourning bunting on a number of the buildings, including this center for traditional Thai medicine that I walk by daily.

We went back to the Saturday Walking Market, particularly because my sister wanted a painting that she saw on my daughter's blog. It had been sold, but the couple said they would make another like it. Here is a photo of them. They delivered it to our hotel on Tuesday evening.

A few items I noticed at the market:

Stuffed animals
Interesting dresses of tribal-style woven fabrics

Sleep masks for the eyes; I wonder how the flight attendants on our plane would like to see them!

Ingredients set out for something to be cooked; we hardly recognized any of them.

This morning Dan called me into the bedroom to see the sunrise. It was truly stunning.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Just Another Couple of Days in Chiang Mai

My daily routine here includes walking to and from my Tai Chi class, observing various things along the way, a massage or some loafing around in the afternoon, and heading out for dinner in the evening. (We do our own breakfast and a light lunch in our apartment.)

Generally I try to walk on the sidewalks, but it isn't always possible. One of the three 7-11s close by always has scooters parked in front. If I can't squeeze between them, I just walk on the street.

One evening recently we went to the Max Restaurant, which we first found last year. It is only a couple of blocks away. The seating is all outside.

Max is run by a couple, and the wife spends a lot of her time at the front grilling various food items. While we were there I saw a number of people stopping to pick up something for supper. Some took the food cooked, others took it raw, presumably to cook at home. There is bacon wrapped around a green vegetable of some kind, sausages, and a few other things I couldn't easily identify.

One of the places we've been to a number of times in the past two years is Spoon de Best, just inside the Old City. I have no idea where the name came from.

We had delicious spring rolls to start, then I had the Pad Thai with shrimp. Instead of the egg being cooked into the noodles, it was like a piece of egg lace on top.

Dan had a Penang Curry fish dish that was very good.

They were doing some work on the moat near Chiang Mai Gate this week. When I first saw it, there was a man standing on the raft poling it to the side. 

In the evening as we walked toward the restaurants, we saw this pickup truck loaded up with scooters being delivered to the very large dealership in front of the Noble House Hotel. They had already unloaded three bikes when we got there. I think they had about a dozen crammed onto it, quite amazing.

The men who were unloading it saw me taking a picture, and quickly got up on the truck so they could be in it!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Rimping Supermarket

On Sunday afternoon we took the scooter to the Rimping Supermarket just across the river near the Iron Bridge. Even though I've been in various Asian countries many times, my expectations are still influenced by our first experiences in India in 1968. At that time there was nothing available that was prepackaged or ready-made. There was a mail-order company in Singapore that some people ordered from, including mustard, cocoa powder, and similar items. Although Thailand is a very modern country in most ways, the markets that we buy from are mostly local. (Not to mention the dozens of 7-11 stores, however, and the Tesco Lotus Express where I get milk, dishwashing soap, and other items.)

So the Rimping Supermarket was quite an experience for me.

The bakery had gorgeous bread.

Cooked crabs available in the seafood section.

Two pictures of desserts in the deli area. The baht is about 35 to the dollar, so these desserts are a bit over $2.00 each, not exactly cheap! (But they look delicious.)

I have no idea why these eggs were colored. I do know that eggs are sold both fresh and pre-cooked, but I can't read the info on these to tell which are which. When I get eggs at Tesco Lotus, I am careful to look at the carton; one time I got eggs that were soft-boiled, not what I was looking for.

This gift basket at around $30 appears to be essences of mushroom and probably other things.

The produce was very nice and beautifully arranged. They had almost everything I could think of.

Ready-made soup definitely for the foreign trade.

At the checkout we found out that any produce must be weighed and labeled in the produce department. I had picked up an onion and a pepper. The cashier was very helpful; she put a closed sign on her counter and took off for the produce department to get it weighed. Dan went along and I waited with our other things. She did not seem at all put out, just eager to help.

While I waited I took a photo of the sign below. Alcohol can only be sold at specified times during the day, not between 2:00 and 5:00 PM. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Street Sights

As I walk around this city, going to my Tai Chi class or just out and about, I constantly notice interesting little things that I've not seen before. Here are a few.

Last year I posted a few photos of an addition to the wall between the Tai Chi studio (Mind and Body Healing School) and the place next door. Rod told us a restaurant was going in and they wanted a little more privacy. The place is now open and is vegetarian. So far I haven't seen anyone there, but I walk by at about 9:45 and 11:15, so it isn't really a mealtime.

We had an amazing amount of rain last week, unprecedented for this time of year. The next day after I took the photo above, this sign was on the gate. 

In the soi (alley) off the main moat road, I saw this cute little kitten sitting on the wall by a banana tree.

This shows the moat road during a heavy rain. I was walking to class in a very light drizzle but managed to stop at this sidewalk restaurant to sit under cover when it got heavier. After about ten minutes I was able to proceed. (Because I use walking sticks, I can't easily carry an umbrella, so I just take my chances!)

This grouping is in front of a shop across from several restaurants we have patronized. I'm not sure if these little monkeys are for sale or what they are doing here!

We love the view from our balcony at all times of the day. This sunset was after the rain had just cleared off. The little strips of light are signs on the Airport Plaza Mall. The airport is not much further just to the right of it.