Response to Tez re: Cambodia Trip

May 3, 2015

Tez,

map-cambodia

You have done some good investigation and your rough plan is good. But I think you need to add more destinations. Also I want to change your schedule so it suits my schedule better(!). I will add my ‘tuppence worth’ on the destinations you have marked down and obviously you can take it for what its worth (…about two pence). I have been to most of the places you mentioned, but not all. Also I am going to suggest a few more destinations you should consider.

Are you flights to and from Phnom Penh fixed already? What time is your flight scheduled to land in Phnom Penh?

Another important question – are you or Matt able to drive a car or moto? This will have a big impact on your travel plans.

PHNOM PENH

palaceYou should keep the time you spend in PP to a minimum. There are not a lot of ‘must-see’ sights and these could be squeezed into one day if necessary: Royal Palace and Museum, Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum… maybe Wat Phnom temple. Phnom Penh is quite a hard city to be in (dusty, over-crowded, hot, traffic). But at night everything changes when the crowds, heat, dust and traffic disappears …and the night-life is great.

I have two gigs booked back-to-back in PP which I would really like you to come and see: Friday 19th June will be an acoustic ‘Miss Sarawan’ duo (Mealea and I) at a place called Alley Bar. Saturday 20th June will be a full band rockabilly blow-out at an outdoor venue called FCC – The Mansion. The scheduling of these gigs is very serendipitous because in consecutive nights you can see the best of what I have been doing here. The gigs are both in very nice venues. The gigs are very different styles of music. So my strong suggestion is to use that Friday and Saturday (plus maybe one day before or one day after) to see the sights, see some music, eat nice restaurants etc. If you have the budget I would also suggest that these two or three nights would be the time to blow-out and get a really nice hotel ($30 a night gets you something really good, $50-$60 per night would get you luxury – send me links to hotels you like the look of in PP and I will investigate). Phnom Penh is where you can indulge your spending power and get stuff like great international-standard hotels and restaurants for a fraction of the price of the West. Siem Reap is a bit of a tourist-bubble (more expensive) and provincial Cambodia doesn’t have the western-style places.

When I am going around Cambodia I stay in cheap guesthouses for $5-$8 per night (or $10-15 if I want aircon). There’s no need to spend more than that (but Siem Reap is more expensive). I would strongly recommend not booking ahead online. The places which can be booked online are the places geared up for tourists – same standard of accommodation as the Cambodian-speaking places, but twice the price. Also, the online price is often more expensive that the walk-up price. Cheap, available accommodation is in fat supply in Cambodia and unless you are here during a public holiday weekend (which you are not) there is no need to worry about finding a room. Ignore the booking.com/agoda bullshit about ‘one room left’ or ‘special discount online price’. Just learn a few words of Cambodian language (‘two people’ ‘one night’ ‘fan-room’ ‘aircon-room’) and you are good to go. Even if you don’t speak any Cambodian, there will be loads of tuk-tuk drivers in your face in any destination when you get off the bus who will want to help you find a room (because they get commission from the hotel).

tourist sign

Apart from those two or three days around 19th June, you don’t need to set time aside to see me because Mealea and I would like to come with you and Matt for part of your holiday. There are a few places we haven’t yet visited in Cambodia and this would be the perfect time for us to take a few days off from PP and travel with you. I guess it would make sense to (thinking this out as I am writing… apologies for long rambling) accompany you at the beginning of your holiday as we can be the most use to you then in terms of advice/help/logistics/language. But, its not essential, I’m sure you will be fine starting on your own. Perhaps when you have finalised your schedule we can choose when to join you.We would pretty much love to accompany you anywhere but Siem Reap, which we’ve already done a couple of times.

SUGGESTED SCHEDULE:

Sunday 14th: Arrive Phnom Penh: rendezvous Joe : meal and drinks.

Monday 15th-Wednesday 17th: DESTINATION ONE: travel with Joe and Mealea.

Thursday 18th-Saturday 20th: Phnom Penh: sights by day, gigs/nightlife by night.

Sunday 21st – Tuesday 24th: DESTINATION TWO

Wednesday 25th – Friday 26th: DESTINATION THREE

Saturday 27th – Tuesday 30th : DESTINATION FOUR

Wednesday 1st July: Return Phnom Penh

So that’s PP taken care of: a night at either end of the trip and a weekend in-between. You could really cut that weekend down to two nights if you want. Now let’s look at your destinations. You suggested visiting three non-Phnom Penh destinations during your holiday – this would be a very chilled, almost (dare I say it) Mum and Claire-paced holiday. Four or five destinations seems about right for a relaxed-but-active time but you could absolutely expand this.

You will be travelling around on buses (but you can fly from PP-Siem Reap) or share minivans/taxis. The journeys will be quite tough depending on the quality of the transport. There are no fast journeys in Cambodia (the roads are mostly narrow and crap and there are no railways), with the exception of some amphetamine-fuelled taxi drivers who try (and succeed) in driving 250km in three hours. I would personally rather be safer and slower. I guess 4-8 hours depending on the trip – so you have to factor in the fact that you’ll be tired when you get to your destination. Bear in mind that the length-of-journey estimate quoted by a bus operator will almost always be wrong by 1-2 hours. Also its quite common for buses to make unscheduled stops and even break-down en route.

minivanDESTINATIONS YOU SUGGESTED: Siem Reap, Kratie, Sen Monorom Elephant Sanctuary.

Siem Reap is definitely a must for the obvious reasons of the temples. Bear in mind the sheer scale of the temples: There are like, 50 or 70 of them (at a guess) spread around. You can make the journey to the more out-of-the-way temples but I’m not sure this is worth it. The main group of temples can be navigated by bicycle which is fun (the terrain is flat) but get some serious sunblock/clothes and expect to be proper knackered at the end of the day. Alternatively, you can get a personal guide and a tuk-tuk but this is a lot more expensive and not really my scene. Or maybe try both ways. Most importantly, get a really good guide book – don’t just rely on a few pages in the Lonely Planet Cambodia, get a stand-alone book. We can sort this out when you meet us in PP. Siem Reap town itself is nice and fun but very tourist-orientated: walking down ‘Pub Street’ sometimes feels like you’re in Benidorm. You can see the must-see temples plus a few secondary ones in two long days. Three days would be best, four days might be too long.

ancient angkor bookJoe’s tuppence worth: You have to go to Siem Reap. Spend three days.

Kratie is a nice chilled-out riverside town but very sleepy and not much going on there. It was the first place I visited in Cambodia – on the 1st May, 2013. Boat trip on the Mekong to see dolphins was good but didn’t see much more than a few tails popping in and out of the water.

Joe’s tuppence worth: Kratie is nice but there are far better options in Cambodia for a sleepy riverside town experience (Kampot, Battambang). Not worth a special trip but worth spending the night if it’s on the way to another destination.

I haven’t been to Sen Monorom Elephant Sanctuary so can’t say a lot about that. Tours seem very expensive at $50 per day/$70 for two days (then… how much do they charge for accommodation?). There are other options in Cambodia for going hiking/seeing nature/waterfalls (Rattanakiri, Kirirom Park, Bokor Mountain), albeit without the elephants. But, on the other hand, I see that Sen Monorom is close to Bousra waterfall which could be a big highlight.

Joe’s tuppence worth: Go if you really wanna see elephants. Otherwise it seems expensive and out-of-the-way.

MORE DESTINATIONS

You said you wanted to see nature and temples. Well, the temples is pretty much taken care of by the Siem Reap trip. I have some suggestions for nature and other places that I think you would like:

ONE DAY

preah vihearPreah Vihear – temple on the Thai border. I haven’t been. Would like to go for the reportedly breath-taking views. Well out of the way but might be possible to visit en route between Siem Reap and Stung Treng/Rattanakiri. Transport might be a hassle.

Stung Treng – riverside town. Haven’t been, looks like there are some rapids there and not much else. Probably only desirable as a staging-post/stopover.

Bateay – this is Mealea’s home town, a small rice-growing village outside of Skun town, about 100km or so North-East of Phnom Penh. Skun have world-famous fried tarantulas (I haven’t tried them). I suggest Bateay because you will be able to see real countryside village life and you will get a warm welcome from the locals. This would be a chance to see the real Cambodia. Obviously this would only be something to do with Mealea and I.

Kampong Chnnang – riverside town on-the-way to Battambang. I heard really good things about this place. Picturesque.

Kep – down the road from Kampot is a small coastal tourist town called Kep. I haven’t been but everyone says its lovely but quiet. And there is some kind of a beach there. You can eat great crabs here apparently.

2-4 DAYS

cafe espresso kampotSi Phan Don – an hour or two north of Stung Treng you can cross the border into Laos and spend some time on ‘4000 Islands’. It’s a backpacker haven, loads of sandy islands in the wide part of the Mekong River. Really cool place but complicates the visa situation if you want to come back into Cambodia. Not sure how practical this would be. Probably best to stick to Cambodia.

Rattanakiri – mountains, waterfalls, national park, tribal villages. I haven’t been but seems like a beautiful place for nature.

Battambang – Second city of Cambodia. Spiritual home of Cambodian rock’n’roll music of 1960’s and 1970’s. Sleepy rural town (one can hardly call it a ‘city’) but some interesting things going on there – cool bars, art galleries. Famous Battambang circus. I love going to Battambang. Tourist stuff like a hillside temple and bamboo train.

Sihanoukville/Kompong Som – are you going to come to South-East Asia for a holiday and not spend some time on the beach? Sihanoukville is a sprawling, tourist-orientated place but there are very quiet parts and even whole islands you can visit for a tropical beach experience. It’s great.

Kampot – great place. Small and sleepy riverside town but, like Battambang there are loads of interesting things going on (art galleries, live music). Like all of the provincial ‘cities’, really cheap to eat, drink and stay. If you come here you have to take the trip up to Bokor Mountain.

Kirirom – national forest park. Wonderful place but not a lot to actually see and do there apart from quietly experiencing nature. There is an eco-tourism village where you can stay with locals which is great. Hard to imagine doing Kirirom without own transport.

Koh Kong – town (and also there is an island called Koh Kong) off the south-west coast. Not been but heard great things about it. Want to experience the entire surrounding Cardamom Mountains area. Prime place for experiencing nature/waterfalls/mountains. Good thing about Koh Kong is it that it is relatively near to, or on-the-way to and from other destinations Sihaoukville, Kampot, Kirirom and also a place called Srae Ambal. That convenience would present a big benefit over alternative nature destinations like Sen Monorom and Rattanakiri.

map-cambodia destinations

OK so that has covered my recommendations for Cambodia. You can choose what you want to do. Keep it freeform or plan it out. I will resist the temptation to plan it all out for you and leave it with you. It’s your holiday. If you want to come back to me with another itinerary I will let you know my thoughts on it.

A FEW PRACTICALITIES:

backpackerStuff like clothes and pharmaceuticals, sunglasses, backpacks will be a lot cheaper to buy in Phnom Penh than in the UK. Don’t go mad trying to get everything you need before you come.

Any kind of closed shoes will be uncomfortably hot. Get some ruff-and-tuff hiking sandals for when you’re in the countryside and some good flip flops for other times, that’s all you will need. Don’t pack any socks.

Make your own judgement on Malaria tablets but it doesn’t seem to be something that most people bother with. I think the main thing is to get a good quality mosquito repellent (probably cheaper here) and the right clothes: loose-fitting, light trousers, long sleeves, hat (buy this stuff here it will be cheaper). If you want to sleep outdoors in the national parks you can get a hammock and mosquito net really cheaply over here.

It’s easy to get money out from cash machines in Phnom Penh. You don’t really need to get currency before you arrive because we’ll be waiting for you at the other end. During your stay, use Canadia Bank ATMs to get money out from your UK bank account. The rate of exchange will be equivalent to or cheaper than changing cash. Just make sure you notify your bank of your travel plans so they don’t block your card when you try to use it in Cambodia. US Dollars is the main currency but you will also use Cambodian Riel. Its confusing. Generally you will use Dollars for most transactions and Cambodian Riel for small transactions only. Essentially, your dollars will be like your UK bank notes and your Cambodian Riel like your UK coins.

You can spend as little or as much as you like in Phnom Penh : live high or live low. In the provinces (except in Siem Reap) you will get by very cheaply. $20-$40 per person per day is plenty, and that includes travel, accommodation, eating out and boozing.

dwarf sperm

Cheers

Joe

Advertisements

The Par Club, Chiang Rai

December 1, 2012

The round cocktail tables were at chest height, with a few high chairs dotted around. Most people stood. When the club was really busy this area in front of the stage would be cleared of furniture. Tonight was not a busy night. We had arrived around 1am and there were about six or seven groups in the place. The Par Club was a warehouse-sized venue comprising of one large area. In this way it was rather like an English ballroom – three or four steps ran around the perimeter of the large sunken dancefloor, with a long high stage at one end of the hall. 

Another small runway stage extended from the bar, right up to our table in the middle of the dancefloor. At the same height were a few podiums next to the runway and another few podiums in front of the stage. These were obviously made for dancing. There were no steps to help you up on to the podium, you had to haul yourself up there with as much grace as was possible under the circumstances. For me, this added another element of challenge to the drunken nightclub dancing performance. It was something of a standing start to the race. Throwing your body up on to the podium like a sea lion on to the shore, then uprighting your posture before launching into your moves, while everyone else watched. 

On our table was a half-drunk bottle of Absolut Vodka Raspberry. I looked at the bottle and thought about how slowly the contents were depleting. I was drunk enough to stare at one thing and afford it my undivided attention. The drunken attention meant a reduction in peripheral awareness. Like a panting dog I focused upon what was directly in front of me. At the same time, being less aware of what was going on around me. I was more prone to waves of emotion. This meant that I could look at a bottle of vodka, a bottle of vodka only, and have what felt like some kind of involved, emotional experience. I tuned out the music and the chatter and thought about stuff. 

The waiters kept buzzing round and keeping their hands busy. You drank quickly because they kept filling up your glass. Heavily flavoured vodka with Ice and Sprite. It was a bit sweet really. The three of us drank quickly, eager to talk and dance and watch and smile. 

Stage right, a big screen showed close circuit footage of two girls dancing on the runway stage. I stared at them for a long time. When they left the stage, I stared at them for a long time. There were little more than two thoughts in my mind. The first thought was ‘Is the one on the left the sexiest girl I have ever seen?’, and the second thought was ‘why are neither of them returning my eye contact?’

To tell you the truth, its difficult to describe why I thought she was the sexiest girl I have ever seen. It wasn’t that she was very beautiful, or had some unique look going on. It wasn’t the way she was dressed. It was more about the way she danced, and the attitude she projected.

 The two girls danced for a long time. Every 30 minutes or so they would climb down off the stage and take a drink at their table. They had a friend with them who was not dancing on the podium. She had a short haircut and dressed like a boy, in dark t-shirt and jeans. Like everyone else in the club, she was enjoying watching the dancing on stage. The big screen was not really necessary, as the audience were all stood in the vicinity of the runway stage anyway. During the night, there were also some short live sets by some singers. I did not find these very interesting. I found the big screen at stage right useful, as it broke up the focus of my staring. I alternated between watching the runway stage and watching the runway stage on screen.

 As the night continued, the dancing became more and more outrageously sexual. Although no clothes were removed, each time the girls got back on stage, they got a bit closer and a bit more flagrant. By the end of the night they were basically having sex with their clothes on.

It was difficult to tell if these girls were employed by the club as dancers. They were not dressed in any uniform or generic outfit, or even very glamorously. One wore a white shift dress with a black patent belt and heels. The one I was fixated on wore no shoes and some drab singlet top. Her hair was up in a clip. She did not need a sexy outfit. For, around her waist were a pair of cut off stonewash denim shorts that almost renewed my faith in God himself. This item of clothing was so perfectly matched to her figure, her movement, her attitude, this moment. Was it an accident, that had placed these shorts upon her? Or were they placed there by the Hand of The Almighty?

If you had seen these shorts, Reader, you yourself would have questioned their providence. I could not tell you if they had been cut by hand or manufactured thus, but there was a small element of fraying around their lower edges. They were cut at just the point where her buttocks met her legs, or a few millimetres above. Any higher than this and too much would have been revealed. Any lower and the effect would not have been as magical. So many pairs of eyes followed the shape of that bum in those shorts, as she moved around the stage.

The fit of the shorts was as perfect as the height of the cut-off. The seat of the shorts did not constrict or squeeze the buttocks, which were a little fuller than those often seen on a slim South-East Asian girl. However, the denim only broke contact with her skin at the point of the cut off, and therein, I would submit, creating the effect that should be the goal of all those brandishing a pair of scissors to a pair of denim jeans, with a view to creating a sexy pair of shorts. If the cut off hangs ever so slightly off the buttock, a tiny area of shadow is created, which excites the attention of the observer, eyes glued to this area as she moves, revealing and by turn not revealing, the point where her buttock meets her leg.

The fastening at the front was of buttons, and the fit here was actually tight and created a few creases in the denim.

She and her partner kept dancing, coolly and slowly. They never once smiled, and continued without engaging or even looking at anyone else in the room. I would venture that they were more than happy with the huge attention they were getting. Indeed the performance was so sexy that it seemed to mesmerise all of us, and the girls’ reaction to the many eyes lusting after them was nothing but to continue dancing, closer and closer. 

The spell was broken by a drunken couple, hoisting themselves clumsily on to the stage and proceeding to improvise a very physical dance. The woman straddled the man’s waist as he held her arms, and she hung backwards with her hair nearly touching the floor. By bending his knees he could carry some of her weight with his thighs as he moved his feet, and managed to spin her round in a rapid circle on the small runway stage. 

At a number of points the drunken, physical pair disrupted the sexy girl dancers, which they were not too happy about.

As he held the long-haired girl with the electric blue one-shouldered dress, and span her around the stage, the man thought to himself, ‘this is it, this is the reason why I’ve been going to the gym every day for the last month’. After a few minutes of this, the great spins interspersed with outbursts of pronounced hip-gyrating and Freddie Mercury-style punches in the hair, the man retired from the stage, sweating and exhausted.

I should have known better than to take to the stage with a ladyboy and try and throw her around like Ginger Rodgers. 

An over-excited young Thai guy came over to our table and introduced himself. He thought my dancing was brilliant and he was very very keen to meet my new friend, Cookie.

Honda Dream 125cc

November 27, 2012

The motorbike climbed the empty curving mountain road until I reached the cloudline. Here, an old couple, a few stalls. There was a view of the land around, but this morning I only looked down upon clouds.

The weather was dry, not very hot. When the Honda went fast, I needed my coat.

No one else on the slope roads. Sunlight, canopy of trees, an unbroken yellow line. The line spun upwards around and around the mountain. I drove slowly, carefully, guiding the Honda around the next corner.

Butterflies, flashing. Yellow ones in pairs. One with brown colour on upperside, yellow colour on underside. A great dark one, looks black at first, on closer inspection it’s a deep brown. For a moment they appear in front of me, like the spots of sunlight that emerge from the gaps in the foliage, making eyes squint, just for a moment, then as the road rolls on, new spots of light and different things appear.

A smile and a sense of wonderment, a slow ride on an empty highway. Something happens that leaves my eyes wide and my mouth open with glee. A little sparrow sits on the unbroken yellow line in the middle of the empty road, twenty feet in front of the Honda. I approach directly towards him. As I near him, he leaps into flight, dashing back and forth just a few inches above the road, just in front of the bike. He’s playing with me. He darts ahead and again settles twenty feet in front of the bike. Again as I bear down upon him he leaps into the air and flies ahead. This happens three or four times, he could play this game all day. Where else could this happen, but on the Doi Thung mountain road, 30km north-west of Mae Chan?

Border police checkpoints, a small hut, two or three uniformed guards, a flimsy striped barrier. Sometimes they ask for your passport, sometimes not. Sometimes they ask where you are staying and where you are headed for, often they will just wave you through. At first I am concerned that I am actually crossing the border into Myanmar, but actually the official station is 20km down the road in Mae Sai. Presently I see barbed wire in the ditch marking the border. In the opposite ditch, huge Rhododendron trees beget glorious flowers of such size and of such deep red I have to stop and look at them to believe them.

The Rhododendrons remind me of England. As I climb higher, something else. The dampness from the overnight rain is still here, trapped in a bed of leaves and plant matter. The smell is of a European forest, of pine needles. The trees up here lose their leaves. Somewhere, a fire, woodsmoke.

A sign in English tells me which way to the temple. The Honda keeps climbing, looking for Wat Phra Tat Doi Thung, a temple in the clouds. I reach a sudden end to the road. The tarmac is replaced by clay. A huge blue mechanical digger has scooped out the mountainside, a team of twenty men mill around. I turn around and drive back down the road, stopping to ask two passers by the way to the temple. Yes, that is the road to the temple. I return to the building site. I see a man on a moped ride on a path high above the digging. They have scooped a great trench from the mountain, leaving a one-metre wide shelf of clay. This is the road to the temple.

‘Keep going, 500m up there’ shouts one of the workers, in Thai. ‘Be careful’ and many of the group laugh. They watch me with amusement as I walk the bike up the shelf path, around the building site and on to the tarmac at the other side.

Down a great hill with my brakes on the whole time, and I’m at the foot of the temple steps. A couple of Thai guys sitting around, no tourists.

A long way up to the temple. Many steps, guarded as one expects by the long painted concrete dragons on either side. At the top of the steps, something unusual. Two colourful statues of demons guarded the threshold of a long path, lined by hundreds of bells. Ornate bells of brass or iron, each up to two foot tall, suspended from wooden railings on either side of the tiled walkway. Grass and fungus sprouted between the terracotta tiles.

Finally I reached the twin domes of the Wat Phra Tat Doi Thung. The expected golds, statues, paintings that I had grown weary of seeing, but this setting was different. No-one here. Mountainous mist drifting in and out of the grounds. I approached the entrance of the temple to see a lone monk in orange robes, dozing in the doorway. He woke and smiled at me.

Later, the Phanon Yothin Highway takes me directly home. As the sun sets, the three lanes heading west are largely empty, so I open the modest 125cc engine as far as possible and ride towards the sun. The landscape is open now and I race into a beautiful painting, the sun dropping quickly into the horizon, the sky dissolving from blue to orange to red to brown to grey to dark. The Honda not making a noise to my ears but emitting a drone, a monotone, the sound of travelling at one speed in one straight line, the undertone of my meditation driving sight, the eyes follow the road, the road is constant, the Honda is constant, the markings on the road approach in a stream, the life at the side of the road hurtles past me at speed, my peripheral vision is the sunset, the mountains, the far-off lights, and if there is something there I cannot see I can see it, my awareness fills the vision, my head presents the whole picture, a huge, wide, beautiful, red, grey and orange sound.

Is it fruitless to try and evoke it, put it into words, or a painting, or photograph it, film it, try to capture it? This immersive, psychedelic, hurtling experience? When the senses combine as closely and harmoniously as the elements of a musical quintet, to produce the kind of unique experience that leaves you humbled with streaks of moisture from your eyes, or laughing like a goon, or your heart rising from your chest. One moment when your awareness peaked, and sights could be more than seen, sounds could be more than heard, riding your motorbike westwards at speed on a deserted highway at sunset, in the landscape and life of Northern Thailand.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Walking around Chiang Rai

November 9, 2012

Image

I saved a few quid by deciding not to rent a scooter. I stayed at a couple of central guest houses, there are enough to choose from.

I was on strong antibiotics for a few days due to an ear infection. Or I thought it was an ear infection. In fact when I went to see a doctor on Sunday morning at Overbrook hospital, he took one look down my ear hole and said ‘your ear is blocked with wax’. The doctor prescribed me some solution to drop in my ear. The cost of this consultation was 70 baht, registering at the hospital cost 40 baht, and the prescription cost 115 baht, for a total of 225 baht or nearly £5.

I walked out of the hospital feeling a darn sight better. I rued self-diagnosing a few days earlier and buying some antibiotics over the counter at the pharmacy. The antibiotics had made me feel like shit, and I was convinced that I had some kind of virus. It seems not. So I had wasted 400 baht on some antibiotics. On the plus side, taking the medicine had precluded my drinking for a time. I decided to compensate tonight, with a few beers on my last night in Chiang Rai.

First, a latte yen in one of the coffee shops. They love coffee in Northern Thailand and its good quality too. A big cup of Iced cappuccino or latte or whatever for 45-60 baht. Forget about getting a Great British Cuppa, but if you like coffee you’re laughing.

I hail a tuk-tuk and he wants 400 baht to take me to Wat Rong Khun, which is about 10 km south of the city, wait there for an hour then drive me back. I insist on 300 baht because I read another guy’s blog where he paid that much.

This is an extravagance I can afford because I’ve been walking round Chiang Rai for nearly a week now. Also Wat Rong Khun costs nothing to enter. This is the second time I have visited, I had to come back to take another look at ‘Hall of Masterworks’. Charlermchai Kositpipat does not seem to be a modest guy. In addition to entitling his exhibition ‘Masterworks’, he has erected several life-sized cardboard images of himself around the temple grounds. Still, he is irrefutably a Master. He has designed a modern site of Buddhist worship comprising of several temples and buildings as well as housing his incredible artwork. I had to return to stare again at the scores of canvasses depicting Buddhist icons, personal images of heaven and outrageous scenes of George Bush and Osama Bin Laden riding rockets.

Image

One wall of The White Temple is painted with a mural entitled ‘Buddha triumphs over Mara’. When you first see it you’re standing there open-mouthed, then grinning, because you haven’t seen anything like this before. You’re in a temple in Thailand. Another temple in Thailand. They’re all beautiful and decorated with very old statues, ornate metalwork, mosaics, ceramics, tapestries, paintings etc. You respectfully and slowly walk round, admire it, absorb it, and leave. This WhiteTemple, however, is something else. He’s got Lord Buddha floating over an apocalyptic war zone cartoon Earth. Giant snakes smother the twin towers. The guy from Avatar swoops down on his dragon. Also Transformers, Harry Potter, Ben10! Satellites and rockets, spaceships. Freddy Krueger. Trust me, you have to see this.

The temperature in the exhibition hall is uncomfortably close. Dim lights, no air con, though mercifully not crowded. Uninterrupted long gazes at the canvasses. I like the brightest ones, the Mythical Rabbit, My Idea of Heaven. The purples, blues and golds so bright, glowing, outrageously bold. I get uncomfortable with the heat but I resolve to stay a few minutes longer, feeling my way into this imagery, wading through the scenes in the paintings. I love this aesthetic.

Image

Another latte yen before I meet Khun Saphan the tuk-tuk man and back to the guest house. He writes his phone number on a pamphlet, its a generic tour-operator advertisement. ‘Long Neck Karen’ ‘Hill Tribe Villages’ ‘Palong Big Earring’. From what I can gather, for a couple of thousand baht they will pick you up from your hotel and take you round a number of villages, where the tribes people will put on a bit of a show with costumes and dancing. I’m not really up for these tours myself.

I continue my own private food tour of Thailand, which consists of stopping two or three times a day at restaurants and cafes and roadside stands to load up on spicy, fresh and aromatic soups, salads, curries, indeterminate things wrapped in bamboo leaves, meat things on sticks, seafood in little plastic bags etc etc etc. It never ends. No wonder I have added 4 kg to my waist within the first week!

Image

The food is everywhere and the choice is huge. Bounding out of my guesthouse I consider a noodle bar and a curry café before settling for a restaurant with a board outside reading ‘Northern Thai food’. Ashamed to say, but my Thai is so poor I am often attracted to places with an English language menu. Or places where all the dishes are on view so I can point to them. I choose Sai Aur, or Lanna Sausage, and some Laab Moo (a minced pork curry) with rice.

These Lanna Sausages are really something. They are huge and made in a ring like a Cumberland Sausage. They are made with finely minced pork and a lot of spices, which give them a fiery red colour. They call out from every market and roadside food vendor to sausage lovers like me… eat me.

As fond as I am of street food and street markets in Thailand, I was not ready for the Chiang Rai Saturday Walking Street market. Full of medicine, tired and irritable, I paced down Thanalai Road towards the Night Bazaar. I noticed some stalls set up at either side of the road. As I got closer I saw the crowds of people. The street had been cordoned off to traffic and there was a third row of stalls down the middle of the road. There was an unwritten rule that you had to walk on the left side, which was a good idea, but for the fact that the stalls were solid down the middle and you couldn’t really get through them to change direction. This went on for what seemed like a mile. Hypnotic sensory overload. Stall after stall after stall of knick-knacks – tin cans turned into tuk-tuks, dolls. DVDs, t-shirts, hats. People there in tribes costume, people in normal clothes. Faces looming from beneath the phosphorous low lamps in chains strung down the never-ending line of stalls. Your feet marching in the slow pace of the crowd, fighting it, I can’t be arsed with this, then going with it, your tired eyes consuming the sequence of images too many to see. No pattern, exactly. The same items repeated many times of course, how many times have I seen those fucking little tin tuk tuks, or the pointed woollen lanna hats with multicoloured bands. Then bouncing out of the sea comes something really bizarre – a guy bashing a battery-powered plastic tennis racket on to multi-coloured foil tinsel to produce crackling bright loud sparks. Or a face – your tired eyes staring too long at a girls face, because you haven’t seen a face quite like that before, huge eyes, caramel skin, rounded. The low chains of lamps also light up the steam rising from the food carts. Whats that sound? I swear it sounds like Christians strumming sing-a-longs. It’s a group of thirty Missionary Thais singing songs about Jesus. I watch for a minute, its too bizarre, I make haste. One of the parking lots of one of the temples has been converted into another food market surrounding a stage, before the stage they have laid down mats and little tables and bottles of water. I buy some little parcels of sweet fruit, I don’t know what it is, and some fried chicken. The fried chicken tastes as I would have liked every piece of fried chicken hitherto consumed to have tasted. As well as bagging up the two huge pieces of chicken I have selected, the vendor also bags up some sweet chilli sauce to drip over it.

Fried Chicken is a traditional Thai dish. Also, pork scratchings or Cap Moo are a traditional Lanna side dish. You will find them in packets ready for you to eat with your meal at any Northern Thai eatery, in the same way that there is always bottled water and condiments ready and waiting for you at your table. I first bit into the floury, crispy, curly item as part of a Khantoke traditional Lanna platter. My eyes lit up in amazement as I confirmed that yes, these were pork scratchings. I tried to explain to my dinner date that these pig products were consumed with beer in every other British pub. I don’t think she understood what I was saying.

The Khantoke meal we went to was a crazy rip off, in a courtyard restaurant where tourists are bussed in from their hotels and led by an army of traditionally costumed staff to low tables on the Thai cushions and mats. While you eat there are lots of dance and costume performances. Nothing wrong with that, but you can eat this same food at the street vendors for a fraction of the price, and you can see the performances for free or for a tip at the Walking Street markets, or every evening at Chiang Rai Night Bazaar.

Image

The only gob-smackingly cheap meal I ate in Chiang Rai was 15 baht for a plate of rice with two ladels of the curries of my choice, at a roadside counter at the corner of Uttarakit and Ngam-Muang. Yes, it was delicious and some of the best curry I’ve tasted. Unfortunately it was closed every time I went back to try again.

After washing down my Sai Aur and Laab Moo at the Northern Thai restaurant with a bottle of Leo, I bounce down the street towards a couple of bars I have been waiting to try. I haven’t been drinking because I’ve been on the antibiotics, and also I’ve been early to bed each night. Haven’t been in drink since last Monday and that crazy night at Par-club. I decide to let myself loose a little bit this evening. I bypass the Kaffee Hub at the clocktower, where the boss stands outside rubbing his hands as the steady flow of tourists drifts into his premises. They can sit here and see the clocktower lit up, or listen to some Thai guys strum a few covers on the guitar.

Image

I move on and turn down the Thanon Phahon Yothin, walking past the bus station and night bazaar to the intersection of Sanpanard Road, where a beautiful US Army Jeep from the 1960s is permanently parked up, advertising the Hangovers Corner bar. The bar is a few metres back on Jetyod Street. I sip a large Leo beer quickly and chat to some expatriates. I haven’t been to one of these bars for ages. The familiar holiday bar scenario, a wizened middle-aged guy from the UK or Australia, a native wife, and a loyal customer base of local white guys. A fridge full of cold beer at reasonable prices. When I leave the Hangovers Corner I think about the many bars like this I have visited on beaches on Koh Samui. Its nice to go somewhere where you can have a chat with someone in your own language, but of course I didn’t come to Thailand to do that.

Its buzzing to know enough of the language to bowl in somewhere, say hello, how you doing, ask whats your name, tell them where you are from, where you are staying or where you visited today. Usually you will get a great reaction, smiles all round and be congratulated on your amazing Thai language skills. Of course you know and they know that you are shit at speaking Thai, but fuck it you’ve just enjoyed something approaching a conversation, however limited. So true it is that a little bit of language knowledge goes a long way. So far I’ve only had two or three encounters out of say, one hundred, that have left me feeling pissed off. At a food counter or in a shop, where I’ve tried to ask for something in Thai and been greeted with a bad attitude, a piss-taking or belittling response.

Some of the ex-pats at the bar have only bad things to say about the Thais. Often it’s a guy on his own, in the same place every night or on the same circuit every night, doing his best to carve an indentation of his flabby arse into his favourite bar stool. He knows ten words of Thai and one-hundred Thai stories, usually involving people trying to fuck him over (or fuck another white guy over), con him, rob him or otherwise molest him. These geezers love exchanging horror stories across the bar. In fact, they don’t seem to have a lot of good things to say about anything or anywhere, including Her Majesty’s Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. From one Kingdom to another.

One man calls after me ‘if you want the girls, go that way’. I go the other way. ‘I know where they are, I’m trying to stay away from them’, I call back, with a laugh and a smile.

Back up Phahon Yothin and to the Teepee Bar, a weird place I’ve also passed loads of times and never visited. I’m the only customer, cross-legged on straw mats, watching a concert video of Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits. I’m enjoying myself, sipping on Leo and trying to figure this place out. It looks like some kind of magical attic, cluttered with music memorabilia, posters, signs and even Fender Stratocasters hanging from the walls. Its really dark in here. Perfect place to come if you were stoned.

A march up and down Jetyod street, the bar soi, wondering where to try next, looking to keep clear of the bar girls who will welcome me so warmly and relieve me so quickly of my money. The Easy House looks OK, a couple of bottles there and a chat to some Thais – the friendly bar maid and a small group sitting next to me. From my bar stool I can see straight through the Kitchen hatch. I get a little bit drunk and hypnotised by my surroundings. I’m watching a small woman hack up Octopus on a large wooden chopping board with a huge cleaver. A small boy (or girl?) ferries the food from the kitchen to the tables behind me. I notice this place is a guesthouse as well as a bar and restaurant. Everything here seems to be made out of wood. It starts raining. I start day dreaming of medieval Inns, Don Quixote. I scribble fervently in my notebook. The bar maid asks me if I’m OK.

Further down Jetyod and the rain starts coming down properly. Real, South-East Asian rain. Sheets of it, bouncing off the road. Soaking you instantly but not unpleasantly. Its not cold. I take refuge on the front porch of one of the massage parlours, where the women shift around their little concrete table and chairs to make room for me. They sell me bottles of cold Leo for 50 baht and feed me strange dried seafood snacks, bought from a vendor still shuffling down the rainy road in a poncho with stick on shoulder and bag of wares dangling from stick. They are amused when I ask one to please pass me the chilli dip, as a lot of Thais are not ready to believe that a farang can eat chillis. ‘Ped Mak!’ they chirp, and I say ‘Pom chob a han ped aroy mak!’ and we all laugh well, and I am more than happy to be the clown-butt of the joke if that so be. I drink too many bottles of Leo and fall into a drunken reverie of the rain, and love and satisfaction wells in me, loving where I am, sitting on low concrete stools outside a massage parlour in the rain as people rush back to the guesthouses, until one of the girls throws me on the back of her scooter and drives me back to my guest house, sees me inside and makes sure I will be OK, drunken fool that I am, and she drives off again.

https://www.facebook.com/jwbabyjoe

http://www.awesomethaifood.com/

Image

A Note about this Blog

November 8, 2012

I started this Blog a few years ago as an exercise to get me writing regularly, and for the good feeling that comes from composing one’s thoughts on paper.

I lost interest in the blog around the same time as returning from my first visit to Thailand in Spring 2010. Now I am back in Thailand for the third time and for an extended period. I have decided to kick the blog off again. I was about to open a new WordPress page before I reviewed the last few entries and realised that there will actually be direct continuity between my last post over two-and-a-half years ago and my next post today. Also, this means I will not have to bother opening a new page.

My reasons for re-starting the blog:

1. Keep friends and family updated regarding my travels

2. Dedicating more time to creative writing

3. As I’m in a different country experiencing weird things and seeking an alternative lifestyle, there is an outside chance that the blog will at some stage actually become interesting for others to read.

4. Documenting my life for my own future amusement and reference

5. Because it feels good.

Streetlife and Stokies

March 16, 2010

Why is that wherever you go in the world you have a roughly 90% chance of running into a Stokie? In Nevada, Monaco or Bangkok you can hardly walk around for a day without hearing that accent or seeing the red-and-white stripes. Its up to you whether you keep your head down and walk on, or stride up and fire off a ‘howat’ or ‘ay up mate’.

I see two Stoke City shirts on the top floor of the MBK shopping centre in Bangkok. One is worn by a middle aged man talking with his friend. As they lean on the banister overlooking the huge space, the wife sits on a bench on her own in her Stoke shirt, waiting patiently for the men.

`Long way from Stoke`, I venture. One of the men is here for a two-week holiday that turned into four weeks. The man in the football shirt has retired over here now, having just bought a property north of the city.

I explain that this is my first day in Bangkok and this shopping centre is driving me nuts. The MBK centre is like a Vegas casino, designed so that you could wander round for days without seeing an exit. Each floor has different shops, one floor of furniture, one floor of mobile phones etc. In the `market` areas there are hundreds of stalls crammed in together, each one looking pretty much the same as the last. Each one with a shopkeeper eager to sell you stuff. I have seen enough and want to get out. I can`t find my way out. I keep going round in circles and up and down the escalators and by the same mobile phone stalls. On the clothing floor I stumble into some kind of eatery and gesture at some pork. I get confused about the price of the food and worry that I am being ripped off until I realise that they are charging me the equivalent of 80p, not £8.

Out of the air-conditioned mammoth and onto the street. For a few days I walk the pavements, trying to feed my eyes as much as possible and get to know the layout of the city. Hmmm. You can do that in Birmingham pretty easily, you can do that in Barcelona fairly easily, but Bangkok? Difficult. The place is hot. The place is huge and sprawling like London. Something else. Bangkok streetlife. Its as if every building is let twice – the day lease and the night lease. The day people have to set up their stalls and their chairs while the night people are inside sleeping. When evening comes, the day shift get to go inside their home and rest while the night shift comes on. So much of life happens on the street. Walk ten yards. You see two restaurants with plastic tables and chairs on the pavement. One hooker speaking to a fat Danish man. One vendor with a cart selling necklaces. Two tuk-tuk drivers waiting for fares. In a doorway, a motorcycle-taxi rider in his red bib waits for a fare. Three beggars, one of them has no legs and is lying face down in the middle of the pavement with his arm raised up and hand extended holding an empty cup. You stop and stare – is this normal? I guess so because there are scores of people making their way down the street without looking at this guy. Walk another ten yards you see another set of restaurants, vendors, hookers, hustlers, taxi drivers, a different beggar face down on the floor.

One of the most bizarre sights are the blind karaoke beggars. Led down the street by a helper they mime to the Thai hits blaring out of the boombox strapped around their shoulders.

In the day time in the heat it gets a bit much when you`re trying to get somewhere and you have a constant stream of people in your face trying to sell you stuff or con you. In the night time its more fun. Everything on the street. Chinatown is the most extreme. Narrow main streets lead to cramped side streets lead to tiny back alleys. Even in the tiny back alleys are streams of pedestrians brushing past speeding mopeds rushing past 99 street stalls. Look to your left see a tiny darkened room with a few aluminium tables . You squint and realise its a noodle bar. Go in and have some noodles.

Never could I have seen so many people and so many things concentrated into such narrow lanes. Noisy too, of course, the chatter of the street, the shouts, the honking of horns. Lots of laughing. When a moped rider gets knocked down everything stops and everyone turns to look. Many people go to help him and he is helped off the street like a footballer off the pitch. He is OK, he is on his feet but limping. The traffic starts to crawl forward again and I keep eating my langoustines.

Even on the six-lane highways, men pushing carts selling fruit or flowers move through the crawling traffic. Fortunately the taxis charge only by distance. It costs you the same whether your journey takes 2 hours or 2 minutes. Yes, a two-minute journey can take 2 hours if you travel at the wrong time of day.

If you take a tuk-tuk instead of a taxi, you will have to haggle the price. If its too cheap, its a con. The driver will take you to a gem shop or travel agency that you don`t want to visit. If a stranger approaches you on the street and is really friendly, they are probably trying to con you too. One guy had an interesting approach:-

`You have a lucky face sir, I can see.` said the Indian man in a huge cheap double breasted suit. `But you have some problems, some… bad habits`. I smiled and wondered what kind of strange con this was as I hurried back to my hotel.
Bangkok is great but its hard work. Far more difficult to deal with than London or New York City. However, no matter how much hassle you get or how lost you become, you are never more than a few metres from fantastic food or a superior massage.

The Hangover, Grilled Sea Bream

March 9, 2010

‘The 13.11 to Manchester Airport is running approximately 29 minutes late. The 13.43 to Norwich will be delayed by approximately 19 minutes.’

A bunch of pale, unhappy people at Platform 13. Three trains worth of passsengers waiting for late trains. Cold and drizzle. When the train gets here, not enough seats. Thank God I have a good book. On the other side of the aisle, a couple of teenage girls with a pram. 20 minutes into the journey, I am only pretending to read my book while I listen to their conversation. They are proudly and loudly telling a third woman about their day.

‘We jus bin on Jeremy Kyle. Jeremy Kyle yeh, to get DNA test. Afterwuds I showed im a picture of is doorta. Ee looked like e wuz gunner cry. 3 purtential dads, ee sed. You look at your dorta’s face, I sed, and you tell me 3 purtential dads.’

The full errgggghhh-inspiring chavvy Nottingham accent. A regional dialect debased. The loud voice that makes you want to pull the emergency cord, break out the hammer from the glass and throw yourself through the train window.

‘Wen shes old enuf she’ll find im, an she’ll be able to make er own mind up. She’ll meet im, and she’ll think… Wot the fook am I doin?’

At this point I had to put my hand in front of my face to try and conceal the fact that I was pissing myself. Chantelle hated Steves guts, and would rather her daughter never meet him, but she had travelled from Nottingham to Manchester with the pushchair and her friend to go on a TV show to prove that Steve was the dad.

`Ee didunt say big-a-boo to me. Jeremy Kyle laid intuh im tho, made im look abarrt this fookin big. Oi shuddup nar weir ere`

I take my bags down from the shelf with the red airline tags and pack up my book and sigh again and feel the malaise in the stomach and transport my jet lag into a taxi and go home. Earlier, in an airport, I feel glad I saved a little battery life of the i-pod because i really need to listen to it now. Play roulette with the songs, shuffling through until I hit the one that fires a dart into the knots malaise in the stomach, a liquid flower bursts in the stomach, stopping me in my tracks, warm wave of tingles, eyes wide, unsteady on feet, keep walking to the bathroom, splash water on face. Only in this moment, was it right to listen to this song, I was meant to hear this now and only now could it have provoked this reaction.

Wasnt it a good year
Wasnt filled with talking
It still moves through my heart
From time to time
City after City
Granite grey as morning
Heroes died in subways left behind
Far behind
Like our love

Now the rhythm section kicks in and Scott starts singing the next verse to me. I step into some kind of weird altered state, some kind of trip or moment of clarity or just a rush of weird emotion. For that minute the song says it all, everything that has been in my life and all that will be. In the altered state joy and despair and knowing are close things together. You feel everything.

You`re on your own again
And you`re your best again
Thats what you tell yourself
I see it all the way
As far as anyone could see
Except when it began
I was so happy
I didn`t feel like me

I want to swap the pale faces on the train platform for caramel faces, in places where the proportion of smiling faces is high, even in the City! Swap the grunting monotones for the rising and falling speech-tones. Stay away from the grounds where the grumpy sun stays hidden behind the thick clouds, be living where the bright sun cannot be repressed behind a cloud, shining through all clouds.

Many long moments when the internal dialogue says `Is this real?`. Different light in the magic hour, thin wind, no extra words. A child trots up to add something to your plate. My girl opens a bottle. She won`t let me pour. The grilled sea bream sits in a dish with a candle underneath, bubbling a honey sauce. Shrimps wait to be eaten in a bowl of tom yum soup. Strong beer with ice. Sun dropping fast throws dappling slabs on the sea. Two people walk slowly past. Dog brushes your elbow. Deck chair and low table. Two deck chairs face the same way, toward the sea and the setting sun.

My notebook keeps stepping out of my pocket, songs and words, lots of them. Record them.

`Are you OK?`

I shake my head, `This is… heaven.`

`You like Thai food?`

`Mmmmm.`

The heavy orange sun stops laying down its silver slabs and comes to rest on a mountain just a couple of hundred miles away.

`Is that where we are going tomorrow?`
`Yes.`

The mountain island is shaped so that the orange sun looks like a fortune-tellers ball in a dark cradle-base on a table.

What else can you do but grin? But smiling isnt enough because the scene and the beauty and the company and the food is so exquisite there is the attendant pathos as you know it is one brief time. It can only be replayed in memory, when it has ceased to be now and has become then, dead.

Many `I cant believe it` moments. Many private moments.

First Night in Bangkok

February 20, 2010

I have a little evil laugh to myself as I finish packing my bags and phone the taxi. Its a quiet chuckle through a grin. ‘Heh heh heh…’ Two weeks holiday ahead of me in a far away land, with only myself to look after, only myself to please.

Nineteen hours of trains, planes and taxis. I think about how reserved I am, why that is, and wonder whether it will change. A couple of youngsters say something funny on the train, I have a little laugh with them then put my nose back in my paperback. Why am I a little averse to having a conversation? The girl next to me on the plane struggles with working the in-flight entertainment thingy. I show her how to do it then quickly put my headphones back on and ignore her. Why am I uncomfortable? My first walk around Bangkok, I order a beer from Cheap Charlies in Sukhumvit, where bunches of young americans and europeans are hanging out and chatting at the pavement tables. I feel ill at ease, stood there like a rod on my own. I sup up and walk on. Then I think, why didn’t I start just say hello or start talking to these people? Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by meeting too many knobheads in my life. Perhaps the ratio between friendly, interesting people and nasty, uninteresting people is far too unfavourable to represent a good gamble. Perhaps I’m scared stiff of getting into a conversation that is boring or one-sided because I find it very difficult to cut these conversations short once they have started. Perhaps I worry too much. Definitely I worry too much. Most people do.

One hour later I am in a different frame of mind. I have just had the most amazing massage. I had forgotten what its like to feel properly relaxed. That means treating your mind to a little blankness. Giving your head a break from being a racetrack for 1500 different thoughts.

I order beef from the roadside food vendor and it comes over in a noodle soup with dumplings. I taste it and it doesn’t seem very spicy. I pile in some condiments and it becomes very spicy. Two minutes later I am gargling Heineken and trying to stop my nose running. I have turned red and feel a little dizzy. Perhaps I should have taken it easy with those pickled chillis and chilli oil. No worries, for I am living the dream. Munching fresh hot delicious food at a pavement table in Bangkok. The vendor giggles at me.

Soul4Sale and Greco Session

February 20, 2010

phone call

 

Lying in bed the other day I received a call from Brendan. ‘This gig my band are playing on Friday, the other act have dropped out. Can you come and play a set?’ Of course I can mate. I’m in practice coz I’ve been preparing for a recording session on Sunday. I have booked 5 hours at Sirkus with a view to making a live demo of every single song I don’t already have a demo of. If I do say so myself, this was a brilliant idea. It gave me the gumption to get back into practice and work on my songs.

Now I need to sort out some kind of a website to make these songs available on. The session went well, thanks to help from Theresa on percussion, and Rob and Tom on the controls. We got 20 tracks recorded!

At the gig on Friday I had the privilege of playing to a home crowd. Brendan had dragged a bunch of family and friends down. There were a few there who were actually familiar with a couple of the songs I played. That made things easier. As far as most of the audience were concerned, it was the usual quizzical regard for this unusual bloke playing ‘weird’ songs. Nothing weird about it in my eyes, of course, but this is the response I get. Brendan brings bright colours to the performance when he gets up to sing and add harmonica.

I play a song I have never played before called ‘Doctor’. I tense up a bit and find it difficult to deliver this song well. I have less confidence in how people will react to the song because I have never played it. Afterwards I think thats interesting coz after all most people will be hearing every song for the first time not just Doctor. Why should I have no confidence in Doctor but every confidence in Very Well Considering?

After a couple of beers and a couple of compliments I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Brendan’s band Soul4Sale take to the stage and absolutely smash it. They are strong musicians. They pull off the task of making people listen and dance to music they haven’t heard before. That is a hard thing to do. There is one cover. Its great to see Brendan up there as the front man singing out and leading the band.

Who loves Sunday

February 15, 2010

Nothing much happened got all 6 tourneys running now. Very focussed and tight. Feeling like this is the start of a long night.

Sent: 14-02-2010 20:30

Two jaw-dropping beats, one all-in move gone wrong, three tournaments remain. Comfortable in all. Bit pissed off.

Sent: 14-02-2010 20:56

Focussing on getting my share of $1.9 mill. Maximum potential payout: $166,000

Sent: 14-02-2010 21:32

Started with 40864. Two minutes ago was 17129. Now there are 17128.

Sent 14-02-2010 21:54

Ran kings into aces – out. Another good all-in play gone wrong – out. Ready to jump out the window – only have fucking quarter million left.

Sent 14-02-2010 21:57

Completely on tilt now just bin 5-outed to bust the Last tournament. How many of these fucking things do I hav2play before i get a big result?

Sent 14-02-2010 22:33

Still up – still on tilt

Sent 15-02-2010 02:15