Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What happens when u Break your Balls?

You get yellow egg water. Just FYI, Thais don’t call them balls, they call em eggs.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Do Thais Celebrate New Year?

Of course, again in Coyote-Theques and all the karaoke pubs. Who says the economy is bad? Look at all the people splurging their money, then look at them eat salt, plain rice with only fish sauce for the next 25 days till next pay. Most people here are strange. They behave like migratory flocks of birds. During year end, many flock up north to provinces like Chang Mai for the long holiday. Now, that little province had turned into Bangkok 2 - traffic jam big time. So dear readers, don’t plan a holiday over there for New Year. Why not go to southern islands I asked, they want the cold they answered.

Many companies here do not allow employees to carry over private and annual leave over the New Year. So they will have to be cleared during this period. 31st Dec is an official holiday, 2nd Jan is government declared holiday (for what I don’t know, but this was what I heard). Many had taken leave on Monday and Tuesday this week. Some had since been on leave the days leading up to the previous weekend. Total typical holidays = Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun = 9!

So many of them are now either wasted with hangover everyday, stuck in jams up north and most are home with the farm buffalos in their homes out country where they are really suppose to be. Bangkok will be more quiet then usual. My apartment will have more parking places available. Don’t expect your people to work this week, its kinda like ROD mood (Run out Date, a term used in Army when we approach our end of service days) in the office. Since I do not have any leave for being a recent addition in the company, I worked these two days in a partially empty partially operational office where everyone is in a non productive chatty MSN all the time, play computer games, surf porn sites happy holiday mood.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Do Thais Celebrate Christmas?

Yes they do, in other non religious ways. Christmas is not a public holiday here, but Thais all know Christmas is equal to something party party. So, they will jump at any chance to be merry and the day was just another excuse to drink dance drunk. The place I was brought to before the Coyote-Theque (Discotheque) was worst. It was for ”pump-pump”. Fortunately, we had ladies in our dinner group so the idea was struck off after 5 minutes of staring into the ”fish-tank”.

Thais do practice gift exchanges and such on this day. Normally, these activities will involve a big dinner and two sessions of ”luck draw”. The first round would be to draw for exchanged gifs. And there would be a second draw which is for gifts from the company (if this is a company organized dinner). Of course the many alcohol and render ourselves senseless activities will proceed through out the night will include more then one venue as did the one I went to.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

How do Thais Preach?

In a very loud way. Anywhere where there’s a junction and jam. They plant themselves there on all corners of the roads, and they Hail to the Lord.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry X’Mas my Friends

Ok… here goes… (Jingle Bells Tune)

Bayi* sing a song, Bayi* bo cheng kor.

Bayi* lum par tua tua kong, kwa liao see beh song.. Oui!

Ding dong ball, ding dong ball, ding dong all the way..

One big big, one small small, ding dong all the way… Aye!

Ding dong ball, ding dong ball, ding dong all the way..

One big big, one small small, kwa liao see beh song.. Oui! Oui!

* All reference to Bayi actually is in targeted reference to my dear friend Manoj… (aka Ah NEH!, Dark Prince, Bang Bang Brother Number 2… etc.. watever).

Miss u ladies (old hens) and guys.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ohhhh Maaaiii Luuurrvv

While all the old retired folks in Singapore are now working at MacDonald’s or driving the Taxi, old folks here have plenty to occupy themselves with. In the food court, there was a stage. And one by one, old folks went up to sing in solo or in duets. I had only one word to summarize the experience. Reverberation. They sang very unworldly songs from what seems like 60 years ago. Slow, low and their vocals so reverberating. I swear I witnessed my cup of water rippled and my rice on the plate vibrating.

The audience, all of us from young to old, just having our normal lunch. And oddly a paramedic was opposite my table, in case the old clock upstage decided to stop clicking.

They not only sang, the lady in black front of stage was actually dancing, in mysterious wavy hand patterns. Strange… so darn strange, my pork ball stuck in my throat, refused to go down. These peculiar performances, happens several times a month in the food court I have my regular lunches. Their voices.. still ringing in my ears now. The pork ball, still somewhere in my throat.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cross the Myanmar Border

Any Thai who holidays up north will normally cross the border into Myanmar. Goods priced as low as 30% that of Bangkok. DVDs so many, of good quality and superb packing. Bags of brands so many, grade A the Thais classified them. When going with girlfriends, just don’t let them know how much you have in your wallet. Sure to drop dead shopping, sure to dry up your money. As Thais they enter Myanmar for free, as foreigners we had to pay THB $500. As Americans with US dollars you pay only $10. US$10 is only THB $350. I should have had US dollars on me.

In the regions there abouts the two countries, exists spots of worlds without borders. I crossed them line a hundred times, no passport was needed for no one bothered.

The old gardener was lonely before we came, and as we approached in delight he elated. In a strange tongue he spoke and showed us much around he did. And proudly he pointed the direction to his village, a gathering of huts we could see. Nested in the distance greens, is his home within borderless worlds.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Where are the Real Hot Springs?

Seem like every hot spring in Thailand had been “commercialized”. I had for four years now tried to seek out a natural spot like I would imagine Yellowstone National Park. Only in disappointment I had the result.

Of the so many hot springs claimed in Thailand, none are left in their natural state. All of them seemed to have been piped up. And sometimes one wonders, maybe the pipes tanks and valves are part of a huge boiler system. I mean with fake Louis Vuitton and such a plenty here, one can not help but wonder if the Thais could also fake nature as a tourist attraction.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Route 118 Chiang Rai

And so having my holiday in Chiang Rai, the resort which I stayed was actually located some distance away from the city itself. Lesson learnt is that now I will recommend to anyone wishing to have a self drive holiday, do rent the car at the Airport. I had mine delivered to the resort and it cost me an extra THB $800 just for the delivery. Avis wanted to charged another THB $800 to collect the car but to which I refused. I drove to return the car at the airport instead.

Now, about route 118. One of the best roads I ever drove. In the rented Vios I drove, severely underpowered and not a car of my choice but budget constraints I had to adhere. However surprisingly, the car delivered burst of reasonable short torques at 3000rpm where I needed to negotiate the bends at speeds my mother would complain. I drove more then 600km in all exploring the area and had heaps of fun shifting between 3rd and 4th gears. Ascends and descends aplenty, long stretches were scarce. The corners tilted at slight angles, the rubber didn’t have to grip so tough. Fun driving, route 118 around Mae Suai. If only I had my dream car, an Evo that I could heel toe from dawn till dusk. In the light aluminum Vios I drove, swaying about round and round the bends. Like a sampan, for the very first time.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Suanthip Vana Resort, my Chang Rai Winter Holiday

In the land where the clouds were on the December ground, I was there.

Winner of three THAILAND TOURISM AWARDS, I just had to go and see for myself. Nestled in the mountains between two cites of northern Thailand (Chang Rai and Chang Mai), basking in the gentle December sun and engulfed in cold morning fog, my winter holiday up north.

Huts of nature made of wood, old style roofs in contrast to that of the ceramic tiles. Every morning, I wake to temperatures of fourteen degrees. I made my coffee and sipped on the patio. The misty blueness of the morning brightened with every tick of the clock. I witnessed the birth of day in the exquisite surroundings, the fresh greens revealing themselves as the sun rose hidden by the fog sea.

They have a large pool, to which I know I will be dipping in if not for winter. But as I was told, in summer the northern region is not a place for visit. And so I leave the pool in her peaceful state of mirrored water.

As we walked in the avenues in the shadows of trees, the mystic blanket of mistiness faded. It was ten in the morning when the clarity of the deep blue sky was revealed. A sight taken in full with eyes wide open, my soul in awe, my wish that this could be everyday.

Our huts blended in with the flora, our foot traversed the hilly steps that lead to her. As I descended on the bricked path, there was a sensation of peacefulness that cannot be put in words. You have to be there to know.

And so the first lunch was served on my first day, to which I see was grass, plants and vegetation. And the other daily meals in our package were as well made of food for the herbivorous. Then I wanted to strangle my gig, when she told me she signed us up for “Happy Heart Healthy Body” promotion, to which is for one to detox in body and soul. I am a meat eater, I longed for the fish and chips. By the end of the trip my conversation with people I hiccup “moooooooooooooo”. Genetically, I was turning into a cow. Chemically, I was undergoing photosynthesis when under the sun.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the package. In the morning when we first woke, room service walked the long garden paths to bring us warm “rice water”. To cleanse our digestive system with the claimed therapeutic properties of the concoction. We were instructed to down that before we even brush our teeth, it had to be the first thing we did in the morning. Breakfast was husky brown rice with vegetables and the very freshly squeezed lemon juice. Fresh honey was served along for us to dose out the biting sourness. Lunch was mostly strange fusion of nuts and greens. The soup was strange and bitter. It was vegetable soup and I could see the chef did put heaps of effort to think out the recipe for which I could never imagine. Dinner I was happy, they served us fish every night among yet again more greens. My first detox experience, and I swear I felt the difference. Happy in my heart somehow, light in soul I was. After meals we don’t feel bloated and ailing of greasiness like on my other trips, where on reds and seafood fried and crispy feasted I must.

In the winter nights, warm flowing waters took an hour to fill the outdoor tub. To which after I soaked in tranquility with my head tilted back and gazed I did on all the starts so clear. The croaking frogs and the singing insects accompanied the lazy haze raising out from my shoulders. With the cold contrast of the surrounding warmed by the yellow lights, my world was then in a state of induced elation as I soaked when the deep night progresses.

Full photo sets here under Changrai Winter Dec 2008.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Trippin Beats in Darkness towards Thailand Balloon Festival

Ah, keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel
Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel

The music I played loud (Roadhouse Blues), my adored Crystal Method CD I worship. 4am the darkness, up ahead the dense mountains. Exhilaration filled my soul, my lone world in my darkness only lit ahead by the beams. The trippin beats and loud decibels, the fuel in my blood. Crystal Method, music I reckon that will turn any road trip into a gratifying ride.

Let it roll, baby, roll
Let it roll, baby, roll

My Volvo hard I drove, the Swedish shogun heat seared through the cold heavy nineteen degrees air of the dark hilly roads. Her turbo spooling gently at times, rolling along the long roads. Gently her turbo spooled in anticipation of acceleration I command, and when I did, soul, metal, horsepower and beats became one. The turbo heard in increasing hertz, exhilaration of the drive. Pressed against my seat towards hundred and sixty, my world.

Reached my destination I did at 6am, Thailand 2008 Balloon festival. Unknown to many, but knowledge of this I have. The fields were cold, the wind was strong. The 6am conditions did not allowed for liftoff, and so all the participants waited. Farang a plenty, mostly the pilots of the basket to which they command.

Free rides for some who queued. One photographer I met told he came three days in a row to finally get a chance to board. Happy he was, like a bird. The air was cold, but the sun that rose slowly warmed the hay sprawled fields. The breeze still gave a chill however, the omnipresence of a Thai December. I loved it much.

One by one they lifted soon after, when the climatic conditions was a stable. As they rose in turns, the crowed applauded in appreciation. And in about an hour or so, they have all left but one for some reason. One that was of adventure, a single seat tied to the large inverted floating pear that was suppose to be.

When the balloons were gone, the crowd soon dispersed. Leaving the peddlers in bad business, such was life for them. The final day, 7th Dec 2008, it started on the 3rd.

No trip for me north is completed with meals in the steakhouse. A farm I drop by so often for her juicy best burger in my book. Fat… I will grow even fatter, the good cheap food in Thailand. It was my weekend, just another weekend. My drive, my ride from darkness to light, my car, myself, my world.

Photo sets here under Balloon Festival Dec 2008.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thailand’s Papa Day

5th December. The official father’s day in Thailand every year. A Holiday, the King’s birthday. The poor soul was sick, he did not appear on TV yesterday. But the whole of Thailand united, and wished him well. Such was the spirit, the very recent mobs and political feelings shoved readily aside for this day.

In a gathering I was, when the candles were passed around right about 7.20 pm. The TV was turned on to show the celebration. We each held our lighted candles. And as the crowd sang on TV, so did those around me who gathered. An event united, an event so natured.

After a couple of songs and with the whole Kingdom letting off loud fireworks within this same united period, we left our candles to burn proudly high and bright as we talked, chatted and BBQed into the coolness of the winter night.