Thursday, May 31, 2007

H One

The other night we had to entertain some business visitors to dinner; my boss wanted to go to Jumbo in Aberdeen, but, because i was fed up with seafood, and didn't want to go all the way out there, I vetoed his choice, and instead elected to try H One in IFC mall.
And what a great choice it was, too. Harlan Goldstein is, supposedly, one of Hong Kong's premier chefs, so I was looking forward to a great dinner, and I wasn't disappointed. The service was excellent: my boss, our host was always called by name, the staff were well informed about the dishes on the menu and ably recommended side dishes to accompany our meals.
Our table was right by the window in the "Seaview Room" with a view over Victoria Harbour and the skyline of Tsim Sha Tsui. To start with I had wild mushroom soup, which was very tasty indeed. This was washed down with a very nice Pinot Grigio.
For my main course I decided to have the '9' herb mustard crusted Lamb Rack, served with green beans garlic mash. As the vegetables were a bit thin on the ground we had a couple of plates of stir fried asian vegetables. To accompany this course we switched to red wine, which was a very fruity, palatable Teunata San Guido definitely a wine I will be looking out for again.
Yes I did have a desert which was sublime. The whole meal was so well done that I didn't even feel like a coffee at the end of it.
The layout of the restaurant is very well planned - the tables are not too close together - but you can still be nosey and see what other people are eating.
All in all a very enjoyable repast.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Holiday - last day

So this is it, the last day of the holiday, and it has been fine. I have to admit that I came to Pattaya with some negative, pre-conceived ideas. On the whole these were unwarranted, and Pattaya is definitely on my list of places to come back to.
In reality it is the same as Phuket – it can offer the same in greater or lesser quantities; but, apart from the lack of hills, there is no great difference. Yes, OK, there may be some specialised interest that isn’t catered for here as well as in Phuket, but I am at a loss to think what it is. It is a lot bigger, in the number of hotels, bars, go-go bars, restaurants, etc. Yes the go-go bars are more entertaining, but the hawkers are selling the same cheap imports from China or a sweat shop in Bangkok, the tailors try and get you to buy inexpensive, ill fitting clothes made from cheap materials, similar attractions are available, beer bars are of a similar business model, the same dishes are served in the restaurants that even look the same as in Phuket.
I was fortunate to stay in a great hotel, right on the baht bus route from Pattaya to Jomtien, so I had the best of both worlds; a nicer beach in the day time and a bigger choice of nightlife at night.
The last day was spent on Jomtien beach. We had a nice picnic of crab, chicken and pork with some sticky rice, and Peanut had a manicure and pedicure.
Peanut hasn’t been feeling 100% for the last couple of days, and this was made worse by some tom yam soup she had last night. After the meal we headed back to Living Dolls go-go, but I could see she wasn’t enjoying it, and to be honest, neither was I. She tried to put a brave face on it, but eventually admitted she was feeling cold. After that we left and sat at a beer bar, thinking that the lack of aircon may help. But in a short time Peanut threw up a couple of times, so we decided it was best that we headed back to the hotel. Once we got back, she was putting a brave face on it, looking a bit better, and said that I should go back out, again. However, I decided against this course of action. I also said I would sleep in the other room, so that my snoring wouldn’t disturb her; but, in the early hours she crawled into bed next to me saying that she couldn’t sleep on her own. Really the last night of my holiday ended with a whimper more than a bang. At least I woke up with a clear head this morning.
I haven’t taken nearly as many photos as I took on my last holiday. This is partly due to having a shorter holiday, and also because we spent more of the evenings in go-go bars where the use of mobile phones, let alone cameras is forbidden.
So now all that is left is to check out, drive to Suvarnabhumi Airport (I have even learnt how to pronounce that this week, up to now I have just called it the new Bangkok Airport), and fly back home to an apartment with no food in it. Looks like supper in LKF tonight. That’ll be a bit more expensive than I have been paying this week, for sure.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Holiday - day 6

Following our early night on Wednesday I woke up fairly early, and so did Peanut. It seemed that she was quite keen to laze about in the bathrobe supplied by the hotel, which is a very nice bathrobe, as you can see from this photo:
Anyway, later in the morning we head into Jomtien, and decide to eat at an Italian café on the Beach Road. There wasn’t much in the way of Thai food on the menu so we both decided to have an omelette, and it was very good indeed.
We walked along the seafront a bit, and we notice a film crew on the beach. Peanut was quite excited by this, but calmed down when she couldn’t recognise anyone.
We found some nice deckchairs a little further along. The deck chairs were standard, but the lady who ran that section appeared to have a better set up for cold drinks and food; so, that is where we set up our camp for the day and got into serious relax mode.
We were disturbed a lot more by peddlers at this section of the beach, than we were the other day, and it seems that there are a lot more peddlers here than there are at Patong Beach. Some of them were persistent to the extreme, for example one henna tattoo seller wouldn’t take no for an answer. I was politely telling him “me aow, krap”, but he kept on and on. At one point he had his henna quill type thing poised just above my skin, and gave him a very assertive “me aow”. At this Peanut looked up from her magazine, saw what was going on and laid into the guy with a torrent of Thai, which had the guy reeling. I found out later it was something like, “The Farang has told you politely that he doesn’t want one of your rip off tattoos. Now, I am telling you to piss off, leave us alone and shove your tattoo gear where the sun doesn’t shine”. Good on you girl. I just wish I remembered exactly what she said in Thai.
One hawker who didn’t get ignored by us, was someone selling Thai food, in fact a sort of small seafood salad, Peanut ordered a load that was made fresh next to where we sat. I didn’t fancy any of it, especially after I saw the salad moving; yes, it was still alive, small shrimps were trying to escape from the bowl. I am sorry but I like my food to be dead when it goes into my mouth.
A little later on we ordered a proper lunch of fresh prawns and som tam, sticky rice and a crispy pork dish that I have only ever had before at Thai Farmers in Wanchai, and really like.
Later on, Peanut goes foraging in the sand at the tide line to find some more food, and is really excited by her handful of small shellfish.
After a few hours on the beach it was time to head back to the hotel.
That evening we dined, quite early at the Marine Seafood Restaurant. We had pork omelette, crab curry and some sort of spicy shellfish dish – and three oysters. I was a bit concerned about the oysters from the Gulf of Thailand and how fresh they would be. It seems my concerns were unfounded, because they were farmed oysters and were very fresh indeed.
For a change, I suggested that we tried the Living Dolls Go-go. This place was busy, as it was happy hour (spirits were 45 baht, but no discount on bottled beer. The uniform for the dancers seemed to consist of boots and a pink and green bikini, but it was hard to tell because the dancers seemed to either wear the full outfit, part of it or none at all. I thought it was very kind of the management to install a shower in the bar area for the dancers to rinse of after their stint at doing the Nissan Shuffle. I just hope the water was hot, as the air conditioning in the bar was quite fierce. The waitresses were very friendly. I asked about if they had a show, and was told the shower was the show! Eventually three girls dressed in negligees got onto the dance stage and did a very halfhearted lesbian act.
Next stop was Sex Kittens a-go-go. Two things concerned me about the place; first, the sign outside saying “No Weapons”, and second, when we got in there the mirror top tables. We sat at a table where no one was dancing and where there was no mirror top. I needn’t have been concerned about the mirror tops because all the girls were wearing white knickers, along with white boots, see through white skirt and top. This establishment was very tame, no stage show, and we left after one drink.
After that, Peanut drags me kicking and screaming into Angel Witch (yeah, OK, more like, I eagerly followed her into). Peanut had bought some cheap roses to give to her friends and one dancer she really liked, which seemed to go down well. It seemed to me that a high percentage of the dancers were on the rag last night. I suppose that given the large number of show girls, that on any particular night, some would be on, but, it appears that around the same time a lot of them start together. Now, I have heard about this in say, members of the same family getting their cycles into synchronisation, but, never in a galaxy of go-go dancers. What is the collective noun for go-go dancers?
After a few drinks there, we headed to Club Europa, a.k.a. Tony’s. I nearly bought a packet of Benson & Hedges, until I noticed the 180 baht price tag – total rip off, as they are about 100 baht cheaper in the supermarkets. The place was very busy, and, as a result service was slow, so we only stayed for one drink and left. Peanut had had a great dance so she was happy.
On the way back, Peanut wanted some Namprik. We tried a different food stall, and she reckoned that it was much better than other place she had tried it a couple of nights earlier. Whilst she was eating, I went and had a beer at the BWFC bar. The bar was dead, and I don’t know how these beer bars survive in a market where there are go-gos all around and the only entertainment they offer is a TV and some decidedly mediocre (in the looks department) girls.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Holiday - day 5

First of all, blogger sub domains were available in Pattaya, shortly after midnight last night, and are still available to day. Well done the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
Oh, how I wish I could take my camera into Angelwitch! That would liven up this blog and my hit rate would go up exponentially. If there was a Pulitzer Prize for photography on Blogger I am sure I would win. I can even visualise the photo I would take. It would be from a dance involving five dancers. One of the dancers is being ‘crucified’ on the ladder up to the ceiling, she is naked, but covered in a very sheer, red drape. Meanwhile, four other dancers, who are naked apart from skirts, with a few seashells dangling from them, and a turban-style headdress, with their bodies glistening in oil, dance between the poles, like acolytes at the altar.
Yesterday morning, and, as predicted, Peanut has a hangover. Because of this, she doesn’t want to get up; so, I go for a swim in the hotel pool, which was very pleasant. The pool is kidney shaped with a Jacuzzi in one corner. Plants surround the pool area, so it gives a feel of an oasis. There are only six sun loungers around the pool, but since this area is hardly used by guests that are plenty.
Once Peanut’s hunger pangs overcame her sore head, she got up and we headed into Pattaya for some food. We found a place on Beach Road that served a reasonable selection and had a simple meal. Nothing really noteworthy, a bit pricey but that’s what you get for eating on Beach Road.
After that, Peanut wanted to go shopping for a new top, so we trawled around a shopping mall, and she couldn’t find anything in her style. When she did find something that suited her: a white top by Billabong, she took one look at the price tag and fled from the shop. I was getting a little fed up, by this stage, and I dragged her into Jim Thompson where I bought a really nice shirt, in less than ten minutes. Yes, it was a little pricey, but it got the point across that shopping doesn’t have to take all day. Peanut took the hint, and in the next shop, picked out a little brown vest top – see how simple things can be?
After that we wandered up Soi Post Office, where I had another massage, not at the same place, but somewhere that offered physical massage. This massage was a great improvement. My feet haven’t felt so good for a long time.
Following that we popped into a bar, which was aimed at Swiss people I guess, by the flags and photos of Swiss football teams. There were some very pleasant looking girls there, but this friendly atmosphere was ruined when they put on some music – the loudspeaker nearest to us was broken, and it was just headache generating material, so we left after one drink. We headed up to the corner and went to the Bodega Bar. This was much better: a nice large area, prompt service from the numerous waitresses, a proper happy hour pricing structure.
Whilst sitting there, Peanut reminds me that I had “promised” to take her to the cabaret show. I hadn’t promised, but suggested it as a maybe thing to do, but it seems that that is a promise. I suggested that she found out the times of the shows, which she does, either 7pm or 8:30pm. We decide to go for the earlier show, so we make a mad dash back to the hotel for a very quick shower then head directly out to Tiffany’s. Of course we got there too early as the show didn’t start until 7.30pm, but sitting down and having a beer solved that problem. I bought VIP tickets: 800 baht for Farang, 400 baht for Thai, and we were allocated seats right in the middle of the front row. The show was good, but once you have seen one lady boy cabaret, you have seen them all. Of course sitting where we were, yours truly had his head stuffed between the breasts of the dreadful, old hag – I nearly choked on all the perfume and talcum powder, but Peanut found this hilarious. I reckon that I spotted two proper girls in the cast, and Peanut thinks there were three. It’s just something about their smiles, demeanour, and skin tone. If they were katoeys, then they were very good. Fortunately I wouldn’t have wanted to jump into bed with either of them, so I wouldn’t have been caught by surprise if I were wrong.
Went back to Walking Street and had a meal at Zab’s, again. Food was excellent, but the service was below par this time. One nice touch this place has is a candelabrum made of upturned wine glasses, with a glitter ball in the middle – very inventive and quite effective.
Peanut still had a bit of a headache, so we didn’t stop anywhere for long, and after a couple of drinks we decided to head back to the hotel. We caught baht bus no 263, who agreed to take us up the hill, but a little less than halfway there he pulls over and tells us that he wants 150 baht. We got out and paid him twenty baht and told him to stuff his ride. I would quite happily of paid the 60 baht, which is the published group fare for going up the hill, but what he was asking was extortion. Even Peanut was disgusted with his behaviour, and she is normally well onside of the Thais versus Farang arguments. Anyway shortly after a baht bus came along and took us up the hill for twenty baht, and that driver got a twenty baht tip. So to the driver of baht bus no 263 “Som nam na, you twat!”
Back in the hotel by midnight, raided the fridge for a beer, and woke up feeling great this morning. Peanut has just got up, asked me what the time was and gone back to bed. I don’t know how she is going to cope with the four in the morning starts, when she returns to work.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Holiday - day 4

You heard it on this blog first. According to the Bangkok Recorder blogger sub domains are blocked in Thailand. This seems reminiscent of the youtube incident. Bangkok Recorder blames it on a Thaksin interview being available on some blogspot sites, but I have also read somewhere that it is now possible to create sites on blogger with Thai script, and this move could be linked to that.
One incident on Monday night that I forgot to mention happened in Angelwitch; a farang male came in with his cute Thai date, and because the place was busy, they had to sit next to the dance floor. This was fine until the snake dance started, when it became quickly apparent that the young lady was scared of snakes! Whilst the snake was draped around the dancer in the middle of the stage, the scared lady couldn’t watch and hid her head behind her date’s body. Later in the dance, the snake is paraded around the edge of the stage; by now the poor girl is cowering behind her man. The dancer then bought the snake off the stage and into the audience – I am sure she did it on purpose to tease the young lady.
On Tuesday we hired a car and driver for the day. First we went to Sriracha Tiger Zoo. Here they have the pricing strategy of “farang pay double”. Peanut gets in for 150 baht, whilst my ticket costs 300. I remember talking to Peanut about this a couple of years ago, and asked her why places have this double standard. Her logic was sound, “Farang can afford to pay more”. When I asked her, then, why wasn’t the airport tax double for foreigners, she just shrugged her shoulders and changed the subject.
One of the successes of this zoo is that they have been able to successfully breed Bengal Tigers. There are also rumours, according to Peanut, that tigers are sold to the Chinese, which I am not so keen about. One of the reasons for their success, it seems, is that they have the tiger cubs suckled by pigs. It is really strange to see two baby tiger cubs and three piglets suckling of an old sow. They also put piglets, covered in tiger skins in with the mother tiger; I suppose to make the tiger think that she hasn’t lost her cubs.
There is a big alligator compound there and a bridge you can walk across and feed the alligators, so Peanut wanted to do that.
Peanut fishing for alligators
She gets a bite
After she had fed the ‘gator, Peanut takes of her baseball cap, and her sunglasses drop off the cap, and were eagerly chomped up by a waiting reptile below. Luckily they were only 200 baht shades, not real Gucci ones.
I have been to over zoos in Thailand, and this one has the same old shows, such as alligator wrestling, with a difference though: this zoo has a lady alligator wrestler, and she is quite cute.
Lady alligator wrestler
Quite cute

After the zoo, we went up to where Peanut is staying at the moment, with some relatives. This town is known locally as Ao Udon, which is a lot easier to say than Phanatnikhom, as it is written on maps. This town has a new industrial estate, so a lot of workers are moving into the town, which seems really nice. Covered markets, a park, lots of shops and stuff, and a lot of new houses being built. You can pick up a new three-storey house for 1.3 million baht or about US$40K, but of course you can’t buy the land the house sits on, because foreigners can’t own land.
Peanut is sharing a room with some relatives of her mother. It is very basic, but supplies all their needs. Peanut took me to the food stall run by her and her aunt. It’s really nothing, but they earn a living making about 400 baht per day profit. I sat at the food stall where they fed me grilled chicken and papaya salad. They even sent someone off on a motorcycle to fetch me some Heineken.
Everyone, who drove passed, stared at the farang. And when the children came back from school, they all wanted to have a look at farang, but being naturally shy, they were all trying to hide behind one another.
After that we came back to Pattaya, where I managed to fit in a massage and a couple of beers before going back to the hotel to get changed.
In the evening we went into town, and decided to eat at the P72 restaurant on Walking Street. This was an unmitigated disaster: the tables are too close together, they forgot half of our order, and other diners were having their meals bought out at separate times. Take my advice and give this eatery a wide berth.
Wanting to try somewhere new, we went to Nui’s go-go on Walking Street. This is quite a small place; the girls wear gingham skirts and tops, which, on the whole they keep fastened up. The only exceptions were a girl, who as soon as she got on the stage unfastened her top, and another girl who was wearing some fancy white lingerie, instead of the standard uniform.
Then we went to Tony’s entertainment – Club Europa. We had popped into this place earlier in the week, but it was too early. Everything seems to be white, apart from the pool tables – now that would do my head in playing pool with all white balls on a white baize. I was dreading this, but, Peanut wanted to come here, and, I actually enjoyed it. Yes, its over-priced, a beer and a vodka and orange was 400 baht, but the service was good and the drinks came with a bowl of popcorn and prawn crackers, and occasionally were given a plate of sliced mango. When we arrived there was a band playing, some eight or nine-piece band from the Philippines or Indonesia, but they may have been Thai. Then some dancing girls came on with a couple of katoeys, the really over the top, camp and deliberately ugly ones, who did a couple of numbers, then the dancing for real started with the stage turned over to the public. Now, I don’t dance, and if I do it’s a sort of spastic version of daddy dancing, but Peanut really likes to show off and have a bogey, so she did. She was getting more than a little drunk, now; and, she kept trying to order Tequila, which I know is deadly for her. So I had to be strict with her on that, which, luckily she accepted.
We had three drinks, left, and, of course Peanut wanted some food, and after the earlier meal I was quite happy to go along with this. Walking towards the food stall we were stopped by a young kid, eight or nine years old who offered us orange glow-in-the-dark bracelets for twenty baht each. We had one each and I gave him a fifty baht note, and he was so pleased. He was really polite and spoke nicely, but what was he doing up at that time during the school term?
Finally we made to the food stall where Peanut wanted to eat, as the food was really good. I had a vegetable omelette and a bowl of soup, whilst Peanut ordered Rice with Nam Prik. Now, I know that Nam Prik is not something to be messed with, its like the Devil’s Tabasco, this stuff dissolves rust and strips paint at ten feet, but the Thais love it. Peanut mixes a bit of the brown stuff with some rice, puts it in her mouth, and it was like a volcano exploding. Tears came to her eyes, her face went a sort of olive colour, her mouth opened wide. It was too spicy for her! Yes “som nam na!”
Despite her protestations that farang cannot eat! I picked up some of her rice, where a small bit had been mixed with namprik, and ate it, and kept it down and kept my composure. Sure it was spicy, and I couldn’t have eaten a plateful of the stuff.
Anyway as I sit here typing this up, Peanut is sleeping off, what I am sure will be the mother of all hangovers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Holiday Day 3

Hmm, there's something amiss - I can't access any of the blogs using blogger, but here's today's entry.

Woke up this morning and Peanut has a hangover – “som nam na!” for drinking all those vodka and oranges!

Today we decided to check out Jomtien Beach, so we headed over the hill in the baht bus. We had some breakfast in a beach front restaurant, and in the interests of national harmony, she had an American breakfast, whilst I ate Thai food.
Peanut wanted to visit a beauty shop to have her hair washed, so while this was going on, I had another foot massage – this one was a lot better than yesterday’s. The young girl was really strong, despite her size, and gave my feet a thorough going over.
After that I found that Peanut had gone the whole hog and had her toe and fingernails done as well – no problem as it was only 400 baht.

After the beauty shop

We walked along Beach Road, and it was really quiet. The beach seems a lot cleaner than Pattaya’s. When I commented on the deck chairs being set up round small tables under a forest of umbrellas, compared to Patong where they are set out in rows; Peanut explains that a lot of families come here from Bangkok, and so they want to sit around tables in the shade.
Eventually we made our way to Wat Jomtien, which seemed to be closed; so, now it was time for some food, again. Peanut bought some prawns, crabs, salted fish and somtam and we had a picnic on the beach. Peanut also bought some ant’s eggs, but I kindly declined her offer to share these.

Sticky rice

After as few hours we decided to head back for a siesta.

In the evening, we went down to Pattaya, I thought that Peanut may be getting bored of go-go bars, so suggested that we try somewhere else; but we ended up on Walking Street, at her insistance. Naturally the first thing to do was to get some food in our stomachs, so we decided to try Zab Café. This is right at the north end of Walking Street, upstairs above a bar. The food wasn’t cheap but it was very good; we had a sizzling seafood platter, fishcakes and seafood and seaweed casserole – well worth a visit if your in town.

After that we went to the Beach Club. Beach Club dancer uniform is almost exactly the same as Peppermint: boots, green socks, green skirt and white top. Peanut decided she was going to drink beer. When she drinks beer she likes it in a glass with some ice, so the drinks come, and we are sitting there and two girls are dancing on our table. I point out to Peanut that the table is a mirror and is good for looking upwards, but she doesn’t catch on, until one of the girls lifted her skirt up to show Peanut that she wasn’t wearing any knickers. Peanut wasn’t happy about this and kept hold of her glass after that, refusing to put it on the table, and we had to leave after the first drink, because Peanut didn’t think it was clean there.
After that Peanut dragged me into Angelwitch, and we got a seat near the front. I am not going to say too much about this place, because you already know about it by now; but the show does change a bit so you will not be totally bored after three days. The waitresses are friendly and like having a laugh with you. At one point, Peanut went out to make a phone call or something, and I ended up having three of them groping me, whilst a fourth kept KV for when Peanut came back.

A very pleasant evening, but with all that seafood, I had some really weird dreams last night.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Holiday - day 2

hmm - it seems that I can upload to blogger, but can't see the blog.

Having got up on Sunday morning, we went out in search of some breakfast. We went out to a small café down the road, where I had some chicken rice soup, and Peanut had some spicy prawn stuff. – Pretty mediocre, but it served its purpose.
We got a baht bus down to Beach Road, where we strolled along aimlessly. It was hot, hot and sunny. In fact it was very hot. I was keen to have a foot massage, and we strolled up Soi Post Office till we found a massage place. Just down the road a bit, some monks were blessing some new business, and having watched that for a short time we went in for a good old bit of a rub-a-dub. Peanut elected for the Thai massage, upstairs; whereas, I stayed downstairs and had my feet attended to. I had a good laugh with the girls, who were flirting outrageously, and if Peanut hadn’t been there, I am sure it would have led to other things.
After that we carried on strolling around, avoiding the tailors and other hawkers. It is quite good to tell them that you come from Hong Kong – so their goods and services are right on my back door step, so to speak. We ended up in a shopping mall named after Mike. Well, Peanut wanted to go there, and I have to let her have some fun, but drew the line at actually buying anything. A mere two hours after having breakfast, Peanut showed the Thai female tendency of wanting to eat again, so we found a restaurant, where we had some chicken salad, spring rolls and seafood with noodles; washed down with a couple of Heineken. After that, the beer drinking head woke up, so, we headed to a Scandinavian bar on Beach Road, where I supped a few more bottles – Peanut decided to switch to vodka and oranges. We had a good natter about various things, including the new business venture she has started.
This venture is about providing food to an industrial estate in Phanat Wikhom, just outside of Chonburi. The business seems to be going quite well, not providing a lot of money, but certainly an income. The great thing about this is that Peanut has not thought about things like portion control or anything like that but it just comes sort of naturally. She buys her ingredients for about 70 baht per kilo and it sells at 200 baht per kilo. Long hours, early nights, etc., seem to be doing Peanut a great deal of good, she is looking wonderful. Of course, this means that she doesn’t want to come to Hong Kong at the moment, as she wants to concentrate on building up her business. I am cool with that, and happy that things are going well for her.
After the third round of drinks, Peanut decides to go off and have some papaya salad; fortunately this was nice and spicy, so that was a good opportunity to go back to the hotel for a siesta.

Peanut looking cool

In the evening, and by half past eight, Peanut is eating again. This time we went to an open-air restaurant run by the Marine Group, not far from Walking Street. The barbequed prawns attracted us, so, we shared a plate of those, and some pork with vegetables and a plate of chicken with basil and garlic. Very tasty and a reasonable price. After the meal we cut through to Walking Street and walked to the end we hadn’t covered the night before, looking for some entertainment.
Our first port of call was Tony’s Entertainment Centre, which is totally white: floors walls, chairs, tables, everything apart from a few pieces of metal or chrome colour. There was a DJ playing techno, and Peanut, who wanted to go in there, turned around and left straight away; additionally, the way they were checking the girls handbags and purses on the way in, indicated, to me, that something fishy might or had happened there before.
Next stop was Coyote’s go-go. Someone here has had the bright idea of installing a revolving dance floor; what a flash of inspiration, should have won the Nobel Prize for innovation, or something. There was one girl there, Mimi who, while wearing nothing but a couple of bits of jewellery, was doing her best to liven up the dance show by spanking the dancers and groping their tits. In gratitude for her efforts we called her over to our table, and bought her a lady drink. She then had a good natter with Peanut, and advised us that the floor show would start shortly. I am sorry to say that the show was a real disappointment. It was an early show, but really there was no imagination or effort put into it. Soon after it finished, we paid our bill and left.
Peanut suggests that we try Peppermints, next. A short walk from Coyote’s and up the escalator, and we found ourselves in a very popular place, judging by the number of customers. This place has a lot going on; from the topless barstaff, a cage a four naked dancers at the far end, and the rest of the dancing girls wearing white tops and knickers, a very short, light green skirt, green knee length socks and boots. There was so much going on that it was hard to concentrate on any particular area of the bar. After a couple of drinks we moved on, and Peanut decided that we should go back to Angelwitch. We got there a little while before the floor show, and Peanut wanted some ping-pong balls, so I bought her five for a hundred baht. She had great fun throwing these to the girls. The floor show had some of the same acts as Saturday nights, with some new ones as well: girls covering themselves in green and orange luminous paint and dancing under ultra-violet lights, a song from Chicago, where the prisoners wore nothing, but black and white stockings, and Mother was done out in leather gear, and many more. We had a great time here, but Peanut was getting tired so about one o’clock we decided to leave, and of course she had to have some more food, before we went back, so I bought her a bowl of chicken and noodle soup, before we caught the baht bus back to the hotel.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Holiday, Day 1

First thing, yesterday morning, I got a phone call from Peanut, asking me to wait at Bangkok Airport for two hours, and then we would travel to Pattaya together. It seems she had to do something that meant she wouldn’t get to the airport till after 6pm. Having explained to her that I wanted to go straight to Pattaya, and that I would have had enough of airports by the time I get to Bangkok, she insisted that she couldn’t travel to Pattaya on her own. I was not a happy chap when I put the phone down, but it wasn’t going to ruin my holiday.
Anyway out to the airport; bought some cigarettes, a memory stick (they’re selling 4GB sticks now, how long ago was it they we 256MB?) and went into the bookstore to pick up some reading material. The bookstore was fairly busy, and there were quite a few staff working, but only one girl working the till, although there were a couple of staff hanging around the counter, they didn’t appear to be contributing to the process of selling books. The checkout area is a round island, so its hard to form a queue, but it seems there was one, and that I had stood in the wrong place. I was told in quite an assertive manner that I was stood in the wrong place. It was then that I realised that the store didn’t want to sell me books in a timely manner so I left the checkout, put the books back near where I had found them and left the store. One of the girls chased me, as she thought that I had taken the books – I think she was disappointed that I hadn’t. After that I sought refuge in the business class lounge near the gate – I wasn’t flying that class, but its one of the privileges of being a member of a frequent flier club.

HKIA main concourse

The flight was uneventful, apart from the fact that it was almost full, it was very bumpy leaving Hong Kong, and the fact that we arrived fifteen minutes late. This was due to four people deciding not to join the flight, and of course their luggage was in the most inaccessible part of the hold.
Arriving at the new airport in Bangkok was very straight forward, this time. There was quite a long walk between the gate and immigration, and the single smoking room enroute was too small for all the people that wanted to use it. Immigration was straightforward, but the girl carefully counted all my Thailand entry stamps to make sure that I hadn’t exceeded my quota of three in six months – that’s something I will have to watch out for in the future.
I decided to splash out on an official airport taxi to take me to Pattaya; all things considered, it was probably a good move. Nice clean Isuzu 4WD thingy (I don’t know much about cars) with seatbelts, I was able to smoke and when we reached Pattaya the driver phoned the hotel to get directions, and managed to navigate there with ease. Just a couple of shortcomings:- towards the end of the journey, the driver was getting tired, and he had a tendency on the highway of driving far too close to the vehicle in front of him. It just made me a little concerned that, despite all the hype of the taxi company that they were the safest, that perhaps this statement was a piece of flexible marketing.
The hotel seems fine, nice big suite, clean, and free wireless access, so I needn’t have bought that memory stick after all. After a while Peanut calls and says she is in Pattaya, but that no one knows where my hotel is. I get one of the girls from reception to talk to her and just after nine o’clock she turns up. She is very happy that I have shaved my beard off, “ooh, you are so handsome, now”. I am always a sucker for a bit of flattery.
After a while we headed down to Walking Street – I don’t know Pattaya, so it seemed a good a place as any to start. First priority was some food, so we went to a seafood restaurant, and I let Peanut over order for us. Some roasted salted fish, crab casserole with noodles and green chicken curry was served. The food wasn’t brilliant, but it was nice, and did what it was supposed to do satisfy my hunger. After that we walked along the street. Peanut said she thought it was “oh, so long”. Most of the bars seemed to be showing the FA Cup final, and didn’t seem to be bothered about attracting other customers. I decided that I wanted to go to Angelwitch gogo, as I had at least heard of the name before. One of the great things about Peanut, is she is quite happy to go into these sorts of places, and not sit there like a dried prune, she likes to watch the girls dancing as well!
When we got in there, the B team were dancing on the stage; and then I spotted the dreaded ping pong balls. The idea of these is that the customer buys pingpong balls at a few baht each, and throws them to the girl he likes, she catches it and exchanges it for money, and the ping pong ball is recycled. If the girl doesn’t catch it there is a mad scramble by the other girls to retrieve the ball, witch can be amusing the first time, but after a bit it means that they are more intent on collecting ping pong ball than dancing on the stage. On the whole I am against the idea of ping pong balls for the reason I just stated. I also noted that the girls were a lot more undressed than they would be in a gogo in Patong. In fact, there was so much on show that I am sure several laws were being broken.
At last the proper show started, and it was worth watching. I guess there were five or six different acts varying form traditional Thai dancing by naked girls, to more gymnastic style dance. There was one girl who did some amazing things on the chrome poles including sliding down one head first from the ceiling, about five metres. Peanut thought the show went on too long, and maybe, she was right, but I enjoyed it. After the show, we went out and walked a bit further, we tried a more tame gogo, but it was a bit of a let down. Peanut bought some lychees on the street and then we caught the baht bus back to the hotel.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I have a week long holiday

Although it is only a few weeks since I was there, last time; today, I fly to Bangkok for a week long holiday. I am going to stay in Pattaya, a place I haven't visited in over twenty years. Since, I haven't been there for a long time, I am going to relax and enjoy doing all the tourist trap excursions, have lots of massages or spa treatments, and enjoy the nightlife. I have heard that seafood isn't as good as Phuket, so I will have to stick to simple food.
Also it is the rainy season (well, its a wet month, anyway) - so, I am not to bothered that the beach in Pattaya is unimpressive. I will try and blog regularly, but I can't make any promises.
Peanut has said that she will meet me at the airport - I'll just have to wait and see, what happens there.
Back in Hong Kong next Saturday.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Near Death Experience

A few years ago, a very dear friend of mine was seriously ill in hospital, and nearly died. I couldn't go to see her at the time, but a few months later, I did visit her at home, where she recounted to me her near death experience.

There was a tunnel with a bright light that led to a garden, where there were the most amazing plants and the colours were so bright. She was met by a friend of hers, who had died a couple of years previously. This person, who had been single, most of his life now had a partner and a young baby. My friend spent some time in this 'heaven' and then realised that she had small children to look after, and returned to her body.

When she told me this, she could tell that I didn't believe her; but, the vision was so clear and vivid, to her, that nothing was going to dissuade her from her truth. I had, of course, heard of such stories before, but, my personal beliefs didn't allow me to accept her story. It wasn't logical to me - and I couldn't get my brain around it to accept it. My lack of belief in her story, hasn't spoiled our friendship, although I could tell that she was bitterly disappointed that I couldn't bring myself to go along with her version of what happened.

The other day, I came across this article in the New Scientist, that goes someway to explaining it, as a very vivid dream. It seems scientist say it is an illusion created by a fading brain, brought on by a lack of oxygen.

Although scientists don't have all the answers, and like a lot of experts, there are disagreements between them; this explanation, puts my mind at rest. And, I can now understand Ruth's story, and why she was so adamant that what she recalled actually happened.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Exploding Shower Gel?

Due to a big conference in town being organised by Credit Lyonnaise, I am unable to get a room at the Intercontinental, where I normally stay in Shanghai. So, for the first time I am staying at the Baoan Hotel just five minutes walk down Dongfang Road. The hotel lacks the same amenities as the Intercon, but is quite acceptable. The rooms are clean, comfortable and of a decent size. You can tell it’s a hotel catering for Chinese, because, whereas the Western hotels have smoking fllors, this hotel has a single non-smoking floor.
The bathroom amenities are good and the shower space is large, with a flexible shower head, and a shower rose in the ceiling. The latter provides a wonderful deluge of water that is really invigorating.. The shower space is also equipped with two platsic dispensers: shower gel and shampoo – a great improvement on those annoying, little plastic bottles.
The first time I used the shower and was soaping myself up I noticed that the shower gel smelled slightly strange. I couldn’t quite place it at first, and it was frustrating because I remembered the smell but couldn’t quite place it. Then, all of a sudden it came to me, “Marzipan, it smells of marzipan”, Pythagorus would have shouted – and when you come to think of it “marzipan” is a much better exclamation than “Eureka”, well, I think so anyway.
Back to the shower, where I am now soaping my self up vigourously and thinking of wedding cakes, and the one time that I tried to make a Christmas cake. I thought the cake was a great success – I had been lacing it with booze for about ten weeks, it was well steeped in alcohol – the only let down was the icing, that was a real mess; but everyone thought that it tasted very nice, just before they collapsed in an alcoholic stupor.
I am just about to wash between my legs, when another distant memory floats to the front of my mind. This one related to a security course I had to attend, about twenty-five years ago, when we were in the Cold War, and Russians were the bad guys. Part of the course was about what we call, nowadays, IEDs or improvised explosive devices. We were shown how bombs could be hidden in the most innocent looking objects, and would catch the careless person unawares; however, one thing that could give away these bombs was the fact that explosives smelled of marzipan. Instead of nice thoughts of cakes, my mind was suddenly filled with images of exploding books, and flashlights.
I quickly washed off the shower gel and washed between my legs with the shampoo; it may not have been so good at the job, but my mind was put at ease. Isn’t it strange how smell is one of the strongest senses for triggering memories?


One thing I have noticed this time in Shanghai is the increased number of beggars. This is not an issue I have come across in Shanghai before. On Sunday night, and again on Tuesday night, I was approached by a young lady (a different one each time) who in very good English, asked me for money. On both occasions it was because they were hungry. The Sunsay girl claimed that her brother was sick and they had no money coming in; the Tuesday girl claimed she had come to Shanghai, with her friend, looking for work, without any luck. The latter girl actually asked me for 2 yuan for food. Both girls wore clean clothes, and as I noted earlier spoke better than average English. I smelled a rat in both cases, and didn’t part with any money. Call me a tight-wad, if you like; two yuan is hardly anything, but there are 1.3 billion people in China – if I had to give 2 yuan to everyone, then it would be a different story.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another apology

Sorry to my regular readers, I have internet connection, but, I am having a hell of a time up here in Shanghai, so I don't have the time or impetus to blog at the moment.

I am travelling to Fuzhou, tomorrow, and I don't expect things to be any better there. Back in Hong Kong on Thursday.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Anyone who has my photoblog on a feed, I am sorry if it has been going wild this morning, but I have been busy updating labels and links.
I am off to the mainland for a few days: Shanghai and Fuzhou, will be back in town later this week. Blogging may be light or non-existant for a few days.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

That's better!

After four weeks of complaining to PCCW, they finally sent someone round to my home last evening to sort out the broadband. The young lad turned up at 7pm (the appointed time was between 6pm and 8pm), plugged his laptop and modem in, checked the telephone line, went downstairs to the main telephone line box for the building, disappeared for forty minutes. When he came back he reported that there was a problem with the cable downstairs, but he had fixed it, and that everything was OK now.
Well it certainly seems that way, from the following ping test:-

--- ping statistics ---
10 packets transmitted, 10 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 18.729/19.379/20.350/0.453 ms

I am now a happy bunny - but, why, oh why did it take them so long to get someone to cmoe around and sort it?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My desk is a mess!

Bit of a blogger's block today, so I went to the Imagination Prompt and it suggested that I "Name five things lying around my computer". So I looked around and I saw the company chop, a half eaten packet of mini chocolate chip cookies, a training schedule that I need to review, my spectacles and a carton of cigarettes that someone smuggled into Hong Kong for me (he didn't know that the limit was three packets). Then the realisation hit me that my desk looks like a bomb has hit it:- overstuffed in/out trays, a book that I lent to someone that has been returned, unopened mail, peoples business cards, company booklets on such archane subjects as "Control of Work", a contacts directory that's almost two years old, the list goes on. Does this mean that I am disorganised or that I am a genius?
According to Jay Brand a psychology professor suggest that I am using my desk space as an extension to my mind, and that all this clutter on my desk are "cognitive artifacts". He goes further to say that companies that have a clear desk policy are in essence giving their employees "environmental lobotomies".
On the other hand, a messy desk at the office can give a bad impression and negatively affect your career, CNN money advisor goes on to say that a messy desk creates a mental drag that can overwhelm you.
Well, I like my messy desk, I like to have a big clear out just before I go on holiday; its like unloading all those things that have been niggling at the back of your mind that are either inconsequential, taken care of, or, both.
So that's it I will carry on with my messy workspace, and still get the job done. I don't give a fig for the impression it creates, that mess is my pile of cognitive artifacts

Monday, May 07, 2007

What hope is there for us bloggers?

I ask this question, because I have just read that Mick Jagger has abandoned plans to write his autobiography - as he found it too boring.
This is the guy who has been out with some of the world's most shaggable women, and has been on a one man mission to break the world record for one night stands, and who will probably die on a vibrating love bed with a huge smile onb his face.
Of course, what we don't know is whether it was the actual writing that was boring, or the telling tales of all those nights of unbridled sex. If it was writing, then maybe his biography could be told in a different way - maybe a theme park based on his life, or a series for children's TV. But now I am rambling.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The PCCW broadband and the tortoise

There once was a speedy internet provider who bragged about how fast he his connection was. Tired of hearing him boast, Slow and Steady, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. All the animals in the forest gathered to watch.

Hare ran down the road for a while and then and paused to rest. He looked back at Slow and Steady and cried out, "How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?"

Hare stretched himself out alongside the road and fell asleep, thinking, "There is plenty of time to relax."

Slow and Steady walked and walked. He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line.

The animals who were watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they woke up PCCW Broadband.

Hare stretched and yawned and began to run again, but it was too late. Tortoise was over the line.

Can this be right?
PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=253 time=3075.532 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=253 time=3861.695 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=253 time=3060.138 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=253 time=2634.665 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=4 ttl=253 time=1792.569 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=5 ttl=253 time=981.894 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=6 ttl=253 time=191.381 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=7 ttl=253 time=24.174 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=8 ttl=253 time=170.320 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=9 ttl=253 time=224.179 ms

--- ping statistics ---
10 packets transmitted, 10 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 24.174/1601.655/3861.695/1389.907 ms

I am no tech-noweenie, but an average ping time should be a hell of a lot less than 1600 ms, shouldn't it?
I have sent emails to Tech Support at Netvigator, and so far they haven't come up with a solution. I have tried switching computers, and that doesn't help, so the problem must be in their gear. I will just have to wait till they get their act together, I suppose.

Friday, I worked from home, as the landlords work team were here starting to sort out the problem with the ceilings; they are coming back today to do the plastering - so I am stuck inside until they finish.

I went down to Wanchai, last night. Now, that the new Bulldog bar has got its act together, and obtained a qualified smoking establishment status, I decided to try there again. I don't know why I bothered, the place is like the arctic, and where I was sat there was a definite smell of traffic fumes. Then the band started - first they murdered Bohemian Rhapsody. Things got slightly better after that, but not much.
It seemed that my table, was a good place for people to try and squeeze passsed, without even an 'excuse me'. After a couple of drinks, I gave up and went to Neptune. Early on it was OK, but fairly soon it was packed. Had a chat with a couple of the girls, but because I have workmen coming in this morning, I decided to come home about 1 o'clock, alone.
Right I will try and post this now, but I dont hold out much hope - we'll see.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Life in the Fast Lane?

In a recent study, carried out by Professor "Quirky" Wiseman, it seems that our lives are speeding up. Having measured the time it takes for pedestrians to walk along 60 feet of pavement in 32 cities worldwide, he has come to the conclusion that our speed has increased by 10 percent since the last study in 1994. It seems that the greatest acceleration was found in Asian "tiger" countries such as China and Singapore where pedestrians walk between 20 and 30 per cent faster than they did in the early '90s. Singapore has the quickest walkers in the world, where the average time for the 60 feet was 10.55 seconds; compare this to Blantyre in Malawi, where the same distance takes 31.6 seconds - thats 2 feet every second - what do they do - two steps forward and then one back?
Anyway it seems that walking speed is a good indicator of the pace of people's lives, and, as people move faster they become less likely to help others and also have higher rates of coronary heart disease.
Well I will take it all with a pinch of salt; but, the website does have an interesting test to guage your pace of life - and, sure enough, I have a typical A personality, which means that I am living life in the fast lane, rushing around and trying to juggle many different activities and projects at the same time. I tend to be impatient, excessively time-conscious, and find relaxation difficult. This might help me be productive, but my relationships and health could suffer as a consequence.
It goes on to advise me to "Try to overcome feelings of impatience by distracting yourself when stuck in queues. For example, listen to your favourite music or chat to others. Also, try spending some time in the slow lane - savour each mouthful of food or relax with friends - and discover that the world doesn't grind to a halt."
Well that's as maybe, but I still get infuriated, when I am in a hurry (almost always) and have to weave my way through dawdling tourists and shoppers. Maybe its time to take up yoga or taichi - NAH!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Judges xvi

Yesterday, being the first month in the year that does not contain the letter 'R', there was great dismay amongst the girls in Hong Kong, who thought my beard was sexy. To mark the arrival of spring, and doubting that any reports of cuckoos would be published in the local newspapers, I decided that the May Day would become my clean shaven day. Of course, the true meaning of May Day has been supplanted by Labour Day, and people have forgotten the true meaning of Beltane, where the Celts used to turn their flocks out to summer grazing and the gods were invoked for their protection until Halloween, by dancing around maypoles and the crowning of the May Queen (mind you that sort of thing may well have taken place in Fenwicks, I don't know).
After admiring my fresh, baby faced look for about ten seconds I headed out with the camera. First stop was the bird garden at Yuen Po Street. I found this disappointing: the "sweet sounds of the birds" was a cacophony, and the smell wasn't entirely pleasant. To rid my nostrils of the avian odour, I strolled through the flower market - now, this was much more pleasant, but soon I was back in the clamour and bustle of Fa Yuen Street market. After this I had had enough of Kowloon and photography for a while and headed back to Wanchai, which was dead. I managed to bump into some friends at the White Stag and a very boozey afternoon ensued. I finally dragged myself out and strolled back through Hong Kong Park as the sun was going down. The light is quite good at this time of day so I got the camera out and took some more photos.
Well I don't know if it was the afternoon's drinking, the climb from Kennedy Road to my apartment block, or whether, like Samson, after Delilah had shaven seven locks from his head; but, after all that, my strength had gone from me. Oh, well I will grow the beard again in September, because I had forgotten what a pain it is to shave twice a day.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Soda Siphons

To the reader who reached my site by Googling "how long do soda siphon charge last", who has an IP address in Denton, Texas, and is using Internet Explorer, on Windows XP:- I hope you found the information you were looking for. I don't think you would have found it on my blog, but I hoped you enjoyed reading it.