Archive for January, 2010
This post contains photographs of consenting adults involved in sweaty action, on and around a bed. By clicking on “more” you are confirming that you are over 18 and will not hold the management of Pattaya Days responsible for any psychological trauma that may ensue. Proceed at your own risk (you smutty perv).
Today was the final of the King’s Cup Polo Tournament. I was not involved in shooting it; but the nice ladies from Polo Escape sent me an invitation to the event, held near Bangkok; so it would have been churlish to refuse.
Problem was, the invitation included a dress code, “smart casual”. As she who must be obeyed was quick to observe (a bit too quickly I felt), I do casual really well, but smart is a bit beyond me. I used to be able to make myself reasonably presentable; but once I stopped working, any clothes that could be identified with “office” were quickly disposed of. I now have a couple of pairs of jeans, enough T-shirts for a week, and a pair of sandals; oh, and some underwear in various stages of decomposition but that is best not discussed further.
Still, I resurrected a serviceable pair of trousers, something with a semblance of a collar; and then ruined any chance of presentability with a pair of scruffy black sneakers; my only pair which I keep for special occasions. Looking cheap but cheerful, I headed for Bangkok.
The polo events at Pattaya are relaxed and devoid of any pretentiousness. The big events in Bangkok bring out the “see and be seen” high society crowd and feel far from comfortable in their company, and not just because of my crappy clothing. I am not sure what my values are, or if I even have any, but they certainly don’t match with the sort of people who turn up to these events. I also don’t think I would be very good at being rich; mainly because, if I had a pile of cash, I would immediately spend it on one (or all) of these cars which were on display, and then I would be poor again:
Today I decided on the orange Lambo; but I might change my mind tomorrow. I am so fickle.
Can’t tell you who won (I expect it was Thailand), because I had to leave early for another appointment (oh, the social whirl!), the official opening of The View restaurant on the beach next to the windsurfing club. More cars I wouldn’t mind owning:
Felt more at home with the windsurfing crowd; but still slightly troubled about whether I have made the right decision with that orange Lambo.
Pretty much exhausted the location reports from our trip to Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai; here are a few shots that were left over:
Normally, my trips involve a twelve kilo backpack full of DSLR and lenses. This time I had a small shoulder bag with a Panasonic GF1 and two lenses, a total weight of less than two kilos. It was liberating. I could carry it anywhere without any hassle. It was quick to bring into use, discrete and fast. And the quality of the output was more than satisfactory. There was not a moment when I wished I had my Canon 1D, and plenty of times when I was glad to have the GF1 in my hands. Never going to take the 1D travelling again; unless it is for a sports assignment.
I have seen the future of cameras, and they are small.
Chalermchai Kositpipat is a highly successful Thai artist. Having made a pile of cash, he thought it would be a good idea to turn his artistic talents to the design of a temple. And everyone else thought it was a good idea too, because Wat Rong Khun is like no other temple in the world.
You realise you are in for something different when you see More >
Our hotel experiences in Chiang Main and Chiang Rai provided excellent examples of how a hotel should be run, and also how to comprehensively fuck things up.
First Chiang Mai, and The Tamarind, located within the old city walls and, as previously reported, within walking distance of many temples and the Sunday night market. It also has a good coffee shop right across the road.
Service was discrete, efficient and friendly and it was just a pleasant place to stay. It was our second visit and we will stay there again next time we go to Chiang Mai.
Then to Chiang Rai, to the Phowadol Resort. Almost the same price as the Tamarind and touted as a 5 star resort. It isn’t.
The initial impression was good. Nicely landscaped and cute individual cottages. Then you go inside your cottage and find it is gloomy, with inadequate lighting and shitty wood everywhere painted in that diarrhea coloured orange varnish so beloved of Thai woodworkers looking for a cheap finish. The aircon sounds like a jet on final approach and there are wires hanging from broken fixtures. It’s the sort of room you don’t want to spent much time in.
We went out for a meal and came back for a drink at the bar. It was shut; at 2200. We asked at reception and were told that all the staff were helping at a seminar, or attending a seminar, or had been abducted by aliens. Whatever the reason, the staff at reception didn’t seem to care that we couldn’t have a drink. After all, we could always go back to our darkened room and enjoy the contents of our mini-bars (one beer, one water). Turns out we hadn’t missed much because we went to the bar the second night and it was crap. Some scrappy tables and chairs outside a scruffy room staffed by a young man more interested in the contents of his nose than serving us.
Breakfast was in a a room that could double as a waiting room in a hospital, complete with smells. The food supply appeared to have been pillaged by a marauding army, and what was left tasted like cardboard; and not that tasty cardboard you sometimes find as part of chocolate boxes.
The staff were disinterested to the point of rudeness. She who must be obeyed asked about restaurants in the vicinity (not wanting to eat roadkill in the hospital waiting room) and was told “about 3 kilometres away”; very helpful.
The Phowadol resort is an example of a place that could have been a 5 star hotel; but is a 2 star dump because the owners clearly don’t give a shit about running the place properly. Avoid. Oh, and I didn’t take any photos because it was all just too depressing.
A long time ago, in a land far away, I had a Creative Jukebox MP3 player. It was bulky, heavy, difficult to operate and had limited storage. I thought it was the coolest thing ever but obviously it was a device of limited interest. After all, not many people were interested in carrying around some of their music in a substantial box. It was a niche product for music-loving geeks like me.
Then, in 2001, Steve Jobs stood up and introduced the first iPod. Two hundred and twenty million iPods later, clearly there was a latent market for a small, high capacity, personal music player; it just needed a company to supply a well-designed product. Once I had an iPod, I didn’t know how I had lived without it.
And so we carried around our mobile phones and our iPod players, and accepted that personal computing came in no smaller form than a laptop. There was no obvious gap in the market for something different.
Then, in 2007, Steve Jobs stood up and introduced the first iPhone. Thirty five million iPhones and more than one billion application downloads later, clearly there was a latent market for a small personal computing device which would allow you to access the web from almost anywhere, play games, watch movies and, almost as an aside, make phone calls. While waiting for my lunch today I checked my mail, read the news and played a bit of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. On the way home I plugged the iPhone into my car and listened to music. Now I have an iPhone, I don’t know how I lived without it.
Today (early tomorrow in Thailand), Steve jobs will stand up and introduce the Apple tablet computer. Tech media sources have been speculating madly about this for months. Not only does nobody know exactly what form the device will take; more importantly, nobody really knows why it needs to exist. As with the iPod and the iPhone (and to an extent with the original Apple computer), Mr. Jobs and his gang think there is a gap in the market that needs filling (or rather, creating), and the tablet is going to do it.
With an anticipated ten inch screen, this will not be something you can fit in your pocket. Almost certainly the operating system will look more like an iPhone than a laptop; providing a restricted but hassle-free computing environment. A better gaming experience, more impressive movies, and no doubt it will play your music. You will be able to read e-books on it too, if such a thing appeals. So far, not much of a product.
How about other media? When is the last time you bought a newspaper? The print media world is hurting; why buy paper when you can get it for free on the internet? But what if my favourite photography magazine, for example, was available to download in full colour and included videos of photo processing techniques and camera reviews? I would pay something for that. A car magazine with videos of car tests, sports magazine with video coverage of events. This is increasingly how web information is presented, why not magazines?
Assuming they have cracked the problems associated with providing a usable keyboard on a flat screen, then there may also be input intensive applications such as a word processor available. Perhaps photo processing software in a slimmed down version of iPhoto.
Then it all starts to make sense. A small, light, portable computer with a gorgeous screen (this is a given). Content downloadable from iTunes, including movies, games, music, books and magazines. An operating system which, like the iPhone, is kept robust by being limited to updates and applications from a central provider. Keep the price point around $500 and you maybe have something which will redefine what a personal computer in the home should be for a substantial proportion of the population (that have $500 to spend on a computer). Maybe, finally “a computer for the rest of us” as the original Macintsosh 1984 advert rather optimistically declared.
Of course, all these predictions are probably total bollocks and we will just have to see what they have come up with. Of course only a fool would stay up till the early hours of tomorrow morning to watch the launch….
I keep an eye on how people find their way here, and sometimes this leads me to interesting information.
Today I had a link from The Good Funeral Guide which picked up on the monk cremation story (said nice things, gave an extract and provided a link; that’s the way to do it. Take note you Sompost.com bastards).
I was rather intrigued by the concept of a guide to funerals and had a browse; and I am glad I did. My current plans were to have myself cremated (after death preferably) and then ask for the ashes to be scattered on the Gulf of Thailand on the grounds that:
1. I have had happy times windsurfing on the Gulf.
2. A few ashes will not make much difference to the general level of pollution.
But bugger that for a send-off. The Good Funeral Guide has some much better ideas:
* Mix them with clay or concrete and make something.
* Mix some with paint and paint something – or commission an artist.
* Fire them out of shotgun cartridges.
* Scatter them from a hot air balloon or a light aircraft.
* Scatter them at sea.
* Have them turned into a diamond.
* Have them mixed with glass and made into an ornament or pendant.
* Keep some in a locket, a ring or a pendant.
* Have them made into a firework display.
* Fire them into space.
Having them fired out of a shotgun cartridge (at the victim of my choice) has an attraction; but I think I will settle for being blasted into lunar orbit. A little bit of Spike dust glittering in the night sky; how cool would that be? Donations please.
Around Chiang Mai there are a number of craft factories. The publicity indicates that you can see how the product is made, and of course there may be a shop involved where you will be encouraged, by force if necessary, to make a purchase. Let’s go to the silk factory where a token silk worm in a glass case is the only indication of a manufacturing process. OK, you’ve seen that, now please check out our massive shop. Next stop is the silver factory where a lout with a hammer is banging on a lump of what may be silver but is probably tin. Now let’s look at the shop. Maybe I am exaggerating a little, but none of these places actually make all the goods that they have on display. Apart from the umbrella factory. More >