Thursday, November 13, 2014

Malaysia Miscellany

Given the high cost and low taste of the local brew, and the fact that a teacher with full beer brewing supplies decided to move on, Tom has a new hobby.

Perhaps you do not wish to know where bottling takes place...

surveying the set up with satisfaction

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And the finished product


Certainly good to know it's pork-free.

And in our apartment, meant to be an artistic attempt at capturing jungle and sea  (jungle out the kitchen window, sea out the living room)
Also in our apartment, the TV stops working when it rains.  Go figure.  Can really leave one hanging at dramatic moments :-(.

In our condo complex, a "pinang" tree = betel nut, close up.  Apparently there used to be many, but now, not so much.  They are lovely--tall thin grey palms with these handsome red fruits.
A random flower shot from a hike in the middle of the island. So many wild and crazy plants and animals here!

And here is a typical TRAVEL shop: suitcases and jackets.  Jackets not being necessary here, ever.

VietNam trip

For T’s October mid-term break we got to go to VietNam for a few days.  T had fancied taking a Mekong River cruise, but we found the ones advertized uber-luxurious and pricey.  So we planned our own route, with just a short Mekong jaunt and three days in Hue, in the middle of the country, passing through Ho Chi Minh City (FYI still referred to as Saigon by many locals) several times briefly, to/from Hue and to/from Can Tho, a city near the famous floating markets of the Mekong.  

It is a very appealing country. Friendly people, good food, excellent service—the latter especially attractive coming from Malaysia.  We had been warned about traffic and the zillions of motorbikes, the scary prospect of crossing the street. But instead we felt appreciation, admiration even at the lack of aggression when compared to Malaysia. Yes there are thousands of motorcycles, more than Malaysia, but they move somehow in concert, orderly, like schools of fish.  Get the rhythm and you are safe, even pedestrians.

Pix from Ho Chi Minh City: 

Hotel de Ville = City Hall

Moules (mussels) and frites (fries)

Ben Thanh Market
This brand would be so popular in the US

National art museum

Learning about Ho Chi Minh

Soldier life

And outside, T getting us around

K resting in style in the art museum
Shower curtain in Saigon hotel--instructions on usage...

Bloating fern, anyone?

Then we were off to Hue, a very likeable small city, home to the UNESCO World Heritage classified Imperial City.  We got a great deal on the upmarket Imperial Hotel, 
T in lobby
so lived royally for a few days while exploring the Imperial City palace grounds, large park-like emperor tombs, and lovely temples.

We walked on a bridge across (sorry no photo) the Perfume River to the The Imperial City.
an entrace to the Imperial City--across a moat

checked out the royal loo

Dining at a vegetarian restaurant adjacent to a temple in town, T bravely ordered “fried bumps”.  The menu was very interesting.  Bumps turned out to be lovely sautéed bok choy and cabbage.

We hired a taxi and visited an emperor's tomb--a massive park-like estate with (separate) houses for his concubines and eunuchs, who lived out their days there after his death.

close up--cut porcelain!

We also visited a temple in a forest.

stone gong!

We then hopped a bus (comfy--with wifi!) from Ho Chi Minh City south to Can Tho, in order to visit the floating market early in the day. A wonderful 2 hour boat trip, starting at 5:30 a.m. 

It's mainly a wholesale market. The boats line up  in two neat rows.  You can tell what's on offer by checking the item or items hanging from a tall pole on each boat.  
fruit salad boat?

pineapple boat

coffee boat!
our view

view of us


gas station

a freighter
Our driver had made a stop at the pineapple boat...and about 10 minutes later surprised us with a perfectly peeled and cut, luscious pineapple, on its own stalk, cut for us to share.  Heaven!

Our boatman, expert pineapple cutter

We turned off the main river and went through some canals. Fascinating seeing  life along the river. Unfortunately plenty of garbage along and in it as well...
The boats have eyes

fish nets

Back in Can Tho, Hi  Ho!
 And more good food