Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Photographer’s paradise and “Western” food

When Diana and I met on Wednesday morning, she told me that we had been invited to meet Bonnie and have lunch with her, which sounded like a fun plan.  We were meeting at the “Exotic” Plant garden, or the “Distinctive” Plant garden….depending on which sign you looked at.

On the way we, of course stopped to take some photos…..

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These Spider Lilies were gorgeous and there were huge bushes of them all along the road…… _6294695

Here is an “up close and personal” view of the flower structure and pollen anthers…..

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When we saw these, Diana leaned over to smell them and came up with yellow blobs of pollen all over her face

This water lily was near the edge of the water and I thought that it was wonderful….._6294703 

…..and this flower tickled my fancy as well……_6294707

The “Exotic Plant” garden contains some very rare and interesting plants, but this one was, by far, the most popular.   It is called “Dancing Grass”  (Codariocalyx motorius)  which is sensitive to certain voices and will “dance” when sung to.   Here the tour guide is singing to the plant and making it dance, however it is a bit hard to tell if the movements was because of the people moving or not……

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SO, I ended up in this garden by myself later in the day and decided to perform an experiment.   I used my I-Phone to play Kool and the Gang’s “Celebrate” and watched the plant carefully.   Sure enough, after a minute of music, the plants started to sway slightly and small leaves started to visibly move.  Even all of the botanists present couldn’t explain it!!!!

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I would love to set up speakers around the planting and see what happened when the music was broadcast from all sides!!!!

These exotic plants are prolific in the garden and are present in shades from red to yellow, to this gorgeous orange…..

_6294717 Here are few of my favorite photos from the exotic garden…..

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Most of the “natural” wonders that we have seen had at least one area where “un-natural” bling had been added.  I feel sure that there is a tradition or superstition associated with this practice……_6294727

One other gorgeous (and unknown) plant was a vine that produced huge (12 inch in  diameter) flowers……._6294729

This cool “bulbous” appendage was found on the back of the flowers……_6294731

We met up with Bonnie, her three kids and 3 MORE children who lived in the compound.  We stopped so that they could  all swing in this enormous vine…._6294743

At one point, a sweet Chinese couple walked passed, looked in the tree and said “Oooooo” and started taking photos of the kids.  Once again, WE were the exotic wildlife!!!

We took the tram to Bonnie’s house and enjoyed a lunch of salad and fresh baked bread.  The bread is quite a delicacy as there are no ovens in any of the houses.   Bonnie accomplished hers by making use of a bread maker and some “imported” wheat flour and yeast .   Chocolate Chip cookies were baked in a small toaster oven!!!!   Delish!!!!!

The food was excellent, but was trumped by the conversation.   I hadn’t realized how much I was missing conversation taking place in English only!!!!

The conference attendees were eating dinner at the research center and then the talks were  continuing, so I decided NOT to join them for the event.  Instead I headed outside with my camera and my map and was determined to see some new areas of the gardens.

As I walked out of the hotel, I realized that there was a trail leading into a dense jungle-ish area just across the road, so that became my first area of exploration.

The first thing that I noticed was the deafening “buzz-saw” noise of the Cicadas as they cycled thru their calls. Noticed next was the intense heat under the canopy!!   Since my camera had just come from an air-conditioned building, I had to keep cleaning the lens for the first few minutes.

The colors and flowers were gorgeous and I spent about an hour wandering slowly and taking copious photos.  Here are a “few” of my favorites…..

_6294761 _6294765 _6294771 _6294776  _6294784 _6294794 _6294798 _6294803 _6294819  Even these TINY mushrooms were interesting……

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I came out of the area toward the back of the hotel and found two VIP rooms called the “Miracle Fruit” room and the “Sorrowless Flow” room!!!!

I continued down the road, stopping occasionally (well, ok….really I stopped ever 30 seconds) to take another interesting photo….._6294845 

Then I came upon a palm three that was putting out new branches.  They look so much like fern leaves, except that they are thicker and stronger.  _6294878

This is the view from the top that shows where the leaves are coming from.   The slender green stems radiating out from the sides are the older leaves……_6294875But, what I really liked was seeing how the leaves looked at the different stages of their development into huge palm leaves.  _6294872  

Needless to say, I spent a long time photographing this one plant!!!!

I continued on and ended up on this pond that had walkways across it that were made of glass. 

_6294886 It was fun taking photos from the “middle” of the pond…._6294887

By this stage it was time to return to the hotel for dinner but I looked at the map and realized that I was closer to the village than the restaurant and I was sure that I could hear the Rice/juice restaurant calling my name.   SO,  it was back across the bridge and a visit here…..

_6284567   ….the place of fine dining!!!!

This restaurant has ONE menu that is in English and it is comprised of 5 or 6 loose, laminated pages and it takes a while to read thru everything.   The problem is that, as soon as the menu is received, the waitress stands next to you, at the ready to take your order.   This causes a bit of stress and normally means that I order the same thing.  However, this time I did go for Spicy Chicken rather than pork!!!!

We have also discovered that just because it is listed on the menu doesn’t necessarily mean that it is available.   Many of the dishes use fresh fruits and vegetables so the available menu depends on what they have found at the market that day.

She left the menu on the table after taking my order so I was able to peruse at my leisure.  I found a Fried Rice section that contained “Chicken Paw” and “Pig Skin” and another category called “Rice covered with other things”.  Under the “Deeply Fried” section there was bananas, pineapple, apple, pear and sweet potato”, while “Water-Ice Drinks” contained the flavors of  Red Bean, Green Bean, Jam and “Kinds of Fruits”.

I ordered fresh pineapple juice which was  so refreshing although it was served over ice and who knows what water was used to make it!!   Oh well, I just repeat our mantra…..”We have antibiotics!!!!!”. 

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The rice is served with a small spoon, and on other occasions we have asked for chopsticks.  However, tonight I realized that everyone around was eating with the spoon so I joined in!!!

For desert, I ordered bananas from the “Deeply Fried” menu.  They were served with the obligatory (and tasty) drizzle of Sweetened Condensed Milk. …..

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This is the napkin (toilet paper) holder for the table.   Isn’t he cute……IMG_0486

 

On the return walk I passed several construction sites where they are in the process of tearing down some old apartment blocks.   There are a few machines used, but most of the labor is done with a pick axe and lots of hard work.  

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Once the rebar had been picked up it was being loaded into this truck by four workers…..two on the ground throwing the rebar up to the two in the truck!!!   The others are just standing around for the sheer enjoyment of it!!!!_6294906 

I returned to the hotel, checked my email, had a refreshing shower and waited for my hard working husband to return.    What a wonderful day!!!!!

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