Today is Sunday , March 8th. On Friday the 13th, we are flying to Leon, Mexico to visit Armando, a former Rotary exchange student who stayed with us for several months a few years ago. After we’ve spent the weekend with him we will fly to Puerto Vallarta for five days. I’ve been looking forward to getting away from the cold, but the temps are warming up quite a bit this week. It’s 43 degrees here is afternoon.
I’m going to write a Blog from Mexico and hopefully send some pictures. I’m experimenting today on my iPad mini. I don’t enjoy writing on the small keyboard, bit it’s easier than then iPhone. Maybe my finger will get used to doing his quickly So it won’t be so tedious. For now.
I lost the pictures and captions I had put together for the picture post so will add some descriptions now.
I’m not sure what the man has on his cart, but all of these pictures were taken in Bagan, Myanmar at the morning market, and I liked this photo.
The picture with the long pink veggies, is peeled bamboo. I’m not sure how they prepare them for eating, but I thought I saw some that were shredded and I would suppose they cook them. I did hear that they are tough to eat, not appealing to me. The other pictures are self-explanatory.
Brushing my teeth has taken on new meaning for me. I can rinse my tooth brush and clean my mouth with tap water again! It was a nuisance to have to use bottled water but I didn’t want to get sick, and thankfully stayed healthy on this trip. I did have a stomach upset in Kuala Lumpur before a flight, and that was one week to go, but managed to get over it quickly. We took some chances in our choice of restaurants and ate at road side cafes several times so I’m a little surprised I stayed so healthy. I refrained from eating the fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers that were decorating my food plate, although towards the end of the trip I indulged, and even took ice in my drinks several times. John told us not to worry, the water would be clean, and it was.
The food was good but not great like Vietnam. In Bangkok we ate at a barbecue one night. When we were told we would be going to a barbecue I thought we would be eating ribs, etc, with different sauces. But it wasn’t that at all. It reminded me of a Mongolian hot pot, only you grilled the meat on the top of the pot and cooked vegetables in the water around the grill. The food was served buffet style and you could eat all you wanted, but we probably didn’t really eat that much because we had to cook our own food and couldn’t cook very much at a time. I wasn’t always positive what I was eating. I knew I was eating chicken but it was harder to tell the difference among the red meats and so it was just a surprise. It all tasted wonderful. I cooked bunches of basil, carrots and broccoli too.
Another night in Bangkok we went out for a fresh fish dinner. It was served Chinese style where they just keep bringing dishes of food to the table. We had grilled shrimp , the kind you had to work to get the meat out of, a local smoked fish and also a deep fat fried shrimp, which I really liked. Of course, we had rice too.
Maurice mentioned to me that people often didn’t know names of things, so they just called them “local,” local trees, local fruit, local fish, or whatever we were asking about at the time.
I would say that we ate either rice or some kind of noodles at every meal. I ate Pad Thai for the first time. This is a popular meal in Thailand and Myanmar and would be easy to make with rice noodles, chicken, fish sauce and green onions. I felt the noodle dishes were sometimes fried with too much oil. Palm oil is a big product in Myanmar and that is what the poor people eat because it’s the cheapest, but not the best for one’s health. Sesame oil is the best but only the wealthiest use it; peanut oil is another product produced in Myanmar. We saw a sesame field in Bagan, Myanmar.
Our favorite restaurant in Malaysia was an Italian food stand that we found on a boardwalk restaurant on the wharf at Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. The cook was from Sicily and his wife was Thai who said she was from the northeastern region of the country. She looked to me to be of one of the ethnic tribes, with a beautiful smile and the skills of a trained chef. They were a two-person-show and did a fine job of presenting gourmet type food that we heartily ate and went back for twice more.
I want to write about the bazaars again, because they are so fascinating to me. Not just because I like to shop, but because I’m such a visual person. It’s interesting to me to see the myriad displays of jewelry, different pieces in each place we visited. In Thailand Doreen and I walked into a shop where they made the local Akha souvenirs, purses, coin containers, pillow covers, and so inexpensive. I’m sorry I didn’t buy anything, I wasn’t ready yet and didn’t want to carry extra stuff while we were still traveling so much.
I loved the jade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that I saw mostly in the Mayanmar bazaars. I wish I would have bought more, it was so inexpensive, $2 and $3 for bracelets and earrings, although I did pay $5 for a necklace, probably too much, but I wanted something with an elephant since the animal has such significance to the Buddhist philosophy, and we spent lots of time touring their temples and pagodas, or stupas. (A stupa or pagoda is a solid building and a temple is a building one can walk into.)
Precious jewels like diamonds and rubies are mined in Myanmar. The people lost the resource to the Chinese who bought the mines from high military officials years ago. The Chinese have big equipment to mine the stones and can sell them for big bucks. The Burmese use human labor and can’t possibly do the volume of sales that the Chinese can so they have lost out on that income. The military is like the Mafia.
I read today that Burma has been involved in civil wars for 60 years. Several people did talk about the fighting in the northern part of the country, but we didn’t talk about it in depth.
Pearls are everywhere in Malaysia. John talked several times about shopping for pearls so I had to stop, look and buy. Doreen and I shopped like two women at a Silpada Jewelry party, we went “gaga” over everything. I learned that there are different kinds of pearls and will need to do some research because I still have some questions. There are cultured pearls, fresh water pearls and sea water pearls. I have some conflicting information on the differences so will have to do some research before I write about them in my next blog
I loved walking through the food markets to see women squat by their baskets of colorful vegetables. We saw potatoes, beautiful big carrots, a very bright purple eggplant, 12 inch long green beans, rice, noodles, eggs, fresh fish, dried fish, garlic, onions, everything one can imagine plus more. One basket was filled with pink bamboo shoots that were stripped of their bark. It was not something that appealed to me.
The trip seems like a dream to me now. We have amazing memories and many pictures. I’m very happy with the way they turned out, thanks to my wonderful Canon Rebel t3. I’m looking forward to sorting them out, putting together an album and possibly doing a slideshow. Most of my pictures are clear, and a bunch are nice and sharp, according to my standards. I have favorite pics that have a little fuzz and it will be hard to trash them but I must be ruthless and get rid of them as my camera friend tells me.
For now, Carolyn back in the US and starting to feel like my body is where it’s supposed to be after one week. We slept until 6 a.m. this morning, that’s a good sign.
We paid for our food in coupons that we bought each night for $4 at the most. Each coupon was worth 5 or 10 bahts. The exchange rate was 30 bahts to $1. We could buy back the coupons we didn’t use.
We ate at this market deli almost every night while in Chiang Mai. We’d take a taxi down to the market, eat our dinner and walk through the bazaars with hundreds of vendors selling their colorful jewelry, scarves, purses, lungis, (the long wrap skirts worn in the countryside of Thailand and Mayanmar) and everything one can imagine.