Monday, August 30, 2010

More Exotic Fruits

A few more fruits that are not readily available in the US, but I can find in the UAE in many grocery stores.

Bayabas or Guava - In the backyard of our home in the Philippines, my father grew different varieties of guavas. They ranged in size from a ping pong ball to a large grapefruit. The fruit is full of seeds. It can taste from tart to sweet, depending on the variety and ripeness. I had wandered many times in my childhood backyard in a quest for a quick snack of bayabas.

Langka or Jackfruit - A tasty and fragrant fruit. Langka is large, prickly on the outside. The first picture shows the fruit still unripe and not yet fully formed. To get to the tasty edible portion of the fruit, you have to remove other fruit flesh surrounding it and the seeds that are attached to it. The separation of the edible part can get your hands and fingers very sticky; you can not easily wash out the stickyness from your fingers. But you are rewarded with the aromatic, flavorsome, and sweet taste of the fruit. The second picture shows the edible portion. I purchased the langka that was already ready for eating, so I didn't have to go through all the mess of separating the edible flesh. The fruit is eaten as is, can be preserved in sweetened syrup, and is widely used in desserts.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Savoring Every Bit of a Yummy Cake...

One of my favorite photos of Payton -- he is enjoying every last bit of a tasty cake. Photo was taken Nov 2004.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Khan Murjan Souk

Khan Murjan replicates a traditional souk and is billed as the place for "authentic Arabic experience". The souk is part of the Wafi City complex. It is a two level marketplace, all underground. Set amongst the impressive Islamic architecture is the stunning stained glass ceiling along the main passageway. The intricate coloured glasswork depicts the stories of ancient Arab traders moving goods from overseas and across the desert to trade and exchange with other merchants and travelers in the region.

The stained glass ceiling.

Intricately designed lantern/chandelier.

Other features inside the souk.

Musée Rodin, Part Two

I write about my visit to the Musée Rodin in July 2004 with my nephews James and Michael on an earlier post. I had been to this museum a few times before that visit. The first visit, I was with another nephew, Ron, on a 3-week guided bus tour of Western Europe in Sep 1998. On the tour, we were with our tour group most of the time. In a few instances, we were given the option to be on our own. Ron and I decided to explore more of Paris on our own on the second day in Paris, in the afternoon. We had already seen the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Couer, and many other sights of Paris with our tour group. On we went to explore more of Paris riding the Metro. One of the sights we wanted to see was this museum. We got off from the correct Metro stop. Getting to the museum from the subway stop was another story. We must have walked several miles looking for the museum. By the time we got to the entrance, it was already dark and the museum was closed.

This was truly one great example of exploring a city while getting lost. We were able to get spectacular views of Eiffel Tower from different vantage points. We walked along the grounds of the Les Invalides, home to France's military museum and Napoleon's mausoleum. We explored the Arc de Triomphe at night. And learning the Paris Metro, on the fly, proved to be a worthy experience for future visits. On the walk back to our hotel, we stopped at a small Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant for dinner -- eating rice and Chinese food was a welcome respite.

Ron and I got a second chance to visit four year later, late June 2002, with five other backpacking companions (Jim, Donna, Kris, Mek, and CJ). This time we arrived in plenty of time, in the early afternoon -- sufficient time to see the works of art inside the museum, as well as the sculptures around the museum grounds and gardens. This visit was also another cherished experience.

On our way, we met a jolly, older Parisian gentleman. He was a souvenir vendor on foot, merrily showing the various merchandise for sale. To get our attention, he would melodically sing "la la la". The museum was the place that Ron provided educational snippets on Rodin's life to a very gullible Mek, his younger brother. Mek listened intently as Ron, in a hushed tone inside the museum, explained the "secret" life of Rodin. Only later did Mek realized that none of what Ron told him was true. Mek was to bounce back as we had plenty of time to relax outside the museum grounds. Mek showed his "moving statue" dance moves on an empty sculpture platform.

The following are b&w photos during the June 2002 visit:

Rodin's the Thinker sculpture.

Rodin's the Gates of Hell sculpture.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mek!!!

Sea Garden Restaurant, Jan 2006

It has been a while since I took the group for a treat at Sea Garden Restaurant in Seattle. During my visits, I usually get a group of my nephews/nieces/great-nephews/great-nieces and their friends for a special meal at this Chinese restaurant. It is one way to catch up with all of them at the same time. I think the last time I was there with a group was Jan 2009. After the meal, we take a group photo taken by Grace, the official photographer for these occasions. We usually continue on to a nearby bubble tea place to hang out some more.

The photo below is from January 2006.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wafi City

Wafi City is a mixed use development located in Dubai. It includes a mall, souq, hotel, restaurants, residences, and a nightclub. The architecture style and theme is Ancient Egypt. This themed environment includes pyramids, images of pharaohs, and figures reminiscent of ancient Egyptian civilization.

Also, showcased throughout are vivid stained glass compositions. This being a Friday, hot, before noon, and during Ramadan, the complex was quite empty. It made for an excellent opportunity to wander the area and take a lot of photos.

Khan Murjan is an underground, two level souq adjacent to the mall. The souq was quite impressive. I will post pictures from this place at a later date.

Outside the Wafi City complex.

The pyramid shaped building is Raffles Hotel.

Inside the mall.

Stained glass displayed inside the mall.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Musée Rodin

During the summer of 2004, I took my nephews, James and Michael, on a 3-week backpacking trip around Western Europe. We started in Paris and ended in Amsterdam. In between, we stopped at Nice, Monaco, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Florence, Venice, Munich, Bingen, Cologne, Copenhagen, and Malmo traveling mostly by train. It was the summer break before their senior year in high school. It was also to be my last summer before I headed overseas to work. I had already planned out that I was going to go to Iraq sometime in the coming months. I wanted to do a long trip with some company, before I headed to Iraq. So I figured I would asked both of them to join me as an early high school graduation present to both.

Six years later, I haven't had a vacation that lasted that long. I have had many trips since then, but they are always 3, 4, or 5 day weekends. I have been able to do a few week long breaks, and several two week vacations when coupled with a stop in Seattle. I was planning a 3 week Europe trip with three nieces later this summer, but it is not looking too good. The main construction project I am overseeing for work has been delayed a bit. I can not really take off until its completion.

Anyway, one of the sights we saw during the backpacking trip with my nephews was Musée Rodin in Paris. The museum displays works by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The museum building is surrounded by gardens that display Rodin's sculptures in a natural setting.

The following are pictures from that visit of the museum:

I long to take an extended vacation, hopefully soon, and to be lounging around like what is shown on the picture of me below, at the Rodin Museum grounds.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Air Conditioned Bus Stop Shelters

In some parts of Dubai, I have noticed bus stop shelters that provide protection from the elements, including the heat. I went inside one of these shelters, and it felt comfortable inside. The bus stop shelters are fully air-conditioned. This type of bus stop shelter provides the much needed sanctuary when waiting for a bus on a hot and humid day.