Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Daily Report: Penang Visa Run Day 2

We were up at about 9:00 today, after going to bed at about 9:00 last night. We went down out of the hotel room to take advantage of the free breakfast, but all they were serving was the Asian breakfast of ramen noodles in broth. (That was just one more facet of bad in this sucktacular hotel.)

Epril and I hopped back on the motorcycle, and went in search of a proper breakfast food and found it (or a facsimile thereof) at a little backpacker guesthouse in the center of town. Still though, it was the Asian version of a Western breakfast, so the scrambled eggs were a plain omelet, and the sausages were deep-fried hot dogs, and the bacon were pieces of boiled ham. (If you live in Asia long enough, you learn to accept this as an unchangeable fact of life.)

A typical view of Penang: Tall apart-
ment buildings against a mountain
After breakfast, Epril and I went to one of Penang's malls. I really don't know where the shopping malls are in Penang, but I drove to one I had noticed yesterday and went inside. However, this particular place must have been the "old mall" (i.e. the one that all the good stores have abandoned for the new joint across town), and all that was left were stalls selling discount jeans and plastic kitchenware.

From there, we took a quick ride around Georgetown, and then headed back to the hotel. We checked out of our room, and then went down to the lobby and chatted with the Danish fellow I mentioned yesterday for a while. Then, from boredom (checkout was at noontime, the visa service was picking us up at 3:00), Epril and I went out for ice cream. We went to a little local Muslim restaurant where they didn't have any ice cream, but the owner was nice enough to run to a nearby 7-11 and buy some for Epril. I opted for some of the food they were serving, which was an interesting dish: A deep fried block of bean curd in a candied cherry sauce.

We went back to the hotel and finished our waiting. The visa service picked us up, gave us back our passports with the new 60-day visas put in them, and dropped us off at the airport. We went through immigration without a problem, and I stopped at Duty Free and bought Epril some really nice perfume.

Our plane left a little late, but we had an otherwise uneventful 90-minute flight back to Bangkok.

A 60-day tourist visa (redacted) showing
the "don't come here no more" stamp,
given on the second, not third, visit
to the Thai consulate in Penang.
When we got to the airport, I was walking along to immigration with a British fellow who was complaining about how he had a stamp on his visa that read, "Do not apply new visa Penang again." I told him that the Thai consulate in Penang had placed a limit on the number of visas they would issue to 3. He told me he was aware of that, but this was only his second trip. I checked my visa, and there it was — something I hadn't noticed before: A red stamp that said (only after 2 visa runs — not 3 — mind you) that I could not apply for any more visas at the Thai consulate in Penang.

It's not that big a deal: I am looking forward to doing visa runs with Epril all over Asia, from Singapore to Seoul, but this seemingly abrupt change in the rules does have me a little annoyed. Well, as I'm sure everybody knows: In Thailand, rules are meant to be changed.

It's not my problem anymore though: Epril and I are moving to The Philippines sometime next year, where long stays are much easier to accomplish.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Daily Report: Penang Visa Run Day 1

The car picked us up from the house at 3:30 a.m. right on schedule, and we were at the airport by 5:00 for our 7:00 flight. Epril and I wandered through duty free, where Epril learned a new word: "Luxury", as she gawked at the $500 bottle of brandy, and gasped at the 1-million baht diamond-crusted Cartier watch. Well, someday I'll buy her one.

The flight down to Penang was uneventful, and we were picked up at the airport (along with 3 other visa runners, including a Danish fellow from Pattaya with whom I had done my last visa run to Penang 6 months ago) by the visa service. We dropped off our paperwork at the visa service's office, and were in our hotel room within a short time.

Epril huddles under the covers to
escape the freezing air conditioning.
The hotel room simply sucked. (The visa service would apologize afterwards:) The Deepavali (The Indian festival of lights) holiday was starting in Malaysia, and all the regular hotels were filled. The bathroom was straight out of Penang's colonial days, the air conditioning was freezing and wouldn't turn off, and the 12-inch television screen only showed 2 channels (no English).

Well, no big deal, since we weren't going to be spending too much time in the room: I had rented a motorcycle from the visa service, and Epril and I were immediately off on a trip around the island. (With a stop at KFC for lunch along the way.)

The tower-lined coast of Penang,
looking Northwest from Georgetown.
Penang is still the same lovely island I remembered from my last visit here, with the ghostly husks of mansions of the colonial era 100 years ago dotted throughout the city along some of the most gorgeous tree-lined boulevards on the planet. Georgetown, the island's main city, really could be the world's best place to go to see Asian colonial architecture, but unfortunately most of the period shop houses and other old buildings are not being maintained and are very dilapidated. So now, the best place is Luang Prabhang in Laos, its colonial architecture frozen in time as a United Nations World Heritage Site.

The ride around the island is always something I enjoy as the road is beautifully maintained as it winds up the mountains through the jungle to beautiful tropical vistas, but unfortunately there was a misty rain that faded in and out throughout the ride around the island, and we had to stop several times to dry off.

The gorgeous tree-lined boulevards
of Georgetown.
We rode back over the huge mountains in the center of the island, and came back down into Georgetown through one of the most memorable sites in Penang: A lovely, tropical valley sloping down towards the city with a gorgeous windy twisty road... and in this valley had been built a dozen of the largest most grotesque apartment buildings I had ever seen, their bare cement stained black with mold, pollution, and age. It was such a weird contrast.

We got back to the hotel room and took a bath and a nap. Then, at 6:00 we went out to dinner. We decided to eat at a little second-floor Japanese restaurant where the staff were friendly and the food (and sake) were very good. (The restaurant didn't accept Thai baht, and I had to go running up and down Penang Boulevard after dinner to find a place that would change money.

After that, we went to a pub called Soho, and I had a pint of Guinness, and Epril had a vodka tonic. After one drink, we were both ready to sleep, and went back to the hotel and climbed under the blankets in the freezing air.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Daily Report: Learning To Ride

Today, Epril and I slept in a little bit... until 8:30. I then got to work, but didn't get too much done.

For lunch, I took Epril out shopping, and bought her a really nice nightgown. Well... Okay... I get to enjoy seeing Epril wear it, so it is kind of a purchase for my own happiness too. Heheh. We stopped at Subway on Beach Road for lunch, and then at the Carrefour Home center for some odds and ends before heading back home.

I took a nap in the afternoon, and then got back to work in the evening.

Epril's first few seconds on a bicycle.
After seeing this attempt, I recom-
mended a helmet and gloves for her.
Maid Go's son brought a bicycle to the house today for Epril to learn to ride. Everybody gathered outside to shout words of encouragement, and Riza pushed Epril up and down the road for a while. Epril hasn't grasped the principles of how to get started yet... the big pedal push at the beginning to start things off. Well, she hasn't fallen, so there will be another lesson.

Epril and I are flying to Penang in Malaysia tonight, and will be back on Wednesday evening... so I won't be posting anything about Tuesday until after the fact.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Daily Report: The Guy Next Door

I was up early today to put the finishing touches on this pay period, and put in a hefty amount of work before noontime.

I have been using Stan's digital camera for certain photographs since my digital camera died, but it hadn't been very handy since I couldn't get the photos off of his camera and onto my computer: I had to go to Stan's house, connect his camera there, and then e-mail the photos back to myself. (Yes... one of those card reader thingamajiggies would be nice, but my computer equipment is so outdated as to be of actual interest to technology historians.)

Anyway, Stan called and wanted his digital camera back... and I had been hoping to hang into it for a few more days as I have a trip to Malaysia coming up. So, my hand was forced and I finally went out and bought another digital camera... another Sony Cybershot, since I have the photo printer and software installed. This one was only 10,000 baht ($300), instead of the 15,000 ($450) baht version (which I do plan on having a technician look at and trying to fix eventually, if possible).

When I got home from camera shopping, I was standing in my office window looking out across the street and I noticed the Belgian guy in the huge house (whom I had never met before) was out trimming his palm trees. We struck up an across-the-way conversation, and I decided to make his acquaintance, so I walked over to his yard with a couple of beers and we wound up chatting for a while.

He's one of those people you instantly like and envy: One of those people who has had one million-dollar idea after another throughout his life, and has been all over the world. He has a plane parked at the local airport here in Pattaya, and he told me about the new air strip in Ko Chang, and how he had just gotten back earlier in the day from flying down there for breakfast at a restaurant he enjoys.

Stan, Geordan, and Fred enjoying TQ2.
Anyway, in the afternoon, I got a little more work done, and then Epril and I went out to TQ2 to meet up with Stan, Alf, Geordan, Fred, Russ, and Jim. There is a little strife going on with the management of TQ2... specifically between Mem, Steve's widow, and now TQ2's principal owner, and the rest of the partners and managers.

It's really sad to see that happen, but some people see dollar signs and let that get in the way of friendships or good will or common sense. Too bad.

Still though, TQ2 was packed and rocking as usual with a full crowd and the usual bevy of beauties. I still can recommend a visit to TQ2 to say Hi to Alf and Russ and all of the other regulars.

Beach Road Prostitute Sting Yields Poor Results

Pattaya Police are finally starting to get serious about chasing the prostitutes off of Beach Road and into GoGo bars where they belong once and for all.

On Thursday night, three complete divisions of police gathered in the parking lot of Pattaya Police Station, located on Beach Road — the same road on which the prostitutes stroll — and a guy with a big bullhorn came out and said, "Okay troops! Tonight we are going to arrest all the prostitutes and criminals out here on Beach Road in a surprise raid. Go out there and get them all! Good luck."

Surprisingly, almost no prostitutes or criminals were found by the police on this particular night. They aren't sure why.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Daily Report: God Dag Nordmann

I was up at 7:00 this morning, started work a fair bit later, and got in a couple of hours of work before breaking for lunch... which was sushi.

After lunch, Epril and I went for a walk through the housing development we live in. It is amazing the number of houses that have For Sale signs on them, For Rent signs on them, or are clearly empty. I counted on the way back the ratio of empty versus occupied houses, and it is close to 50%... and this is a very upscale neighborhood. I suppose this is what some would call a "buyers market", but I can't see how this can possibly be a healthy situation for Pattaya.

In the afternoon, I gave Epril some money and sent her out shopping Go. After filling up on sushi and then taking a walk, I fell asleep, which kind of ruined my work day... my work week actually since I had been on a roll. I got up and did some more work at about 4:00.

At 6:30, I went out with Epril, and we sent some money to her parents via Western Union, and then went over to Bob's for dinner. There was a fellow there from Norway who is apparently a fan of the blog, and told me that all his Norwegian friends read "Jil In Pattaya" as well. Hmm... I suppose if Menudo can strike it big in Japan, I can have my fan base in Norway.

Epril and I got home at around 9:30, and I put in another hour of work before calling it a day.

Oh... my foot pedal for typing finally arrived today. That will save Franky from having to pick up one for me before he comes back to Pattaya late in November. (Thanks anyway.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Daily Report: Longing For The PI

I set the alarm for 7:00, as Epril and I didn't get to sleep until 11:30 last night. Epril, as usual, had me bounced out of bed shortly after the alarm went off.

I blogged in the morning, worked for an hour, chatted with Epril for an hour, worked for an hour, to a lunch break for an hour, worked for an hour, watched videos with Epril for an hour, and then worked for an hour... and still just managed to squeak in under my goal for the day.

At 7:00, Geoff and Honey Mae stopped by for drinks. They are heading back to The Philippines tomorrow morning for 10 days. I sure wish Epril and I were going too: After just a weekend there, I miss the place and can't wait to go back. Well... we'll be there for Christmas.

American Chopper, Law & Order, and Mythbusters were on TV tonight, which Epril and I enjoyed together.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Babe Blogging

Almost forgot: Time for JIP Thursday Babe Blogging!

This week we have Pat.

Photo courtesy of

One More Airport Security Checkpoint On The Way

In the never ending quest to make it more of a pain in the ass to fly, the American Transportation Safety Authority has unveiled their newest cockamamie plan: To have every ticket holder apply for and obtain government permission in the form of some kind of presentable-on-demand credential before every flight.
The Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security are quietly pushing for a set of crazy new rules. All travellers in the U.S. will be required to get government-issued credentials and official clearance before every flight, both within the United States as well as internationally.
Hmm... that one will go over really well with the business travelers who are taking 10 or more flights per week. (I wouldn't worry too much: I rather expect this idea to suffer a quick, embarrassed-silence death.)
By the way... Here is a list of all of the hijackings and attempted hijackings from American airports between 1973 (the advent of passenger and luggage screening) and September 11, 2001:

1974: Baltimore. Gunman killed while plane still at gate.
1987: California. Disgruntled USAir employee opens fire on plane.
1994: Memphis. Employee on FedEx plane. Subdued by crew.

So, to summarize: Other than the September 11 attacks, ever since the introduction of security measures for air flights 34 years ago, not a single plane taking off from an American airport has ever been hijacked or bombed by a passenger who was not also an employee of the airline.

Pattaya News Roundup

First up, we have the annual bull racing festival in Chonburi. I couldn't really imagine what the appeal is to watching very-undercooked steaks drag racing, but there you have it. Apparently attendance this year (by both bulls and bystanders) was up, and will continue to be a major event in the coming years.

A comedy show will be held at the Sandalay Resort Hotel in Naklua on November 15th to help out the Pattaya Gay Festival Charity. Comedians from England are coming in to entertain the masses, and get the Americans to scratch their heads and wonder what is so funny.

Finally, those arbiters of all things musical, The Copyright Police, performers of the number one hit, "You Pay Me 50,000 Baht Now", and their follow-up hit, "Okay, 20,000 Baht", invited Pattaya City News to follow them around to show that they don't extort money under the table from every restaurant owner they meet.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Daily Report: Great Idea

I was up just after 6:00, and spent some time blogging. This morning's work was sidetracked by watching some online videos with Epril.

This afternoon's work was sidetracked by my coming up with The Next Great Idea™ V6.0, which supplants The Next Great Idea™ V5.2. It's still in beta testing, but looks like a promising platform.

At the end of the day though, I managed to squeak out the bare minimum of work... albeit what would have been a very satisfactory amount just a few months ago.

In the evening, Epril and I watched X-Men and X-Men 2 on video, going to bed a little later than usual in order to fit in the double feature.


"Good news for the terrorists: Undercover agents posing as passengers were able to get simulated bombs through the screening process here at LAX 75% of the time ... but not one drop of shampoo."

Bill Maher

Brit In Big Trouble For Having Porn Collection

Remember folks. If you live in Thailand and you get your sexual stimulation from anything other than a properly bought and paid for Thai prostitute from an officially sanctioned GoGo bar, you are breaking the law, and can go to jail.

This 75-year-old man could face jail time or deportation because of his porn... although admittedly, he was apparently a little more open and serious about his collection than the average porn habitué, with a 100,000-image collection.

Well, poor Mr. Mawson here is definitely going to lose his nudie collection as part of the deal. He is now going to have to suffer like the rest of us here in Pattaya: Instead of the convenience of sitting at home with his photos, he is going to have to take the 20 or 30 minutes required to go out and find a live girl to satisfy himself. (Yes... yes... I know: Poor guy.)

Talen in the comments section added some more information to the story: Apparently the arrest for pornography came in connection with a complaint filed by a 14-year-old boy who claimed the man molested him. A good portion of the photos confiscated had been taken and produced by the man himself.

C'mon Pattaya City News: I've been nice about using you as my "Go-To" news source for all things regarding Pattaya... make sure you give us the full story in your reporting, OK?

Pattaya Daily News has the full story for you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Daily Report #1796

I was up at 6:00 a.m. again... with Epril's help again. I had a nice morning blogging, reading the news, and enjoying my coffee, before getting to work at 8:30.

I took a break at noontime for some lunch, watched some snooker on television, and then spent a few hours in the afternoon wandering the halls of YouTube before getting back to work.

In the evening, April and I sat down and watched some television before going to bed at an early hour.

Oh... Franky called today from Arizona to chat, which was cool. Good to talk to you Franky.

A Great and Funny Blog:

There really is no other blog on the internet which consistently posts hysterical faux news articles better than Scrappleface.

Some recent snippets from this site include...

On the Dali Lama's visit to America...
(2007-10-17) — On the heels of several hazardous toy warnings, Chinese government officials today announced that "potentially toxic effects" have led it to recall the Dolly Llama, which has become a big hit in the U.S. in recent days, even being received at the White House by President George Bush.

"We never intended for the Dolly Llama to reach American shores," said an unnamed Chinese government safety spokesman. "And we're concerned our American friends will be poisoned through contact."
On Dumbledore being gay...
(2007-10-22) — Just days after author J.K. Rowling publicly revealed that a fictional character in her Harry Potter series was secretly a homosexual, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald today empaneled a grand jury and vowed to find out who 'outed' Dumbledore, the imaginary headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Mr. Fitzgerald is best known as the prosecutor who spent two and a half years, and millions of dollars, failing to identify who outed Valerie Plame as a CIA spy, although he knew the names of columnist Robert Novak’s sources before the probe began.
Anyway... lots more amusing articles over at Scrappleface. It is worth a read.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Daily Report: Wake Up Call

Epril woke me up at 6:00 a.m., as she has been doing every day now: She waits for me to hit the snooze button on my alarm, she goes to the bathroom and brushes her teeth to make sure she is all minty fresh, and then comes back and pounces on me as if she were Poopy Cat's big sister. She giggles and tweaks my nose, and pokes my ribs until I finally climb out of bed.

I spent the morning blogging, had a good first half of the day, had lo mein for lunch, and had a fair second half of the day.

In the evening, I watched documentaries on the history of the Celts, and a National Geographic special on North Korea.

Boy... There really is no difference between North Korea and a cult, other than the amount of weaponry: The program I watched was made by a journalist who went to North Korea as part of a medical team doing cataract surgeries on near-blind patients. After a few days' recovery, when the foreign doctor removed their eye patches, with 100% consistency, not one of the patients he restored site to thanked him. They instead immediately ran and prostrated themselves in front of nearby portraits of Kim Jong Il and his father, and tearfully thanked him for restoring their sight, and vowed to work harder to please him from this point forward.

It simply is one of the weirdest places on the planet.

Pattaya News Roundup

In our first story tonight, 48 prostitutes on Beach Road had their evening's work interrupted by Pattaya police in order for them to stop by the police station and pay their regular liscensing fees. Fortunately, they were back at work within an hour or two, and everything was back to normal.

Next, we have a monk, living in temple, who reported the theft of cash and valuables from his room. This is kind of like a Catholic priest reporting to police that somebody stole all his photos of nude boys: Monks aren't supposed to have cash and valuables... especially almost 100,000 baht... lying around.

Here is an apartment complex in Naklua that had 6 apartments broken into. The guards who work at the apartment said they saw a suspcious man wandering around the place. They didn't bother to question him, but were able to give a good description. I'm sure that the robbed residents really appreciate that.

Here is a Russian lady who had her purse stolen by two muay thai boxers. Passers-by chased down the criminals and returned the purse to the lady. Pattaya's tourist economy is getting so bad, even people with jobs are turning to petty crime for income. Hopefully the upcoming high season improves things a little... but I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Daily Report: Going To The Zoo

Today (after a fairly good morning of work) it was off with Epril, Geoff, and Honey Mae to the Khao Kheow Open Zoo outside of Sri Racha, about 40 minutes away from Pattaya.

Now, when I hear "open zoo", my mind naturally goes back to a particularly ornery ostrich sticking his head in the window of my friend's truck at a "safari" in Texas, and giving me a rather vicious peck on the arm. Fortunately, that is not what the Khao Kheow Open Zoo is about (mostly). Instead, for farang edification, I'm calling it a "drive-in zoo". Instead of walking, you drive from one animal compound to the next. The animals are in enclosures that more or less keep them separate from the people, just like any zoo... there are just roads and parking lots instead of pathways.

The price to get in is 100 baht for white-skinned people and 75 baht for brown-skinned people, plus 50 baht for the car... white or brown. Finding the place from Pattaya was very easy: Drive north on Sukhimvit until you pass through Sri Racha, and then keep an eye out for the signs to the zoo on the standard "official black letters on white background" type street sign. After that, it is 20 kilometers inland to the middle of the jungle (right next door to a golf course actually).

When we first arrived at about 2:30 p.m., we felt extremely let down by the place. Being a Sunday afternoon, the place was packed, and traffic was at a crawl. In addition, the first 25% of the zoo is the oldest, most run-down part of the zoo, with the most run-down looking animals... what few there were. So we spent 30 minutes crawling past a bored looking gibbon, a lonely deer, a collection of striped-tailed lemurs, an island of large lizards, and a few prairie dogs.

After that was a children's zoo and penguin hut which was all worth a miss... unless you want to pay 20 baht for a bit of air conditioning to see the penguins.

Once you get past the children's zoo though, the place improves immensely. The little islands and cement-jungle cages that pass for habitats in the first part of the zoo open up into much more expansive enclosures that might almost pass muster in a top-tier animal sanctuary back in America or Europe.

I'm not sure you're supposed to pet the
baby hippos, but when you can get this
close, why not?
Except, here you can get a fair bit closer to certain of the animals: You can feed a giraffe, pet a baby hippo, or (unfortunately) have your bratty little kids pelt a tapir with vegetables. (That was a one-time exception though... most of the visitors seemed quite reverent of their animal friends.) There were ostriches — and I got to experience a little schadenfreude when one ostrich put his head through the fence and gave a boy a little nip on the ankle — and zebras, rhinoceros and elephants.

Feeding the giraffes. The walkway is
raised so that you are on eye-level with
these giant beasts.
By the time we made it past the giraffe compound, time was turning against us, as it was already approaching 5:00 (like I said: skip the children's zoo) and we had to hurry a little bit through the rest. This was a particular shame, because the further you went into the park, the grander it grew, and the larger the place seemed. We drove by an aviary the size of the Astrodome nestled in the jungle, we went through a little bit of a safari where deer come up to the car looking for food, a couple of miles down the road, we passed a primate zoo that we had to bypass, and finally, after about a 5 or 6 mile drive, we came to the giant "Cat Center" which looked like it was by far the centerpiece of the entire facility. We drove past all of it, with us a little too tired and the time a little too late.

A Malayan tapir... which is on the
endangered species list.
This was easily one of the nicer tourist attractions on the eastern seaboard of Thailand, and I'm really surprised that it isn't better-known. I would recommend the proprietors of the place spend a little bit more money and effort on parking and traffic control to ease the congestion on days like today, and take some time to refurbish some of the older exhibits. Overall, however, the place was excellent and when you compare the 400 baht you spend at Underwater World for a 30-minute visit to the 100 baht you spend at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo for 3 or 4 hours... it is well worth your money and your time.

Epril posing by a waterfall after a
tiring afternoon of enjoying the zoo.
Behind Nong Nooch Gardens, I would give this zoo second billing daytime tourist attraction for any tourist to Pattaya who can find or hire a car to get them to the place. It is much better than Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, or the Million Year Stone Park, and well worth an afternoon. Oh... and of course, bring the kids if you've got them.

Sunday Video Break

A video of cute Asian girls!

The Perfect Gift Idea

Or at least a great way to waste 20 minutes...

"While most are dreaming of success,
winners wake-up and work hard to
achieve it."
Perhaps you have been living on another planet, or are one of those rare people who hasn't had a flake for a boss... or aren't a flake yourself... but motivational posters like this one have been decorating office break-room walls and the cubicles of countless over-achievers for a couple of decades now. Perhaps you like them (like I do), or perhaps you find them cloying, and kitschy; regardless, you know what they are.

"It takes 43 muscles to frown and 17
to smile, but it doesn't take any to
just sit there with a dumb look on
your face."
Finally, there is, which makes posters of a similar theme, but with a slightly more realistic (and humorous) view of the world. Even if you aren't interested in buying one of these posters, stop buy and check out the collection: There are nearly 100 of these posters with 100 awesomely bleak, jaded, or simply bitchy ways of seeing things. I highly recommend taking a while and reading these: But be careful, if you read one, you'll read them all.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Canadian Pedophile Nabbed In Korat

Canadian pedophile Christopher Paul Neil must have been rather unpleasantly surprised to find that the digital "swirl" that he used to obscure his face while he videoed himself raping young boys had been "unswirled" by law enforcement computer experts.

In a rather fortuitous turn of events, with the guy facing a long prison sentence, he left Korea for Thailand. Lucky move #1, because Thai prisons exist on a whole different level of ass-suckery than Korean prisons. In a second lucky move, he went to Korat, where he tried to blend in with 1,000 other foreigners who live there, instead of going to Pattaya, where he could have tried to blend in with the 30,000 resident foreigners and tourists.

So, instead of disappearing, and raping more boys (and giving one other guy the right to claim he's not the most reviled scumbag Canadian sex offender in Pattaya), this pedophile has happily been caught, and is looking at 20-plus years in some of the harshest prison conditions on the planet.

Congratulations to the Thai people for using the media to get the whole country involved in this manhunt, and locating this guy as quickly as they did, and putting him in a disease-infested, soul-sucking hell hole for what may hopefully be the rest of his natural life.

According to the first comment I got, Canadian authorities are going to try to extradite this demon back to the pleasant confines of a Canadian jail, instead of letting him stay in a Thai jail cell with 100 other prisoners in 100º tropical heat, 1000 insects, and 1 million diseases. I wonder which jail the victims and their parents would chose for our culprit?

He did come here to Pattaya first... and then went north to Korat.

The extradition may not be as sure a thing as originally thought:
The B.C. attorney general says Thai authorities have first dibs on prosecuting Neil but B.C. will probably ask for his extradition, depending on what the province's criminal justice branch recommends.


Pattaya City News has exclusive CCTV footage of the pedophile checking into a Soi VC hotel. (Soi VC is the street next to Sunee Plaza, where the underage gay sex trade — and presumably the cops that arrest people who engage in it — tends to focus in Pattaya.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Boathouse Restaurant Review

The Worst Steak in Pattaya.

Tonight Epril and I went out with the entire crew: Mike and Riza, Geoff and Honey Mae, Jeff and his girlfriend Lee, and Stan. We headed down to Jomtien Beach to dine at The Boathouse and be entertained by their Elvis impersonator.

The Boathouse is a nice place actually, located right across the road from the beach, with a large front deck for outdoor dining and a fairly cosy interior that has a rustic, wharf-side fishing village feel to it.

The food in general is nothing too bad: Standard "family style" recipes predominate, with a menu whose content seems to hail straight from the day when farang-food restaurants in Pattaya were something special, and not the norm... and restaurant owners made their dishes from home the best they could with what they could find at the local market.

The chicken satay appetizer I had was fine, and the shrimp cocktails were bountiful. Stan had a seafood platter appetizer which looked delicious. For entrees, Mike had chicken cordon bleu which he enjoyed, Geoff had roast duck which he said was excellent, Riza had fish which she gave the thumbs up to, and Epril and Honey Mae both had roast chicken which they had no complaints about.

However, Stan, Jeff, Lee, and I all had steak... 3 different styles of steak among 4 people... and they were all absolutely awful: Dry, tasteless, tough, and gray. All of us — even demure little Lee — voiced our strong opinions that it was the worst steak we had ever been served.

Anyway, at 9:00, The Boathouse's resident Elvis impersonator came on and did his thing. I will say that I personally believe that how enjoyable Elvis' show is is a direction function of the crowd size and makeup rather than any particular skill on Elvis' part, but Epril and I danced to some of the slow music (Fools Rush In), as did the rest of the restaurant, and some of the older couples got up and did a nice 2-step for the more upbeat tunes (Jailhouse Rock). Elvis (or the crowd) did a really good job of making sure everyone had a good time.

So in the end, I suppose I could recommend the Boathouse... but only for a Friday night, to see Elvis, only with a large group of people... and for God's sake, avoid the steak.


"President Bush met with the Dalai Lama today at the White House. Another awkward moment. When the Dalai Lama showed up, Bush said, 'So, where's the lama?'"

"China is outraged at the United States for honoring the Dalai Lama at the White House. They're pretty mad. I hope they don't try to get back at us, you know, like maybe putting lead in our toys or anti-freeze in our toothpaste."

Jay Leno

Pattaya News Roundup

City hall had a formal gathering to send their "get well soon" wishes to the King of Thailand, who is in the hospital. I'm sure everybody shares their sentiment, and hopes for a speedy recovery for the world's most beneficent and kind-hearted monarch of modern times.

It seems that Thai immigration has a new ploy to combat illegal immigrants: If you are an illegal alien, and don't have proper documentation to prove the child with you is yours, that child may wind up in one country, you in another. (Notwithstanding the merits of this case.)

Pattaya is going to open up a second Walking Street in Naklua, which will be a shopping center instead of a GoGo Bar venue. With three monstrous shopping malls currently under construction in Pattaya, perhaps Pattaya should turn its focus towards other projects, like parks.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Daily Report: Cramps

Epril had me out of bed at 6:15 this morning... incrementally coming ever closer to the magic number of 6:00 a.m. Maid Go made coffee, and I had a nice long shower.

Early on, I started feeling poor: My intestines were giving off little spasms of pain every few minutes, which continued on through the morning. I'm a little bit lactose intolerant — if I have a really big glass of milk — my gut gets all crampy for a while. However, I hadn't had any milk, and this lasted all day long. Epril had brought home a banana shake from the market last night, which I drank, and that was probably the culprit.

Yes... even the veterans still get stung by the food here every once in a while.

I had a 3-hour nap at noontime, which put a dent in my work, and in the end, the day wasn't too good... but still 2,000 lines: What used to be my hoped-for target back a few years ago now barely makes the grade.

Thursday evening is my favorite night for television: "The Weakest Link" at 6:15, "American Chopper" at 7:00, now (with Epril around) the new addition of "Law & Order" at 8:00, "Mythbusters" at 9:00, and "I Didn't Know That" at 10:00.

Thursday Babe Blogging

Gads. I can't believe it is Thursday already... but it's a good thing: More Babe Blogging.

This week's babe is Sao... and she's adorable.
Photo courtesy of

Intangible Wealth In Societal Success Calculations

The World Bank came up with a great social model that really describes the world, and why some countries are wealthy, and some countries are poor: The concept of "intangible wealth" and the role it plays in economic abundance.

It's a very simple concept really: The things that contribute most to a country's success are the things least able to be measured by numbers (although the World Bank does apply dollar values to these things in their model). While hydroelectric plants, oil reserves, arable land, and the old "plants, property, and equipment" are assets that an economy is founded on, the World Bank has determined that anywhere from 60% to 80% of a country's wealth is intangible: Stability of government and equal application of the law, the level of education of the population, et cetera.
Once one takes into account all of the world's natural resources and produced capital, 80% of the wealth of rich countries and 60% of the wealth of poor countries is of this intangible type. The bottom line: "Rich countries are largely rich because of the skills of their populations and the quality of the institutions supporting economic activity."

What the World Bank economists have brilliantly done is quantify the intangible value of education and social institutions. According to their regression analyses, for example, the rule of law explains 57 percent of countries' intangible capital. Education accounts for 36 percent.

Overall, the average per capita wealth in the rich Organization for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) countries is $440,000, consisting of $10,000 in natural capital, $76,000 in produced capital, and a whopping $354,000 in intangible capital. (Switzerland has the highest per capita wealth, at $648,000. The U.S. is fourth at $513,000.)

By comparison, the World Bank study finds that total wealth for the low income countries averages $7,216 per person. That consists of $2,075 in natural capital, $1,150 in produced capital and $3,991 in intangible capital. The countries with the lowest per capita wealth are Ethiopia ($1,965), Nigeria ($2,748), and Burundi ($2,859).

In fact, some countries are so badly run, that they actually have negative intangible capital. Through rampant corruption and failing school systems, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are destroying their intangible capital and ensuring that their people will be poorer in the future.
Anyway, it's a great breakthrough in how to measure the wealth of the world we live in, and how to quantify the positive aspects that national stability and social order has on the macroeconomic... and even microeconomic... functioning of a country. A quick little article, well worth a read.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Daily Report: The Cozy Humdrum

Epril had me out of bed at 6:30 this morning... and I enjoyed the sunrise with Maid Go's freshly-brewed coffee (with a splash of Bailey's, as always) and reading the news. The weather here in Pattaya is cooling off to the low-80's at night, and that temperature stays steady through a good part of the morning. Opening the window lets in a nice breeze, and the lovebirds I have caged out front put up a pleasant, if shrill, squawking. Early mornings are great: I need to see more of them.

Work this morning went well, and it really seems like I've jumped to yet another level in my output. Epril's encouragement is the new fire in my boiler, and it is really helping. She comes in and keeps me company for little bits at a time, watching me work, and then massages my shoulders, and then leaves me alone to work some more. She just lets me know she's thinking about me.

On my lunch break, Epril and I went out to Key Visa on Soi LK Metro to arrange a visa run to Penang. It's really the only expensive aspect of having a Filipina here in Thailand, instead of dating a local: The once-every-90-day visa run costs. Well, considering the amount of money I shelled out for the ex-girlfriend's skin care products, I'm still coming out ahead.

After Key Visa, it was next door to Bob's BBQ for a lunch of baked beans, jalapeño poppers, and chips and chili con carne. I spent a while chatting with Bob, who really seems to be happy with his new location... although an in-house bathroom for his customers is definitely something he needs to get cracking on.

Then, Epril and I went to Tukcom computer center (stopping at the Soi Buakow market to buy her a dress), where I bought network cable, a mouse and mousepad, a webcam, and power cord for Epril's computer (which I had yet to hook up). Then, I bought a nice desk at a furniture store on Pattaya South Road for 2,000 baht, which was delivered to my house.

After working through to the evening, I set up Epril's computer. I ran the network cable from my office on the second floor down to the living room to connect Epril's computer to the internet. The cable was 1 meter too short. Then, I plugged in the spare monitor that I have had lying around for the last 2 years, only to find that that piece of equipment had died in its sleep. So Epril's computer has to wait yet another day.

For the evening, I cracked open a bottle of Japanese sake that I had forgotten I had lying around, and heated some up. Riza came over and took a walk with Epril to the market, while I sat home and watched Law & Order. Geoff and Honey Mae called to invite Epril and I out to Beach Road to see a Filipina band, but I took a rain check. Moving all the computer equipment tired out my body, and my work had tired out my mind. I was ready for bed.

Pattaya News Roundup

In our first story, the Hard Rock Café celebrates its sixth anniversary. In Pattaya years, that is almost 125 years old. Way back in 2001, when the place was built, there was nothing surrounding it but unexplored marsh land and wild gibbons, reachable only by elephant trek or longboat. I do believe that this is the place you can go for the soap suds parties on Saturday nights.

In our second story, a Thai lady (married to a farang) tried to commit suicide for the second time in just a few months by taking a dive off the balcony of her apartment and landing in her husband's bar located below. (No "Dive Bar" jokes in the comments section please.) Anyway, hubby had an awning installed over the bar, but that didn't stop his lovely little guided missle from a second flight.

Finally, in the "I'm not that kind of girl" category, we have a lady who was riding in a baht bus from South Pattaya to Naklua. Upon arriving in Naklua, at the invitation from the driver, the lady got up in front and rode with the guy. She rode with him while he picked up and dropped off passengers all the way to Jomtien, chatting and having a good time. After a quick bathroom stop, Mr. Baht Bus driver tried to make his move. He now faces the charge of sexual assault.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Daily Report: A Twisted Mind

Epril has now started waking me up in the morning. It was very simple to get her to pop out of bed like a happy ray of sunshine every morning, and pounce on me to get me up and working: I showed her (1) how much money I make when I sleep in, and start work at 10:30 every morning, and (2) how much money I make when I wake up early, and start work at 8:00 every morning.

As my mother will surely attest: I've always been really bad at getting out of bed. My mother used to wake me up, and I'd make it as far as the bathroom, before saying, "aw, screw it," and curling up on the bathroom floor next to the heater, and going back to sleep.

So today I was awake at 7:00, and got to work by 9:30 after some blogging. (Had to put up all of the Nong Nooch photos... it takes a while to do it right.) I got in a really good day of work.

Epril had Honey Mae over for the day. I fed them rice and beans... and bacon, which Maid Go's son, working for a meat packing company, gave us as a gift.

Today, Epril and Honey Mae watched "Jackass, The Movie". I came down to the living room to see what they were laughing so hard about, just in time to watch a guy sitting bare-assed high atop of one of those carnival games you hit with a mallet have a golden dildo launched skyward at him.

One of my more socially conservative readers complained that taking Epril to GoGo bars would somehow corrupt her and damage our relationship. After 5 minutes of watching several scenes of crass sexual content, really painful-looking shots to the gonads, body hair torn out, and midgets getting punched (accompanied by Epril's and Honey Mae's voluminous peals of laughter), I know that 2 hours of girls dancing in bikinis is a much safer thing for Epril's pristine soul to watch than 5 minutes of this stuff. (Yes... Of course I sat down and watched it with her. I wasn't put on this planet to keep souls pristine.)

In the evening, Epril and I had chicken for dinner, and watched Law & Order on TV, and then got to bed early.

Hardees Wants You Full... Or Dead

Geoff and I were just talking about breakfast food the other day in the car on the way to Nong Nooch Gardens. I was talking about how insane it was that people are eating 500 or 600 calories for breakfast... including the orange juice and hash browns.

Now, Hardees, a restaurant chain in America which is home to 1400-calorie burgers and 1100-calorie salads, offers up a 900-calorie breakfast sandwich.

(Not that I wouldn't eat one if given the chance, mind you, but...)


Now, just throw in a large coffee with 8 or 9 of those little plastic cups of Coffee Mate amaretto-flavored creamer, and a large orange juice, and you're all set!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Talent for Talent's Sake

And I thought my talent at playing Minesweeper was spectacular but pointless... this person's latte art is the end-all-be-all of the talent most guaranteed never to make you a millionaire. (But you probably are guaranteed to always be able to find a job in a coffee shop.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Daily Report: Nong Nooch

Sorry about the poor picture quality.
We are back to a camera phone for
the time being.

With Epril and Honey Mae new to town, Geoff and I are taking this opportunity to show them around to all of the tourist attractions that we ourselves have either enjoyed in the past, or are yet to see. Today, we were off to Nong Nooch Gardens, a huge botanical paradise and cultural center that lies about 10 miles south of Pattaya. It is Pattaya's best and most well-attended tourist attraction (aside from Walking Street and the beach, naturally).

The cost to get in is the standard 400 baht for white skinned people, 200 baht for dark skinned people. At least in this particular venue with the racist pricing policy, you can't complain quite as much: You do get your money's worth at either price. In nearby "Underwater World", for the same price, we managed to last for 45 minutes before we ran out of things to look at. Here in Nong Nooch, we started working our way through the massive grounds at 1:00 in the afternoon, and at 6:00 in the evening, we finally gave up trying to see more stuff.

Today was a drizzly day, so be brought umbrellas with us, but the rain soon stopped, and although the heat and humidity were oppressive, we managed just fine.

We started off in the butterfly aviary, with monstrous moths and butterflies to view. Then, we walked along the skyways that run through the garden, high up in the lush canopy (you can walk high or low here... it is your choice), ate some ice cream, and wandered over to the French Garden with its nearby salas, mock temples, stupas, and animist totem pole collection. The amount of earth and stone that had to be moved to create this place (assuming the place is not located on some glacial debris field) is astounding. The attention to detail (especially for a Thai-run venue) is very good.

After spent about 90 minutes walking through the gardens, we went and had lunch at one of the restaurants. The food wasn't that good, and the prices were a little high (especially if you buy the 300-baht all-you-can-eat buffet for Epril, who is full after 4 or 5 spoonfuls... ouch), but it wasn't really bad prices overall (100 baht ($3) for a sandwich, 75 baht ($2.25) for soup).

After lunch, we went to the Thai cultural show. It was nice, although at 4 or 5 shows per day, the dancers lacked the ability to keep up the "flash and fire" in their routine, and the smiles were a little taut... but the costumes were great, and the show in and of itself was entertaining.

From the cultural show, you walk straight back to the elephant show. I had heard quite a bit about the elephant show at Nong Nooch, but I was quite surprised at the talent/training of the elephants: The elephants throwing darts with their trunks and popping balloons at 50 feet, painting trees and flowers, bowling a ball 75 feet and getting a strike (or even picking up the spare), and giving massages to people lying on the ground with their massive feet.

Epril had never seen elephants before, and was a little wary of getting close to them at first, but eventually she fed them, and even let two of them pick her up in their trunks so that she could have her picture taken.

After that, Epril had her photo taken with some nearby orangutans, and Honey Mae had her picture taken with a tiger. Unfortunately, I really have to discourage other people from doing this in the future: From the way I saw the trainers and orangutans behaving, I think that the orangutans are smacked around in order to keep them behaved, and the tiger was so terribly drugged that he couldn't even open his eyes, let alone keep his head up. It was really quite sad.

We bought tickets for a tram trip around the park, which took us to some of the outlying gardens which are too far to walk to: The cactus garden, the banzai tree garden, and also around to the front of the park, where a new resort hotel is being built. After that, we stopped and had cappucinos at the coffee shop and relaxed.

Finally, we were going to go see the aviary and the small zoo that is on the grounds, but everything closes at 5:30, and we were just a little bit past that time. So instead we settled for walking through the zoo. Actually most of the animals — now that the crowds had left — were up and about, and getting ready for sunset.

So, finally at 6:00, we called it a day... a most enjoyable and satisfactory day... and climbed into the car and drove home. Without a doubt, Nong Nooch should be at the very top of your list of (daytime) tourist attractions here in Pattaya.