About MJ Klein

MJ Klein

Former field engineer MJ Klein now lives in Taiwan, and writes articles that primarily feature photographs of travels of MJ and wife Hui-chen, plus daily goings on in the bustling island nation of Taiwan, and other places in Asia. Articles feature people, culture, food, situations and sometimes the trials and tribulations of traveling in places such as China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Laos and of course Taiwan.


Latest Posts by MJ Klein

Thailand: Food & Streets in Images…

October 27, 2013 by  

Share:

Thailand, an end to a fabulous trip.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

I had the morning to myself so after relaxing in my room, I went out in search of some food.  Across the street, I spied this meat grilling….

Thailand 2012, Last Day

And because you just can’t have too many photos of grilling meat, here is a closer view!

Thailand 2012, Last Day

I’ve been to this little place across the street from the Tamarind Residences many times before.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

There is no menu.  You just have to look at what they have and try to communicate what you want.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

The boss lady’s very cute little girl took a keen interest in what I was doing.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

I tried to get her to return the “Asian Sign of Picture Taking” but I was unable to.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

After exhausting my limited repertoire of Thai, the boss lady went to work preparing the food that she thinks I ordered.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

First course, some delicious grilled Thai sausage.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Next up, an omelette with basil

Thailand 2012, Last Day

The little girl took a seat right next to me and intently watched everything I was eating.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Kale and garlic with Thai spices, a dish that I’ve had many times and in many places, but never tire of.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

This is the Khonkaen airport terminal.  When traveling, I always make sure I arrive plenty of time before my departure.  Once I arrived several hours early at an airport for an international flight, only to find that there was a problem with my ticket that required almost the entire block of extra time to correct!  After that, I make sure I arrive early for every flight.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

When I arrived, the place was deserted.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Not a soul at the gate, either.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

I wasn’t kidding when I said the place was deserted.  With the exception of perhaps 2 people, the entire terminal building was devoid of waiting passengers, and this was only an hour before departure time.  It seems that everyone in Thailand is on “Thai Time” because the place began to fill up about 15 minutes before boarding time.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

One departing shot before I put my camera away until I arrived in Bangkok.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

We’ve covered the “new” airport before.  It always looks interesting, like the inside of a caterpillar.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Structural details always interest me.  Hope they didn’t bore you.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

After snapping too many photos (but hey, it’s digital so who cares?), it was time to board.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

But when I got to my seat, I found that I couldn’t fit in it because of the box that was installed in the left armrest (shown on the right in this view).  All I could do was stand and wait for a flight attendant to notice me.  I was moved to another seat.  They put a skinny Thai girl in this seat and she had no problems.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Little things like a cup holder make your flight more enjoyable (and easier in some respects).

Thailand 2012, Last Day

And….   we’re off!

Thailand 2012, Last Day

 

 

Parrots, Turtles & More At Taiwan’s Green World

October 15, 2013 by  

Share:

Recently we joined reader Stefan and his lovely wife and daughter for a visit to Taiwan’s Green World.

Our Visit to Green World

The first thing that we saw were Macaw parrots.  Now, who doesn’t love parrots?

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

At the time of our arrival, the parrot show was about to begin.  We walked past some of the food vendors,

Our Visit to Green World

and through the gift shop, complete with a dinosaur skeleton.

Our Visit to Green World

The parrot show is just ahead.

Our Visit to Green World

We entered the show area on the side.  But it was just way too loud here, so we moved to the rear center.

Our Visit to Green World

This being Taiwan, of course the sound was cranked up to ear-splitting levels.  I was concerned about Phoenix and her sensitive baby ears.  But she seemed OK with being in the rear of the auditorium.

Our Visit to Green World

The parrot show is basically standard stuff, but the birds are cute and quite smart.

Our Visit to Green World

This Blue & Gold Macaw is responding to verbal commands in Chinese.

Our Visit to Green World

Soon, the trainer had the parrot doing all sorts of cute things.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

An all time favorite: bicycle riding on a wire.

Our Visit to Green World

No parrot show would be complete without parrot skating!

Our Visit to Green World

I found this demonstration very interesting.  The old shell game, with a golf ball hidden under one of the metal cups.

Our Visit to Green World

The parrot found the ball right off, every time.

Our Visit to Green World

Of course, I have no way of knowing if the bird was really keeping track of the ball, or if the trainer places the ball in the same position every time.  But I must admit that the speed at which the trainer was moving the cups around, it would be hard to keep track of the ball.

Our Visit to Green World

After the parrot show, we walked over to the Alpaca House.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

The alpaca is a type of small camel that has been domesticated in a number of South American countries.

Our Visit to Green World

The keepers have been creative in  grooming these animals.  This one looks more like a poodle than an alpaca.

Our Visit to Green World

Back to the exhibits.  We went into a kind of exhibition house, but I forgot the name of the place already (and I didn’t photograph the sign).  But, inside there were quite a number of different interesting animals.

Our Visit to Green World

Not everyone likes snakes, especially big ones.  These are behind glass.

Our Visit to Green World

I always like tortoises of any kind.  There were quite a number of several varieties on hand.

Our Visit to Green World

If I am not mistaken, this is a horn bill.  It was nice and quiet, just posing peacefully on the perch.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

More snakes.

Our Visit to Green World

More tortoises.

Our Visit to Green World

Even more.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

I told you they had quite a number of them!

Our Visit to Green World

Bearded dragon.

Our Visit to Green World

This is a worst-nightmare of a snapping turtle.  This guy is huge!

Our Visit to Green World

I was rather amazed at how calm the animals were.  This bird just stood there while I took the photo.

Our Visit to Green World

As we headed out the door, I took one last photo in the entrance area.

Our Visit to Green World

When we stepped outside, the alpacas were out in the pasture grazing.

Our Visit to Green World

Everyone came over to take photos of them.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Phoenix thought they were interesting and they held her attention.

Our Visit to Green World

Green World is kind of a big loop that you walk around (or take one of the shuttles).  Along the route we came to the Sky Way, which is an elevated platform for walking through the rain forest.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

The above photos show the platform, which is quite high off the ground.  A nice easy loop to walk, the air was cool in the forest.

Our Visit to Green World

Continuing on our walk around the loop….

Our Visit to Green World

We came to this type of garden.  Notice the signs on the different plant species.  Believe it or not, at the entrance to this area, was a control panel with buttons for English, Chinese and Japanese languages.  You guessed it: there is an audio program that gets blasted throughout speakers placed along the walkway, talking about each species by numbered sign.  At first it was interesting, but after about 10 minutes we just wished it would end.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Audio program notwithstanding, this is a very pleasant walk.

Our Visit to Green World

At the end there is a small pond with a trickle of a waterfall.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Going back to the beginning (this is also a loop).

Our Visit to Green World

These are restrooms, which follow the decor of the park.

Our Visit to Green World

We couldn’t go up here because we had the stroller for Phoenix.  So we have something to check out next time.  The ancient Hakka building sounds interesting.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Here we come to the Bird and Butterfly Ecological Parks.  We went into the Butterfly park first.

Our Visit to Green World

Before we even went inside there were butterflies fluttering around.

Our Visit to Green World

If you look hard enough, you can see the fine mesh net that covers this exhibit and keeps the butterflies inside.

Our Visit to Green World

If you’ve ever wondered how one feeds butterflies, now you know.  There are pieces of fruit placed on these shelves.

Our Visit to Green World

The butterfly park is a beautiful, peaceful walk.

Our Visit to Green World

This is one of my favorite exhibits: insects that mimic parts of plants.

Our Visit to Green World

There are a number of glass cases containing many species of these types of animals.

Our Visit to Green World

This one really does look like a leaf.

Our Visit to Green World

Next we went into the Bird park where we were greeted by this myna bird who welcomed us in Chinese.

Our Visit to Green World

Many species of birds fly around at liberty, however they are kept inside a cage much like the butterflies.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

I identified this beautiful bird as a female eclectus, one of the few sexually dimorphic species of parrots.

Our Visit to Green World

Stefan identified this critter as a golden pheasant, and he told me they are an introduced species in Europe.

Our Visit to Green World

These are a type of goat that is common in the Caribbean, but thought to originate in Africa.

Our Visit to Green World

And these of course, are Emus.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Super Typhoon Soulik Bearing Down on Taiwan

July 11, 2013 by  

Share:

We sit preparing for the arrival of a super typhoon called Soulik (locally called Huanina) due to hit in the next 48 hours.

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

Chinese Temples & Fabulous Food Specialties in Thailand

May 18, 2013 by  

Share:

This was my last full day in Thailand on this trip.  I did not want to ride the motorcycle down there, rent a car or take the bus.  So I decided to ride the train so I headed to Muang Phon. Before I headed out however, I rode the motorcycle down to the lake area because it had been so long since I had been there.  I used to visit Khonkaen several times a year, but now it’s more like once every 2 or 3 years.  This is a Chinese temple.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

But inside the gate there is a heavy Thai influence of course.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

We blogged on this place before.  As always, it looks immaculate.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I went looking for the PP Hotel, which is where Hui-chen and I have enjoyed many an evening eating delicious food and singing karaoke.  But it appears to be gone now, with this Honda dealership in it’s place.  Khonkaen sure has changed a lot since 2004 when I first visited.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I wanted to eat at the Roma Hotel, another place we’ve enjoyed over the years.  Lunch sounded like a good thing to me.  But when I got there, the place was deserted except for me.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

This is my lunch:

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

A delicious oyster dish

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

and some deep fried pork.  I had an enjoyable time with the place all to myself.  Years ago it would have been packed….

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Since I was going to take the train and not driving, I thought it might be a good opportunity to check out the local run, Sang Som because we’ve been drinking the export version in Taiwan.  I was surprised to find that the domestic version tastes a great deal better.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The outside of the liquor store.  I returned my motorcycle and took a tuk-tuk to the train station, where I arrived just as the train was in the station – perfect timing.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The train was full of friendly students on their way home!

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Many of these students come from far away and ride the train for more than an hour just to attend school in Khonkaen city.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

This student had on the train conductor’s hat.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

You can see the conductor standing in the background.  This student went around checking tickets and the other students had fun with it.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I noticed at several stations that new track was being laid.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Kids just being kids.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I happened to look out the window and saw something interesting….

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

A solar panel farm was under construction.  I cannot tell you anything about it though.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The train stopped at every little station along the way.  Ban Phai is about 1/2 way between Khonkaen and my destination, Muang Phon.  The train was running late but it didn’t seem to matter to anyone.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

More construction along the track.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

A brief shower cooled everyone down.  If you view this photo large, you can see the rain.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

No air conditioning in this train!  The cars were quite old.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Pulling into another station.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Just as it was really getting boring….

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

We arrived at Muang Phon – more than 30 minutes late!

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I waved goodbye to all the students.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

There were only too happy to wave back.  Thai people are very nice.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Muang Phon station.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I hired a tuk-tuk to take me to the Sabua Resort.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

To be honest, I did not recognize much of the scenery, because it had changed so much….

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Never saw this place before….

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

But this corner, I knew well at one time.  Here we take a right and cross the train tracks.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The ride down the highway toward the resort.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Local village roads….

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

My driver poses for a photo after dropping me off.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Wow, I cannot believe how much this place has grown up even more than ever!

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I don’t even recognize this building anymore!

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

No one was around so I went into the road and over to Dr. Su’s house.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The neighbors hadn’t seen me in years!

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The gate was locked so I walked around through the resort.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

My old wood smoker is still there, but it’s rapidly deteriorating.  I really wish I had time to use it on this trip.  The truth is, I will probably never get to use it again, unfortunately. 

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

This patio is new.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

And so is this building.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I don’t know what the building is, but it sure does look cool!

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The old kitchen where I used to hang out and cook some late-night snack, or daytime meals.  Hui-chen used to cook here too.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Finally this guy showed up.  His name is “M” and he now runs the resort.  After a few minutes he recognized me, commenting that I used to have a beard.  I asked him to locate Aunty for me and he made some calls.  He also called Dr. Su who told me that her husband Ben (Mr. Banchob) was now in Australia where Ben’s daughter was attending university, and that the Sabua Resort was now for salem since Dr. Su was building a new resort in Chiangmai.  I told her that I would come visit in Chiangmai the next time we came to Thailand.  Chiangmai has been on my list for a long time but I’ve never gone there (yet).

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Aunty’s son Michael appeared (sorry about the focus problem).

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

And then Aunty arrived!  Aunty used to really take care of me at the resort over the years.  She’s been a part of my life for quite some time, and I must have really missed her because my eyes welled up with tears when she appeared before me.  I gave her a great big hug.  We took a walk around the resort.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Aunty doesn’t speak English but we’ve always been able to communicate.  She showed me how much the vegetation has grown, and how different the resort looks now.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I used to stay in this room, back in the day.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

There are more chickens now….

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Actually I think I’ve stayed in every room in the resort over the years.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The sad part is that I didn’t have time to stay in the resort.  I would have to leave shortly.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Aunty showed me the yellow blossoms on all the trees.  Quite lovely.

But then, Mr. Somkhit’s driver came to pick me up, and we headed to the factory for our meeting.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I snapped this shot out of the window as we drove to the factory.  Phon is rapidly growing up and has changed since I first came here since 2005.

Oh well, I could reminisce all day.  Mr. Somkhit invited me to join him and his daughter for dinner at a BBQ place in Khonkaen.  I went back with them to Khonkaen and we went directly to the place.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Walking to our table I took a shot of this grill.  Something cooking over charcoal always gets my attention!

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Mr. Somkhit orders some dishes.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Ploy asks a few questions about the menu.  I just sat and waited.  Mr. Somkhit has never steered me wrong before!

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I liked the place a lot.  No frills, just great grilled food.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

For our readers who have never dined in Thailand, the baskets of cucumbers, scallions and coriander (cilantro) are standard issue for many meals.  So is the ice.  Also notice the sauces.  In Thai cuisine, sauces are very important.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The first dishes arrive.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The florescent lights didn’t help this dish look appetizing, but it certainly was!  The fresh mint on the top was perfect.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Perfectly grilled pork,

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

and beef.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Another deliciously spiced dish.  I never get tired of Thai food!

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

A nice papaya salad.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

This dark soup was rich and flavorful.  It’s difficult for me to describe the complex flavors.  The simplicity of grilled meat paired with these side dishes was perfect.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Mr. Somkhit took us in the car to another place for a famous dessert.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

All these ingredients look great!

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

But I had no idea what we were getting….

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

This is it.  Or at least part of it.  Fresh mango over sweet rice with some crunchy stuff on the top.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

This is the rest of the desert – coconut milk with salted egg and some other stuff I couldn’t put together.  It certainly was unique and although I didn’t care for the salted egg, I was glad to have tried this dessert.  Now, if I can only find this place again!

After that, Mr. Somkhit dropped me off at the Number 1 Bar and later I walked back to my room.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The last time I was in Khonkaen I took Michael Turton and Michael Cannon to this place to watch some girls sing karaoke.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

I was too tired to go inside, so I just took advantage of the D7000′s high ISO capability to shoot some photos.

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

Thailand 2012, Day Seven

The perfect end to the day was this ladyboy who agreed to pose for a photo.

 

A Visual Walk Thai Style: From Nightlife & Dried Squid to Cars & The Silver Saloon

January 22, 2013 by  

Share:

I waited for the factory boss (Mr. Somkhit) down in Phon to be free to see me. It’s Thailand and everything is on Thailand time.   And so I had time to walk around. I was using a new camera, and I had some trouble framing shots that are not tilted as much as they should be.  Please overlook that problem when viewing these photos!

Thailand 2012, Day Six

I noticed these guys working on the maze of overhead wires so I stopped to take a few photos.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

He was picking up some cables and re-arranging them in the bundle.  Don’t worry though, these are all signal wires and not powerlines.  Telephone, cable TV, etc.. What a mess.  I’d hate to have to work on this.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

As I was walking around I couldn’t help but notice how much Khonkaen has changed over the years.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

For example, this is Dave’s First Choice restaurant and travel agency.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

The Silver Saloon has been gone a long time.  I noticed several other places that were no longer there too.  It seems that the heyday of Khonkaen is over.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

More walking-around shots.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

As usual, lots of spare car parts.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This young man was busy doing some flower arranging.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

I pulled back for a wide shot showing the gate.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This place installs aftermarket accessories.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

About this time I was getting hungry and wanted to find somewhere to sit down and eat.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Those are some nice squid in the case.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This is a dim-sum restaurant, but they have other fare too.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This is my roast duck, with pink picked ginger.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Steamed dumplings,

Thailand 2012, Day Six

and wonton soup.  Everything was pretty good.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

On the way back to my room I took a few shots in the general area of the Tamarind (where I was staying).

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This place is right across the street from the Tamarind.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Now I forget just where this place is located (guess I need to geotag everything!), but I think it’s on the corner of the Aircon Bus Station.  I’ve never eaten here but it looks interesting.

Khonkaen Nights, Revisited

Instead of making this another separate article, I decided to include it in this article because the following photos were taken on the same day, just in the evening.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Like the first article, I started off at the Number One Bar and headed to the next corner where I took a right turn.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

But before I got to the corner I saw this window display that wasn’t here the last time I was in town.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

The Chaipat Hotel is still there.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This little store might be new.  It’s on the same side as the Chaipat.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This was disappointing: Seven’s Corner Bar is closed.  Noi told me that Nigel and Gigi sold the bar to someone else and it went under in a relatively short time.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Following the same path as the original article, we head to probably the most interesting area of Khonkaen – Sir Chant Road.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This building still stands, unfinished.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

We come to Sir Chant Road.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Looking to the right, we see some new places.  I took a walk down this part of the road and it’s totally changed.  The Supaporn Car Rental is gone now.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This shot shows the other side of this food vendor.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Continuing down the shortcut, heading to the Kosa Hotel.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Way back when, I used to take my laundry to this shop.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

The Kosa Hotel with signs in Chinese.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Around the corner to the right and through a very interesting area (in my opinion).

Thailand 2012, Day Six

The Kosa Steakhouse is gone (not surprisingly) and a totally new place is here now.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Further down in the same direction….

Thailand 2012, Day Six

I turned around and took the same shot I took almost 4 years ago.  This square is really lit up.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This is a shot looking to the left past where the Kosa Steakhouse used to be.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

It looks like the same places are still here.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

It was at this point I decided to check out renting a scooter because I was tired of walking.  Scooters rent for a few hundred baht per day and I only needed it for that night to drive around looking at stuff.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This is looking back towards that lit-up square, so you have an idea where the rental place is.  I got my scooter in a few minutes and went on my way.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This gate is still here but it looks a bit different now.  We’re going through this gate and taking a left turn.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

The view to the left, under the gate.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

The old 60 Bar used to be here.  I never went inside this place.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Allow me to quote from the 2008 article:

At one time this was a very hopping place.  In 2005 I was staying around the corner at thePP Hotel (real name!) and I hung out at the club with the red neon lights at the left.  It was an entirely different place back then.  Directly across the street on the corner was the 60 Bar.  I spent many evenings sitting outside at the 60 Bar surrounded by hundreds of people talking and drinking.  Now this once busy corner is dull and boring.  It makes me wonder how/why successful, busy places go under….”

Thailand 2012, Day Six

The Rad is still there.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

There is still some kind of restaurant here but the sign is different than last time.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Something not shown in the 2008 article, this shot was taken 180 degrees from the previous one.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This section of road is totally different.  Nothing appears to be the same as before.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

The perpetual Khonkaen Night Market.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

I found a little place and parked my scooter.  It’s very much like the ones we have in Taiwan.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

This is my dinner: baked lasagna, made by a Thai chef.  It was OK.

Thailand 2012, Day Six

Later, a guy with a scooter sidecar came by offering grilled dried squid, which I really like.

He said he worked on Taiwan before and knew some Chinese words.  Cool.

After this walking/riding tour, I went back to the Number One Bar for awhile and then back to my room.  I’m sorry if this day seemed boring but this is pretty much what I did as I was waiting for Mr. Somkhit to become available the next day.  Day Seven will find me going back to Phon to the factory and then to the Sabua Resort to see what that place looked like now.

Taiwan: Local Restaurant “Institution” Xiao-hui’s Shuts Down!

December 21, 2012 by  

Share:

End of an Era: Xiao-hui's Is Gone

A neighborhood institution is gone in Taiwan. Xiao-hui’s Thai Style Cuisine is no more!  Xiao-hui sold her restaurant to some enterprising Vietnamese ladies who have transformed the place into (yet another) Vietnamese karaoke.  Xiao-hui herself has moved back to Southeast Asia, in northern Thailand.

End of an Era: Xiao-hui's Is Gone

When they bought the place, the new owners were adamant about keeping the cuisine the same, and not changing the menu.  At first, they kept it identical.  Xiao-hui personally trained their staff in her style of Thai cuisine.  They used the upstairs rooms for karaoke rooms.  Now they’ve decided to remodel the downstairs to build new karaoke rooms, due to (what I understand is) complaints from owners of the floors above.

I’m going to say it:  There are already two Vietnamese karaoke places in the same number of blocks.  This new place makes three.  There is another karaoke place in between too, making 4 total karaoke places in 2 blocks.  Do we really need another karaoke place in this neighborhood?  I say no.  We do however, need more good food places.  Naturally I’m concerned that food will be secondary at the new place because as you can see in the photos, there isn’t much room for tables with those new karaoke rooms and the giant counter in the front.  It remains to be seen.

Years ago I used the pinyin “shao-hui” for tagging photos and articles on this blog.  Since studying Chinese, I’m now using “xiao-hui” as tags.   I just hope it will be a place we can hang out at like the old days….

Check out the Nikon D7000′s Phottix GPS One Geotagging System

December 16, 2012 by  

Share:

Phottix GPS One

Recently, I got the Phottix GPS One geotagging GPS system for my Nikon D7000.  This enables automatic GPS tagging of photos, which is very convenient for photographers who like to geotag their photos.

Phottix GPS One

 

The GPS One normally sits on the hot shoe, although it does not connect to the camera via the hot shoe.  That’s what the cable is for.

Phottix GPS One

There are 3 connectors on the GPS unit.  The left connection is to the camera.  The right connection is to the cable release (included with the GPS One, but not shown here) and the rear connection is USB mini.  There is an LED right above the rear connector that blinks red while acquiring a signal, and glows green when GPS lock is acquired.

Phottix GPS One

The upper LCD display on the D7000 has a blinking GPS icon when the signal is not locked.  The icon is steady when the GPS signal is locked.

Phottix GPS One

The cable plugs into a port on the D7000 that resides behind this dust-resistant door.

Phottix GPS One

 

A closeup shows this connection.  In my opinion, this should be a right-angle plug on the end of this cable.  When using the GPS One, I have great concerns about the connector breaking off, or worse, damaging the camera connector.  When I get into a car, I always unplug this connector and let it dangle so it won’t get bumped and broken off.  Certainly, this connection could be optimized for a safer experience.  I’m not sure why the hot shoe couldn’t actually be used in this application, but it would be worth investigating.

Phottix GPS One

Another cool included item is this handy strap mounting clip.  If you don’t want the GPS One on your hot shoe, you can clip it to your strap.

Phottix GPS One

The strap mounting holds the GPS One sideways, so you might not always get a signal lock in that orientation.  But it does allow you to keep the cable neater and less apt to catch on something.  The GPS One comes with 2 sets of connecting cables for various model Nikon cameras.

The GPS One is an 18 channel GPS unit and you can use it on your computer via USB:

U-Center GPS Software

This is the u-blox U-Center software. The GPS One is a NMEA 2.3 WGS84 unit, which is pretty standard.  But, how well does it work?

Well, I got my first GPS until in 1994 – a Garmin GPS45.  I used the GPS45 (and others) in the field doing studies on AM radio stations in the USA.  My next GPS unit was a Garmin GPS12MAP.  I had that one until I accidently left it in a taxi in Thailand.  The next model Garmin that I purchased was the eTrex Vista C (Taiwan)  I now own a Garmin Colorado, which I frequently use for automotive navigation.  I also have a very cool Leadtek CF card GPS unit.  I’ve used GPS professionally in the field for many years and have a ton of experience with these and other receivers.

The GPS One is among the best I’ve seen.  With 18 channels, it gets a position lock quickly and is able to maintain the lock where I might expect it to fail, such as the concrete canyon.  I was walking down the street on the sidewalk, under cover and the GPS One kept a position lock.  Turning off the camera’s exposure meters and the power to the GPS, I found that the GPS One re-acquired position lock within 15 seconds after power-up.  Impressive.

What information does the GPS One add to your photo files?

Liuhe Night Market, Kaohsiung

This photo was geotagged with the GPS One.  If you view the photo on the Flickr photo page (by clicking on the image) you will see the location keywords that were added by Lightroom based on the GPS coordinates. One very cool thing that I like about the D7000/GPS One combination is that the camera’s clock can be set by the GPS signal.  I recommend the Phottix GPS One for Nikon shooters with compatible cameras.

Plenty of Food to Keep One Occupied in Thailand

November 27, 2012 by  

Share:

As my trip in Thailand progressed, I had some time to kill waiting for a meeting, yet I was sick of buses by this time, so I opted to walk around Khonkaen.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

First thing in the morning, Oath and his girlfriend took me to a noodle shop in Udon Thani before taking me to the bus station for my trip back to Khonkaen.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

This shot is so very Thai.  Metal cups with ice, and straws.  I’ve often said that much of the world’s plastic could be saved if only we could get Asians out of the habit of drinking everything with a straw!  Notice the vegetable basket with herbs and vegetables for adding to your soup.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

This image is also very Thai.  Not only are there 2 types of dried chili in the foreground, on the right background is a spicy liquid additive, as well as a vinegar-based sauce in the remaining jar.  Notice also the bottle of fish sauce, just in case your dish needs some extra stinkiness to it.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

This is what we all had (Oath’s bowl): a beef noodle soup with fish balls, not totally unlike the famous Vietnamese version.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

This bowl was an extra order from which to take a refill.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

And this was my bowl.  I can still taste it.  Thai food in Thailand is so much better than it is elsewhere!

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Oath and his girlfriend took me to the Udon Thani bus station (mentioned before) for my trip back to Khonkaen.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

As I was walking around, I took this shot, noteworthy for the old style spelling of “Udontanee.”

Thailand 2012, Day Five

The place is pretty much your typical Thailand bus station.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Thailand 2012, Day Five

I just want to mention that on this trip, people seemed to be a lot nicer than on any trip before.  This gentleman came up to me and introduced himself and wished that I have a good time in Thailand, along with a very polite “wai.”  He seemed genuinely interested in me as a person and not just as a foreign visitor.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Walking around, killing time waiting for a bus in Thailand would be a lot worse without a camera to use.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

I took this shot because it’s an ad for a type of bus that Hui-chen have taken before.  It’s so cheap that I can’t believe it can be run for a profit at those rates.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Thailand 2012, Day Five

I have to admit, I was off my game a little bit.  I didn’t search out a VIP (i.e. express) bus to Khonkaen.  I went to the sign that said “Khonkaen” and just bought a ticket without asking if it was a VIP bus.  Turns out, it wasn’t.  But, I didn’t have anything pressing anyway so instead of searching for the VIP bus and buying another ticket, I just resolved to ride this local bus.

The overview shot above shows all the entertainment equipment on the bus.  Below are closeups of the various components:

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Foremost is the flat-screen LED TV.  Most buses I’ve taken in Thailand have older CRT based TVs.  Anyone who has visited Thailand will testify to the fact that if you’re not Thai, you will find Thai entertainment totally annoying.  Thai people laugh at things I just don’t get.  Personally, I didn’t laugh one single time watching this show for more than 2 hours.  Yes, I did understand what was going on enough to figure it out.  It was just juvenile and stupid.  But I also say that about most TV shows around the world, so I’m not just picking on Thai entertainment.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

The small monitor is not so the driver can watch the show while driving, although I cannot figure out why the show displays when it’s not performing it’s primary function: which is the backup camera monitor.  To the right of the monitor are 2 round gauges.  I know that one of them is a speedometer, because like every other bus in Thailand, the dashboard speedo is broken.  There is a 2 channel stereo mixer in the front left, which is a bit of overkill I would say.  Notice how the blue colored inputs are ganged together into a mono adapter, so they really didn’t need a stereo mixer at all.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

I count 3 radios, 1 VHS VCR (I think!) and a karoake-enabled DVD-disc player, which is apparently running the show currently playing.  The strange thing is, with all these audio sources, there are only those 2 inputs being used at the mixer (the blue inputs) so it looks like nothing else is hooked up.  Notice the aftermarket AC unit underneath the panel.

Finally, I arrived in Khonkaen and I went to a hotel next to my favorite place, The Number 1 Bar.  I’ve always wanted to try out that hotel and I was determined to check it out this time.  The price was 400 baht per night – quite cheap for Khonkaen.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

This is what my room looked like.  The word “depressing” comes to mind.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

The restroom wasn’t anything to write about.  Well, nothing positive that is.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

I don’t know what was wrong with me on that day, but I failed to notice that the shower did not have a hot water machine.  It had been removed, leaving the bare 220 volt wiring hanging out of the wall, just above the top edge of this photo.  I’m so stupid that I failed to photograph that.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

I was so anxious to get over to the Number 1 Bar that I did not notice the AC was broken too.  The room was cool but the windows were open (3rd floor).

Thailand 2012, Day Five

I had heard online that the Number 1 Bar was being renovated and that it has possibly been sold to new owners.  So I was a bit apprehensive as I approached the totally new layout.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

It turns out that David and Noi are still the owners and it was a nice “welcome home” moment for me.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

I really like the new, warm color scheme of the bar.  The bar itself is much nicer to sit at, than the old one.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

There is a small area for a musician to perform.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

I had a drink and then decided to go back to my room and rest for awhile.  Mr. Somkhit was coming into Khonkaen in the evening and he was going take me out for dinner.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Mr. Somkhit asked me if I liked Japanese food.  ”Is that a trick question?” was my reply, hehe.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Just look at these maki rolls!

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Interestingly, Japanese places in Thailand always have a bowl of sauce with a distinctly Thai flavor.  That’s how they integrate Japanese food into Thai culture.  I found the sauce quite interesting, but totally unnecessary from a strictly Japanese food point of view.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Thailand 2012, Day Five

The presentation was nice on many of the dishes.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

I have to say that these dishes tasted every bit as good at they look in these photos.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

The sashimi was great!

Thailand 2012, Day Five

One of my all-time favorites: tempura.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Gyoza.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Thailand 2012, Day Five

This was a very nice and interesting salad.  Loads of garlic.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

After dinner I went back to the Number 1 Bar, where things had picked up quite a bit compared to the afternoon.  The 2 guys are musicians who later on invited me to play a few Thai songs with them.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

These 2 have been with the Number 1 Bar for years.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Thailand 2012, Day Five

Thailand 2012, Day Five

I sure like the look of the new bar.  The table s and chairs are a lot more comfortable than the old ones.

Thailand 2012, Day Five

And the pool table was re-covered with red felt!

I stayed at the Number 1 Bar pretty late and went back to my room to take a shower and go to sleep.  It was then that I noticed there was not hot water!  Come one!  No hot water and no AC?  That was a total deal breaker for me.  It was so bad that I left the hotel in the wee hours of the morning and I went to:

Thailand 2012, Day Five

My favorite place to stay in Khonkaen is The Tamarind Residences.

Next Page »