Saturday, June 30, 2007

Daily Report: Enjoying The Links

One of the cool things about coming back to America after a 3-year absence is that I get to see all the new car models at one time. Some of them really are nice to look at... and even the ones that aren't as good looking are still interesting.

I talked to Pui today on the phone, and she told me that her brother is coming down to work in Pattaya, and will be staying with us for a week or two until they can find him a place to live. Pui knows my opinion of her brother: He's not a completely bad guy, but he is trouble-prone, and I have a sneaking suspicion that he doesn't learn from his mistakes. So I have that to look forward to when I get home.

I've got a bit of a cold or some kind of upper respiratory infection. I made the stupid mistake of not stocking up on some antibiotics before leaving Thailand, as they are available without a prescription there, so now I'll probably have to fork over $100 for a doctor visit and prescription instead of just 80 cents to a pharmacy. I'm definitely not going to be able to last another week with my throat the way it is.

"That's muh ball,"
says Rob, of his
approach shot to
within 10 feet
on the first hole.
Today was golf day. I played with Vinnie's father, my brother-in-law, Dan, and Dan's best friend, Vinnie's godfather, Rob. I haven't swung a golf club in 15 years, and was anticipating 4 hours of pain, sweat, frustration, and embarrassment as a result. Neither Dan nor Rob had played in a long time either, however, so I was in good company. Trying not to kill myself, I started things off easily, with gentle swings, using a whole lot of extra club, and just focusing on a nice easy stroke.

However, as the holes went by, I got limbered up, and started hitting the ball a little better. Before long, I realized that most of the problems I was experiencing were due to slow club head speed, so I went back to my old style from 20 years ago of "ball-crusher Jil", and in short order, I was hitting them pretty well. I used to be a 6-handicap, while today I came in at just over 100 for 18 holes. My distance is only 75% of what it used to be, but I walked away pretty satisfied, considering that was my first round of golf since the early 1990's. However, my low back was a little sore, and I have a blister on my index finger as a memento. Like I told my father later on though, I'm pretty sure that with another 72 holes under my belt, I could probably make it back to bogey golf... although I'm pretty sure that at least for the time being, my days of golfing in the mid-to-high-70s are not going to return.

After golf, it was back to Dad's house, where myself, Dan, Nancy, and Vinnie, Rob and his wife Alexa, Dad and wife Judy, Dr. and Mrs. Molden (Dan's parents) sat down for a dinner of bar-be-que chicken, cucumber salad, 3-bean salad, baby potatoes, Finger Lakes wine, and an ice cream sandwich cake for dessert. Then, dad showed us all photos of his recent trips to Antarctica and Moscow.

About 10:00, I was feeling pretty whipped from my throat and the day golfing, and drove back over to Mom's house and went to bed.

And now, Mike's Thousand Words: Bath Country Club, Noontime.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Daily Report: Warning — Wedding Pictures Ahead

So I apologize to anyone who has stumbled across my blog for the first time over the past five days or so looking for Pattaya news and information. I'm on vacation in Bath, New York to attend my mother's wedding. Therefore, instead of regular ol' Pattaya, you're getting exciting and exotic upstate New York. Well: Most bloggers on vacation would just say, "See you in 2 weeks." Not I, readers. I'm putting up (admittedly mundane, possibly boring, and perchance even annoying) trip photos, wedding photos, family photos, and details of my vacation that only members of my family and immediate circle of friends could appreciate. For my many other readers, for that I apologize. Scroll down for the Babe Blogging and I'm sure you'll feel a little better.

Flower Girl Ida.

Presbyterian Church, Bath, NY

Mr. & Mrs. Paul Wayland.

Vinnie and his staff.

Cutting the wedding cake.
I slept a little better last night... probably because of the lack of sleep from the night prior. Mom and Nancy took Vinnie out to the park to play, while Dan and I sat home and chatted. I watched some Wimbledon for a while. Dan went and picked up his parents, the Moldens, at Elmira airport, arriving from St. Louis. In the afternoon Uncle Bob and Marian came over and joined the party as well, making eight of us, plus the 2 dogs and Vinnie.

My father stopped by in the afternoon to drop off a tie (I, being now a Pattayan, and respecting all that that signifies, refuse to actually own a tie), and a golf shirt and hat for tomorrow. With my hair the way it is now, my father and I really look exactly alike. People instantly know who I am out around town. It happened at the winery on Wednesday: My father is very well-known in this area of the state, and Warren the Wino at Dr. Frank's winery (in the next county north of here... 20 miles away) knew who I was the moment I walked through the door.

At 4:30, it was off to the Presbyterian Church to watch my mother get married. I come from a very small family (11 cousins, 4 aunts, and 4 uncles, first and second, and twice-removed combined... both sides of the family), but the family my mother is marrying into is one of those families that adds 50 or 100 people per generation. So, the groom's side of the church was fairly well filled, while the bride's side was a bit anemic. We made up for that in spirit, of course.

So Mom got married. Aunt Carol cried. Vinnie had an ongoing conversation with the Holy Ghost throughout the service. Then, hundreds of photos were snapped both inside and outside the church.

After that, it was off to the reception, which was held at a nice upscale restaurant called Snug Harbor, located on Keuka Lake. I sat with Mom and Paul, Nancy and Dan, and Best Man, Paul's son, Jeff and his wife Dorothy. Jeff is, among other things, a race car driver.

I actually finally got to know Paul. Having only met him for the first time two days prior to his marrying my mother, I had to make up for lost time, so I just plugged away with questions, which he was happy to answer: He's a bit older than my mother. Getting the young'uns is something I can relate to, as Pui is a fair bit my junior. He was born near Pittsburgh, got an engineering degree from Penn State, and was director of electrical engineering at Westinghouse for all of his professional career. OK: He passes muster, and gets an after-the-fact stamp of approval from the bride's family. (My grandfather passed away 2 decades ago, so somebody has to protect the lady from making bad choices.)

Anyway, the sun set, the moon rose, and down on the dock outside the restaurant, a rhythm and blues band had set up shop and was serenading the moored boats. Mom and Paul cut their cake, everybody enjoyed a meal and a drink, and then we all headed home happier and with more family than we started the day with.

Oh... and here is Mike's Thousand Words for the day:
Keuka Lake, 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Daily Report: New Faces

I was up at 5:15 this morning... primarily due to my burlap pillow. I had a bagel and coffee for my first breakfast, and then made eggs for everyone when they woke up.

Mom makes breakfast. Vinnie
discovers the towel drawer.
Yup: Got to meet Vinnie for the first time today. He's pretty normal as far as babies go, though he seems to smile and talk a whole bunch more than average. He's starting to walk now, and his parents are teaching him "baby sign language", which actually seems to work. (Babies apparently understand the concept of communication at this age, but cannot form words yet... so if you teach them little signals for things, they will actually use them to communicate.)

Spaghetti-O's for lunch... as good as life gets. I spent an hour entertaining / being entertained by Vinnie.

My dad and his 400-HP supercharged
Corvette-eating Ford Lightning.
In the afternoon, it was off to my father's house with Dan and Nancy (Vinnie's parents, my sister and brother-in-law), and Vinnie. Had a couple of beers, and chatted about nothing in particular. Dad took me out to his garage and had me swing a golf club for the first time in about 15 years. I'm 110% sure that I'm not a 5 handicap anymore. Well, I had planned anyway on approaching golf on Saturday as more of just a day in the park swinging a stick than some important game of skill and concentration.

In the evening, it was down to Hammondsport (one of the prettiest little villages in all of America) for my mother's wedding rehearsal dinner. (Yes... after divorcing 14 years ago, she is getting re-married, thus explaining my reason for this trip to America.) I got to meet her future husband, Paul, yesterday, but got to meet two of his five children today. (All five children — and their families — were at the dinner, but there was only opportunity to socialize with two of them.) First was Greg and Noi from Gainesville, Florida. Noi is a Thai lady with a PhD in linguistics, and she met her husband while studying in Cambodia. Second was Eric and Brenda from California, who met in Botswana while in the Peace Corps.

It's really surprising to meet a family with that much international flavor to it from this part of the state. This really is a poor place, and very few people from here make it out of the country, let alone to exotic locations such as Cambodia or Botswana. I have to give credit to my mother for having found a fellow with an educated, well-traveled family.

Anyway, here is Mike's Thousand Words for the day: The Hammondsport town square at dusk with guitarist playing music in the gazebo.

Thursday Babe Blogging

This week, we have Paw, which is a letter of the Thai alphabet. (In English, we add the "ee" or "ay" sound to the sound of a consonant to speak the name of a letter (as in B, C, or J, K), in Thai they add "aw".)
Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Daily Report: The Sundowner

Bully Hill Vineyards is one of the Finger
Lakes great wineries, and they have a
nice, free, albeit quick little tour.
I put in another 12-hour sleep on the comfy bed... heavenly. Slept in until 10:00 and then called Pui. I've been suffering from a light cold since arriving here in America... seems Pui back home has the same.

This afternoon, I escaped from the never ending flow of "things that must be done", and got to enjoy my vacation. I went with my Uncle Bob and his friend Marian out to the official tourist reason that this area of the country exists: Winery hopping.

The Finger Lakes region of New York is dotted with wineries, and a fair number of them have free (or $1 or $2) wine tastings. You just show up, and somebody pours you 10 sips of 10 different wines — all of them being sold in the nearby gift shop for $8 to $18 per bottle... but can be found for $30 to $80 per bottle once they leave the Finger Lakes region for more distant lands. You can also get a (sometimes free) guided tour of some the wineries.

We went to Bully Hill first, where we were served wine by an ebullient bartender who dosed out wine while cracking jokes and pimping his product. After that, we were off to Dr. Frank's winery where even-keeled Warren The Wino poured Champagne, Riesling, and some gorgeous Chardonnay. There were some red wines served after that, but they came and went in machine-gun fashion, knocked back like kamikaze shots at TQ2, and kind of got lost in the shuffle.

I bought a bottle of red wine for Stan, and a bottle of white dessert wine for myself at Bully Hill, and a bottle of Chardonnay for my mother at Dr. Frank's.

After that, it was back home for lunch, and then out to Corning to the lawyer's office so my mother could sign some papers. We met up with her fiancee, Paul, and had a beer at a local Irish pub.

Then, it was back home for dinner (a tasty bean casserole) with Uncle Bob and Marian, then sat around for a bit and chatted before Bob and Marian went back to their campsite (they have a big camper, which I have yet to see), Mom sat down at the piano to play some quiet night music, and I sat down to the computer.

(That's another thing that is odd about coming back to New York: Getting used to sunset at 9 PM, 3 hours later than Pattaya.)

Vinnie and his entourage are arriving later tonight, so I've lost my comfy bed to the VIPs, and am now relegated to a blanketless lumpy sofa bed with a scratchy couch cushion as a pillow.

Mike from the comments section in "Greetings From Urbania", reminds me that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I therefore bring to you "Urbania: Lilac Lane meets Primrose Place".

War Is Not A Conservative's Option

A great essay.

[T]he military cannot rightfully be considered a proper tool for forging a world where liberty and democracy may flourish. Such notions are hideously liberal, for they are based on the most dangerous of utopian delusions: that men can be made at gunpoint to change; that nations can be built as easily as destroyed; that societies are artificial rather than organic and can be made to order. These ideas have none of the realism that distinguishes conservatism from dreamy liberal mush.

Furthermore, not merely militarism but war itself is repellent to any orthodox conservative. It is a great uprooter of men and material and a fine destroyer of tradition. The costs of conflict are monumental, the rewards too often minimal. With each falling bomb, international order is torn asunder – contrary to hawkish bombast, war is never fought to maintain or advance an existing order, but always to institute a new one. Bellicosity prompts a disregard for national and popular sovereignty, two important items on the conservative agenda. Randolph Bourne was correct: war is the health of the state, and true conservatism pictures the state as a necessary but terribly sour pill.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Daily Report: Greetings From Urbania

I was up early today after one of the nicest sleeps I have had in years: Soft mattress; cool air (with neither fan nor aircon to create a breeze); silence. Twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep.

In the morning, I made eggs for breakfast, and called Pui. I was only going to call her once... next Sunday... but she called my mother Monday morning trying to talk to me, as she misses me already. Therefore, I'll be calling her every day now.

In the early afternoon, it was off to the grocery store where I was re-introduced to American-style prices. $5 for a melon? $10 for a case of bottled water? $8 for three plastic bathtub toys for Vinnie? And then the funny part was that the stuff that I considered so expensive in Thailand (cranberry juice, for instance) was almost the same price as it is here in America.

After grocery shopping, it was off to the local Chinese restaurant to pick up some hot and sour soup for lunch. Then I went home and watched some Wimbledon on television. Ah... television commercials. Seems "power drinks" are all the rage now, eh? That and environmentally-friendly products. Well, that's good.

In the afternoon, I had to drive my mother around to some appointments. Yup: Got behind a steering wheel for the first time in 4 years. I managed fine, although a couple of times I turned at an intersection, and for an instant found myself heading for the left lane.

In the evening, my mother's brother, Uncle Bob, and his friend, Marian, came to dinner. They brought along their 2 papillion puppy dogs. Cute little critters. Apparently one of them is a champion show dog.

German Man Assassainated In Pattaya

A German man was shot to death coming back from buying beer at the local 7-11.

The news story places quite a bit of its focus on the fellow's housing arrangements: He bought a house for his ex-wife, and then leased it from her for 30 years (probably for no money, I'm assuming). He then split up with his ex-wife, threw her out of the house, and set up shop in the house with a new lady.

When the ex-wife tried to get her house back, the courts ruled that the lease was valid, and she would have to wait 30 years before she could set foot in her house again.

So, assuming what we are all assuming about this murder... and of course it is possible that we may be assuming wrong... this could be a good lesson to everyone: Even the most iron-clad legal arrangements for owning a house with a Thai lady don't stand a snowball's chance in hell against a hail of bullets.

It turns out that this was indeed murder for hire, but in a surprise twist of events, the gunman was another farang... a Frenchman on the run from the law back in Europe. This unfortunately is a contradiction to my belief that criminals laying low in Pattaya are the people least likely to commit crimes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Daily Report: On Top Of The World

Sunday night, it was off to the airport (Mike providing a lift, Pui and Pot in attendance) for my flight to New York.

For the first time, I took the nonstop Thai airways BKK-to-JFK flight... 18 hours with no stops. I also flew in the new class, called "premium economy", which is a business class seat but with economy class meals. For an additional $200 round trip, I figured why not?

It was the right choice to make, if I do say so: The seat is wide enough to accommodate my beach ball backside with room to spare, the arm rests are a good 10 inches wide, there is a pop up leg rest, and it is simply impossible to hit your knees on the seat in front of you. (And when it comes to the food, well, Thai Airways don't do too bad with their economy class food, so when you compare $1,800 for this ticket compared to $5,000... an additional $3,200 for what boils down to essentially first class service/food, well... I suppose if you can afford it.)

The only bummer was that I couldn't get a window seat, so I couldn't do my favorite flight pass-time, which is to watch the world go by.

The flight left right on time at 12:40 a.m., and flew straight north for about 10½ hours, and then flew straight south for about 7½ hours... right over the north pole. (Which is why I am lamenting the lack of a window seat: It would have been cool to see the North Pole... even if there is nothing specifically to see.)

One thing that is weird about the flight is that out of the 18 hours of flying time, they keep the cabin in the dark for about 15 hours of the flight. I guess they figured that is the best way to combat jet lag or something.

Anyway, I landed in New York, got through immigration with barely a wait and no hassle whatsoever. Transferred to my domestic flight up to Rochester, was picked up by my mother, and was back on the family homestead (or more accurately, my mother's prefab little ranch house in a prefab little old-folks neighborhood).

Oh: Got to drink Dr. Pepper for the first time in 5 years... forgot how tasty that is.

Anyway, 7:00 p.m. EST, or about 34 hours after I started my trip, I'm ready to beat the jet lag properly, and go to bed.

Monday Vinnie Blogging

You can tell Vinnie is a real man, because he demonstrates typical male "masculinity threat coping mechanism" behavior: If you put a dainty hat on his head, Vinnie compensates by growling and chewing the head off a grizzly bear.

You da man, Vinnie! You go boooyyyy! Don't let that floppy, knitting circle magnolia hat keep you down dude. Fight the power!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Only 20 Countries

It goes without saying that there are legal differences between a rape that occurs between two strangers, and a rape between two people who are married or in a long-term relationship. However, differences aside, it's still rape.

Thailand has finally recognized this fact: A husband can rape his wife, and Thailand has just passed a law confirming that.

The amazing thing is that Thailand is only the 20th country on the planet to recognize that obvious truth.

Places where it is still possible to rape your wife and get away with it? Korea, Japan, China and all of Southeast Asia except for Thailand; almost all of Africa and all of the Middle East, except Israel; all of central Asia (except Sri Lanka); most of the Carribbean; most of Central America; and, most of South America.

Surpsingly, a fair number of European countries, including Italy, Greece, Finland, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium and pretty much every country northeast, east, south, and southeast of Poland don't have marital rape laws either.

Like I said: There are differences between nonmarried and married sexual assualt, but they both exist... and both should be punishable crimes. Hopefully the rest of the world catches up.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Thailand Can Always Outdo America In Some Ways

I remember back a few months ago, somebody snapped this photo of Britney Spears driving a car with her baby sitting on her lap. America went absolutely nuts with outrage.

I wonder what they would think about this guy?(And in case you lost count, that's four kids — 2 in front, 2 in back — on the motorcycle with him. None of them with helmets.)

Talk Radio's Conservative Bias

The big story on the blogs today is this report by American Progress, which is a study on the political slant of talk radio. It discovers that 90% of talk radio is conservative in nature, while only 10% is liberal. (Nobody would debate that fact, I imagine.) The report also makes suggestions on how to ameliorate this discrepancy by passing laws and setting up regulations for radio station ownership and content.

The conservatives of course are livid about the suggestion that the radio dominance they have crafted through the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity should be curtailed legislatively. The liberals are gloating in some kind of "your politics suck, so it's only fair that you shouldn't be allowed to be so popular" theme.

Talk radio, like every other money-making venture, is based on profit. Rush Limbaugh's immense popularity with advertisers (and his 50-some-odd million listeners, or whatever it is) spawned a thousand conservative wannabe commentators in his wake. If you don't like Rush (and his thousand radio clones) and his politics or methods, too bad: Radio stations love the profit that he generates... and the listener share they are getting... which in turn increases their profits. People listen... even if you aren't one of them. Sorry about that. Bon Jovi gave us Warrant, Cinderella, Winger, and White Lion... Rush gave us Michael Savage. Some trends stick around, other's don't.

If the liberal side of the political spectrum had been able to find a radio personality with equally powerful drawing power early on in the game (back when Limbaugh was only a minor sensation), there probably would have been some parity between conservative and liberal talk radio... because there would have been two partisan preachers to clone, instead of one. But that isn't what happened, and now radio stations go with the "safe bet" of yet another conservative talk show host instead of gambling their valuable air time on a liberal. (The fact that only a handful of liberal talk show hosts have really caught on in the past 20 years makes the conservative "safe bet" even safer.)

It's an uphill battle for liberal talk radio, perhaps made more difficult by the failure of a real figurehead to emerge from the pack to become a liberal "icon" (although Al Franken had a go at it, and Alan Colmes continues his 15-year quest to accomplish the same), but if they keep trying, eventually things will balance out. Just look at country music as it made it back from deep obscurity 30 years ago to become the most prominent radio format in America today: Put up a popular, quality product first, and success comes second... not the other way around. There most is certainly no way legislation is going to bypass that fact, or the economies it represents.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Daily Report: Preecha Seafood Restaurant Review

Stan ready to go to Preecha. We
had to fit 3 big fat guys in that
little truck bed as well.
This evening it was over to Stan's house, where Pui and I joined up with Stan and Mem, Mark and his girlfriend Ice, and Joe and his girlfriend Min. We all piled into Mem's new pickup truck (guys in the back, girls in the front) and drove off down the coast to Preecha Seafood — the region's best seafood restaurant, and Stan's favorite restaurant.

Finding Preecha seafood for the first time is really pretty impossible. You turn right at the first traffic light after The Ambassador Hotel, and then keep driving (bearing left at the fork in the road) until you see the place. It's best to just get Stan to take you, if you can manage it.

Anyway, the place is monstrous... about the same size as Vientien Restaurant in Pattaya. Stan always brings a big bottle of cheap red wine and a bottle of vodka, and the waiters are always attentive, keeping glasses full, refuse plates empty, and everybody happy.

I really don't know what food to order, as Stan's wife Mem always does all the ordering. However, there tonight there were steamed mussels, steamed clams, steamed shrimp, a deep fried sea bass, clams in a spicy garlic sauce, miniature clams in a smoky tomato sauce, deep fried rock lobsters, something I call "shrimp doughnuts", some tempura-style vegetables, fried rice, french fries, and various other little dishes. Pretty much all of the seafood you eat at Preecha is alive when you are ordering it. (The place has a massive collection of aquaria where everything to be eaten awaits its fate.)

Stan and Joe
Funny story: During the trip down, Stan was joking around with Joe about the safety of his camera. When the truck drove over some piece of refuse on the road and made a loud crack, causing Joe to jump, Stan said, "Oh, the truck just ran over a camera! Where's your camera bag Joe?" When we got to the restaurant, Stan said, "Oh don't forget your camera! Where's your camera bag Joe?" Then in the restaurant, Stan is looking over the edge of the railing down at the beach, and says, "Oh look! There's a stray dog down there with a camera bag! Where's your camera bag Joe?" We all laughed... until we looked for ourselves and realized that Stan wasn't joking this time.

Joe has one of the coolest jobs on the planet: He is a magician on a cruise ship. His job is to just go around the ship and perform magic tricks for the passengers. (He is apparently very successful at it and well-compensated, based on the mansion he lives in here in Pattaya.)

After dinner, Joe performed a couple of great magic tricks for us. The most entertaining was when he took out a little guillotine and got an extremely reluctant and nervous Ice to stick her finger through it, and then Joe got an even-more-nervous Min to hold her hand under the guillotine to catch whatever might come falling. (Pui and Mem were jittery and on the edge of their seats as well.) Of course, the guillotine came snapping down and Ice's finger was just fine... until Joe dropped a plastic severed finger in Min's hand. Then all four girls screamed, freaked out, and then laughed and laughed.

You can't see it on camera, but these
girls are so filled with karmic power
that their auras are actually glowing.
It started raining while we were at Preecha, and on the way back, the girls all volunteered... insisted, even... to sit in the back of the pickup truck in the rain with their styled hair and makeup. I've noticed this before with Thai people: In a society that keeps score by karma and the actions of "boon" (merit), what seems to be the highest form of self-sacrifice (and therefore karmically the most beneficial) is to go do something in the rain on someone else's behalf. Running out into a rain storm so somebody else doesn't have to is the archetypal example that Thai people use to explain boon. So therefore, while we men were cool and dry in the truck, the four girls giggled and squealed, and held plastic bags over their heads in the rain for the 20 minutes it took to get back to Stan's house. (And yes, we men were more than happy to allow the girls this wonderful opportunity to better themselves in Buddha's opinion.)

Lennies final night before closing.

Eric and Alan.

Bob and Sam.
Anyway, back at Stan's house, it was a quick drink, and then Pui and I headed off to the final night of Lennies on Soi Diamond, and Alan Verstein's birthday party. (Lennies is closing tomorrow, and will reopen on July 4th as "Shooters", a shot bar/ restaurant, with Tex-Mex food on the menu, and pretty girls to keep you company.) We sat with Ray, Bob, Eric, Steve SB2, and Fred. Alan was also using the occasion to launch another magazine. (He publishes 2 real-estate magazines up in Bangkok, and I believe this is his first one in Pattaya, called "Thailand Homes & Condos".

Alan's wife, Kaeo, was there as well, and Pui chatted with her for a while. Kaeo is really such a pleasant lady, and Pui just adores her.

Sam, Bob's restaurant partner, stopped by with more samples of his guacamole, which was a huge hit. Then, he unloaded "diablo shrimp" on us, which was shrimp sauteed in a spicy butter sauce. I can say without hesitation that it was simply the best shrimp dish I have ever eaten. Even Pui, who (as a Thai person) isn't one to go nuts over new tastes, closed her eyes in passionate enjoyment as she chewed it. It was so good, that everybody gave Sam a round of applause for having made something so amazing.

Did I mention Bob will be opening a new restaurant at Carrefour on July 1st? A diablo shrimp burrito will be on sale there... along with guacamole.

At about 11:00, Pui and I headed home. I drove the motorcycle, while Pui sat behind me chattering in my ear about all of our friends, and how much she likes each person, and how much fun she had. Overall, a fantastic night.

Friday Cat Blogging

The Watcher

Things To Do With Far Too Much Spare Time

(1) Make a stop-motion film.

Thai Version of the Perp Walk

It's always funny seeing this picture, but every time the cops nab a bad guy in Thailand, this is the photo-op that they set up: The criminals are forced to sit at a table in front of signs describing their crimes, as well as any objects stolen or used in the crime, and the victim of the crime stands nearby pointing at them.

The sign in the center reads "Pattaya Police Department". The sign on the left reads "Stole money out of pocket." The sign on the right reads "Recovered 425 pounds."

I wonder how often in situations like this, the victim decides to have a go at the criminals, and starts beating the snot out of them? A pissed-off Thai girl who has lost her precious mobile phone standing next to the guys who took it? Oh, you know it has to happen.

The other thing the police here in Thailand do is to take the criminal back to the scene of the crime, and force him to re-enact what he did in front of news cameras. Heheh... talk about biasing a jury: A photo of the accused with a block of wood standing over a police volunteer who is lying on the ground, pretending to be beaten to a pulp.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Your Local Chinky Restaurant Review

Tonight, it was off with Stan, Joe, and Eric to what has to be Pattaya's most politically-incorrectly-named restaurant, the Chinese restaurant "Your Local Chinky", located across the street from Crazy Dave's on Soi Chayapum.

The restaurant bills itself as Western-style Chinese food... or in other words, the same Chinese food that you've enjoyed all your life out of cardboard boxes. With that in mind, I went in with high hopes.

Unfortunately, the restaurant carries a rather modest selection of Chinese dishes, and most of the menu items that I immediately think of when I think of New York City Chinese restaurant food (egg drop soup, egg foo young, wontons, dumplings, General Tso's chicken, lo mein, scallion pancakes, and even fortune cookies) were not to be found. The hot and sour soup on offer was nothing like what it is in America (although I do remember the Marriott served a pretty good facsimile, so it is possible to have it here), and most of the other dishes, while tasting fine, were pretty close to standard Thai dishes albeit modified enough to be able to call it "Chinese" if you wanted to.

There was a very good lemon chicken though, and the pork balls in sweet and sour sauce are worth a try.

Prices were fair, and eight dishes in the center of the table, plus beers and a round of soup came to 350 baht per person.

Anyway, from there it was around the corner to Oasis AGoGo for their 2-for-1 happy hour. (One of Pattaya's best-kept secrets, that place.) Then off to TQ2 for Alf's going-away party. Then over to Lennies, where Bob and Sam were serving up some Mexican food, trying to fine-tune the menu of Bob's new restaurant opening in Carrefour on July 1st.

Thursday Babe Blogging

This week we have Took. She seems to have a bit of a goth thing going on with her other photos... it definitely works. Pui tells me Took is married to some movie star named Buoy. I think we should start a collection to have this guy rubbed out: Girls this pretty should never be married... there should always be hope.
Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SE Asian Junior Chess Championships In Pattaya

Here's one that hasn't been covered by the local news: The Southeast Asian Junior Chess Championships are being held all this week in Pattaya at the Jomtien Thani Hotel. It looks like the Vietnamese kids are having their way with the competition.

Anyway, if you are a chess fan, it looks like you can enjoy this competition up until tomorrow.

Wednesday Pot Blogging

At 5 years old, Pot still sleeps with his mother... they share a bedroom. It doesn't bother me personally, as I prefer to have a bed to myself. However, it's entirely possible that Pot could be 16 years old, and still be snuggled up next to his mother at night... and that would start getting weird. It's all about the ghosts... in case you are wondering. And, before you laugh: Grown-up Pui is jittery about sleeping alone as well, but at least she can do it if she needs to.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


"President Bush was in Albania. He thought he was going to Albany. Anyway, he ended up in Albania ... and somebody stole his watch. Bush is upset. He is really angry. He said he now has no choice but to bomb Iran."

David Letterman

Factual Discrepancies In Reporting Pattaya News

I'm not a news reporter. When it comes to putting Pattaya news on my blog, I just read what other people have taken the time to find out, and then give a quick summary here, and some comment about why I think it is noteworthy. Therefore, when something is reported incorrectly by the actual reporters, it goes unfiltered and uncorrected directly onto my blog. I don't like it when it happens, but everybody makes mistakes and before now I've let them slide.

However, recently the several news outfits who research and report the news here in Pattaya have had a stretch of really poor reporting. Yesterday, I linked to a news article about how Polo AGoGo's Russian dancers were arrested for dancing in their bikinis. The problem is that it was Galaxy AGoGo that has the Russian dancers, not Polo: One of the principal facts regarding the story was completely incorrect. How could a reporter sent to research and report on a story get something as fundamental as "where the story took place" wrong?

I wasn't going to bother writing about this problem until this morning, when I noticed this story, reported from two different local news organizations (and neither one was the organization that reported about Polo AGogGo, therefore bringing it to a total of 3 news companies making me go hmmm over their recent news stores): A cow was stolen from a field, and dumped in the middle of a road by the thives when they got desperate. One organization reports the cow was an "American Brahmin" which was stolen, put in the back of a pickup truck, and driven away:
"The owner saw what happened and followed the thieves at a discreet distance while telephoning police with his bizarre story. The thieves realized they were being followed and stopped their vehicle in Soi Nong Yai in north Pattaya. Here they pushed the poor animal out of the pick up and sped off into the night. When police arrived the cow looked decidedly non-plussed by the whole affair..."
The second organization reports the cow was a "Hindubrasil cow" which was shocked with a stun gun, put into the back of a truck and driven away.
"The police discovered that the thieves and the cow were on Sukhumvit Road heading for Chonburi. It wasn’t long when the police caught up with them in Soi Nongprue near the Crocodile Farm. When the thieves saw the police they decided to drop the cow off the truck near the railway track and fled. The police assisted the frightened cow which had been tied up with a rope and was bleeding from the wounds and scratches from being thrown off the truck and then contacted the owner."
How can two different reporters come up with such vastly different stories?

One story has has the owner trailing the culprits at a distance on Soi Nong Yai, with the police catching up later. The other one the police advancing on the culprits on Soi Nongprue, with the owner catching up later. Are the reporters just making things up? Are people lying to them? I really have no idea... but it seems that these news reporters are pretty much as clueless as I am as to what the actual facts are.

So anyway, take this post as my caveat emptor about the news I report on here in Pattaya. Whatever you read here might wind up being a cow of a different color. If you do see reporting on my blog that is factually incorrect, I always appreciate being given the proper information, so by all means leave a comment.

Tuesday Thai Tutorial

I've discovered that the translation for "พัทยา" (Pattaya) is "southwest wind"; however, it can also mean "tax, or tithe". The translation for "Chonburi" (Pattaya's province) is fun: It is "ชล" (chohn... stupid, foolish) and "บุรี " (boo-ree... city) .

Therefore: I have decided that "Pattaya, Chohnburi" is Thai for "The city where stupid people come to tithe their earnings."

Here is the translation of other cities in the area:

Naklua is "นา" (naa... rice paddy) and "เกลือ " (gleuua... salt).

Jomtien is "จอม" (jaawm... leader, head person), and "เทียน" (thiian... candle). I have no idea what that is about. It's probably wrong.

Sattahip seems to be "สัต" (sat... living) and "หีบ" (heep... box). Also odd.

I sat down with Pui and we went over each of the words in question... and yes: "Salt paddy", "Leader candle", and "Living box" are all correct... tones and all.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dancing In Bikinis Now Illegal In Pattaya

In the ongoing war of Thai prostitutes/pimps against foreign prostitutes/pimps, we have finally come to double-standard-law-enforcement territory. (As if you weren't expecting that eventually.)

Five Russian dancers, with permits to work as dancers in Thailand, were arrested at the famous Polo AGoGo Galaxy AGoGo (the place with the European girl in the glass box dancing over walking street... which the news article incorrectly states is "Polo"... sorry) for dancing in only bikinis.

So there you have it. If you didn't know it before, you do now: It is not about being illegal (the Russians had work permits), and it's not about being lewd and pornographic (you can find girls wearing 2 pieces of clothing less than a bikini in bars literally 20 feet away from Polo Galaxy). It's simply the fact that Thai people only want Thai prostitutes working in Pattaya. Simple enough, yes? Argue whatever way you will on the subject, that's the undeniable conclusion that has to be drawn from this arrest.

(I personally don't know what the hell the Thai pimps and prostitutes are worried about: Bar fines at Polo Galaxy AGoGo are — if memory serves — 5,000 baht for short time... and I can only remember that I laughed out loud when I was told what the girl expected for her own recompense. It's not like the Thai folks are losing a ton of business to these foreign slappers.)

Monday Vinnie Blogging

This past weekend, Vinnie's grandparents (on his father's side) were assigned the task of taking care of the little tyke. Unfortunately — as grandparents (i.e. parents out of practice) quickly learn — keeping up with a rambunctious toddler gets to be a drag real quick, and in no time flat, Vinnie had given Grandma and Grandpa the vapors. They went to hide in a barrel, trying to escape Vinnie and get a breather, but as you can see... Vinnie found them eventually.