Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Thai style

Yuletide greetings from the Land of Smiles.

I hope you are all enjoying the festive period, unless you've been stuck at Heathrow airport waiting to go on your holidays!!! My thoughts are with you.......as I sit on my patio in 35 degree heat with an ice cold beer in my hand!!!

Despite the sweltering conditions and distinct lack of snow......we are doing our best to enjoy a tradtional English christmas. Our Christmas tree is bulging with presents and I have just cooked a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Not wanting to sound modest but my roast potatoes were an absolute triumph!!!







Thai visitors to our house have been looking at me like I'm an escaped mental patient, as I walk around singing carols and wishing everyone a happy christmas!!!!

Anyway I have to finish this post now as I have yet to finish imbibing, but I look forward to keeping you up to date with all the developments in Thailand during 2011 and I wish you health, wealth and happiness for the coming year!!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Overnight in Kuala Lumpur

A few weeks ago I spent a long weekend on the island of Penang and my first impressions of Malaysia were rather mixed and I returned to Thailand feeling a bit underwhelmed by the whole experience.

However, with my latest visa coming to an end and wanting to see if I had misjudged Malaysia, I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to visit Kuala Lumpur or "KL", as it's affectionately known by the locals.

My return flight, that was booked online with Air Asia, cost 5200 baht (approximately £110). But, that price did not include any checked-in baggage!!!!

Air Asia get a lot of negative press for their poor customer service, but I've never had any serious problems flying with them.

The only complaint I had on this occassion was a rather snotty air stewardess on the return flight, who insisted on putting my bag in the overhead compartment, as she deemed it "a safety risk to other passengers". I advised her that the only safety risk to passengers comes from Jihadists, with explosive material in their underpants and not from my bag!!!!! They also do not sell any alcoholic drinks on the flights to and from Malaysia, but fortunately the flight was only 2 hours long.

An important snippet of information is that there are two terminals at KL airport. The main KLIA terminal, where the all the major international airlines arrive and depart and the LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) which as the name suggests, is where the budget airlines fly too. The terminals are joined by a shuttles bus service which costs 1.50 Ringgits and takes 20 minutes.

Upon disembarking at the LCCT, there was quite a long walk (about 5 or 6 minutes) from the plane to immigration and passport control. For a lazy so-and-so like me anything more than 1 minute is considered a long walk!!!

As I mentioned in my last post about Malaysia, Brisitsh citizens don't need to obtain a visa prior to arrival, you will receive a stamp in your passport entitling you to stay for up to 90 days once you have completed the immigration form, that you should have received from the airline staff on your inbound flight.

I would like to commend the immigration staff at KL who were polite and friendly. I received my visa waiver stamp in less than 15 minutes. Thai immigration could learn from their Malaysian colleagues!!!!!

The airport is situated in an area called Sepang which is about an hours drive from the centre of Kuala Lumpur, known as the KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre) where you will find the petronas towers and plenty of other places of interest.

When doing my internet research prior to my trip, I discovered that the return taxi journey would cost about 120 ringgits (about £30) and not wanting the hassle of negoatiating public transport, I decided to stay close to the airport.

There were not many choices, so I eventually settled upon the Tune Hotel LCCT. I paid 147 ringgits for my online booking which is approximately £36.

Tunes hotels marketing slogan is "5 star beds a 1 star prices", but be warned that is a complete crock of sh*t!!!

The location of the hotel was good, only 8 minutes walk from the arrival hall. The exterior of the hotel seemed nice enough and there was a pleasant outside seating area, but things went downhill from check-in.



The staff seemed disinterested and didn't return my cordial greetings and there were adverts plastered all around the building and in the bedrooms which felt very intrusive. The rooms themselves...well..... I was lost for words....it was the smallest space, masquerading as a hotel room, that I have ever seen. I'm sure the average prison cell is bigger than the room I was given.







The level of cleanliness left a lot to be desired. I saw a rogue pubic hair in my bathroom sink (I did take a photo but the pube didn't show up very well!!!!), ants crawling out of the light switch and there was an old chewing gum wrapper stuck to the wall.


"5 Star" my arse.....more like "1 star beds a 5 star prices". For the same price, you can get a hotel in Thailand that is ten times better.

There was a cafe and a restaurant in the hotel complex. The restaurant was named "Decanter" and was actually pretty good, despite there being some less than genial members of staff. It served a mixture of Malaysian and international food and I reserve a special mention for their chicken pie which was delicious. A 2 course dinner with 2 bottles of tiger beer cost 45 ringgits, which is just over £11 and a large pizza cost 18 ringgits (about £4.50).

There isn't an awful lot to do in and around Sepang, but for fans of motor sports, the Sepang International Circuit is a must-see and was only 10 minutes by taxi from the hotel. Even for someone like me who doesn't really follow Formula 1, it's pretty spectacular.



The tour costs 50 ringgits (£12.50 at the current exchange rate) and you get to visit behind the scences and see how a grand prix is managed. The highlights include visiting the museum, grandstand and paddock area and on non-race days you can also step on to the track and see the start/finish line. They also offer driving experiences and go-karting.

All in all a fun few hours and well worth the entrance fee.

So to sum up my trip.......

Flight = ok
Accommodation = very poor
Food = reasonable
attractions = good
Malaysian people = a very queer bunch

My opinion of Malaysia hasn't changed significantly and I would give my trip a 6.5/10. The tourist board is going to have to work a lot harder to get me to visit again.

For more information about Kuala Lumpur the following links are very useful......

http://www.kuala-lumpur.ws/

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/malaysia/kuala-lumpur

http://www.visionkl.com/

Monday, December 13, 2010

Our new pick up truck

I am currently as pleased a punch because we have just bought a shiny new pick up truck!!!!

The decision to purchase the new truck was made for us, by our wonderful brother-in-law, who very kindly wrote-off our old pick up truck, by falling asleep at the wheel and driving into a ditch at 80 miles per hour!!!

Suffice to say, the stupid p****k has been permanently deleted from our Christmas card list!!!







It's a 3 litre Isuzu D-Max Hi-Lander with all the bells and whistles......and yes the entertainment system does play dvd's. Just what you need to distract the driver and cause a multi car pile-up!!!!

I'm sure all the eco warriors out there will be apoplectic, as it's a rather thirsty beast and has the fuel economy of the QE2.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dicing with death in the garden

Looking at pictures of our garden in the glorious afternoon sunshine, you wouldn't have thought that taking a stroll would have potentially life threatening consequences!!!!







But, that is exactly what happened today!!!!

When checking through the sugar cane, what did I encounter? Only a Malyan pit viper, which a cursory check on google will tell you, is highly venomous, aggressive and easily provoked!!! Not to mention that it's responsible for hundreds of hospital admissions every year in Thailand and if you get bitten, you will die without treatment!!!

However, I can tell you that encountering this little fella was marginally less frightening than bumping into my sister-in-law in the dark!!!

Here some links to more information about the Malayan pit viper and examples of what can happen if you get bitten!!!

http://www.siam-info.de/english/snakes_crotalidae.html

http://www.factzoo.com/reptiles/snakes/snake-venom-bite-first-aid.html

http://www.thailandsnakes.com/tag/venomous-snakes/

P.s. I'll give you Bully's special prize if you can name any of the trees or plants that are growing in our garden!!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What the fuk?

Before you start writing any letters of complaint or offering to wash my mouth out with soap.....a fuk, is actually a type of vegetable here in Thailand!!!!

In Thai script it is written ฟัก and when pronounced, it sounds just like the English swear word. So, as you can imagine, I have had hours of fun with this in Thailand!!!!

But, what on earth is a fuk, I hear you cry?

It's known as a "winter melon" or "white gourd" in English and is common throughout South East Asia.

For those of you, like me, who are botanically challenged, the winter melon is in the same family as honeydew melons. However, unlike the honeydew melon its flesh is not as sweet. It has a very mild flavor and is often used in soups, although I enjoy eating it when it's stir fried with chillis.

They are well known for their detoxifying properties and can also be used to make vegetable juice drinks. I have also heard that it is used in China to make tea.

Here are some examples of dishes made with the winter melon.......

I am always on the lookout for weird and wonderful Thai foods and will bring you more posts in due course.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thieving bastards

As I was eating breakfast this morning, our next door neighbours' son showed us a video clip, which he had taken on his mobile phone, of refuse collectors from the local council stealing our garden tools and rooting through our belongings that we keep next to the garage.

Here is the clip showing the light fingered c*nts at work!!!!

video

The way the fat f*ck just casually walks around the corner to our garage is astounding. The brazen bloody cheek of it....I want to introduce him to my friend "pain"!!!!

We made a CD copy of the clip and my girlfriend's sister took it to the local council/government office to make a complaint. But, even when confronted with video evidence of theft by their employees, they refused to accept responsibility and said the binman was just looking for rubbish to take away!!! What complete and utter boll*cks, they just can't be bothered to confront the issue because somone will lose face. So, in true Thai style, it gets swept under the carpet.

Amazing Thailand eh? The Tourist board should change their advertising slogan to Thieving Thailand!!!!

So, I am posting a warning to all residents living in Banglamung to be on your guard and make sure that all your valuables are safely secured when you see the rubbish collectors!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Update on the flooding in Thailand

Thailand is currently looking more like a water park than your favourite holiday destination!!!!

The worst flooding in decades has left over 100 people dead and thousands in need of emergency aid.

In the last week, the city of Hat Yai in the Southern province of Songkhla has been particularly badly affected and the tourist mecca of Koh Samui was forced to close it's airport and was left without electricity and other essential services for a prolonged period.

Here are some pictures of the devastation in Hat Yai.....




In the immortal words of Sir Alex Ferguson it's a bit "squeeky bum time", if you're living in Songkhla.
At home, here in Banglamung (which is on the outskirts of Pattaya city in South East Thailand), we have been very lucky, with only some lower lying areas being hit. The worst our soi has experienced is a few overflowing drains. However, this has meant I have been clearing up shit smelling rubbish for the last couple of days....but on the birght side at least I'm not homeless!!!!

For more photos and news about the flooding the following links are very useful

http://www.accuweather.com/blogs/news/story/41002/south-thailand-flooding-trigge-1.asp

http://thailakorntv.com/2010/10/latest-flooding-in-bangkok-thailand-news/

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Update on the Chiang Mai renovations

A little while back I promised you an update on how the renovations of our house in Chiang Mai were progressing. The property was purchased in October last year, but we were unable to visit it until August this year, so it was in need of some serious TLC.

Rather than bore you with a long post about mixing cement and choosing paint colours......it's easier if I show you some before and after pictures.

Before.......





After........










I'm glad to say that it's now fit for human habitation and as the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket remarked.....it's now so sanitary and squared-away that the Virgin Mary herself would be proud to go in my bathroom and take a dump!!!!