Month: May 2015

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in May 2015

The last few months haven’t been very exciting in the garden.

This month again it’s rained most days, but my rainwater supply lasts about three days, so even when I have had to water I haven’t had to use the hose at all.

I notice on occasions that the duranta has blue coloured bees visiting it.  They are the same size as regular bees, but blue.  They only really seem to be interested in the duranta, which has blue flowers.

Sometimes I also see micro-bees.  They are really tiny bees – that seem to behave like ordinary bees.

The other day I noticed while strolling along Gurney Drive – and also another day on Northam Road – that the big trees are numbered and labelled with their botanical names.

trees on Gurney Drive are numbered and labelled with their botanical names

trees on Gurney Drive are numbered and labelled with their botanical names

trees on Gurney Drive are numbered and labelled with their botanical names

trees on Gurney Drive are numbered and labelled with their botanical names

I don’t know when they did this. Nothing to do with my garden, but interesting.

Earlier this month I pulled out all the pumpkin vines as they weren’t producing any full size pumpkins. Time perhaps to give the soil a rest. Now I just have passion fruit and green leaf plants. Strangely I have one actual passion fruit growing. It’s green, but full size now.

The papaya growing on actual ground that I commandeered are doing well.  Except for the lone survivor of the great flood, which doesn’t seem to grow at all.

papaya and plumbago

papaya and plumbago – survived the great flood, but doesn’t grow

papaya

papaya is growing well

papaya

papaya growing nicely

A couple of them have flowers and even a micro-papaya. Normally there are many false starts where a papaya grows to half an inch or an inch, and then turns yellow and drops off.  Finally, later, you find they start to grow to full size.

I wanted to grow a papaya in a pot for decoration.  They don’t seem to fruit in pots.  So I grew a great many from seeds, culling them to the three biggest.  They were growing well until one morning I noticed that all the nice new leaves had been eaten by something. I found a small bird feather, so that’s my suspect.

bird attack

bird attack

I put a net over the pot, which I hope will do the trick.

net to discourage birds

net to discourage birds

There is a tiny amount of growth now, so I hope all three will survive.  A pity – they were so healthy before the attack.

With all the rain, naturally the mock orange are happy.

so much rain, so many flowers

so much rain, so many flowers

The local limes which grew from seed are thriving.

lucky lime

lucky lime

The Bougainvillea are doing well, as usual.

burgeoning bougainvillea

burgeoning Bougainvillea

And the hibiscus is happy.

happy hibiscus

happy hibiscus

That’s all, folks.

Signs of Bangladesh 5/5

tickets

boarding pass for flight

boarding pass for flight

Green Line office

Green Line office

Green Line ticket

Green Line ticket

train ticket

train ticket

train ticket

train ticket

traffic

Cox's Bazar town centre

Cox’s Bazar town centre

Cox's Bazar town centre

Cox’s Bazar town centre

one of the buses you could catch

one of the buses you could catch

what a petrol station looks like

what a petrol station looks like

village traffic jam en route to Chittagong

village traffic jam en route to Chittagong

village traffic jam en route to Chittagong

village traffic jam en route to Chittagong

nice bridge over the river into Chittagong

nice bridge over the river into Chittagong

road repair on a back country road

road repair on a back country road

women

girls and women often dress very colourfully

girls and women often dress very colourfully

standing on a roof

standing on a roof

I have no idea what this is

I have no idea what this is

deep in the country

deep in the country

Signs of Bangladesh 4/5

signs and road signs

signs at the beach at Cox's Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox’s Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox's Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox’s Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox's Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox’s Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox's Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox’s Bazar

Cricket Stadium

Cricket Stadium

found the sign, but not the cafe

found the sign, but not the cafe

Radisson Blue, arriving 2014...

Radisson Blue, arriving 2014…

Railway station information board

Railway station information board

at Chittagong Station

at Chittagong Station

one of the few station signs I could read on the Chittagong to Srimangal line

one of the few station signs I could read on the Chittagong to Srimangal line

one of these per kilometer

one of these per kilometer

one of these per kilometer

one of these per kilometer

one of these per kilometer

one of these per kilometer

the open road

the open road

near a national park

near a national park

tea

one of the tea plantations

one of the tea plantations

drying tea leaves immediately after picking

drying tea leaves immediately after picking

old English lorry model

old English lorry model

Srimangal tea region

Srimangal tea region

tea region

tea region

home of the  famous seven layer tea

home of the famous seven layer tea

the famous seven layer tea

the famous seven layer tea

Srimangal tea region

Srimangal tea region

Srimangal tea region

Srimangal tea region

wifi woes, booking bikes, paying for parking

I complained recently about Starbucks implementation of wifi.  The other day I thought I would have coffee in Mc Donalds. Their WiFi used to be quite easy to use.  Well, no longer. Now one must fill out a registration form each time you want to use their WiFi. So not only do they try to gather a lot of information from you, they also enforce a tedious task each time.

registration form

registration form

You only need fill out the left side of the form.  I am starting to think you are better off bringing your own portable WiFi modem with you if you want WiFi when you are out. Or use your phone as a modem.

I really don’t like it when people park their motorbikes or cars on the footpath, forcing me to walk on the road, hoping I don’t get hit by a car – by someone texting and driving.  Thus, on Friday, I was pleased to see parking police in several locations out booking vehicles thus parked. Of course, one of them parked her motorbike on the footpath to book the other bikes blocking the footpath…

motorbikes partially blocking the footpath

motorbikes partially blocking the footpath

But there is good news, too. Now you can use a Touch ‘n Go card to pay for parking in Gurney Paragon.  You pay 10% more for the privilege, but that only amounts to 20 sen or so.

now you can use a TnG card at Paragon

now you can use a TnG card at Paragon

Signs of Bangladesh 3/5

mud and rubbish

muddy main road

muddy main road

muddy back road

muddy back road

people just dump rubbish around them, and it builds up

people just dump rubbish around them, and it builds up

nature

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

industry

you see lots of timber

you see lots of timber

lots of brick factories

lots of brick factories

lots of brick factories

lots of brick factories

rickshaws, CNG,buses

rickshaw

rickshaws

rickshaw

rickshaws

riding on a rickshaw

riding on a rickshaw – almost at the beach

rickshaw used to advertise something

rickshaw used to advertise something – come to our mosque – or something political

rickshaws are used to carry all sorts of things

rickshaws are used to carry all sorts of things

rickshaw holds CNG cylinders

rickshaw holds CNG cylinders

rickshaw holds CNG cylinders

rickshaw holds CNG cylinders

CNG in Cox's Bazar - open style is common there

CNG in Cox’s Bazar – open style is common there

CNG

CNG’s in a village

CNG in Chittagong - security mesh on all the CNG's there

CNG in Chittagong – security mesh on all the CNG’s there

CNG in Dhaka - security mesh on all the CNG's there

CNG in Dhaka – security mesh on all the CNG’s there

CNG

CNG in Dhaka

only slightly unroadworthy

only slightly unroadworthy

Leyland bus in Dhaka

Leyland bus in Dhaka

so many rivers in Bangladesh - one scene with boats

so many rivers in Bangladesh – one scene with boats

Signs of Bangladesh 2/5

Housing

tea plantation workers seem to have nice housing - small semi-detached houses with a shopping village nearby

tea plantation workers seem to have nice housing – small semi-detached houses with a shopping village nearby

housing is made out of all sorts of makeshift materials - here out of plastic rubbish bags

housing is made out of all sorts of makeshift materials – here out of plastic rubbish bags

many people live amongst mud and rubbish - the rubbish is that which they just dump themselves

many people live amongst mud and rubbish – the rubbish is that which they just dump themselves

life

washing and an ad

washing and an ad

surf life saver

surf life saver at Cox’s Bazar

beach at Cox's Bazar

beach at Cox’s Bazar

beach at Cox's Bazar

beach at Cox’s Bazar

pumping water at a well  at Cox's Bazar

pumping water at a well at Cox’s Bazar

washing day

washing day

a local English newspaper in Chittagong

a local English language newspaper in Chittagong

menu and food

a popular brand of bottled water

a popular brand of bottled water

breakfast one morning - paratha, dhal  and  omelette

breakfast one morning – paratha, dhal and omelette

menu

menu

menu

menu

menu

menu

menu

menu

restaurant bill

restaurant bill

miscellaneous

comic I liked in the paper I bought at Chittagong

comic I liked in the paper I bought at Chittagong

hotel - please make up my room sign

hotel – please make up my room sign

hotel - do not disturb sign

hotel – do not disturb sign

museum that seemed always closed

museum that seemed always closed

no idea about this

no idea about this

BBQ's are common in Cox's Bazar

BBQ’s are common in Cox’s Bazar

a traffic roundabout

a traffic roundabout

Rotary meeting preparation

Rotary meeting preparation

political meeting

political meeting

is my room number 8?

is my room number 8?

or is my room number 9? It seems the Bengali for 8 when turned around looks like 9

or is my room number 9? It seems the Bengali for 8 when turned around looks like 9

considerations on choosing my next mobile phone

When I worked in London I always bought myself the latest and greatest mobile phone every year.

Now I try to find a phone which has the features I want, but not at a premium price, and I try to keep it longer. When I bought my last phone, about 15 months ago, I had to compromise quite a lot on features, but I really like the phone I chose – a Motorola Moto G. The main features I wanted that I had to forego were: LTE, SD card slot, NFC. What is great about the Motorola is that you always get the latest Android operating system – I got Lollipop around February this year, which was about a three-month wait, but even now only about 3% of Android users have it, so still I am happy. (In a few months, I hear that Android M will be released.)

But I knew the main compromise with the Moto G would eventually catch up to me – the lack of additional storage in the form of an SD card slot. I am running out of space as the phone is only 16GB, which is the largest capacity Moto G one could buy.

Another consideration is whether to buy a phablet – a 5.5″ to 6″ phone. When travelling I could save 1KG in weight over additionally carrying my tablet and its charger. In which case a separate very lightweight bluetooth keyboard would be handy – but I haven’t yet found such a device.

I read a lot of (UK & US) PC magazines, which also feature phones, and phone magazines, so I can keep up with the latest.  Yet another problem is that not all phones are available here, and I don’t find grey imports an appealing alternative.  I check Floor 3 at Gurney, First Avenue / Prangin Mall, Harvey Norman, Expansys.com.my, eBay etc.

I can get a mobile as part of my airtime contract, but it is not a good deal.  One pays around the same as just buying the phone, unless you actually phone a lot – which I don’t.  And they usually don’t have any phones I am interested in on their list.

Anyway, for my next phone I make a list, in rough order of importance to me, of features it should have, excluding the obvious:

  1. Android 5 & generic Android with immediate upgrade – only really Nexus, Motorola
  2. 5″ + screen – Nexus 6, Moto X, Moto G
  3. SD card – neither brand
  4. WiFi 11ac
  5. 4G / LTE
  6. NFC
  7. Dual SIM
  8. Wireless charging

So I find that once I get to 3. I can’t find any phone that meets my requirements.

A ZTE Blade S6  doesn’t fulfill No. 1, but it has Lollipop and many of my other requirements, and costs a very reasonable £170 in the UK, although I have yet to find it in Malaysia. I’ve seen other ZTE phones here, so perhaps it will come.

Or should I just get the latest Moto G or indeed the Moto E – which reviews have said is cheaper but better than the new Moto G?  Both have requirements 1, 3 & 5, and maybe even 7.  I have yet to find either here in Malaysia, though.  Nexus 6 or Moto X have 32GB models – which should be enough space – and they probably are OTG compliant (meaning you can plug in USB / SD cards via an adapter.)  I have yet to find either here in Malaysia with 32 GB, though.

An since I spend most of my time in Malaysia, I prefer to buy it here, for warranty reasons.

It seems I have to just wait and see what develops / arrives here.