31 December 2005
A strange end to the year. I had a chest pain last night after we left BKK airport. Not a sharp stabbing pain – just an ache – like a strained muscle but the trouble is the only trouble is that the only muscle there is the heart ! I thought maybe it would go away over night.
The ache was still there this morning so I went off to BNH hospital for a check.
The ECG is normal; my blood pressure and pulse are normal. So the doctor said that I am fine and will live for ever. I am so fine that he did not prescribe any medication of any sort.
And my heart is still aching. Just a dull ache – nothing too serious. As I told the nurse – just heart ache – not a broken heart.
Still – a little worrying….
29 December 2005
Last night was the first time that I have had internet access on my lap top pc while in the UK.
Trouble is as I caught up on news and other sites a piece of hostile spyware attached itself to my pc – it is a nasty little piece of software that hides and disables toolbars, disables the Norton Anti-Virus toolbar and disable task manager. Avoid if you can anything that calls itself “spyaxe” and trys to portray itself as a spyware tool. It is not. It is the opposite.
Stopzilla appears to deal with most spyware and malware but is a US$30 download.
PS – it is seriously cold in London today !
28 December 2005
Severe frost; some snow in England. It is cold, cold, cold.
Made it up to London – a coach road from Plymouth; it is a long trip with a coach load of Sun readers, and that may be being generous. The language of the kids seated across the aisle was truly horrible.
What is it about the English that makes the use of the “f” word compulsory.
Christmas Day 2005
I have been away from the UK at Christmas for 13 years. But last night Cilla Black was on TV being interviewed by Parkinson; so nothing has changed.
And Eastenders and Doctor Who are the big shows on Xmas night. Strange how little British tastes and TV have evolved.
But the weather is glorious; blue sunny skies; cold and clear. A good day for walking the beach before the turkey feast.
I have not sent any Christmas cards this year – none at all. That sounds terrible. My parents are wading through their cards.
Mind you I have not received many either. Most people do not even know an address for me !
22 December 2005
A day on the Dubai ski slopes yesterday. Ski Dubai is the latest extravaganza to open in this rich, fast-expanding emirate. The ski hill is 400 metres and uses real (if man made) snow. Ski Dubai gives you a jacket, trousers, disposable socks, skis and poles. The one quad chairlift runes up the center of the hill through a cafe at mid station. It is designed to resemble a North American style ski hill.
It is a whole lot of fun – albeit a bit repetitive going up and down the same hill.
Avoid the weekends when it gets really crowded.
There is also a snow park for those who don’t want to ski. You can toboggan, walk, throw snowballs. Great for kids and for some of the wide-eyed local people who had never seen snow.
19 December 2005
Chateau Potash moved over the weekend to new premises in the Silom Center.
It means a longer walk in the morning for me. Not a bad thing. The walk will do me good. But by April when it starts to get really warm this will be a sweaty walk along polluted Rama IV.
My eight year old arrived in BKK last night. It is good to have him around for the holiday. He still gets so very excited about Christmas. So we did a little shopping for him last night.
Last Saturday night’s jazz line up was (thanks to the Bangkok Post): the venue was Sanam Sua Pa near the Grand Place with the illuminated dome of the Ananta Samakom Throne Hall as a backdrop.
Masato Honda: A saxophonist who was formerly a member of T-Square, Honda began classical piano at age three. He won the Best Saxophone Soloist prize during his college years and then joined T-Square in 1991. Honda is one of Japan’s hottest contemporary jazz musicians and his Illusion album, released in 1999, marked his successful debut in the USA.
Eldissa: The Eldissa project was started by Brazilian guitarist Ecio Parreira and producer Rio Parreira with the idea of merging disco and soul into bossa nova with a touch of lounge music. After Rio and Ecio picked the songs they wanted to start with, they spent hours finding the best approach, the right tempo, the right chords and the right singers. London-based L’amour and Marcia and New York’s Chloe were picked from over 120 female vocalists to sing on the album What a Different, which reimagines disco classics as bossa and acoustic lounge with covers of hits by The Bee Gees, Abba, Donna Summer and Michael Jackson.
Bob James: A popular jazz artist, James has practically defined pop/jazz and crossover during the past 35 years. Influenced by pop and movie music, James often featured R&B sololists (such as Grover Washington Jr) who added a jazz touch to what is essentially an instrumental pop set. A mainstay of the contemporary jazz scene since the early ’70s, James has released 38 solo albums, won two Grammys and topped jazz charts as a member of the super-group Fourplay.
Larry Carlton: A legend of jazz and pop guitar, his resume includes work with Joni Mitchell, Andy Williams, Michael Jackson, Herb Alpert, Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, The Crusaders and Linda Ronstadt, in addition to 20 well-crafted albums under his own name. His theme music credits for television and films include Against All Odds and Who’s the Boss. In 1981, his theme for Hill Street Blues won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. In 1998 Carlton replaced Lee Ritenour in the popular contemporary jazz quartet Fourplay.
18 December 2005
It was a nice weekend. Great weather. So cool in the evenings. Golf on Saturday at Bangkaprong Riverside. I played the last 12 holes in 5 over par. But the less said about the first 6 holes the better. It took a while to warm up !
Saturday evening was spent at the Bangkok Jazz Festival. A great venue; more like a garden party than a concert.
Highlight of Saturday night was Bob James with his angels of Shanghai. Modern jazz fused with traditional Chinese instruments.
It was a fun evening.
15 December 2005
I did not write much about my golf in Hua HIn two weekends ago. This was the Wanderers Club Championship with 72 golfers playing 36 holes at the excellent Palm Hills course.
Playing yellow tees and with the large rolling greens this course is a serious golf test. A day 1 gross 82, net 69 was enough to be joint leader at the end of the first day.
A bad and sleepless night followed; not related to golf ! And we were out first on the Sunday; with no warm up I started 6,9,5 against a par of 4,5,3. The nine was particularly ugly. An 8 on the par 5 12th did not help either. So those four holes alone left me 11 over. The remaining 14 holes were played reasonably as I tried to keep some respectability. Without playing that well I seemed to scramble fairly effectively. So the second day finished with a gross 87 net 74. Over the 36 holes net 143; one under par. Only two golfers finished under par with the same net score and I finished runner up after a countback as the winner had a better 2nd day score. Fair enough – on my day 2 score I did not deserve to win.
I was pleased with the two day eclectic score of a gross 74; which shows how I might be able to play with some consistency!
It was a good weekend.
A handicap cut followed so I am down to 12. 2 better than at the start of the year; heading in the right direction.
More lessons are needed.
12 December 2005
From the Guardian’s match report on my beloved Watford’s 1-1 draw with Plymouth. The Championship is tough and over a long season a few injuries in a threadbare squad will cost Watford. But watch out for Adrian Boothroyd. Watford is his first management job and he has done well.
“If Boothroyd takes this team up, he should win manager of the decade. Using kids and casts-off, he has transformed Watford in a few months. Ashley Young, a slightly built 21-year-old of no fixed position turned into one of the division’s top forwards with 10 goals and 12 assists before his ankle injury last month. Marlon King, in recovery from cruciate surgery and Nottingham Forest, now has 11 goals. And Anthony McNamee has laid on more goals than any winger in the division.”
11 December 2005
New sporting idols – the 19 year old Song twins won many admirers in Singapore this weekend at the Lexus Trophy; the Thailand born Koreans (Aree is 9 minutes older) were playing for the losing Asian team against the International team.
Singapore is a strange place – the Worlds’ first English speaking Chinese city. For a westerner it is a very easy city to visit.
Christmas is strange here; it brings out the worst in consumerism. It is as though Christmas is up for sponsorship. The decorations on Orchard Road are brought to you by Hitachi; the drummer boys by Visa; if they could find three wise men to sponsor I am sure they would!
As you walk along Orchard Road speakers blast out tinny versions of all your least favourite Christmas Carols, all in English. No one minds all this commercialism. Orchard Road is packed.
It is also wet here; humid and not very festive weather.
Watch out for the ladies at the GST tax refund at the airport. My refund was S$32 and she gave me S$22. Fortunately despite the crowd I did check the money and I remembered what was on the refund form. It may not have been deliberate…….
Flew back from Singapore on JetstarAsia; it really is quite comfortable. A Marks and Spencer of an airline rather than the Air Asia Walmart approach.
10 December 2005
Bill Clinton took a star role at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Montreal last night.
Clinton could not get the Kyoto Accord past the US Senate. But his message is worth listening to. The USA is not the only villain. There are countries that have signed Kyoto that are not meeting their emission targets; in fact Spain and Canada are two countries with increasing not decreasing emissions.
The World Cup draw was made last night. England got one of he better groups – with Sweden, Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago.
After 50 years it is bye bye to the London Routemaster.
5 December 2005
Bangkok travel guide from the readers of the Guardian newspaper.
Sorry – I have ignored this column recently. A good day’s weekend playing golf in Hua Hin has been a distraction.
Forgot to mention: England lost the test series to Pakistan. The best team won by some distance.
30 November 2005
I am at a point now where the best outcome if for Australia to declare war on Singapore. As a colleague reminded me that is unlikely, since the Aussies could only do that if the USA did it first !!
I am with the Aussie labour unions on this one. If (probably when) Nguyen hangs, the union is threatening that it will nor provide refueling or baggage handling services to Singapore Airlines. If that is what the union members agree to do then they should make their protest.
As we all should in whatever way we believe is both legal and appropriate.
I am up to episode 19 of the 6th series of West Wing. Its fictional portrayal of potentially real events is almost clairvoyant. In this series we have dealt with Palestinian/Israeli peace talks; North Korea, Taiwan, Cuba and Iran. The British Prime Minister is a female Conservative and a Hispanic may win the Democratic nomination.
29 November 2005
Paul Martin’s minority government in Canada fell last night on a no-confidence vote. It was inevitable.
Trouble is the new government will probably be as weak as the old.
And if it was a vote for charisma then neither Martin or the Conservative Harper would win !
Your first Xmas cracker joke of the year:
Q: What do Alexander the Great and Winnie The Pooh have in common?
A: The same middle name.
28 November 2005
Singapore has dismissed its only trained hangman – could this mean a reprieve for Nguyen Tuong Van?
Darshan Singh, 74, is said to have carried out more than 850 hangings in 46 years in Singapore. At dawn on Friday this week he was due to end the life of Van Tuong Nguyen, 25, who was caught carrying 396g of heroin through Singapore airport in 2002.
But Mr Singh has been relieved of his duties after his identity and a picture of him were published last month in The Australian newspaper.
He has tried but not succeeded in training a scuccessor.
It was suggested to me yesterday that Singapore likes hanging foreigners; it is good for the post colonial sense of superiority.
Given such dark issues it is hard to write anything else here.
26 November 2005
Farewell George Best, footballer, born May 22 1946; died November 25 2005. If only you had been English and not Irish. The greatest British footballer ever and the best on the world never to play in a World Cup. Perhaps you can rest now.
The Thaksin/Sondhi feud continued last night – with up to 50,000 gathered in Lumpini Park. The only absentee was Sondhi himself, who was beamed in form a temple in Chinag Mai.
The stakes are getting high – Sondhi told yesterday’s audience that there had been a threat on his life and speculated that people in power had been behind it. He said this was why he was holding his talk show from the well-guarded temple.
“They are following me and a team of assassins has been set up,” he said from the temple run by revered senior monk Luangta Maha Bua, who is sympathetic to Sondhi. “There’s an ongoing attempt to eliminate me. They think if I’m gone, the movement will lose a leader.”
But Sondhi offered nothing new last night. No new allegations. Ignore him and he will go away. Muzzle and threaten him and his support will grow.
24 November 2005
Conversation in Chateau Potash: Robert, do you like meatballs for lunch? I don’t mind. Someone said that you don’t like them. Well, I don’t eat beef. That’s Ok; these are fish. Err- isn’t that a fishball??
From the Guardian: “If the cricketers of England and Pakistan have learned one thing from the second Test in Faisalabad it is that there is no hiding place on the field. Shahid Afridi found this out the hard way, when he used the distraction of an explosion on the boundary edge and its aftermath to surreptitiously attempt to rough up the surface of the pitch with his spikes. Leaving aside the ethics of even thinking of such a ruse while many people in the ground, not least the teams in the middle, were still wondering whether anyone had actually been blown to bits, the notion that he thought no one would be watching is astonishing. I have a vision of him pirouetting on a length while whistling “You’ve got to pick a pocket or two” from Oliver!”
21 November 2005
Someone told me yesterday that I don’t look 48. The question is what does 48 look like !?
Driving range last night – after golf on Friday as well. Maybe getting some enthusiasm back.
Weather is cooler as well. Paddled a row boat for 30 minutes in Lumphini Park yesterday evening. A 30baht bargain. It was very pleasant.
Christmas has come earlier to Starbucks than to ABP – toffee nut latte, creme brulee latte and peppermint mocha ! A million calories in each!
20 November 2005
Sports news this morning !
Watford won again – 2-1 over Sheffield Wednesday. Watford stay 3rd in the Championship.
And in Faisalabad on a Sunday morning Pakistan won the toss again and will bat – on a pitch that already has some prominent cracks and which is expected to turn significantly and soon. Pakistan have added a second leg spinner to upset the English further. This game has probably already been decided by the coin toss.
Bye Bye Roy Keane – you could always dish it out but couldn’t take it. Hard to tell why Ferguson kept you around as long as he did.
16 November 2005
Pakistan win by 22 runs. Terrific game. England snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. They bowl and field well. The middle order batting is a shocker. Second test starts on Saturday.
England are doing quite well considering they are have perhaps the worst middle order batting line up ever seen in test cricket – Bell at 3, followed by Collingwood, Peiterson and Flintoff. A Thorpe clone would be very welcome! Even a Hussain.
England are struggling in the fifth day of the first test in Multan. From 64 for 1 to 67 for 4. Funny old game! 123 for 7; another 75 needed to win. Advantage Pakistan.
A DVD buying spree in Hong Kong at he weekend; including the entire sixth series of The West Wing. I watched the first three episodes last night.
Memoirs of a Geisha is coming soon to a movie screen near you. Already the Chinese chat rooms are full of patriotic nonsense about Zhang Zhiyi being screwed by a Japanese. It is just a movie. It is not meant to symbolise the history of a nation.
Have to love those eyes!
14 November 2005
Feels like my life is on hold, but time is not…
Back in BKK late on Sunday night/Monday morning. And predictably it is raining again.
Forgot to mention that on Friday when we landed our flight was met by at least 20 customs officers all doing passport checks as we came out of the plane.
Very unusual. Maybe something to do with the security threat from earlier in the week. I asked the immigration officer why they were doing this. We always do, she said. Not so; I have never seen checks like that immediately on leaving the plane in HKG.
There was also one guy with his sony videocam quite openly videoing everyone who came off the plane. Very weird.
11 November 2005
In flight to Hong Kong on Emirates. As we took off from BKK the woman to my left in 39B has her hands together in prayer. The right hand of the lady in 39A was clamped to the left knee of the praying lady!
Just after take off it must have been time for prayer. One of the faithful finds open space by the left hand rear exit door; places his emirates rug on the ground, removes his shoes, faces the back of the plane (to the west) and completes his call to prayer.
Carry in like this and I will be converted one way or another by the end of the flight.
10 November 2005
Somewhere different to stay in BKK:
This is definitely not your run of the mill Holiday Inn. Every room is different; each themed by a local artist. You can see each of the 28 rooms on the web site. Take a tour!
9 November 2005
A diverse, international, cosmopolitan and talented team attended the British Chamber of Commerce Quiz night in the intense, smoke filled cauldron of The Londoner last night.
Full of confidence; we had a journalist with us and they are always good at general knowledge. We were quickly put in our place.
But there are teams there that are professional quiz answerers. They sit at home all month working on Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica and then are let out for this monthly two hour ordeal.
We were not last- but fair to say we were in the bottom half of the table. I thought I knew a lot of trivia. Sadly not !
8 November 2005
Preliminary dates for England’s March/April 2006 cricket tour of India:
Tour dates: Test matches: Mar 8-12: Ahmedabad; Mar 16-20: Nagpur; Mar 25-29: Mumbai. One-day internationals: Apr 4: Goa; Apr 7: Indore; Apr 10: Guwahati; Apr 13: Faridabad; Apr 16: Cuttack; Apr 19: Cochin; Apr 22: Visakhapatnam.
A quite bizarre schedule that ignores the major city and stadia of Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai and Bangalore and takes the teams on a tour or remote and in the case of Ahmedabad, dry (no booze) parts of India.
The perfect Christmas gift for the Aussie in your life: a three disc dvd collection of the poms winning back the Ashes ! A must have !
Tuesday morning – there is a huge storm coming in from the west – will it ever stop raining.
At the risk of upsetting my Singaporean friends, Hemlock’s Hong Kong commentary was at its most acerbic yesterday:
“Throughout modern history, economic development has led to pressure for the franchise. Singapore is the exception that proves the rule. The Lion City has the world’s only lobotomized middle class, its people unaware they have a choice other than to be cowed into compliance.
Australia and the Vatican are pleading for the life of one Van Tuong Nguyen, who will hang at Changi Prison in the next few days for being one of the small percentage of dim-witted drug smugglers actually caught. He’s just a ‘mule’, and killing him will serve no purpose, critics say. They miss the point. He has to die, for the same reason a man selling fireworks in Singapore must be flogged, and a woman shoplifting cosmetics must serve 10 years in prison – to condition the population.”
7 November 2005
At the other end of the football spectrum, Staffordshire based, Chasetown were playing in the first round of the FA Cup for the first time on Sunday – at the Scholars ground in front of a crowd of 1,997 people. Their opponents Oldham were in the FA Cup semi finals ten years ago,
Better still – look who is playing for Oldham:
Chris Day (Lance Cronin), Daniel Hall, Gareth Owen, Rob Scott, Marc Tierney, David Eyres, Mark Hughes, Paul Warne (Chris Hall), Richie Wellens, Andy Liddell, Chris Porter (Luke Beckett)
There was a Rob Scott playing at Rochdale some 25 years ago ! We are so common !
Chasetown got a 1-1 tie and a profitable replay at Oldham. The FA Cup is so much fun !
Strange how the once regal Manchester United have now taken on the role of fighting underdog. Last year they ended Arsenal’s unbeaten run at 49 games; this year it was Chelsea’s turn to be harassed into defeat. It was a good result for the Premiership.
6 November 2005
Life must be improving – someone just asked me if they could store a stool sample in my refrigerator !!!
This is Thailand – anything is possible. Except for that. There may be other smelly decomposing things in my fridge however, including a brie that I bought a couple of weeks ago and have not gotten around to eating yet !
More rain this afternoon; another big storm. A good day to stay indoors.
5 November 2005
Golf today at Bangsai with the Wanderers. I played quite dreadfully and could not even break 100. That is only my fourth game in the last three months. But I have not enjoyed any of them. And I am not enjoying my golf at the moment. The golf/tennis/whatever elbow is not helping.
Now I think it all goes a bit deeper than what I think about my golf game. It is beginning to worry me that I am not enjoying anything right now. There should be pleasure in living but I have not found it at the moment.
Work is not easy at the moment. I am spending too many evenings coming home and sitting if front of the tv or this computer. And there are still too many rainy or stormy nights (tonight included) when really there is little incentive to go out.
2 November 2005
Bird flu paranoia alert – effective yesterday the restaurant in my apartment building has stopped serving any meals that include either chicken or duck.
Watford beat QPR last night to go third in the Championship. This is heady stuff from a team that unceremoniously dumped Ray Lewington as manager towards the end of last season and gave Adrian Boothroyd his first full managerial job. Over 16,000 at Vicarage Road last night!
1 November 2005
This has to be the strangest opening to a news story: “The highest court in the United Methodist Church yesterday defrocked an openly lesbian minister in Philadelphia.” I guess she should have been wearing trousers. Yet another church totally out of touch with changes in the world in which we live.
31 October 2005
Cheesey moments from Wallace and Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: Book titles: “Fromage To Eternity” and “East of Edam.” Art Garfunkel singing “Bright Eyes” on the Anti-Pesto van radio, an opening scene that is a spoof of launching Thunderbird 2 !
All very British – and must be completely bewildering to a Thai audience. How do you do a northern accent in sub titles !
29 October 2005 – just
I hate Khao San Road – leaves me feeling old and depressed. Am I the only person there that does not smoke…
The 2006 Football World Cup is about 8 months away – and with England having scraped their qualification, out of an easy group, the English are now thinking about the new D-Day landings…the following is from “popbitch”…..
“Currently doing the rounds of the record labels in London is a demo for England’s World Cup song for Germany 2006. There’s apparently a lot of interest.
The song? It’s called “Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Klinsmann?” A new, jingoistic version of the Dad’s Army theme tune. Ant & Dec are being approached to sing it, with Gazza, Amir Khan and Peter Kaye the main targets for the video. Makes you proud to be English…”
Out with the all the old songs – the Dambusters theme and choruses of there is only one Winston Churchill!
28 October 2005
Will be back on the golf course on Sunday for my first game since September 10th. Did practice last night at the driving range – it was not pretty – in fact it was very average and felt quite unnatural. But my elbow was not too sore afterwards so should be OK to start playing.
A new Kate Bush CD – her first in twelve – yes twelve years !! A double CD – Aerial – is released by EMI on 7 November. Her first CD – the Kick Inside – remains an all time favourite. 1978 and I was still an university. “Wuthering Heights” was breathtakingly different; “The Man with the Child in his Eyes” has haunted me (a good word for Halloween) for 27 years.
26 October 2005
It will be back to the simulator for the crew of TG981 – a Thai Airbus A340-600 which botched its landing in a windy Melbourne at midday today and blew a couple of tires in a landing described by frequent flyers on the plane as their worst ever!
My mood lightened briefly this morning as I walked to work. Coming through U Chu Liang I walked past a quite stunning woman; tall, confidant, self assured, slim, legs up to here and a short fitted white skirt. Great eyes and an easy smile. I walked past; our eyes connected for the briefest of moments as she turned to the elevator bank. I refused to look back; it would simply be too obvious and she deserved better; so I marched remorselessly on to Chateau Potash.
By the time the elevator doors had closed she would have forgotten me.
25 October 2005
I can be such an emotional wreck when I am on my own…by chance I ended up watching “Empire of the Sun” this evening. Directed by Spielberg with a script by Tom Stoppard I have not seen this movie for years; not since I came to Asia and not since I had a boy of my own.
It is real (a boy’s survival story in a world that he is too young to understand and a story of acute loneliness) and it is unreal; the Basie character (John Malkovitch).
But its historical perspective is rivetting; a world in turmoil; the war in China; the shift from colonialism to self determination.
And the strangest of British style reunions at the end; tentative and uncertain and rather stiff; as I guess you always know it will be.
Separation from someone that you love unconditionally is the hardest possible event to survive.
24 October 2005
Depressing article in Sunday’s SCMP about how bad the air quality is in Hong Kong. It is hardly new news. But it sounds much worse than the authorities will admit to.
19 October 2005
I went to meet at friend in the Kerry Center Hotel lobby in Beijing at 9pm last night.
As my taxi pulled in there were dozens of hotel meet and greeters nervously shifting from foot to foot. Not, sadly, for me.
I loitered in the lobby out of curiosity and yet more hotel staff and management filled the lobby.
Then the stretch limo pulls up outside with the US flag. Out pops Donald Rumsfield and his entourage. His suit looked almost creased as he did. He walks with a limp and looks tired. He is smaller than I had expected arguably the most powerful man in the world to look.
There were many Chinese and US bodyguards. So running over and asking if he was looking for weapons of mass destruction was not my best idea.
Strangely he did not look over and say – hi Robert, love the blog !
18 October 2005
No CNN in the Intercontinental Hotel in Beijing this morning? What have they done wrong this time?
16 October 2005
Am sitting in a formal curtained meeting room on Beijing – it is a glorious sunny autumn day in Beijing. For three days I have not been out of the hotel, taxi and office building.
No chance to explore; the view from the Hyatt bedroom is of a sea of cranes; Beijing is building quicker than ever.
11 October 2005
I am back from three nights in Phuket. There really is no evidence of the 26 December tsunami in Patong. The trouble is Patong always was a half finished mess and that’s what it still is. The only sad news was that La Salsa; a tapas bar that served great calamari and better margheritas is closed and under renovation.
I always wonder why I go to Phuket. It really is over priced and over rated.
4 October 2005
Lots of evening storms; and last nights was a big storm even by Bangkok standards. Was stuck in Suan Lum night bazaar; waded out in the rain and in water that was calf deep.
My only pair of casual shoes and still soaking wet 24 hours later. They may never recover. And buying size 12 shoes in Bangkok is not easy !
3 October 2005
I spent Saturday night in Singapore. There really is not a lot to tell you about. Some book shopping which was not much fun due to the crowds. And a very good night’s sleep at the renovated Oriental hotel where you can plug your ipod into the surround sound system in the room.
30 September 2005
Old Jokes Home:
A man was hit by a sofa, a pillow and a cushion
A hospital spokesman described his condition as “comfortable”.
27 September 2005
Sitting in Chateau Potash today we decided to resolve the major issues by flipping a coin – shades of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern….in Tom Stoppard’s play Guildenstern asks:
“Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one. A moment. In childhood. When it first occurred to you that you don’t go on forever. It must have been shattering, stamped into one’s memory. And yet, I can’t remember it.”
26 Sept 2005
Am I the only person who finds the FCUK brand objectionable. Our new Boots in U Chu Liang is prominently displaying FCUK toiletries for men. Well they can go and **** themselves as I have no intention of buying their products.
I know the Aussies are upset at the Ashes defeat but really even their crocs are upset…Australian crocodile kills Briton
A visit to Chatuchak market yesterday; I really do not know why I go; it is crowded, hot, chaotic, occasionally depressing and I never buy anything.
It is a long way to go for two small plants (baht60) and a minor bout of food poisoning which left me spending most of the rest of the day in bed !
Starbucks, the Seattle-based group said its latest opening is at Badaling, a heavily touristed section of the Chinese Great Wall about 25 miles north of Beijing. Is there no where that we can escape this perfidious brand ! The bidding should be in what year will Starbucks open their first lunar branch – ok how about 2050. This makes the assumption that in order to avoid gravity issues the first long distance interplanetary flights will need to be launched from a lunar base. Sadly not in my lifetime
22 Sept 2005
George Bush was asked at a press conference if he had an opinion on Roe Vs Wade. He responded that he didn’t care either way how people left New Orleans.
20 Sept 2005
The search for that small measure of peace that we all seek and few of us ever find……
19 Sept 2005
It is depressing when you read the CEO of the company that you left in 2001 describing the company at that time as a “basket case”, an “ugly duckling” and a “toxic waste dump.”
14 September 2005
The latest mainland pollution threat at the new Disney Hong Kong is from kids (or from parents who let them) who feel free to use any place in the theme park for a pee.
If it works on the streets in Guangdong why not on the streets of Mainland USA!
11 September 2005
It is the fourth anniversary of 9/11 and it is worth taking a long pause to remember a day that really did change the world – as the world’s most powerful nation suddenly realised it’s huge vulnerability. Four years on Bin Laden is still a free man and the war on terror, this monster that was created by 9/11, remains a fight that has no obvious winner and no apparent end.
I do wonder what gives white south africans such a sense of self righteous, white superiority. Sorry, this was prompted by something someone said yesterday that really was the sort of inflammatory, throw-away, line that should alarm us all.
10 September 2005
I have not mentioned my golf for a while – but if you saw how I have played the last two weeks you would know why – a dreadful round at Bangsai a week ago and a horrible round at Muang Kaew yesterday. Maybe I do see things slightly differently after the Lasik – perhaps??? But it was so bad at times yesterday that I stopped enjoying the game – the last few holes saved the day….
9 September 2005
Last night I was having a quiet game of pool in the upstairs pool room of a soi 33 bar. About 12.30am as I am finishing a game and about to head home a policeman comes up to play on the next table. Gun in the holster around his waste.
At that point it was time to go – just in case he lost !!
There is something slightly intimidating about being within feet of a man with a gun!
6 September 2005
Predictably Hong Kong was wet and horrible on Sunday and was quite glorious on Monday.
I was up at the Peak on Sunday evening taking in the view. Hong Kong (post 1997) is full of new rules so that the city can look ever more like Singapore; but this instruction was going a bit too far !
If I want to take my paraphernalia with me to the Peak then I will.
I am sure it says something completely different in Chinese. Something got lost in translation.
Mickey Mouse is everywhere in HKG. Although the soft opening for a Charity Day on Sunday was by all accounts horrible. One to two hour queues for everything and anything. The park opens officially on 12 September. Maybe Mr. Hu can go there as his Washington trip got cancelled. Halt, Hu goes there !???
Pick your favourite SuperVoice Girl !Always up to the challenge – left side (yellow top) and lowest (white top) – I have no idea who is who !
2 September 2005
Baghdad or New Orleans: “A series of huge explosions were reported along the riverfront today as hundreds of US troops with orders to shoot-to-kill looters and gunmen were sent into the flooded city.”
1 September 2005
It is the first day of the month and for some reason I feel really down. Did not sleep well last night and for reasons that I do not want to, or cannot, explain here I was inexorably sad last night.
Mai pen rai. Jai yen yen, and all that! But sometimes it needs more than comforting words
T shirt slogan on a girl outside Chateau Potash at lunchtime – “Guys make Good Pets”.
Two bits of good retail news: Boots is opening in U Chu Liang and Au Bon Pain re-opens tomorrow in Chateau Potash!
31 August 2005
8 months through the year already !
Michael Owen is moving to Newcastle United – on a four year contract. I guess he will get one year in the Premiership and then I hope he likes Championship football ! Still it would be fun to see him at Watford next year.
I find I am wearing my reading glasses more than I want to ! I spend to much time either reading or on the Computer. The distance vision is now remarkable good. The eyes lose a little clarity around dusk and in poor light.
29 August 2005
Hurricane Katrina – Katrina and the Waves? There are 9,000 people taking shelter in New Orleans Superdome – people that cannot evacuate New Orleans. But the roof of the stadium is peeling off. These people have nowhere else to go other than to take the best cover they can in the stadium. Very bleak indeed.
This was meant to be the safe place to put people.
This is a huge storm.
On an economic level it has driven oil prices over US$70 a barrel.
I was walking around Suan Lum night bazaar last night. It could be one of these really nice places to go; but in typical Thai fashion they get it wrong. There is so much traffic hurtling around the market that it looks like Siam.
This is madness. Someone will get hurt. Taxis, trucks and motorcycles coming in every direction.
This would be the perfect place to be a walking zone only. There is plenty of parking; there is access from the subway and taxis can drop off people at the different entrances.
The CNN storm coverage is wild – they have reporters and camera crews covering the hurricane. The winds are up to 130mph or 140mph. Everyone else has evacuated or taken cover. CNN – your hurricane headquarters !!
We even have a sympathetic storm in BKK. Thunder and lightening !
24 August 2005
There was a guy with a white stick walking on the pavement from the U Chu Liang Building (where the Lasik surgery is located) towards Chateau Potash at lunchtime today. It must be terrifying being blind and trying to navigate along Bangkok’s sidewalks…people are generous and helpful here but the sidewalks are a disgrace and the traffic wont care for a white stick – indeed it might be an incentive to accelerate.
One of my colleagues, the nicest and gentlest of people, was driving me to a meeting a few weeks ago. In front of us two ladies boldly ventured out onto one of Bangkok’s few pedestrian crossings. My colleague immediately floored the accelerator and breathing fire took aim at these hapless folk who fled to safety.
22 August 2005
I am having Lasik surgery on both eyes later this week – so no more contact lenses – ever ! Though I will likely still need reading glasses for close up work.
The Lasik surgery requires that you take an HIV blood test – strange thoughts go through your head – what if??? However unlikely it may be.
Anyway I can happily confirm that my blood is red and that I am in good health. The nurse who took my blood at BNH had the nicest eyes. I never had the time to tell her.
Busy week and a busy weekend. I hope that my reader is feeling ignored.
One of the most striking things about being back in Bangkok after almost three weeks away is just how bad the air is. It is heavy and polluted. It cannot be healthy. The WHO estimates that air pollution annually kills 500,000 people in Asia – and what is anyone doing about it. Not a lot.
“Air pollution in major Southeast Asian and Chinese cities ranks among the worst in the world and contributes to the deaths of an estimated 500,000 people each year, said Michal Krzyzanowski, an air-quality specialist at the WHO’s European Center for Environment and Health in Bonn, Germany.”
In Singapore and Malaysia they misleading call the air pollution a “haze.” It is not a haze – it is a smog. And it is back with a vengeance this year; the worst since 1997.
15 August 2005
In case you cannot get enough cricket today try this:
Today is the 60th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender. China Daily said that “only with an honest attitude toward history can a nation win reconciliation and then integrate into the global community,” Sadly I doubt anyone at China Daily recognises the irony of their remarks.
12 August 2005
Back In BKK. As we landed on runway 21L at BKK last night BA10 was lining up on 21R ready to go. It was exactly that flight that we had left on 17 days previously.
Eight flights in 17 days was a lot of flying.
I am glad I left London last Sunday – it is remarkable that a group of grumpy baggage handlers can bring a major global airline to a standstill and strand some 70,000 passengers. Given that I think BA is a dreadful airline….maybe they are getting what is due to them.
Coming soon to you on DVD:
10 August 2005
I am in lovely, sunny Vancouver. Although leaving today for hit humid polluted rainy Bangkok !
Has been a hectic few days. Flew from Rome to London; it was so good to be able to watch the cricket on tv ! Then London to Toronto; dreadful, truly dreadful flight on BA. I am in the middle of three seats at the back of the plane. The man in the aisle seat was big enough to want both my armrest and half of my seat.
I had such a migraine by the time I got to Toronto. And then BA lost one of our bags – it was coming on the next flight. So that means filling out paperwork and being grilled by a jerk in customs. What is it about the customs uniform that grants its wearer the right to behave without any respect or courtesy. Welcome to Canada indeed.
One night in Toronto and up early for a 8.25am Harmony Airways flight to Vancouver. Trouble is we did not leave until 11.40am. Harmony tries hard; but they must be hurting. Probably the next Canadian airline to join the list of many failures ! I hope I am wrong…but…..
6 August 2005
The French authorities are pointing fingers at Toronto airport as the blame game starts for the Air France crash. The captain has sole responsibility for deciding whether it is safe to land. The plane landed half way down the runway. A go around would have been sensible.
5 August 2005
There is a men’s fragrance from Ferrari on sale in Rome. Question is does it smell of petrol fumes or burning rubber !?
Much better trip back to Stansted – Rome’s Ciampino airport may be the home of the LCC’s but it is comfortable enough.
No consistency on Ryanair. Out of Paris every bag (even carry on bags) was being weighed and every dollar (euro) extracted for excess baggage.
Out of Rome you could check in anything !
I enjoyed Rome; an easy city to walk around (which is good news as the subway system is limited and ugly). Plenty to see; reasonably priced; which means less than Paris.
I cannot log onto the Internet in our London hotel….so I guess no updates this weekend. Sorry ! Funny how I am now so attached to the internet (and this site) that I feel lost without it !
3 August 2005
Big storm in Rome this morning; I guess the rain was needed; but was it really needed during the two days that I am in Rome.
After the rain went it was a lovely reasonably sunny day; not too warm. A good day for exploring.
Rome has much to like; walking around the city centre is a time warp. But it is a time warp surrounded by tourists not by Romans. A bit like wandering around a large museum.
The big question for the Air France pilot who crashed his A340 in Toronto yesterday is what he was doing trying to land in a thunderstorm. Hamilton and Montreal are both easy diversions.
309 passengers and crew escaped with little more than bruises. They are very lucky. They probably should not have been placed in such danger. The CVR will be very revealing.
How come the co-pilot was flying in what must have been very doubtful weather conditions? In a “code-red” storm I want the captain to be flying – he is meant to have the experience and greater know-how.
31 July 2005
Are the French really about to enter space !?
30 July 2005
The journey to the city could put you off Paris. Don’t let it. I have not been here for 13 years and I had forgotten what a lovely city Paris is. The only catch is that I am here with my eight year old. This is a city that is made for walking and exploring. And eight year olds are not so fond of long walks !
29 July 2005
Paris: welcome to the third world. It is no wonder that Paris had no chance of winning the 2012 Olympics. Arriving in Paris is such a nightmare that you want to turn around and leave !
For a new and modern airport Terminal One at Charles de Gaulle is a shocker. It was built to take passengers off a DC3 not a modern airliner.
Then there is the bus to the RER station for trains to Paris. Then there is the mile long queue of grumpies waiting to try and buy a train ticket.
27 July 2005
Its 8am in England and there is a rabbit sitting in the back garden. He will be soaked – it is wet and very miserable this morning.
I don’t see many rabbits from my apartment in Bangkok. A twelve hour flight, a four hour drive and I am in a different world !
As I write this I am looking out over the estuary at Newton Ferrers. On the hills opposite above Noss Mayo there are cattle crazing as they cling to the sloping hills. The two villages are linked by a Causeway that is only available when the tide is out. Newton Ferrers has a small co-op shop, a post office, a pharmacy and the Dolphin pub. This is as far from the modern world as you can get in England.
The real world is still there; mobile phones and tv bring reality too close.
24 July 2005
The final of the FCCT Star Alliance Matchplay was played yesterday (at long last!). In a battle of Roberts I won 4 and 2…..four up with two to play.
Giving away 15 shots I remembered to play well when I needed to; playing of the back tees at Subraphreuk on a wet and rainy day was certainly in my favour.
It would be nice if there was a glamourous around the world air ticket as a prize ! But I am probably being woefully optimistic !
I was sad to see that Air Asia has done a sponsorship deal with Manchester United. Thai Air Asia are committed to painting one of their airplanes in Man Yoo colours…..how dreadful.
20 July 2005
Have been suffering a ‘flu attack since the weekend. Not at my brightest or best !
Talking about singalongs in the car there is a lead story in The Nation today that says “motorists who enjoy a sing-along while driving tend to concentrate more and fall asleep less than their silent counterparts.” I knew there was a reason.
17 July 2005
A slightly strange weekend in Pattaya – you can read all about it on the Today news page. An easy drive there and back listening to music from Santana to Pavarotti to Robbie Williams to Sandie Shaw. Whatever happened to the bare footed Sandie Shaw? “Always something there to remind me” was a great song. I think my first crush was on her – I was probably about 9 at the time.
Golf at Phoenix was good – but very very hot. All pars and bogies. Nothing better or worse. Just too many three puts on their big greens.
11 July 2004
Breakfast this morning in the Marriott Garden Cafe in Pattaya. I had forgotten how noisy Hong Kong people can be. They have to shout at eachother over breakfast, shout at their offspring, shout at the staff and shout at the people at the most distant table.
Then because they are all shouting they have to shout even louder to be heard.
While not shouting they are stocking up at the buffet. The challenge is to eat as much food as possible in the shortest possible time to get the biggest and fastest return on their baht !
Most presumably do not need to eat another meal all day.
Pattaya, even on a sunny weekend is now quiet. It is the low season. But the beach at Kho Larn (by public boat or speedboat) is a nice place for a lounger by the beach, some seafood and a cold beer.
Am off to the local Lasik surgery center tomorrow so that they can decide after 4 hours of tests whether or not I am a good candidate for laser eye surgery!
The weekend golf report: I played like a donkey at Subraphreuk on a lovely Friday morning. But the round took just over 3 hours and was very enjoyable.
On Saturday I was 5 over par after 14 holes at Muang Kaew and I finished 16 over after going 9-4-8-6 on the four finishing holes including four balls in the water. I simply lost concentration; there were reasons – which I shall spare my dear reader.
7 July 2005
Now I know I was delighted to see London win the 2012 Olympic bid – but I am not sure I would want to hug either David Beckham or Ken Livingstone, which must be why they ended up hugging eachother.
4 July 2005
Off to Au Bon Pain in the U Chu Liang building for my lunchtime bagel and a low fat cappuccino. Sorry, we have sold out of low fat milk they say.
But the cafe is 10 yards from a 7-11. And yes 7-11 always has low fat milk. So I went and bought a bottle for Au Bon Pain; of course they refused to use it to make the coffee. Instead one of the staff will probably take it home.
It only takes a little initiative to make the difference between we do not give a rat’s ass and great service.
Meanwhile the cafe manager stood there totally bemused that he had any responsibility for anything that happened around him.
3 July 2005
‘Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity, it is an act of justice,’ said Nelson Mandela at yesterday’s Live8 concerts.
Twenty years ago, at the time of Live Aid, Nelson Mandela was still in prison. The world does change.
After yesterday, people will know, and continue to know, things about Africa: in the way they once learnt to know and worry about racism and global war and sexual prejudice.
This may not apply in Thailand – I suspect 95% of people on the streets in Bangkok would struggle to name an African country or even to find the continent on a map. But this was not really a concert demanding the attention or action of Asian countries; it was a concert for the rich west to salve their combined consciences and do something meaningful and long lasting.
Anyone who is missing my golf reports should know that I my golf of Friday and Saturday was poor. My brain and body are totally disconnected. Too much clutter in my head.
30 June 2005
Beijing; a very bizarre moment at the airport yesterday – as we queue at security the music over the loud speakers is playing the theme from the Benny Hill show !! Visions of this ghostly figure running through the terminal building chased by vast numbers of scantily dressed Chinese nurses!
25 June 2005
With mainly Reuters friends at Lam Lukka today. 6,617 yards off the yellows on a very wet course so it was playing long,
Went out in 35! I was stunned – one bogey, two birdies and six pars. Then a par on 10 before the wheels came off! And a 46 on the back nine with three double bogies for a gross 81. So nearly good !
24 June 2005
An early morning outing to Subraphreuk for 18 holes with Doug Hood (he of The Doug Hood Golf School)
Two down with six to play I won 2 and 1; but Doug does have to give me 9 shots and it was a course I know better than him !
The lovely Kan was caddying for me again; almost sounds like I play seriously when I have my own favorite caddy.
So much nicer than a morning in the office: good therapy
The golf was much needed after the office longest day party last night. You know it is time to leave when our Aussie colleagues start to sing Bee Gees songs on karaoke !! It’s a tragedy indeed. A jolly time was had by all but office absenteeism is high today !
23 June 2005
Potash Towers is under renovation. Our new (high security-cough, cough) lobby is getting a makeover and will soon look like the ground floor perfume sales area at emporium rather than a grade A office building.
This may be the first day in some months that the CTX scanner cost corruption scandal has disappeared off the front pages of the local newspapers to be replaced with lurid tales and the occasional picture of hazing rituals for new university students.
The hazing rituals include simulated group oral sex and the lesser known sport of “penis tug-of-war.” Sounds like a future Olympic event.
One thing I did not know before these stories emerged is that oral sex in Thailand is apparently known as “yum yum.”
20 June 2005
What a fun weekend of sport – the boozed up Aussies suffering from too many late nights and excessive arrogance lose to both Bangladesh and England at cricket…it worries me that they will come good for the test series.
Paul Collingwood’s catch is described in the Guardian as : “the like of which had not been seen before on this ground, nor many others for that matter.” Brilliant.
A Kiwi wins the US Open golf – while Mr. Goosen shocks everyone with a last day collapse.
The F1 grand prix in the US is an embarrassment when only six cars can start. I would want my money back.
My golf was a shocker – hooked almost everything and could not putt. It was the Wanderer’s own Masters tournament at Subraphreuk.
Meanwhile Peoples Daily happily reports that the Chairman of the Hong Kong Electoral Affairs Commission Woo Kwok-hing in announcing the anointment of Donald Tsang as Hong Kong’s new short term Chief Executive confirmed that “the election was conducted in an open, fair and honest manner. The election is legal and effective,” Woo said. Errr – what election?
13 June 2005
Not too much to report from the weekend’s golf. The FCC match play final was postponed due to my opponent taking ill. That was a shame as Subraphruek was in great condition.
Highlight on the day for me was a 210 yard downwind 4 iron second to the par 5 8th hole which was all over the pin – and finished ten feet behind the pin. Of course I missed the eagle put.
Not too much else to report from the weekend.
10 June 2005
Fiercely competitive game of soi 33 pool last night at the Blue Heaven sports bar and at Monet. Fuelled by dinner at Sonie’s on soi 39; good Japanese and western style food and reasonably priced. I have no idea how any of the Soi 33 bars make money; maybe they are busy in the early evening after work and during happy hour(s). By 11.00pm on a Thursday night the bars had almost no customers.
7 June 2005
I did spend Saturday night in Singapore – staying at The Fullerton Hotel; very comfortable; other then the height of the bed which means you have to be a mountain goat just to get into bed.
Singapore remains as civilized, green and orderly as ever. Flight there and back on Air Asia (Saturday) and back on JetStarAsia (Sunday) were about 60% full, on time and not expensive.
The Great Singapore Sale is on throughout June.
The Fullerton even had an adult movie option on the inhouse movies – Singapore must be growing up. Now I presume these are not adult movies on the same lines as you would see in Europe or the USA….which may mean there is an action here for misrepresentation. A sex-less adult movie is almost unthinkable…sounds far too much like real life! Anyway as you can tell I did not watch the movies. I was too tired; slept early and long.
5 June 2005
The golf report for the weekend is interesting – a match with Doug Hood at Bangpakrong Riverside on Friday – which I won by 1 hole. Now admittedly he was giving me 10 shots but I went out in 40 (back in 44) so played decently on a quite windy day on a new course for me.
And then a really weird day at Bangsai on Saturday. First, and most important, playing golf with a major league hangover is not a good idea. Nor is taking seven on the fourth after a great drive and taking a 9 on the par 5 14th. So how did I end up shooting 84, net 71 ! Ten pars and a birdie helped. 7 over par for 2 holes and 5 over par for the other 16 !
2 June 2005
A couple more thoughts on Live8 : Encouraging one million people to march to Gleneagles in he middle of the G8 summit in July has to be a security and safety nightmare : And where are the African musicians in this predominantly white line up. It is all a bit patronising.
31 May 2005
Here is what a golfers birthday cake looks like: Amazing Thailand !
28 May 2005
Birthday dinner was with three friends at Limoncello; followed by some jazz in Mojo, great music, pity the place is so very quiet.
And then some pool at Big Shots, the best of the pool bars on soi 33. A bit too smokey and my contact lenses were tired, was developing a headache; a gin and tonic too many and loud music; headed home; this morning my right eye is really red.
Big Shots was celebrating its 5th birthday; how come I share the same birthday as a Soi 33 bar!
27 May 2005
Its my birthday – and I feel a bit strange about it – but people are being really nice at work – thank you all !!
The lunchtime cake was a remarkable creation – golf course birthday cake with caddies and golf buggies ! Truly amazing!
24 May 2005
After a long weekend, some rain and some strong breezes it is a nice day in BKK – hot, hot, hot; but the air is clear and you can see forever…almost !
23 May 2005
Made my debut for the Wanderers in the PWC golf league on Saturday. Unusually for me I started well; was 4 up at the turn and won 6and5. That, despite a 5am wake up call.
Then went from Subraphruek golf course down to Pattaya for Saturday and Sunday nite. Played at Siam Country Club on Sunday. Two birdies but some rubbish as well.
Strange place – Pattaya. There is something hugely entertaining about it when it is busy. People there of every shape and size from just about everywhere on the planet; and maybe from other planets as well.
Stayed in the new rooms at the Sabai Lodge on soi 1. It was remarkably quiet there given this was a holiday weekend.
Watched the FA Cup final with a Thai commentary in my hotel room over a room service dinner.
Did go out for a couple of drinks. I must look very scary as no one approaches me to talk with me.
I dont want to be another farang who ends up hanging around in Pattaya ! Though the golf is good and the ocean and bay looked stunning. In the end it is a rather lonely and depressing place. Maybe it is simply not a good place to be in on your own!
The good news is that I left at 9.30am this morning and got back to BKK in 90 minutes. Traffic will be much heavier later.
16 May 2005
I was talking about sport with my son; just turned eight years old he is already wise beyond his years. He reminded me that “the best prize you can have is a friend”…..
14 May 2005
Terrific match play golf game today – this was the semi finals of the FCCT Star Alliance Match Play. I was four down after four holes; Charles was one under after seven with two birdies already !
I won 10 and then 11 with a birdie. We were all square after 17. I put my second into water on 18; Charles put his third into the water, And I salvaged a bogey that was good enough to win by one hole.
It was a terrific match. At times the golf was rather average but the match had everything!
14 May 2005
Sorry I have been quiet – I have been busy !! I don’t feel sorry for the die hard Manchester United fans who are all so upset at an American owning their club. Football is corporate; it is big business. It is global; it is a brand. I suspect that Man U will learn a great deal form the US marketing experts of the NFL. And as I mention in my “today” article there are always the cheerleaders to look forward to. Follow the link to see Tomoko from Glazer’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
5 May 2005
Even now, after over two years on my own I still find living alone can be really disconcerting. Last night my colleagues and I went to the Aussie Chamber of Commerce Sundowners event. A few glasses of wine later and we had dinner at Crepes and Co.
And I only had water with dinner – really.
I got home; checked email. Took off my suit; lay on the bed; next thing I know it is 4.30am. The lights are on; the computer is on; I am in my shirt, underwear and socks; my teeth need a clean and I am not sure where I am or why !?
I wonder how much of a risk it is living alone that you stop taking care of yourself properly.
Its election day in the UK. The Guardian leader today says make your vote count. I say don’t vote at all. I never thought I would say that. But what if no one voted. That would be the perfect message – it would tell Blair that he screwed up; tell Howard that he could never be a political leader and tell Charles Kennedy that he would be a nice chap to have tea with but should never be in charge of anything bigger than his new child’s birthday party !
2 May 2005
Chelsea won the Premiership for the first time in my lifetime. And they did it in some style; Congratulations.
Back from two days golf at Nichigo in Kanchanaburi; there is nothing like a trip inland to the hottest place in Thailand over the hottest weekend of the year. Sunday’s round tool six hours; I was broiled.
My golf was average; a mix of the old and the new.
I did see “The Interpreter” last night. It is a flawed film that is not as engrossing or as important as it tries to be.
They did get to film inside the UN; that gives the movie authenticity.
The film has endless corrupt and murderous black Matobans (the fictional African state at the heart of the film – not so fictional – Matobo is Zimbabwe’s national park); yet there is not a single conventionally decent black person. We are left with a white actress representing the heart of black Africa. It does not work. And it is racial stereotyping at Hollywood’s worst.
28 April 2005
She is big, she is ugly and she flies. The Airbus A380 made its maiden flight yesterday. There is a niche market for this plane on the fat routes from Europe to Australia.
But can they sell the 300 planes they need to sell to break even. It is unlikely for instance that any US carrier will buy the plane; in part for boring political reasons, in part because they cannot afford it and in the main because they don’t need it.
Many airlines have been swapping out 747s for smaller 777s rather than moving up to bigger A380s.
A mate of mine has just been sacked from his job working on the dodgems. He’s suing them for funfair dismissal.
25 April 2005
Golf report – how my gentle reader must have missed these for the last three weeks – 82 at Subhapruek yesterday. 41 out and 41 back with birdies on 5 and 9. It was good to be playing again – 40C temperatures made for a long day especially with a midday start. I was broiled !
22 April 2005
Friday night – home alone – room service and a bottle of wine. Phone doesn’t ring because no one calls.
Quite like having some time to myself; and I am tired this week. But I wish the phone would ring occasionally.
19 April 2005
A small non elected elite group enter a private room and away from any form of public scrutiny or accountability they carry out a secret ballot in observance of a ill understood and selectively interpreted constitution.
Is this Hong Kong?
Or the Vatican?
18 April 2005
Back in Bangkok already – it is a long haul over from Vancouver.
The abiding memory of a few days in Vancouver is how little anything changes. There is talk of another election. The Gomery inquiry into illegal funding of the Liberal party is still going on; there is no hockey, the National Post newspaper is still unreadable; wine prices and still prohibitive and everyone complains interchangeably about the weather and taxes.
Long flights are good for movie watching; and Cathay Pacific’s range of movies is eclectic.
I did see “Closer” at last. Some movies are great date movies; but Closer would be the perfect end of relationship movie.
Articulate and clever characters that may be all to real; they know what to say but not what to feel. Truth is used as a weapon rather than peace-maker. All four actors are good, but Natalie Portman and Clive Owen are exquisite.
15 April 2005
I went to see Blue Rodeo in concert last night at the Orpheum theatre in Vancouver. The first time that I have seen them in concert since 1994.
They are a bit longer in the tooth now. And so are the audience. But they are a very loyal audience.
12 April 2005
Outbound to Hong Kong and onto Vancouver. I just watched “West Wing”. Another reminder of why this is my favourite television show. Powerful acting, powerful messages, and a reminder of both our humanity and our frailty.
I missed the big news from Washington over Easter where they had the annual big Easter egg hunt on the White House lawn. No eggs were actually found but President Bush continues to claim that they’re there.
9 April 2005
Back in BKK a day earlier than I expected. Two Cathay flights yesterday – from PEK to HKG and on from HKG to BKK. Watched “Bride and Prejudice” on the morning flight. Dreadful acting but a fun movie; with colourful Bollywood style set peices.
And in the evening watched Michael Palin as he set out on his your of the Himalayas. Proving that there are still some remarkably inaccessible parts of the World.
Suddenly I want to travel again.
It would have been my 11th wedding anniversary yesterday. I was in Hong Kong and Alex was able to have lunch with his mother. So much to be grateful for; so much to be sad about.
Meanwhile Prince Charles gets married today – to the woman he should have married 25 years ago. They both may be a bit barmy but they are well suited to eachother and clearly are happy together. Good luck to them.
6 April 2005
It has been 4 days since the Pope died and CNN is still 24 hour Pope TV. Someone tell them that there are other things happening in the World. Someone tell them that many of the Pope’s views were out of place in the modern world. Reactionary and clearly out of place for instance in HIV ravaged Africa.
A 21st century pope would be good news.
Outbound from Bangkok to Beijing. TG 614 today is one of Thai’s old MD11s. Flying with my little guy which is always fun. Wish I could have the kids meal – heaps of food.
It has been a crazy week; hard to find the time to write anything. And not at my most inspired.
3 April 2005
The Pope died today. It is remarkable that given his old age and long illness there is no obvious successor. Whatever happened to planning.
One certainty – after some 26 years of a Polish pope there is little that the Italians would want more than taking the papacy back to their own.
My call: an Italian pope.
29 March 2005
Forgot the golf report yesterday. A 2 and 1 win in my FCCT matchplay quarter final. From 2 down after 11 holes. Krungthep Kreetha is not an easy course for me. It is very narrow with a lot of water and out of bounds. The driver did not see much action. Strange course – have to always think and be very conservative at times. The tenth was a five iron short of the water and a 9 iron to the green. One of the par fives played 5 wood, 7 iron and 9 iron.
Pakistan won the third test in Bangalore yesterday; my Bangalore correspondent is in terminal depression. The Bangalore crowd was berating the Pakistan side for slow progress and the lack of a declaration on the second day. They forgot that the test is five days. It was a well and hard earned win.
26 March 2005
Shot an 80 yesterday at Bangphra; which included an eagle (that always helps the score!). Saved the only double bogey for the 18th – needing a simple par for a 78 or bogey for a 79 I lost the plot on the last !
Still – I played OK and there are signs of greater consistency.
25 March 2005
The lovely Sophie is getting married. I am always the last to know. She is marrying her university sweetheart who she had not seen for ten years. Who said romance is dead ?
She also said that there are things that are more important than work. She has quit her job in Canada and moved back to Shanghai where both her fiance and her family live.
I first met Sophie on a 13 hour flight from Vancouver to Shanghai in 2003. The flight felt like it took an hour. We met for a dinner last year in Canada and last saw eachother at the end of the year for a quick drink in Beijing. We were both busy and tired.
She is a special lady, talented and wise beyond her years; he is a lucky guy; I am happy for her and maybe a bit sad for me!
21 March 2005
My golf was pretty disgraceful over the weekend. I seem to need at least 9 holes to find any ort of rhythm. Clearly the answer is to make 27 hole golf courses.
Played 36 holes on Saturday in everything from a tropical storm to broiling humidity! Another 18 holes on Sunday. Being 5 down after 9 is not good.
Pattaya was packed for its three day international music festival. Beach road was closed to traffic and getting around town was a headache best avoided!
17 March 2005
For St. Patrick’s Day
An English man and an Irish man are driving head on , at night, on a twisty, dark road. Both are driving to fast for the conditions and collide on a sharp bend in the road. To the amazement of both, they are unscathed, though their cars are both destroyed. In celebration of their luck, both agree to put aside their dislike for the other from that moment on.
At this point, the Irish man goes to the boot and fetches a 12 year old bottle of Jameson whiskey. He hands the bottle to the English man, whom exclaims,” may the English and the Irish live together forever, in peace, and harmony.” The English man then tips the bottle and lashes half of it down.
Still flabbergasted over the whole thing, he goes to hand the bottle to the Irish man, whom replies: ” no thanks, I’ll just wait till the Garda get here!”
16 March 2005
Our first storm of the year in Bangkok this morning. The rain is good; it clears the air. Traffic on course comes to a grinding halt.
15 March 2005
Golf report; two lessons recently on Monday 7th and Monday 14th and I am starting to see and feel the results.
I did not play well at President in Saturday but was swinging too fast to start and had not warmed up.
On Sunday of the yellow tees at Khao Kheow I was three over after 12 holes with 9 pars and playing well. The wheels came off a little after that ! A couple of three puts and a visit to a very deep bunker did not help. I finished 11 over with an 83. Not too shabby.
Was out on Saturday night – rare for me. Went to the bar at Sirocco at the State Tower. Spectacular open air bar high over Bangkok with a fabulous make-you-feel-like-royalty staircase down to the restaurant and bar.
Went onto Q bar for the end of the evening. Busy, busy ! But a real party. People were having fun. And then at 1.10am on come the lights and it is time to go home. It is a Saturday night; everyone in there is an adult; everyone is having a good time; this country’s social order enforcers really have got this one wrong.
It means that for someone like the owners of Q bar they have two hours a night (11pm to 1am) to have a decent crowd and make money.
9 March 2005
Fantasy Football: Chelsea 4, Barcelona 2. The score does not tell what a sensational exhibition of the highest quality attacking football this was. Breathtaking, eye-catching, nerve-shredding fun !
8 March 2005
Will Buckley writes today in the Guardian on Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s relationship with Britain’s tabloid journalists: hilarious:
“The fact that he can speak off-the-cuff more eloquently in his third language than many of them can painstakingly write in their mother tongue only adds to the confusion”.
Oliver James, the psychologist and author of They F*** you up: How to Survive Family Life adds “both Ferguson and Arsène Wenger have a strong sense of unfulfilled ambition, but with Mourinho there is a joy to what he does, which is more important than a desire to crush the opposition. He does not need to shit on everyone else to make himself feel better”.
Chelsea play Barcelona in the UEFA Champions Cup tonight.’
2 March 2005
Cathay Pacific’s Bangkok lounge may be the cling film capital on the world. If it can move they wrap it ! Individual oreo cookies; pieces of fruit, tiny pastries, each one lovingly wrapped. Very strange.
There really should be a law that stops people from farting as they walk down the aisles of the airplane. Just a thought.
1 March 2005
Another golf lesson last night although I was a little late. I am learning to do things differently. The results will come; a little time and patience.
Have to go to Beijing later this week so there will not be a lot of time to practice this week.
I am having a big row with the management of my service apartment; they seem to think that a 20% price increase in one year is somehow acceptable. I really don’t want to have to move again…but it may come to it. The falling value of the US$ is not helping me either.
28 February 2005
Good, good, good; Million Dollar Baby wins best film, best director for Clint Eastwood and best actress for Hilary Swank.
The Aviator was a decent film, but lacked the emotional punch of Million Dollar Baby, and is a biopic rather than an original story.
I was sitting in a restaurant by the river on Saturday night. It was about two days after the full moon; but the moon was low in the sky and rising over the State Tower.
A quick poll of just about everyone else in the restaurant confirmed that in Thai folk-lore there is a rabbit sitting on the face of the moon.
If you look at the dark shadows you should be able to see a sitting rabbit facing to your left; his or her head and ears at the top left.
This is probably due to the different angle of the earth to the moon closer to the equator. The visible face of the moon has light and dark patches, which people interpreted in different ways, depending on their culture. Europeans see a face and talk of “the man in the moon” while children in China and Thailand recognize “the rabbit in the moon.”
More on the Rabbit and the Moon:
|The Rabbit and the MoonIf you go out into the fields, in the still, grey hour before the dawn, you will find that the grass is wet.
One day, at the beginning of time, in that still, grey hour, Rabbit stepped out into the field, and he, too, found the grass was wet. As he stood there, wondering where the water had come from, he heard someone crying – and he looked up and found it was the Moon, his tears running down his round, yellow face and falling to the earth and making the grass wet.
“Moon, Moon, why are you crying?”
“I am crying because I want to be like man.”
“But why should you want that?”
“I want to be like man because man never dies.”
“But man dies, come, I’ll show you. Come with me.”
And the Moon stepped down, out of the sky, and Rabbit took the Moon to a hut. There, through the window, Rabbit showed the Moon an old man lying on his bed, the last breath rattling in his throat.
“See, man dies.”
“Oh, no. Look there.”
And the Moon pointed through another window, he showed Rabbit another bed; and on that bed lay a woman, her newborn baby in her arms, by her side a man.
“See, they are together, so there will always be birth. But I am alone, when I die there will be no more moon. That is why I cry.”
And the Moon climbed back into the sky. And there he is crying still; as you can see in that still, grey hour before the dawn, when the grass is still wet with his tears …
27 February 2005
150 balls at the driving range last night. And another 18 holes today at Subraphruek.
My left wrist and the last two fingers of my right hand are hurting quite badly.
I had to play the last 4 holes with the old grip today.
I could not hit the long irons today and my woods were mostly poor. I don’t seem to be able to get the club head back square to the ball.
25 February 2005
My second golf lesson last night; and I am beginning to feel more comfortable with the new grip and swing. Instinctively I am now picking up the club with the new grip.
One good discipline was to try and hit a big, high draw; this forces me to swing the club from the inside. It is an exaggerated movement but it is closer to how the swing should look and feel than my old steep out to in swing.
I enjoyed the lesson.
Slight hangover this morning from an office dinner last night. We are a small company but we do have good parties !
Just a thought: Heidi Fleiss, the Hollywood Madam, was busted for running a highclass call girl operation. She also kept meticulous records. Her #1 client was actor Charlie Sheen, who had spent more than $50,000 on her services. Sheen later went on the Tonight Show. Host Jay Leno asked him, “Charlie, you’re a good looking guy, you’re a movie and tv star, you’re rich, why do you need to pay women to be with you?” Sheen looked him in the eye and answered, “Jay, I don’t pay women to be with me. I pay them to go away.”
This week’s specials in my apartment buildings restaurant include “Deer fried stuffing chicken wings.”
And a golf shop selling copy everything opposite the flower market near the Lufthansa Center in Beijing proudly calls itself: Liangma Golf thing Direct sale store.
23 February 2005
A progress report on my golf:
I practised yesterday at the local driving range. I told my favourite local teaching pro what I was doing – and he said he would not recommend changing my swing. The implication being that old dogs cannot learn new tricks! He also said that such a radical change will take three months and that I should not expect to play well in that time.
I hit 200 balls – far too many disappear right – I must be hitting the ball with the clubface still open. But it did at least feel like my hands were working together – the grip still hurts but I seem to take up the grip fairly naturally.
Then today I played 18 holes at Chuan Chuen golf club. One moment of glory; an 8 iron par three tee shot that finished less than an inch from a hole in one. It looked good all the way.
The rest was pretty ugly. I am losing many shots out right; have lost about 10% of my distance; jarred the fingers on my right hand where the little finger overlaps; cant hit the driver – although the 5 wood was just about OK. Shot 100; with a 9 and 8, and a couple of 7s.
Another lesson tomorrow. I keep telling myself – no pain, no gain !
WOW – Watford won at Ipswich last night. Ipswich currently lead the Championship and are favourites for promotion ! Cool !!
21 February 2005
So busy last week that I found little time to write and little that inspired me to write !
Matchplay golf yesterday at Mountain Shadow GC. I was 4 down after 5 holes and was thinking about how I could at least salvage respectability.
Instead after an eagle and two birdies in the last 11 holes I ended up winning 2 and 1. 38 shots for the last 9 holes helped.
A Houdini Act.
13 February 2005
There I was in one of the world’s great food cities. But on my own for five nights and working quite hard. So what did I eat in the evenings; room service twice; MacDonald’s chicken fajitas one night (not too bad when you add the hot sauce); a tuna salad from Subway one night; and for my only evening out a liquid early supper, and gossip, with our local audit partner.
Its a bit pathetic really; but in a fairly sociable city the idea of eating on my own surrounded by happy couples and families had little appeal.
Work wise; it was a good week and a lot was achieved. But I am ready to go home.
I lost a day heading back from Vancouver. It is 14 hours from Vancouver to Hong Kong, a fast transit in Hong Kong and another 2 hours 30 minutes down to Bangkok. It is a long haul; plenty of thinking time.
But firstly a few thoughts from inflight;
Airline washrooms are perhaps the most unpleasant places in the modern world. The are all designed for midgets. The first airline that installs decent washrooms with room for a good dump, a tv for distraction and maybe a small library of reading material will get my vote !
Air Canada’s new colours are so awful it is hard to imagine that they actually paid a design consultant. The maple leaf emblem stays on the tailplane but the fuselage is now a nasty shade of lightish blue which looks like a primer colour; ready for someone (anyone!) to come and apply the finishing coat.
Why do people take their shoes and socks off on the airplane. I am typing this while my neighbour’s bare feet are stretched out on his seat rest; this is not the beach.
It was movie time on the flight from Vancouver; I started with Being Julia, followed by Shall we Dance and wrapped up with the older What Women Want.
I did enjoy Being Julia. Annette Bening looks wonderful and she has such a great laugh. Smart script and a good cast.
Shall We Dance was movie making by numbers. Totally predictable; easily watchable because Richard Gere usually is. It was a feel good movie about living your dreams. Everybody in the film is a better person than they were at the start of the film. If only real life were that simple.
12 February 2005
Parting thoughts from Canada; the air is so good there. As I was leaving New Westminster I could see across the Fraser Valley to snow covered Mount Baker down in Washington State in the USA. It is up to 3 hours drive from Vancouver. Imagine that sort of visibility in Hong Kong or Bangkok.
In fact it was a fabulous early spring day. Stunning blue sky and mild temperatures.
9 February 2005
A happy Chinese New Year to you all. Kung Hei Fat Choy !
One thought on CNN – is Richard Quest the most irritating TV personality since the Teletubbies?
8 February 2005
The Vancouver Skytrain is definately not the place to see the beautiful people of the city !In a city ruled by the car this is the travel choice of the don’t haves !
I walked into the mall at New Westminster this afternoon for lunch. There is a food court and a vast plate of Chinese food to celebrate CNY.
But walking through the mall I have never seen so many zimmer frames in one place!
7 February 2005
It is 3C in Vancouver tonight. Cool.
And dinner came from the local macdonalds – a chicken fajitas takeaway ! Another exciting night out in Vancouver !
6 February 2005
A tough day on the golf course at Bangsai yesterday. I was almost playing well but too many mistakes ruined the game. I hit the green on all four par threes; and promptly three-putted them all.
Then two quadruple bogies on 4 and 13, where I hit dreadful wedge shots from good positions and put myself in terrible trouble.
Am off to Vancouver this morning.
2 February 2005
I was reading this and chuckling away:
Subject: Qantas Airlines “Gripe Sheet”
After every flight, pilots fill out a form called a gripe sheet, which conveys to the mechanics problems. The mechanics read and correct the problem, and then respond in writing on the lower half of the form what
remedial action was taken, and the pilot reviews the gripe sheets before the next flight.
Never let it be said that ground crews and engineers lack a sense of humor.
Here are some actual logged maintenance complaints and problems as submitted by Qantas pilots and the solution recorded by maintenance engineers.
(P = The problem logged by and written by the pilots.)
(S = The solution and action as taken and written by the engineers.)
P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.
P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.
P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.
P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on backorder.
P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.
P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.
P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.
P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That’s what they’re there for.
P: IFF inoperative.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you’re right.
P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.
P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.
P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.
P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.
P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget
pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.
31 January 2005
The weekend’s golf report: Voyage Panorama can be avoided at weekends. Golf yesterday took over 6 hours – worse still it was hot and I was hungover.
The resort is spartan and the restaurant (a generous description) closes at 8pm. There really is nothing there except the golf course!
The course itself is a good design. It is just badly managed and not welcoming.
Friends drove me up there for the weekend. One thing you cannot do in a friend’s car is change their choice of music. They had replaced Barry White with Boney M. By late Saturday most of our group (of 40 plus people) were singing “Brown Girl in the Ring” !! It was that sort of weekend….
28 January 2005
Today’s big finance story – Procter & Gamble Co. is buying razor and battery maker Gillette Co. for about $57 billion in a stock deal that would create the world’s largest stable of consumer products. Imagine the legal fees !
Lunch on Friday – everyone in the office has gone out – but farangs were not invited. There will I guess always be an us and them in a Thai office which however friendly we all seem means that there are two worlds which never inter connect. The farangs will always be the outsiders.
Very out of sorts this week. Have not been sleeping well.
23 January 2005
A day late in wishing my mother a happy birthday !! How do I forget the important things !
Back in Bangkok – it is nice to be warm again!
Matchplay golf today – its a great format – you can have a disaster hole and it really does not matter – all you have to do is score better than your opponent – par ceases to matter! And winning helps !
21 January 2005
I am curious whether today’s opinion pieces written after a few momentous days in China can actually be read in China. Let me know!
18 January 2005
There is a headline on the BBC news feed stating that :China stands firm on Tianenmen.
One catch – here in Beijing I cannot access that story. I assume that is due to the Great FireWall of China; the massive censoring filter that restricts access to parts of the internet. Sad.
13 January 2005
The third in line to the British throne is an idiot. Wearing a Nazi uniform and a swastika armband; albeit to a private fancy dress party, shows poor poor judgment. Cant Britain just do away with this embarrassing family of misfits?
Liverpool 1 Watford 0. All to play for in the second leg at Vicarage Road in a couple of weeks.
Did I mention that I bought myself an i-pod mini as my Christmas present. These little devices will become a design classic. The mini stores up to 1,000 songs and has an eight hour battery life. The sounds is great and once you have figured out the pc connection i-tunes is very easy to use.
It is the pc connection that is the only problem; working out how to make the i-pod compatible with a two year old Sony laptop was frustrating.
Now I wonder how I ever lived without it !
11 January 2005
Tune in to ESPN at 3.00am Thai time tonight for the first leg of the League Cup semi final between Liverpool and Watford from Anfield !
Watford FC on TV around the world !
10 January 2005
The biggest shock of the weekend’s football did not come in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. Instead in the first leg of the Tiger Cup Final played in Jakarta on Saturday little Singapore beat Indonesia 3-1.
Golf yesterday with the foreign correspondents club of Thailand (FCCT). Was going well until a 10 at the 16th hole!! And I had to sink a twelve foot putt to save the 10 !
6 January 2005
The need for video replays in football was never more obvious than at Old Trafford yesterday; Roy Carroll drops a fifty yard lob backwards over his goal line; the ball falls at least a yard into the goal; he dives back; scoops the ball out of the goal; and the referee and linesman criminally failed to see the goal and waved play on.
In cricket video replays can have a batsman run out and in rugby a try given or disallowed. In football video evidence can earn a player a three match ban and result in a red card being rescinded, but it is not used during a game and in this case Tottenham were robbed of the winning goal.
It’s time football woke up Firing the match officials for gross incompetence would be a good start. It was a shocker !
5 January 2005
Every morning I walk through the office complex next to Potash Towers. This building has the misfortune to be home to the evil empire.
It is also still playing Christmas carols on 5 January. I was assaulted by the Chipmunks version of Hark the Herald Angels Sing this morning…..
Someone should tell them – no more carols for another 340 days!
3 January 2005
Did you see the rain in Singapore yesterday? There was a football match on Star TV from SIN’s national stadium. The players did not wear football boots; they wore flippers!
No wonder half of Singapore seems to be in BKK for the new year !
2 January 2005
This is a great weekend to be in Bangkok. Many people are still away so the streets are quiet. And the weather is exceptional. It is actually a little cool at about 18C in the morning and evening. Perfect!
Alex (my 7 year old son) went back to his home in Hong Kong this afternoon. Life is always quiet after he leaves.
We had a good Christmas. It has been two years since I last went to ski; but I remembered more than I had expected to and enjoyed being on the slopes. Did not try anything too difficult and after some new snow on Christmas Day conditions really were ideal.
To be honest skiing is something that I wish I had started when I was young; not when I was in my forties !
1 January 2005
Back in Bangkok after a long haul on EVA Air from Vancouver via Taipei. I cannot sleep on planes.
Taipei airport maybe one of the dullest places on the planet.