Downtown train

We had our first day in Bangkok planned out. We would arrive around 1100, dump our cases at the hotel, head for the railway station and then walk into China town.

The hotel was the Anantara in Sathorn, and once Rick@Knees had had a little grumble that he couldn’t check in at 1100 (admitting later that he had confused normal check-in and check-out times), we grabbed a taxi and went to the station.

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We then headed for Chinatown and the complaining started.

Are we there yet?
Are you sure this is Chinatown?
I am sick of walking.
I don’t remember this bit.
I do remember this bit, but it was better last time I came.

And so on. Things did not improve when we then spent the afternoon walking around the Cosplay event and finished off having to walk to the hotel from the Sky Train for a total of only nine kilometres. Still, once he is settled with a fag and a couple of drinks, the cantankerous old git is entertaining company so I’ll let him off the constant whingeing while perambulating.

Anyway, back to Chinatown and a couple of shots:

My new king:
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A quick snack:
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Heading for a refreshment, we were hailed by an old chap who demanded we guess how old he was.

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Being polite I suggested: “42”
“96! And where do you come from?”
“England, where do you come from?”
“I am Cantonese but was born in Thailand”.

So much for integration. He went on to explain his longevity. No drinking or smoking, and he swims for an hour every day. Seeing we were impressed, he told us he also did an hour of yoga daily. Warming to his theme he then suggested he did two hundred push-ups before breakfast. We made an excuse and left before he described his no doubt energetic sex life.

“But I bet the old bugger can’t walk nine kilometres” opined my testy companion.

April 24th, 2017|0 Comments

Pop culture

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To Bangkok for three days in the company of Rick@knees to attend Thailand Comic Con, the hope was that there would not be too many comics, but instead an excess of pretty cosplay girls. We were not to be disappointed, and this post serves as a warning that there will be several more photos like this in the coming days:

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I can only apologise.

April 23rd, 2017|0 Comments

Down the rabbit hole

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I built computers; and they were mainly shit.

They (usually) worked, but they ran on abortions such as Windows Vista, and the hardware looked like it had come out of a shed in China, which it usually had. The cases were black metal made from old baked bean cans and the stuff inside looked as exciting as a rusting fairground ride in Stalingrad. The whole induced zero pride of ownership, and it was almost a relief to destroy it with a hammer when either the motherboard exploded and/or Windows expired.

My life of technical disappointment was relieved more than ten years ago when I discovered Apple. First there was a laptop, then there was an iMac, then there was a Mac Pro, then there was another Mac Pro.

This latest Mac Pro has been with me for six years and is still adequately processes photos, and plays games in Windows with reasonable performance. But wouldn’t it be good to view photos in 4K and play games at the highest settings? Of course it would, so I have decided to build a new Windows computer and sell my Mac.

To be clear, I am not interested in replacing my beautiful Mac Pro with a Lenovo Shitabox piece of plastic crap as can be found gathering dust on the shelves of Power Buy. Oh no, gentle reader, we are talking hard core, bleeding edge technology, capable of pushing pixels at warp speed and guaranteed to generate enough heat to be detectable from space.

Having received some valuable advice from reader Clive and The Son, I disappeared down the rabbit hole three days ago and have only now emerged, blinking in the cold bright light of reality. My research can be summarised in three words: Complicated. Sexy. Expensive.

It’s complicated because there is so much damn choice. I started with looking at cases, expecting maybe a choice of three Chinese shed construction offerings in either black, grey or rust. But the choices at Invade IT extend to more than 300 cases, priced between 1,000 and 45,000 Thai baht. So it was off to the wide wide world of web looking at “best of” reviews to narrow down the options. Home in on a case and watch some specific reviews on YouTube, it’s great! Read the comments under the video; actually, it’s shit. Back to square one. Repeat this process for every single component to be installed inside the case. Arrive at a final list, then discover that some components are not compatible with other components. Start again.

It’s sexy because a tin case with drab internals doesn’t cut it any more. Cases must be sleek, with windows that reveal components in various shades of vibrant colours. And there must be lights. Not just a string of crappy LEDs, but programmable lights on the motherboard, graphics card and memory sticks. Even keyboards have programmable lights. If I wanted to look at a disco, I would don ear defenders and head for the centre of town; so none of the lighting nonsense for me; but I must admit getting caught up in seeking some colour co-ordination in the internals (black with red accents if you want to know, which you almost certainly don’t).

Talking of keyboards, do you favour Cherry MX red, blue or brown key actions? Given the multi-hued extravaganza that is the computer marketplace, you could be forgiven for thinking that this refers to colour options for the keys, but each offer different levels of tactile and noise feedback, and it is of course very important to choose the right one. After an evening of deliberation and confusion I think I am going with brown. Which leads to the inevitable conclusion: what the fuck am I being sucked into….?

Finally: expensive. I remember that 30,000 baht would buy you a capable PC. Not any more. Suffice it to say I will not be investing until after the credit card bill creation date later in the month.

Right, if you will excuse me I must head down the rabbit hole again; I am struggling to decide as to the size of the radiator required for my liquid cooling solution.

April 19th, 2017|0 Comments

Three out of four ain’t bad

My standard photo shot has as many horse legs as possible avoiding contact with the ground. But this one has a certain elegance which I think means it would not be out of place on the cover of a polo magazine (usual rates apply, contact my agent, no interviews etc. etc.).

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April 17th, 2017|2 Comments

Wulai

After my failed attempt to book us into an onsen in Tokyo, she who must be obeyed’s plan for our Taiwan trip included a day’s outing to Wulai, where we could theoretically insert ourselves into hot, healing water. After three days of walking, my legs were tired and the thought of sitting on a bus, followed by a long soak, was very appealing,; so off we went.

The on-line guides to Wulai are very complimentary, summarising it as a charming town, home to the Atayai aboriginal tribe. And it probably was before typhoons in late 2015 destroyed many of the buildings. Rebuilding is in progress, but surprisingly slowly; perhaps aboriginal areas receive funds less quickly….

We arrived early and most things were shut and the place had a feel of desolation, with dust in the air and the sights and sounds of heavy construction.

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With nothing better to do, we decided to go to the waterfall outside of the town. The online guides advised ignoring taxi touts and enjoying “the pleasant ten minute walk to the waterfall”. There was one taxi and he seemed disinterested in touting, so we dragged our weary legs in the gathering heat up a steep hill for close on half an hour. There used to be an option to take a little train, but that had been wiped out by the typhoon too.

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At the waterfall there was a sort of a village.

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More importantly, there was a coffee shop which sold excellent coffee and had comfy seats where we could relax and look at the waterfall which was much bigger than this photo implies:

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After two cups of coffee and a good chat with the proprietor, we shambled back down the hill and into town. We chose an establishment for our hot spring experience and were given a room with a fine view over the hydro plant.

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There was a tub with a rubber duck on the end of the plug, a TV playing Taiwanese cartoons, and an endless supply of scalding water and/or freezing cold water. After some dicking about we achieved a full tub of almost bearably hot water. I lasted about ten minutes before my ascending heart rate convinced me that soaking in near boiling water was not a good idea. My wife lasted a little longer; a bit of a let down because we had chosen a place that allowed us to stay all day had we wished.

Instead we found a place for a surprisingly good lunch and then caught the bus back to Taipei.

Wulai travel tip: don’t bother until they have finished the rebuild. Good coffee, water too hot.

April 14th, 2017|1 Comment

Taipei street

A selection of images taken on the streets of Taipei. You’re welcome.

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April 13th, 2017|3 Comments

It started with a kiss

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April 11th, 2017|0 Comments

Titty Tuesday

Last night I had an urge. Given my age, it was an urge to go out and shoot with my Leica O replica. With no events of note happening, other than the prospect of getting soaked in various parts of town; I headed for Love Art Pattaya to shoot some breasts and other body parts.

I arrived at the massive, empty car park, which is now sprouting weeds, and headed for the ticket office. Eventually the window slid open and a child looked at me in amazement before announcing I had to pay 50 baht. Cheaper than last time, so I extracted my wallet and offered a 500 baht note. A flustered adult arrived and chastised the child, saying something along the lines that I was a filthy foreigner and must be charged 500 baht which could be reduced to 250 baht because I had a Thai driving licence. So that was welcoming.

She went away to get my change and while I was waiting a procession of grubby urchins stared at me from the ticket office. After some minutes she returned, not with my change but with a request for my licence so she could copy it. More urchin staring and eventually I received my licence back and my change. No wonder they don’t get many visitors.

After that I spent and hour or so alone in the park, pointing the Leica at body parts; as you do. Took some digital shots too.

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April 11th, 2017|1 Comment

Taipei temples

Our itinerary included several temples, because she who must be obeyed likes to visit them, and they are usually good spots for a few photographs.

Although the deities were similar, they were different to Thai temples. There was no shortage of Chinese-style temple bling; but there was less noise than the aural assault in a Thai temple, and there was an atmosphere of reverence and solemnity that is missing from the merit making, cash generating establishments back home. People could be found sitting quietly in meditation or reading. You won’t find people reading in a temple (or anywhere else) in Thailand.

My favourite place was a Confucian temple which was very pretty and very quiet.

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Just a shame it was on a flight path:

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Some shots from other temples:

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April 10th, 2017|2 Comments

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Or as it will soon be called: a national center for facing history, recognizing agony, and respecting human rights; because the government doesn’t want to recognise him any more (apart from the agony bit). Whatever they call it, it’s a good place to visit on a sunny mid-week day. Monumental erections, wide open spaces, and not too many people.

We entered through the Gate of Great Centrality and Perfect Uprightness; which leads into a large, tiled, promenade.

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Keep walking and you arrive at the memorial.

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There are eighty nine steps to climb, which in my weakened state after climbing a mountain required a couple of stops along the way.

Inside, a statue of the man himself dominates the room; guarded by a couple of soldiers who manage to remain motionless for an hour which is more than I could do.

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On the hour, the crowds are cleared to the sides for the changing of the guards. I elbowed my way into a central position as three soldiers emerged from a side door.

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We were then treated to ten minutes of guard changing and general marching about, conducted with absolute precision. I am not usually impressed by such nonsense; but these guys were good. Presumably they will be out of a job once the statue has been removed as part of the history, agony, human rights initiative bollocks; go see them while you can.

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April 9th, 2017|0 Comments