Month: February 2015

No wining

We were leaving Adelaide prematurely, but we were getting used to quick stops.  Always leave em wanting more, right?  With clean clothes and a date with a rental car, it was time to hit the road. To the left, to the left.  We should have had Beyoncé on repeat.  Maybe not driving for two months made it like an empty slate, so it didn’t feel quite as weird to be driving on the left.   We arrived in McLaren Vale wine country in time for lunch at a cheese shop.  I’d been missing my good friend Cheese in Asia, and our wine and cheese reunion was a happy one.  With a sinus cold, T became the designated driver and I was once again the luckiest girl!  Unlike many Napa spots, wine tasting was free at our first stop, and many pours later I’d fallen in love with Shiraz. We weren’t far from the beach, so on a Tuesday afternoon took an amazing stroll down a beach reminiscent of Cape Cod Seashore.  This is one of …

Next at bat

We put ourselves back on the touring circuit. We were better prepared yesterday at the brewery tour than we were today at the Adelaide Oval. The other locals and again a Kiwi seemed familiar with the rules, history and present competition, while I don’t think we could have defined a wicket. I broadened my vocabulary and ability to imitate the accent on the tour. “We have to do it.  The Oval is like Adelaide’s Fenway Park.” “Have you ever done a tour of Fenway Park?” “Um…” But indeed the Oval had a scoreboard as impressive as the Green Monster which requires multiple workers to run up and down stairs to update the scores during a match. After carefully studying the half off tickets for the Fringe festival, we decided we wouldn’t understand the Scottish accent well enough for the comedy, and T eliminated a drama about a couple at odds. So we were in for another experimental circus act! But first, a stop at a wine bar and some advice from locals about which nearby …

“God bless a woman who gives birth to a brewer.”

A cool blast of air hit us on arrival at Adelaide, Australia.  The temperature was perfect, our skin tone blended in and our room was ready for an early check in. G’day indeed! In a bizarre shift, we were now 3.5 hours ahead. How they came up with the extra half will provide you with some good google searching! We’ve eh been too busy to figure that one out. With a nap and shower, we were off to the brewery tour. Coopers is apparently a home town treasure with a broad reach, as reflected in the 10 other Aussies, 1 Kiwi, and 2 Brits on the tour. I had ample opportunity to study the accents, but if only I could come up with the quick quips our guide had! “The beer is best after – that’s normally 10 days because it needs to be conditioned. So today’s February 24, it’s best after February 34.” In discussion of medicinal stout and pregnancy, one commented that maybe drinking stout lead to pregnancy. Our guide, “I prefer to …

Keluar

The end of our Asia time arrived, and one could say it was perfectly times as we were ready to say goodbye to the heat.  I only spent a few dozen hours second guessing the Malaysia over Vietnam choice, and then it was time to move on.  An engineer turned cab driver made our departure more interesting, educating us on the previous mandatory retirement at 55, the growth of electronics business in Penang and now competition from cheaper neighbors, and the country’s various quota systems. But the sweetest part of the exit was the upgrade.  Malaysia Airlines lets you bid on an upgrade, and my savvy partner in crime secured it with the lowest bid!  The legroom and extra wine may have spoiled is for future travels!  Yes, a success with Malaysian Airlines- fear not.

Khoo and the gang

Malaysian is fascinating as a would be melting pot, as I’ve mentioned before.  Here in Penang, a mosque is a neighbor to a Chinese temple, not far from an Indian temple.  Sprinkle in the occasional Christian church and then you may better understand why this country has 14 national holidays (US has 11).  As we landed during Chinese New Year, the temples were decked out.  We went by this temple three times before finding the way to access it.  Hidden by shops to purposefully obscure it’s meeting place, this temple is home to the Khoo clan from a specific village in Hokkien province of China.  Khoo Khongsi temple was built in the 1884 and destroyed in 1901 reportedly because it was too aggrandizing with its gold and paintings.  Rebuilt in 1906, it stands today- the same and different. Before we’d found it, I knew it from the book An End of Rain.  The main character’s grandfather was from the Khoo clan, and took his previously estranged grandson there to help connect with his roots. …

More than curry

At home, all I’d heard of Penang was its curry. But on the ground, specialties are made at individual stalls and come with names as foreign as some ingredients. Roti canai is a popular breakfast bread, flaky and delicious like many pastries. Assam Laksa was the only dish on the menu at one little restaurant, which simplified their staffing numbers to two: chef/waiter and manager/busboy.   Noodles in a flavorful soup topped with spices were slurped up by a pleased crowd. Do note, every menu in Penang claims to serve a “Best of….”  dish.  Blue rice flavored with floral spices accompanied by meat and sauce was a Malay specialty known as Nasi Lemak, while double fried pork understandably was a hit at the Chinese shop re-opened post new year holidays.    Char Kway Teow (rice noodles with shrimp, chives, oysters and who knows what else) was best the first night at the hawker stalls, where we learned to order at the cart and magically they would find you at a table numbered but unremarked. I …

Greatfiti, Lithuanian style

Given Malaysia’s would be melting pot of cultures, would it surprise you to hear that their famous, traffic jam creating street art is done by a Lithuanian resident? Some street paintings started in 2009 but took off in 2012 as the artists integrated furniture props of bicycles, stools and motorcycles into the paintings. Now between meals, tourists pose with the murals, and follow the maps that show locations of 20+ paintings. Savvy peddlers wait nearby with souvenir shirts and books of the paintings.   In addition to these pieces, Penang offers two camera museums, a chocolate and coffee museum, history museum, batik museum and puppet museum housed in various store fronts throughout town. We made it to one camera museum, and as the chocolate museum was air conditioned as anticipated and had free tastings, it won a special spot in our hearts!