Tuesday, September 29, 2009
In 2008-09, a total of 1038 Australians died whilst on holiday overseas and Thailand which received 378,000 Australian visitors accounted for 105 of those deaths!!!! It is lucky that England won the Ashes or that death toll would have been a lot higher!!!!
So statistically, your average Aussie has got more chance of winning a test match, by bowling underarm, and wearing a tutu and flip-flops, as they have of staying alive in Thailand!!!
It doesn't bode well for Dame Edna or Skippy, so you'd best lay off the sang som and coke guys and watch ur back!!!
If you would like to read the the full report please click on the link below......
Why is it that so many Australians end up croaking in the Kingdom? Are they complete clowns who couldn't find their arse with both hands or are they just plain unlucky?
I'm sure most of us in the Northern Hemisphere will agree that it's the former, so, to give my Aussie friends a helping hand, I have come up with a simple equation that should help reduce the number of deaths:
10 Beers + large spliff = impaired mental faculties (x journey on poorly maintained motorbike (- crash helmet) + pot-holed roads = limited life span.
You may think I'm being unecessarily harsh on my Antipodean friends by labelling them as drunken, bumbling, knuckle-heads. But they're just one step up the evolution ladder from the Kiwis, who themselves are just below the Neanderthal!!! (I hope my soon-to-be, Kiwi brother in law doesn't read this post!!!!)
But it is hard to argue against my theory when Australia's only contribution to the betterment of the English langauge is Alf Stewart's classic ..... "you flaming gallah".
And you have to shake your head in bewilderment when you hear quotes like these from former Australian cabinet minister Keppel Enderbery - "Traditionally, most of Australia's imports come from overseas".
Taxi for Enderbery!!!!
Before my British readers rest on their laurels and smugly proclaim any sense of superiority, we are also guilty of recklessness and downright stupdity which resulted in 269 of my fellow countryman being killed in Thailand in 2008.
But when you see some of the numpty's arriving from the UK you wonder how they even made it to the airport, let alone manage to get all the way to Thailand.....
So my advice to any would be Travellers to Thailand, is to keep your wits about you, don't put yourself into any compromising positions and do your reserach before you travel.......and last but not least, make sure you have travel insurance!!! The number of people who travel aborad without any kind of protection astounds me!!!!
Talking of protection....if you are going to avail yourself of the services of a nubile young go-go danceer or two, then make sure you're stocked up with party hats, as you don't want to take a case of "Bangkok todger" home with you.
Until next time...
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I'm delighted that the first person joining Penfold at the bar, to enjoy an ice cold Beer Chang and bag of peanuts, is football's Goldenest Geezer, "Big" Ron Atkinson , former manager and TV pundit.
As you all know, "Big" Ron is a legend of football co-commentating and before the "Desailly-gate" scandal that led to his removal from our TV screens, was responsible for bringing us inimitable football phrases like "little eyebrows", "early doors" and "lollipops".
Well Penfold, I first went to Thailand in the summer of '79 whilst I was managing West Brom. Mrs. Ron was staying with our Tracy at a caravan in Clacton but I was looking for something more exciting during the closed season. I'd heard from my old mate Frank Bough that Thailand was good fun. So trusting my instincts, I made a gambler's run to Heathrow and hopped on the first flight to Bangers.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Since my last relationship came to an inglorious end, I haven't been sitting around eating ice-cream and knocking back bottles rosé wine in some kind of "Sex and the city" meets "Friends" orgy of self-pity.
In fact one of the first things I did was to book another trip to the Land of Smiles with the intention of improving my sun-tan and going on a 2 week, beer Leo drinking binge.......and with the hope of meeting the next Mrs. Penfold, of course!!!!
Around the time of booking my trip I had started to be in regular telephone and email contact with Apinya, a very cute looking, sweet and friendly Thai lady. I made the decision that during my trip I would meet up with her and see how things played out.
I arrived in the Big Mango full of the joie de vivre that only a "hansum man" going to Thailand can experience. For those of you that haven't been to Thailand, the feelings that you experience when you disembark at Suvarnabhumi, because of all the fun you know you are going to have, are something like winning the Euro millions roll-over, scoring a goal in the FA cup final and then stepping out of the shower to find Carmen Electra holding your towel and wearing nothing but a smile.
I tried hard to repress the shit-eating grin on my face whilst walking through the airport, for fear of looking like an inexperienced Thai first-timer and being seen as fair-game for the taxi touts and tour operators. Having safely negotiated the arrivals hall, I jumped into a kosher taxi-meter and headed for the bright lights of the city.
I had booked 3 nights at a hotel in Sukhumvit, with the intention of going to visit some friends in Koh Samui after this brief sejourn in Bangkok.
I had planned to meet up with an old friend and long-term Thai resident in Bangkok, but feeling lucky I decided that the first thing I should do was to call, Apinya, the lady with whom I'd been corresponding whilst I was in th UK.
As much as I enjoy the company of my friend and outrageous his white supremacist opinions, he does unfortunately have a boat-race that ressembles a smacked-arse and I would much rather look at a lovely Thai face!!!!
I'm glad to say that I made the right decision, Apinya was an absolute treasure and delightful company. She appeared to enjoy spending time with me even after I had consumed 14 bottles of beer Leo and ended up nearly hospitalising her and my fellow drinkers in the bar, by setting off a can of pepper spray that she carries in her bag!!!! I did ask her if the pepper spray was for use on me if I got a bit too frisky on a first date, but I'm glad to say was not the case!!!And here is the lovely Apinya
After spending 3 eventful days in BKK, we headed to the beaches of Koh Samui.
This was my 3rd visit to Koh Samui, which is firm favourite of mine among the many Thai islands. We did the usual touristy things such as visiting the mummified monk and the inimitable "Hin Tai Hin Ya" rock formation or the "cock rock" as I like to call it!!!....(for those of you with the mental age of 5, like me, will undoubtly snigger at the the photo below...........)
Our days were spent drinking in the sites of the island and our nights were spent drinking in the local liqour!!!!
I may be getting old but I had never even heard of a "jägerbomb" before my visit to Koh Samui!!! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the jägerbomb, it is a cocktail that is mixed by dropping a shot of Jägermeister into a glass of Red Bull.
This foul concoction was nearly responisble for my untimely demise under the wheels of a "Song Taow" and I was only saved by the intervention of the quick-thinking and slightly more sober Apinya.
Thanks to multiple jägerbombs and copious buckets of Mae Khong, coke and red bull, the following morning actually felt like the end of the world had arrived. But in true Dunkirk spirit, I soldiered on!!!!
I thoroughly enjoyed Apinya's company for the time I was in Thailand and could feel myself falling for her "hook, line and sinker".
This was indeed the start of a new chapter for Mr. Penfold and I have made a subsequent visit to Banglamung which is Apinya's home town. This encompassed her birthday celebrations and also being invited to the initiation ceremony of a couple of local lads who were becoming monks. I don't want to sound too artsy fartsy but this was a fantastic insight into Thai culture and I'm thankful for being able to be part of the celebrations. Here are some pictures of said celebrations!!!
In the short time that we have been together we have experienced a lot and I can report that our relationship is going from strength to strength. You know when you experience that warm, fuzzy feeling in ur stomach and everything is perfect ....that is how I'm currently feeling when I'm with Apinya......and as my old mate Suggs once put it "this must be love, love, love....."
I have another trip scheduled in just under 4 weeks time which is eagerly anticipated and I'm just hoping the numpty's at the Airport Authority can keep any protesters away and ensure the airport is open long enough for me to get there!!!
I hope you have enjoyed this post and as always I'd be happy to hear any comments you have....
Over and out
Monday, September 7, 2009
But….if Fox news and the loony religious zealots are to be believed then anyone going there, particularly single guys or groups of young men, are all rampant ”kiddie fiddlers” and degenerates, prancing around in Borat-esque “mankinis” while singing Gary Glitter’s classic “do you want to be in my gang” and knobbing 10 year olds.
According to them we are going to burn in the eternal fires of damnation….but in my humble opinion we’ve got a lot more to worry about than the risk of meeting lucifer….if the credit crunch and global warming continue then we’re going to be broke, unemployed, homeless and under 100ft of melting polar ice caps and tidal surges. Gordon and Barrack et al are doing a better job of taking us to Hell than we can ever manage!!!
Apologies for that slight digression….going back to my original point about the different types of people who spend time Thailand. I will give a brief resume of who to look out for, their personality traits, where they can be found etc etc. I also intend to apply a star rating to each group, so you know who to avoid or to mingle with. The star rating is a follows: 5* = fun/enjoyable company to 1* = avoid like the plague/do not approach under any circumstances.
These creatures are easy to indentify by the skanky unwashed hair, beards (on both the Male and and females specimens), cheap flip-flops and a propensity to talk complete and utter tosh about having an “authentic Thai experience”. They tend to scoff at those who want to spend their holiday partaking in other pursuits instead of staying in a jungle tree house to “find themselves” or “re-balance their ying and yang” .
They have invariably dropped so much acid that they think they are in 1967 and Jimi Hendrix is still top of the “Hit Parade”. I think they must all be descended from Scottish ancestry….as they quibble at having to pay more than 30 baht for a Beer Chang and think that 100 baht for a room with a fan is an extortionate price to pay.
They are normally found congregated around the Khao San Road in Bangkok or staying in Beach huts on Koh Tao….thinking they are an extra in the film “The Beach”. I’d like to suggest that not washing for a month, wearing horrific tie dye pantaloons and surviving on a daily diet of steamed rice and half a bottle of Beer Leo is not my idea of fun….My suggestion for this group is to get a f**king job, have a shower, buy some clean pants and get on the next flight to Tristan Da Cunha.
Star rating – 2*
2) Package holiday tourists
A loose definition of a package tourist is someone who comes to Thailand for 7-14 days or some variation thereof, has their flights, hotels, transfers and an excursion or two organised for them and generally get herded around like sheep….baa-rilliant!!!
I like to call it “Lazy Tourism” and that’s not knocking it in any way as I’ve been on this type of holiday before and it definitely has a market.
The average punter comes in many shapes, sizes and nationalities, although I think the package tour phenomenon is mainly limited to Northern Europeans, Japanese and Koreans and to a lesser extent the Yanks.
The problem with package tours, particularly in recent years, is that as Thailand became cheaper it attracted the sort of ”Wayne & Tracey” crowd. The type of British chav couple or family with 2.4 screaming brown babies from Croydon/Wolverhampton/Liverpool…(insert as approriate) who used to spend their days on the beaches of the Costa del Sol and have now invaded Koh Samui and Phuket by the tuk-tuk load. I would rather poke my eyes out with a bottle of Beer Lao or smear myself in butter and run naked into a nest of fire ants than spend a single second of my time with Wayne & Tracey…listening to them arguing about their benefit payments or demanding sausage, egg and chips from a bewildered Som Tam vendor.
At the other end of the scale you have Cuthbert and Brenda, the retired doctors from Chipping Sodbury, who have booked their £12,000 Saga trip and then smugly tell all their friends at every given opportunity. Personally, I wouldn’t want spend my holiday stuck with a couple like that….discussing whether their hedgefunds are maturing and how their Grandson “Johnny” is volunteering in an African orphanage…yawn, yawn.
The other quirk of package holidays involving Europeans is the fact that many gentlemen (mostly morbidly-obese Germans over the age of 40) insist on wearing the ubiquitous “speedos”. I don’t want to see multiple Josef Fritzl lookalikes waving their tackle at my Missus, thank you very much. “Hey Fritz…I don’t want to see your meat and two veg, put it away you dirty so-and-so”.
All I can say is God help me…my parents have recently been looking a South East Asian package tours through Saga…but fortunately my old man doesn’t wear speedos…….aaaarrrgggghh.
Star rating – 3*
Backpackers have two sub-categories which are as follows:
a) The “full-time” backpacker more commonly known as a lay-about or bum
b) The “Gap Year” student
a) The "full-time" backpacker
These wasters are just below the Hippies on the evolutionary scale. Many of them came to Thailand from places like Goa in the 60’s and 70’s and never left, scraping by on 100 baht a day and trying to befriend other foreign tourists in the hope of bludging a few drinks, scoring some weed or better still some hard currency.
Like it’s Hippy cousin it can be smelt the length of the Khao San road and it’s uniform consists of beads, good luck amulets and the longer the dreadlocks, the further away you should stay!!!
The Thai’s have a great word for this sort of individual “Kee Nok” literally meaning “bird sh*t”.
Star rating – 1*
b) The “Gap Year” student
These chaps are normally jolly good eggs….ok, ok I admit it I’m biased…I did fall into this category about 6 years ago….I first discovered Thailand during a “round the world” trip with a chum from my home town. It was this first visit that opened my eyes to what South East Asia had to offer…it is a million miles away both geographically and culturally from what we know back in blighty…..I liken it to Marmite you either love it or hate it…..and I love it.
Some Gap Year travellers do charity work or teach English whereas others are just there for the “craic”. These travellers can be from a broad range of socio-economic backgrounds and some will slum with the “Hippies” in Khao San road but others (me included!!!) like to go slightly more upmarket and stay in hotels with TV and air-con.
You find these guys normally have an appreciation of the country they’re in and it’s culture and make an effort to interact with locals. Unfortunately, you do find the odd numpty among this bunch….. those who are obnoxious either by birth or by upbringing. The pompous twats who are spanking their trust funds or spending Daddy’s millions.
Star rating – 4*
Like backpackers Expats fall into a couple of distinct categories.
a) The business Expat
b) The retiree
These are my interpretations of the different types of expats.
a) The business Expat
They are either offered a permanent placement with their employer or go to Thailand on a short-term contract.
In my opinion these are the luckiest buggers on the face of the Earth. Getting paid exorbitant sums of money to live in one of the most exciting and vibrant countries in the world. They are many and varied and work in a range of fields from large multinationals, consulates and government departments, international broadcasting and telecommunications. They can be found dining at the best restaurants, living in plush condo’s with maids and being chaffeured to and from the office.
But just before you go green with envy, they can struggle to understand the office politics that occur in Thailand, often work 12 hours+ a day and I have heard that women, particularly single or unmarried, struggle to fit in even more than their male counterparts.
As with any walk of life you can encounter some incredibly nice and friendly individuals but the over-blown salaries and the fact they have every whim catered for can mean, to quote Del Boy, you do meet some right “plonkers”.
Star rating – 3*
b) The retiree
The vast majority of those who retire to Thailand are either single or divorced Western gentleman who after finshing working in ”Farangland” are looking for a change of scenery. There are also many gents with Thai wives or partners who after having both worked in the West decide to return to Thailand.
These chaps are normally found on the golf courses and frequenting the many bars that cater for Westerners, particularly in towns like Cha-Am, Hua Hin and Pattaya. They may also have a property in Isaan or the north of Thialand which in all likelihood is where the partner originates.
Retirees are often very genial and I often find them good for some intelligent conversation..not all the time though as they are often more iniebriated than me. There are people from all backgrounds and I have struck up conversation withs doctors, pharmacists, pilots and teachers. However, one of the few occassions I’ve ever personally experienced aggression in Thailand was in a bar in Hua Hin. A Scottish Expat took exception to a conversation I was having with a fellow drinker about Margaret Thatcher (she still has the power to provke anger and divide opinions to this day!!!). I left the bar promptly as I didn’t want to have to resort to violence with a chap who was old enough to be my Dad.
Star rating – 4*
I trust you've found this amusing and informative and I will endeavour to continue the theme of this post at a later date. There are a plethora of social groups who travel to Thailand and this post just scratches the surface....
Over and out
I'm not knocking relationships with former bar girls as I do happen to know several guys who have married ex bar girls and have very good, successful relationships. However, a lot of relationships with former "working girls" are doomed to failure!!!
After having picked my self up, dusted myself down and applied a large dose of savlon to the grazed knees of life, I felt it was time to get back in the saddle and try to re-start my love life.