Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Sleeper Train to Thailand

A relieving celebratory dring upon clearing passport control and entering our beloved Thailand
This blog entry reads best from the bottom up. (this is what I dislike about blogging -- the sequencing)

Nearing the Thai border, we are aware of the added "protective" forces.

a few statuesque formations add visual interest

A lovely gaggle of ducks are frightened by the loud train

Keith catches a bit of a nap

and some familiar rubber trees

Ah, here comes the green -- a familiar rice paddy

But first a classic bit of new construction

Leaving the industrial city scape behind and looking forward to some space and green

Peg gets settled in the seats in preparation for the 14 hour overnight train ride into Thailand

A photo of Keith as we leave the ferry and walk the ramps to the very convenient train station.

crossing the ferry from Georgetown back to the mainland and Butterworth

Summarizing Georgetown

This crumbling but obviously once elegant structure says it all.

Busses, clean, spacious, and efficient.

Fairly crowded. Too many people for the limited space has created stresses on the resources and infrastructure.

Large almost clannish populations of Chinese, Indian and Malay.

We are glad to have been here. It is a fine introduction to Malaysia as is not so huge as Singapore or Kuala Lampur.

The food alone was worth it.

Bussing Around the Island - Penang

We've really become fond of this little neighborhood in the older part of Georgetown and begin to wonder what else might be farther afield. Getting acquainted with the regional bus system seemed the first step. The hotel desk clerks directed us to main bus terminal at the tallest building in town. The route took us unexpectedly through the Sunday market.

After considerable confusion, we finally found our correct bus to head toward the northern beaches and the interior part of the island.

We disembarked the first bus at the Butterfly Farm sign and decided we might be in a little place a local had told us about which was a pleasant and friendly Muslim community. We found a very friendly fellow at what looked like a popular eating place who helped us decide on the specialties of the place.

We passed on the Tropical Fruit Farm because we were concerned about uphill walking only to learn later that we should have gone because that was not a problem.
Two more busses and we were back "home".

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Food, food, fabulous food!

Keith gets a lesson in preparing lok lok -- fish on a stick from a myriad of fresh and flavorful choices. (not to be confused with fish sticks)

Here a stand featuring rojak provided an enjoyable experience. You select from the various meats, breads, fish, vegetables and fruits. Then it is taken behind the counter and chopped to bits whereupon a lovely sweet and spicy sauce is spread all over. Very good and lots of fun. Next time I will chose more cucumber and fresh pineapple and less fried bread.

At a very muslim corner of the island some distance from Georgetown, we asked the waiter for a recommendation and were offered these lovely breads baked thin on a griddle and then one was rolled into a long tube and served with assorted dipping sauces. Yum~

Penang quite prides itself in the vast varieties of cuisine. Here we enjoy probably the best Indian meal we have ever or will ever have. The chef must be a genius to get the flavors so right and the ingredients so fresh. Passage Thru India
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A bit of the neighborhood in Penang, Malaysia near our hotel

This little gal is a very important part of her family-run business.

Row houses add pleasantness with greenery and there seemed a whole row here with a common interest in pretty porches

A very typical sidewalk scene. Stucco falling away from original brick, accents of the ubiquitous mold, cement stepping stones and a little greenery trying so hard.

Trishaw is a popular and friendly way to get around the old part of town.
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Street scenes in the Neighborhood

Asian lions have a mythology all their own here -- a nod to our European son who is also fond of lion staruary and carvings he has come across in another part of the planet.

Well global marketing has been here awile. According to the manager at the Levi store, Levi has been here since the beginning of time -- 25 years at least.

Corner market with ubiquitous Tiger beer banners. Tiger beer is ok we decide, but Belgium is better.

While I am fond of photographing old decaying architectural compositions, Keith seems drawn to drainage systems. Go figure.
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First day walk to the ATM

This is a famous house we will tour tomorrow. The people here in Panang (Georgetow) are quite proud of its World Heritage status. Justly so it seems.

A once stately colonial mansion, now guest house. Had seen it online and considered it for ourselves, but ended with Mingood which turned out to be a happy choice. Explanation to follow.

A handsome mosque with great history. The site was "granted" to the Sepoy soldiers (in service East India Company) by said company. Restored with funds of local community in 1958.

I found this little piece of architectural loveliness to be touchingly charming.
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First morning in Georgetown

I enjoy the roof top coffee/breakfast area. Most views in the city are marred by the "big guys" but you can get a glimpse of the sea between them.

Coffee outside on the morning after a good rain.

Really lovely blooms inthe potted arrangement.

the corner noodle and coffee shop - usually beneath a well-welcomed fan. Still aclimating to the heat we are.
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A bit more of the 14 hr train to Butterworth

This was much of what we saw: steamy jungles giving way to massive palm oil plantations. It reminds one of the vinyards of California. There is either a great market for what is produced or land owners THINK there is a great market for the product.

Yes, our car was this empty for most of the 14 hours. There was an hour of an family with 3 annoyingly rowdy little boys. The youngest running up and down the aisle dropping all the food trays at all the seats. He had a great time! grrrrr.

Typical street scene. Many folks waved and smiled. Not so much when it was raining. It was a very relaxing ride.

Coming up on Kuala Lampur which we opted to skip since we're not fond of great large metropolises (or is it metropolisii?)

Train from Singapore to Butterworth, Malaysia

7:00 am at the Singapore train station. Peg is seated in foreground beneath very nice murals. We found a local (read: for locals) coffee shop with assorted "local" goodies to carry on for eating. No real idea what anything was. But we eventually ate everything except one chicken wing. It may have been green because of the spices, but we weren't sure enough. The bag coffee was fun.

Approaching the train for bording. We have done a pretty good job of traveling light, I think. For old folks on a 3 month trip anyway.

But we're sure not getting the photography right yet. Even forgot to take the camera yesterday when we saw most of what we were going to see of Singapore. The Thai Embassy, Orchard Road, some great food court, and some lovely old colonial buildings. The bus system is excellent as is the subway. The city was exceptionally clean as well. Good on 'em for banning chewing gum!

Settling in to our seats. We changed right away as soon as we saw there were few passengers, to forward facing seats with better window views. Keith dislikes looking where he has been. It's like reading right to left instead of left to right. Oh well -- at least we had an option.
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