27 December 2004
The last two school holidays, Easter and Summer, I have taken my little guy down to Phuket for a week. Christmas was a toss up between staying in Thailand or coming to Whistler, BC. A white Christmas was a good choice.
Awful Tsunami hit Phuket, Aceh in Indonesia and much of the Indian Ocean. Alex’s bar in Phuket was on the beach. It won’t be there now. It is going to be a very hard and desperately sad new year for many people.
It was a breathtakingly beautiful day in Whistler today. Cold! But a stunning, cloudless blue sky. And with lots of new snow on the ground the resort is busy!
It was a day when a trip to Seventh Heaven would have been spectacular.
25 December 2004
It is Christmas Day and we have a white Christmas in Whistler; a little snow overnight and some more snow today. How appropriate!
Question of the day from my little guy:
“Dad, is Bethlehem more modern now? Are there some new hotels?”
The idea of being born in a barn worries him !
24 December – 4.40am
Jet lag is such a drag. The first night in Canada I slept well. Then was up all day yesterday. Went skiing; nothing too strenuous. Had a nice dinner. Went to bed about 11.30pm. And woke at 3am. And have been awake ever since.
It was a lovely sunny day at Whistler yesterday. They so need a bit more snow though. The slopes are getting icy.
I have to confess that I wish I had started skiing when I was younger. My parents had never been skiing. And in the UK when I was growing up skiing was a rather elitist activity. Now the European low cost airlines take people to the ski slopes for next to nothing.
But with snow all around; a blue sky, and a view that seems to go on forever there are few better places than on the hills at Whistler/Blackcomb.
And after Bangkok’s heat and pollution just standing on the mountain and sucking in the air feels so good.
21 December 2004
I was on my way to the airport last night – and for once read the huge billboards along the way. It is amazing that advertising companies get paid large sums of money for company tag lines that make such little sense.
Chevrolet has a sign: “Chevrolet; we’ll get there.”
What does this mean? Get where? We’ll go somewhere else. Very strange.
20 December 2004
Great start to a Monday morning – there was a lady in the elevator of Potash Towers this morning staring intently into the mirrored side of the elevator happily squeezing her zits….
18 December 2004
I don’t know where the time goes. Have not been sleeping well but have also been too tired to write or too stare at the pc. Time for a holiday. Bit of a crisis; have not bought a single Christmas present yet.
But I did put the tree up at home!
9 December 2004
Au Bon Pain – the coffee shop at the ground floor of Chateau Potash – has its Christmas offerings in the store – alongside the Gingerbread Men and Christmas Tree cookies are American Flag cookies. What on earth has the US flag got to do with Christmas?
8 December 2004
Sorry this page has been quiet! I guess the TagBoard has taken over some of the more immediate comments.
And I was away in Hua Hin for four nights at the weekend.
Hua Hin is a nice quiet seaside town. At this time of year with cooler temperatures and sea breezes it is a very pleasant place to be.
The trip was spoiled by the journey back. Having booked at the hotel and paid them for a taxi to Bangkok I jumped in the taxi on Tuesday morning. We got as far as Cha-Am when the driver says that he needs to stop for gas and asks for money. But I already paid the hotel. He says the hotel had not paid him and that he has no money. So the only way we were going to move is by me paying another Baht 600 for gas.
I phoned the hotel to complain and was ritually passed from person to person. No one said sorry, no one said it is our mistake, and no one said this is how we are going to fix things.
It is not so much the money – it really is not that much. It is just being ripped off that bugs me.
1 December 2004
Watford 3 Portsmouth 0. Ok it is only the League Cup (Carling Cup). But it was a quarter final and it was another Premiership team.
It is 20 years since the glory days when Elton John and Graham Taylor ran Watford and a front line of Barnes, Blissett, Jenkins and Callaghan used to terrorise the then first division defences.
But the hornets are a two legged semi final away from the final and a possible Uefa Cup spot. Better still it is good money into the club! I may be a long way away but I still follow the club week after week.
30 November 2004
What is it about movie stars (and the rich and famous) that gives them the right to saddle their offspring with the most bizarre of names?
Julia Roberts ties to portray this leave me alone modestly. Well, she deliberately chose names for her twins that will get attention and derision. Phinnaeus (the boy) and Hazel.
I am very grateful that my parents were down to earth folk. Robert is just fine, thank you!
26 November 2004
Crisis – the penguin baseball link is now dead! Sorry. This used to be such good therapy ! I will try and find a replacement.
Chateau Potash had a fire drill today. Totally unreal of course. We trudged down the fire stairs with all the lights on full, not emergency lighting. As you get to the lower floors the stairs narrow until you enter a long and narrow dark passage to the exit at the side of what could be a flaming building.
The car park had been closed off to allow the tenants to gather outside the building. W all went to our assigned tree. Each tree had a company name pinned to it !
Our messenger is the company fire marshall. That makes sense (not !!) – the one guy who should be out of the office for the majority of his time!
Meanwhile the building management was handing out iced tea. The mc was yelling away over a loudspeaker system especially set up for the event.
In a real fire we will not all be standing around outside the building and the car park will be fully occupied and there will not be company names on the trees.
23 November 2004
I bought the Live Aid DVD when I was in HKG at the weekend. I got it back to Bangkok and the fourth DVD was missing.
I wrote a grumpy note to HMV in Hong Kong and they phoned back immediately. They were very helpful and terribly apologetic for a problem that was not even of their making; the boxed set was shrink-wrapped, presumably by Warner Music.
So Brownie points to HMV – clearly in their words – Top Dog for Christmas.
20 November 2004
Stunning sunset as we fly out of Hong Kong on Dragonair’s A330 outbound to Bangkok. Deep orange red sky.
The bad news is that they ration the red wine. One glass with the appetiser; and then nothing else offered – I had to beg for another glass of red wine – literally beg. This is KA’s business class. Hardly.
19 November 2004
The weather in Beijing has been good all week. Unusually mild and mostly sunny. A little breeze this morning blew away the week’s accumulated smog and left a stunning sunny day.
It is strange to think of Beijing as a breath of fresh air after Bangkok.
But I step out of the hotel in Beijing onto big, bright, wide walkways that are spotlessly clean. There is not a street vendor in sight. I don’t have to navigate around illegal dvd vendors, the shoe repair man, assorted bbq, juice and fruit vendors, pavement potholes, and other pavement obstructions.
Yep – more KOK last night – is every KOK girl in Beijing called Maggie ?!
Highlight of the night – a memorable duet of “Crocodile Rock.”
16 November 2004
My loyal reader probably would like to know what I am doing in Beijing.
Picture this; dinner around a large round table in a private room. Great food and plenty of it. Good conversation among friends and business partners. Well translated.
But the highlight was thinking about what to drink next. There were four glasses in front of me. One filled with sweet drinking yoghurt, one with beer, one with red wine and one small glass refilled too often with white spirit.
Imagine all those mixed together and curdling around in your stomach !
This epic meal was followed by classy karaoke – yes there is such a thing ! The evening being ruined for anyone who had stayed up that late by my rendition of Robbie Williams’ song “Better Man’.
13 November 2004
Onboard Thai Airways en route to Beijing. And as always with this flight I am major league grumpy before I even get on the plane.
Another 30 minutes of sitting on the ground in stifling heat without air conditioning means that this flight is beyond redemption.
Check in is fast. Although with typical Thai logic taxis are now only allowed to stop at the far end of Terminal One which is the opposite end from where Thai Airways (the major carrier out of T1) has its check in desks.
The shopping mall is crowded. The lounge has newspapers from everywhere except Thailand.
We are off to Gate 5 and a bus to take us out to the waiting 747-300. Forget priority boarding; it is simply a scrum to get through the gate and onto the bus. Sitting there and waiting is a good choice. It is a shambles.
And then we lose some passengers and have to sit on the tarmac for another thirty minutes.
After that it is the usual Thai; friendly enough crew let down by delapidated equipment. The Penfolds Bin 407 would be a saviour but I have to work later ! So showed great self restraint.
9 November 2004
Former Liverpool and England captain Emlyn Hughes died from cancer today – he was only 57.
He led Liverpool to European Cup wins in 1977 and 1978. Managed by Bill Shankly that was one of the great footballing teams.
A really honest professional footballer who gave his all to everything he did.
8 November 2004
In a taxi to Emporium today; the driver is sniffing and snorting; he opens the door as we sit in a Bangkok traffic jam, and expels the contents of his nose onto Rama IV.
6 November 2004
Weirdest game of golf today ! The nine best holes were played in 3 under par; including a very decent eagle 3 on the par 5 ninth. The other 9 holes were played in 26 over par including an 8 on a par 3 and two quadruple bogies !
Fortunately the weather was stunning, the company was good and the course was in great shape; much better shape than my golf game !
1 November 2004
Another month gone. I have been in Pattaya the last few days; in part for work and then over the weekend playing a golf tournament at Green Valley in Rayong.
Pattaya is the craziest place. Beach Road has road works everywhere. The bars are packed at the weekend. The Marriott hotel is a wonderful oasis in the middle of the mayhem. Well run, comfortable and with lovely lush gardens around the pool. Access from the hotel to the mall means you can miss the worst of Pattaya’s excesses should you want to !
The sea breezes keep the town cool (relatively). There was a wonderful sunset on Saturday.
Pattaya is enjoying something of a boom. And my guess is that this will continue. When the new airport opens (2006 sometime is likely) Pattaya will only be a one hour drive from the airport. There is already talk of a fast rail link. An article in the Bangkok Post today estimated that property prices (for quality properties) might increase from 20%-30% next year.
28 October 2004
The 80 or so deaths of protesters at Tak Bai has barely stirred a murmur in Bangkok. Asked what they think of this appalling, inhumane and unnecessary slaughter there is a widespread smile and shrug of the shoulders.
I commented to a colleague that if you take the foreigners out of Bangkok there will be no one here left with a conscience.
Interestingly the Nation has picked up this theme. In today’s leader headlined “Has Thailand lost its conscience” the writer states:
“Most conspicuous has been the absence of any public outrage over the brutal treatment of the Tak Bai protesters. Only a handful of human rights activists have made any noise. In a predominantly Buddhist country that ascribes to such noble values as compassion, respect for the sanctity of life and tolerance, the silence of the voice of conscience is deafening”
24 October 2004
There can be few places in the world where the newspaper weather forecast says cool in the morning with mist – when the minimum temperature is a muggy 25C rising to 32C. The Bangkok Post enjoys an unusual definition of cool weather. Today is glorious. Warm, blue unpolluted skies. So why am I in the office !?
22 October 2004
The latest sport from Denmark is the overhead golf driver toss.
We are on the second hole at Royal Hua Hin. Sven (Danish not Swedish; one likes pastries the other likes meatballs) launches into his drive on the tee.
Expecting to see his ball sail down the fairway (actually with Sven it was less sail down the fairway; more like tack down the fairway) we all follow the ball.
Alas, Sven has launched his driver back over his left shoulder.
The tee backs onto long grass, a ditch, trees and scrub. We looked but could not find the driver.
And on all future holes we made sure to stand well in front of the great Dane rather than behind him.
The sour note came when a local Thai – maybe 30 years old, came up to us on the 12th hole and offered Sven his errant driver back; but wanted a Baht 3,000 (US$75) reward.
Sven said no way and offered less. But the guy would not budge on price. The offending driver had apparently been found outside the club perimeter behind the second tea. Baht 1,000 would have been expensive but fair. Baht 3,000 was extortion and I hope the guy knows where he can try to put the club since he still has it.
That left (and presumably would leave !!) a very sour taste.
19 October 2004
On Saturday July 13, 1985, 70 of the world’s biggest rock and pop acts performed at Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia in aid of famine relief in Ethiopia. The project raised in excess of $140m, enough to save one to two million lives.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper relives Live Aid here. It was the ultimate pop goodwill concert. An event that brought out the best of everyone. The US, embarrassed that they did not think of it first, caught up quickly.
Almost 20 years later – Live Aid – the DVD – is released on video on November 8th. Proceeds go to charity. But it as soon as you can.
I was working in Chicago. Pathetically the US TV networks did not carry the concert live. And it was hard to get the energy and sense of occasion from TV. Pity about “We are the World.” Because “Do they know its Christmas” was a much better song !
Feed the World – as relevant today as 20 years ago.
15 October 2004
The new Aussie ambassador to Thailand will be Bill Paterson. Is there any chance that he is related to Sir Les Patterson; Dame Edna would be pleased.
14 October 2004
Cheap shot from John Kerry in today’s third and final debate. He encroached on the privacy of the Cheney family; and he did so without thought or consideration. It was tastelessly done.
11 October 2004
Christopher Reeve died yesterday.
He was a wonderful spokesman for people with disabilities; and a wonderful example of how to deal with adversity; never giving up; and a wonderful example of someone who could find strength and support from the people he loved.
I hope he can now fly again……..
There is no internet access at work today while the server is being taken apart. It is remarkable how dependent we have all become to this conduit to the outside world; no email; no update news. After only half a day offline I am already feeling frustrated !
Golfed yesterday at Bangphra – a nice old parkland course that fits into its hilly and wooded surroundings.
6 October 2004
Am in one of my quiet phases but did not want my dear reader to think that I have fallen off the planet.
I was in Singapore on Monday night – just an overnight trip. I flew on Tiger Airways – the newest of the new LCCs flying around Asia. At the grand sum of S$109 including all taxes this is a travel bargain.
The bargains may not last long unless they can get a serious number of passengers on their planes. The return flight on Tues night was maybe 15% full.
I always get depressed in Singapore. Maybe there are too many mixed up memories.
This is the same Singapore that was recently described by the Taiwanese foreign minister, Mark Chen, as being the size of a “piece of snot” (a bogey).
The Taiwanese are particularly upset that their erstwhile ally has taken a much stronger pro-Beijing, one-China line in recent months. The Singaporean FM described the bogey comments as ‘extreme’ and ‘painful’.
Sensitive bunnies – all of them !
29 September 2004
Who writes his script – 18 year old Wayne Rooney – on his debut for Manchester United and making his European Cup debut, scores a hatrick!
Tony Blair was on top form at yesterday’s keynote speech to the Labour Party Conference. He does speak well; he is engaging and he sounds sincere and plausible.
But he is flawed goods. Iraq has damaged him and will continue to do so. He asks for trust but no one should ever forget that he lied to the people.
His alliance with Bush was wrong; he could have been a great prime minister. But his legacy will always be Iraq.
This is the same Tony Blair who said: “There are literally thousands of sites. I have no doubt that they will find the clearest possible evidence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction”
June 4 2003, House of Commons
27 September 2004
I went to see “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” yesterday.
It is an intelligent and thoughtful movie. And encouraging proof that Hollywood is far more than over-hyped big budget blockbusters. This is wordy and clever. Maybe a little too self absorbed to be completely engaging it is still thought provoking.
We sometimes love people that are not good for us. That is at the heart of this movie. We also often want to forget parts or all of a relationship. But we cannot and we probably should not. Instead we remember the good and learn from the hurt.
And life goes on…it may not be perfect but it is all that we have.
This week down on the groundfloor of Chateau Potash in Bangkok there are two very attractive, tall, underfed, promotion ladies wearing fetching black outfits on behalf of Johnnie Walker.
Their big promotional banners declare “Journey of Taste” which is not English and for which their promotions agency should be abused.
What I do not understand is why it is necessary to promote whiskey consumption any further in this country. It is already the drink of choice and appears to be regularly consumed at all hours and before any sort of meaningful activity; including (unfortunately) driving.
22 September 2004
Good news as I get older: Walking regularly at age 70 and beyond can help keep the mind sharp and ward off Alzheimer’s disease according to research suggesting that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain.
I guess the only problem would be if you forget where you are going !
In more good news for older people, another study suggests that the benefits of a Mediterranean diet rich in fish, olive oil and fruits and vegetables extend into old age, increasing longevity even in men and women in their 70s, 80s and 90s.
Preferably this is washed down with large amounts of wine while sitting under the sun by a little cliff top villa overlooking a sparkling blue ocean.
Blair, Bush and Howard all have to go. Failure to accept fault or censure is simply not acceptable in vibrant democracies. So the responsibility is now with the voters. We deserve better.
20 September 2004
The YouEssEh wives are also known as ‘The Stepford Wives.” You have to see the movie……….Is it compulsory for US golfers to have blonde wives and girlfriends with great dentists?
A friend looked at the YouEssEh golf outfits on Thursday and said they are horrible. Lots of red, white and blue hoops and grey trousers. They made everyone on the team look 20 pounds heavier!
And they kept wearing similar outfits all week.
The Europeans dressed to impress; they were relaxed with the crowd all week; they smiled and signed autographs. They won many admirers.
Darren Clarke’s 17th hole chip was sensational. A dreadful lie and fast downhill. But in the end it was great to see that he and Davis Love III halfed their match. They are good friends and it showed.
There were few YouEssEh supporters there at the end to witness the European celebrations! It was so fitting that Monty’s fabulous two -put on the 18th hole ensured the win for Europe. He led the team from the first hole in the first match on the first day.
The Europeans have now won 4 of the last 5 matches; maybe it is time for the USA team to add the rest of the Americas; Canada, Mexico and South America!!
In the meantime the Americans will go home in their private planes and limos to their sponsors cheques.
19 September 2004
Golf at Panya Park today – an ugly 15 points on the front nine and a better 21 on the back nine. 27 points from nine pars and only 9 points on the other nine holes ! What did I say last week about consistency !
Why is it that the land who invented team building cannot build a golf team ? The YouEssEh is a nation of individualists.
18 September 2004
The Ryder Cup is great drama – pity it is ruined by dopey people chanting USA, USA, YoEssEh and “Get in the Hole.” Why on earth they shout that for the drive on a Par 5 hole is a mystery?
The Europeans all look like they actually like playing golf with each other. They look like they are out golfing with their chums. The Americans all look like they would rather be somewhere else.
17 September 2004
Wet and grey in Bangkok. The sort of day when you turn up the air conditioning; rent a couple of old persuaders episodes and imagine that it is a November day in England!
Still no arrest in the Kanchanaburi shootings. Why is that not a surprise.
12 September 2004
Two games of golf at the weekend. Wish I could get some consistency !
10 September 2004
The Eagles are now so old that they must surely be known as the Bald Eagles.
The shooting by a serving police officer of two British packpackers is not going to help sell Thailand’s tourism industry.
Vanessa Arscott, 23, appears to have been murdered as she tried to stop a gunman who shot her boyfriend Adam Lloyd, 25, in the popular tourist area of Kanchanaburi.
Police are now hunting a police sergeant believed to be the killer after the couple, from Devon, were said to have met their deaths following a row in a restaurant owned by the policeman.
There are quite simply too many guns in Thailand and too few controls over their use.
Tomorrow will be the third anniversary of the terror attacks in New York and Washington. In the middle of a close election campaign let us hope that both the Bush and Kerry factions will turn down the rhetoric for a day and allow people pay respect to those who died that day.
Tomorrow would be a good day for all parties to call a truce in the war on terror and commit to a world at peace. Fat chance.
8 September 2004
The Eagles are coming to Bangkok in mid October – the cheapest ticket is US$50; the most expensive is over US$200. This is to sit in a massive warehouse with horrible acoustics that is way up in the north of the city and accessible only via a three hour traffic jam. All that effort to watch a museum piece.
Desperado – why don’t you come to your senses – for the same money you can buy up to 100 pirate copies of their greatest hits cd’s and sing along at home
6 September 2004
On a personal level this is one of the saddest days. 12 years ago I embarked on an adventure; it had its risks and there was an emotional cost associated with it. But It was everything I wanted and at the time I felt happier than ever before; that life was taking me where I wanted to go.
Then 10 years ago I left Canada for Hong Kong. The adventure continued. But was damaged by work and a my own failure to recognise that I was losing sight of the dream.
Through that ten years there were some wonderful times and some that if I could undo them I would.
But it is too late now. There are times when I feel very exposed and very alone. I cannot write it all down here. I have lost too much and gained too little.
I will try and be optimistic. I will try and do what is right. And I am sorry for today and for everything that brought us here; we should never have come to this point.
(Dec 2019: I think this was the day that my divorce became final and something that had been so special had been turned to rubble – largely through my own selfishness. The good news. Alex. We have always done our best for him.)
4 September 2004
I am quietly comfortable on Dragonair’s lunchtime Airbus 321 from Beijing to Hong Kong thinking about the last four days in Beijing. Hard to know where to start. The city has changed dramatically in the two years since I was last there and the changes all appear to be for the good.
The differences between Thailand and China, between Bangkok and Beijing are frankly alarming. Things get done in Beijing. A one hour meeting is all business and lasts exactly one hour. There is an agenda, there is a beginning, a middle and an end. There is commitment as to what needs to be done next.
And there are some very impressive people.
They also have a great deal of cash to spend from the high growth Chinese economy and massive export surpluses from the manufacturing sector.
China also remains a counterfeiting hub. Golf is the latest craze. Before I even started to bargain I was offered a set of new Ping G2s, 3 iron to sand wedge, 3 metal woods, a putter and a golf bag for less than US$200. They felt and looked OK.
Now given that the “real” Ping irons cost near on US$1,000 just for the irons (3 to PW) you can see just how cheap it is to manufacture a set of clubs!
31 August 2004
The demise of the South China Morning Post is one of the sadnesses of modern Hong Kong. It is now more like China Daily than China Daily! The mandarins of Beijing will have been delighted by yesterday’s front page banner headline – “China leads Asia into a new era”. Too much.
In flight to HKG. The brave man in 17D has just requested that 18C turn his music down. Personal headphones are either not very personal on Cathay or he likes his music very, very loud. Probably defective headphones. Anyway brownie points to the chap in 17D
Heading out to BKK airport and waiting at lights on Sathorn/Rama IV there was a guy weaving in and out of the traffic on his scooter. He used one hand to steer the bike. The other hand was clinging onto his pet poodle. The poodle did not have a crash helmet. An accident waiting to happen.
The Beckhams will have a third child next March. Good for them. The best game now will be guess the name ! Rebecca is definately not an option.
30 August 2004
The governor election is over and Khun Apirak has won comfortably. Do not mistake this for any great re-emergence of two party politics in Thailand or of any great revival of the Democrats.
Golf report from yesterday – 36 points in the stableford; out in 41 shots (21 points) at President but lost the plot a little on the back 9. Could not put and played the par 3s like a donkey! Good day out and a good group to play with.
29 August 2004
There was a huge rat (truly) outside my local 7-11 this evening !! Like me, he was probably looking for a drink ! Someone has to explain to me why the governor’s election means that the bars have to shut for a whole weekend and even hotel restaurants cannot sell a drink ! Polling finished at 3pm on Sunday; but bars were not allowed to see alcohol until midnight; and then they would have to shut at 1am!
No alcohol could be bought or sold on Saturday either. Even the 7-11s and stores were not allowed to sell alcohol.
26 August 2004
This week’s specials in the restaurant in my apartment building include “Pork Rice Noodles with Fourticals.”
I have no idea what fourticals are; I searched yahoo but it cannot find this word anywhere. It sounds a bit like an unnecessary body part!
24 August 2004
One of the most unpredictable features of our office building in Bangkok is what music will be played over the loud speakers in the men’s washroom.
I adjourn there with the newspaper for a few minutes quiet contemplation only to find that I can be listening to: the 1812 overture with full sound effects; the flight of the bumble bees; christmas songs in june; kenny g (the worst of all); or today, acid jazz !!
23 August 2004
I was walking through Lumpini Park with a friend yesterday. It was almost 5pm and the aerobics classes are getting ready. In one area near the lake she listened to the music and then said this must be where they do Issan Aerobics; as the instructor arrived the music changed to Kylie Minogue….that well known Issan favourite.
Arsenal 5 Middleborough3 : there was a time when watching Arsenal was as riveting as watching paint dry.
Not now; 1-3 down and looking suspect in defence they simply stepped up a gear and played thirty minutes of stunning football. Wonderful entertainment.
It depresses me every time I see the so called fans of opposing teams hurling their foul yobbish abuse at the likes of Thierry Henri (the Man U fans at the Community Shield were ugly). They are privileged to watch a great talent in a great team that play compelling football.
22 August 2004
Very down this weekend. No golf. No one to do anything with.
Elgar on the cd player. Rather melancholy.
Scary thought – the Americans have a habit of naming their navy ships after US Presidents. How about a USS William Clinton; that would probably be a big sucker !! Better still a USS Hillary Rodham Clinton. You read it here first.
It is a feel good day in England; a hat full of medals yesterday at the Athens Olympics and a 4-0 white-wash of the West Indian cricket team. Winning is a good habit.
21 August 2004
Everyone in Thailand is now a weightlifting convert. Two gold medals from Thai girls in the weightlifting events is a terrific achievement. Paweena Thongsuk won yesterday’s medal. The bar that I was in went wild.
Better still she beat two Russian competitors – at least one of whom must be shaving regularly !
Though I am a bit worried about the expression clean and jerk! Is that what happens in a Chuwit massage parlour?
20 August 2004
I was at the driving range last night. Could not hit two decent shots in a row. I hooked and I shanked. But not a bad word passed my lips. Meanwhile the Thai girl next to me at the range was swearing like a trooper; as things deteriorated she moved from the s word to the f word. She would then have a cigarette to calm her frayed nerves.
Life is too short to get that upset about a little white ball.
It is raining very evening in Bangkok; traffic is heavy and going out in the evening becomes wet and frustrating. Now would be a good time for a holiday!
14 August 2004
The opening ceremony of the Athens Olympics is underway on TV. I doubt we will hear much more of the Greek National Anthem during the Games!
There was a wonderful opening scene of water and fire. Very simple. But my Greek mythology is very poor ! Expect a Trojan Horse sometime tonight – hopefully without Brad Pitt.
I wonder if the Chinese will allow a Taiwanese team to participate in four years time?
I must remember to tell you about today’s golf – later!
I spent yesterday golfing at the Bintan Lagoon Resort. There are two courses here; the seaside Jack Nicklaus course and the woodland Ian Baker-Finch course, although 9 holes on the Baker-Finch course are under renovation.
This really is a fun day out because everything is made so easy. Pricing is simple. Monday to Thursday S$115; Friday S$130 and Saturday S$160. This includes ferry to Bintan, transfers to the golf course; 18 holes of golf, a caddy and a compulsory power cart.
For another $30 you can also play the back 9 of the Baker Finch course.
And you will be well looked after.
I checked in at the Tanah Merah ferry terminal and did not see my clubs again until I got to the starter area at the course. The resort pre-arranges the visa on arrival for anyone that needs it. And they have an fast track arrangement in Bintan which allows you to jump the queue at immigration and get to the course quickly.
My caddy was extremely pleasant and spoke excellent English. She also spoke a little Japanese, Korean and Thai. That is the result of four years of caddying for tourists.
I was on my own and set out to play all 27 holes; a friendly Taiwanese 6 handicapper joined me for the last six holes; which made me play some decent golf. He was in Bintan on honeymoon; and is taking his new wife to Pattaya next week! Taking coal to Newcastle!
The courses are now well matured and are in good condition.
I left my clubs with the caddy. And did not see them again until I reached Singapore. Meanwhile I had a shower followed by a cold beer.
It is a full day out; the ferry takes an hour each way. But it is great value and a truly good day out.
I was supposed to be golfing with a friend; but I had not realised that some people still regard the evil empire (Reuters) as more important than friendships.
12 August 2004
Working with a small company is very different from my working days in the evil empire.
There people came and went at their choice or the Company’s on a regular basis. Leaving parties were a regular event and were a courtesy to attend rather than heartfelt. Maybe that is a bit cynical but it is not wildly inaccurate.
In Bangkok our project has maybe twenty staff including friendly consultants. It is a close community where we need each other’s support; where friendships are formed and where all our personal lives are better known and more happily shared than in a larger company.
We have a wonderfully creative and energetic Thai team and parties bring out the best in them. Yesterday’s party will live long in the memory of everyone that was there. Everyone got involved, everyone was there because they wanted to be, it was clever, it was sincere and it was fun.
8 August 2004
I was going to get on my hobby horse and get all upset with the Chinese after their defeat by China in the Asian football Cup final. They treated the Japanese fans and players with derision and there were ugly riots in the streets after the game.
But nothing worse than how British fans behave and just as intimidating as South American fans. The only issue with China is that there are so many more of them.
And did I mention that the deciding goal was clearly handball. A touch of the Maradonas (see how long English football fans carry a grudge). Again a great case for using video to help referees.
Welcome to Planet Football.
And talking of football we now know what Sven Goran Eriksson is good at !! In today’s tell-all News of the World Faria Alam says:
“Sven really cared about my fulfilment. He made sure I enjoyed multiple orgasms before he satisfied himself. I fell for him totally. He was a master of the art of love-making.”
Seems that Sven has been scoring regularly; which is more than can be said for his team!
I saw the new Tom Cruise movie “Collateral” on Friday night. It is long and too predictable.
More importantly I said sorry to a friend.
7 August 2004
I would vote for whichever Bangkok governor implements a minimum speed for trollies pushed around supermarkets; or had aisles wide enough that there are enforceable fast and dawdling lane
6 August 2004
There are 22 candidates for the Bangkok governor election to be held on 29 August. The ballot system works by putting a cross next to a number not next to a name; so your have to remember your candidate’s number rather than his or her name.
The city’s streets are littered with candidate’s posters.
Chuwit has the most imaginative posters; seven different posters of his looking in a stern corruption busting mood. In one he looks severely constipated ! His poster campaign is estimated to have cost Baht 20 million.
Chalerm is all over town as well. Looking very austere and traditional.
The baby-faced Democrat, Apirak, looks schoolboyish by comparison.
Pavena cannot be seen on street posters. But she is prominent on the back of vans and taxis.
But the names ill not matter on the day. Just the right number. “I am not a number”
30 July 2004
Nok Air – No Care !! Oops. Hopefully it sounds better in Thai.
28 July 2004
As part of its marketing blitz Nokair has its staff running around BKK doing promotions and singing the company song….presumably the chicken dance !
To encourage a unique (thankfully!) corporate culture all staff must address eachother as “Nok”. So I would be Nok Robert (many people have tried to !). It must be tough if your nickname is already Nok…Nok, Nok !!
“This is your Captain Nok…”
27 July 2004
A postscript to the Canadian election – only 60.5% bothered to vote. The second biggest vote, behind the Liberals, was in fact the apathy party – the no voters.
If you cannot be bothered to vote then you get he government that you deserve.
Another note from a visit to the Canadian embassy. There are instructions on what sort of photograph is acceptable for your passport photograph.
In keeping with Canada’s dour image you must not smile for your passport picture.
And in a waiting room at the Canadian embassy that has all the charm of a dentistry the most recent newspapers are the Nation from the 21st and 22nd of this month; five days old.
25 July 2004
I had a hair cut on Friday. Now I know this is not big news but it is a strange experience.
My hair cut starts with a hair wash – and this lasts ten minutes with two washes that go on forever and some conditioner.
And then as soon as it has been washed then 3/4 of what was washed is then cut off.
My hairdresser is a lovely lady but she does not cut my hair – she shears me !
And then what little is left is then washed again. Rather odd !
19 July 2004
A list of the worlds’ top 100 wonders is at this link. You may not agree with the list but it would be great to be able to say been there and done that !
More dislikes or personal rants;
Men with whistles. Is that the only way they will ever get attention?
People who stand at the top or bottom of escalators having a conference about which direction they should head in.
14 July 2004
Another delay in updating the website while I take a few days in Penang.
One thing I had not expected is how well Penang has marketed itself is a Muslim friendly destination for Arab visitors. Makes for a very interesting collection of guests in the hotel and in these troubled times maybe just a suggestion that we can all get along.
The jet skis here at Batu Ferringhi beach are a noisy polluting menace. The hotel advises against sea swimming due to jelly-fish. The jet skis are a greater danger.
Copy dvds, vcds and music are openly available in the local market. The police presence is merely to direct traffic! RMB10 about US$2.70 buys a DVD.
6 July 2004
Am in Phuket which is why this site will not update until Friday. We are in the south between Karon and Kata beach.
There is much to enjoy about Phuket but some things are always unpredictable:
The hotel has no TV in the rooms; but there is a big screen TV in the hotel lobby; where tonight as family entertainment you can see “Kill Bill”. Not exactly something I will take my 7 year old to see!!! Rumoured to be Monica Lewinski’s favourite film!
A print out from the hotel’s horrible internet access is Baht 15 a page !! Highway robbery !
Generally I would guess that Phuket prices (at least at the tourist areas) are double those of Bangkok.
1 July 2004
Wow; half way through the year already.
Khun Chuwit, Bangkok’s massage parlour magnate has an impressively upscale hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 24. One piece of advise; do not eat in the restaurant.
With more than a little irony there was a large corporate group there last night eating the buffet….their t-shirts sporting the logo of the relaxer massage chair !!
28 June 2004
Canada votes today in an unusually close vote; the only real likelihood is that whoever wins will have a minority government.
The Globe and Mail’s outstanding editorial with its qualified support of Mr. Martin’s Liberal Party is on the today page.
One wonderful quote of Mr. Martin trying so hard to be everything to everybody – “On same-sex marriage, he swung both ways”.
Three days of golf in a row. The old bones are a bit sore today. Saturday and Sunday were spent at the Soi Dao highlands, some 4 hours east of Bangkok. A lovely setting and a tough golf course ! A visit in November is recommended – the leaves change colour and it begins to look more like Canada’s Muskokas !
24 June 2004
There is even a web site to buy cheese online – www.cheese.com
With 30 types of Brie, 49 types of blue cheese and even 6 Mexican cheeses this a site that I wish oozed smell !
22 June 2004
On the flight today I finished reading Mark Haddon’s novel “The curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
This is a gem of a book. Believable, terrifying , funny, and in the end strangely optimistic.
19 June 2004
One of the perils of traveling is that I ignore my website.
It is strange to be back in Toronto after 10 years away. So much is familiar. But the city’s personality has changed. The city has grown dramatically. Canada’s Wonderland, once in the wilderness, is not surrounded by development.
It is a big, big city with big city problems such as worsening pollution and crime. And it is less Toronto the good, and more the Toronto with attitude. People are more aggressive. Downtown is more like New York; but without its style. Yonge Street looks like Broadway before they cleaned up Broadway.
I saw the movie “The Stepford Wives” last night. Had to sit through 30 minutes of advertisements and previews first. And it is a long and slow movie; neither comedy nor horror. And simply dull.
9 June 2004
A visit to my local TOPS supermarket is always interesting; I buy far more than I intend to; I have no idea what most labels say; and I have never seen so much canned tuna in one place !
As for shoppers with trolleys; generally trolleys are driven like cars; as though they are the only user on the road or in the aisle !
For a look into North Korea try this link to “North Korea zone.” One of the site’s authors is Rebecca MacKinnon, previously Beijing bureau chief for CNN.
Thailand plays a world cup qualifying football match against the North Koreans later this evening. I bet the Koreans wont be out celebrating in Patpong !
Some bright spark has installed small televisions in our office elevators to broadcast an endless loop of noisy tv adverts. Not even anything useful like the news headlines or a reminder to go back and get your umbrella. So that we can see these miserable screens half the elevator lights have been turned off so we can stand there being deafened in semi darkness.
7 June 2004
Great golfing bargains: for the low season – head to Green Valley/St Andrews 2000 in Rayong. As much golf as you want on Mondays and Tuesdays for Baht 500 at Green Valley and Baht 800 at St Andrews 2000. Add Baht 250 for the caddy fee and Baht 600 for a compulsory and very necessary cart at St. Andrews.
St. Andrews is a stunning course – it is hard, really hard. 7,700 yards off the Championship Tees, 7,000 off the official tees and 6,500 off the men’s. Play the official tees for a good test. The fourth is an 838 yard par 6. It is a great design in the best condition !
Ronnie Reagan died on Saturday. He was always a cheerful optimist. He gave conservatism a human face. And he told Americans that after Vietnam and Watergate it really was OK to feel good about themselves and their country.
How much responsibility he can claim for the collapse of the soviet bloc is open to question. But he did create communication and trust that allowed it to happen.
For the last ten years he has fought Alzheimer’s Disease. He could not remember family of friends; or his own legacy. It is only fair that others remember with fondness one of the most colourful of modern American Presidents.
28 May 2004
Nasser Hussain retired from international cricket yesterday after 96 test matches. He quit while on a high. Not a classic batsman by any means he was a great scrapper and many of his best innings were in the hardest of circumstances, including his farewell hundred on Monday at Lords. A winning unbeaten hundred at Lords in your last test innings; that is a great way to retire. A career in broadcasting/media will follow.
I did not mention that I watched “The Pianist” on vcd the other day. Riveting, terrifying. Polanski’s Holocaust movie tells the true story of a Polish Jew, Wladyslaw Szpilman, a classical musician, who survived the Holocaust through stoicism and good luck and help from an unlikely source.
27 May 2004
Its my birthday – it is also 4.00am.
Birthdays are odd. I get so defensive about mine. I tell people it is no big deal; that they shouldn’t be doing anything special. But then I guess I like it when people do remember !
I vividly remember my big birthdays – 21 and 30 and 40. My 21st was an all night party at the house I shared with friends while at University in Canterbury. My 30th was a wonderful sunny weekend barbeque at my house in West London. My 40th was a surprise dinner at TOTTs restaurant in Hong Kong. Yet I am no longer in contact with any of my friends who were there that night. Strange.
But I cannot tell you what I did for my birthday last year !
For this year – I am going to start the day with a few hours sleep.
22 May 2004
This tells you a lot about England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson. He gave Ruud van Nistelrooy man of the match in the FA Cup final. Sure he scored twice including a penalty. But he did nothing else all game. Ronaldo meanwhile was in a class of his own, lit up the game and scored the crucial first goal.
21 May 2004
It is time to vote for a no CARB diet –
No Cheney; no Ashcroft; no Rumsfeld and no Bush.
And while we are at it – no Rice either.
20 May 2004
There is a great headline from Associated Press today – FTC required labels on sexually explicit spam.
They cannot be shopping the same supermarkets as me ! Is it the shape of the can ?? Spam, spam, spam, spam……
17 May 2004
So much in my head this week. Sometimes I think I should write it down but it is too personal and this is simply too public ! Thirty hours in Hong Kong over the weekend.
12 May 2004
Sorry; I am not neglecting this page. This is just a horribly busy week.
Imagine if you will the British government investing in an Aussie Rules football team in order to improve the image of Britain in Australia. That is basically what is being proposed with the potential Thai investment in Liverpool FC.
Money runs the game now. And Liverpool need all they can get to build a team that can challenge for something important. But I do miss the days when it was true fans who owned the club such as Elton John and Watford.
Maybe I am just sour that PM Thaksin is not investing heavily in Vicarage Road.
Could someone please tell the management on U Chu Liang building on Rama IV that the road way around their building is not the Le Man race track. The speed bumps are more like speed pimples; and cars fly around the building in the morning as people try to walk into the building.
As is usual in Thailand; no one will care until someone is killed; and then it will all be someone else’s fault.
5 May 2004
The wet season must have officially started this morning ! Grey, stormy and very miserable.
Yesterday was Star Wars Day – “May the Fourth be with you.” I guess it was funny the first time I heard it about 20 years ago!
3 May 2004
Almost five and a half hours to drive to Hua Hin on Saturday as everyone fled Bangkok for the labour day weekend and for what would normally be a two and a half hour drive. And it is a pretty dire time to be away. Hot, hot, hot. The road to Hua Hin is in pretty poor condition at least as far as Cha-am. Maybe that’s one way of keeping the crowds away.
28 April 2004
70 said killed in Thailand gun battles. This is today’s AP headline. Not good for tourism. The concern must be that the fighting escalates and moves North.
I have been sick as a dog for two days. Where does that expression come from.
Big storm this morning; the first of the summer. Traffic of course was miserable. Most startling of all; the temperature is 80F instead of 100F. Much more pleasant.
26 April 2004
Yesterday was a day for reflection. The dawn ceremony in Hellfire Pass at Kanchanaburi was moving. It was better attended (about 550 people) than it has been for years which says much about the current state of the world. In fact it was almost too many people as we all crammed into the Pass for a 5.30am start with many people unable to see or really properly participate in the ceremony. But with everyone just glad to be there and to reflect.
23 April 2004
A big fire in Bangkok this afternoon; which is still smouldering away after 3 hours.
From our office I could see large plumes of black smoke and flames from the Tungmahamek shanty town, near the Sathorn Road business district. This area is just south of the Banyan Tree and Sukhothai hotels and next to my favourite driving range at Mahamek..
I hope there are no serious casualties.
21 April 2004
One of my friends thought I should have taken more car pictures at the Bangkok Motor Show. My efforts were however pale by comparison to Colin Dunjohn whose site can be found here:
20 April 2004
Happy 7th Birthday Alex. You are truly the sunshine in my life!
19 April 2004
I was back in HKG yesterday – basically just for the day; the sun was shining; it was about 28C in mid afternoon and I was sitting at the beach thinking how much I miss the place.
One year after SARS the city appears to be in one of its property driven booms. With one extra observation; the city is simply so much cleaner now than pre-SARS.This really has been for the long lasting good.
13 April 2004
Making e-commerce work – Thai Airways just does not get it. I need to go to HKG next weekend. Thai Airway’s online e-commerce site offers me a round trip fare including taxes of Baht 12,645 for the lowest available fare in EY. Meanwhile Emirates has a fare of Baht 6,980. Same route; similar timing; better entertainment.
Even worse, this was the best available from Cathay Pacific: Baht 20,645, as there was no available restricted economy fares.
The sooner Air Asia starts to fly this route the better !
If I went to a travel agent they would offer me Thai for about Baht 7,500. Why is it that their web does not offer these fares?
12 April 2004
A big hurrah for Phil Mickelson – out in 38 and back in 31 with a birdie on the 18th to win the Masters. His 43rd major championship; and a major at last. This may be the first of a few. Great golf, a great finish and by all accounts a really decent guy.
11 April 2004
Places to avoid – Rydges Resort in Phuket. Awful – truly awful food; shockingly grumpy staff with an honourable exception of the Kids’ Club; rooms that look terribly dated; over-priced transport; and watch out for extra charges on your bill; if they can think of anything else for you to pay for rest assured that it will be there; this is a package tour resort that hopes to keep its guests captive and then extract every possible baht from them. Pity – it has a nice beach front location at the south end of Bang Tao beach. This resort was acquired by Rydges of Australia in 2000 and renovated in December 2000. It needs work urgently.
In fact I am not a great fan of Phuket. After Bangkok, Phuket is expensive and over-rated. Good food is hard to find and prices for anything are inflated for a tourist driven economy.
4 April 2004
Escape from the crowds with the buffet lunch at Pacific Rim.
1 April 2004
A day out to Singapore yesterday. Well 26 hours to be precise. Air Asia flew me there and back very comfortably for Baht 998 (US$25). The airport taxes and insurance cost more than the air fare at Baht 1,157 in total.
Arrived late on Tuesday night. Spent Wednesday walking and walking. Visited the bookshops on Orchard Road; they are quiet in the morning – Borders and Kinokuniya.
Took the cable car to Sentosa which is under massive renovation. Walked around the Singapore River ad had a nice dinner at Indochine by the Asian Civilizations Museum.
Singapore gets ever more affluent. New private apartments are everywhere. New bars, new restaurants. New campaigns to keep everyone in order; a speak better english campaign and a kindness campaign.
The return flight left at midnight which allows time for dinner before heading out.
One health warning. The Robertson Quay Hotel is ropey. Small rooms, not well cleaned and a bed where the springs had been too well tested. Pay the extra dollars and be comfortable.
30 March 2004
Xinhua (that bastion of truth and fairness) reports that Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan said Sunday that Taiwan’s recent “presidential election” was “the biggest joke in the world.”
“People will talk about it for 100 years,” Chan said at a news conference in Shanghai. “It was a shame. Not so good to look at. I was very upset and couldn’t fall asleep.” Chan’s comments were aired on Taiwanese television.
Jackie – democracy is not a joke. It is a great privilege and one that many of your fellow Hong Kong citizens aspire to.
And if you really want to know what was the biggest joke in the world – go and watch “Tuxedo”.
Latest slogan from Thailand’s PR people – “Thailand – Detroit of Asia.” Anyone who has ever been to Detroit will know that this is not something to be proud of! The best thing about Detroit – the tunnel out of it into Windsor, Canada.
Things are getting tough for the PM. He has had to send his youngest daughter out to work in a local McDonalds. Her salary – Baht 23.75 an hour! And she had to serve her Dad. Made a change from eating chicken.
Peter Ustinov died yesterday aged 82. One of those people who everyone regarded as a truly good, decent guy. As he reminded people “Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit”
29 March 2004
An interesting mix of news over the weekend. NASA’s successful test of a scram jet could see commercial flights taking 2 hours from Sydney to New York in say 50 years time. How that would change the world (maybe too much!). Work in Manhattan and have a weekend home in Bondi !
The bombing in the south of Thailand may be a sign of things to come. It may not be so long before the targets move to Bangkok. SO far the unrest has been very localised to the south of the country. How long can this continue.
Thai mothers produce great golfers. First Tiger Woods and now the 17 year old Thai Korean prodigy, Aree Song, on the US Women’s Tour.
Canada beat Fiji at the Hong Kong Sevens; with England beating Argentina to retain the title.
And to keep us all on our best behaviour in BKK the Culture Ministry is keeping a watchful eye on the models/presenters at the Bangkok International Motor Show which runs until 4 April. The Culture Minister said that “We have received a number of complaints about some scantily-clad girls and we have set up a center to monitor what is happening.”
Everyone knows that boys do not go to the motor show to look at the cars !!!
The disappearance of Somchai Pheelaphaijit continues to make news. This leading Thai – Muslim activist disappeared on 12 March. His disappearance has not been explained.
24 March 2004
Thai AIr is now sponsoring the broadcast of CNN’s Today programme in Thailand, under the tag line – Opening Up the Silken Skies.
What on earth does that mean !?
23 March 2004
There was something profoundly disturbing about watching a gloating Israeli Prime Minister telling his people that a helicopter gunship had murdered a cleric in a wheelchair.
22 March 2004
Golf report; two days of golf at the weekend – at Muang Kaew and at Kiarti Thanee: my golf is not consistent enough to win anything; but I can confirm that even when it is cloudy sun screen is a must ! I also strongly recommend more than three hours sleep before golf.
19 March 2004
I did a day trip to Udon Thani yesterday. Everyone should take time away from Bangkok to see provincial Thailand. Udon Thani is 562 kms from Bangkok heading to the North East. It is close to the Thailand/Laos DPR border formed by the Mekong River.
At this time of year the city is hot dry and dusty. Not yet as humid as Bangkok but badly in need of some decent rain.
It has the feel of an old frontier town. Perhaps once more prosperous than it is now!
Udon Thani was huge in the Vietnam war with some 50,000 US troops and air force based there. The city thrived as a major U.S. air base during the Vietnam War and a strong American presence remains there, including the Voice of America transmitter for all of Southeast Asia. It also functions as a trading and communications center for northern Issan. The air base at Udon Thani was very heavily involved in the C.I.A.’s secret war in Laos (1964-75) (Agent Orange in Laos and Cambodia: Documentary Evidence) in which untold thousands died. This area along the Mekong, together with Vientiane itself, forms part of the background to parts of John Le Carre’s spy novel, “The Honourable Schoolboy.”
16 March 2004
One of my better friends tells me that I think too much. Alain de Botton has christened this as status anxiety. It is the subject of a book and a TV series and an article in the Guardian that is on this website (Today’s news).
But my friend is right – it is actually thinking too much that is hazardous to your health.
Another Guardian feature writer, Andrew Anthony, summed this up so well when he said:
“I have lived for many years quite happily with my unnamed status anxiety, which is to say the usual healthy cocktail of bitterness, envy and resentment. There were no sleepless nights, no long journeys into the depths of my tortured soul. I just did what everyone else does. I bitched and moaned about how useless everyone else was and how, if there were any justice in the world, I would be paid more than them and have a better haircut.
But now I lie awake worrying about if I’m worrying enough about my life and career. Surely, I think, if I was serious about myself I would be in a proper state of anxiety which I could then address by reading De Botton’s book and watching his TV programme. That’s status anxiety anxiety. But don’t worry if you haven’t got it.”
Doctor, doctor; I think I have status anxiety anxiety.
There are only two good cures – get laid or take out the big dog and belt 200 golf balls as hard as you can!
8 March 2004
Golf report; 86 net 71 on Saturday. Not good enough to win anything but concentrated better than usual and avoided the big ugly blow outs that usually blight my medal rounds !
Travel report: Air Asia release its April and May flights and fares. How about flying from BKK to Phuket for Baht 299 (yes that is less than US$8) on the Thursday evening before Easter. Now it costs Baht 999 to come back but even with taxes the round trip fare is less than US$40 for Easter weekend. I have even given you the web site link. Baht 499 one way to Singapore is another outstanding fare !!!
3 March 2004
I actually have an official golf handicap. First time I have had a proper handicap since I was 18. I was never a member anywhere long enough or got too distracted by other things so never put in enough score cards. So officially I am playing off 15 ! This has to improve…..
3 March 2004
I have had two weeks of grief trying to publish this web site. The US host that I use has been having countless problems with its Microsoft Frontpage extensions which are critical to loading pages that are written using the Frontpage software.
Patience, gentle reader !
24 February 2004
What an odd combination – 90 minutes of the Pretenders and 90 minutes of Bryan Ferry. 90 minutes of politics, bad language and rock from the Pretenders and 90 minutes of technically solid but totally un-engaging lounge lizard singing from Bryan Ferry!
Chrissie Hynde is now 52, and is still a levis ad; their first big single was “Brass in Pocket” in late 1979, followed by “Back on the Chain Gang”, and later the mega-success of “Don’t Get Me Wrong” with lyrics like “I’m thinking about the fireworks that go off when you smile”, against that bouncy beat and jangling guitars.
Chrissie Hynde is like a one person who is who of Brit Pop. She has a daughter with Ray Davies of the Kinks and was married for six years to Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr.
She may be one of few performers who can call her audience dumb f**** and get away with it – she was condemning the meat eaters. Her politics are very forward. She is an animal-rights activist and card-carrying People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals avenger who stormed a KFC in Paris last July. Three years earlier, she dodged sentencing after trashing a Manhattan Gap store for selling items she said were made of leather from illegally slaughtered Indian cows.
More on the Pretenders here:
16 February 2004
Jet lag can be bad – and I am not used to the long distance travel. This has been a painful week.
There is something worrying about a city whose major claim to fame is having the world’s biggest tin toy soldier.
Good news: West Wing is on television tonight.
There will be a sex in the city movie: But the last ever tv episode airs on hbo this coming weekend.
The Canadians are all upset that Conan (a late night talk show guy) poked fun at Quebec. Well it was a bit naughty since the Ontario and Federal governments has spend $1million Canadian to bring his show to Canada as part of the post SARS hard sell.
But really does this need to be discussed in Parliament. The Canadians poke fun at the US all the time; learn to laugh at yourselves as well – else Canada will start to look too like Switzerland!!
15 February 2004
Things that bug me; I fear this will be a recurring item !
1) People who bring all of their personal belongings on a plane and call in hand baggage ! Why do they need anything more than the things that they need for the flight. It is so rare for bags to get lost now so that is not longer an excuse. And why do the airlines let people get away with it. When the turbulence comes and the bins fly open and that bag lands on me I will be gone!
2) Thai men with whistles; a noise that goes on for 24 hours a day. They are directing traffic or parking cars. It is shrill and unnecessary and intrusive!
3) Do not eat the lamb in Cafe De Paris in Bangkok. This was a very old and very tough sheep. We tried to tell the waiter just how bad it was. It should have been obvious; 2 and 1/2 of the 3 chops were still on the plate that he took away. And the response – so predictable; Mai Pen Rai !
I am walking around WH Smiths at Hong Kong Airport – this guy (white guy) stands in the middle of the shop and farts twice. Big loud wet ones. Was that really necessary?
In the Cathay lounge this guy has his finger so far up his nose it may come out of his ear. And he is now examining the product. God, I hope I am not sitting next to him on my flight to Vancouver !The same finger that was up his nose is now picking at his teeth !
The flight to Vancouver was OK. I enjoyed watching “Lost in Translation” – it is a gentle, wise and carefully observed film.
It is wet and grey in Vancouver. No surprise !
13 February 2003
One of my colleagues brought me a Mr. Grumpy mug ! She is right. I am getting grumpier as I get older!
11 December 2003
In my more thoughtful moments I wonder whether I have had my midlife crisis and how it revealed itself.
I was reading old scripts from the TV show Northern Exposure. Chris descibes a midlife crisis as that midpoint in our personal continuum when our delicate lives hang in the balance. We look behind us to see how far we’ve come and we realize that our past isn’t a solitary trail through secret woods, but a vista as big and expansive as the ocean itself, with our experiences stretching to the horizon like tiny dot-like sail boats, sucked up into the enormous sea.
As we approach the end of the year it is time to toast old lang syne, to toast my own lost year. For in that year I may also have found myself as well. I have moved passed excess, forgetfulness, failure, and blindness. In many ways, the defining year of my life
9 December 2003
I played 63 holes of golf over 3 days at the weekend around Siam Country Club and Phoenix in Pattaya. Different courses but both enjoyable.
On Saturday and Sunday my colleague and I played 36 holes matchplay. Our competitors were good players, were competitive but gracious.
20 November 2003
Thai Air have set their IPO price – this must surely be a risky offering given the new domestic and international competition. Thai is saddled by excessive staff numbers, a history or bureaucracy, a massive need to invest to be competitive and an ill-considered fleet where they have a little bit of everything. Maintenance must be a continuing nightmare.
16 November 2003
The Rugby World Cup Final will be between Australia and England. Lets hope the English win it; the Aussies cannot be world champs at everything. It may just be that the Aussies had their cup final against the All Blacks. Can they be that strong again?
13 November 2003
A big thank you to Cathay Pacific and Thai Airways; they do make a wonderful job looking after unaccompanied minors flying in their care. Outstanding.
Highlight of the day was getting the little guy’s hair cut – the Kanebo Aesthetics Centre (Thai for hairdresser ???) in the Silom Complex. Nice people and great with kids.
How can a six year old know quite so much about Pokemon; how can anyone know that much about Pokemon.
12 November 2003
Why start today; why not? is the only answer. I need a place to right down things that don’t fit anywhere else and maybe for the occasional personal moment !
I am feeling musical today; it has been a musical day in the office (the boss must be away!); and then I saw news of Faye Wong’ new cd. Her first new release for two years. Called “To Love” it is her debut cd for Sony. She has fallen foul of the mainland censors who have removed the song “In the name of love” from the cd as it contains the line “Opium is warm and sweet”. This is a pic of the cd cover.
Xinhua, that bastion of great journalism, reported that “relevant departments banned this because they thought the lyrics were too decadent and will influence the health of your people”. The song will appear on the cd in all other markets including Hong Kong. One country, two versions !!
The reviews look good. And she will play eight concerts in HKG at the end of 2003.
Go and listen; she transcends language and culture !