December 15, 2010

Another Rant about American Pronunciation

I don’t care about accents as such, I have one, you have one, we all have one, and none are ‘correct’.

A typical American uses, in pronunciation at least, the diphthong ‘ae’ (pronounced something like ‘eh’) whereas a typical Brit would use ‘a’ (pronounced something like ‘ah’) when saying, for example, ‘hand’. That’s not a problem, all are understood.

But it becomes a problem when the USA thinks it can teach the rest of the world how to spell English in other alphabets, using its pronunciation. The letter ‘a’ is generally pronounced ‘ah’ in every major language in the world, including English, everywhere except North America – it is never ‘eh’ (ae). More annoyingly, when they use it correctly, as in ‘aesthetic’, they change the spelling to ‘esthetic’!

The Koreans have a letter that is pronounced ‘ae’ (eh) it’s ㅐ in Hangeul (there’s a picture above if you can’t see this (you need Korean language on your computer). So now we have Americans telling Koreans how to spell place names, in Korean, using American phonetics. For example Amsterdam phonetically ‘spelled’ in Korean is akin to “Ehm-ster-dehm”! New Zealand, spelled in Korean, is 뉴질랜드 (Nyu-jeel-LEHND-uh). So we’ve got Americans telling the rest of the world how to pronounce and spell the names of cities and countries that are, in some cases, ten times older that their own country. They really have no right to do this. It begs the cliched question. Who do they think they are?

And while we’re on the subject of place names, Moscow does not rhyme with ‘cow’, Iraq and Iran are not Eye-raq, and Eye-ran, Nottingham is not pronounced Nodding Ham, and Yorkshire is not pronounced York Shire. Accents are one thing, they are forgiven, but don’t tell us how to say the names of the places we come from! We don’t pronounce the ‘s’ on the end of Arkansas, despite there being a Kansas with an audible final ‘s’, so return the favour and say our, and the rest of the world’s, place names correctly. And unless it’s North American like Canada (캐나다) Keh-na-da don’t have the downright arrogance to instruct other countries to use your phonetics.

December 10, 2010

The Problem with Scottish Football

There are many problems with Scottish football. The standard of play, and facilities in some cases, up in Scotland is as low as it’s ever been. Even though I’m English, I can also tell you that the national team has struggled for years, not having qualified for a major tournament since 1998. Attendances are down across most leagues. The Champions of Scotland have been Celtic or Rangers for each on the last 25 years, since Aberdeen won it under Alex Ferguson way back in 1985. To put this into perspective, it’s quite possible that you’ve become a parent, and a grandparent, since anyone outside the Old Firm has won the title.

The referees have been on strike, some clubs are on the verge of financial extinction (again in some cases), the TV money has all but dried up, and Scotland, I think it’s fair to say, hasn’t really produced a truly world class player for as long as anyone can remember. Even the most die hard Scot would not, I think, argue with any of the above.

So who is to blame for this state of affairs? In my opinion, the state of everything bad about Scottish football, if not all of Scotland, can be attributed to one loathsome set of people, the fans of The Old Firm. Not the clubs themselves, the FANS.

Let’s take the referee’s strike to begin with. One of the main reasons they went on strike was persistent abuse received, not from clubs’ managers, or in the press, or even inside stadiums, but after the game, over the phone and in person, to their houses, often threatening their families too. Who do you surmise was doing this? If you guessed fans of the Old Firm, you would be correct. If a decision goes against their team you can guarantee that the presiding official will receive phone calls, and even visits, to his home. Windows have been broken, families threatened, death threats issued. No official should have to go through this, and no other clubs’ fans are known to do this in Scotland, only Rangers’ and Celtic’s fans.

Sectarianism is also rife in Scottish football. Except there are only two clubs who participate, you’ve guessed it, the Old Firm. Well, specifically, their fans – both clubs have publicly (at least) distanced themselves from such Neanderthal prejudices, but any attendee of any game involving either half (or both) of the gruesome twosome will have witnessed a spectacle of idiocy known rarely elsewhere in the game. Where else inside a football stadium do fans sing of battles from 400 years ago, famines, pseudo-religion, and celebrate and glorify terrorist atrocities often committed on their own soil against their ‘own’ people for the sake of cheap points scoring?

Let’s move on to money, itself a problem within the game, and not just in Scotland. Most of the money up there goes to the Old Firm. True, they have the largest fan bases, but those fan bases themselves are built upon sectarian foundations. Why are Partick Thistle, Motherwell, Hamilton Academical, St Mirren, Clyde et al not as well supported? They have the same or similar catchment areas. Some might say that that the Old Firm’s early successes paved the way for a huge and loyal fanbase, but Queens Park FC, who play at the national stadium smack in the middle of Ibrox and Parkhead (The Old Firm’s grounds) won the Scottish Cup ten times in the 19th century alone. Why did Third Lanark, another famous Scottish club go bust in 1967? Because they didn’t have the revenue of Glasgow’s two ‘giants’ perhaps? Although, in Third’s case, mismanagement was a huge factor in their downfall. The Old Firm also feature in more TV games then the other ten clubs in their division combined, adding to their already bloated revenues, and ensuring their dominance and cancerous grip on Scottish football carries on unabated.

Fans' Behaviour

Their fans’ behaviour was perfectly summed up by Rangers’ recent visit to Manchester for the 2008 UEFA Cup Final, where hours of rioting and destruction ensued. A lesser known fact is that when Rangers previously reached a European final in 1972, there was an equally bad (if not worse) case of rioting, when thousands of drunken hordes invaded the pitch, with a minute or two of the game still remaining. From Wikipedia “Rangers were allowed to keep the trophy, but were banned from European competition for two years (reduced to one on appeal). This marked the first time in the history of the competition that the winners were banned from playing in Europe the following year.”

And I’m not singling out Rangers fans , vile "gutter-rats' (to quote their ex-manager Willie Waddell) though they are. Celtic’s fans are equal in their contemptible, violent, moronic and sectarian behavior. Did anyone see this photo a few weeks ago of a misspelled banner? I can tell you first hand having been to Celtic Park, and games featuring Celtic away from there, that their fans’ behaviour is also a complete disgrace. I’ve seen bottle throwing incidents, been pelted with rocks, had bus windows broken, and various other violent drunken incidents seen and witnessed. The same with Rangers too. Some would argue that this happens at every football much, Trust me, the Old Firm’s fans are much worse, much more often. Also, why do so many of them treat everywhere they go as a public toilet?

In short, pretty much all of the problems stem from one thing, two Neanderthal sectarian dinosaurs masquerading as football clubs, who have fans masquerading as human beings. They truly are Scotland’s shame.

November 28, 2010

Living Near the North Korean Border

I currently live in Dongducheon, where I teach English at the local High School. It’s a sweet job, the staff and kids are great, my apartment is lovely – 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a balcony – and I really like being here.

And it’s about 12 miles from North Korea!

Add to that that there are military bases all around the area and you would think that I lived in a war zone, if you ever watch the Western news shows.

A friend asked me the other day how close I am to ‘things’ if it all kicked off, and I told him, truthfully, “just about ground zero I reckon”.

The thing is, I can tell you first hand that life goes on completely as normal here. The kids have just done their exams, the teachers carry on as normal, and whilst it’s obviously a topic for discussion at the dinner table, we are not putting sandbags at the doors and windows. Everything is normal.

One bonus is that all the soldiers who frequent the local bars are now on base in a state of readiness, which means I can get served quicker! Hurrah for small mercies!

My take on proceedings is that it will all blow over. North Korea is installing a new leader, and perhaps he wants to make a bit of a show, or perhaps even the exiting leader wants to. Also, I can’t quite fully understand why the South Koreans and the Americans need to do their military exercises so close to NK. It only provokes them.

I love South Korea, its people are friendly and, I hesitate to say this as it could be misconstrued, but they are kind of ‘innocent’. They go about their lives in their own little ways, they are not an angry race, they are generally polite, very helpful, often surprisingly kind. It would be a tragedy if such a peaceful and friendly nation, and one that has worked so hard to build itself up after decades of wars and occupations (by the Japanese) was to be ravaged by another war. You see, whilst ‘Korea’, it’s culture and language is very old, South Korea is new. It’s only been a country for fifty years or so, and the first thirty odd of those were under military rule. So really, it’s younger than some of the people reading this as a ‘proper’ democratic country.

I would feel terrible if these lovely people lost all they had worked so hard for. You can see how proud they are of what they’ve got, and what they’ve achieved in such a short space of time. The children here, especially the teeny-tots, are an absolute delight too – so cute and polite. It doesn’t bear thinking about that anything bad should happen to them.

South Koreans deserve peace and prosperity. I hope they get it. I think they will. I’m gonna (somewhat cheesily perhaps!) leave the last word to John Lennon :)

November 05, 2010

Dundee FC and Their 25 Point Deduction

DFC fans are all over the net bemoaning their penalty for financial irregularities. These irregularities include: not paying the taxman around £400 000, not paying Tayside Police for policing their games, not paying the local University for use of their training facilities, and various other debts.

This, you may be thinking, is not so bad. After all, many of us have been broke before, or struggled to pay a bill. So what?

Well, Dundee FC, throughout all of this, were signing the league's (Scottish Division 1's) best players and coaches with money they should have been giving to the taxman, the police, and the university and local businesses. Other clubs in the division were paying their bills, living within their budgets, and not signing expensive players to gain an advantage with money they didn't have. Dundee did. In short, they cheated.

Add to this, Dundee fans' incessant gloating about how they were 'the Man City of the North' because they had a benefactor who was allegedly paying for all of this, and you have a situation of pure cheating, lies and deceit.

And it's the second time they have done it! They did the same thing in 2003.

They have been rightly punished in my opinion. A 25 point deduction may seem harsh, but as a fan of Dundee United, who keeps a very close eye on all things Dundee and football, I would say their gloating, cheating and dishonesty have gone on far too long.

Now they are asking for everyone to help them – local businesses, other clubs etc, at the same time they say they are boycotting away grounds in protest at the deduction!

Their CEO, one Harry MacLean, used to run the fans' unofficial messageboard! I can tell you first hand that when he did run it, under the username "Ulster_Dees", he was odious, bigoted, hate-filled and arrogant. He would threaten legal action, many times, at anything remotely offensive about Dundee FC on our Dundee United board, yet post about the Shankhill Butchers and other thinly veiled sectarian references, and let posts about Eddie Thompson's cancer, Paul Sturrock's MS, and many other 'over the line' posts stand untouched for all to see. He seemed to think this was funny, that it was fair game. He's getting his come-uppance now.

Dundee, and some of their abhorrent fans fully deserve what has happened to their club, and if you'd seen or read some of the cancer and MS jokes, the libelous slander, the bigoted hate-filled nonsense all left untouched by their moderator (now DFC CEO!!) you would feel the same. He's an obnoxious character who has led a team of crooks, and Dundee FC, to the brink of oblivion, and I for one am not sorry one bit that they are struggling. In fact, I am fully of the opinion that their negative behavior over the last few years merits everything they get. I don't want them to die, far from it, I hope they pull through, eventually, after years of struggle. But they DO deserve it, and anyone who tells you different is a Dundee fan, a liar, or both.

October 13, 2010

Things That Annoy Me: Part 98 613 257 - Electric Hand Dryers

Has there ever been such a shit invention as the electric hand dryer? I can just imagine slimy salesmen up and down the country, back when they were invented, promoting their hygienic benefits and lack of laundry bills. And of course this is true. Who wants to rub their hands on a much-used towel in a public place? Not me.

So they're hygienic. True. They save paper. This is also true. They save on laundry bills if you happen to use traditional towels in a public place. This, it has to be said, is true.

However, they seem to fall down when it comes to one basic fucking thing, i.e. that they don't ever, ever not fucking never, dry your hands. And if failing at what is their essential function wasn't bad enough, they take longer to do it.

There is no simple answer. Paper towels are costly and wasteful. Traditional towels are unhygienic and need laundering, and electric 'hand-dryers' are a waste of fucking time and electricity.

We may feel like live in an age when we have invented every electrical convenience, but there is a huge gap in the market for someone who can invent an efficient system for drying hands that isn't wasteful, unhygienic AND that actually works.

Come on budding inventors - over to you!



October 04, 2010

Disgraceful Behaviour

My friend Andy came over to visit on Saturday for a week or so. On the first night we went to local western style bar called Miller Time – a popular haunt around these parts. There were a group of around 15 westerners there, mostly teachers I’m guessing, as their hair was, generally, too long to be army types.

They were being really loud, even for westerners, and a few of the guys were standing with their trousers around their ankles (underwear, thankfully, intact) and others were taking their t-shirts off and waving them around etc.

This went on for an hour or so until the seemingly very nice Korean manager lady asked them to leave. Of course they wouldn’t go, and it took her ages to get them out.

Furthermore, two of the group decided to pick a fight with FIVE big, and I mean big, American soldiers sitting at the other side of the bar. In the end I decided to help the manager out and talked these two morons into leaving, for their own safety as much as anything else. These soldiers would, I have no doubt, eaten them for breakfast.


THEN, one of the drunken idiots from the first group who’d been thrown out, came back in and started screaming in the Korean manager’s face, calling her ‘racist’ amongst other things. I was furious at him and he got a severe verbal shouting-at from me, and to be honest, I felt like making it a lot more. He ignored me, carried on calling her names then stormed out. Andy and I agreed that if we saw this guy outside he was ‘getting it’. We didn’t see him. If any of you are reading this, my email is at the side there – I will happily meet any of you any time you like to discuss this further.

I don’t know which country they were all from – I’m guessing a mixture – but it’s the first time I have been truly embarrassed to be associated with westerners whilst being out here. Utter, utter idiots, and a total disgrace.

October 02, 2010

The Literal Use of Literally

I want to talk about the word ‘literally’. Too many smug wordy types get a hard-on every time someone uses the word wrongly, i.e. for emphasis, e.g. “She literally exploded with rage.” What they meant, of course, was ‘she figuratively exploded with rage’, but who’s going to say that?

The point is, and I think I may be new in saying this, is that the word ‘literally’ isn’t itself used literally, in the true meaning of the word. It’s used, as I said, to emphasise. You might say ‘she completely exploded with rage’, or she ‘absolutely exploded…’ These are equally erroneous, but don’t instigate mirth. It’s about time the meaning changed, in the same way that other words’ meanings have changed, or become diluted. I’m tired of smug assholes sniggering into their sleeves because someone said ‘literally’ instead of another emphatic word.

You may argue that it’s wrong, and actually, it is. But so is saying ‘I’m terribly sorry’, ‘that’s great’, or, using the above example, ‘she completely exploded’. All of these are just as wrong, and personally I feel it’s about time that the word literally took a duality of meaning, just as ‘terribly’ or ‘awfully’ have. The ‘awfully’ in ‘I’m awfully sorry’ has no connection to the true meaning of awful, and neither does ‘terribly’. So why the hang up on ‘literally’?

Some people just like pointing out other people’s obvious mistakes to make themselves look clever, in my opinion.

Oh, but don’t get me started on ‘could of’ instead of “could have” or “could’ve”.

September 20, 2010

Chuseok

It’s Chuseok week here in Korea, and for those that don’t know, it’s similar to Thanksgiving in the USA, or Harvest Festival in the UK. It’s probably more akin to the USA version, as theirs is also a big deal. Harvest Festival in the UK is pretty much a non-event.

Chuseok however, is a big deal. It’s that big a deal that I’ve got the whole week off bar today, when I had to go in at 9am till 12pm, and got sent home at 10.30! It’s now 10.50 and I’m sitting at home penning this, with my feet up, metaphorically speaking, as I can’t type with my feet on the desk.

Korean families will all head home to their parents’ and grandparents’ homes this week, bearing gifts, which leads me gently onto another topic – Korean gifts.

I was once given four tubes of toothpaste as a gift, after attending a funeral. At the funeral everyone gives money, so I did. Everyone who gifted money was gifted back in return. That’s how it works. It’s the same at weddings, everyone gives money.

The toothpaste(s) would be a very unusual gift back home, and one would certainly be checking one’s breath, and teeth in the mirror, if given toothpaste! But it’s very normal here to give those types of things as gifts, i.e. small inexpensive toiletries, shampoo etc.

Another common gift is a drink. And I don’t mean a scotch on the rocks. I was once given a half finished can of coke! The thing is, being given a small drink here is a great honour. Until you realise this, you may feel a little bewildered when people show their gratitude by giving you the can of coke they’ve been drinking out of.

Anyway, Chuseok is great. Korean people are very nice and friendly, and this is their big chance to show their gratitude and love for each other, and they do. It’s all very nice, and everyone is very happy at Chuseok. It’s as big as Christmas in the UK – the roads will all be chock-a-block, and all the shops will be closed.

And I get a week off work.

September 13, 2010

Fat-Assed Westerners On The Subway In Korea

...are embarrassing. Westerners are ALWAYS the fattest people on the subway. Always! It's almost impossible to find an overweight Korean. They do exist, but by and large they eat healthily, and take exercise. I live out in the countryside,just outside Seoul, and every weekend the trains are packed with Koreans in hiking gear headed for the hills.

Our fat western counterparts, by comparison, are an embarrassment to me. There they are, standing at the subway station, stuffing doughnuts into their faces, acting like there's nothing untoward about them, while all the time their asses are the biggest thing around until the train arrives. I'm talking about women in this particular scenario as I'm not in the habit of assessing the size and shape of men's asses, but I'm not letting men off the hook either. There are also way too many fat western men giving the rest of us a bad reputation. And no, I am not going to use polite words here. F-A-T! FAT!!!! YOU. ARE. FAT. You are not big boned, a little overweight , carrying a few extra pounds, cuddly, a little of the big side, or any of that other nonsense. Just fat. Deal with it. And I mean deal with it, because if I see you, I will be telling you what an embarrassment you are. If you can't control what you eat, and take some exercise, then you lack self discipline, and are lazy. It's not a disease, it's laziness of both body and mind.

Eat less, exercise more, and stay indoors until this is completed.

Thank you.

ps. My good friend Stuart has pointed out there is a small percentage that do have some kind of metabolic problem. However, I feel too many use this as an excuse and most are just fat lazy bastards!

pps: please bear in mind that most of my posts are tongue-in-cheek! But not in your fat ass cheek.


September 12, 2010

YouTube Idiots

Go to any video of any old song in YouTube, and read the comments.

“They don’t make music like this any more!” (500 million thumbs up).

“Today’s music doesn’t compare to this” (48 million thumbs up).

“Better than that Justin Bieber shit they make today”. (471 billion thumbs up).

All so predictable, and also, it’s as if ABBA, or The Osmonds, or Take That were somehow better than, say, Justin Bieber. Same shit, different decade. Idiots.

Comedy Videos

It seems the in-thing to do is quote exactly what the comedian or actors-in-the-comedy-sketch just said, in the comments below? WHY?????????????

Comedian says “go f*ck a banana”, comments box says “go f*ck a banana”. Why? I heard him! Why repeat it? What’s wrong with ‘well done that was really funny’? Or something? (This is a real quote by the way, from quite possibly the comedian who amuses me the least – Lee Evans – a true “idiots’ comedian”).

Seriously, type in your favourite comedian’s name and read the idiot boxes below. IDIOTS!

September 11, 2010

This Koran Burning Sketch…

I’m kind of disappointed that they didn’t go ahead and do it. Why? Because if our news is to be believed, every time anything happens in the West, they are burning flags, effigies, and letting bombs off, left right and centre.

This Koran burning sketch had pretty every world leader speaking out about ‘tolerance’. How come no one speaks out about Islamic intolerance?

They have beheaded innocent journalists, killed endless thousands with suicide bombs, killed their own citizens for having affairs and treat women as second class citizens.

If the Koran had been burned, you could’ve guaranteed the flags and effigies would be burned in the street – I don’t ever see these same world leaders speaking out with such vehemence about this.

I am someone who thinks pretty much all of religion is a huge fucking farce. Catholicism is a joke, with all it’s kiddy-fiddling and cover-ups, Christianity, Judaism, Hunduism, whatever, they can’t all be right. “It’s our god!” “No it isn’t, it’s ours!” However, only one religion thinks it’s OK to go around bombing everyone and holding placards reading ‘kill the infidels’. Do the same world leaders speak out in such unison? No.

The ultra-right religious idiots of the USA are frankly a bunch of fucking morons. The thing is, those who represent Islam and go around holding such placards, and thinking all ‘infidels’ should be killed, are a bunch of fucking morons as well. Upshot? Ultra-religious = ultra-mentalist. They should give it and try this – Secular Humanism. You don't need a stupid fucking book from the dark ages to be a good person.

This is the 21st century. We don’t need to believe in cloud-fairies. We know the earth is round, we’ve been beyond the sky, “He’s” not there.

Take your stupid, intolerant religions from medieval times and stick them right up your stupid ultra-religious arses, the fucking lot of you.

September 09, 2010

Had Better Weeks

Firstly, in the middle if last week I sliced a small corner of my finger off, in front of the whole class while cutting up some blank paper to hand out for quiz. Cue a trip to the hospital and class being abandoned.

Then this week, half of my students must have all their hormones kick in at once, and have been behaving like stubborn, awkward, defiant, badly behaved little bastards. This was yesterday, and was very stressful.

Then today I was hoping for a nice easy day after yesterday, despite Thursday being my busiest day, and the day I have my naughtiest class, and the classroom computer decided to have a massive sulk and refuse to work at all. I had to get the technician in to reinstall EVERYTHING which meant the first three of five lessons had to be done with no equipment, and ad-libbed, as all my plans were all on said PC. And before any smart arse says 'why didn't you back things up?', I did, but what was I going to use them on? One small bonus, my last class ended up being cancelled due to all of this, and they are the naughty class. So it wasn't all bad.

My finger is still in bandages. And I'm going out tonight to get drunk. It's Thursday, I have school tomorrow, and I don't fucking care.

Byeeeeeeeeeeeee.

September 08, 2010

Questions I Hate To Be Asked - Numbers 1067, 1068 and 1069

 ... fan,56" ceiling fan M56004 | http://www.bing.com/images/search?mkt=en-GB&q=fans&FORM=HOTAPI#foc...1067) "What's your favourite band?" This question drives me mad. I don't like bands I like songs. A band can produce 1000 terrible songs and one good song, and I will, perhaps,  like that one good song. I also hate 'fandom'. I can't understand hero worship at all. I may like the lyrics of one songsmith, or the guitar playing of another, but I'm not gonna get their names tattooed on my arm. Or be a 'fan'. I hate 'fans'. Sheep-like moronic idiots. (This does not apply to sport, which demands a certain, and often regional, loyalty). So in short, don't ever ask me what my favourite band is, unless you enjoy being sworn at!

 

1068) "What's your favourite album?" Just f*차 off eh?! See above. I like songs not albums etc

 

1069) "Why didn't you eat your lunch?" My boss, who is in fact a very nice chap, has a habit of doing some occasionally awkward things e.g. asking me why I didn't eat all of my lunch? Why do you think? Either I was full, I didn't like some of it, or both. You figure it out fo f*차's sake. Anyone who knows me knows how I positively loathe explaining myself over trivial things that didn't need asking about in the first place. I only have so much energy, speech and thought-power per day, the same as you, don't make me waste mine answering dumb pointless questions. You saw which food I left, you can surmise that perhaps I didn't like that bit. Also, we go to the local City Hall every day for lunch. They are usually pretty good, but there's no choice per day, you get what's there, so it's not like he could influence things even if I hadn't liked part of it. In fact, every day I usually leave something that I don't like or recognize! So why ask? Waste of my time and energy. Don't do that!

 

I like my boss though; he's a nice chap. Generally.  

 


September 04, 2010

Things That Annoy Me Part 1067

Automatic Doors.

Why do we have automatic/electric doors? Was a simple door not good enough? OK, OK, you might be wondering what I have against automatic doors. Well, they break your stride. You have to wait that split second while it notices your approach and opens. In short, automatic doors slow you down.

The other day I was entering the bakery downstairs from my apartment – the automatic door was open, I entered, and it closed on me. It took an almighty shove for it to reopen. Cue anger. That’s another thing, if they are already open, they close when you approach. There is no need whatsoever for automatic doors. They are a pain in the neck (sometimes literally) and slow you down.

August 26, 2010

Sand, Sea and Street Hustlers



I want to get this down while it’s reasonably fresh in my mind. Memories fade over time, and it’s been almost a week since I returned from visiting Thailand and the Philippines.

I’ll start at the beginning. My flight out to Thailand, where I was headed first, left Incheon airport in Seoul at 8.30am. This meant a check-in time of around 6.30am, and there was no way I could get there from my town in Dongducheon at that time. So I was left with several choices – stay at a hotel or jimjilbang (public bath-house with sleeping room) in Seoul or go to the airport the night before. The airport won, as it’s a brilliant airport, with shopping malls and restaurants and plenty of places to get one’s head down, including its own jimjilbang, and it’s very safe, as is all of Korea. I also had to change some money, and the airport with its many banks was as good a place as any. So I headed to the airport mid-Monday afternoon for my Tuesday a.m. flight. The airport bus goes right through my town and is ninety minute journey, so getting there was no problem.

I wasn’t sure my Korean ATM card or credit cards would work abroad, so after changing some money into Philippines Pisos and Thai Baht, shopping around a bit in the mall, and eating dinner in one of the myriad restaurants, I went to the airport jimjilbang to sleep, to find out it was full, so I tried vainly to sleep on one of the many empty wooden benches around the place. I didn’t get much sleep, but on the other hand, I didn’t miss my (uneventful) flight, which was the point of being there in the first place.

The flight changed at Manila, and I had a seven hour stopover at Manila airport. Incheon airport may be one of the best in the world, but Manila certainly isn’t. The wifi doesn’t work anywhere despite signs saying ‘wifi’ everywhere, there is one restaurant which doubles as the smokers’ room, and there are about four shops, two of which sell nothing but cigars. However, they did lay on a free lounge for people with long stopovers like me, which helped – it had free food and beverages, as much as you liked, so I can’t fault their hospitality, other than the lounge staff deemed a suitable temperature for the air conditioning to be about minus five. I had to get a blanket from the airport in the end I was that cold.

Then another uneventful trip to Bangkok, and a ten quid taxi ride, and I’m in the famous Khao San Road! For those that don’t know, Khao San Road is the backpackers mecca in Bangkok – everyone goes there – there are endless bars and restaurants, and cheap hotels. I bedded down on the first night in a lovely hotel which happened to have some cheap rooms at the top – a basic single room was about four quid. After the first night I found somewhere much nicer – the D & D right on Khao San Road itself – this was about fourteen quid a night, but it had a swimming pool and bar on the roof.

I was only staying in Bangkok for four full days, Tuesday night until Sunday morning when my flight left for Manila, and I planned to go on trips most days, and just relax and party in the evening. I only managed one trip in the end, to the Bridge on the River Kwai.

The trip itself only cost a tenner (UK Pounds) but it was well worth it. We visited first the War Cemetery at Kanchanaburi, which is adjacent to the bridge itself. The museum was a bit run down, though still quite impressive, though not compared to the temples that surrounded it. See photos. Then we walked across the actual bridge. I went all the way over, and down on the other side was a little old lady selling pieces of the actual railway itself. I couldn’t resist but buy a big sleeper nail, which cost 100 Baht (about two quid). It may or may not be real I guess, but on the other hand I did buy it right there under the bridge – where else would she get railway remnants from? There’s not another railway for miles around!

Then we took a rickety old train along the ‘death railway’. It’s funny (i.e. funny peculiar) that so many things get the ‘death’ name, ‘the group of death’, ‘the stairs of death’, and so on. I don’t want to sound flippant in any way, and I have the greatest respect for those that paid with their lives for me to even have the freedom to write this article, and also in this case, as so many needless lives were lost the name is undoubtedly deserved, I just feel (OK there’s no way to not make this sound flippant) I just think they could have been a little more imaginative with the names, certainly after the event. There I said it. I wish I hadn’t but I’ve typed it now and that’s that. My backspace key doesn’t work. OK it does, but I’ve made my point. I will reiterate though that I have the greatest respect for them - I know many died in the most appalling circumstances – and actually, I welled up several times at the cemetery, seeing so many British graves so I’m not stone hearted at this. It’s just a small point that’s all. I think the name of such a harrowing event deserves more than a tired cliché is, I guess, what I’m saying.

So we took a train along the railway that they cost ‘a life for every sleeper’. 12 500 British alone died, not to mention the thousands of Australian and Dutch and other nations’ men. Worst of all though were the Chinese and Asian conscripts – they reckon 100 000 died building this railway. In all, the Japanese killed somewhere between 6 million and 30 million civilians and POWs during World War 2. That’s a lot of people – I think they killed more innocents and unarmed than the Nazis did – and Germany had had its own ideologies perverted by the Nazi Party. What was Japan’s excuse? The Nuremburg Trials eventually decided that the atrocities committed by the Nazis were the result of ‘a basic flaw in the German character’, i.e. Germans aren’t very nice, they reckoned. Japan killed as many if not more, just as brutally, and though some were tried and punished, many were not tried at all, and those responsible for the infamous Unit 731 (human vivisection, testing bombs and diseases on live patients etc) for example, got off scot-free! I said in a previous entry that I’m not offended that Japan was A-bombed, and I honestly am not. I can’t condone the killing of civilians, and I’ve been to Nagasaki’s Bomb Museum and seen the damage – horrendous – but what they were doing to our people, and others’, had to stop, and soon. It did.

Where was I before I started hitting on Japan? Oh yes, I’m on the train, which went over two ‘viaducts’ carved through sheer cliff faces. The train was too old and slow (they said) to go over these, so myself and many others walked over both, which was maybe a mile or two. Unbeknownst to me, our little group’s guide had said in broken English not to go walking this far as we had a schedule - I hadn’t heard her and followed every other group, and lost my little tour group for two hours. She was not happy when she found me!

Then we had the choice to go elephant riding or playing with tigers. As it happened (Jimmy Saville) I had already played with a tiger cub earlier in the day back at the Kanchanaburi museum, and a jaguar cub, so I chose the elephant riding, which was great, though it rained. Elephants are lovely creatures, big and slow and thoughtful. I reckon they are also kind of intelligent, trainable anyway. I loved them and wanted to keep one.

I met a girl when I was elephant riding - Jen – a Korean girl, and arranged to meet her later that night.

Then the last stop of the day was at a beautiful, though kind of small I’d say, waterfall – where I met another Korean girl. This was her last day so I also arranged to meet her that night, as a back up in case Jen didn’t turn up. Jen did turn up at 8.30 as arranged, but she turned out to be a ‘nice girl’ if you know what I mean. Many Korean girls are (and some aren’t!) and there’s nothing wrong with that, but being on holiday I was hoping for a little holiday romance, but she just wasn’t that type. We swapped emails and I’ve emailed her a couple of times, but she has never replied. I guess I didn’t make much of an impression – though I must point out I was the perfect gentleman, at least I tried to be anyway.



Anyway, Jen turning up meant I had to let down this other girl, which I felt terrible about. She seemed genuinely excited about meeting up, and the thought of disappointing her was genuinely a heartbreaker, but I couldn’t get out of it – I couldn’t even call her. I emailed here the next day to apologise and she accepted my apology and we’ve arranged to meet again sometime. We’ll see!

Jen went back to her hotel around midnight, and I went of to PatPong, and the girlie shows. Not normally my thing – I’ve never even been in a lapdancing club, but I was in that kind of mood and….well I wrote a whole piece about what happened here.

The rest of my time in Bangkok was pretty straightforward to be honest. I would get up late morning, maybe go for a swim in the upstairs pool, walk around seeing things (like the National Art Gallery and Temples nearby) and then in the evening I would go to a bar or the hotel bar, and there are so many westerners around that I was never alone, not once. I always got talking, and drinking, with someone or some group.



My first full night, Tuesday, I was standing sheltering from a huge downpour when I got talking to an Australian guy called Mike. He seemed OK, he was OK, and we went for a few beers. Before we’d paid, he said he was going to meet his girlfriend and would be back shortly. A full hour or more passed and I thought I’d fallen for the oldest trick in the book. The thing was I didn’t have enough cash on me to pay for both our tabs. So I waited and waited, feeling like a complete sucker, and eventually decided to do the same thing myself - i.e. just disappear. We were sitting out front on the pavement anyway, so I slowly got up and started ‘innocently’ walking down the street when the made-up-in-lipstick-and-eye-shadow ladyboy who worked the bar tapped me on the shoulder and told me about the bill. I acted all innocent and without hesitation walked back. I explained that I didn’t have enough cash on me, and my ‘friend’ had left, but if they would come to my hotel it would be no problem. After a couple of minutes of negotiations Mike turned up again! With his girlfriend. The relief overwhelmed the anger, he settled his half of the tab and off we went into the night (via the hotel to get some more cash!).

Later on I asked him if his girlfriend had any friends. She arranged for her auntie to come down, who was about 45 with three kids. Now I’m not fussy, but there’s a line. Lo and behold, after several more beers, Michael decided to walk his girlfriend home, before paying the tab, again, and left me with auntie. After another bloody hour, I thought there’s no way I’m paying for these four, and told auntie that I would be back in a minute. I never saw any of the three of them again. I hope Michael returned and auntie wasn’t left with the bill. Anyway, he deserved a little comeuppance for the nerve shattering experience he’d caused me earlier. I felt a little bad about leaving auntie, but needs must, especially when you’re drunk, in Bangkok, and left with paying a bill for four.



On other nights I met: some Aussie guys, who liked a drink, bless ‘em. Some Nottingham Trent students, one of whom lived in the same street as me when I lived in Nottingham, and various other fleeting, drinking, pals. Just the usual stuff, drinking chatting, gallivanting.

That was more or less it for Bangkok, shopping and general sightseeing daytime, and bars etc in the evening, though a few things struck me. Firstly, there is poverty there. Children begging on the street. I’d never seen that before. Young children too, like three and four years old. I’ve only lived in Korea and the UK, and whilst neither country’s welfare system is perfect, we don’t have too many child beggars. That was a little sad.

My last mention goes to the tailors, taxi drivers, and ‘tuk tuk’ drivers. (A tuk tuk is a three wheeled motorcycle taxi type thing). In my country, and here in Korea, when I want a taxi, I’ll flag one down. Taxis there have a hard sell – you can literally get out of one taxi, and the taxi driver behind will jump out and ask if you want to get into his! You CANNOT walk down the street without everyone trying to get you in a taxi or tuk tuk. In the end several got told to **** off by me – I don’t have the longest fuse, especially with a hangover. The tailors, of which there are many, are just as bad, stopping you in the street and shepherding you into their shops.



Oh, and one day I tasered myself – already covered here.

On Sunday I caught my flight to Manila…

I had planned, whilst in Bangkok, to plan my Philippines visit, i.e. where to go and what to do. My good friend Dwight here in Korea had given me a bunch of information about the place, but other than that, I’d planned almost nothing when I arrived. On the aeroplane (as we like to call them in the UK), I’d perused Dwight’s info, and decided to spend a couple of nights in Malate, a ‘touristy’ district of Manila, with bars and hotels etc. In short, Malate was, in my opinion, a hellhole, full of drug pushers, even more child beggars and hustlers than Bangkok, and I stayed one night, in a hotel room with cockroaches, and decided the very next morning to take an internal flight down to Boracay island, which is a popular tourist destination, especially with Koreans, on account of it’s wonderful beaches.

In the morning I spoke to the hotel staff, who graciously called the airport for me and told me the price of the flights etc, which was very helpful, though I had to go to the airport itself to buy the ticket as the flight left in just a few hours. I asked the hotel how much a taxi should be and they told me 300 pisos. There was a taxi waiting outside, so I said 300 pisos to the airport, he said OK, and I hopped in. Dwight, whom I’d mentioned earlier, had given me a great piece of advice. When you get in a taxi, especially somewhere decidedly dodgy like Manila, sit in the back and keep your luggage with you, which I did on the trip, and I’m glad I did. First the driver started saying something about paying in dollars, which I mumbled ‘no chance’ to, but he insisted. Then he started chatting to me about my flight, and I explained (unwisely) that I was on my way to buy a ticket. I’d already taken a taxi in the other direction the night before, and now I’m driving through the slums of Manila, in very unfamiliar territory. It turns out the driver had some ‘friends’ who sold airline tickets out of a wooden shack in the street. This guy wanted me to get out in the middle of this slum, and buy a flight ticket from two vagrant-looking chaps! I told him in no uncertain terms to get me to the airport now, which he eventually did. When I got to the airport, he said that because he was ‘officially affiliated’ with the hotel, he had to charge me fifty dollars, as well as my 300 pisos. I couldn’t believe the audacity of this man. He got his 300 pisos, no more, and I took my luggage and vacated his taxi pronto. I honestly thought that in those slums I was going to get robbed, and asking for fifty dollars? Unbelievable! Taxi drivers in Thailand and the Philippines are basically low-level extortion artists it seems to me.

Anyway, Boracay Island was great! It was here I had the best nights, and days, of my holiday.

Firstly, it was low season, which meant the hotels were cheap, and I got this wood and bamboo place with a hammock outside for just a few quid a night. It didn’t have air conditioning, which was a bit of problem as it turned out, because the weather the whole time I was there was unseasonably hot, but it was great otherwise. They even had their own little kiosk/shop thing in the courtyard, where beer and supplies were way cheaper than on the main strip. A beer was 40 pisos, which is about 70p!

By the time I’d landed, took a minibus from the airport, a ferry to the island, and a motorbike taxi (pillion!), and found a hotel, it was around 10pm. So I set off to check out a bit of the wild-, I mean night-life.

My first stop was the bar of the Calypso Hotel, with the lovely Emma serving. Here I met Bjorn and his wife, and had a good chat with them. Bjorn didn’t like Koreans as it turned out. I won’t say what he said, but he’s not keen! Then I went along to Charles’ Bar, right on the beach – a horseshoe shaped bar with a band playing. It was full of beautiful girls, except the one I ended up talking to, whom, though beautiful, turned out to be a post-op transsexual! I won’t tell you how I found this out, but I will say my integrity remained intact, let’s put it that way! Well just about intact! That was an experience…

I decided to head home about 2am, and could I remember the name of my hotel? No, in short. It took me 90 minutes of bumbling around like an idiot trying to find it. The beach here is 2 miles long, and filled with identical-looking (when you’re drunk, it’s dark, and you’re new) places. What a night! Transsexuals and getting lost. Thing is, I’d been drinking the local brew “San Miguel Red Horse’, 7% lager. I switched to a normal beer from here on in. I thought it wisest.

Again, I was after a relaxing time, and had adopted the same routine as in Bangkok, walking around sightseeing daytime, and bars and nightlife in the evening. I guess that’s what many people do anyway? I can’t recall a lot of day two, so not much must have happened. I went swimming in the beautiful clear sea right next to the hotel most days. I think in the evening I went along to the Calypso Hotel bar again, and chatted up Emma (to no avail). I remember chatting to Bjorn, and I met a new chap, Volker (Aussie guy with German heritage) who had some great stories of times visiting South America, like the time he went tarantula hunting. Apparently you get a fern, tear the ends into string-like shapes, roll the end into a ball, and stick it in the tarantula burrow. Now these burrows, he said, are bigger than your fist, and the burrow entrance is always slightly smaller than the spider as they squeeze themselves in. Anyway, you stick this ball-on-a-stick in the hole, the spider thinks it’s under attack and wraps its legs around it, and you pull it out! Not my idea of fun, but it takes all sorts!

“What did you do with them?” I asked. “Oh, we set them all free except the biggest one, which we ate”! They taste like chicken apparently. He also told me about piranha hunting. Basically, you jab some meat on the end of a stick and dip it on the water, and flick them onto the boat! I liked Volker, he was an interesting guy – he worked in a gold mine in Tanzania as a geologist. He didn’t say as much, but I think he was quite well off. Nice guy though – we had a few nights out, including cocktails at ‘The Hobbit House’, a restaurant where all the staff are midgets (or dwarves, I’ll be honest I don’t know the difference!).

Many evenings on Boracay were spent in ‘Cocomangas’, a nightclub up at the other end of the beach. This place was always crammed with ladies, real ladies that is, who were not that hard to pick up. I don’t want to paint myself as some kind of, well, slut, but I bagged a couple. I was on holiday! It’s what you do!!

Most days on Boracay were spent padding around the beach or streets off it, or going swimming. One day I hired a motorbike for a couple of hours, and toured the island. It’s not very big, around 10km long, so I saw most of it. I visited the other beaches, saw some genuine island villages, and again saw poverty the likes of which I had never seen, people were living in wooden sheds with straw roofs. Though I would say they all seemed happy enough. Perhaps the tourists on Boracay brought with them enough cash to make life a little more livable for some? I don’t know, but everyone there seemed happy with their lot, and also a lot of vendors (the annoying ones on the beach selling sunglasses and fake watches) came down from Manila. So I guess there’s more money in Boracay than many places in the Philippines because of the Westerners bringing their cash.

Two or three days after I’d been at my hotel, Alex turned up. Now Alex is cultured, and I don’t say that as flattery or somehow dulled down in awe, but Alex knew endless movies I’d never heard of or seen, and knew bands I’d never listened to. That doesn’t matter, I knew stuff he didn’t, that’s how it is, but he knew a lot of stuff. In fact he bombarded me with ‘Americana’ all night(s) almost to the point of wearing out my patience, but I had a good time with Alex nonetheless. We have stories not for public consumption. Well I do, Alex was excluded as he has a serious girlfriend whom he had vowed to stay loyal to, and did, but he was around and helped my cause, my wing-man if you like, so I thank him for that.

Cocomangas was a crazy vibrant nightclub, with a sign outside saying ‘leave your guns and knives at the door’! That makes it sound particularly rough, but it wasn’t, people took their kids there and everything, but they did have some big burly bouncers (wearing t-shirts saying ‘bouncer’!) so I guess they had some trouble from time to time, though I never saw any, except the trouble I nearly caused myself.

I’d been sitting chatting to this Filipino woman for half an hour or so, on these large (two feet high) steps next to the dancefloor, when this Chinese or Korean, I’m not sure which, started dancing on the step I was sitting on, literally six inches to my side. Koreans, and I’m supposing Chinese also then, have a slightly different attitude to personal space, partly because subways etc are so crowded here, so I didn’t think a lot of it. Five minutes later he returned to dance near me, right in the space in my lap, between my legs, his ass was practically in my face. I’d had enough of this rudeness now and stood up and gave him an almighty shove in the back, sending him sprawling onto the dancefloor. Cue a load of clucking and gesturing from him and his Asian pals, particularly aimed at the woman I’d been talking to, which made me even angrier as she’d done nothing to deserve the tirade of (albeit unintelligible) abuse. By this time I was raging, and was just about ready to kick off, when one of the ‘bouncers’ came over and explained that I and my ‘lady friend’ had been sitting in their seats! That was the end of the scuffle.

Other peoples’ cultures often amaze me, and dancing in my lap as a means of ‘excuse me, I was sitting here’ simply does not wash. Try speaking next time. Or if you can’t speak, gesture. Sticking your ass in my face will ALWAYS result in a smack in teeth, or similar, I’m sorry but that’s how it is!

Koreans and Chinese have a terrible reputation abroad, as their culture, which it has to be said is uniquely polite, doesn’t translate into politeness in other countries. There is no ‘excuse me’ in Korean, a simple nudge to alert you that someone wants to get by is all it takes. It’s not rude here, but it certainly is in most other countries. Also, Koreans don’t hold doors open for people, they just don’t, again this isn’t rude here, it’s normal, but if Koreans want to be thought of as ‘nicer’ abroad, they should try, a little, to let go of the ‘culture’ they so stubbornly hold on to, whilst traveling. You can’t bellow at the bar staff to bring drinks to your table in every bar, some bars you have to go to the bar yourself, they really must accept this. I met some people in the Philippines who positively loathed the Koreans and their ways, and whilst I don’t, I live here and they really are a kind, caring and polite race, they really need to take a little look at themselves whilst traveling.


On the last day Americana Alex and I hired a boat, and two crew, to take a tour of the island. We visited a few other beaches, many of which I’d seen on my motorcycle tour, and we went snorkeling. This was my first time to go snorkeling and I really loved it. I guess with snorkeling it’s the quality of the water and what’s in it. We moored the boat maybe 500 yards from the shore, in about 20 feet of crystal clear water, which was teeming with tropical fish and sub-aquarian wildlife. It really was the most fascinating sight. I reckon we spent a good hour just swimming around and gawping at the beautiful and colourful fish and sea creatures.

Boracay Island is a wonderful place (annoying vendors aside). You can walk around for hours, you can take boat trips and motorcycle trips and go parasailing and all the wonderful things you like to do whilst on holidaying. Or you can relax on the perfect beach, take a dip, and there’s enough nightlife, just, for the younger crowds to have a good time. I went in the off season, and many of the beachfront bars were deserted in the evening, with most people congregating at one or two, like Cocomanga’s.

One thing they don’t advertise in the travel brochures is mosquitoes. I had, at one point, around forty different bites! They love my joints for some reason, and I had five or six bites on each ankle and elbow, and various bites elsewhere too. After the first day or two, when I also got a little sunburn on my feet, and got a few blisters from walking around with wet feet in sandals, I took a lot better care of my skin. I went through a whole bottle of insect repellent in five days. It works. Oh, one last thing regarding mosquitoes – if you do get bitten, and it’s as itchy as hell, rub toothpaste on the bite. Works a treat!

My journey home started at 5am on Monday morning. First I had to get to the small ferry port, which meant I took a beach cycle taxi (50 Pisos) to a motorcycle and sidecar taxi (there are no cars on Boracay), who took me to the port around 5km away (100 pisos. Seventy pisos is about one UK Pound). Then I took the ferry (20 pisos) and then a taxi (another 50 pisos) to the tiny airport (propeller planes only!). My flight in Manila was at 14.30, and if this flight from Boracay was on time I should land at around 9am, giving me ample time to get from the domestic airport in Manila to the international one, a journey of only 3km, but there is the problem of gridlock traffic.

My flight was due to arrive late in Boracay, so they put me on an earlier flight, and I got to Manila well ahead of schedule. I even managed to hop on the airport shuttle bus, which I didn’t know existed, and get to the international airport at 9.30am! It’s great to make connections, but another long wait in Manila airport was no fun. Thank heavens for I-pods and their games, video and music playing capabilities.

I caught the bus back home to my town and got in around 10pm.

All in all I had a fantastic holiday, and met some amazing and wonderful and friendly people. The Bridge on the River Kwai was a particular highlight, with the elephant ride thrown in. Boracay was fabulous, and I will never ever forget some of the experiences I had during these two weeks visiting Thailand and The Philippines.

August 18, 2010

Koreans Abroad

I've just been down to Boracay Island in the Philippines for a week - and it was great - I had a lovely time. It's also a popular destination for travelling Koreans. They don't, it has to be said, have a great reputation down there! I met several people who had very strong opinions on the Koreans and their 'ways'.

I live in Korea, and I like it - but it does have a few idiosyncrasies that simply do not travel well.

Firstly, there is no 'excuse me' in Korean. Here, you'll get a gentle (and here it's polite) nudge in the back or arm. This does not translate politely abroad.

In typical Western style bars you go to a bar to get the drinks yourself. In Korea, you shout "Yogi Yo", which means 'here please' (again, this is polite) and your drinks are brought over. You cannot, in a foreign country, bellow at the bar staff to bring you drinks.

Korean culture is fine, it really is, but they really should learn other countries' customs and ways if they don't want to be thought of as rude travellers.

August 07, 2010

Days You'll Never Forget

You go travelling to have a good time right?

Today is Saturday - yesterday here in Thailand I hooked up with some random Aussie guys and just hung around and got drunked (no typo). I did a little cultural stuff - I went to an art gallery for example, but I didn't do too much because I didn't get up till 3pm.

Because I wanna tell you about Thursday.

I booked a trip to the bridge on the River Kwai. Heartbreaking stuff - a war cemetry with literally thousands of 'our boys' buried. The graveyard was in pristine, thankfully, condition. I was happy about that. But seeing all those graves, and knowing how those, our, guys suffered and died...well....it was a sombre moment. I'm welling up now typing this.

Then a walk over the new bridge - they destroyed the original, though remnants remain.

Then a trip on the train itself, over some bridges carved through rock - heaven knows how many people died to carve their way through. I've no regrets that we nuked the Japs. None. And I've been to Nagasaki and seen first-hand the destruction that was dished out. Fuck 'em. I know what they did to us building that railway, and other things (Google the rape of Nanking) they did that to our lads. Rotten, rotten bastards. Nuked and deservedly so.

Then we went riding on elephants. My new favourite things - elephants. Huge, beautiful gentle creatures. I'm thinking of taking one home - wonder what customs will say?

"Anything to declare?"

"No."

I also fixed up a date with a Korean lady I met.

Then to a waterfall and frollicking around with another Korean lady I met.

I arranged to meet Korean lady numero uno at 8.30, and the second at 9pm in case the first didn't turn up. She did and I stood up the second, which I felt terrible about as she was really nice. Hey ho. I've apologised by email.

Turns out the one I met was a 'nice girl' - there's nothing wrong with that - but it wasn't what I was looking for, being on holiday and all. You understand right? So we shook hands about midnight and politely went our separate ways - her home to bed and me to....

Patpong!!

Aptly named, as it's where they do all the ping pong shows. Those women are NAUGHTY! How can you project a ping pong ball that far, from there? And blow smoke? And blow out candles? And they were hot girls too!

My night got even naughtier after that with a beautiful 28 year old Thai lady (NOT ladyboy!). She knew what she was doing, and that's about all I can say on here. My mum could be reading this!

So that was Thursday!

To the pool...

August 04, 2010

Day 2 in Bangkok - Getting Tasered Hurts!!

Day 2:

Actually my first proper day, as I didn't arrive until about 10:30 last night.

Last night I found a very cheap and clean doss-down (£4 a night), until I got my bearings.

Today I booked a hotel right on the famous Khao San Road, for £14 quid - with air-con and a swimming pool on the roof. Really nice gaff. I've even bought some condoms in case I get lucky. Lucky if the fuckers fit out here, but that's another story.

I've also been to book a trip to The Bridge on the River Kwai, War Cemetery, and riding on elephants tomorrow - all for a tenner! 7am start for heaven's sake.

Right now it's monsoon hour in Bangkok, and I'm sitting in an internet cafe typing this.

Whilst drinking Chang beer.

Some of these Thai women are very beautiful indeed.

Went for a Thai Curry earlier. In Thailand. £1!

Funny story. This morning I'm padding around just looking at stuff and shops and gifts and shit, as I am wont to do. So I'm at this gift shop with a table outside that sells knives, torches, and 'guy stuff', and I picked up this fake-looking mobile phone thing, that looks like a little security box or some shit. So I'm fiddling with the switches and that on the side to see what it does, expecting it to pop open, and fucking tasered myself on the hand.

I shot one way across the shop, and this taser phone shot the other. Literally about twenty feet.

Don't ever taser yourself. Good advice that.

Still raining. And thundering.

I'm meeting a lady, actually a very nice Dutch lady, for drinks later. She's nothing to look at if I'm honest, but we just kept bumping into each other - in fact she told me about my hotel as she used to be a tour guide.

Hopefully I won't have to use my condoms on her. That would, in bleak honesty, be a disappointment.

Perhaps PatPong Street later, for a game of Ping Pong. If you don't know what that means. Google it!

And remember. DO NOT taser yourself.

Hope this helps.

August 03, 2010

Today.....


....is the 3rd and 4th of August. I say two days because in the last 24-odd hours i've been in three countries - South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand, and crossed a couple of time zones. My destination was the last, but I had a SEVEN HOUR stopover in Manila which was a fucking draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag! And a half.

Manila airport is shit. It's like Humberside airport with cigar kiosks. Spending seven hours there was nothing short of suicide inducing. They had a special room - a big room - for long stopover guests (idiots) like me, and they laid on free booze, and food, as much as you could eat or drink - so it wasn't all bad - but they didn't warn me that the air conditioning would make everywhere minus-10 degrees, I swear I've got hypothermia.

So My day has consisted of, since midnight:

Sleeping in Seoul airport for six hours(great place for that kind of thing)
A four hour flight
Seven hours of temperatures that would have sent Captain Oates on a wander, though he would have had some nice cigars.
Another four hour flight.
Rats in Thailand.

Had less strange days.

2am here now.

Bonjour.

August 02, 2010

Hello to Two Weeks Travelling Around!


Today, Monday 2nd August, I am going to Incheon airport. My flight isn't till tomorrow, with a 6.00am check-in, but from where I live, I'd never be able to get there in time. So I'm going to spend an afternoon and an evening, in an airport.

That might not sound like everyone's idea of fun, so here's a little information about Incheon Airport that might change your mind:

  • It has free wifi.
  • It has free PC rooms.
  • It has loungers about the place to sleep on.
  • It has a bath house and sleeping area where you can spend the night for about 7 quid.
  • It has duty free shopping arcades.
  • It has bars and restaurants aplenty.
  • It has free showers.
  • It has a museum.
  • It has a casino and an 18-hole golf course.
  • It has, for the last 5 years, been voted the best airport in the world.
So I'm sure I can entertain myself for a few hours til I'm drowsy enough to drop off in either the loungers or the bathhouse.

Then I'm off to Thailand till Sunday.

Then the Philippines for a week.

Life's good.

July 28, 2010

A Betrayal. Not a Big One, But a Goodbye One.

arrogantMy good friend Stuart asked me to write this. I’m not sure why. He was probably bored and just wanted something to read.

Here’s the skinny. I went to the Mud Festival with two ‘friends’. One I’ve known for a long time and is a great guy, and the other known for a few months, and it turns out he isn’t. Because whilst we were out gallivanting and, really, having a great time, he told me in extremely strong words, and entirely out of the blue, what he really thought of me. I’m not going to say what he said, but it was very offensive. I immediately took off back to the hotel as this was very late on Saturday night, and I’d had a few drinks, and left them to it.

On the Sunday morning, I offered him the chance to apologise, both for the remark and the offence it had caused, and he refused. Point blank refused. I’m going to have to tell you what he said, or you may think it’s worse than it actually was. He called me an ‘arrogant prick’. Yes. I know! Ha ha! Thank you…

I have, like everyone, many flaws. But I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever been called arrogant. An arrogant prick at that. The word ‘prick’ has a whole bunch of offensive (behavioural, characteristic) connotations in its own right. According to Urban Dictionary it may mean:

  • · Somebody so stupid it's painful to those around them.
  • · Someone who is completely worthless.
  • · An ungrateful piece of shit of a person.
  • · A selfish person who only cares about himself.

In short, a prick is definitely NOT a nice thing to be called. Whilst I’m not perfect, I’m not exactly seeing myself slotting comfortably into any of the above. And while we’re traipsing through dictionaries, let’s look at arrogant. Dictionary.com says:

  • · Making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud.

That’s not me either. We all, including me, have our moments when we feel good about ourselves. Some days are, after all, rosier than others. Most people reading this will have come from Facebook – have you ever posted a status that says something like ‘I’m so awesome - I just scored three basketball hoops in a row’ or something similar? Of course you have, we’ve all done it, and it’s always tongue-in-cheek. The reason I’m saying this is that I cannot for the life of me figure out what ‘ex-friend’ is basing this claim of ‘arrogance’ on. Maybe it’s something innocuous that I’d said? Maybe he doesn’t know what it means? And ‘prick’? Well, that’s just that you either like someone or you don’t. Isn’t it?

The thing is - we’d hung around together for a couple of months. With few problems. And the remark was not delivered amongst some angry outburst – it was almost like “by the way Paul, I know we hang around together, but in all seriousness, I think you’re a…. etc.”. Well at least I know what you think. In fact, it’s not the first catty remark he’s made to me, though it's both the strongest, and the last.

My abiding thought in this is that he clearly sees me as ‘beneath him’. He’s “making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights.”.

Or you might say, arrogant.

Yours with a little laugh at what life throws up sometimes.

July 21, 2010

Just a Little Observation


It’s ridiculous that humanity rates itself so highly. We are but specks of dirt, on a spinning rock of dirt.
We are even so conceited, so arrogant, as to assign to ourselves Gods which we say created everything.
We are nothing more than chemistry. A chemical reaction. Amoebas in the dirt. Sure, we can think, rationalise, comprehend. We can record, analyse, makes sense of, but we are here, and we are we, by accident.

July 15, 2010

Retiring From International Football

I’ve just noticed that Emile Heskey has ‘retired from international football’.

Before anyone wanders off, this is not about Emile Heskey – yes I agree he’s a bit shit, but I’m talking about something else, so shut up.

RETIRING from international football! What a fucking disgrace! If you are picked FOR YOUR COUNTRY, you play. It is that simple. These people are refusing to play for their country. They are saying ‘I may be good enough, the England manager may even want to select me, but I’m not playing’. There is no excuse for this – anyone who has ‘retired’ from international football should be shot at dawn, for treason.

I’m not even going to run through the possible reasons that one might give for refusing to play for England.

It’s an absolute and total disgrace to refuse. THERE IS NO EXCUSE. YOU’RE PICKED, YOU PLAY.

July 13, 2010

The Idiots Who Don't Know Themselves

I suppose the first thing I should say is that this article is riddled with generalisations, and I apologise in advance for that. But given the topic, it is impossible not to use these generalisations, such as ‘gay people have a particular sense of humour, often heavy on innuendo’. Sure, some gay people don’t, but these are generalisations, so please forgive me for using them here. Actually, there’s another bugbear of mine right there – people being offended by generalisations when it suits their agenda. And usually their agenda is ‘I want to shout abuse at someone, so I’m gonna call everyone racist over the slightest thing’. I’ve covered this topic before here.

My point today is about sexuality, or at least perceptions of it. I like gay people, I like gay humour (their innuendo-laden stand-up is often brilliant, for example), I’ve nothing against gay marriages, I don’t care if my actors, pop stars or politicians are gay, I couldn’t care less, that’s their business. I have gay friends. And yet I can’t find one gay man anywhere who thinks that a straight guy is just that – a straight guy. Gay men, at least the ones I meet, are, to a man, convinced that everyone is hiding at-least-a-little something in the closet, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Why?

Now take this guy here. Chris Crocker, a gay, YouTube phenomenon. Let me get one thing straight. This guy is great. I wish more people would dress more outrageously, and express themselves, especially out here in Korea where clothing is homogenous in the extreme – every teenager looks like their Mum’s just gave them fifty quid to spend in ‘JJB Sports’ yesterday, i.e. everyone wears brand new jeans and t-shirts. You never see a pair of ripped jeans, or a punk, or someone in a biker’s leather jacket, or a Goth, or someone who died their hair pink. New-looking Jeans. New-looking t-shirt. New-looking trainers. And a haircut your mum would be proud of. With a few rare exceptions in Seoul – that’s a Korean’s idea of self expression, but I digress.

Chris Crocker is talking about clothes in that video, and how he thinks gender boundaries ought to be a little more blurred, especially when it comes to clothing. I can’t say I disagree as such, although I’ve no desire to don a frock. What took me though is his opening line:

“When are people gonna wake up and realize, that there’s no such thing as just boy, or just girl?”

Where do you start with this? ‘

When are people gonna wake up and realize…?’ He’s clearly gay and a cross dresser, and I’ve no problem with that. But we, non-gay non-cross-dressing people are all in the dark are we? We’re all just a bit thick and naïve for believing what we believe? That’s unfair, and patronising to us, and ‘us’, is straight men here.

“There’s no such thing as just boy”…well, actually, yes there is. I’m one. My brother is one. Most of my friends are ‘just boys’. There’s no doubt that some of my friends may be hiding something – I recently had a friend ‘come out’, who was 42 years old at the time, and had/has a teenage daughter. So it happens, there are people in the closet, but don’t patronise us genuine heteros by saying ‘you’re all just a bit stoopid really, and you don’t realise what’s really going on. We know you’re hiding something, you can’t kid us’. We know, generally at least, what’s going on. We’re just not part of it, we're happy enough with our sexual identities, and above all, we’re not, generally, hiding anything.

So please, lovely gay people that you are, stop assuming we’ve ALL got something in the closet. It’s very, very, patronising. Some, a few, may well have, and maybe you cite this as your ‘proof’ whenever someone comes out, but I can assure you that most, the majority, the bulk, do not. We’re happy who we are, we’re happy who you are, but don’t tell us we’re just idiots who don't know ourselves.