This edition of Sunday Salon will be rather brief as I really did nothing worth writing about other than my mid-week visa run to Penang. I’ve been writing about that trip in installments, accompanied by photo galleries, but two out of the three segments thus far have only been published on the “local” version of this blog due to very slow connection speeds. I hope to get them online as soon as possible.
I remained at home all day Friday in relaxation mode, reading my current novel — Michael McGarrity’s The Big Gamble. It turns out that I haven’t read this one before and I’m quite enjoying it as most of the action takes place in Lincoln County, New Mexico (primarily the Ruidoso area) with stopovers in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque. At one point the author describes the Sandia Indian tribe’s buffalo herd which was corralled very near my home in the Duke City’s northeast heights. I do miss driving that great loop of Tramway Boulevard between my home and Interstate 40 with the mountains to my right and the broad valley sloping towards the Rio Grande to my left. If I ever have another significant person in my life I would love for her to see New Mexico as it truly was my favorite of all of my homes in America.
I ventured out Saturday as I was out of food in my apartment. I no longer have a refrigerator so I can’t buy too many perishables (those I do purchase need to be eaten before the heat turns them) and my microwave still resides in storage so my only hot meals come from dining out. I talked myself into McDonald’s (Malaysia became my fourth country to have eaten under the Golden Arches as I succumbed to a lunchtime Big Mac on Wednesday) and so headed towards Robinson’s Shopping Center under darkening skies. Luckily, the rain held off as I left my umbrella in the apartment — I later read a weather report mentioning that a “killer storm” was headed for Phuket but it still hasn’t rained much. After lunch I purchased a few items in Tops Market including a packaged salad and a container of fresh cole slaw. I need to buy more of this type of item! My last stop was at 7-Eleven for a few snacks and drinks. If I buy yogurt or milk-based drinks I need to drink those quickly before they get warm; I no longer mind warm cola or water.
Despite the rather slow wireless connection I managed to download “Mao’s Last Dancer” and watched that Saturday evening. I quite enjoyed the movie and towards the end I realized that I am more interested in Chinese culture and overall geography than I am in Thai. Indeed, in both Phuket Town and Penang I tend to gravitate towards the Chinese sections of the communities and love hearing the language which sounds much more melodic than Thai. My interest in China dates at least as far back as 1992, a year prior to my stay there during the SARS pandemic and seems to lurk slightly below the surface in whatever I do. Perhaps I’ll return one day as a visitor, perhaps even as an expat — who knows?
I was fairly lazy most of the day — I read quite a bit, did some computer work, wrote a couple of lesson plans, and finally talked myself into venturing out for some food just after seven o’clock in the evening. I headed for The Cook on Phang Nga Road with the plan to try a burger there. The restaurant was quite crowded with Thai families when I arrived and took a seat directly underneath the television set mounted high on the wall. A popular soap opera was on and everyone, staff included, had their eyes glued to the screen. I’m a shy eater anyway so I decided I didn’t want to eat a hamburger in full view of everyone so I ordered penne once again, this time with meat sauce rather than just plain tomato sauce. Tasty but not very filling. I decided to walk to 7-Eleven where I would have them heat a microwave meal for me. But I cut across to Rasada Road rather than going back down Phang Nga Road. This detour led me to a sign pointing down a side lane: Phuket Supermarket. I thought I’d try it out and found it at the end of a sort of cul-de-sac nearby a couple of Thai restaurants — one had a number of rickshaw-style bicycles outside and the other advertised pasta and pizza — and at least one massage parlor with pretty girls trying to beckon me inside. It was a fairly typical but large Thai-style supermarket with a sort of unorganized maze inside. However, they carried a number of items I’d never seen before in a Thai supermarket (nor very often in the Western-style hypercenters) including several Reece’s products (Peanut Butter Cups are becoming quite common in Phuket but I’d never seen Reeces Pieces in Thailand before!) and squeeze bottles of French’s Yellow Mustard priced at nearly ten baht LESS than I’ve seen elsewhere in the Kingdom. There were even several local brands of apple juice that were very reasonably priced (I miss drinking apple juice but usually you see cans of imported brands priced at USD $5 and up). Still, it doesn’t have everything I need on a weekly basis (in fact, it’s rare to get all of your essential shopping done here without stopping at two or three different shops). But it’s a good alternative for those days I don’t want to walk all the way to Tops or 7-Eleven (or FreshMart, Family Mart, or Big One for that matter).
With all of the discussion about food lately, you’d think I was gaining weight again but you’d be wrong. I seem to be maintaining a status quo — all of the walking I’ve been doing offsetting the extra eating. I just hope I don’t go overboard on eating once I receive my first paycheck in a couple of weeks! I do plan to splurge on at least one pizza and I’ve also been craving a visit to Sizzler. For something like 160 baht you can eat all you want from the salad bar so I might do that (I wouldn’t go for the steaks as there are much better around at lower costs).
Well, this post has turned out much longer than I’d planned but that’s okay. I am now going to read a bit more before going to bed — it’s going to be a long day tomorrow as I’m teaching from 8:45 until 16:00 with only an hour break in the middle for lunch. Instead of putting together another Penang photo gallery tomorrow evening, I’ll be working on my month-end summary (July seemed like a very long month!). Have a great week!