Friday, October 9, 2020

Boating and Hiking in the fall

Recently relatives and friends in New England posted some stunning pictures of fall foliage. It is Columbus Day weekend, the peak of foliage season there. Here in Tennessee, we haven't seen any traces of fall colors yet. Our temperatures dipped to the low 50s last week. Since then, we've enjoyed an entire week of almost perfect fall weather - mid 50s in the morning and at night, low 80s during the day.

Family visiting this week lucked out on the beautiful weather. We hiked, boated and kayaked. Even swam one day! We did a couple of sunset dinner cruises, and one day tied up to the free docks at Shellmound Recreation Area, not far from the Nickajack Dam. There's a boat ramp and an RV campground here too. The water was so calm and peaceful we got a nice reflection of the boat.
Mai Thai at Shellmound Recreation Area

Time to head back to the marina
It's been four years since we last hiked picturesque Lula Lake on Lookout Mountain, Georgia. It's open to the public the first and last weekend of the month, only now you need to make a reservation and pay a fee of $15 plus tax per car. This time we made it down to the bottom of the 120 foot Lula Falls. A tad strenuous down the rocky path, but the adventurous will appreciate the challenge. Great for both kids and adults to burn off some energy!
The mist from the falls was invigorating

Next day, we hiked Fiery Gizzard trail in Tracy City. We used to frequent Foster Falls, but found this trail to be easier and more relaxing. We'd bring our lunch and eat on the rocks listening to the sound of the rushing creek.

We look forward to seeing some nice fall colors in the next few weeks. Have a great weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Have Food Will Travel: Bangkok, Thailand

We were very fortunate to have traveled to Southeast Asia last December. We like "slow travel," so we spent five weeks in Bangkok alone, living like locals, exploring and soaking up the atmosphere and local culture (especially in the food department!) We ate only Asian foods. No burgers, steak, Kentucky Fried Chicken or pizza (not that we didn't crave for them).

The array of food Bangkok offers is amazing! No matter where you stay,  you are sure to be greeted with the intoxicating aroma of food as soon as you step outside. Street food vendors are everywhere! Across the street from our Airbnb and hotel, next to the subway station, along the way to Chatuchak weekend market. Real estate on the sidewalks is precious as everyone is hawking some kind of goods and/or goodies. 

The first thing we did after we checking into our Airbnb was shop for groceries. Tops Market was recommended as it was located in a shopping mall closest to us. While in the mall, we discovered a restaurant serving Northern Thai cuisine. Good thing we ate there before food shopping, otherwise we would have bought too much to carry home. Everything was fabulous! Thus began our love affair with Bangkok's food.
Som Tam, the popular papaya salad
Mango with sticky rice and coconut milk
Rice noodle soup with fishballs

Pad See Ew (wide rice noodle with chicken)
People from all over the world come to Bangkok to shop. We came for the food. We ate street food, at the food courts in countless malls, at restaurants, and mom and pop shops in our Airbnb/hotel neighborhoods. Chinatown was interesting too, if you can handle the congestion.
Vendor selling shellfish at Yaowarat (Chinatown)
Oyster omelet at Tang Jai Yoo in Chinatown

Vendor selling chive cakes at the Lumphini subway station

Tom Yum shrimp

excellent Tom Yum Fried Rice at Mixt Mall, near Chatuchak Market

Durian, king of tropical fruits at ICON Siam Mall

Mango Sticky Rice Kakigori (Japanese shaved ice) at After You Dessert Cafe

Our last week in Bangkok was in late January/early February. It was the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic; we didn't dare to venture into crowded places even though the crowd had thinned out considerably since the Christmas holiday. We hung out at the upscale Central Embassy Mall and ate at the classy food court Eathai almost every day that week. It was close to our hotel, and we knew it was rather quiet compared to other shopping malls. The Pad Thai noodle was some of the best we've had (read more at Postcard from Bangkok). We were happy to find our favorite Taiwanese dumpling restaurant Ding Tai Fung on the 5th floor; it's always good no matter which location you go. With the Coronavirus scare, there was no line or wait! Below are some of their popular offerings.
Xiao Long Bao, steamed dumplings, the star of Ding Tai Fung

Shrimp Fried Rice, another signature dish

Five Spiced Beef Noodle soup
Bento box at Fuji, the ubiquitous Japanese chain
We couldn't leave Bangkok without sampling one last meal! At the airport, we enjoyed something that was pretty good, but it was the dessert - durian with sticky rice - that was the most memorable.
Durian with sticky rice

As I write this post, fall is upon us. There's talk about a resurgence of Covid-19. Many of us will likely stay home, even for the holidays. It's sad. But we can travel vicariously through Bangkok resident Mark Wien who recently wrote the ultimate Bangkok travel guide for food lovers. He also has a YouTube channel, showing audience where to eat in Bangkok, and around the world. 

Meantime, we wait  patiently for a vaccine so we can all travel safely again. Eat well, be well and stay positive!

This post is shared on Our World Tuesday and My Corner of the World.

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