Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

The 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting had officially begun on 28th of June 2015. For those who wished to know what was happening and what was being discussed, you could visit this programme page. Thanks to the media people, many of the lecture and materials are available online. They served as a good read/watch during a short break.

Below is the opening ceremony video:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Phuket-Land Trip 2015 II

20 June 2015

First Breakfast in Phuket

I set the wrong alarm! Instead of the said 0700, I didn't realise my phone was still at GMT +0800. Hence, I woke up to sunshine one hour earlier, rolled around a bit and started to get ready for the day. We wanted to wake up earlier that day to go around finding tour package and start planning for the trip. I took a peek at the backyard of the hostel, which was not bad. It was the smoking area (you should not be smoking inside the hostel).

When everyone was ready, we started our journey by asking the reception if there was any breakfast place around. We were directed to this stall, just down the road.

The variety of the breakfast was intense. They were slightly familiar but not totally. For the heavier food, we've got rice or beehon with egg and meat and even chilli. On the other side, they were mostly kuih-muih, something that looked like nyonya kuih we encountered in Malaysia or Singapore. Recognize those green-ish delicacies?

One specialty on that day was this, rice dumplings! Coincidentally, it was Rice Dumpling Day (which also happened to our previous year's trip). To make that day a bit more meaningful, we bought some of the dumplings. If you haven't encounter rice dumplings before, the left ones are rice dumplings with meat or fillings. In Penang, it could come in sweet or savoury taste. For the right one, it was made from glutinous rice, pulut. It was usually plain rice and hence will be served with something sweet. In Penang, we could choose between sugar and gula Melaka (palm sugar). In this case, they came with a pack of sugar.

We walked further down the road to find places to eat or interesting food. We discovered a very nice hotel nearby, On On Hotel and a very classy building, which turned out to be a bank, 开泰银行 (Kasikornbank).

We found several stalls around the corner selling almost the same thing as what we saw and bought a few more before finding this little coffee shop. It was called T-origin. I can't read Thai, but it would be obvious it sells drinks and bread. We asked if we could eat there with drinks and outside food and - wait for it - yes! This was one of the best things I found to experience in Phuket, the willingness of the shop owner to allow outside food as long as you buy something from them. This, was not as easy when you come to Malaysia or Singapore. The owner most probably look at you with the darkest shade of stare. Well, so we settled in and ordered one drink. I know, sound stingy, but hey - first day, we need to save enough money to last the whole trip!

We arranged the food and started to feast on them. Most of the food were sweet and glutinuous rice. If not, they would be spicy. We ate the quail's eggs, which was a nostalgic food. The rice dumpling was sweet but not bad. I find it quite appetizing. The plain ki-zhang tasted totally same as in Penang, the only thing left out was gula melaka. Since the owner was so nice to let us eat, we might as well take as long as we can and even took selfie, or shall I call - wefie?

Walking continued as we start to search for shops selling tour packages. I was usually not so professional when it came to interacting with shopkeeper, asking for better pricing, therefore I turned into my better skill, documenting. Carrying my new camera around, I snapped quite some photos and tried to remember how things looked like. Hello there!

What makes the trip nice was the architecture around the town. Even some random abandoned house looked like these! Can you imagine how detailed the people were, to build just a small house? The small patterns which you probably won't notice unless you zoomed in. They were beautiful.

Alas, we did found a few stall selling good packages and we were collecting brochures for reference. According to one of the shopkeeper, it was a low season, hence a discount in most package price.

At one point, we passed by this row of colourful buildings and spotted a mart right at the end. We were happily inching towards the mart when we were nearly stunned by quarreling noise from one of the unit. It was a fierce fight and we kept our voice down, hoping we could go through that street in peace.

We eventually entered the mart and pranced around the isles of goods, examining each and every product. We commented on commercials and awed by rare brands of grocery. When we go for the cashier, we saw this cute little sign. They were selling some kuih and look at the mochi-like creature smiling there! We bought a box and ate it. It tasted like what we had as Ang Ku Kueh.

After that, we continued back to hostel while slowly deciding our next itinerary.

11th Doctor in The Rings of Akhaten

Random practice on pencil. That was drawn after I watch The Rings of Akhaten and find a certain insporation. It was lucky I could draw something out to even look like a face. Great drill.

Garden by the Lake

I painted Garden by the Lake before I even know Garden by the Bay existed. This was also a requested painting, meaning, this piece was no longer with me except softcopy unless I recreate it. The requester was getting a bit evil when she found out I was bad at painting flowers, by requesting a piece full of flowers. In the end, I put a bit of an effort looking through the internet for plants and flowers found near a lake to be a bit more realistic. I did screw up the sky a little, but I'm definitely proud to say I put in effort on the flowers.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Phuket-Land Trip 2015 I

19 June 2015

Arrival and First Meal

Naturally, this was the first day of our trip. We had a flight to catch around 2020 at Changi, so we head off from school around 1800. PK and I were to meet K at the airport. I changed into a more comfortable shirt and bought myself soymilk just because I was hungry. I was more concerned with the long journey ahead, travelling on MRT to Changi and check in before we could even start eating.

Anyway, yes, we had KFC as dinner at Terminal 1 and rushed to the custom and off to the gate. We were not too late but not early either. I was sitting at a window seat away from the other two, but the two passengers next to me were very kind, by lending me their pen during the departure/arrival form filling-up. I was too caught up with the book I was reading at that moment, The Martian, so I skipped the dark blue sky outside the window. Speaking of which, I just read about the concept of how an airplane window was constructed, but that's a topic for another day.

When we arrived at Phuket airport, we went pass the custom quite successfully except a certain attention was given with the officers wearing mask. That same morning, the first MERS case was confirmed in Bangkok, Thailand. Anyway, we found the car that was supposed to bring us from the airport to our hostel. The journey took around 40 minutes. The driver did chat a bit about the places and introduced us to certain local places we should take note of while we drove pass. I was just remembering landmarks to register the directions, so, not much was well-digested.

Our hostel was at Phang Nga Road in Old Phuket Town, Best Stay Hostel. It was a rather new dormitory style hostel, nicely painted, clean-looking and peacefully quiet. When we reach our hostel, the reception has closed, so we paid for most of our accomodation fee and went up to choose our bunk beds. It was always my favourite to get the upper deck, so I did requested one. We did meet briefly with a roommate from Canada. Shortly after we changed and unpacked a little, we were to walk out and find some dinner/supper. The driver was just nice there and offered to give us a ride to a nearby eating place. So he drove us a few streets down and we were put at an eating place, recommended by the driver.

Due to our halfway-here-halfway-there stomach, we ordered a dish of spicy fish soup and stir-fried morning glory. Let me start with the fish dish. The fish meat was okay but we had a bigger problem with the overall smell. It had a 'pee' smell and we soon discovered the origin, the bamboo shoots. Funny how the same bamboo shoot in Sichuan never smell that way. Anyway, we sort of skipped that soup part by forcing ourself to finish the meat. Sorry.

Next, morning glory. We ate the whole meal imagining this 'morning glory' was the morning glory we saw on fences, the one which greeted me every day during my kindergarten days. Apparently, it was what kangkong, or water spinach, was called in Thailand. I searched it up, it was technically right to call them morning glory though, since they are of the same species. It is supposed to be called phak bung in Thai. In case you wonder, the scientific name is Ipomoea aquatica. This dish was awesome, in my opinion because it was fresh and flavourful. I could empty the bowl of rice (khau) with just that. 

Other than the two dishes, we were served a bucket of ice and a bottle of mineral water (1.5L kind) as drinks.Oh, the straws came sticking out of the bucket too. At the end of the meal, we were also give a plate of pineapple - nice, sweet pineapple! And there, we paid the bill and left. Since I still have the record, this meal cost us 405 THB.

After leaving that place, we were bound to walk back to our place while passing by some mart to get simple grocer and look around. It was quiet at night, not much people around. The left slot meant 'phuket' literally, while the second slot meant 'other places'. It was interesting because the local was not the country, but the province itself.

Along the way, we saw the most common mart in Phuket, Family Mart. They were something like 7-11. We bought some grocer plus with a bottle of beer to taste the start of the adventure. There was a very nice roundabout with clock tower, a historical site apparently. Nothing much on the first night, as wel trailed our way back and off to bed.

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