Dienners Restaurant, Lancaster, PA

The only night that Dienners is open past 6:00 pm is Friday. On Fridays it is open to 8:00 pm. I am rarely near Dienners on a Friday evening to make it there. I recently was able to schedule in a visit to Dienners for dinner on a Friday night. The last time I ate at Dienners was three years ago.When we got to Dienners it was 6:30 pm and there was a line to get in. Dienners is located on Route 30

A Break in the Weather...

With a break in the weather and more rain expected over the next few days, I thought it best to get out on the Trek, even if it was a bit hot today.  The overcast sky once again made photography a challenge but things are getting greener up in the hills and I couldn't resist trying.  The recently denuded hillsides are turning green again as cassava and maize take root.  While the rice fields around our house were planted a while back, the remote mountain fields I passed today were still being planted and will need a few more weeks to go from yellow to lush deep green.  I  look forward to taking this ride again as the plants mature.

After a mid-ride break at a favorite reservoir I stuck to asphalt for the 20km ride home.  In total today's ride was a little over 38km.  I don't enjoy riding on the side of the road but it is good exercise with the more constant pace and nothing to stop and take pictures of.

I have a lot on my mind these days and don't much feel like writing but I did want to share these photos before I go back outside and clean the mud off my bike.

A Beautiful Day at Koh Yao Noi

Koh Yao Noi island is found in Phang Nga Bay to the Northeast of Phuket, home to a Muslim population of maybe 4,000 people, with the main source of income being fishing, prawn and shell farms, and rubber. The large scale tourism of Phuket, Phi Phi and Krabi is not (yet) to be found on Koh Yao Noi. There are a couple of expensive resorts such as Paradise Koh Yao, and a number of smaller bungalow operations, but the island is still mostly rural. We first went in 2006 on a day trip, but I did not go again until doing a cycling tour in 2010. Then in April 2011 we did a family trip, getting the ferry over and hiring mopeds for the day. Was such a great day out that we decided to do it again! So on July 28th 2012, we drove up to Bang Rong (near Bang Pae Waterfall) to get the boat. Bang Rong is a Muslim village on the NE coast of Phuket, and from here there are boats to Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai. There are speedboats (200 Baht each way per person) or you can get a big longtail boat (see photos later) 120 Baht each way. When we arrived at the pier, the next boat set to depart was a speedboat. Kids - no charge, by the way. We had a wait of about 30 minutes before departure, there is some kind of boat going a couple of times per hour.

Girl on the boat to Koh Yao Noi

(above) On the speedboat to Koh Yao Noi

The speedboat takes just over 30 minutes, and stopped off first at a small jetty on the north of Koh Yao Yai, the larger island to the south of Koh Yao Noi. Arriving at Koh Yao Noi, we asked around for mopeds for rent - we needed 3 altogether, 2 for us and 1 for a friend who'd come with her 2 small kids. It may sound a bit cavalier or unsafe hiring mopeds and riding around with the kids, but Koh Yao Noi is so quiet, and there is very little traffic on the roads, and mostly we'd be pootling along no faster than 30km per hour. No rush at all. A guy gave us a lift into the main town and then organised 3 mopeds for us - 200 Baht rental per moped. We then stopped to fill them up with gasoline and put some air in the tyres before our ride around the island.

Koh Yao Noi Gasoline

Koh Yao Noi Mechanic

I love these bike repair places, always full of junk, nothing gets thrown away! Gasoline on Koh Yao Noi is quite a lot more expensive than the mainland, as everything has to be brought over by boat.

We'd not made a really early start to the day, got the boat over around 10:30am, so by the time we'd sorted out the mopeds, some stomachs were thinking of an early lunch. We knew already of places to eat on the east coast, but did not want to rush over there, and so we just stopped near the main town, which is not much more than a couple of hundred meters of shops and a little market. And a 7-11 of course!

Koh Yao Noi Main Street

We decided upon a small roadside local restaurant where some locals were already eating - always a good sign. It was certainly nothing fancy, but my eyes noticed some yummy looking Pad Ped Pla (spicy fried catfish). And they did a decent fried rice with prawns to go with it.

Pad Ped Pla (spicy fish) = Lunch!

Koh Yao Noi local restaurant

Lady at Koh Yao Noi island

After lunch we rode over to the east coast. There are not many roads on the island, but we still managed a small wrong turn, following a road to "Laem Sai" which is the southeast corner of Koh Yao Noi, and I figured the road would carry on to the main east coast road. It didn't, but it was only a 10 minute detour. We were soon on the beautiful east coast and stopped to let the kids run around on the beach in front of the very nice looking Villaguna resort, which as I recall was being built last year when we scooted by. There are several small scale resorts on this east coast, but so far nothing big and ugly and I hope the Koh Yao Noi people can keep it that way.

East coast beach on Koh Yao Noi

And a little video of the same beach ...

As the east coast road heads North, it turns inland for about 2km and then back to the coast, where we found one of my favourite views. There's a sandy football pitch here just over the road from the small Suntisook Resort, consisting of some little bungalows with an attached restaurant. We downed several cold cokes here - it was a HOT day! The kids of course went off to explore and kick a ball around.

My favourite football pitch

Kids exploring the east coast of Koh Yao Noi island

My daughter and I were riding a bit ahead of the others and we found some horses by the side of the road. We were able to give this little pony a stroke, but it ran off to Mum when the other 2 bikes arrived - too many people!

Girl meet horse

The scenery away from the beach is very green, but largely cultivated. We saw rice paddies, rubber plantations and coconut trees. Rubber is still an important product in south Thailand. Even in "touristy" Phuket there are huge areas of rubber trees. Indeed, Thailand is one of the world's leading producers of natural rubber.

Koh Yao Noi Rubber

And here's a small mosque on Koh Yao Noi. The population is almost all Muslim, as is much of Phang Nga, and about 30% of the population of Phuket too.

Koh Yao Noi Mosque

We were back at the main pier before 4pm, as we thought the last boat to Phuket was at 4, but we found later that the last boat was 4:40pm, which we'll remember for next time, giving us a bit more exploring time. There are some roads over on the west coast of the island that we've not yet taken. The 4pm boat was one of the big slow longtail boats. They have huge engines :

Giant Longtail engine

And actually not that slow. Took a bit more than 1 hour to get from Koh Yao Noi back to Bang Rong, and it's a 25km trip. There were only a few other passengers so we could spread out and enjoy the ride and the views in the afternoon sun. The little video below shows the view just after we left the jetty at Koh Yao Yai heading back to Phuket. A great day out for the family, and we'll do it again for sure! Next time maybe an overnight stay.

Hotels on Koh Yao Noi @ Agoda.com

Here's a little video shot on the boat after leaving the Koh Yao Noi jetty on the way back.

Map of Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai

View Koh Yao Noi Island in a larger map

Coming Back to Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant, Lancaster, PA

I have written about the buffet at the Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant several times in the past. My last article about this buffet was a year ago. We went back this year on the Fourth of July. Not all of the local buffet restaurants are open on the Fourth of July, for example, Dutch-Way and Yoders are both closed (or are open only until early in the afternoon). When selecting a buffet to dine at

Back in the USA

Hello everyone that reads my little blog , We made it safe and enjoyable trip ,   just a little long , We're here in Washington with Neal and Judy and will be heading to Alaska in a few Days . Will post some pictures later  stay tuned.  Malcolm and Ciejay

People You Meet on the Trail...

I am by no means a portrait photographer.  My camera just isn’t suited for it and I am more interested in capturing the beautiful nature I see on my rides, anyway.  Lately the cloud cover has muted the light and left things grey and lifeless, so I have been taking more people shots along the way than usual.  If I were so inclined there would be no shortage of portrait material no matter where I go.  Here is a sample of some of the people I might bump into on a bike ride.

These guys I could smell long before I could see them, as I approached from downwind.  Those little red onions have a pungent aroma for sure.  The workers were in high spirits in spite of the smell.

Sometimes it is rice farmers that one encounters on the trail.  Everyone seems willing to strike a pose if you ask nicely.  I actually spent a few minutes visiting with these guys as I snapped away.

Some people are just very hard to see even when you are looking right at them, like these ladies watering the young rubber trees in the nursery of our nearby rubber plantation.  I call this the Thai Ninja suit.

Everyone needs to take a break from time to time.  The old couple above had been collecting bamboo shoots for dinner, up beyond the reservoir where I was headed that day.  We crossed paths at the reservoir and again on my way down where they were taking a much needed break.

The other two guys had been harvesting fruit from the heavily laden Lamyai trees in their orchard.

Speaking of Lamyai, this guy was very generous as he offered to share his bowl full of freshly picked Lamyai.  Everyone seemed quite entertained by my presence and the presence of my camera.
This fellow biker was a bit on the shy side but friendly enough as his friends made fun of him and he tried unsuccessfully to hold back a smile.
Here is the village gas station and the ever vigilant attendant.  I guess he realized I wouldn't be needing his services.

This guy was the most camera shy of them all.  Don't know how many shots I took just to get this one.

The reason I am diverging from my usual presentation of pretty trail shots, is because it was all I could do to stay on my bike as I maneuvered the washed out trails, complete with mud pits and heavy sticky clay that clung relentlessly to every part of the bike.  This 33km ride took a little longer than usual as my progress was slowed by four or five kilometers of this stuff.  I think I will take a different route next time.

Wat Kathu Temple

Kathu is "my" area of Phuket. We live in this area, which is between Patong and Phuket Town. Actually Patong is officially included in Kathu district, but .. Patong is a whole other world. Our Kathu is the more local area which you reach by heading over the hill from Patong towards Phuket Town. Some parts of Kathu are busy, some are quiet and large parts are residential. It's an interesting area to drive around on a scooter and see some actual local life not far from the main tourist beach. We visited Kathu temple (Wat Kathu) last week on a hot sunny day for our daughters birthday, to say a prayer.

Wat Kathu Temple

Not the first time she's been here. The photo below was taken in 2007...

Prayers at Kathu Phuket Temple

It's a quiet local temple, although it seems some tour minibuses pass this way, one arrived just as we were leaving and maybe there are one too many donation boxes! But the temple is very well looked after, the Monks here obviously take pride in their temple. The smaller local temples are often worth a visit.

Kathu Temple Phuket

Kathu Temple

I should point out - I'm not a Buddhist. The fact that my surname is "Monk" is a happy coincidence! We do visit temples for prayers now and then, I have no idea what exactly to do, other than follow by example, usually light some incense and put a flower somewhere and think happy thoughts related to health and happiness.

Kathu temple has quite a menagerie around the grounds. Must have been about 20 dogs, at least that number of cats, and plenty of chickens too. A foreign man was there feeding the dogs who obviously knew him and crowded around him. Cats are too cool to crowd around anyone, especially on a hot day ...

Cat at Kathu Temple

Kathu Temple Wildlife

Monk at Kathu Temple

A very peaceful place. And just 10-15 minutes drive from the busiest place in Phuket - Patong! This visit was for a happy occasion. The last time I stopped at Kathu temple was for a funeral, RIP Ruedi.

Holy Tree at Kathu Temple

Not too far from Kathu temple is Ket Ho temple, a bit closer to Phuket Town. There is also a Chinese shrine in Kathu village, only about 500m from the Buddhist temple. Kathu village shrine is one of the focal points of the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

Aside from the temples in Kathu, there is a large daily market in Kathu, just near the "Caltex" junction. You can also visit Kathu Waterfall or try the nearby Bungy Jump or Wake Park. Oh and the Phuket Tin Mining Museum is only a couple of km away from the temple too.

There is a big festival in Kathu every year - a cultural street show which takes place some time in July or August. It's been running since 2009 - see a blog post about the 2011 event - Kathu Phuket Culture Festival. I keep telling people - Kathu is the heart of Phuket!

America!!!!!! "here we come"

We have been planning this trip for 6 months and now we are down to the wire, we leave on the 31st of July and will be gone till Oct. 15  . I will try to post some pictures of our adventures while we are there , if not and get to busy will post a lot when we get back . Here is a list of the states we will be visiting with about a week or so in each , visiting friends and family , and of course having a vacation  time too.
    Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Callifornia, Texas , Tennessee, North Carolina , South Carolina.
 Maybe some will know about our trip already and the places we will be , if possible would love to see everyone we can , .While in South Carolina we will have a mini Family and Friend reunion in Merrietta, South Carolina , at Benny Moore's homestead.  the get -together will be the first week-in in Oct.we would love to see all who can come , some we haven't seen for a long time ,will be as great time.Pray for us to have a good time and all our flight connections to go smoothly .  Malcolm and Ciejay

A New Rule...

There has not been a new rule of the buffet in some time. Not that there have not been really outlandish things observed. More and more I have been seeing something happen at various buffets that needs to be noted and a new rule made. The new rule is -If you take a plate, bowl, cup, or piece of silverware and you decide you don't want it, do not put it back on the stack of clean dishes or back

Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Project

Up in the Northeast of Phuket in a heavily forested area is the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park and the Bang Pae waterfall. To get there, you head North on the airport road from Phuket Town and turn right at the Heroine's Monument, then drive around 10km - the entrance on the left side is easy to find... there's a map at the bottom of the page. We have been up this way many times, not just for the Gibbon Project and Bang Pae Waterfall which is found just past the Gibbon Project, but nearby is Bang Pae Seafood and also Bang Rong, where you find a floating restaurant and you can get a ferry to the island of Koh Yao Noi. There's a restaurant called Peang Prai just at the entrance gate to the waterfall.

As you drive up to the park entrance the roadside is lined with rubber trees as is much of this Northern area of Phuket. Rubber was once very important to the economy of Phuket and indeed it continues to be important. There are also fields of pineapples nearby, but once you hit the park entrance you are in the jungle, baby! At the entrance gate there is (normally) an entry fee to pay. Last time we visited there was nobody collecting entrance fees. It was mid afternoon, about 3:30pm. I have heard that after 4pm entry is always free, but can't 100% confirm this!

Gibbon Rehabilitation Center

The Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (GRP) is based here - this organisation aims to protect gibbons and their habitat through rehabilitation and education. It's a sad fact that gibbons are caught and kept as pets in Thailand and even hawked round the streets in Phuket to have photos taken with tourists. This is illegal. The project takes in gibbons who have been rescued, taken away from their "owners" by the police or that have been handed in by owners who no longer wish to look after them. They then go through a long rehabilitation before often being released back into the forests. Not all can be released. Below is a video (from July 2012) of a gibbon called Tam who has one hand and one foot missing due to mistreatment by his "owner". He can't be released.

The Gibbons that are being kept here can be seen in large cages like the one above. Some are close together so the gibbons can be social, some gibbons are paired together. There are information boards with lots of details about the gibbons and the work of the GRP.

Gibbon Rehabilitation Center

Gibbons swing around and sing their distinctive song. Some sit quietly. They all have names and have quite different personalities. The information boards tell you more about the individuals. It's not a place you can spend hours, unless you are a particular gibbon fan I guess .. but the volunteers there are always happy to talk and answer questions.

Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Center

Gibbon Rehabilitation Center in Phuket

If you are in Phuket (the worst place is Bangla Road in Patong) or anywhere else in Thailand and see a gibbon being taken round the streets for tourists to take photos, please take a photo and email it to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project - grp@gibbonproject.org - tell them where and when the photo was taken. You can also email the Natural Resources and Environment Crime Division at forest@royalthaipolice.go.th. Please note that the project gets none of the National Park entry fee (200 Baht for foreigners), so any donation you can make is appreciated. They have a small shop (photo above) selling gibbon related souvenirs. For more about the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project see the web site www.gibbonproject.org.

Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (and Bang Pae Waterfall) - Location Map

View Bang Pae Waterfall and Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in a larger map

Lone Wolf ...

I find myself in unfamiliar surroundings this morning, sitting at the back of my wife’s English class, trying as best I can to ignore what is going on around me and gather my thoughts.  We have an early lunch scheduled with friends and I find myself without enough time to go elsewhere.  Besides, this is my first opportunity to tryout my wife’s new MacBook Air and write somewhere other than in my familiar lair.  I can’t help wondering how this will workout.

I received an email yesterday of a complimentary nature, which of course is always encouraging to a writer.  More importantly he expressed an affinity with what he called my lone wolf mentality.  That gave me an idea of how to handle some thoughts that have been rattling around in my head for a while.  Sometimes one writes and then searches for a title to fit what has been written.  Then there are days like today, where one if gifted with a title that sets you on the path to a new blog post.

Though I consider myself a lone wolf of sorts I’m not sure anyone really starts out that way.  My early years were nothing unusual.  I lived in a quiet residential suburb, of a university town, with neighbors of a similar age to play with.  I walked or rode my bike to school, throughout both elementary school and junior high, which were conveniently located next to each other.  During that time a few friends moved away but there was a strong core of friends that spanned those years with shared interests, primarily sports.  Life was active and carefree with little need for thought or introspection.  Looking back it was a good solid childhood, though perhaps lacking in ethnic diversity.

That all changed when we moved to Hawaii.  Removed from my homogenized and familiar environment, I found myself a minority and alone, not surrounded by my friends, for the first time.  I began to question who I was and my relationship with others.  It was not long, however, before I had a girlfriend and a newly discovered interest in surfing and the ocean.  The group sports of my youth were replaced with the more solitary activities of surfing the shore break near home, sailing a small catamaran left parked on the beach, running on the sandy beach and hiking in the ridges and lush mountains of Hawaii.  Groups were never again to play a part in my life as girlfriends took center stage.

I never experienced living near my relatives but, until I was ten, we did visit both sets of grandparents each summer and that provided an opportunity to see and play with my cousins if only briefly and occasionally.  I suppose it should not feel strange now, having never lived near each other and not having seen each other for the better part of forty years, that the majority of my cousins have little or no interest in knowing who I have become.  Fortunately there are a few notable exceptions on my mother’s side.  Sure we might find that we have nothing in common but still I would find it interesting to see them again if only once.

I seem to remember little of my cousins but I can vividly recall the sites, sounds, smells and animals of my grandfather’s dairy farm.  Fishing in a small pond, riding horses of which there were two, mingling with a couple hundred cows as they were milked twice a day, building secret hideaways amidst the hay bails stacked in the barn and even images of the local dogs all seem fixed and unfaded in my mind’s eye.  The farm was a vast and amazing world in my youth but when revisited that one time after growing up, it seemed to have diminished considerably in both size and mystery.  These days I can go to Google Earth to checkout all the development in the area.  Things sure have changed.

Sadly my grandfather died when I was ten and my grandmother move to the city.  The farm held nothing for her with husband gone and four boys scattered from coast to coast.  It was only a few brief years later that we moved to Hawaii, further removing me from my idyllic childhood and what was once a possible life path.

Moving to Thailand further consolidated my path toward lone wolf status, as friends came and went with some regularity being posted elsewhere, while I remained in Bangkok to find new friends.  I have often wondered what it must be like to have close relations with both family and friends throughout ones life.  It is quite simply beyond my comprehension at this point.  Transient and impermanent relationships are all I have known.

One must remember there was no internet or Facebook back then and without proximity it was difficult, at least for me, to maintain relationships.  In time my self-reliance grew as did my feeling that needing people was a weakness.  As much as I might revel in a long animated discussion and enjoy the people I might be with, dependence on them has been something I have tended to avoided.

At this point I feel like I became a full fledged lone wolf.  I have met those who assume lone wolves to be socially inept, awkward and antisocial.  Many of us are actually quite gregarious and affable at times.  Not confined by the expectations of membership in any particular group, we are free to range widely and can be more open to strangers and new encounters than those with a fixed group of friends.  Our interests can be varied but seldom does any one topic hold our attention for any great length of time.

Though my wife has tamed the wolf in me and tempered my sometimes rough edges, I still cling to no one but her.  Friends come and go, some are missed and some are not.  For me a friend is someone who brings a smile to your face and makes the world feel a bit brighter and someone you look forward to seeing.  It seems to me, some people expect less of their friends than they do of others.  They overlook their shortcoming and forgive a multitude of sins, all in the name of friendship.  I feel that friendship carries the burden of not becoming a burden to others, though I understand that not to be a common position.

I want to make it clear that I am not touting my way of life as something to be emulated.  I’m just saying, being a lone wolf worked for me in Thailand, while it left me feeling a bit lonely and detached when in my own country.  From talking with others I have gotten the impression I am not alone in feeling more connected and less lonely in Thailand.  We are perhaps not as vocal as those who complain so loudly about all that is wrong with Thailand.  Maybe our expectations are different, making it easier to fit in here, while making it harder sometimes to fit in with the complainers or those who cling too tightly to the life they left behind, intent on replicating it here. 

I’m a lone wolf, not a recluse.  I often prefer to act alone but not to live a solitary life.  I am not a misanthrope, just independent self-reliant and a little picky about who I choose to share my time with.  In short I am a lone wolf and proud of it.

Tuesday Night at Dutch-Way Family Restaurant, Gap, PA

It was just a few weeks ago that I wrote about my second trip to Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, Pennsylvania. I had an opportunity to return to Dutch Way Restaurant just a month after my recent visit that appeared here in June. This time I went on a Tuesday night and the special theme feature on Tuesday nights is Build Your Own Burger and Wings.The night we went was the night before the