Month: June 2015

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

Again, nothing much was happening in the garden this month:

It rained almost every day until about a week ago.  And then it stopped.  And now we have the annual haze – allegedly from Indonesian farmers burning jungle.

haze season agion

haze season again

Nothing much is different from the previous few months.

In one corner the plumbago got sick and died, and I have no idea why.

something made the plumbago sick

something made the plumbago sick

something killed the plumbago - front left

something killed the plumbago – front left

It happened in 24 hours.  I put another plumbago pot there, and after a few hours it was sick, too.  So I moved it, pruned the dead parts off and it survived. It’s now smaller than the others.

However, the passion fruit have flowered and a few fruit are growing.

passion fruit flower

passion fruit flower early June

passion fruit are now growing

passion fruit are now growing

So far I have harvested one.

first passion fruit of the season

first passion fruit harvested of the season

Three tomato plants have emerged in the garden from where I put some compost.  I don’t have high hopes as tomato plants usually don’t grow very big before they die, and if they do survive rarely are healthy enough to fruit. But I live in hope.

hopeful tomato plant

hopeful tomato plant

Mealy bugs are still attacking the papaya in the back, but are fortunately not so widespread at the moment. The papaya I decided to grow in a pot were attacked again – the leaves were eaten and two out of three of the plants died.  So far it’s surviving and hasn’t been attacked recently.

papaya leaves attacked - by bird?

papaya leaves attacked – by bird?

Otherwise the papaya are growing nicely, and some sometimes flower and produce tiny fruit which subsequently fall off.

Walking in Penang for the non-suicidal – Walk 8 – the beaches near Gurney Drive

If the tide is not too high you can walk along a few quiet beaches on the way to George Town.  But don’t expect pristine beaches with golden sand and palm trees waving in the soft breeze as you paddle in the azure water.  Expect instead some rubbish, the odd dead fish, a few rocks to carefully negotiate, and opaque sea water you really don’t want to enter.

However, you may see some nice scenes with fishing boats, a nice sunrise over the sea if you are up early,  you can walk barefoot along the sand so long as you watch where you step, and it is quiet and peaceful with very few if any people around. It can be quite pleasant.

Basically, you start at the George Town end of Gurney Drive and simply clamber down to the beach and walk along.  You pass an entrance to the Northam Hawker Centre, climb up and cross a couple of storm drains along the way – there are steps or a bridge, and eventually you can go no further, so you walk up to Northam Road, or retrace your steps.

The photos were taken around sunrise on a dull, overcast morning, and so are not very bright.

the end of Gurney Drive

the end of Gurney Drive

get  down to the beach from here - I hold on to the railing on the right as I go down, and then it's quite easy

get down to the beach from here – I hold on to the railing on the right as I go down, and then it’s quite easy

the first beach - here you can sometimes get nice photos of fishing boats with the sunrise

the first beach – here you can sometimes get nice photos of fishing boats with the sunrise

further along the same beach are some steps up to the Hawker Centre

further along the same beach are some steps up to the Hawker Centre

first thing in the morning the hawker centre is closed - but if you want you can walk through it to the road

first thing in the morning the hawker centre is closed – but if you want you can walk through it to the road

you cross the storm drain here - there are steps up

you cross the storm drain here – there are steps up – nice view of washed up rubbish

but after the drain you have to negotiate the rocks

but after the drain you have to negotiate the rocks

this next stretch of beach is the nicest - it was clean the day I was there and had no boats and no one around

this next stretch of beach is the nicest – it was clean the day I was there and had no boats and no one around

the moon behind the palm trees

the moon behind the palm trees

continuing along

continuing along

near the end you have to walk through some rocks you can see ahead

near the end you have to walk through some rocks you can see ahead

you need to go to the right a little to find a bridge across the storm drain

you need to go to the right a little to find a bridge across the storm drain

little bridge ahead

little bridge ahead

bridge

bridge

the last stretch of beach

the last stretch of beach

you can't continue after this

you can’t continue along the coast after this

only about one quarter the way along you need to head to the right - keep to the right of the blue boat and there is an entrance to the street

only about one-quarter the way along you need to head to the right – keep to the right of the blue boat (left of the restaurant) and there is an entrance to the street

this is what you see as you head up from the beach

this is what you see as you head up from the beach

you pass the restaurant on the right

you pass the Ocean Green Restaurant on the right

continue up the street

continue up the street

and then this is the view if you turn left onto Northam Road towards George Town.

and then this is the view if you turn left onto Northam Road towards George Town

Keeping on this side of the road you will hit a proper footpath after a few minutes.  I guess it’s about 20 minutes walk to George Town from here.

All you can drink beer in Penang

Tree Bar, behind the G Hotel.

Tree Bar, behind the G Hotel.

I imagine once a few expats find this the management will remove the offer. But today I spotted this at the Tree Bar in the Gurney Al Fresco area.

the offer

the offer

Post-GST alcohol prices are much higher and one is charged somewhat over RM20 per pint.  To break even you’d have to drink five pints.  So it’s not for me, but it could be good for some people.

Keep an eye out for GST mistakes

Keep an eye out for GST mistakes. To illustrate, it is easiest just to tell my story.

Before I start, let me just say I bear no ill-will towards Cold Storage for this incident. Mistakes happen. The government has forced huge costs on businesses (and thus consumers) by making them unpaid tax collectors, and businesses would have wanted to keep their costs in implementing this as low as possible.  Mistakes are likely.

I only wanted to buy coconut oil, glanced at the price, picked it up and went to the checkout.  I paid in cash, and when I received the change, as I vaguely remembered the price, thought I had been overcharged.  So I queried this with the cashier, and she showed me the price on the receipt.  She had given me the correct change according to the receipt.

receipt

receipt

Something seemed wrong, so I returned to the shelf and photographed the price and GST rating there.

price and GST rating of 0% on shelf

price and GST rating of 0% on shelf

The price on the receipt was RM64.91 ex-GST, but the price on the shelf was RM64.89.  Now, the government has decreed that the price indicated must include GST.  So the proper price should be as shown on the shelf.  And GST was added, by mistake, to a slightly different price for the product.  This is three mistakes.

As is usual here, you explain the problem to one staff member, they go and get another staff member – and you have to explain all over again.  Then they go and get another staff member, and you start again from the beginning and explain it all again.  The shelf photo I had taken  made it easy for them to understand. So, the fourth staff member gave me a huge form to fill out, I said, as usual, I’d only fill out my name and phone number, and then I got my RM3.90 back in cash.  And they apologised nicely and shook my hand.

As much as possible I try to avoid buying products that have GST on them, so for me this was the main point in this exercise once I had found the mistakes.