Month: March 2017

Penang to Kuala Lumpur by plane, train, bus and car – March 2017

You have a few choices travelling between Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

Plane

The main carriers from Penang to Kuala Lumpur are Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia.  Kuala Lumpur has two main terminals at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).  KLIA, which is where the full service airlines fly to and from, and KLIA2, which the low cost airlines use.  (There is another airport, Subang, which Firefly and Berjaya Air operate from, which is likely to be useful only if you wish to go to that area.)  Prices vary, but can be very cheap – as cheap as bus or train fares.

Air Asia web site

Malaysian Airlines web site

Air Asia

A flight takes only about 45 minutes, and in that time on Malaysian Airlines they serve a drink in a plastic container and a packet of peanuts, and then come around to collect the rubbish.  Those two activities take up the cabin crews’ time while at crusing height.

the cabin in economy

peanuts and juice

the seat back – screen not activated for use on this short flight

On Air Asia you would not normally be served anything, but of course the flight time is similar.

Train

KTM – train company web site – note that for purposes of the web site your point of origin is Butterworth, and destination is Sentral Kuala Lumpur.

For more information and links please see http://www.travel-penang-malaysia.com/ktmb-ets-schedule.html

Penang now has the ETS – Electric Train Service – meaning that the journey to KL from Penang-Butterworth can take as little as just over four hours. This  provides more comfort and safety than buses, in a similar travel time, and for a similar price as the better bus companies.

For my blog about a recent train ride from Penang to KL see here

Bus

Penang to KL by bus

KL to Penang by bus

Aeroline bus company

Transnasional bus company

Nice bus company

Konsortium bus company

There are many more bus companies.

Car

Driving from Penang to Kuala Lumpur

Heading south – typical landscape

And which is best?  Of course, this is hard to say.  Let’s compare them in terms of travelling time, cost, scenery and enjoyment.

Plane:

If your destination is KL, then let’s look at the time it will take.  You should be at the airport perhaps 1.5 hours before departure. Flight time is about 45 minutes, and then once you have landed it will take at least 45 minutes to collect your luggage if you have any, and to get into central KL, and more likely one hour or more. Thus total time from Penang airport to KL hotel is at least 3.5 hours.  That is faster than any other mode.  It can also be quite cheap if you catch one of the Air Asia specials. Catching a taxi to and from Penang airport, or parking charges there can add considerably to the cost, however.  There is no airport bus in Penang, just a local bus, which is not very frequent or reliable.  Using the Grabcar app from Gurney Plaza to the airport is about RM26. Uber may be similar. Apart from shortly after take off, the scenery you will see from the plane is not very interesting. It is more stressful flying, but if you are also flying out of KL, it can often be the easiest mode of transport.

If you are flying out of KLIA then flying is probably the best option.  The airline you choose usually depends on which terminal in KL you fly out from. In Penang, there is only one terminal, so there is no issue with convenience for any airline.  But in Kuala Lumpur there is KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) and KLIA2.  Air Asia flies to KLIA2, so if you are flying from KL on Air Asia, it makes sense to fly from Penang also on Air Asia. And if you are flying from KLIA, then you will probably want to choose a full service airline to fly on from Penang, as it will fly into KLIA.  Of course, you can transfer between KLIA and KLIA2, but it takes some time, and is less fun if you have luggage.

Train:

The train takes a similar time to the bus. It takes about four hours, or up to four and a half, depending on the schedule.  Occasionally incidents on the E1 motorway block or slow traffic,   which obviously won’t affect the train, but will the bus. You will also have the travelling time to the station at Butterworth, so add on at least an hour for the trip to the ferry terminal, and ferry to Butterworth.  It is very relaxing, though, and the scenery is better than travelling by air or road.

Bus:

Travelling time by bus can be from four and a half hours to more, depending on traffic. But you will probably leave home an hour before the bus departs, so this must be added to the total travelling time. Bus fares vary quite a bit depending on which company you choose to travel with. But the more expensive bus companies tend to be safer, and more comfortable. Aeroline, the most expensive company,   quotes on its web site a price of RM60 one way in March 2017. Of course, by bus or car the scenery will be the same, as either way you will be travelling on the E1 north-south motorway. Mostly, the scenery is not very exciting. However, around Ipoh, which is about half way, the scenery improves for a while. The bus can also be quite relaxing, depending on the skills of the driver – the cheaper the bus company, the worse the drivers, generally. Many people find the bus the most enjoyable way to travel this route. I would avoid any very late night / overnight bus journeys if at all possible, as bus drivers and other vehicle drivers have been known to fall asleep at the wheel.

Car:

When I drive, with three very short stops on the way, it takes about 4.5 hours in light traffic. By car you will presumably be driving directly from home to your destination, so it takes only about an hour more than flying. The road charges are about RM45, and I suppose you will use about RM70 for petrol, although this will vary quite a bit according to your car and driving style. Of course, there are other costs, but for me, as I don’t drive much anyway, it is really only these costs that count. RM115. Double the bus fare for one person, but if two or more people,competitive. Naturally you will be able to carry much more luggage, be able to visit other places en-route if you wish, and have use of the car in KL. You will have to pay for parking, however, which at many hotels is RM10 per day.

Is it fun to drive? Not particularly. It’s frustrating as the speed limit is pathetically low, and for the section of the road which is three lanes each way, the left lane is mostly empty, while most drivers drive in the middle lane, making overtaking in the left lane necessary when the right lane is also blocked by a slower vehicle. This is hardly ideal.

My conclusion:

The disadvantage of the train is that Butterworth station is a bit far from George Town, and you need to catch the ferry.  But the bus station has the same disadvantage, being next to the train station.  The other terminals for the bus are from Sungai Nibong or Queensbay Mall – also a bit far.  Then, you find the same disadvantages for the bus and train in KL, where the terminals are not central.  But the airport in Penang is further away, and the airport in KL is even further out, so really, unless you are flying out of KLIA, I find the train offers the best combination of safety, comfort and convenience to central Kuala Lumpur.

For historical interest you can see a much older blog on this topic

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in March 2017

After Chinese New Year the weather remained hot and dry until about a week ago, when it has started again to rain most days.

With a lot of watering plants survived, but for one very sick plumbago. The first is a photo of it last month.

img_1769-copy

And a photo now. I have pruned it.  Let’s see how it goes.

very sick plumbago

 

otherwise doing well

And papaya are coming up. I planted them in four places.  Today I culled them down to three plants per spot. Later I will cull them down to one per spot.

papaya

eggplant plant has been attacked by mealy bugs

this lime tree has done really well with lots of limes now

we’ve cultivated these and have a lot now, all doing well

the grape vine

so many flowers on the mock oranges

duranta is happy

we’ve cultivated these, too, and all are well

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

we use rosemary a lot in cooking now

the passion fruit vines are still fruiting.  They should be out of season, but they were also growing this time last year.  I have pruned the vines back a bit and cut off the dead wood.

baby passion fruit

and this lime tree has a lot of full size limes, and many tiny ones growing

Canna Lily is a bit quiet at the moment

I’m growing this smaller papaya for decoration.  I just cleaned a lot of mealy bugs off it

In the last month all remaining pumpkin vines dided off, without producing anything.  They usually don’t at this time of year, anyway.

 

Catching the train from Penang to Kuala Lumpur – March 2017

The train is a very viable transport choice between Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

Look here for prices and timetables, and to book online:  http://www.travel-penang-malaysia.com/ktmb-ets-schedule.html

Or see the official KTM web site, which is more difficult to use: KTM – train company web site – note that for purposes of the web site your point of origin is Butterworth, and destination is Sentral Kuala Lumpur.

Basically there are several trains a day in both directions, and the ticket prices as of this writing are RM59 or RM79, depending on which train you take.  The train is one class.

This blog describes the journey from George Town to Butterworth, where the train station is located, and then on to KL by train.

after alighting from a taxi or bus you walk along a passage towards the sea and the KTM office, where you can buy a train ticket if you wish.

note the opening hours of the KTM office

the KTM office

at the office the path turns right angles to the left, then later 90 degrees to the right and up a ramp to the ferry waiting area

some ferries load cars this way

looking back from the ferry towards George Town

looking back from the ferry towards George Town on the other side

about to disembark the ferry

Once you disembark from the ferry you walk straight ahead and then veer right, heading for both the bus station and train station.

you walk along an elevated walkway and cross the railway line

You cross a pedestrian bridge over the railway, turn left…

elevated walkway

at the time of writing construction continues, but you go straight here for the bus terminal, or right for the train station

… and then to the right for the train station, or straight still for the bus station.

the ground floor of the station – nothing but a small waiting area

you can catch a lift or walk up the stairs to the first floor where you can see the bus station from the window

It’s very easy to find. There is a lift that takes you up to the ticket offices and waiting area.

corridor towards the first floor ticketing and waiting area

the ticketing and waiting area

The station is bigger now, but it is very hot inside. You aren’t allowed access to the platforms until the train has arrived and passengers have disembarked. In my case we were allowed onto the train about 10 minutes before the train was due to depart. The carriages and seats are clearly marked, so finding one’s seat is easy.

the board

a poster

a poster

the platform, which you reach by walking down the steps or catching a lift

the train

the train

inside the carriage

inside the carriage

the network diagram

The train departed on time, and arrived in KL on time.

the view a few minutes after departure

the snack bar

There is a small café taking part of one of the carriages, with just few tables. You can buy coffee, teas, soft drinks, and a few light meals. The coffee was ok. The noodles I ordered were not very good.

food available

availability notice

what I bought

every passenger receives this snack package

contents of the snack package

scenery

The scenery is pleasant enough, but quite similar to the same trip by road.

scenery

The train makes a few stops along the way for short times, and is a smooth ride

Taiping station

Taiping station

scenery

scenery

scenery

scenery

Ipoh station

Ipoh station

Ipoh station

toilet is clean

There are clean toilets in a couple of the carriages.  LCD displays show progress, the next station and the speed of the train, which reaches about 140kph.

the electronic board in the train showing progress and speed

old KL station, a few minutes before the train arrives in KL Sentral. This is a view of the station I took from a bus

And as I mentioned above, the train arrived on time.

Of the three choices of public transport to KL, which is better?

If you want to see the scenery, then surface transport. But really, once is enough.

The airfare can be a similar price to the train or bus, especially if you factor in the cost from KL Sentral station or the bus station to the airport, if you are flying out of KLIA. So I tend to think flying is better if you’re going to the airport.

From Penang to central KL all three modes take around the same time.

If you’re going to central KL, neither the train station or bus station is really in the centre, but you can quite cheaply and reasonably quickly get there.  Whereas from the airport it’s a bit expensive by train to central KL, or slow by bus.  So going to central KL I’d suggest the surface transport.

The train fare can be higher than many bus fares, but similar to the better bus companies. With a bus you might get WiFi, with the train you don’t, but there are working power points on the train for every two seats. The train is smoother and safer, and more comfortable, so that would be my choice, unless you want to save a few Ringgit by using a cheap and possibly not so safe bus company.
So, to summarise, my idea is to fly between Penang and KL  if you’re then flying out of KLIA, or vice versa; otherwise catch the train.

Monologue on meandering Morocco and the Middle East

I’m just back from six weeks backpacking solo through Morocco, the Middle East and the Caucasus.  The aim of this blog is to give some hints and information to facilitate making a  trip in the region.  It’s a very similar blog to https://tropicalexpat.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/balkans-backpacking-blog/ which I used as a template, as I prepared and travelled the same way.

So as so to do, I will state the aims of my trip:

  • To visit at least seven countries
  • To swim in at least one of the seas in the area if possible, although it’s winter
  • To walk every day for exercise
  • To travel on trains where at all possible, unless impractical
  • To be spontaneous and do what I want at the time
  • To try to visit three towns, cities or sites in each country
  • To  try to see or do three places or things in each place
  • To make notes on what I do and see
  • To photograph interesting things
  • To minimise expenses without compromising enjoyment
  • To eat the local food
  • To get into nature a bit
  • To get a few photos of me in each country
  • To talk to people, both locals and travellers
  • Cycle a bit when safe
  • To hike a bit
  • And the plan to travel in winter, when hotels and transport are not fully booked, and prices are lower.
  • To read books when I have time

Apart from reading, as mostly I didn’t have time, and cycling, because it was too dangerous, I achieved all of the above to varying extents, with those higher in the above list achieved to a greater extent than those below.

PLANNING AND PREPARATION

  • I read the Lonely Planet Morocco, Middle East and Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan guidebooks, which covered all the countries I visited. A compendium has less detail than a book covering just one country, and this suited me just fine, as it saved reading time. Google Play Books is my favourite eReader, and I uploaded the ePub version on there – the PDF version of books can’t be highlighted. Even so, sometimes you have to play with the app on the mobile and computer to get highlighting to work.  Once you start reading it, it downloads also to your device, so you don’t have to be online to read it.  Thus I highlighted the important points on each country to save time when I perused it while travelling.
  • As my aim was to travel by train when possible I read the Seat 61 entries on the countries I was planning to visit.
  • And I downloaded the countries I was planning to visit from Triposo on my device, and browsed through them too.
  • And also a look through Wikivoyage
  • I read the UK Foreign Office advisories, which more or less said to beware of terrorism in every country.
  • And a glance at blogs on travelling in the region
  • And the plan to travel in winter into early spring, when the temperature is hopefully warming, hotels and transport are not fully booked, and prices are lower. But to be out of Iran well before their new year, which starts on the equinox, and when all modes of travel are full. And to generally start in countries in the south that are likely to be warmer, and move north as countries warm.
  • Checked couchsurfing for hosts and events
  • Checked countries train web sites for some train routes
  • Then I made a rough route plan
  • And got air tickets to suit this plan
  • Set up my mobile with the appropriate apps and put on the appropriate information
  • Got some Euro cash and USD as Iran is not connected to the world’s financial system so foreigners must use only cash, and enough Ringgit for eventualities in Malaysia
  • Notified banks that I may use the ATM / credit cards in the countries I would be visiting
  • Copied all documents twice – once to leave at home, and once to keep separate from documents but carry with me
  • Washed all clothes that I hadn’t recently washed that I was taking

ROUTE

The route depended on flight availability on the day and due to flight availability it turned out to be:

KUL – IST – CMN – IST – BEY – AMM – IST – IKA – IST – TBS – IST – KUL – PEN

Where:

KUL – KL (Kuala Lumpur),

IST – Istanbul

CMN – Casablanca

BEY – Beirut

AMM – Amman, Jordan

IKA – Tehran

TBS – Tbilisi, Georgia

PEN – Penang

MISTAKES I MADE

  • Not changing the leftover local money before entering security at the airport.  At some airports they don’t even accept their own currency airside. They only take Euros. Particularly Morocco.
  • Not having a recently tested Microsoft account backup.  Microsoft kindly suspended my account when I logged on from various different countries.  I hadn’t checked the backup for years, and it took me days to be able to use Onedrive, Onenote, and Excel again, by trying various different workarounds until I finally succeeded.
  • I didn’t adequately research which company to use to get the permission to get a visa for Iran.  Consequently the one I used was inefficient, unfriendly and caused my plans to be delayed
  • I received permission from the Abkhazian ministry to enter the country and apply for a visa.  But they made an error on the form which caused me problems at the border.  It was in Russian, and the error they made was my birthdate, but it was such a big error i thought it was probably something else. I should have put the entire thing into Google Translate and checked properly.
  • Arriving in Abkhazia on the weekend.  The consulate is only open Monday to Friday so you have to stay until at least Monday as you won’t be able to leave without a visa.  Also, it seems impossible to change money on the weekend.
  • Not ensuring I had changed enough money into Iranian rials by Wednesday as you can’t change money on Thursday and Friday except perhaps at a bad rate at your hotel.

MISTAKES IN PACKING

  • I took too many zip lock bags.  Not such a big problem as they don’t weigh much.
  • I had major battery problems on all devices and power banks. I threw one of the power banks away to save weight.  But back in Malaysia the devices are working a bit better. Maybe the power bank I disposed of would have worked again.
  • The socks I took were too hard to dry after washing. Lighter socks would have made life easier.

PROBLEMS and their SOLUTIONS

  • I  found that the phone battery would last less than 20 minutes of use!  The phone is almost two years old now, but still, that is ridiculous.  Some trains have power points, and you can usually find power points in coffee shops. Plus I had two power banks, so I found I always had enough power available. One power bank and a charged phone at the beginning of the day was enough for intensive use of the phone, normally.  But then the power banks started to fail.  I switched to my tablet, which also has a SIM slot.
  • Related to the above is that if the phone got down to 20% charge, in a minute or two it would reduce to zero, and then it would require being connected to power for at least five minutes before it would start again.   If I really need the phone at that time, for example to check on the map (Maps.me app) to see if we’d arrived at my destination, it was very inconvenient.  I turned off the phone and charged it 100%, and only turned it on when I really needed it.
  • Often there was no tourist information at or near the terminal, and no maps, either on a signboard or printed ones you can get.  I used the Maps.me app on my phone, where I downloaded the country maps in advance so that I didn’t need an Internet connection.  It simply uses GPS.  Sometimes it is not so accurate, or takes a little time to show where you are, so you have to use your judgement, and perhaps ask people to confirm.  Although people are not necessarily correct, either.  The guidebook maps were not detailed enough and couldn’t be magnified enough, and weren’t searchable like Maps.me.
  • Street signs were either non-existent, hiding where you can’t see them, written in a script I couldn’t read, or all of the above.  I could sometimes compare the script with script on a map if it had it.  I just had to use landmarks, and walk a little and see what was happening on the Maps.me display to work out if I was going in the right direction.  Annoyingly Maps.me sometimes used different spellings for street or town names than the guidebook, so searches found nothing.  If I had an Internet connection I could use Google Maps for a search and find it better, sometimes.
  • No Internet when you need it. WiFi and power to charge their phones is what tourists want, and most coffee shops and hotels provide them. I used to ask before I ordered my coffee, but after a while I didn’t bother, and just asked for the WiFi password, as they all had WiFi.  What you want from a coffee shop is those two, and a less disgusting toilet than found on the train, or in terminals.  Some buses and trains have WiFi.
  • When catching a train there was always a toilet on board, but with rare exceptions they were disgusting.  The terminals tended to be better, but still not necessarily very nice.  So the idea is to use the hotel’s, then the terminal if the alternative in the near future will be the train’s, and the train’s as a last resort.  Also, I am a big water drinker.  I would drink a lot in the evening, but drink very little during the morning or until I finished travelling for the day, to minimise the need to use such facilities.  And I would keep warm on transport, but cooler if not.
  • Back to the Internet. At present I use Celcom, which will charge RM38 (USD$9) per day for roaming, with a small data allowance, that is so small in some countries as to be  laughable.  In some countries, about 6 Euros and a small charge for a SIM will give you 5GB of data, and phone calls and texts for a month with Vodaphone or a local company, and with good coverage.  I would buy a SIM if I was going to be in a country for at least three days.  Then I wouldn’t particularly need WiFi. In the airport in Turkey they were selling SIM’s for about USD$50, and in Beirut airport $75.  So the latter was the only time I used Celcom. It was really helpful having mobile Internet as Maps.me was more accurate with it, and everything else would also be to hand. e.g Google Translate.
  • In many countries they don’t like you taking photos of their infrastructure, soldiers, police facilities etc. So it’s hard to take train and station photos. There are ways, but it’s better to work then out for yourself.

WHAT I DID RIGHT

  • I had power banks for the phone. They weigh 200g each for mine.
  • I had spare SD cards to put in the camera when the first became full
  • I backed up my photos every night to Google Photos
  • I had all the right bits and pieces for the phone and camera for charging in different circumstances – triple adapters, SD reader, OTG cable etc.
  • I could do my planning on the trip to the next destination, having already read and highlighted the guidebook, so that when I arrived I could find WiFi and call a hotel, or use mobile Internet if I had it.  Or just walk there if it was nearby to see if I wanted to stay there.  The guidebook was pretty accurate in its assessments of hotels and their prices for the season I was there.  In the end I just trusted it and didn’t mind calling and booking while on the way, rather than looking at it first. Mostly. In Tangier I decided to look first and was glad I did as the second hotel was far better.
  • I used an ATM card to withdraw money, except if I only needed a little, where I could.  In Iran you have to take and use cash.
  • I had some roubles before crossing the border for Abkhazia, and they were useful as you couldn’t change money on the weekend there – and I arrived on a Saturday. I had some dram (AMD is the Armenian currency) before arriving in Yerevan by train, which was fortunate as all ATM’s and money changers were closed at the time we arrived, in fact, everything was.

FORTUNE RATHER THAN GOOD PLANNING

I had so much good fortune in the people I met and the great weather I enjoyed almost all the time. Not to mention the travel connections I planned for, more or less working.  Which is something in itself.

  • Apart from one day in Morocco, one day in Iran, and the  last few days of the trip it was sunny and warm almost all the time. Meaning I got all the advantages of low season without the inclement cold weather.
  • In Morocco I met some lovely Chinese girls I hung out with for a couple of days.  I also saw a really nice guy who had couchsurfed with me in Berlin three years ago.  And I couchsurfed myself in Rabat with a great guy who took time out to show me around and introdued me to some friends – and to go to a Hamman – a Turkish bath.
  • In Tehran my Iranian friend’s parents were kind enough to show me around the city and to help me with travel arrangements. In Yadz, Iran, a Tehran couple and their friend drove me around the sights and introduced me a bit to life in their country. In Shiraz I met a Danish girl who lives in London and spent much of the tour of Persepolis talking with her.
  • In Georgia the guesthouse host was really helpful and introduced me to an English couple who recommended a homestay in Yerevan, Armenia.  I spent a great day in Tbilisi with a Russian guy I’d met on the train and with whom I got on really well.
  • In Yerevan, Armenia, the host family at the homestay was lovely and kept on feeding me whenever I came back from my outings.  We hung around and looked at Facebook photos of their and my travels on their computer. I also spent a great first day in Yerevan with an American girl I met on the night train.  She speaks Russian, which made it easy to get around as the locals do, too.
  • Plus there were many other shorter interactions with locals and travellers that enhanced the trip.

 

APPS – What I used the phone (and later tablet) for:

  • Unsurprisingly, as a phone and for texts
  • GPS – to see where we are now on a map and if the train is about to arrive
  • As a map – Maps.me, Google maps
  • eBook reader – Google Play Books or xozo
  • Exchange rate checker – Xe
  • Web – Dolphin
  • Check flights – web, sky scanner, kayak etc.
  • Communicate via data – Skype and Viber with video,  and Facebook  Messenger, WhatsApp
  • Making notes – OneNote
  • Podcasts-downloading and listening Pocketcasts
  • Camera a little – generic camera app
  • Email – default app
  • Reading news- BBC, Daily Mail apps
  • Translation – Google Translate
  • Music- ES file explorer, VLC
  • File management – ES file explorer
  • Photo editing – Photo Editor
  • Guidebook – Lonely Planet on Google Play Books, Triposo
  • Hotels- Triposo, Trip Advisor
  • Blogger- WordPress
  • Scanner- Office Lens
  • Photo backup – Google Photos
  • Alarm – default clock
  • Entertainment – YouTube
  • Watch – phone display
  • Record keeping of expenses – Excel

AND DID I ACHIEVE MY AIMS FOR THE TRIP?  AND OTHER HINTS

  • I visited 8 countries.  Seven of which were new to me. Of course, reasonably superficially, but it was fun
  • I almost swam in the Black Sea, but I did swim in the Atlantic in Morocco, and also bathe in the Dead Sea in Jordan.
  • It would have been practical to travel using just the mobile. But as it failed it would have been a problem had I not also my tablet.
  • I walked every day – usually quite a lot.  I only caught a taxi when really necessary.
  • I travelled on trains where at all possible, but caught a bus from Shiraz to Esfahan as there is no train service.
  • I was spontaneous and did  what I wanted at the time
  • I made notes on what I did and saw
  • I minimised expenses without compromising enjoyment.
  • I ate the local food when I could find it. Which was almost always.
  • I managed to walk a little in the country
  • I got a few photos of me in each country
  • I did talk to locals and other travellers a little, but not as many as I’d to have. But I did meet and travel with some great people. I couchsurfed once.
  • I didn’t cycle as it was too dangerous everywhere.
  • I consulted the guidebook a lot, but didn’t have time to read much. Just a couple of light novels to have a break from thinking about the practicalities of travel.

If I think of anything else that might be useful to travellers I will add it later.

PHOTOS OF THESE:

Swimming

swimming at El Jadida, Morocco

on the way to the Dead Sea

swimming in the Dead Sea

paddling in the Black Sea at Sukomi, Abkhazia

the Black Sea at Sukomi, Abkhazia

Walking in parks and countryside 

peach blossoms everywhere when walking

walking in Abkhazia

walking in a park in Yerevan

Catching trains 

in Morocco

to Marrakech

the train to Tehran

the train from Tbilisi to Batumi, Georgia. The best train I caught for the entire trip

the night train from Tbilisi to Yerevan

the night train has arrived in Yerevan

buses

overnight bus from Shiraz to Esfahan, Iran

bus to Sukomi, Abkhazia

bus to Sukomi, Abkhazia

bus in Sukomi, Abkhazia

minibus from Georgian border with Abkhazia to Tbilisi, Georgia

 

food   

eggplant dish, Georgia

veal and potatoes, Georgia

delicious homecooked breakfast, Yerevan

 

a few delicious dishes


how to ripen mangoes

One of the great things about living in Malaysia is the availability year-round of mangoes.

With some varieties they can go from unripe to rotten without ripening if you keep them for a while, especially if you keep them in the fridge.

If you need to ripen them, simply put them with some apples of any variety, and cover with plastic.

Jpeg

ripening mangoes

ripening mangoes

ripening mangoes

The mangoes can ripen as fast as overnight.