Month: September 2015

Signs of Sri Lanka 5/6 – sights

so many Chinese tourists in Galle - either pairs or groups of young girls, or young couples.

so many Chinese tourists in Galle – either pairs or groups of young girls, or young couples.

plenty of nice beaches

plenty of nice beaches

every town seems to have a clocktower

every town seems to have a clocktower

full moon every months means party day - called Poya

full moon every months means party day – called Poya

in Jaffna many buildings are still in ruins after the war

in Jaffna many buildings are still in ruins after the war

Alliance Francais - just around the corner from the British Council

Alliance Francais – just around the corner from the British Council

cricket ground in Galle British Council - just around the corner from the Alliance Francais

British Council – just around the corner from the Alliance Francais

cricket ground in Galle

cricket ground in Galle

Advertisements

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

Flashback to September 2014:

There has been so much rain, for a start.  The biggest papaya tree previously would produce only one fruit at once, and the other flowers turned into tiny fruit that dropped off. Now at least three papayas are growing at once, one of which is already quite large.  Other papaya trees are either still growing or still at the stage of the tiny fruit just dropping off.

papaya

September 2015 – the tree above was killed by the great flood of October 2014.  The only papaya I ever got from that tree was the one you see. In February this year  I put some seeds in the same spot, and here is the current tree.

papaya - grew from seed in February - seven months old

papaya – grew from seed in February – seven months old

It’s about one metre shorter than the earlier one. It’s a bit hard to see in this photo, but in the photo below you will see I put rubber bands around the trunk.

papaya with rubber bands

papaya with rubber bands

 

papaya with rubber bands

papaya with rubber bands

This is to keep the ants away, as they allegedly don’t like the smell of rubber.  If they climb the tree they bring mealy bugs.

tiny papaya

tiny papaya – the only tree I hadn’t put the rubber bands on

 

mealy bugs

mealy bugs on tiny papaya

The mealy bugs damage the tree, it won’t flower or fruit,  and if there are enough of them the tree will die. So far the rubber bands are working about 99% well.  There are a few ants and mealy bugs, but it’s only a moment’s work to dispose of them.  Usually it is very time-consuming to do so, as there are so many. I just hadn’t put the rubber bands on the tiny papaya, but I had on all the other trees.

shows root suystem of papaya - which got knocked over

shows root system of papaya – which got knocked over

 

water damaged papaya

water damaged papaya

This year also it has rained and rained and rained. Almost every day. Why?  Geoengineering by government?  The knock-on effects of geoengineering on another country?  It’s very hard to tell.  The UN and US have documented their control of the weather (and you can find this on the Internet), but we don’t know how they are using it.  They don’t spray the sky in Penang so much, fortunately.

Papaya are supposed to like a lot of water. But the above papaya has been damaged by too much water.  It is still clinging to life, and I am keeping it under cover when it rains, but putting it in the sun when I can, to try to help it.

The haze has been terrible when it hasn’t rained.  The worst I remember, and the latest in the year that it has persisted.

Passion fruit vines love the rain, though.

passion fruit vines

passion fruit vines

 

passion fruit flowers and busy bees

passion fruit flowers and busy bees

 

many passion fruit growing

many passion fruit growing – here’s one

But there are a couple of problems.  The passion fruit ripen better with sun, and there hasn’t been much, so they ripen very slowly. The next is that a rat has been attacking by night. An envelope to disguise them works often for squirrels, which come during the day, but not against rats, which come at night.  Squirrels also often can not break through the skin, and even if they do, only eat a tiny bit, so the rest goes to waste.  A rat can easily get through the thick skin, and eats a lot of the fruit.

passion fruit protected - but still attacked

passion fruit protected – but still attacked

 

passion fruit after rat attack

passion fruit after rat attack

The rats can more easily find the ripening passion fruit than I can. If you pick a green passion fruit, even if it feels heavy with a lot of pulp inside, it doesn’t seem to ripen. So this is no solution to beating the rats.   Once it starts to ripen, with the skin becoming lighter you can pick it and let it ripen off the vine. However, it’s hard to tell, sometimes. And if you are wrong in judging, the rat gets it first. Anyway, I put a trap out one night, and caught a rat. Since the there has been no passion fruit attack. So, it was just one rat.  I left partially eaten passion fruit out, in the hope the rat will eat them instead of attacking other fruit. This did work to an extent. After catching the rat I buried the attacked passion fruit in the garden with some mung beans in the hope that in the future the seeds will germinate, so the whole thing wasn’t a total waste.

After years of no action, this lime tree has many limes on it.

limes growing well

limes growing well

I planted some bean seeds that I got from Rick in Balik Pulau. They have now come up.

beans from Balik Pulau

beans from Balik Pulau

 

duranta in shade

The Duranta is growing really well in the shade

The lime tree I have at ground level was doing well until it was eaten by giant snails. It is slowly coming back. The aloe vera in the same pot is very happy.

aloe vera

lime tree and aloe vera

 

lime tree and aloe vera at ground level

lime tree and aloe vera at ground level, again

We have aloe vera at ground level and on first and second floors.  All are in pots. It is so much happier and grows so much better at ground level.

Mock Orange also love the rain.  Many of the plants flowered, and now there are many seeds.

IMG_3174 (Copy)

mock orange

Birds usually come and eat the seeds. So I take some for myself, and leave some for the birds.

mock orange with seeds

mock orange with seeds

Happy Duranta near a young lime tree.  This of one of the lime trees that grew from seed in the compost.

young lime tree and duranta

young lime tree and duranta

The Bougainvilleas are healthy, but not all that happy with so much rain.

bougainvillea - not so happy with so much rain

Bougainvillea – not so happy with so much rain

Finally, these three tomatoes grew on one tomato plant that grew from compost, but the rain split the skin so they became rotten. I am fermenting them in a plastic bag and will put into the garden with the hope the seeds will germinate sometime.

tomatoes

tomatoes

October is normally the wettest month of the year. How will it be after so much rain already?

Signs of Sri Lanka 3/6 – food and drink

I have captioned these photos three times, and each time I save they disappear. I give up. With some luck a few captions will appear.

20150726 (10) (Copy)

20150726 (16) (Copy)

20150726 (72) (Copy)

20150727 (100) (Copy)

20150727 (101) (Copy)

20150727 (192) (Copy)

20150728 (96) (Copy)

20150728 (108) (Copy)

20150728 (111) (Copy)

20150729 (44) (Copy)

20150729 (88) (Copy)

20150730 (28) (Copy)

20150731 (61) (Copy)

Lion

20150731 (62) (Copy)

time for the Lion

20150731 (117) (Copy)

also, watermelon season

20150801 (157) (Copy)

spices for sale in Jaffna

market building in Jaffna

palmyrya nuts

palmyrya nut

palmyrya toddy hut

bunch of men spending the day drinking toddy

theme tune – Santa Claus is coming to town

at the market

Perhaps carrier pigeons are the way forward – Malaysian telecommunications firms

My life seems to be dedicated to trying to get telecommunication firms to do their job.

The other day I was complaining that Celcom, my current mobile provider, cut my phone before telling me that my bill was due. I paid the next morning, and the service was restored before I left the payment point.  Hopefully now all will go smoothly.

Then there is Maxis, my previous mobile provider.  When you set up an account they demand a deposit of RM500 per line.  I used Maxis for years and paid regularly on time.  But when they must return my deposit – they don’t.  I have talked to their storefront, visited their office, and phoned multiple times over the weeks and months.  They hang up on me – and I am not rude to them. They promise to call back – and they don’t. They all tell me a different story.  One theme I have heard is they send a cheque to my address after six weeks.  Six weeks after what?  The answer varies.  So much for being a reliable customer that causes them no problems.  My reward is I don’t get my deposit back anytime within a reasonable time frame – if at all.

And then there is Yes 4G.  I use them as a backup for when TM Internet is down.  They had a promotion so I bought some top-ups.  But they are not credited to my account, and so I can’t use them.  I emailed, and they at least replied within 24 hours. But they told me it was sorted – but it is not. My account is still showing zero, and when I try to use it a web page comes up saying to reload.  A lot of use the reload did me. I am awaiting a reply to my next email.

no, no, no - still no Yes credit

no, no, no – still no Yes credit

If you retire in Malaysia you don’t have to worry about having time on your hands – just trying to get proper service out of mbile companies will keep you busy.  My advice – spend enough time to find a good deal and then stick to it.  The more changes and the more companies you use the more grief.

Signs of Sri Lanka 2/6 – assorted

20150726 (54) (Copy)

from the corner room you can see both sunrise and sunset

20150727 (39) (Copy)

I am assuming this guy is famous in Sri Lanka

20150727 (43) (Copy)

many signs are in three languages – luckily I understand one of them

20150727 (45) (Copy)

Sri Lankan flag on the fort

20150727 (131) (Copy)

on one of the buildings in Galle

20150728 (101) (Copy)

They put powerpoints in the most inconvenient of places. They, with all the adapters needed one must improvise.

20150729 (27) (Copy)

on a hill on the outskirts of Kandy

20150730 (64) (Copy)

I stay in only the best places

20150730 (88) (Copy)

not much left of these ruins. The sign was more interesting.

20150730 (141) (Copy)

fishing boats

20150731 (13) (Copy)

Most of Trincomalee was flat – but you had to climb a hill to the Hindu temple

20150731 (14) (Copy)

20150731 (27) (Copy)

20150731 (52) (Copy)

Where I stayed in Anuradhapura – the only place I would recommend.

20150731 (67) (Copy)

You sometimes found EU or UN vehicles around the place

20150731 (105) (Copy)

20150731 (137) (Copy)

20150801 (31) (Copy)

20150801 (36) (Copy)

Who’d have thought?

20150801 (114) (Copy)

fishing boats at Jaffna

20150801 (126) (Copy)

I read the local paper at the Jaffna Puclic Library – after which people thought the country was dangerous

20150801 (160) (Copy)

by the way, “hotel” can mean, “restaurant”. Still, nothing to do with Rolex watches.

20150802 (36) (Copy)

I never did get to see a school feeding

20150803 (28) (Copy)

I did my best on this

20150803 (57) (Copy)

I think Henry’s spelling is better than this.

20150803 (58) (Copy)

A typical fence using palmrya fronds

20150804 (8) (Copy)

20150805 (6) (Copy)

I enjoyed staying here, but had to watch out for the electricity police. As soon as I stepped out of the room the owner would leap to the outside electricity meter and turn the power to the air-con off. It took lots of messing around to try and get the hot water for the shower to work, and I couldn’t. He had that turned off too. So then I knew how to turn everything on.

IMG_1573 (Copy)

IMG_1574 (Copy)

Ah, election time

IMG_1575 (Copy)

Bangkok side trip – visiting Ganesha

Ganesha

Ganesha

Fairly recently a big Ganesha has been erected outside of Bangkok, at Wat Saman Rattanaram.  See the size of it by Google Street view. It has proven so popular that other temples and statues have sprung up in the same area.  By private transport it would be a half day trip. We thought we’d try public transport, which meant we were away most of the day.

Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal

Bangkok’s Eastern Bus Terminal

You can catch a train to Chachoengsao, but we read it’s very crowded and you’d have to stand for two hours. And after that you catch a pickup for the rest of the way, to Wat Saman Rattanaram.  We went by mini-bus (‘Rottoo’) instead to Chachoengsao, and then a pickup ( ‘Ten sou’) to Wat Saman Rattanaram.

inside the bus terminal - the ticket window for C is under that big orange sign

inside the bus terminal – the ticket window for Chachoensao is more or less under that big orange sign

The mini-bus to Chachoengsao departs from Bangkok Bus Terminal (Eastern), on Sukumvit Road, opposite BTS Ekkamai Station. We caught the 8AM minibus, but there are three earlier departures, and the next is at 11.00.  However, check the day before, as timetables change frequently.  A ticket costs THB18, from memory. It took us about two hours to arrive at the Chachoengsao bus station.  We were there at 10.10AM.

the mini-bus to

the mini-bus to Chachoengsao

the bus terminal at C

the bus terminal at Chachoengsao

The pickup to Wat Saman departs from a side street next to the market, about two minutes walk from the bus terminal. Our mini-bus driver showed us where.  We had to wait about 20 minutes for the next departure, at 10.30. The fare was THB30.

the pickup to Wat

the pickup to Wat Saman

on the pickup on the way to Wat Saman

on the pickup on the way to Wat Saman

Ganesha sign

Ganesha sign

on the way to Wat Saman

on the way to Wat Saman

on the way to Wat Saman

on the way to Wat Saman

on the way to Wat Saman

on the way to Wat Saman

on the way to Wat Saman

on the way to Wat Saman

almost there

almost there

And then we arrived at Wat Saman at about 11.25AM.  It has no entry charge.

lots of stalls near the temples

lots of stalls near the temples

first time I've seen this one

first time I’ve seen this one – the sign for the timetable for the pickup back is in front of this.

time table for the pickup back to C

time-table for the pickup back to Chachoengsao – catch the pickup here

Erawan

Erawan

Ganesha

Ganesha

Ganeshas

Ganeshas

dragons

dragons

little island

little island

another Ganesha

another Ganesha

buddhas

buddhas

big Draemon

big Doraemon

huge statue

huge statue

another huge statue

another huge statue

lunch

lunch

my lunch

my lunch

It was interesting to do once and to experience the ordinary public transport.  Bangkok traffic can be bad, so consider which day you make the trip. And take some water to drink,  as usual.

In the Wat market area, we saw a lot of local produce shops, fruit, nuts, cookies, flowers, plants, spice, and charcoal BBQ chicken take away.

The hawker area serves food: food, quality, hygiene, volume and value all were quite satisfactory for a super touristy place.

If you became over heated you can escape to Amazon cafe which is the only air-con place in the Wat.  It is a couple of minutes walk past Ganesha.