Monday, December 11, 2017

London Christmas lights 2017

I started at the Crystal Palace Winterfest but was disappointed to find it was just a fun fair, with a few food stalls. I didn't even see the ice skating rink, but was amused to read it was closed the next day when it snowed! And just 3 days later I read that it had permanently closed for various reasons.

So then I decided to head into London to see the lights.

First stop was Somerset House to see the ice skating. My last visit was in the summer in July 2017.
Skate at Somerset House is an annual event. Fortnum and Mason is a partner.

I got to Trafalgar Square and was surprised to see hundreds of santas, mostly on the plinth at the base of Nelson's column. They were all drinking and lots were already rather drunk, before 7 pm. Next day I looked it up and read this, from the Daily Mail 10 Dec 2017 :
"Hundreds of drinkers descended on London dressed as Father Christmas for SantaCon as the annual American pub crawl hit the UK once more.
Describing itself as 'non-profit, non-political, non-religious and non-sensical', the parade that originated in San Francisco invites people to 'join the naughty list' and down drinks in the capital's bars and open spaces."
Apparently it has been happening for 18 years in London. It is more or less a Christmas pub crawl!

The tree at Trafalgar Square was lit up on Dec 7, as usual it is a gift from the people of Norway for the British help during the Second World War, a tradition since 1947. The tree is 25 m high. The lights look the same as last year.

Then onto Piccadilly Circus via Waterloo Place -

The advertising screens known as Piccadilly Lights are one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks. They have had a makeover and were re-launched in October 2017. The original patchwork of screens was replaced with a single state-of-the-art 4K LED digital screen and live technology hub, which allows the screen to react to certain external factors, such as the weather or temperature.

Regent Street -

Back to The Strand before going home -

Previous blogs :

Christmas tree Trafalgar Square 2016

London Christmas lights 2016

Sunday, November 19, 2017

MAS plane with duct tape on the wing

This week I flew from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket on Malaysian Airlines. I had a window seat by the wing and was a bit perturbed to see part of the wing was stuck together with 'duct tape'.

There were several layers of tape that looked like they had been there for some time.

I emailed a friend about it and he looked it up and found this article from askthepilot . It seems it is OK to use tape as a temporary measure, but I wonder how long it had been on this MAS plane.

The article says "What you’re actually seeing is a heavy-duty aluminum bonding tape known as “speed tape.” It’s a temporary fix and it’s used only on superficial or noncritical components, until more substantive repairs are made later on. The tape is extremely durable and is able to expand and contract through a wide range of temperatures. We never use, and don’t even stock, duct tape,” explains a veteran airline mechanic. “Some of the tapes we use cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars per roll."

I just hope that MAS have used this "speed tape" and that it is just a temporary measure!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Eating in Ipoh

Spent a few days in Ipoh revisiting friends and of course eating. Eating is the national pastime in Malaysia and I was happy to indulge.

Some breakfasts -

A Chinese dim sum breakfast at Fulin dim sum restaurant. The first photo shows the choice of dishes, when we made a decision, they were taken away to be steamed. The second photo shows what we had -

Another Chinese breakfast, at Restoran Yin. We didn't have pigs trotters, we settled for wan ton mee -

An Indian breakfast in old town -
 I had onion uttapam -

Roti canai and a roti telur -

We went to see friends and had salted chicken

I love durian but they aren't quite in season yet. However I was really lucky as my friends just had the first durians from their own tree and shared them with us -

One dinner with friends, at Tauge Ayam Ong Kee. Half a chicken, meatballs, tauge -

And a dish of chickens' feet which was just for Amy -

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Loy krathong food stalls in Krabi

I was in Krabi for the 2017 Loy Krathong and was amazed at the number of food stalls. They were all selling "fast food" rather than the normal Thai night markets that sell curries and seafood etc. There was certainly a lot of choice.

Some fried insects. I've eaten these before in northern Thailand and my favourite were the bamboo worms, centre front of the lower photo -

This lady is making a giant crispy thing by heating it over a fire and turning it over and over (it looks like an Indian puri)

And a few sweet items

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Loy kratong in Krabi 2017

Loy Krathong is a festival celebrated annually throughout Thailand.  The name can be translated as “to float a basket”, and comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river. People pay their respects to the goddess of the water. Loy Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar.

I arrived in Krabi on the evening of Loy Krathong, so was just in time to see the festivities. Roads were closed off to allow pedestrians free access to the river area. I was amazed at how many stalls there were, literally hundreds, as well as a children's fairground. It was really bustling.

I got there just around sunset so had a look at the stalls. They were selling the krathong or food. 
Traditionally the krathongs were made of banana leaves and were lotus shaped and decorated with flowers, incense and candles. Now they seem to be all different designs. 

The ones of the dolls are certainly different, also the 2 'swan's above. They remind me more of Chap Go Mei in the Spring.

As it was still not dark I had a look round the food stalls and the children's funfair. I'll do the food as a separate blog.

When it was dark, I returned to the river to watch people releasing the krathongs. There were so many school children, still in uniform. People ask for forgiveness, or show their gratitude or thank the water goddess for supplying water all year. Some just release the offering hoping for luck in the coming year. Couples release one krathong each, hoping they will float away together, a sign of everlasting love.

I read that nowadays people are encouraged to make biodegradable krathongs, with no plastic, styrofoam or staples etc. These people are busy making them -

Even at 10 pm people were still making the krathongs, and the food sellers were doing a roaring business. Unfortunately the moon was very hazy.

Sky lanterns also used to be very popular, to fly away bad luck and grievances. Now they are banned around airports. And some airports such as Chiang Mai actually cancel flights during this time because of the danger of the high flying lanterns. 78 flights are cancelled in 2017 at Chiang Mai for the festival. 

At 9 am the next morning I went back to the river and was amazed to see that all the street rubbish had been removed and all the stalls had gone. The cleaners must have been working so hard. Even the river was generally clear of debris.