Monday, June 30, 2008

Temerloh Food, Pahang

Ubiquitous Tilapia Make Good

The Tilapia fish was served on a huge plate in this restaurant in Mentakab. My host offered his disappointment for not being able to go over to Temerloh (10 km away) to pick up a live Silver Catfish (Patin) for our lunch. Fish farmers reared these along the banks of the Pahang and Semantan rivers that run through this town.

Patin should be eaten in Temerloh and in times past wild Patin was the order of the day. Now a wild Patin costs about RM100 (USD30) a kilo. So the people turn to those reared in cages submerged in the river which is way cheaper. The rivers here must be special. I can imagine these rivers cascading down from the unpolluted mountains of the Titiwangsa Range. The running water and currents are good for the fish as the meat comes out firmer, tastier and without the muddy taste and smell of those from the stagnant waters of the pools and lakes.

So there was no Patin, we made do with the Tilapia. Tilapia is not native to Malaysian waters but was introduced to Malaysia in the '50's. I encountered this fish 35 years ago on the dining tables in Ipoh. Some enterprising farmers started breeding this fish in the many abandoned mining pools in the Kinta Valley. The fish was steamed with Asam Boi (preserved plums), ginger and garlic. The Asam Boi is used to removed or masked the muddy and fishy taste and smell. The fish was small and thin with little flesh.

Since the introduction of the red Tilapia this fresh water fish has taken off as it is cheaper than the those from the sea. It is farmed using better methods and when I dare venture to say those from the rivers in Temerloh could be the best around taking into consideration that the fish was reared in the still good, clear running water.

The meat was firm and taste light and and somewhat neutral to the palate and is amenable and can be easily influenced by the cook's creative use of herbs, spices and sauces. If the fish grows bigger, its fillet will be excellent for fish and chips. The flesh was thick and has plenty to go around. The neck area was the best. We have it deep-fried but not overdone. It was served lemak style with lots of turmeric, lemon grass and a host of other spices. Swiping the meat lightly on this gravy brings its taste out. Rounding up our meal were the Four Heavenly King with Sambal Belacan, Hot Pan Tofu, Pork Ribs and Bayam.
The usual shopping from raodside vendors: Salak Fruit: White flesh crunchy, tangy and sweet @ RM12.00 a kiloHoney Jambu (red) @ RM12.00 a kilo and Apple Jambu

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Relief and Reconstruction - Donation Guidelines (Part 2)

"There's a sucker born every minute." I am not sure who to attribute this phrase to but there is a song going by this catchy yet sobering phrase. If one is taken for a ride due to one's greed it is just desserts. But how about those cheated for being compassionate, soft in the heart and wanting to help. Therefore, part with your money only after doing a due diligence. In cyberspace and the world of PayPal more suckers will be born every minute! Here are some guidelines before donating:

1. Know the organization. Who is in the Board? It is not enough knowing someone inside or check their website. Check whether it is incorporated. The easiest part to see to whom a cheque is written. A personal name or an entity? Never issue a cheque to a personal name.

2. Work the network. Verify using landlines. Ask for referees and testimonials. Check their track records. Check the name of the place and the face.

Newly built houses in Aceh for the homeless - Picture taken a year after tsunami
3. Know its values. What is its vision and mission? You should agree with it. If you do not agree with their social agenda or political activism find another one. Are they fighting for human rights or serving to alleviate human suffering?

4. Know its operational expectations and their KPIs. Example: 10% of donation will go to operations and administration. All money should be on the ground within a month. How they allocate resources?

5. Know the reporting system. What kind of updates and in what regularity will you be getting it? Too much reporting will raise the administrative costs. The key is sufficient information in a timely manner.

Some were still living in tents a year after the tsunami in Aceh.
Wwhere was the reconstruction aid?
6. Who are their 'ground zero' local partners? Do they having good relationship with the government of the day and local officials? I work with a friend whose network includes the ability to get seats and cargo space in a C-130 military plane to get to the disaster zone. Another knows the Minister in another country. The Myanmar situation illustrates this point. The Western world were held up due to political differences. MERCY was on the ground in a jiffy. WorldVision was already inside and just expanded on their work.

7. Above all else be generous.

Relief and Reconstruction - Cyclone and Earthquake (Part 1)

My son and I were nearly drowned in the swimming pool of Guoman Hotel in Port Dickson. It was the morning after the infamous 26th Dec 2004. Over 200,000 people living in the peripherals of the Indian Ocean perished when a tsunami was generated by a massive earthquake off Aceh.
We were struggling in the water and trying to attract attention by waving and shouting. Passersby were a mere few meters away. They paid scant attention or misinterpreted our actions and were left to fend for ourselves. My son put his arm around me and we started sinking. Both of us drank plenty of water. My son calmed down somewhat remembering the coaching that he has. I managed to detach myself from him and then started pushing him by his armpit to side of the pool. With his elbows securely on the solid tiles, he clasped his hands together and uttered these words, “Thank you God!”
I could not imagine the suffering of the ordinary folks in Sichuan, China and Irrawaddy, Myanmar after being devastated by an earthquake (12th May) and cyclone (2nd May) respectively. Over a hundred thousand perished and millions were made homeless.
The Star reported yesterday that MERCY disbursed RM2,000,000 for direct on the ground expenses in Myanmar. Half were spent on relief work while the other half on education for affected children. The operational costs came up to RM33,000 (less than 2% of the total). They must be managing the funds very well. It is not unusual that 30% or more of the donations goes into non-direct costs like operations and administration.
The Cuban Medical Centre in Yogyakarta helping earthquake (27 May '06) victims.
Within a month RM2 mil was on the ground which is impressive esp. with an uncooperative and paranoia government in power. Promptness in disbursing funds is so important. The benchmark to work with is to get the donations on the ground within 60 days for relief, recovery and education programs. This includes the very important first few days where rescue of the living, burial of the dead and sanitizing the disaster zone are done. Concurrently, relief operations will be set up for the survivors.

A look at the list of expenses from the table provided by MERCY will indicate that it is involved very much in relief and recovery operations rather than rescue. Rescue is a much more technical exercise and generally only government funded departments can maintained and trained such teams.

Earthquake in Yogjakarta in May 2006 - 6,000 died and about 200,000 houses damaged or destroyed
After the rescue, recovery, relief and education it will be followed closely by reconstruction and rebuilding esp. repairing and building new houses. Other programs like donations, micro-credit and micro-enterprise will try to get the populace back to their feet. MERCY has another RM2 mil to disbursed. This will most likely be allocated for rebuilding homes, lives and livelihood. It may take up to 1 -2 years.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hope in the Midst of Galloping Inflation

Young coconut costs RM2.50 instead of RM2.30. A bowl of noodles has gone up from RM0.30 - 0.50. Of course petrol too. I used to pumped RM70.00+ each time. Now it exceeds RM100.00. For vendors that maintain their prices it comes off worse in size and quality. Stuffed crust pizza doesn't have the crust stuffed full with cream cheese anymore. It appears to have 1/2 to 2/3 of what it used to be.

Papas and mamas have to take on a 2nd jobs. Some rushed off from their office at 5:00pm to put in time at their second job. It is indeed saddening for me to see the man/woman on the street is struggling to survive. It is dire straits for the wage earners. But how long and far can they stretch the ringgit to make ends meet and protect their standard of living.

In Britain inflation is the highest since 11 years ago and in Vietnam the bubble has burst. Stock has gone down 75%. Watch these videos from CNN.

Those who have long memories remember the 70's oil crisis. It was a terrible time as there was not that many opportunities for a second job. Most would have to hang tight literally, i.e. tightening their belt. I remembered a homemaker requesting a sundry shop owner to give her the oil in cans that were used to preserve wax duck (a Chinese New Year delicacy). The oil was definitely not usable as it stunk and it is stale. Many families just have rice and some oil with soya sauce for their main meals.

Lest I paint a gloomy and dreary picture, it is believed that the situation is a short-term one. In fact it is a cycle that repeats itself every ten years. A homemaker go even further by saying she has hope in God. It makes the recent price increases bearable. I have gone through 2 of these as a working adult. The first was in the 80's property crash. I just entered the job market. Then there was the '98 economic meltdown due to the Asian financial crisis.

During the '98 crisis I asked my younger brother who is a home renovator how he is going to handle the economic difficulties. He told me that he has experienced the crisis in the '80's and he has the confidence to overcome. In that crisis he and my father put food on the table for 7 and supported me in my studies.

This is the third he is experiencing and needless to say I will not ask my brother the same question. We shall overcome. As we have done so every decade.

Competition according to Tony Fernandes

A dog fight is on the card. MAS has decided to strike back. Their 'Every Day Low Fares' and the withdrawal of the discount privilege given to Tony are bringing their competition to a boil.

What makes Tony an icon in the field of entrepreneurship? It is his fighting spirit. He has more than one way to fight.

The Underdog - Live to Fight, Fight to Live
Tony Fernandes has been whining very hard. The underdog whines and complains. AirAsia is playing their role. Who cares about the whining as long as one wins! He is winning through whining!

The top three in Tony charts?

1) The latest hit is for MAS to, “...not to take toys from its (AirAsia) playground.

2) All time favorite. "Level Playing Field."

3) Others. "We should be competing with other other airlines not each other." "MAS uses government subsidy...."

The Pitbull
He fought the Singapore government. He fought the GLC. He is fighting the MAS staff union. He is combative. He fights for cheaper airport fees. He wanted better facilities. He takes as much as he receives. He was attacked by politicians and in Parliament.

But he kept bouncing and fighting back.

The Top Dog
His commitment is tremendous in growing the company. Look at the routes expansion. The 100+ fuel-efficient Airbus 32o planes he bought. Planes are taking off and landing mostly on schedule. That's why they are confident in offering compensation for flight delays. Delays of 3 hours or more would be few. There is no risk. It is a great PR job.

His exploits in taking an empty shell and money losing company and turned it into a multi-billion entity is legend in the making.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Misai Kucing (Orthosiphon Aristatus)

Can't believe my eyes when I saw these in the wet market? Misai Kucing!

Also known by its scientific name: Orthosiphon aristatus. In Indonesia it is known as Kumis Kucing.

Flowers with extended stamensthat looks like the whiskers of the feline kind

I bought two bundles for RM1.00 each. Imagine the profit made by companies marketing the finished product in sachets. Each sachet is about RM1.00.

Check through the leaves and saw holes on the leaves. It is a good sign. No pesticides was used or at least it has worn off.

Just hang upside down outdoors but away from direct sunlight. It will dried out. Use it like tea leaves, stalks included. This is a traditional herb. Read about its efficacies from researchers.

Can't wait to try it.

Read more from my previous blog.

2 bundles at RM1.00 each

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thai Massage - Elbowed and Kneed

Traditional Thai massage is one of the kind. The masseur is well trained and discipline. Check out how 'masseur' is pronounced in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Due to its popularity, run of the mill profit generating centres are sprouting all over the place. They tried hard to provide good services but hampered by their masseur's lack of training.

Traditional Thai massage in Nongpakrang, Chiangmai

This centre in Nongpakrang village in Chiangmai is operated by the villagers. For massage, personally I prefer a pair of strong hands. The vagaries of urban living left many muscle groups unattended and in need of rehabilitation by a pair of skillful hands. This centre is air-con, clean and proper. It has rooms for 3 and for the same gender and practices the open concept. Not even curtains are present. The price, surprise, B90 per hour. All 12 of us signed up for 2 hours each. RM18 for 2 hours of Thai traditional massage. Where to get!

A 71 year old grandma worked on one of my friends. She gave a rave review. Another male friend was worked on by a man masseur and he gave a bad report. Apparently the touch was too soft for his liking.

My masseur was a 50 year old. She worked on both my feet first. Her hands were firm and strong. The stick was also used to dig deep into the soles of my feet. I can feel the pain esp on sensitive parts. Then she worked on my shins. It was painful as my muscles was all tensed up. I was told that those who have no time for exercises should get regular help from these massages to prevent injury. Then she started working on my thighs. After some relaxing and deft work with her hands the knee works started. It was numbing and painful. She sank her knee cap on my thighs in different areas.

Then the works on the back begun. I have very tensed shoulder, neck and back muscles due to work on my computer. As usual after some relaxing but strong finger works, she elbowed me! I can report that the pain was excruciating. She dragged the elbow across the entire length of my back muscles portion by portion. From the left to the right. Then finally my hands were worked on and by now I cannot feel any more pain.

Overall it was a happy outing for nearly all of us. That night I hit the sack early. The rehabilitation using pain therapy was successful. I got up relax and happy.

Thailand - One Tambon One Project (OTOP)

While I was in Thailand I visited one of their OTOP project in Nongpakrang village in Chiangmai. It offers traditional Thai massage. They have a 71 year grandma who work on one of my friends. She has powerful fingers, elbows and knees. I was worked on by a 50 year old. Every tensed muscle was worked on. I will have more on this in my next blog.

Paper products in San Khampaeng

The OTOP is a grassroot project was initiated under ex-Prime Minister (2001-2006) Thaksin Shinawatra in 2001. The original concept was developed and successfully implemented by Morihiko Hiramatsu under the name, One Village One Product (OVOP) in Japan. This has since spread to many countries incl. Philippines, Malaysia, Malawi and others.

Despite having its detractors the project was successful. Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), one of the key financiers of OTOP reported up to 80% of the projects are sustainable. It effective empowered the villagers by allowing them into the decision-making process in the selection, design, marketing and pricing of their products. By including the producers which uses local wisdom and resources into the design and marketing will put more of the final sale price into the hands. Before most of the money from the sale goes to the middle man.

These sustainable projects help to elevate poor Thais out of poverty. The key concept is to market at least one key product from each village to the national and international market. It could be a product or a service. Products includes earthworms, mushrooms, dried vegetables and fruits, crafted buffalo horns and etc.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tips for Breezing Through Immigration

One of the hazards of traveling is being asked for money by some government officials in some banana republic. You fear being shaken down if you don't comply. For a first time independent traveller this can be intimidating business.

And for those who are male, travel alone and into the same country often, you are the perfect candidate. Some tips:

1. Keeping a straight but friendly face. Stay 'Hello' or smile. Do not be chatty. Talk only when talk to.

2. Getting your papers in order esp. your Immigration Forms. Fill up the part on your place of stay carefully and completely. Otherwise you risk being asked and you are stuck. Do your research. If for whatever reasons best known to you have not booked a hotel and want to do so at the airport counters, have a name in hand. You can change your mind later.

Mae Sai (Thailand) and Tachileik (Myanmar) border crossing

3. Keep all your documents ready and at hand esp. your return ticket. I have been asked many times for my return ticket.

4. The Immigration officials may not know everything. For example in ASEAN, all ten countries except Myanmar have 'no visa' bilateral agreements for each other citizens. I have been asked a number of times by Immigration officers on my visa. My answer is always a straight forward, "I do not need a visa to enter your country."

5. I observe that if you are at the end of the queue the chances of being asked a lot of questions are very high. "Why are you entering my country so often?", "You have a girlfriend here?" Are you doing a business here? You will need a business visa." Try to get a seat in the front part of the plane to facilitate your disembarkation. Try to walk briskly to the Immigration Counter and be the first in line. Facing a long line the officer is under pressure to clear the line you they will let you off.

6. What if you are asked to give money like, "Give me ten dollars." Reply with a firm, "No." It also pays (pun intended) not to lean on the counter. Keep half a step away. This way the officer has to speak up and it is embarassing if he/she is asking for money.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Brahim's Chicken Kurma

My son loves chicken cooked with Kurma Sauce. It is easy to get this dish going using Kurma Sauce from Brahim's. Just 5 minutes preparation and 15 mins cooking/simmering time. Once a while turn the chicken over so that it won't stick to the 'wok pan'.

What I like about Brahim's is the great taste and it is without colouring, MSG and preservative. It cost RM3.25 (USD1.00). I used skinless chicken leg (300+ gm) costing RM3.40 plus one Bombay onion. I did not add potatoes as the sauce is thick enough. Potatoes are added to thicken the sauce. Since it is eaten with rice or bread there is enough carbohydrate. No chili for my son. He doesn't like it.

1. The Sauce (180gm)
2. The sauce and skinless chicken leg into the 'wok pan' (300+gm)
3. Add 400ml of water and the 1 Bombay onions.
And chili and potatoes as desired.
4. Bring to boil. Lower fire and simmer till meat is tender (15mins)
5. Viola. Ready to be eaten.

Travel Tips - Safety and Precautions

After making over 200 overseas trips to 22 countries and protectorates since 1997, I have learnt to observe a few routines to make my trips enjoyable and stress-free. Leave the sense of smell behind and bring along a sense of humour. Be adventurous. Being over-cautious will spoil your trip. Go for the well-beaten path and also the road less traveled. Explore the city and country.

1. Personal property.

Prevention is better than cure. Do not hang your phone on the belt. Do not use a waist pouch if possible. Keep your camera out of sight when walking near the roads. I felt safe in all the 17 countries I went, some repeatedly over a 15 years period. However beware of snatch thieves and pickpockets in Vietnam and tricksters in exchange booth in Bali.

Elephant painting in Chiangmai. Costs a few hundred bucks each!!

2. Personal safety.
My life has never been threatened in any way before in all my travels. I dare make out of the way trips without a guide. There are times I allow my whims and fancies to take over going on the road less travelled. Even in South Asian countries I feel safe from criminals and petty thieves.

Thousand year old church in Harrow, London.

3. Shopping.

The key word is respect. Treat the vendors as equals. Do not bargain too hard during shopping or negotiating fares. Do not compare prices unless you are sure that the quality and quantity is the same. It is totally unfair. This may lead to arguments and harsh words. These can spoil your trip. Contribute to the local economy. What is USD0.50? You are on holiday after all. Lap it up and enjoy the bantering.

Shopping for a Sri Lanka cricket shirt for my son in Nuwara Eliya

4. Tipping.
Be generous with tips for services and transportation. Have some loose notes ready. If the service is good give more. Many depend on tips to survive.

Frolicking in Tonle Sap, Cambodia

5. Taxi.
Over 99% of the time I have no problems. Mostly they respect the customers by using the meter. In some places you have to negotiate the price. Go easy is my advice.

6. Hotels.
If you are staying in budget hotels observe some precautions.

Marriott Karachi

a. Be careful of the room air-conditioning. The indoor unit may be laced with germs and fungi. Being new to a country there is an added risk of getting hit. Only with more visits or stays one get use to it. If you have a bad throat and running nose soon after using the room, you may have caught some of the germs. I experienced 2 such incidences in Vietnam.

b. Carpets in some 3 stars hotel are so dirty that it is matted. Don’t sit on it. Too near to the mites and bugs. Being bitten before.

c. Beware of dirty linen and towels. If you have no confidence, bring your own. This is esp. so for budget hotels. I once contracted conjunctivitis because of a towel. I was quite foolish to use the dirty looking rag after the shower.

7. Weather.
April is the hottest in many countries in the tropics. And December and January the coldest in the temperate countries.

Horse riding in Mongolia at -15 degree Celsius. Have to pulled up and tightened my hood later.

a. Drink fluid regularly. I once traveled 400km on a motorcycle in Vietnam. I started at 5am and arrived at 5pm. My pulse was at 125 beats/min for many hours. My normal rate was 70 beats/min.

Fat Tire Tour from Paris to Versailles by bicycle

b. For those living in the tropics and are not used to temperature of around 20 degree Celsius always keep a sweater or jacket ready. Do not wait until you feel cold. It is too late by then. One may fall sick within a few days with a temperature, running nose and aches. Common cold victim.

c. If temperature dips to between 15 to 5 degrees, and you have to be outdoors for long periods always use a light gloves, scarf and cotton long johns to protect yourself.

d. Once the temperature dips below 0 till (-15) degrees there is a need for woolen long johns.

e. Below (-15) there may be a need for fur-lined headgear, clothes, gloves and shoes.

8. Personal hygiene.
The locals that you go with and interact amongst may pass germs or the viruses. However, do not be suspicious. It also happens in own country but we are use to those.

The best grilled catfish in Central Kalimantan.

a. Avoid being near one who has running nose, coughing and sneezing.

b. Wash the hands regularly. It is terrible to catch the flu virus.

c. Go for a flu jab around Oct/Nov. There are the Northern and Southern hemisphere shots. Your choice of one or both depends on your destination. Look into having a Hepatitis A jabs.

9. Food.
Generally the food in the cities and towns are clean esp. when it is in a packaged tour. If going out of the way then observe some precautions.

Roti in Bangladesh

a. Eat food immediately after it is cooked.

b. If it is set on the table, see whether it is covered or if on the shelves whether the doors or curtains are drawn. This is to avoid housefly diving into it.

c. Best choice: Any food cooked to order. Fried rice and noodles. Soup noodles are also good if it is cook in a hot pot. However, watch out for dirty plates and bowls.

d. Eat fruits that you can peel. Do not buy cut/peeled fruits. It may be washed in dirty water. Fancy eating prepared fruits washed in river water. It happened in Bangladesh when I was travelling in a ferry. Bananas, oranges and mandarins are the best. If you need to peel and cut fruits like apples and watermelons washed the skin with bottle water first before using your Swiss knife. Another caution: eat watermelon immediately when it is cut. Do not leave it covered or in the refrigerator and eat it later. It upsets the stomach.

e. If you have food and fruits that do not look and taste what it should be throw it away and discreetly remove those from your mouth. Why fight it.

f. Beef keeps best follow by chicken and pork. So the choice is yours. Beef may have the lowest risk if all being the same.

g. The best food. Hot stew or soup just off the pot!

h. Do not take ice esp. in the country side. The ice in the city and towns are generally ok. Otherwise get your canned/tetrapak drinks off the refrigerator. If there is not refrigerator you can do this. Pack the ice in a plastic bag and pack the coke into another plastic bag. Put the coke in the plastic bag into the other plastic bag of ice.

10. Toilet facilities.
If you need to be out early in the morning without the chance to clear the bowels and expect bad toilet facilities, eat a very light breakfast.

a. If there is a need to use the toilet, I prefer the squatty potty than the western style sit down toilet. There is no contact. There is also incentive to finish it as soon as possible to avoid needles and pins on the feet.

b. However I am not choosy. If I can wipe it down with Dettol Wipes first or line the seat with tissue it is fine. If it is unsightly do not attempt to squat on the throne. This is dangerous.

c. Try to do the 'horse stance' i.e. sitting without touching the bowl. You have to be able to last 2-3 minutes. Anyway if it is a bad stomach. This is enough time.

d. Otherwise it is not urgent and you can look for a better one elsewhere.

e. If stomach is bloated or have wind take 2 tablets of charcoal 3X a day.

f. If possible take a sachet/tube of Probiotics a day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Orchids - Chinagdao, Thailand

Desire, Delight, Discipline and Dollars

These orchids were from a Chiang Dao (Thailand) nursery. I shot them using my Nokia E90. What a beautiful sight! Orchids just draw me in. It's charm comes from the many colors and shapes. The petals are open, welcoming and enticing. I desire them and is delighted in the presence of these queen of flowers.

On a practical note orchids can last for weeks even after cutting. However, it is difficult to handle. Just to keep it alive is so difficult. And the discipline needed to coax it to bear flowers is not for ordinary mortals. I have gone through this path many times!

My friends from the west love to brings orchids as a gift when visiting. Nearer home I have a friend who has turned the desire, delight and discipline into dollars. Its all legit.

On the other hand, there is a black market for wild orchids esp. those forage from the forest by 'poachers'. It has been done for years. I know that some went to Holland. Cameron Highlands and Fraser's Hill are some of the happy hunting grounds.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

AirAsia Service

Airasia is getting predictable. Pleasant flight. Punctual. Soft landings. But the most important there is enough legroom for an Asian to comfortable handle a 4 hours flight. The previous configuration is mercifully dropped with the entry of new Airbus 320 planes. I remember feeling claustrophobic and trapped on one of my flight back from Manila (Clark) to Kuala Lumpur. I was fidgeting and my legs feel 'sour' and numb. If I stayed in longer I will be irritable.

On my flight back from Chiang Mai to Kuala Lumpur, the plane touched down 1/2 hour early. One thing you have to take the hats off to them as they are a sore loser and will try very hard to protect their turf and win. I hope there will be more competition. The passengers will benefit.

How's the food so far? Better stuff on board and one can pre-order the food. The best food on board is the nasi lemak.

For more info on cabin service read my previous blog.

Tribal Lisu Food - Chiang Dao, Thailand

In Chiang Dao (North Thailand), a Lisu family served dinner. They are from the Tibetan stock. It was almost 13 years since I visited a Lisu community. The like the lowlands. Their houses is still the same. Mud floor and the usage of firewood for cooking. However, I can see a satellite dish and other modern amenities.

Kitchen utensils covered in thick soot

We have blanched long beans with green chilli sauce, bamboo shoots with chilli powder and black chicken with potato, lemongrass and galangal soup. The lemongrass and galangal had infused deep into the soup. The strong herbal and spicy taste and smell renewed my senses.

Black chicken with galangal and lemongrass

The black chicken gives 'body' to the soup. It is sweet and tantalizing to my tongue without the grabbing, clingy taste of MSG . It was raining outside but I felt warm.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Food and Fruits of North Thailand

The rain was there when I arrived in Chiang Mai and then later to Chiang Dao. A quick tour to a food centre for a quick meal. It is convenient and has variety.

This dish is actually the Vietnamese Thit Nuong but popular in Thailand

Tab Tim - Thai dessert

Then off to MK for my favorite hot pot (Chinese fondue).

The vegetable platter

All types of fish paste and ball, meat, shrimp wanton etc in the hot pot

The next day we went to Chiang Dao. A quick look at the fruit stall confirmed that the mango season is still around. So were the rambutans and durians. The big and better quality mangoes were going at a very cheap USD0.50 per kilo. It is USD2.30 in Kuala Lumpur!

Almost every morning we have Eastern food with 'khao niaw' (sticky rice) and deep fried and grilled meat like chicken, pork, Thai sausage and fish. The rice is unlike any I have before. It is eaten using the fingers. It would be a messy and sticky affair but not with Thai sticky rice. No residual and sticky leftover.

Sticky Rice
Dipping sauce made from grilled green chilli, fish fries and fish sauce
Deep fried sausage, pork, chicken and fishGrilled pork (neck), sausage and pepper eggs