Friday, August 31, 2007

Pattaya News Roundup

The employees from one karoake bar on Soi Beokeow burned down another rival nearby karoake bar in retaliation for an earlier attack over the loss of a customer. Hmm. I'll go and hang out at those two bars any time: Usually it's damn impossible to get the Thai staff to even notice that you are in the place... now here's a couple of joints that will commit felonies over losing customers? Sign me up.

Have I ever mentioned on this blog that Thai people and electricity don't mix (1 2 3 4 5 6)? In fact, electricians in Thailand have about the same luck at work as Chinese coal miners. Well, it goes without saying that yet another one of Thailand's revered masters of the great mysterious force of "faii faa" had his "come to Buddha moment" today as he crackled and smoked his way on to reincarnation.

Yet another Thai person sent off to meet his maker with a gun. This time a homeless fellow killed by yet another homeless fellow. As you probably know, guns are illegal in Thailand and for obvious reasons: If guns were legal in Thailand, then the "murder rate by firearm" here wouldn't be the third worst in the world (behind only South Africa and Colombia), it would be the very worst... and that would be bad... as compared to, say, third... which is okay.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Daily Report: Spaghetti-Induced Nap

I'm still trying to get rid of the spaghetti I have lying around little by little... without completely destroying my diet. I had some spaghetti with tomato sauce for lunch, but shortly thereafter, all those carbs caused a nap monster attack. I thought I'd lie down for 45 minutes, but 5 hours later I finally woke up.

Anyway, I wound up having to work through the evening and into the night to get caught up... and still didn't quite get enough done.

Now that we're coming up on the dry season here in Thailand and getting out of the wet season, we've been getting some nice rain showers. Figures.


"There's another scandal in Washington. One of the senators from Idaho, Larry Craig, was arrested in airport men's room. Gives new meaning to the word 'caucusing.' Sen. Craig said he made a mistake by pleading guilty. And I was thinking, 'Maybe that was your second mistake.' The way I look at it, anyone who spends more than two minutes in an airport men's room is guilty of something."

David Letterman

Thursday Babe Blogging

It's Thursday again, and if it's Thursday at J.I.P., that means it's time for yet another photograph of one of Thailand's prettiest girls.

This week, we have young Miss Pee. Absolutely adorable.

Photo courtesy of

Hash House Harriers Anthrax Attack On Ikea

Fear of fear itself.

Two members of a local Hash House Harriers ("The drinking club with a running problem") are facing first-degree felony charges for spreading flour in an Ikea parking lot in Connecticut.

Hash House Harriers are a cross-country running club, and they use fun and entertaining (and confusing) "signposts" for each of their runs to keep things interesting. This time around, the organizers were putting down flour arrows in the Ikea parking lot to direct the runners. (Obviously spray paint wouldn't have been very polite to use on Ikea's parking lot... hence this much more "temporary" marker.)

Anyway, people thought the flour was a terrorist attack, promptly freaked out, called the police, and the whole store had to be evacuated for several hours while authorities responded. Now the run organizers are facing "first-degree breach of the peace."

Really America: Have the terrorists scared you so badly that mere white powder arrows in a parking lot (or some Lite Brite cartoon characters in Boston) are enough to send you into a traffic-stopping panic? Has your perspective really been damaged that much?

If so... If the threat of terrorism has managed to replace rational consideration and level-headed first impressions with knee-jerk panic, and better-safe-than-sorry overreactions... then terrorism has accomplished exactly what it set out to do: Affect America's ability for rational thought, cause you to jump at shadows, and infect you with an unhealthy paranoia.

Pattaya News Roundup

First is an update on the Turkish tourist who was "arrested" the other night by men pretending to be police officers, and then beaten while handcuffed. The police are taking the incident very seriously, and are turning Pattaya upside down in search for the criminals. Good for them.

Second, we have yet another Pattaya police volunteer pretending to be an actual police officer... this time with some out-of-town police doing bar inspections on Third Road. The out-of-towners did exactly what I said you should do: They called the real police. Yet another "volunteer" bites the dust.

With the baht strong all over the world, Thailand's shrimp market has not done well lately. Down the coast yesterday, there was a "shrimp fair", where the local fishermen sold shrimp at discounted costs. Did you know most shrimp in America comes from Thailand? Sure does. So do most computer hard drives.

Yet another expatriate drug dealer is arrested here in Pattaya. I suppose there is some amount of money... millions of dollars, maybe... for which I would make a one-time gamble against 10-15 years in a Thai prison, but taking that kind of risk every day for a couple thousand dollars? What a stupid person that is.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Daily Report: Great Go Day

Up early, and a nice day of work to boot. It was a long day though... from 9:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night: I took a lot of break time blogging, surfing, and what-have-you. I had a little pork burger that Go bought for me at 7-11 for lunch. (She thought I might enjoy a change from salads.) Then for dinner, she made chicken lo-mein.

I picked up a really stiff neck this afternoon all of a sudden. Fortunately, Maid Go is also a trained masseuse, and while I worked here at my desk, she spent a couple of hours massaging Aspercreme into the sore spot.

Suicide Rate Going Down In Thailand

With suicide (or the attempt thereof) in the news in America today, it's nice to note that suicide rates in Thailand are apparently falling.

In Thailand, it seems like huge numbers of people commit suicide... however, the reason for this is that newspapers here in Thailand report this kind of thing. (At least, the English-speaking newspapers in Pattaya certainly do.) In America, suicides are not reported as news, but the level of suicide in America is twice what it is per 100,000 people as compared to Thailand.

And... in fact, according to this chart (which I went and juggled in Excel to do the figgerin') the United States is 44th in the world in suicide rates, and Thailand is 72nd. Former Soviet countries, Eastern European countries, and then Northern European countries top the list at between 4 times and 2 times the rate of America. Japan and Sri Lanka are the only Asian countries even remotely high on the list. Countries with the lowest suicide rates are in the Middle East and Latin America.

Now you know.

P.S. I was just noticing: The parts of the world with the lowest suicide rates are the places with the strongest religious beliefs, and greatest expectation of life after death, while those with the highest suicide rates have the highest portion of the population who don't put a lot of faith in heaven or an afterlife. Interesting.

Pattaya News Roundup

First off, a terrible story of a man who got really drunk, and tried to rape his neighbor friend in front of his 5-year-old daughter. It is a sad fact of boozing that you may wake up one day to discover that the drunk whom you let walk around in your skin the night prior has ruined your life. It's something I remind myself often when I'm out at the bars: Moderation.

Next, we have the story that the police were visiting soi 6, Pattaya's seediest sidestreet, where the $5 girls (and ladyboys) downstairs are as flea-bitten as the $5 mattresses upstairs. The police had a 20% success rate: 20% of the bars they checked were closed for licensing violations, and 20% of the girls (and laydboys) they urine tested were positive for amphetamines.

Finally, in the "no good deed goes unpunished" category, we have more Thai people pretending to be police, and for the first time, a tourist was involved: A Turkish man, trying to break up a fistfight between his date and a bartendress, was set upon by several Thai men claiming to be police officers, who then handcuffed him, and then proceeded to beat him.

In the past 2 months, there have been close to a dozen news stories of Thai people impersonating police in order to commit crimes here in Pattaya. I think we are now at the point here in the city that if a Thai man comes up to you and claims to be a police officer trying to enforce the law... or trying to assist you... or just trying to get in your business... but he is not wearing a uniform, then do not believe his claim that he is a police officer. Instead call the police immediately and ask for a uniformed officer to come and help. If the person confronting you is a real police officer, he'll be patient enough to wait a few minutes for his friends to show up... assuming you are not being belligerent, and are not an immediate danger to yourself or others. Be respectful, but as always: be prudent.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Daily Report: Work Update

Up at the usual time. Did the usual amount of work. Made a salad for lunch, and ate Hormel canned tamales for dinner. (Getting rid of leftovers, ya know.)

I had a conference call with my company today. They are adding a second transcription software to my desktop. Fortunately I'm a late adapter, scheduled to have the software uploaded to my computer nearly 18 months after its initial release. "Fortunate," I say, because I have heard very few good things about the new software from people already using it.

What's worse, I discovered that the text expander program (the program that holds the thousands of "text shortcuts" that a transcriptionist uses to speed up their typing by as much double) that the company chose to use with the new software is incompatible with the old text expander program. In essence, this means that over 4 years of my text expander entries... literally thousands of them... cannot be used with the new software. (At least, that's what I've been led to believe.)

Anyway, currently, a full 100% of my work falls on the old transcription software, and I'm being trained for the new software only so that I can help out in that platform when needed; I won't be doing any regular work on that platform for the time being. (At least, that's what I've been led to believe.)

Englishman Stabbed and Robbed In Apartment

I really hate to label something as unfortunate and ghastly as this under "Stupid Tourists", but the truth is, if you take freelancers (i.e. prostitutes who are not employed by a bar, and instead work in the street or night clubs) back to your hotel or apartment (and — as always — don't at least have them drop off their ID cards at the front desk), you may not have a knockout pill slipped in your drink, but instead a knife slipped between your ribs.

Unconscious, seriously wounded, or dead... it is all caused by the same thing: Tourists (and local expatriate residents, as this man apparently is) not using common sense and not being nearly suspicious enough when going alone to their room to have sex with Thai people they just met... especially when those Thai people are two Thai men that the person met walking in Sunee Plaza.

In this particular instance, the old gentleman at least got the satisfaction of seeing his attackers arrested, as they were highly stupid, and went to Big C with the victim's credit cards and tried to purchase goods there, which got them caught.

By the way: I cannot stress enough how important it is for tourists to stay away from Sunee Plaza, one of Pattaya's gay areas. I myself rented an apartment in Yensabai Condo for a few months when I first moved to Pattaya, and it overlooked Sunee Plaza. Late at night, there were always ambulances picking up stabbed and beaten Thai people, and lately there have been shootings there, and now this story of men picked up in the area attacking a foreigner. Seriously: Catch a baht bus to Soi Pattayaland or head down into Jomtien for your gay jollies... and always avoid freelancers. Always.

Republican Gay Sex Scandals All The Rage Again

Looks like I wrote and published this post a couple of weeks too early. Time to add another closeted gay Republican getting arrested, and this one a full-blown U.S. Senator:

Propositioning police officer in restroom.
Senator Larry Craig of Idaho.
1 month ago

Jeebus. The Republican party platform of strong moral character is just becoming a self-parody, isn't it? Throw in Mr. Alberto "Torture-Is-Fine" Gonzalez' resignation today, and you've got yet another (the fourth this year, I believe) perfect storm of conservative scandal misery.

Heh: James Wolcott of Vanity Fair sums it up beautifully...
Republican lawmakers seem to be having a difficult time visiting the men's room these days without a Joe Orton play breaking out.

Oh so lovely: JC Christian over at Jesus' General discovers on the "Idaho Values Alliance" website an article thanking the gentleman from Idaho for a recent pro-life vote, which is immediately followed by an article explaining how the scary, godless, evil gay people meet in airport restrooms for gay sex.

To quote Morpheus: "Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony."

About 10 months ago, blogger Mike Rogers penned an article about how he interviewed 3 different men (in 3 different states) who could confirm that Senator Craig liked to troll public restrooms for gay sex. Reaction from the right side of the aisle could be summed up as, "I'm outraged that this kind of mudslinging is going on! And besides... if Senator Craig is gay, that kind of thing doesn't bother an open-minded individual like myself." Of course, today the indignation, disgust, and calls for the resignation of Senator Craig are coming in fast and furious over on the right. Glenn Greenwald has the details.

I guess it's fair to make this observation: While I personally have no doubt in my mind what the Senator was up to — and what he would have done had he been responded to in kind — it is indisputable that he was arrested for tapping his foot and waving his hands. (I suppose, upon thinking, that staring at a distance through the crack in a bathroom stall door could be a criminal offence, but I'm not too sure.) Anyway, there is one point the senator made which I agree with: He was an idiot for having pled guilty to the charges against him. Other than that, I'm happy he was busted, happy he was outed, and happy he was made to look like a perverted old fool.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Daily Report: Clearinghouse Lunch

Work was slow today. Mondays always are.

I had some spaghetti for lunch: It's a bitt off the all-veggie diet, but I have a cabinet full of pasta fixins, and don't want to just throw the stuff away, and a (reasonably-sized) plate of spaghetti (with a nice chicken meat sauce) won't cause me to put on a whole bunch of weight, and I need to clear out all this stuff eventually... little bit little.

In the evening, I watched educational TV all night: The scientific history, relevance, and applications of prisms; and then a study of the monuments and construction projects of Ramses III. (Is there anywhere in the space-time continuum where admitting to watching that stuff doesn't make me a total egghead?)

Pattaya Traffic Report

This is Soi Nerm Pleubwan and the intersection of the new bypass road built along the railroad tracks east of Pattaya, which was designed and constructed to ease traffic on Sukhimvit Road (which lies approximately one kilometer straight ahead down the road from where this photo was taken), which was, prior to now, the only road that was available to drive from the north of Pattaya to the south of Pattaya, without going into the city iself.

As you can see above, the traffic has indeed moved away from Sukhumvit Road, so I guess it is same to declare "Mission accomplished!" (If you look closely, you can see one of the two traffic cops who are maintaining an orderly flow of traffic standing in the middle left of the picture, wearing a white helmet, next to the bronze pickup truck. His partner is hidden by the red sign behind the umbrella on the left.)

Condominium Prices In Pattaya

"The Sails" will also introduce several
hundred luxury apartments to Pattaya
in the next year or two.
I was just reading a couple of articles here and here on the development of luxury condominiums in Pattaya. (Warning: Bangkok Post links never are good for more than a day or two, as they hate it when people read their website.)

The articles listed several price-per-square-meter numbers for new and upcoming condominiums being built in the Pattaya area, and they certainly don't reflect the famous "cheap cost of living" that we like to boast about here in Thailand.

The new "Spinnaker" high-rise condominium to be built south of Pattaya in Jomtien will be selling at 85,000 baht per square meter, or $250 per square foot. For a studio apartment slightly larger than a hotel room, that will be about $200,000, and for a nice 2-bedroom apartment, look to spend about $400,000.

The Ocean One, under
construction in Jomtien,
with 600 luxury apart-
ments, will be the
tallest apartment buil-
ding in the world, and
roughly the same height
as the Empire State
The Imperial Siam, slated to be built north of Pattaya in Naklua will be selling at up to 130,000 baht per square meter ($390 per square foot), so that 750-square-foot studio apartment will come in as high as $300,000 and a 1500-square-foot apartment will be almost $600,000.

I still don't know who pays these prices, but considering that older condominiums on the market aren't getting near to these prices, and the fact that you can go 30 miles out of Pattaya, buy a couple of acres of land, and build yourself a tropical paradise with a 5,000 square foot dream house for much much much less money, I'm at a loss to explain how these places sell. Yes: "Rich people" is the simplest answer you can offer, but in these 2 articles alone, they are talking about more than 700 apartments selling at these prices in Pattaya... and in the next 12 months, there are dozens of other similar projects, representing thousands more condominiums, which will be ready to begin selling (or are already selling) for equally exorbitant prices.

Well, if you have an answer, then by all means hop on in to the comments section, and tell me how $250-per-square-foot-and-up is a reasonable price to pay for a condominium in Pattaya. I'd like to know.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Daily Report: Star Trek and Flashcards

I worked this morning, but by 10:00 all the regular accounts were empty, and I decided to call it quits. Today (this morning actually... American days end at noontime here in Thailand) was the last day of the pay period. I ended up doing better than okay, though short of what I hoped.

It was nice to actually be away from my computer during the morning hours for a change, and I took a little walk around the neighborhood. After that, I sat down in front of the TV and enjoyed a Star Trek movie marathon (numbers 4, 5, and 6) in Cinemax while flipping through my Thai flash cards (I've decided to pick up studying a bit again). I ate steamed asparagus and a salad for lunch.

In the evening, I went out to TQ2 and hung out with Stan, Jeff, and Russ, and two cute and bubbly sisters from Khorat who have started working at TQ2 lately. I think if I'm going to go out and drink alcohol, I'm going to drink beer: It has about the same number of calories as vodka tonic, but beer fills me up faster, and I don't / can't drink as much.

What Junior Wants, Junior Gets

This story is very indicative of parental attitudes here in Thailand: Mom apparently put this baby boy in this bicycle basket a while ago. The baby is so happy there that he spends hours upon hours every day sitting there, happy as a clam.

Apparently he's been in there so long that the local monks are concerned that his growth is really starting to be affected. However, every time mom tries to take the baby out of the basket, the baby cries and wails until his mom puts him back in.

So, question to readers: In Thailand, which can take precedence? Baby's deformed spine, or baby's happiness?

It's amazing how poor parenting skills actually are in Thailand. From personal experience with many Thai parents, they will let their toddlers watch cartoons whenever they want, eat junk food before meals and then skip dinner, stay awake to all hours, wander off unsupervised, and do anything to mollify a fit, including allowing the child to punch, kick, and scream himself or herself back to contentment. The level of permissiveness in Thai parents is just astounding. (And when the parents are done being permissive, they resort to beating, with very little parenting skills in between.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Daily Report: A Day In Two Acts

I woke up this morning at about 9:00, a bit worse for wear from the all-you-can-drink deal at Casa Pascal last night. I'll definitely go back some time for another try... but perhaps will opt for just the 7-plate menu, without the "bottomless glass" option. Wine and I simply aren't cool with each other.

I worked for about 2 hours, and then climbed back into bed and slept all afternoon. Then, at about 6:00, I got back up, hung around for the evening, and then put in 2 more hours of work to round out the day.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Casa Pascal Restaurant Review

Pattaya's Best Gourmet Restaurant.

Casa Pascal is located on Second Road
across from Shenanigans.
Tonight, with no girls to limit our budget, Stan and I headed out to one of my favorite restaurants, Casa Pascal. (We don't mind spending money on the ladies, but Thai girls don't have an appreciation for high-end gourmet dishes, so it's not money well-spent. It's kind of like buying your little girl a $500 antique doll... when she would appreciate a $5 Barbie just as much.)

Located across Second Road from Shenanigans in the same back-from-the-street area as Ruen Thai restaurant, Casa Pascal is quite simply the best restaurant in Pattaya (price notwithstanding) in my opinion. The decor is handsome, the wait staff is perfect, and every dish is a learning experience. Not a single opportunity for service is missed: You can even call 038-723-660 for Pascal's personal limosiune service to come pick you up from whever you are, and drop you off after your meal.

For dinner tonight, Stan and I chose to have the 2,900 baht ($87) "Gourmet Set Menu", which was a 7-plate meal, with unlimited beverages. (If you find the price a bit much, you can have the same meal for 1,450 baht ($44) without the all-you-can-drink option.) Stan remarked that in London or New York, a meal like this would run into the hundreds-of-dollars range... and he was absolutely right.

For starters, we drank a bottle of Italian spumante brut sparkling wine while enjoying some delicious egg spread on bread, and an amuse bouche of tuna and tomato. (Well, I drank most of the bottle of the spumante by myself, before joining Stan for a bottle of French chardonnay.)

After the first dish came chermoulah-spiced prawns with coriander and guacamole sitting on slices of apple... simply stunning.

The next dish up was a creamy champagne "soup à la nage", with mussel, a beautiful scallop, shrimp, asparagus, and cherry tomatoes. The presentation was simply beautiful, and the flavor of the soup was perfect.

Next was another soup: A coconut soup with (real) truffles, buckwheat noodles, and roasted artichoke. I'm not a big fan of artichoke, but the coconut broth, noodles and the fact that there were actual truffles in the soup made the dish quite special.

After that was a blackberry sherbert with a bit of liquer added in. A little strong, but still very nice. I did think that the "stand-up dishes" that looked like candle sconces were a bit silly... but I give Pascal points for creativity at least.

We moved on to the entreés at this point. Having finished the bottle of chardonnay, we opened a bottle of French cabernet sauvignon. Stan chose the roasted rabbit with a mustard, rosemary and garlic brushing, which was delightful and perfectly cooked, while I had the snapper with bouillabaisse sauce on a bed of mixed grains, which I personally didn't care for, as the fish taste was a bit too strong. Both dishes were simply stunning to look at, decorated artfully with a balsamic reduction.

After the entreés, we sat about and finished the bottle of red wine before starting dessert. For dessert, I drank grappa and ate pineapple with "kulfi" ice cream (which is an Indian saffron ice cream), while Stan had the cheese platter, with several French cheeses. Stan had his heart set on drinking Port, and at this point deviated from the set menu by ordering a rare vintage at 500 baht per glass.

Anyway, for 2,900 baht ($87) plus tip, this set menu is quite simply the best gourmet meal you can have in Pattaya.

Pattaya News Roundup

In our first story, the Mayor of Pattaya is very upset that preparataions for the World Petanque Championship are not on schedule. It seems that the committee to set this whole thing up have the same priority for petanque in their lives as I do: Just above ear wax buildup, and just below dental procedures.

The second story for today is of a Norweigen man and his girlfriend who woke to find "they" had "forgotten" to lock the front door to their house and promptly were robbed of 200,000 baht ($6000) in cash. With that kind of money lying around, I'll bet "they" is actually "she", and "forgotten" is actually "left the door open for her cousin, Noot."

Finally, Heaven Above has been closed for 60 days for the heinous crime of having naked (or topless) girls dancing around in their bar. Said an anonymous police captain, "No silly... Running a whorehouse and having prostitutes dancing around in your bar selling their wares is fine, but for the bare titties, we're going to have to shut you down for 60 days."

Goes And Makes Me Look Like A Damn Fool

A couple of weeks ago, Mike Stark, from the blog "Calling All Wingnuts" put up a video of him going to Bill O'Reilly's house, confronting him in his driveway and asking him questions.

I (still, correctly I believe) commented that people shouldn't be confronted on their own property for political purposes especially when they can be met at their office, place of business, or elsewhere. My reasoning was,
"No matter how powerful or famous you are, the "I know where you live" insinuation... or, even more ominous: proof of that fact when someone is standing in your driveway... is something that is very unnerving and upsetting. No matter what the message being conveyed may be, the only message received by the target of that message is "watch your back."
So just two weeks after having stood up and defended the biggest prick in broadcast journalism what should happen?

Judge calls police to shoo 'O'Reilly' crew.

Circuit Judge Manuel Lopez arrived home Monday evening to find a crew from Fox's The O'Reilly Factor parked in his driveway.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Daily Report: And Bar-Be-Que For All

Up early, good day of work, skipped lunch altogether.

I treated all the folks to Thai bar-be-que at my place tonight, and had my usual selection of boiled cabbage, mushrooms, and glass noodles, plus grilled chicken, all in a spicy hot bar-be-que sauce. I watched the Thursday night lineup on the Discovery Channel, and went to bed at 10:30.

Messed up my diet by drinking two double rusty nails instead of just one (equal parts Drambuie and scotch... 360 calories per glass, about the same as an order of McDonald's french fries). Well, it's better than going out and drinking 6 or 8 vodka tonics at 200 calories per glass, eh?

Thursday Babe Blogging

Today, we have Janie, of television fame. (See this page for her "star profile", in Thai.) For those of you who can't read Thai... she's 25 years old and single.

Photo courtesy of

Swiss Guy Gets Beaten Over $15 Prostitute

Rule #1: If you come to Pattaya for the cheap-uns, then (a) don't complain about the performance, (b) don't disagree about the price after the fact, and (c) don't be surprised you get an ass beating when you don't pay your bill.

Pattaya Wheelchair Sports Invitational Begins

Pattaya is hosting the 1st annual wheelchair sports jamboree at the Indoor Athletics Stadium in Jomtien. Considering that Pattaya has nary a wheelchair ramp to be seen, and with unnavigable sidewalks, invisible crosswalks, and no ADA-style business accommodations for the handicapped, it seems a poor place to invite the wheelchair-bound... but here they are.

Unfortunately, with all the fanfare, it is sad to discover that only one sport will be played at this year's wheelchair sports invitational: Basketball. Said Mr. Po, of the Singaporean team, "This sucks. Only basketball? I spent all my time getting ready for pole vault."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Daily Report: I Need More Days Like This One

Up pretty early. Had a great day of work (9-to-5). Salad for lunch, chips and salsa for an early-evening snack, and about a pound of steamed peas for dinner.

TV was boring, but read my book and studied Thai for a couple of hours before going to bed at a reasonable hour.

If I could just hold that pose for the next year or so, I'd be set.

p.s.: I see that President Bush spent today comparing Iraq to Viet Nam, when just a few short years ago, he had steam coming out of his ears when Osama Bin Laden teased President Bush that, "Iraq is America's second Viet Nam." Well, nobody ever accused George Bush of being obstinate and refusing to accept advice and change his plan, strategy, and point of view when circumstance called upon him to do so. Right?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Daily Report: Must... Resist... Temptation

I was up a little early (but not early enough). I had a great day of work though. I ate a salad for lunch, and steamed asparagus for dinner.

Bob called to let me know that he was giving away a free hamburger with every drink purchase at Shooters tonight. Martin had invited me to a big party at FLB Bar. Stan had invited me to hang out with him and the girls at TQ2. The craving to go out and party... especially with 3 venues all beckoning... was very strong, but instead I stayed home and watched the story of HMS Victory on the History Channel.

I'm quite proud... if a bit nerdy.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Daily Report: Unday

Today was a missed day. I woke up feeling awful. I didn't drink that much last night, but I suspect that the standard mistake of mixing too many kinds of drinks (Drambuie, vodka tonics, and Heineken... equal samplings) is what did me in. Truthfully though, even that couldn't really explain my sorry state.

I was up at 9:00 a.m., and tried to do a little work, but quickly gave up and went back to bed, and slept until 5:00 in the evening.

Then, I had some grilled chicken, some orange juice freshly squeezed by Maid Go — 2 kilos of oranges cost $3... that's so cheap — and then lots and lots of water.

After eating and replenishing my fluids, I got a couple of hours of work done... however, I had to answer several entertaining calls from Stan: It seemed that an electrical transformer on the street outside his house exploded, scaring Mem and her friends outside half to death. Then, he had to call to tell me about the antics of the electrical company fellows who came, shut off the electricity in the entire neighborhood, and then proceeded to create an even bigger explosion that lit up the darkened neighborhood like Baghdad on a bad day. (I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Thai people should not be trusted with electricity under any circumstances. Even the professionals are grade-A twits.)

I see that the baht is still weakening against the dollar, and is now between 34.3 and 34.6, depending on your source of exchange rate information. It's still only a minor shift from it's low of 33.4 baht to the dollar, but it's heartening: Just that little shift is an extra 5,000 baht in my pocket every month.

Thailand Voters Pass Constitution Referendum

After a coup last September effectively abolishing the national government, Thailand's population this weekend has voted on whether or not to adopt a new constitution, with 57.8% of all voters choosing to accept the new government framework.

While the government is calling the acceptance of the constitution a success, the 57.8% "yes" vote — with only 57.6% voter turnout — is not particularly encouraging by any standard. This vote was more of a formality than anything else: a kind of "should we move forward or not?" slam-dunk vote. The fact that more than 40% of people who voted choose to reject the new constitution hints at the power that exiled ex-Prime Minister Thaksin (who urged a vote against the constitution) still wields over the rural and agrarian population in the Northeast of Thailand. Additionally, the 40% of people who did not bother to vote (in a country where voter turnout is normally very high) also suggests apathy... or possibly even some hostility... towards the new government's efforts.

The upshot of this vote result is that while the leaders of the coup may have been successful in chasing out Thaksin and his government, they do not enjoy a large base of support amongst the general population, and could very likely be voted out of office (possibly by many of the same people whom they themselves ejected) and lose their power in the upcoming elections this December.

The Legal Conundrum Of Jack McClellan

"There is no law against someone making you feel uncomfortable."

Jack McClellan likes to go to the park, likes to sit and watch, and take pictures of little girls, and likes to go home and blog about how much the little girls turn him on.

Jack McClellan is a pedophile. He has never hurt a child, never molested a child, and vows he never will. Nothing he does is against the law, and he has never broken the law. However, because of the obvious discomfort and distress he causes to people, he is, nonetheless, targeted for law enforcement with restraining orders, trespassing, and likely whatever else police can come up with to satisfy the outraged parents who see this man ogling their children.

It's a fascinating legal situation: Can you target a person for prosecution because of their thoughts? Can you arrest a person simply because his presence upsets people? Can you convict a man based on a set of actions that are, by themselves, absolutely harmless... until coupled (or, legally, even when coupled) with a loathsome mindset?

Of course you can't do those things... it's unconstitutional; but the alternative of doing nothing is hardly acceptable either, isn't it?

Like I said... A truly fascinating legal study, and social one too: It's easy to stand up for liberty and freedom and equal protection under the law in generalized terms. Our difficulty lies where we are confronted by those for whom liberty and freedom and equal protection under the law should not apply... but still do.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Daily Report: Bar Hopping

I had a pretty good day of work for a Sunday, as my regular accounts were all still full.

In the late afternoon, I had Mike and Stan over for drinks. This was actually Stan's first time in my house, after almost 18 months. No reason why he hasn't come sooner really; it's only that my house is on the outskirts of Pattaya, while Stan is right in town, and is simply an easier trip for me to get to his house than the other way around.

Anyway, we had a great time sitting around while Stan regaled us with his stories of exploring for, and exporting fish from the deepest, darkest parts of Africa; and his hysterical tale of a grenade-touting gibbon chasing him around Corazon Aquino's private island in The Phillippines.

After that, I went off to Shooters and had drinks with Bob. Then, it was off to Champion where I had drinks with owner Jew and Stan. Then, it was off to FLB bar where I had drinks with owner Martin and Bob. Then it was off to Dollhouse where I had drinks with Bob, Martin, and manager Paul.

Police Checking For Nudity In GoGo Bars

The Bangkok police have come down to Pattaya again to usurp the Pattaya Police's duties, inspect the GoGo bars, and collect some much-needed cash from bar owners who have their girls dancing in the nude or almost-nude. It's a once-every-four-month kind of thing here in Fun City.

Personally, I don't need the nudity in bars. First off, I've seen so much of it in Pattaya that I don't even notice it anymore. I now go into bars, and I won't even register the fact that 20 or 30 nude girls are dancing around on stage. The truth is, I actually most enjoy the cute schoolgirl uniforms, the sexy lingerie, or other little outfits to tease my eye, instead of just "full frontal".

Second, with many girls wearing tiny lace bikini tops and even tinier thong lace panties, it takes very little imagination to come to a conclusion as to what any given lady might look like nude... and if your imagination likes what it sees, it only costs a few dollars to get the lady back to your room and see the whole thing.

Well: I do miss the nude showgirls dancing under black lights covered with day-glo paintings on their backs (and fronts) of butterflies and lions and flowers and other stuff. That was enjoyable to watch.

The Stink Was Enough To Kill

I've never heard of such a thing, but apparently a fisherman died after being exposed to the noxious fumes of rotting fish kept in a disposal aboard a fishing boat.

This is extra surprising considering the god-awful rotting-fish smell of some of the things that (Northern) Thai people regularly consume as part of their diet. Very true, as any local expatriate will tell you: Some of the most stomach-turning smells in the world come from Thai dinner tables.

Fun Site:

Reading funny signs in English is one of the little bonus pleasures we farangs get from life here in Thailand. (A recent favorite of mine was the menu selling "Sprite, Fanta, and Cock".)

Sometimes, the spelling error is brought about by Asian people thinking that spelling phonetically is perfectly fine: Just spell it like you say it. In languages like Thai, everything is read phonetically. If something isn't spelled "the best way", then the "second best" way is equally acceptable if it is understood by the people reading it. (Kynd uv liek uh wrap muzik see-dee khover, ohr az inn thiz foto uv a koffee shoph belowe.)Other amusing mistakes come about from translating directly from the original language... You can guess what the original thought was that was trying to be conveyed, but once in English, it really loses it's snap... or is a prime example of why you should not put too much confidence in using Babelfish for business purposes:Other times, you can be quite certain that the message has a lot to do with the local culture, and no matter what language it is translated into, people who aren't from the country, and weren't brought up thinking certain ways, can't help but laugh.However, the most rare and special instance of all, when dealing with funny English in Asia is when you come across something and no matter how hard you think about it, you still walk away confused. Amused... but confused.And finally... simply because everybody wonders what the shirt with shouting Japanese anime cartoon characters actually says; or purchased a picture of a tranquil Chinese country scene with some pretty calligraphy on the side and not quite believed what the saleslady told you it said; or, simply laughed when somebody told you that the chinese-language pendant you had hanging around your neck said, "I'm a cheap screw", we have the photo that proves that yes: You should know what the foreign language says before you invest in it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Gian's Resturant Review

Gian's Italian restaurant has great
food and is a wonderful place for
high-end dining.
Tonight, Stan and I and our dates headed off to Gian's, one of Pattaya's fanciest Italian restaurants, located just across the parking lot from Bruno's on Thappraya Road on the way in to Jomtien.

There is both outdoor and indoor seating available, but the indoor area is highly recommended for it's air conditioning, fancy decor, and especially the fact that it keeps you away from the rumbling traffic of Thappraya Road.

The menu selection is exactly what you would expect, with a "Specials" selection on the front page, a nice selection of appetizers in the 200-400 baht range, a full selection of pizzas in the 200-300 baht range, pastas in the 300-400 baht range, and traditional Italian entreés in the 400-700 baht range. Heinekens were 110 baht, and mixed drinks were 160-180 baht. A bottle of the house's red wine was 700 baht.

Service was high quality, and the food was served properly, and much ado was made about silverware distribution to ensure that the proper knife, fork, and spoon was always available to the diner. An undercooked steak was sent back to the kitchen without the staff batting an eyelash, and they even took the time to come back and ensure that it had been cooked satisfactorily after returning it to the table. All the dishes where plated very nicely, with amusing dish shapes, clever garnishes, and an obvious amount of effort going into presentation as well as preparation.

We started off with an amuse-bouche that was some sort of tuna in a rosemary pickle sauce. Then, Stan had a smoked salmon appetizer which he enjoyed, and I had the New Zealand scallop appetizer for (I think the price was) 280 baht. These were very large scallops, and unfortunately — as is often the case with shelled seafood — larger is not necessarily better: They were a little tougher and had a little less flavor than their half-sized counterparts. Still though, they were cooked well and the garlic treatment was very nice.

For entreés, Stan had his usual steak (700 baht) which got good marks, and the girls had seafood spaghetti and a steak as well. I had ground beef tortellini (350 baht) in a light cream sauce which was simply the best pasta dish I've had in Thailand.

For dessert, we had a round of near-frozen limoncello... which had quite a kick to it, and was a great refresher after dinner, along with a custard, tiramisu, and deep-fried bananas served with coconut ice cream. As somebody who knows his tiramisu, I can say without hesitation that Gian's has the best tiramisu I've ever had, anywhere.

Total bill for the evening, including a tip (the restaurant does not have a service charge... you put in the tip yourself) was 5,800 baht for 4 people: A little over $40 per person. For drinks, wine, appetizer, entreé, aperitif, and dessert in a high-end dining establishment, that's not too bad. Is it the best Italian food in Pattaya? Hard to say. I certainly don't hesitate to give it top marks. Is it the nicest Italian restaurant in Pattaya? Yes: With decor, staff, food presentation, and culinary skill all rolled together, it is the nicest Italian restaurant in Pattaya without a doubt.