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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

GAWA Day #21: Singapore to Bangkok

According to Skytrax, the five best airports are:
  1. Singapore Changi
  2. Incheon
  3. Munich
  4. Hong Kong
  5. Haneda
So far on this trip I've used #1, #2 and #4.  Changi is great, but thinking bigger and greater.  Click on that article to be impressed:

Can't believe I've been on the road for three weeks.  Here are some of my thoughts, now that I'm now in Bangkok.

There is an advantage to traveling in countries where English is the primary language.  Both Hong Kong and Singapore were British-colonized.  Thus the communications are easy and local TV news are in English.   Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia never colonized, although there was some early British influence.  Remember Anna and the King of Siam?

Thus far--Japan, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand--tipping is not necessary.  According to Trip Advisor, massage ladies in Thailand are about the only people to be tipped, maybe 100 Baht (less than $3).

My postings seem to regularly complain about air pollution and such, but the fact of the matter is that Mother Nature has treated me well.   I have eluded typhoons, and while the weather has been hot, the rains have been only intermittent.  

I must give especial thanks to my body for keeping me healthy.  On global journeys, this is more important than anything else.  Keep up the good work, bod, only 45 days left.
So far, in the Orient, passing through customs and immigration has been a breeze.  Probably, being a Japanese-American helped.  However, in every airport thus far, with perhaps Bangkok (Thailand is 6% Muslim) being the exception, Muslim travelers seem to be having a tough time. It might be wise to avoid standing in line behind a group of Muslims.  My next two stops are Dubai (60% Muslims) and Turkey (98%).  I wonder if such clear discrimination is reversed in those countries?

Air pollution in Singapore continues to hover near 200:

Central, Singapore AQICentral, Singapore Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI). 
Updated on Tuesday 10:00
Temp: 29°C
(27°C – 31°C)


Bangkok AQIBangkok Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI). 
Updated on Tuesday 8:00
Temp: 29°C


Honolulu, Hawaii AQIHonolulu, Hawaii Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI). 
Updated on Monday 16:00
Primary pollutant: pm10

Wow!  I've never seen anything that low.

My stop after Bangkok...Dubai...oh, oh:

Zabeel Park AQIZabeel Park Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI). 
Very Unhealthy
Updated on Tuesday 5:00
Temp: 33°C

Only recently has Dubai begun to look into this problem.  Next, Istanbul:

Istanbul (Besiktas) AQIIstanbul (Besiktas) Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI). 
Updated on Tuesday 5:00
Temp: 18°C
Want to find your Air Quality Index?  Click on that.  Indonesia, the source of the Singapore problem:

Updated on Tuesday 8:00
Palangka Raya, Indonesia PM10 (respirable particulate matter)  measured by BMKG | Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi dan Geofisika.
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.844
Palangka Raya, Indonesia  t (temp)  measured by Weather Underground.24
Palangka Raya, Indonesia  p (pressure)  measured by Weather Underground.1020

The highest I could find is Solling-sud, Germany:

Solling-süd AQISolling-süd Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI). 
Updated on Tuesday 4:00
Temp: 12°C

I'll get to that when I reach Frankfurt.  For now, sawasdee (hello or goodbye) from Thailand.

Hurricane Oho should not affect Hawaii:

Here are all the models:


Monday, October 5, 2015

GAWA Day #20: The Martian and Waku Ghin in Singapore

This is my third day in Singapore and the air remains unhealthy:

Central, Singapore AQICentral, Singapore Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI). 
Updated on Monday 8:00
Temp: 28°C
(27°C – 31°C)

A good way to stay indoors is to go to a movie, so I selected The Martian, which wiped out the competition in the U.S this weekend.  Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave the film a 94% rating, same for audiences.  You can read the reviews, but in short, Matt Damon as an astronaut is stranded on Mars, and through ingenuity and some luck, survives.   Yes, I've given away the ending.  However, it is the rescue adventure that is the story.  Anyway, Matt Damon...Hollywood...what are the expectations?

Of all the places, filming was mostly in Budapest, one of my stops.  Damon was supported by Jessica Chastain (mission commander), Kristen Wiig (NASA spokesperson), Chiwetel Ejiofor (mission director) and Jeff Daniels (director of NASA).  Ridley Scott (left, who is 77 years old and is responsible for Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise) directed.

I think the bottom line is that NASA is being over-glorified here.  There is no reason for spending so much money on going to Mars.  What's the point?  Where's the value?  Read my Musk vs Takahashi blog in this subject.

Close by the theater was a bank of fast food eateries, so I ate some chicken/rice with vegetables before the film:

The total cost of the movie ticket and lunch was around $8.

The air pollution index increased to 183 at 2PM, but it is now slightly raining, in fact, there is a lot of thunder:

Central, Singapore AQICentral, Singapore Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI). 
Updated on Monday 14:00
Primary pollutant: psi

I did have a $100 lunch yesterday, but Singapore Airlines and Sheraton Towers otherwise provided free meals.    However, today, for dinner, I went to Waku Ghin, a repeat from three years ago.  As a matter of fact, that posting was entitled "The Miracle Called Singapore," and described the country so well that I won't repeat the, three fabulous local restaurants were reviewed.  I bought a new camera, which has a selfie option.  This is my first attempt, with the Marina Bay Sands in the far background.

I also took a photo after the thunderstorm, and the Air Pollution Index was still, I'm sure, close to 200:

There are birds here a close relative of the Hawaii mynah:

Actually, something of a surprise, so far on day 21, I've seen no ants, no cockroaches, no flies, and few birds.  But Singapore has birds.

Waku Ghin, #9 in the Pellegrino Asia Best 50 Restaurant list, is located in the Marina Bay Sands (above by Sheldon Adelson, with more than 2500 rooms, 1600 slot machines and 500 tables--Singapore citizens need to pay S$100 just to enter the casino, while visitors get in for free--I stayed there four years ago when there was no air pollution).  The chef is the fabled Tetsuya Wakuda, from Japan, who became famous in Australia, first, with his eponymous Tetsuya in Sydney more than a quarter century ago.

I'm now in the restaurant, and there is no food ordering.  You get ten course, and have  a choice of wine pairing or not.  The first wine was a Billecart-Salmon Rose Champagne, which I had with the Carpaccio of Bue Fin Tuna:

Then came a sea urchin with Ossetra Caviar:

The spoon is Mother of Pearl and the sake is a Junmai Daiginjo Masuizumi Platinum Nama for Tetsuya's.  Everything was so fresh, and I should also show you the dish:

Maybe you can't quite distinguish, but this is the uni shell.  Next were a New Zealand John Dory with Charcoal Grilled Eggplant and Pan-Seared Scallop with Fregola (sometimes spelled fragula, a pasta from Sicily) and Tomato:

The wine was a Domaine Vacheron  Sancere.  Next, with a Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 1 er Cru Les Clavoillon, a Pan-Seared Amadai (a sweeter red snapper) with Maitake (a kind of mushroom):

The wine was a Condrieu Les Terraces de Empire Domaine Georges Vernay.

Followed a Tasmanian Grass-fed Beef with Tetsuya's Wasabi Mustard:

The wine was a seven year old La Velona Brunello di Montalcino.

Then, the Japanese Ohmi Wagyu Roll from Shiga Prefecture with Wasabi and Citrus Soy, accompanied by a Margaux:

Biggest wasabi root I've ever seen, from Shizuoka, which he grated.

Consommé with rice and snapper:

The tea was so special, we were told the staff couldn't afford it:

'Twas a bit bitter, but I guess that is the taste of expensive green tea.

I should indicate that I shared a teppanyaki table with a mother and her daughter from Jakarta, and I took a photo of both of them, twice, but they did not turn out appealing, so here is a shot of Dewi, the daughter, at dessert (with a Hans Tschida Samling 88 Beerenauslese, which might have been the best wine of the night), where we were served in a separate room to watch the light show in the Marina:

She, too, is taking a photo of her dessert.  She's not married, and her parents long ago gave up, but Dewi is into many things, including running the first molecular gastronomy Indonesian restaurant (Namaaz) at home.  She is familiar with Chef Rene and Noma, Chef Gaggan in Bangkok and Chef Narisawa in Tokyo.  After two days in Singapore, on Friday she flies off to Mumbai for some Yoga refinement.  She graduated from Boston University.  What a life.

Oh, we did have some petit four, with expresso:

How much did this cost?  E-mail me for the answer.  It was worth it!

By the way, the 15 Craigside Monday Night Table continues to enjoy life, enhanced with umbrellas, these photos sent to me by Dexter:

There are nine ocean storms, but Hurricane Joaquin is moving away from the U.S.

The only storm showing any threat is Choi-wan, but models show this eventual typhoon sufficiently offshore and skirting Japan, not unlike Joaquin and the USA, but, maybe a lot of rain could come to Hokkaido:

Tropical Storm Oho, however, is very interesting, for it formed south of the Big Island and is projected to move north and EAST!