Showing posts with label Phuket. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Phuket. Show all posts

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Washington Weekend ~ Apples Found Round-the-World

For the next few weeks our seasonal “Washington Weekend” posts return to TravelnWrite. In them we’ll take you along with us on road trips and ‘staycations’ in the Pacific Northwest’s, Evergreen State. The series begins, however, on the other side of the world. . .

We’d flown to the other side of the world – 11,149 air miles or 17,942 air kilometers – in April to board Oceania’s Nautica in Bangkok, Thailand for a cruise to Istanbul, Turkey.

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Back-of-the-seat monitors let you track your travel on Emirates Airlines

By whatever measurement, miles or kilometers, we were a long way from anything Washington State. . .or so we thought, until. . .

. . . we went into a grocery store just down the road from The Peninsula Hotel where we were staying in Bangkok. Grocery stores are among our favorite places to ‘tour’ when traveling because we find local foods interesting.  And sometimes the food isn’t always local, as we found out when we found ourselves standing before a display of Washington State apples.

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Apple display - Bangkok, Thailand
Pretty cool, we thought. (If you are new to the blog, you may not know that our childhood and early adult roots are in Washington State apple country; in fact, The Scout’s family were apple orchardists in Chelan. Therefore, the apple holds a special place in our hearts.)

The following week, in Phuket, Thailand, our third port of call, we’d sought shelter from the heat in a large retail complex which housed a large, very modern grocery store. Once again, we happened upon Washington State apples. Quite a selection as a matter of fact:

Washington Apples - Phuket, Thailand
(Although larger, Washington apple display didn’t quite compare with the ‘gift-wrapped’ Asian-grown variety next to them. Of course, by then we were taking ‘ownership’ in these Washington grown fruits and predicted that ‘ours’ probably tasted far better):

Asian apple display - Phuket, Thailand
It wasn’t until we reached India that we really were reminded of the far reaching impact of our state’s apple industry. I have to admit the salesmen at the Mumbai fruit and vegetable market couldn’t get over my fascination with the apples we found for sale. But it seemed there was a Washington State apple box at every turn.

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Washington apples were everywhere in the Mumbai market
India, we’ve since learned, was the fifth largest importer of Washington apples in 2013/14 with some 2.3 million boxes shipped there, according to the Washington State Apple Commission. (For those who like stats, Mexico was the largest importer at 10.5 million, followed by Canada, UAE (Dubai) and Taiwan).

The Commission reports that about 30% of the state’s apples are exported to 60 countries in the world!.  We probably could have found them everywhere we stopped, had we taken the time to look!

Apple Country travel is close to Home

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Apple orchard above Manson at Lake Chelan

The good news for those of us living in – or those visiting – Washington State is that apple country is easily reached within a few hours drive – no need to fly half-way around the world to find a great apple. Since wine country has co-mingled itself in the state’s orchard country, it is easy to follow Washington’s wine roads and find yourself in the midst of apple country as well. 

Apple orchard Yakima with Mount Adams in background
There are still 175,000 acres of apples grown here, primarily in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Apple harvest begins in mid-August and generally ends in early November.
Notice the similarities between the wine region and apple land maps below.

We’ll pay more attention to those apple trees the next time we take a Washington road trip – no telling where in the world we might find ourselves and those apples being harvested the next time!

IMG_5100Again thanks so much for the time you spent with us today.

Have you found a taste of home on your travels? If so, please share the story in the comments below.

Our Magic Carpet lands in Myanmar in our next post. Hope you’ll be here when it does.  We are linking with Mosaic Monday so stop by there if you get a chance!

Until then, thanks to the Washington State Apple Commission for letting us reprint these fun facts about Washington’s apple crop:



Apple Crop Fun Facts

  • 10 - 12 billion apples are handpicked in Washington State each year.
  • Each Washington apple is picked by hand. There are no harvest machines to pick apples.
  • If you put all of the Washington State apples picked in a year side-by-side, they would circle the earth 29 times.
  • About 2,500 known varieties of apples are grown in the United States. More than 7,500 are grown worldwide.
  • Last year, the average U.S. consumer ate 19 pounds of fresh apples.
  • Red Delicious is the apple variety named as favorite by most consumers.
  • Apples are the largest agricultural product grown in Washington State.
  • Apples originated in Kazakhstan and were carried east by traders on the Silk Road.
  • The only apple native to North America is the crabapple.
  • Apple seeds are like people; you will never get the exact same type of apple from a planted seed.
  • The Red Delicious apple began life as a chance seedling on an Iowa farm. A chance seedling is a viable apple variety that grows from a seed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Phuket, Thailand ~ And that Magical Mansion by the Sea

We can’t tell you what we ate at the Cape Panwa House on a beach in Phuket, Thailand, more than two decades ago, but we can tell you it was the dining experience that still ranks Number One in all of our years of travel. A doting waiter, clad in Thai silk, served the many courses of our meal and hovered over us as we dined in the stately colonial mansion. As cliché as it sounds, a full moon and swaying palms, as though from a movie set, provided the perfect tropical backdrop.

We dined there more than once during that brief stay so long ago. Nothing since, has compared to our experiences there.

Cape Panwa House - Phuket, Thailand, 1988
Thailand was one of our first travel destinations. The mountainous Phuket Island in the southern part of Thailand had won our hearts. . .it was everything an exotic tropical island should be for those starry-eyed young travelers just setting out to explore the world.

We’ve often pondered returning; wondering if the place would seem as magical now. . .

'The Scout' jogging the beach at Cape Panwa, Phuket, Thailand, 1988

The Panwa House was then part of the Sheraton Cape Panwa Hotel where we stayed during our time on this island in the Andaman Sea.  Most visitors to Phuket, the largest of Thailand’s islands, come for its beaches. We went for the same reason and looking back at old photos of our time at Cape Panwa we remember that wonderful beach. 

The Sheraton long ago sold the hotel and we’ve always wondered what happened to that magical mansion by the sea. We chose not to research it on the internet as we didn’t want to risk shattering those memories. . .

Fast Forward:  Phuket Island, our Second Port of Call

Our 34-day cruise from Bangkok, Thailand to Istanbul, Turkey aboard Oceania’s Nautica (aka our Magic Carpet) included many new places that we’d been wanting to visit, but another selling point of its itinerary had been getting to revisit favorite places from long-ago travels. Spending a day in Phuket was a plus. We’d not been here since 1988.

Phuket was the only port of call along our routing where we ‘tendered’ into the shore on smaller boats while our ship stayed anchored in deeper water.  If you’ve ever anchored at sea you know the ship turns with the current – like a slow moving kaleidoscope of scenery.  It was fun watching our arrival and trying to figure out where on the island we might be landing. . .

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Oceania's Nautica anchored in the Andaman Sea
And then. . . (you know what’s coming, don’t you?) . . .yes, there it was!

I start smiling when I think of the joy in realizing we were just off shore from the Cape Panwa House -- once the home of a coconut plantation owner and now nearly 100 years old – still on the beach right where we’d last seen it!

Cape Panwa House, Phuket, Thailand, 2015
It is still a restaurant, we learned, operated by the Cape Panwa Hotel, and only open for dinner so we didn’t get to try it. Our ship sailed at 6 p.m.  (The reviews I’ve read since returning home, lead me to believe its magic is still wowing diners much as it did  when we were there.) Somehow, we were happy just knowing it was there.

Phuket ~ The Same, Yet Different

Phuket, whose wealth comes in part from tourism, got its start back in the 1500’s with tin production, an industry that continues today. While the Panwa House looked the same, tourism has made its mark on the island. The contrasting beach scenes, my 1988 and current photos, are examples of the growth that has taken place:

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Cape Panwa Phuket Thailand - Then and Now (1988 left, 2015 right)
Cape Panwa is about 25 minutes from Phuket Town by taxi. bus,or tuk-tuk, those tri-wheeled carts that still give riders a thrill as they whisk you in and out of tight traffic spaces.  The town, still an interesting mix of smells and sights but the shops, food vendors and the bustle of activity they generated didn’t hold quite the charms our first visit to the island.

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Phuket Town, Thailand, 1988 left, 2015 right

We passed up visiting the tourist sites as we wanted to see the town again. It was interesting strolling the streets - squeezing past parked motorcycles when the sidewalk disappeared and dodging buses, taxis and people.

We'd ridden a similar bus to town from Cape Panwa in 1988; this was a 2015 version
Strolling however wasn’t one of the most pleasant pastimes because it was hot, incredibly hot, the temperatures were in the low 90’s and the humidity was in a similar range. That may have contributed to our reaction to the little town that had once charmed us. This food vendor below had the right idea – we could have used a fan as well!

Food vendor Phuket Town Thailand
The town is well worth a visit and should be included on a trip to the island. There are also any number of tourist attractions including: the Sri Bhurap Orchid Cashew Nut Factory, the Phuket Seashell Museum, and the Phang Nga Bay National Marine Park. Also new, since our last visit, were two retail shopping malls.

Phuket was to be the last ‘familiar’ stop until we reached Rhodes, Greece. From this point on, our Magic Carpet Ride, was headed into new territory.

We’d have another day at sea and then wake up to find ourselves in Myanmar (Burma, as it once was known) where we left the ship for a two-night stay in Yangon – a place we are so eager to show you!

To our regulars here: For a short time, I’ll be posting twice a week; one post will continue the Magic Carpet ride through the Middle East and the other will be the return of Washington Weekend, featuring Pacific Northwest getaways.

For those of you social media enthusiasts, we’ve just joined the Google+ world, where you can find links to the posts under my name, Jackie Smith. (We finally link up and I read that Google is reducing the program features – timing is everything, isn’t it?)

As always, thanks for your time. Safe travels to you. Hope to see you again soon~

Linking this week with:

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Mersad's Through My Lens

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Romance of Travel. . .

It’s February 14th, Valentine’s Day; a perfect time to immerse ourselves in the romance of travel. Romance, both in the cupid-arrow type, and that defined by Webster’s as an ‘emotional attraction or aura belonging to . . .adventure’.

Traveling down memory lane, these are some of our favorite travel romance destinations:

France Vegas Mike G. 2009 0181. Paris, France

It is not a cliché – this is a romantic city. We don’t have any one spot to recommend, but I can tell you that strolling along  the Seine is romantic.

2. Cape Panwa House, Phuket Island, Thailand.

The Cape Panwa House restaurant is where I’d go for a romantic Valentine’s dinner.  This Sino-Portuguese mansion  made such an impression on us 30 years ago that I checked the Internet and was delighted to see it is still offers diners the exotic - and romantic setting - we so fondly recall.

DSCF05863.  Stehekin, head of Lake Chelan, Washington State.

The only way into Stehekin is by boat, float plane or on foot. This remote  hamlet at the head of the 55-mile-long glacier- fed Lake Chelan is the perfect place to picnic with  bread, wine and cheese. (Buy a couple bottles of wine at any of the two dozen wineries in Chelan and don’t forget the picnic blanket.)

4. San Sebastian del Oeste, Mexico

Back when we owned vacation homes outside Puerto Vallarta, we’d break up our working trips with a getaway to the towns  tucked high above us in the nearby Sierra Madres. 

One of our favorite places was the old silver mining town of San Sebastian del Oeste, and our favorite place to stay was in one of the very rustic rooms at Hacienda Jalisco, just outside town.  Back then it was run by a lovable character, Bud Accord.  We’ve not been back to Mexico for several years and San Sebastian now has several accommodation and dining options, a web site and Facebook page! We can tell you there was no better place for star gazing than from our deck at the Hacienda – it felt as if we’d landed in the middle of the Milky Way.

DSCF06775. Palace Hotel. Madrid, Spain

Our vote goes to the lobby bar at the Palace Hotel for the most romantic spot to sip a cava, the Spanish equivalent to champagne.  The dignified, library-like setting is perfect for settling into its comfy chairs and couches and getting lost in its old-world flair. . .or for watching other romantics.

6.  Le Sorelle Restaurant, Rome, Italy

On our last night in Rome a  few years ago we happened upon this small restaurant owned by two sisters (sorelle is sister in Italian) not far from the Spanish Steps at Via Bellsiana, 30. 
The food, wine, atmosphere and the sisters’ warm welcome, made us vow to return any time we found ourselves in this magnificent city.  We’ve manage to keep our pledge – twice. Once when the food was as good as we remembered it being and once when our single-night stay fell on the night they were closed – we were thoroughly disappointed!

0006100-R2-033-157.  On deck a Greek ferry sailing the Aegean or Ionian Seas.

Despite the current economic woes and related unrest in Greece,  we can hardly wait to return to its magical islands. Anyone who loves the romance of travel would find a trip on one of Greece’s cruise-ship-sized ferries to be a magical experience.. .no matter which island you were heading toward.

8. Washington State ferries from Seattle, Washington

We can’t overlook our own backyard, so must make note of the ferries that ply the waters of Puget Sound providing great views of Seattle and wonderful trips to the San Juan Island port cities and as far as Vancouver Island, British Columbia

If you are not into ferries, take a trip up Seattle’s 1962 World’s Fair Space Needle that continues, 50 years later, to be the Emerald City’s icon.  On a clear day (and we do have them sometimes) you can take a 360-degree tour of Puget Sound by walking the outside deck or dining in the restaurant.

DSCF01089.  Ko Olina, O’ahu, Hawaii.

Ko Olina in Hawaiian means ‘place of joy’ and it has been that for us since we began our annual visits there five years ago.  Bird song at sunrise and sunset, swaying palms, gentle ocean waves, lagoons with tropical fish that find you as interesting as you do them, those incredible sea turtles, honus, in Hawaiian. . .ah, yes, a most romantic place.

10.  This one is yours.  What romantic destination – past, present or future - are you thinking of today?


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