Wednesday, 28 March 2007
Okay I am in Bangkok and my new hotel has a good Internet connection (but expensive 45 baht every 15 minutes).
The free buffet breakfast was the best I have had in Thailand. It offered such a great range of food. Cereals, about 10 different types of bread, the most delicious fruit salad and yogurt, freshly cooked omelet, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, waffles, yummy jams, fruit juices, rice soup, salad, baked potato and on and on....
The Par 3 golf course part of the complex is a lot of fun and you can play for 350 baht green fees, 100 baht club hire, 100 baht for a golf ball. When you pay you can play all day and the course is very challenging with holes from 80 yards to 130 yards and a lot of bunkers.
The restaurants on the complex have great food but are expensive but just off the hotel grounds is a place (another blog) a 2 minute walk from the front door of the hotel that serves a huge menu of foods from all over the globe that were so Delicious and ridiculously big(owned by an Irishman).
The staff 99% very very friendly, the other 1% needed a personality(The lady at the golf counter in the afternoon). I recommend this hotel to anyone who is going to Pattaya for a hoilday but want to be out of all the hustle and bustle but still so close for all the sights and fun of Pattaya.
For a twin share room for 4 night I paid 8,400 baht. Go to the website and have a look at the hotel and I will also post more pictures as well.
For people going to Pattaya to meet ladies the hotel policy is very strict and they will charge 650 baht for any extra person in your room. You cannot sneak anyone in as there are always many staff at reception plus security guards at the gates and lifts to the rooms.
The beach is awesome. It is in a beautiful cove and very clean. There are the usually sellers trying to sell their stuff but not too many like in Pattaya central. The swimming pool was big and very nice but the water very warm and the chemicals were strong. There is also a basic fitness centre for the athletic person who needs to get some of the extra weight off from all the delicious food.
Asia Pattaya Hotel is a 4 and a half out of 5 from me and my mum and dad loved it and said that they will not go tp Phuket anymore. They said that Pattaya has so much more to offer for them and was a lot more fun. They gave it a big thumbs up.
Monday, 26 March 2007
I have finally arrived in Pattaya. I have had trouble updating my blog due to time but mostly because at the hotel their is only one computer and also the connection is so so so slow.
Everything went smooth arriving in Bangkok and also going shopping into the city for 6 hours while we waited for my parents to arrive from Australia.
I booked a private transfer with a company called Oriental Express. They were a little more expensive than other some other places I researched but all the reviews I read were good and they are fantastic. The vehicle very nice and the driver was great. He didn't speak English (a little basic English that's all), we went into the city and went shopping at Pratunam Mall first for 2 hours ( didn't see a of of the places as it's very big) The girls brought a few things to take to Pattaya.
We also went to MBK for an hour and a half and shopped and had some dinner and then it was time to go out and pick my parents up at the airport. We arrived 20 minutes before their plane was due to land (it landed 10 minutes early). An hour and a half after the plane landed my parents finally emerged from the gate (dad couldn't work out where to pick up their luggage from).
My girlfriend and her sister shyly said hello to my parents and we jumped into the van and headed to Pattaya. We left around 11.30pm and arrived around 1am. The hotel is nice (This will be a blog in itself) and we were all very keen to get to bed for some sleep.
The next morning I was woken by my father at 5.30am saying get up lazy as he thought that it was an hour later but had set his watch wrong. So after 4 hours sleep we all got up had a shower and got ready to venture out into what is Pattaya.
Saturday, 24 March 2007
In Australia they are always in a rush as they need to turn over 4 customers an hour and the experience isn't enjoyable even if the girl cutting your hair is very attractive.
Here in Thailand it is so different. The barber I go to is great. I have been using him for around a year and a half now. In Thailand men cut mens hair and katoy's(ladyboys), gays and ladies cut ladies hair.
I have my haircut every 4 weeks at the most because it's an enjoyable 30 + minutes. If you cannot speak Thai to explain how you want your haircut, take a photo or a magazine and show the barber and they go to work like a master craftsmen taking a lot of care in their work snipping slowly and constantly touching up a litlle bit here and there.
My barbers shop is between a Papaya salad shop (somtam) so there is always the noise of the pestle and mortar at work (bok bok bok) and people chatting away mostly in Laos though so I have trouble following the conversations most of the time and the other side is a ladies hairdressers and she (he is a ladyboy) is always busy so there is a constant stream of pretty girls going into the shop or sitting out the front so I am always entertained.
Back to the haircut. After a lot of care cutting your hair you are then laid back in the barbers chair and your face is lathered up for the best shave you have ever had. A super sharp razor that is ran over your face again and again until the smallest of stubble is completely gone.
Next (the first time this happened to me I didn't know what he was doing) your whole face is lightly powdered and your face is completely shaved, forehead, temples, ears. The first time this happened to me I felt 5 years younger it was fantastic.
Then it's time for a nose hair clip and finally a light massage starting at your head to your shoulders and down your arms to your hands and then your fingers gently cracked. And this isn't just because I am a farang I have sat in his shop many times waiting my turn and every customer is treated the same.
The last step is a cool refreshing towel placed over your face and your face is gently wiped clean.
Every time I leave his shop I feel so much younger. I mightn't look it but you feel it. If you have the time (30 - 40 minutes) find a local barber and sit back and enjoy the experience of the best haircut in the world. Well, I believe anyway.
Oh, by the way. The cost a massive 40 baht (Australian dollars $1.70) it's absolute robbery. I always give him 60 baht and at Christmas just gone he got a 100 baht tip. Yes, I know I am a big spender ha ha....
Friday, 23 March 2007
Luckily she has a little money saved and I have been working hard. I am sure that the bank account is going to be a lot lighter when I get back in 9 days time but holidays only come around once a year (twice for teachers, sorry. 12 weeks paid holiday a great job).
The biggest worry is taking my girlfriends younger sister with us as this is double trouble for me as I am sure it means 2 of everything that each one likes.
I am sure my mother will be buying many things for them as she never had the daughter she wanted (4 boys poor lady) and I am pretty sure she will spoil them rotten. I am like my dad. Tight with my money. I love shopping at the secondhand shops here in Ubon on the weekends looking for good bargains which are always around.
I am so tight that I think 99baht for a new t-shirt is expensive and 200 + baht is robbery. I am sure a lot of people probably think I am crazy and maybe I am a little but it keeps me grounded and I don't run around like a lot of expats throwing money everywhere buying anything they like. (If you read Stickman this happens all the time with Farangs living like millionaires).
Well have to check the credit card balances and warn the bank about an expected spending spree as I am sure they will be shocked when money starts being emptied from my account (doesn't happen a lot). And I don't want them freezing my card because they expect it might have been stolen.. (as if that would happen in Thailand).
I am heading on holidays tomorrow and I cannot believe it as I have come down with a terrible bout of diarrhea (and my girlfriend as well). I have not had diarrhea for a long time. I have done nothing different today and the only place that we got our lunch from we always use and it's a good clean shop (they are very hard to find sometimes).
I have eaten from this shop 100's of times over the last few years and it is very popular with the Thai people, there is always a line up waiting to order food. It can't be the food (anything is possible).
About an hour after eating brunch I started having stomach rumbles and then not long after the diarrhea started and has been a constant companion all day. I am happy that it is happening today and not tomorrow because at least I can deal with it in the comfort of my own home and not having to worry about trying to find toilets and running to toilets that are filthy and not for human use (there are many of these in some parts of Thailand).
I am not feeling sick so hopefully tomorrow will be a new day and I will be back to normal otherwise I will be off to the chemist early tomorrow for some miracle powder to plug the problem up. It's no point going to a doctor as it would be a 30 second visit and a prescription for some tablets.
Well here's to a new day tomorrow. (hopefully)
Now here in Thailand if you are pulled over and have to pay a fine, you take your ticket to the man sitting at the fold up table and he will process the payment and give you a receipt and you are on your way. If you don't have the money on you, then it's walk to the nearest ATM or call a friend to come and help you or otherwise it's leave your motorbike with the police and then when you have the money you can go to the police station pay the fine and pick up your motorbike. They will also just take your licence and you have to go to the police station to pay the fine before getting it back.
It's that simple here. No pay the fine then off you go on foot until you do. I seen young boys and girls walking along the side of the road today carrying helmets as they mustn't have had the money to pay the fines. Even if they were fined for not having a licence if they had the fine money they can ride off it's not a problem here, your receipt of the fine is good for a couple of days before they will fine you again.
I would say ( a guess) that 70 - 80 % of kids under 20 don't have a licence and 90 % of them don't were a helmet and 60 % of the motorbikes don't have registration and the correct insurance. That's just figures I am pulling out of my head from what I have observed in the last few years.
It's funny but also scary when you know that the police are at a certain place and a group of young guys on a motorbike see the police up ahead, hit the brakes and turn their motorcycle around and start riding the wrong way back along the main road (Thai people are always riding and driving on the wrong side of the road).
Hopefully they will keep this traffic blitz going for the next few months and everyone will be better off here in Ubon (maybe).
I finally got my camera back from my girlfriends sister. When you lend things to Thai people you are playing with danger as time means nothing here and also they don't seem to care too much about other peoples things.
My camera had been lent out for around 7 long weeks. When I first asked for it back I was told that it had been lent to a friend (What the?), no use complaining as Thai people say "don't worry, It's alright). So after another week I enquired again and was told that it would be back by the end of the week as the friend had gone to another province (okay, no worries). Another week goes by and again I get the camera will be back in 2 days time (Sure I think).
So around 4 weeks after my first enquires about where my camera was it has finally returned in one peice and working (amazing). I am now looking forward to being able to take my camera with me everywhere and post photo's along with the blogs.
Anyway I contacted the hotels and the chauffered van transfer company just to check on all the bookings and everything is sweet. Stocked up the fish food and cleaned the tanks then kicked the cat (joking I don't have a cat, I cannot stand them). Done a complete house clean as next time I step back into the house my parents will be with me and the place has to be spick and span (clean and tidy), It's always pretty clean but even though I am 35 and I moved away from home when I was young you still get nervious (I suppose that's the correct feeling) when your parents are coming to stay with you.
I was going to have them stay in a hotel but now I have air conditioning they can stay with me and see life Thai style and it will be good to have their company after not seeing them in person for around 3 years.
I look forward to posting on my travelling into Pattaya and Chonburi and the Bangkok and will have plenty of pictures to attach as well I hope.
Thursday, 22 March 2007
The content is bad, the acting is very bad and the worst part is the Thai people love these dramas especially younger people. They sit glued to the TV for hours every night watching this dribble. I have been at Thai friends houses when they are watching it with their girlfriends and family and they laugh when a fight happens or someone is trying to kill someone else, it's like it's a comedy.
When you take that perspective and put it into real life you can see why young Thai people don't value life anywhere near as much as they should. When violence and all the other horrible things are promoted like they are by their superstar actors/actresses on TV you can understand some of the senseless crimes you see on the front pages on the Thai papers everyday.
I know television throughout the world is like this which is why I would be lucky to see 2 0r 3 hours a week of television. It is a mind numbing thing nowadays, I believe anyhow.
A quick overview: a bus (36 year old bus) carrying 60 people burst into flames travelling from one province to another, the driver had stopped in a town an hour before to have the brakes checked and fixed as they weren't working properly. Reports said that people were screaming at the driver to stop when the bus was on fire but he couldn't as the brakes were not working and people started jumping off the moving bus. Eventually the bus crashed into a culvert (ditch on the side of the road).
Here are some pictures from the crash. I sourced these from a website tenee.com.
There are a lot more graphic photo's available but these are bad enough. If anyone has travelled by bus here in Thailand they would know that it is always a sit on the edge of your seat trip.
I have only had the pleasure a few times (thankfully) and they are trips that I will not forget quickly. These were on nice VIP buses and they are in very good condition but getting from point A to point B can be scary. I remember my first trip heading to a place called Mukdahan which was about a 2 hour bus ride. The bus was beautiful, clean and new but when we were underway and we hit the main road and were doing 100 + kilometers per hour passing cars while other cars are coming the other way (the driver flashes his lights and they move right over to the shoulder of the road). Flying past motorcycles and only missing them by centimeters and the list goes on (like driver talking on the phone). That's when I decided where possible take the train or fly or walk (now drive myself).
The amount of bus crashes in Thailand is high and they happen constantly and a lot has to do with the condition or maintenance of the buses, driver fatigue (they drive long hours), road conditions (in some places disgraceful), and also the other crazy Thai drivers.
I am sure that many people have had good bus experiences here in Thailand but haven't read about them on any blogs and I haven't experienced them.
The Thai government need to crackdown on all unroadworthy vehicles (Buses, cars, motorbikes, buffalo's Etc..) if they took a tougher stance and the driver education was better I am sure that these accidents would reduce rapidly but I am sure this is a long way off or a dream way off in space that may never eventuate.
For safety I believe fly, train or walk (even drive yourself) is the best option when travelling in Thailand.
My lovely girlfriend washed the clothes (in the washing machine not by hand). After I had finished my jobs I sat down on the computer and did some work for next terms school year, resourced some worksheets and lesson plans to coincide with the curriculum. I also wrote some blogs and updated some things in my site.
The love of my life had finished what she was doing had a shower and got dressed. She then asked if I was going to the market with her which I politely said "sorry, I am busy" and off she went. No hint of being angry.
After she got home she prepared what she had bought and then cooked our brunch. She called out that lunch was ready and out I went to eat lunch in the living room (on the floor on a straw mat, we don't use the dining room table). I quickly came to realise that she wasn't happy after trying to speak with her and I got the cold shoulder in return.
I know that here in Thailand it is better just to sit very quietly and finishing doing whatever you are doing than asking "what's the matter? Are you angry? ETC...
I understand that maybe I have spent a little too much time on the computer and at the golf course but also with all her friends going back to their homes as the university year has finished she has few friends to talk too and visit or come over and visit.
I have realised this and need to pay a little more attention over the holidays as she is too polite to come out and just say anything (Back in Australia you would know exactly what the problem was and red ears to match). All Thai people are like this even if you were putting someone out or making them uncomfortable they always say things are okay, everything is alright.
So I better get offline and spend a little quality time with my partner and maybe it could be a trip to the local shopping centre or even a movie at one of the cinema's. What ever we do will be fine as long as my girlfriend is happy then I am happy.
Now I am a little worried about going to Pattaya because of its' notoriety. Thankfully we are staying well away from main Pattaya and really we are just going there to relax on the private beach and play some golf. I hope all the research I did before booking everything pays off. I read reviews asked people from blogs who live in Pattaya about the best places to stay and what to do.
I have been there a few times. Twice before I was 20 and then 2 years ago with 2 friends from Australia. The last trip is what worries me as we stayed in the centre of Pattaya and it was horrible. We were meant to be there for 3 nights and 4 days, I lasted a day and a half before getting a private van back to Bangkok without my mates. I think central Pattaya is very dirty and disgusting especially at night but it's serving the purpose of why it's existing. So many tourists flock there for the sex trade I would have to guess 70% and they other 30% for holidays and related activities (just my view and guess). Please point it out if I am way off the mark.
Where I am going and what I have planned for us to do will hopefully keep us mostly out of central Pattaya but I am sure that my 68 and 65 year old parents will want to venture in and see walking street for their own eyes. My mum and dad have always taken things as they are and nothing tends to make them look twice.
Bangkok will be great as it's been a long time since I have been there and really look forward to going shopping at the markets and buying some quality dress shoes which are really hard to find up here in the Far North East of Thailand. I love Bangkok as a tourist but to live there would drive me crazy. I have always been a country boy in my heart and that's where I will hopefully live out many many years of life to come.
I look forward to writing about my trip from my point of view and hopefully it will be 99% good and only 1% bad but we will know in the next week.
Here in Far North East Thailand you have:
Amazing Isaan People
Cheap Cheap Living
Delicious Food Everywhere
Cheap Cheap Living
Fantastic Work Opportunities
Fresh Clean Air
Good Internet Connection
The Best Quality of Life
Australia is a beautiful country with many lovely people but the youth of Australia are changing very fast (I am only 35) and the changes that I have seen taking place the last 5 years are worrying. Yes, it is happening everywhere in the world even here in Thailand with young people not holding onto their traditions as much. But the young people in Thailand still show respect to older people even the very rough around the edges teens still show respect to people of authority from what I have seen over the years.
In Australia this has changed so much with young people having no respect for anyone or themselves. The recreational drug problem in Australia with teenagers is growing at a rapid rate and underage drinking is a big problem(a problem here too). To constantly read in the newspapers about 12 to 18 year old teens committing serious offences that you cannot begin to understand makes you so disheartened. They blame drugs, broken family and so many other things for their problems and yes, some of this would have played a part of it. But none of them are willing to put the blame on themselves none of them have the guts to say it was their own fault.
When I read the main Australian newspaper online this week and seen again these horrible stories for instance:
Two young teens watched a 91 year old man withdraw money from an ATM. They then followed him and 1 of them accidentally (on purpose) spills something all over him then offer to help clean it off at a nearby toilet. So a long story short these young scumbags lure their victim into the toilet threaten to bash him and then steal his money. This is happening all the time unfortunately.
The most appalling was 2 youths a few years back broke into a disabled 88 year old ladies unit and then tortured and raped her (yes, I know these things happen all over the world). Because of their age they could not be named or pictures published of them so they went through the whole court case as defendant x and y. Because of useless pathetic Australian laws we have towards juvenile offenders they were placed in a juvenile rehabilitation centre and they can apply for release when they are just 18. It's so sad Australia's justice system but then again many thorough out the world are the same.
I am sure there are many stories the same here in Thailand but thankfully where I live I haven't seen it. Yes, the occasional murder and other stuff that happens through out of Thailand but really I feel safer here than I have felt anywhere else in the world (Unless riding my motorcycle on the road after midnight).
If you ever want to see Thai culture as it was so many years ago here in the Far North East is one of the best places in Thailand to observe it happening.
I love the Far North East of Thailand...
Wednesday, 21 March 2007
I know a lot of people complain and say that they are revenue raising (just like all the people back home in Australia) but I think it's great. I would like to see them everyday out in the streets stopping everyone as then people might start thinking that paying 200 baht each time for a fine becomes expensive and they might start obeying the laws more.
They might actually get a licence, register their bikes and have insurance. They might start wearing helmets. If the police do this everyday for a few months I am sure that the Thai people will eventually understand that they have to at least try and obey the traffic laws. Kids under the legal age for a motorcycle licence, they should fine them and then take the keys away and make them walk home to tell their parents that they have to go and pick up their motorcycle from the police station. (I know this is totally not possible as so many young and underage kids ride bikes, It's just a dream)
I was stopped by a young officer who tried to speak some English. He asked me what I was doing in Ubon and I told him I had lived here for over 2 years and the school where I was teaching at. He had a big smile on his face and patted me on the back and said "have a good day" . I didn't have to show any ID (licence) or the papers for my motorcycle. I have it all just for this reason. It's so easy to get all the correct paper work and it is very cheap as well. At least when I go somewhere I have the peace of mind knowing that everything is in order and I am doing everything legally.
One of my (Farang) friends has lived here for over 5 years and hasn't registered his motorbike for the past 4 years or had insurance. He likes to have a drink and thank god he hasn't had a bad accident (touch wood will not as well) but I would not be able to be like this as I would be so paranoid about being stopped by the police or being in an accident it would drive me crazy.
I know so many people complain about the Thai police and Yes, there could be a lot of improvement made, and Yes, there are corrupt officers but what country in the world doesn't have this? I know that it is rife in Australia and many are being weeded out slowly under intense scrutiny from the police bodies and unions. Truthfully, I haven't had any problems with the police and have many good friends in the police here. I run in the local park everyday with a group of 4 to 6 officers every afternoon. I believe it's good to have friends in the right places.
Tuesday, 20 March 2007
I mean Thai people hate to walk 10 metres between roadside food stalls, they would rather start the motorcycle and ride (okay 20 metres). They don't understand that a dog needs to be taken out and let run around, play with toys and chase you around. I see some young people (usually young girls) in the local park with their new puppies (that their new beau has bought for them) sometimes and it will be for a week that I see them everyday and then the second week only a few times and then after that once a month if lucky.
I am sure this is why there are so many stray dogs in Thailand as soon as the cuteness of the puppy is gone it's dropped off into the nearest Soi (street) with best of luck for the rest of it's life.
I love dogs. I have the usual local abandoned dog that stays at my house. I think she is beautiful and she has been living with me for the last 20 months since I moved in. I am sure that she must have been fed by the previous owners of the house. When I first moved in she drove me crazy often howling at 3am in the morning and I would get up and shoo her out the gate with her growling angrily at me. I even hoped that she would eventual move on. But as time has passed we have become good friends (my girlfriend doesn't like her) and we get on really well. At the start she would not come within 20 metres of me and if she was any closer she would growl.
Now, she is well fed with good leftover food and dry dog food. Now when I sit on the steps of my house and make kissing noises she trots on over for a pat on the head and a scratch. So this is my adopted pet in Thailand.
Now my girlfriend decided that she wanted to keep fish. I tried to explain that it was a lot more work than she probably thought (Really it's only setting the tank up first, after that it's fairly easy and just maintenance). I had her read some websites and do some research in Thai hoping she would understand. So the day came and I gave her 1,000 baht to go and buy a good medium sized tank and all the gear to set it up. I let her do it by herself as it was her project. When I got home from golf she had this lovely little shoebox sized fish tank with 15 little fish jammed into it. (I had told her not to buy the fish until 2 weeks later). I didn't say too much but I did shake my head and this made her upset but I knew that a lot of the fish would probably die within the next few days (11 died in 4 days). Well trial and error is a way of learning but sometimes it can be avoided.
She finally asked for help to why the fish were dying. I went over a lot of reasons of maybe why and told her I had made the same mistakes in Australia when I first kept fish. We went out and bought a good medium sized tank with all the stuff needed to set it up. I went over setting it up and why we were doing certain things like not putting the fish in for 2 weeks. After she understood everything she seemed happy.
After 2 weeks she was so eager to get out and buy some fish. So off to the local weekend market together. We bought some more fish for the little tank to replace some of the dead ones which was now set up properly and also some new fish for the bigger tank. When we were buying some of the fish and I asked the lady selling them if these fish would be fine in the same tank, I should have known better but I took her word for it and unfortunately some of the fish decided to try and eat each other but again it's trial and error sometimes. And when you don't know about how all the local species behave it can be hard. So waking up the first few mornings and finding fish half eaten didn't impress my girlfriend too much.
So in the end the solution was separating the fish that didn't belong with each other, so we went out and bought some more small tanks and set them up and separated some of the species. So now I have an adopted dog (my pet) 4 fish tanks. 1 medium sized and 3 smaller ones.
At the start my lovely girlfriend was very keen to learn how to clean the tanks and maintain them properly and this lasted the first month but then the novelty wore off and now it has become part of my routine every week which I don't mind as I can do it very quickly and my girlfriend still gets a lot of happiness sitting there watching these silly creatures swimming around in circles. If my love is happy then I am very happy.
They can send letters to their consulates, to the bosses of the corrupt officials and jump up and down and make scenes (this is always amusing for me at the visa office. I only have to go once a year but I always see an irate Farang swearing and red faced complaining about the Thai laws).
Yes, I think the Thai visa system is harsh like many other people but I cannot change it. Every foreigner in Thailand could sign a petition and that wouldn't change it.
People please wake up and realise that corruption happens here in Thailand but it usually happens to people who are doing something to warrant it or very gullible to get themselves into that situation. I know guys who give police money to run their illegal shops and people who give border officials presents to make sure things always go smoothly. This is Thailand I read about it and have seen it first hand when I started travelling here. In over 2 years I have not been swindled, bribed, ripped off (apart from paying to much at a market sometimes because of lack of early bargaining skills).
I know that people are getting ripped off in the capital of Thailand. I have read the stories many times. Do I feel sorry for them? Sometimes but again I believe it comes down to the simple thing of COMMON SENSE. So many people seem to leave their common sense at home when they are in Thailand. Thank god mine is still well in place (at the moment).
So to all the people in these boring forums please get some common sense and we will all be better off not having to read about the same thing that's been going on for so many years.
Yes, there are too many fatalities on the road but it is readily accepted here and a second thought isn't even given. When you see 3 or 4 students ride into the school car park on 1 motorbike with no helmets(s) no one blinks an eye. Drink driving seems a way of life for all Thai men (okay sorry 90%). It's drink until you cannot walk or stand up straight and then get behind the wheel of a car and off they go.
I had the unfortunate luck of seeing a drunk driver run a red light (everyone runs red lights) and crash into a motorbike with 3 people on it. It wasn't nice. Luckily 2 of the people survived and 1 only had minor injuries but for a young boy of around 15 or 16 he died instantly. He suffered a massive head trauma and had no chance of surviving. Now the driver of the truck after he had hit the motorbike continued for a bit and then pulled over. He stumbled out of his car (I thought maybe shock, but no) and staggered back to the scene, a group of people had assembled and some of us were attending to the injured young girls. He was standing with some people and they were talking to him and I heard them talking to him and they asked him if he was drunk and he said "yes". The guy then tried to leave the scene, he walked back towards his car as if to go somewhere but some men took him to the side of the road and sat him down on the footpath. I could here him saying that he wanted to go home and get his wife and brother (insane).
The police and emergency van came pretty quickly and they took over the scene. There were the usual crowd of people looking at the young boy who was deceased. Mothers and fathers with young children which I can never understand how any parent would want their child to see a dead person but here in Thailand death is taken with a grain of salt.
I am fortunate enough to have never had a crash (touch wood), a few close calls from young Thai boys racing on their bikes but otherwise safe. I have to say that. Yes, the Thai drivers are bad but they would have to be the most courteous drivers I have ever come across. I have never seen a road rage incident (the closest was a Farang going banana's. Which I had to laugh out loud about). You see people do the most stupid things but it might only get a small toot of the horn or the flash of the lights. I have seen cars double parked in the craziest of places on main roads holding up traffic and cars backed up and everyone is sitting patiently waiting to pass. No tooting, swearing or gesturing.
Do I feel safe on the roads in Thailand? Yes. From 9 or 10pm and on not so safe, after 1am not safe at all. And during the Festivals I always feel very wary as I know there are so many people out there partying and celebrating then driving and the road toll numbers are always so high.
I believe it comes down to the simple fact of again using common sense, paying attention and drive at a safe speed as you never know what is going to come from behind, in front or the side of you. It's a small thing for living in such a beautiful country. I believe anyhow.
Monday, 19 March 2007
So I looked at what they had to offer then went home and searched the web for reviews on the printer I was thinking about buying and did some research and then went price checking at different electrical stores. None of the other store were even close to the figure. The closest was nearly 1,200 baht more.
And here is the best part. I go back to the stall and tell him I will buy the printer he says that he doesn't have one at the moment but will in a few hours when they guy gets back from the Cannon headquarters shop. I tell him No worries, No problem. See you in a few hours.
Well I go back there about 4 hours later and the guy unwraps the box shows me all the stuff and then goes through a bag of free extras. Free extra ink, black and colour. Free photo paper 100 sheets 4 x 6, free A4 paper and then a free download for creating perfect photo's.
Well I walked out of there with a grin from ear to ear and went home an installed everything onto the computer (the only downside at the moment is all the printing hardware and instructions were in Thai but they have ordered me a new instillation disk that will be here soon and it will have English Now that's what I call service.
The price a very cheap 2,200 baht for a Cannon MP160 PIXA and it prints excellent colour photo's and scans really well better than I thought after reading a lot of reviews. For the price it is a ripper. Well I think so anyway..
1. Sleeping well at night. That simple. No more sweating my ass off in 36 degree heat and 90% humidity in the hot season.
2. It keeps my computer cool and I don't have to worry about it overheating in the weather and I can write blogs in the comfort of my room at a nice 26 or 27 degrees.
3. The sale was too good to say no too. I seen the special tags and as usual I thought sure another sale but then I converted it to Australian dollars and yes, it was cheap. I drove around to 4 different stores and checked prices on the air conditioner I was interested in and it was cheaper than all the other stores except 1 and only by 400 baht but here was the best part. Written in Thai it said that you get a free washing machine valued at 4,500 baht and a fan. The price included all instillation and I purchased it in the morning at 9:30am and the guys were there installing it by 1:00pm. Now that's what I call service.
Bring on the hot weather because I will fire up my Mitsubishi 13,000 BTU and the special inbuilt EYE which senses where you are in the room and adjust the cool air to blow onto you. And the cost was a cheap 21,000 baht. Not even 3 weeks extra teaching money. I say money well spent. I am sure of that.
Saturday, 17 March 2007
It is so hard not to look sometimes as when you see a girl with the most beautiful olive skin and the smoothest complexion you have to look once or twice and most of the time the girl will give you a big smile, even a wave sometimes or a little Hello. I don't think there is a day that goes by that I don't see a Thai girl that makes me look twice. Today I played golf with my Thai friends and my caddie was a 14 year old Matayom 2 girl and she was very pretty but another girl caddying for my friend was was drop dead, amazingly beautiful and I thought that she was only a young student too but when I was talking to her she told me she was twenty (20). I refused to believe her as she looked younger than my caddie but she produced her National ID card and she was 20. It was very hard to play golf as I was constantly looking at her incredible smile and the most angelic face and because of this I am sure is the reason I didn't play as well as I could have. (Pathetic excuse I know)
After finishing the round we went to the club house to have a drink and count who owed who money and have a cold drink. Well a new girl working in the bar come over to take our orders and when I glanced up at her I am sure my mouth dropped open just like the rest of my friends at the table. They all quickly asked her what her name was (Joy) and made a little small talk with her. She was extremely nervous around us and I don't blame her with the Thai guys giving her cheek and then they started trying to set her up with me she started to look petrified. She was 22 tallish with a fantastic body and a really cute face with one of those smiles that just grabs your attention and makes you stare.
Well after I finally got home to my beautiful Thai girlfriend I told her about my day and the beautiful girls I meet and she said that I cannot play golf anymore (just joking). She has been and walked around with me but finds it very boring as you can imagine for a non golfer so she doesn't often come to the golf course.
Well we are going to the local Big C which again is a smorgasbord for the eyes and look forward to going there nearly every night. I love the Far North East of Thailand.
I am so glad I am well away from that part of this beautiful country. We are so lucky up here in the Far North East of Thailand.
Friday, 9 March 2007
I have seen it in 2 ways. One as a patient and one visiting a very sick friend. In the public hospital the wards are out of control, people wise. There are patients outside in the walkways and they are crowded into the ward so that there is just enough room to have someone fit down the side of the bed. The patients in the ward have to rely on their family to come and bathe them, bring them food and any extra stuff like for personal hygiene. All the nurses are there for is to give medicine.
I know this, as one and a half years ago I started having some mild stomach pains(it felt like a dull pin pushing into your stomach). I thought it was just indigestion from eating too spicy food. Sometimes I had this back home in Australia but again I thought the same and just took some ENO and things were okay. Well, I remember the first really bad attack. I was staying in my girlfriends village about 20kms from Ubon Ratchathani and we had eaten dinner watched some TV and went to bed and then a little pain started. I thought here we go indigestion (but I was so so wrong). I remember 1 hour after the pain had started it had got to a level where it was hurting like hell and my temperature had gone right up. I thought food poisoning!!
Well, another half an hour passed or so and I was doubled over in the most unbearable pain I could ever remember being in. My girlfriend was really worried so she had woken up her older cousin who is a nurse and she told her that they would have to take me to hospital. I wasn't complaining as I was really out of it and couldn't careless. I don't really remember going to the hospital (We went to a private hospital) but we got there at 1 or 2 am (in the morning). They done some very quick checks in the emergency ward and the lady doctor said it wasn't a heart attack so that was a huge relief.
They took me off to a private room and then they come in and took a urine and blood samples and gave me some really good pain relief which worked a little but not completely. I spent half a day in the hospital and then they said the the possible problem was GALL STONES!! I had no idea what that meant or what a gall bladder did at the time. They arranged for some more tests to be done in 4 days time and said I could go home but avoid eating anything fatty for the next few days.
I did some Internet research and seen that this was common in old women and that people who lost and gained a lot of weight also got them regularly(My life story 80kg to 100kg up and down). There was a couple of was to remove them. I liked the non surgical idea. Well, I thought I would find out in 2 days time but I didn't get to wait that long. That night I had a gall stone attack and I thought that I was really going to die. It started like the other one but this time it went off the Richter Scale. I went to the hospital and they put me straight into a private room. They wouldn't give me anything stronger than Panadol but I had already taken a heap of them.
I remember the nurse said a hot shower might help, so into the shower in my underpants and with the water as hot as I could possible have it. It did work and I was bright red but I was still in a lot of pain. I remember coughing up blood, that really concerned me but the nurse said that this was no problem!! Nurses came in and out and I spent at least 2 hours in the shower and I had called my parents and told them as much as I knew just in case something went wrong and then I couldn't call.
I rang the Head of the EBP. She is a lovely Thai lady who is like a Thai mum to me. (She is very unorganised like most Thai people though at the work place). It was 3 am apparently but she come to the hospital and quickly explained that they were waiting until the specialist come on duty to perform an ultrasound. How long was this going to be? Another 3 hours!! No way. Miss Busaba rang the local public hospital and spoke to her really good friend who is high up and they said to bring me straight over. So we got the bill and my girlfriend paid it.
Into Miss Busaba's car and off we went for the 5 to 10 minute drive. When we got there, they put me straight into a wheel chair and off for an ultra sound and also x-rays. After waiting an hour or so they told me I had a very large gall stone and that they would have to operate straight away. I was like whatever, just get rid of this pain. So they prepared me for surgery and the surgeon come and seen me. I asked some stupid questions "Have you done this operation before?" He had performed this many times. he said it was very common in Thai men. He informed me that his junior colleague was going to do the operation under his supervision. Okay.
No, problem. Good luck I thought. Hope he is a good student..
Well I remember ringing the parents just before I went into the operation and said I loved them and would call them when I could. (just in case something went wrong). I kissed my girlfriend and her sister and said see you soon and they took me away. I talked to the nurses and the anesthetist and they were really excited to talk to farang. Then it was time you will feel sleepy in a second "Where do you come from? I come ........ sleepy........
Well, I woke up thank god. A nurse come over and spoke to me and said everything went well. Great I thought. I stayed there in recovery for a little while and then they transferred me to the public ward where there was so many people. Luckily, I got a bed in the ward under a fan. I think they must have made way for me. My girlfriend stayed by my side and slept the night very uncomfortable for sure in a chair at the foot of the bed. I was fine as they had me really drugged up still.
The next day my girlfriend had to go and study but her mother and a friend come in to do their watch. They had to give me a sponge/towel bath. I was self medicating through a machine but the pain was unbelievable. The smallest movement was so painful. A twist a bump or even just breathing was so painful. The doctor come and seen me and told me that after his junior surgeon had made the incision and located the gall bladder and they seen how inflamed and infected the gall bladder was he took over and completed the operation. It was the biggest gall stone he had removed in over 2,000 operations he said(I wish I had got a photo of it but my girlfriend threw it away as it's bad luck to keep. Now I just have a massive scar). He said it was very nasty and would have been very painful. (yes, it was.) He said is was the same pain as a lady giving birth or maybe worse. ( I am hoping worse or I feel really sorry for women)
I asked about getting a private room but they said that I would be too far away from a doctor and the nurses (I didn't understand at the time) and that I would have to wait for at least 2 days. Well, I am glad I did as I seen how good the Thai people are caring for the loved ones and family members. They stay in the hospital from early morning (most sleep there) and do everything they can until late at night. I seen some very nasty things the most vivid is an old man across from me had to massive ulcers. One on his foot and the other on his leg. They looked really horrible. His wife and many family members were there ever day helping the student nurses with anything they could do. This was just common with all the patients family doing whatever they could.
Well, to cut a long story short I went to a private room which was more like a hotel room than a hospital room. My girlfriend and sister and mother slept on the floor on little roll out beds. I finally got to go home on the 31st of December 6 days after getting sick. I spent new years eve in bed and watched DVDs. I cannot say how fantastic all the people were at the hospital. I am not worried now if I did have to go and have another operation here for anything as I now realise that the doctors here do a lot more operations that the doctors back home and have a lot more experience. I am so happy now living a healthy and normal life.
It's the little problems. The flu, stomach pains, fever and so forth. You go to the local clinic or hospital and they take your details, you sit down in the waiting room they call your name and a nurse checks your blood pressure and then it's off to see the doctor. If you are lucky the doctor will maybe use a stethoscope and have a listen to your breathing and might look in your mouth but most the time it's "What is the problem?" You tell them and they prescribe Panadol and a few other tablets and offer you a certificate to stay home from work for a day.
This has happened to me a few times and also friends. I remember one doctor: I had terrible stomach pains and hadn't eaten for 2 days and had a fever and I went to the private hospital. The nurses did their check I went to the doctors room and he asked the question "what was the problem?" After that he pulled out his prescription pad and wrote me out a script and I was off in less than 2 minutes.
Now, I don't go to the clinic or the hospital for anything minor (what I think is minor) I just do a self diagnoses, do a web search and see what is a good medicine to fix the problem. I then have my Thai girlfriend look it up in Thai and we head off to the local pharmacy get what I need and head home again and I am usually better in a day or two.
Right now it's the same. At school the other foreign teachers love the air conditioning so much. They turn it on first thing in the morning as cold as can be and it runs all day until we leave. I am a fan of air conditioning in the summer when it's hot, but right now it's not that hot. I wear a jacket all day at school because it's so cold in the teachers room and the computer room. Going in and out of rooms into the warmth and into the cold and the other teachers are often sick because they live their lives in air conditioned rooms with recycled air. I am constantly turning the air conditioners off when I am in a room by myself but as soon as one of the other teachers walk in they turn them back on again. So right now I have a very sore throat and runny nose but I have been to the pharmacy and will be back on track in no time. Plus tomorrow in Golf Day so 4 hours plus out in the fresh air will do wonders as well..
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Maybe it's not their fault that they have maids doing everything at home for them, get me a drink, food Etc.. and drivers to take them to school and anywhere else they need to go and money isn't a problem as daddy gives them whatever they ask for. I remember when they did an exercise where they had to write about their house. Describe it for me and then bring pictures in the following week to see how well they matched.
My god!! 2 storey houses 5, 6, 7 bedrooms, 4 or 5 bathrooms, 2 living rooms, swimming pool, 6, 7, 8 televisions and the list went on and on. I then realised very quickly why a lot of these kids are the way they are. (Spoilt little brats)
Well some of the exam results were very funny like 1 Matayom 4 student getting 3 out of 70 for his exam and it was nearly all multiple choice. He couldn't even get lucky guessing. When he had to write answers he could not put 2 words together but what does it matter as he cannot fail he gets a pass mark (50%). Dad and mum don't know that he really got 15% but never mind. Mai Pen Rai!!
There were many of these very sad sad stories of students not being able to do the most basic subject and verb agreement using verbs is, am, are, have, has Etc.. I just go along with the school policy and i keep all my original copies of all the test papers with the students real mark and the falsified mark so that when the day comes that a parent wants to know why their son or daughter cannot speak English or do the entrance exam to the fancy university that they want them to go too. I can show them the real marks and they can bring it up with the school and the Director. Not my problem, not my worry, not my grey hair..
I tried my Matayom 4 and 5 test on a private student from another good school that has an entrance test that they have to pass for them to study in the EP programme. (this is the problem with our school no entrance test)He is in Matayom 1 and he had no preparation before I gave them to him. He finished the M4 test in 25 minutes and got 93% only 1 student in the M4 class got higher. He finished the M5 test in around the same time and went a little worse only getting 84% but that was the 5Th highest score overall. His family are very well off. They own a few gold shops and also other businesses. He studies hard and he is a real pleasure to teach not like 70 % of the students at my school.
Well, enough complaining. The really good thing is that it's holiday time after the upcoming 3 day English Camp. 3 days with spoilt little brats but then it's 2 months of holidays and some private teaching at home starting in early April. You can make double your school salary in half the hours teaching 5 or 6 kids at a time for 150 or 200 baht each per hour and the good thing is there are plenty already booked in. Great as it will pay for the holiday to Bangkok and Chonburi.
Arrh. Living in the Far North East of Thailand, lifes good!!
Tuesday, 6 March 2007
I had finished all my exams at school and a Thai friend plays golf every weekend so we arranged to play a game at the local Air force Air Base. I went to the golf driving range the night before to hit a bucket of balls to blow out some cobwebs and there were a lot. Then on Sunday we headed to the golf course.
Now, my friend had arranged a 1pm tee off time (hot hot) but luckily it was cloudy and a little breezy. We pulled into the golf course and my friend started tooting his cars horn as we parked. I just thought that was a bit strange but all of a sudden from no where 3 little caddies popped up. They were waiting eagerly to get the clubs out of the back of the car, they were around 12 or 13 year old teenagers. The young girl who took my golf bag was only just as big as my bag and probably weighed as much. She had a big smile on her face and when I asked if she spoke English she just shook her head. I asked if she went to school and she said "yes". I asked if she studied English and she said "yes, but she couldn't speak English". Like my students I thought!!
Well I meet the guys who we were going to play with. It seemed my Thai friend had rung up these guys and had told them god knows what as they all new my name before I had been introduced or told them my name. They were all very happy to be playing golf with me (why?? I thought). Then I found out these guys were all the bosses of this and that company and so forth and one was the General Manager of the nicest hotel here in Ubon Ratchathani. So after a little chit chat it was off to the 1st tee. 8 guys and our 8 caddies (in Australia it is a maximum of 4 people playing in a group but not here).
At the 1st tee some of the guys bought beer and others water and we all hit off and started just enjoying the golf. It's an amazing game, anyone who has played knows what I mean. I remember when I was younger I used to get so angry and throw clubs and swear and stuff but I grew out of that and just enjoy the time on the course and the challenge that is golf now.
My little caddie she was funny following me around everywhere, even started after me when I was heading into the trees to ease some bladder pressure and when I told her what I was doing she quickly turned around and fled the other way. It was hard getting used to this little girl shadowing me everywhere with an umbrella and trying to get everything for me.
I spoke to her a lot and when I asked her why she was working and not out playing computer games or other such stuff she told me that it her family didn't have a lot so she had to work if she wanted to buy anything for herself. She has been working there for 1 and a half years. She studies at a local village school about 20kms out of Ubon and every weekend comes into Ubon to the golf course with her 2 other friends (of course 3 on a motorcycle).
Well to cut a long story short we all had a great day and some of the guys got really plastered. No one tore up the course especially me. I had a 48 and a 45 for a 93 on Sunday. I was happy it had been a long time and there was a lot of rusty swings and many chips and putts but we all had a good day.
That evening it was off to The Loy Thong Hotel as the General Managers guests and we had the biggest feed I have had in a long long time. Thai people and food my god.. There were only 7 people but enough food for 20 (I am serious) even when no one was eating what was still on the table more food was being brought out. I don't drink so all the Heineken and whiskey was no good for me but I had about 10 Pepsi's.
Thai people are just so hospitable and generous and it is the main reason I love living in Isan territory. I played again on Monday and again meet some fantastic people and had a great day and I am looking forward to playing again this coming weekend. I feel sorry for all my mates in Australia doing it hard but I have tried to explain to them about the great life of living in Thailand and I don't like saying it too much as they just might move here and cramp my fantastic living style... Well will post more on the golfing and also some photo's of next weeks golfing as I am going to take the camera to record all the action of the day and the funny sights.
Saturday, 3 March 2007
I have seen a family of 5 or 6 crammed on a motorcycle, young kids and babies standing between people sleeping but this was a ripper.
Dad was riding, he was maybe late twenties and in front of him was a little boy maybe 4 or 5 standing on the ferring (I am not sure the spelling) of the motorcycle. I know that's not exciting just wait.. Mum was on the back she was very pretty and maybe early twenties and she had a very young baby 6 to 8 months old I would guess between her and the father. I know, so what. Wait..
The little boy was looking at me and I gave him a smile and he had a big smile appear on his face and then he said something to dad and he looked across and I gave a polite smile to him as well. I then glanced at mum and she was looking straight ahead and my eyes go to the young baby in her arms and then I started to look away... What the?? Did I just see what I thought?? I looked again and this time mum is looking my way, I gave her a stupid and embarrassed smile which she returned and then I quickly looked away. A few seconds later I glanced again trying not to look straight at her.
Well the lights went green and off we all went and as they took off in front of me the little boy has a big smile on his face as they rode off and mum on the back continued to breastfeed the baby as they rode along the main busy road. Yes, breastfeed the baby. I know that this is a natural and everyday occurrence but it was the first time I had ever witnessed it happening on the back of a motorcycle. And I thought I had seen it all in Thailand....
Now get this!! The dead guys brother said that by this time a number of trains ran over the body before police arrived at the scene as the family was not allowed to move the body until it had been examined. WHAT THE!!!! Don't they stop the trains, seal off the area!! I know that they are a little backwards in some parts but come on, they cannot be that stupid. I am sure a phone call to the rail authority would have to stop the trains from continuing to run over the corpse of someone. I mean in Australia, America the area would be shut down for hours until everything had been done. Body photographed area searched and so forth but here not so it looks like.
I hope that if anything like that happened to me (touch wood never) someone would just drag me out of the way so that a little bit of me could be recognised... Well this is the story below!!
A police lieutenant attached to Taopoon police station in Bangkok who refused to identify the body of a man killed in a train accident has been jailed for three days for negligence and failing to carry out his duty. Pol Lt Jetsada Sommanas was on duty when he was contacted by the family of Prasart Sakaenok, who was killed after being hit by a train while crossing tracks behind Seenam-ngoen community in Bang Sue around 3am on Feb 1.
The family of the victim asked the police officer to examine the body of Prasart, who was a security guard at the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) headquarters in Bang Kruay.
Pol Lt Jetsada went to the scene but refused to examine the body, claiming the accident occurred in an area that was under the jurisdiction of Noppawong police station, not Taopoon.
Friday, 2 March 2007
The classic "There is nothing to do" always amazed me as you could always point out at least ten jobs that could be done if things were quiet on the customer front. Not here.
Example: I go to my local Big C often. The workers here ( a quarter) mainly the younger guys and girls are always in groups of 4, 5 or 6 and they will stand around and talk with their backs to the customers much more interested in their conversation or even better talking on their mobile phones like they are on their own time and not actually getting paid by an employer. I think, What are the managers of these people doing? But they are probably one of the people in the middle of one of the many conversations going on.
Yes, I know this is Thailand but a job is a job no matter where in the world and I am sure the same principle applies "A happy customer is a return customer". Sometimes I would like to be the Operations Manager of one of these companies for a month and give all the people a huge wake up call but then again at 2,500 to 4,500 baht a month, The saying is "if you pay bananas you get monkeys" and that is probably half the problem. I would not be overly jumping out of my skin for that sort of money. I don't teach private English classes for anything under 500 baht an hour (the cheapest).
Well must go to Big C and see what interesting sights there are to be seen as there are always plenty. The Thai people always keep me well entertained.
The day labourers you see working around the city when they get a break it is have something to eat and then curl up and off to sleep right next to the main road with cars and trucks rushing past constantly.
My students are asleep a lot of the time when I walk into the classroom but they usually wake up very quickly as they know what happens if they sleep in my class.
You see little kids on motorcycles sitting between or in front of mum or dad fast asleep, I always have a good laugh when I see this, I just cannot believe you could fall asleep on a motorcycle going at 40 to 100 kms an hour. My girlfriend loves to sleep and will sleep anywhere anytime if she gets a chance. Just get a little bit comfortable, close the eyes and off to dream world. Once on a horrible bus journey to Mukdahan. The bus we went on was very crowded (luckily we had booked a seat on the airconditioned bus) There were kids and people standing and sitting where ever they could. It was noisy and uncomfortable but my girlfriend was off to sleep in no time and stayed like that the whole way to Mukadahan. Amazing
I remember when I went out to the village to help with the rice harvest a few years back and it was bloody hot. We worked from around 8 am until 12 and then they had a big feast at the farm house (a huge feast). So we have something to eat and then the workers curled up where ever they could find a bit of space and off to sleep. It was 36 degrees or up and not a breath of wind. How can anyone sleep in that oppressive heat? Not me!!
It is a funny thing this and also the amount of food that a Thai person can eat even if they only weigh 40 kilograms but that's another post..