Riding over the Himalayas Pt.2

Pt 1

And he’s off.

The traffic was mad. Why the guide would set us off into lunchtime traffic in the city is beyond me. To add insult to injury, it started pissing down with rain 5 mins before we set off. This was shit.

The weather got worse – and we hit fog. All we could do was follow the bike in front. The biker at the front of our group was following ‘Samba’ – the lead guide. He was a local, and rode like one. Over-taking as many vehicles as possible, no matter how dangerous. Which meant us lot had to ride like the clappers to keep up.

Of course, no one wanted to say ‘hang on a minute, this is a bit tough isn’t it’? – in fear of being ridiculed by the rest of us. At least that’s how I felt.

We hit the guesthouse several hours later. We were told that soon there will be no cellular or data network, so make the most of it.

Russ by this time had his visa and was heading to the Dubai airport to catch the overnight flight. A car was picking him up. By the next night – we’d be reunited with him.

The hotel may have been a nice hotel in the 30’s… and was still (locally) referred to as a plush hotel. For me, it was shite. Food was shite, service was shite and the room was shite. There were Monkeys outside sitting on trees. Even they preferred a tree to one of the bedrooms easily accessed via the open windows.

Fog, clouds…whatever…

The following day I had a positive attitude. The rain had stopped and I cleaned my bike. Positive attitude.
As soon as we set off it pissed down with rain. The fog came in, the traffic was horrendous and the roads were shite. So much for positive thinking.

Another challenging day trying to stay alive.

When we arrived at the hotel after a days riding – Russ was there waiting. Looking fresh, dry, clean and relaxed. The only one in the 17 strong group. The rest of us looked like we’d been living rough for the last few days.

I later found out what living rough was really all about.

With Russ now in the team – Russ, Huggy and I decided to ride together going forward. The rest of the group also split up into their little packs/teams.

Each morning we were given a 5 min talk about what lay ahead and where the rendezvous point was. We’d be told about a check-=point where we could get lunch (And re-group) and where the next hotel was. Apart from that – we were pretty much left to fend for ourselves.

We set off. After 5 mins of being stuck behind Huggy and Russ – I nailed the throttle and gave it some beans. And when I say beans… 110kph is all the Enfield had to give. Still, going around hair pin bends and over gravel, it was quite hairy. I soon caught up and over took everyone. This gave me chance to stop off at various places, take some snaps of the view and also the other bikers as they rode by. For this reason, I have many snaps of other bikers – but none taken of me! No choice but to take selfies.

I guess I’ll take a selfie then lads

After lunch – the Aussies asked me if I wanted to join their group on a fast ride. The roads were gravel/stone.. hard terrain. The tour guide kept everyone else back as he didn’t want them following us – as we were identified as the better riders. He was worried the other might over-stretch themselves and fall off. So with our new riding skills firmly acknowledged – off we went like scalded cats.

The Aussies were good. Very good. They were moto-cross riders with great bike skills and no fear. I was purely running on ego. I rode in second position, making sure I was filling up the leaders mirror. The guys behind me we not far off. It was good riding and very tough.

When we hit the black top road, I found my mojo… hanging off the bike, scraping footpegs as I hit the apex of the bends…. I was showing off. It was great! When we came to the checkpoint – they said ‘good ride Rossi’! I had earned their respect. But man, these guys were good.

Later that day – the rest of the group met up with us at the camp. I told Russ and Huggy that I’ll not race off again – and that we can ride together and share the experience. They just need to speed up a little.

Hotel / Guesthouses were now getting lower in quality. Internet had gone – but we could use our Cellular Data on our phones. Hot water was now a luxury in the evenings.

This wasn’t in the brochure..

Next day – we were getting into the Mountains, less traffic but larger vehicles wanting to run us over.

That’s what I came for

I can’t remember the full scenario – but a lorry was bearing down on Russ.. he took evasive action and clipped a big rock. He went down and twisted his ankle. We picked him and his bike up. He seemed o.k. I told him to man up and just walk it off and off he rode. All in his stride.

Turns out it was a little more serious – and he was unable to stride by the end of the day! So much so that he could not walk on his foot. A few of us had to carry him to his (now) tent where the Doctors examined him and told him it was a bad sprain. We asked for an ice pack – which arrived 4 hours later.

IMG_1951

Russ couldn’t walk – and certainly couldn’t ride. Once again he’d be in the car and one of the support guys would be riding his bike. 25% through the holiday and the support guy had done more riding on Russ’s bike than he had.

Russ rested for a day and a half. With his bike boots on, he was able to limp enough to get around so was allowed back on a bike. For any river crossings – he’d give up the bike and have someone else cross on it. There was no way his ankle would support his weight and the bike in a river….

And this is fun right?

And so it went on like that for the next week or so. Tough rides. River crossings, land slides, dirt roads etc… crap hotels.. no water.

Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

You have a rough idea of what the days were like. For the next post, I’ll detail some of the challenges instead of giving a day-by-day account.

Riding over the Himalayas – Pt 1

What was I thinking? What on earth possessed me to spend more than 5k to go on ‘holiday’ to India?

I did keep a journal, but I’ll not repeat it all. It’ll take too long. I’ll give you the start and then a few more instalments of what it was like – with a bunch of photos which I think are pretty cool. Expect it over 3 or 5 posts.

Some background…

The Tour – it’s an official organised company tour. If you’ve ever seen the Top Gear Vietnam Special – well these are the guys that actually ran that tour.

It’s for experienced riders. Have no doubt about it – this is one of the most challenging rides you can do. For a biker, this is probably the ultimate in bike tours on the planet. I kid you not.

The Bikes – Royal Enfields 500 Bullets. Shite. Although – I can’t think of any other bike I would have done it on.

Indias finest…..

My Gang – My pals Russ and Huggy joined me. (Russ is a good rider at speed, but slow manoeuvres…., well, he is 9 feet tall so that doesn’t help. I was worried about him) Huggy, he is cautious (slow). Very cautious. No off-road experience at all. Only sleepy village riding. Me – well, fast riding, motocross, stunt school… I’ve a stable of various bikes – I know how to ride.

Happier times….

The other Gang – Good bunch of people. Three Aussies who were ‘proper Aussies’. They were cool and good experienced riders. Some old Kiwi’s entering the final stages of their lives, a Techie guy from the States who was on his own and a Husband and Wife from Idaho who are both Doctors. We made a mental note to not be far away from them. We also had a Husband and Wife who were riding on the same bike. Hats off to them. It was tough fighting with the bikes and terrain. To have your nagging wife on the back also takes real guts. In total, there were 17 riders.

Accommodation – this was all part of the package, some tents, home-stays and guest-houses (read that as ‘shite’) Rooms were for 2 persons and any singles had to pay a $500 extra fee. We split the $500 and took turns in having the single room

Terrain – some normal roads, but most is gravel, stone, mud, river crossings, landslides.. basically everything you are not used to.

Food – crap.

The Support – All our luggage was carried in a 4×4 van which followed. Another couple of pick-up trucks carried bike spares, water, tools etc. In the Support Team were a couple of Mechanics, a Doctor and some other guys who I’ve no idea what they did. One guy rode a bike at the back of the group – and behind him was the ‘Sweeper’ truck. He would make sure the last man (usually Huggy) was not left behind.

And we’re off….

To this day, I still do not remember agreeing to this trip. I’ve looked over old e-mails and messages with Russ and I can’t see anything where I agreed to it. I can only assume it was a drunken night where I Russ said “instead of paying you the $500 share of last night’s bar-bill, I’ll pay your deposit for the India trip”. That is the only scenario I can think of.

This deposit was paid last year. There was a lot of prep-work that went into this trip. We had to buy all new ‘bike gear’, obtain visas and permits, insurances and flights.. not to mention rearrange our work schedules so we are all off at the same time.

Roll on 9 months, a few trips back to the US and UK to get our new bike stuff and we were set.

A night in Dubai to synchronize watches. Checked in at the airport at 2am only to be told that Russ’s visa was no good – as it was in his old passport (he got a new passport a few weeks ago). Now, every other Country in the world will accept a visa which is in an expired passport. It’s normal. For example, a Thai has a 10 year UK visa – but the passport is only valid for 5 years. You can still use the visa in an old passport).

Anyway, this was India. They were having none of it.

Russ was going nowhere – except the Indian embassy later that day to get an emergency visa. I did offer Russ to try and use my passport – and I stay behind but that would require him shaving his head and cutting his legs off at the knee.

Huggy and I proceeded to India – and Russ to find a hotel by the embassy. If the visa takes any longer than 3 or 4 days – will the extra expense (visa and flights) be worth it? Will we see Russ again?

Coming into land… well.. I can’t say I was impressed by New Delhi. If this was New Delhi, what was the old one like? Madness. Total chaos. What had I done?

I’ve seen better views…

Straight to Claridges Hotel. That doesn’t sound too bad now does it? It’s Claridges after all!

Now, I could list everything that pained me. I could moan about all the little niggles and issues I have with all the things in my daily life that make angry and grumpy.. but what’s the point? All I am going to say is – from my 5 star hotel window – this was my view.

Getting a funny feeling about this….

We met the team who were on the trip. The tour guide was not much of a guide if I am honest. He just started talking about random things. It was then I interrupted him and suggested we all introduce ourselves so we all know who each other is. That’s basic meeting people protocol right?

The next morning was a 5 hour coach ride to a place where we’d meet our Royal Enfield’s. Driving through Delhi, I came to realise how well off I am. And not just me – I am talking about anyone who doesn’t live in Delhi. My god. What a place. Words do not describe this place. Well, there are some words, but I am trying to cut down on the swearing.

At lunchtime – we arrived at a carpark where our bikes were waiting. Each had a sticker on the tank. That was to be our ride for the next 12 days. Except Russ’s bike. That was to be ridden by one of the support team until he arrived.

My bike didn’t seem too bad. This is the best it will ever look.

My Noble Steed…

Speaking of Russ – he was still in Dubai – going back and forth from immigration to the embassy, trying to sort out his visa. He was told he would receive it the following day, so optimistically booked his flight for the next night. As soon as he touched down in Delhi, we had a car waiting to drive him to us. By that time – we would be 10 hours away.

After changing into our bike gear in the carpark. We saddled up and got on the bikes. It was then we were given a form to sign and told the following.

• Rules of the road are – bikes don’t matter. Get out the way of any truck/car.

• Expect a car on your side of the road on a blind bend.

• There is no cellular network where we are going, so if you crash – you’ll probably die.

• Emergency services are more or less non-existent up in the mountains – so if you crash, you’ll probably die.

• There are roads which have rivers flowing across them – so if you fall off in them – you’ll probably die

• Be careful what you eat – you’ll probably die.

• The mountain roads are single lane – if a lorry is coming, hug the cliff wall rather than going off the cliff – as you may die.

• Beware of falling rocks. If they hit you – you will die.

• Expect Cows in the roads. Try and avoid them.

• You’ll be at high altitude. We have a doctor who will monitor your oxygen levels. It’s hard to breath up there – you may die.

There was a pattern developing here. This was not in the sales brochure. I was getting a little worried.

That was it…. We were told to ride as a group for the next 4 hours and meet up at the hotel for the night.

Then.. having no time to get used to the bike – we set off into the city which was heaving with useless fucking bastards in car who can’t drive for shit.

It was then I realised – I may die.

This is where it will end…

Still moaning….

Since returning from the Himalayas – I’ve been rushing around and hardly anytime to get worked up and pissed off with anything.

I am kidding of course. It only takes a few hours of being in Thailand before I get angry, frustrated, fed up, disappointed and pissed off.

In-between that, I did the rounds in Hua Hin, visited a new restaurant, had a night out with Stickboy and booked a night on the QE2.
I’ll do the Himalayas later. What’s pissing me off right now?

Airports. (again) Not the actual building, but the complete idiots that I find myself sharing the airport with.

These fools can’t wait to get off the plane as soon as the wheels touch down. However, as soon as the plane door is open then seem to slow down faster than someone who is dragging a club foot.

And why is it when they get to the travelator.. they stop walking? They’ve just spent hours sitting on their arses on the plane – and the 1st chance they get to have a walk, they hobble along at a snail’s pace and then stop walking all together as soon as they get the chance.

Last week – on the Emirates flight, some Italian buffoon thought it was totally acceptable behaviour to laugh at the top of his voice at some crap movie he was watching. I asked if I could move seats (the plane was pretty empty) as I didn’t know what was more annoying for the other passengers – Italian boy laughing or my constant yelling ‘will you shut the fuck up you wanker’.

And it’s not just the airport. I’ve noticed there is an increase in ‘bodies’ in Bangkok too. The skywalk is full of Chinese.. all doddering along. My fave restaurant is full of Chinese now. Sukhumvit road is full of Chinese and Middle-Eastern folk. Low season? I’ve never seen the streets so busy.

Honestly – I hate walking down Sukhumvit now. When I am not tripping over the Chinese or Arabs, I am having to walk in the road as some fat cow will be on the sidewalk troffing noodles next to a foodstall.

I’d take a cab – but they’re all shit too. If you are lucky enough for one to take to the place where he was going anyway, you still have to go through the meter negotiation and then suffer his crap music.

All this to get from T21 to Suk soi 4. Soi 4.. where do I start? It’s a craphole. Don’t get me wrong, many years ago, as far as I was concerned soi 4 was Bangkok. Everything I needed in one street. Beer, women, Laundry and Internet café all in a stone’s throw.

Not now. It’s full of undesirables, grumpy old men (is that me?) and Chinese tourists. It’s shit.

There was a time when I could forgive all the crap in the soi – because the roads were paved with hot girls. Now, the hottest girls are probably the ones that actually paved the roads.

Nope.. for me… Sukhumvit is a toilet.

That didn’t stop me heading out one night to meet up with Stickboy for a few shandies. More on that later.

Back in Hua Hin things are not much better. Lot’s of tourists/families around at the moment. That’s fine. More people for Miss Tim and I to laugh and poke fun at as we sit in the bar getting drunk.

So.. ALL BEER is 59bht? I’ll take it all then please.

We happened upon a new (to us) Indian restaurant the other night so thought we’d give it a go. The service staff were more miserable and grumpy than me. The food was average but what really pissed me off was the Thai Owner (I think) would come outside and sit at one of the empty tables and watch some crap on his phone with the volume up loud. Now, as much as I wanted to kick the phone up his arse, I know better than to upset the people who prepare my food.

Another couple didn’t though – and turned to him and had a go at the guy – who then went back inside – into the kitchen. Hmm…

So in the 10 days I was back in Thailand, it wasn’t much fun for me. I used to look forward to going there, but now I find myself thinking of other places I can go. Luckily next month we are off to the UK for a few weeks for a bit of normality.

Any ideas?

Carry on…..

From the QE2….

One gets very nostalgic when talking about the QE2.  Or even Concorde.  Iconic British (o.k, and French) superstructures and magnificent engineering feats and overwhelming luxury.  – (in the 80’s.)

You can’t fly on Concorde anymore – but you can stay on the QE2.   How so?

Well, a few months ago I heard a radio interview on the Emirates flight – and the discussion was the soon to be opened QE2 Hotel!   Wait… whaaaaat?

So right now – I am posting this from the QE2….

The UAE bought the QE2 back in 2007 and have been ‘fixing her up’ ever since.  Lot of changes internally but lots of the ships original features have been preserved.    The lounges, furniture, paintings, wall signs… lots and lots – as it was back in the day.   Except now it has wifi.

The QE2 doesn’t officially open until October.   However, the ‘soft’ opening was a few months ago.  Some of the rooms are available, not all.   Most of the restaurants and bars are not yet open.  Most shops are still under construction.    The view outside looks like a building site.   Probably why you can get a room for $60 per night.

The (cheap) rooms are pretty basic.   So are the deluxe rooms.   Personally, I prefer the Four Points.

Basic Room. Would go mad after a few hours.

The room service is virtually non-existent.  Some toasties and a muffin or something.  I did venture to the ‘Convenience Store’  – where they sold Instant Noodles and Curried Chicken Samosas.   Don’t expect prompt service though.  The cashier spent most of his time sitting at a table, playing with his phone.

I was hoping for a gift shop. Maybe buy a T-Shirt with the QE2 logo?  Nada.

The location isn’t great either.  Not much can be done about that really.   Need water.

The view….

Forget it if you think you can go for a little stroll into the town.  Or a shop or restaurant.

Just for show… no Gambling going on here…

One thing I found rather novel, is that all the novels from the QE2 library were kept – and can now be found in the lobby.

Not sure I’d stay long enough to read a whole book.

Four times per day – there is a (free) QE2 tour.   A little chap speaks of the history and takes us for a wander.   As most of the ship is not ready, we couldn’t see the good stuff – like the Bridge or the Engine room.   Just some old Ball Rooms, theatre and Casinos.  Pretty impressive for the 70’s.

View from the QE2

Out on deck,  well,  it was a bit grubby.  I do hope they give the old girl a good clean.  I can’t help but feel let down by the presentation.  This is the QE2 goddamnit!

Scrubbers needed.

If you want a quiet/romantic night on board – it’s perfect.  You’d not want to stay longer.  Not at the moment.   Once it’s properly up and running maybe.   Thing is – once you’ve spent a night or two on the ship, the novelty wears off.

The Queens Hall…

There will be Friday Brunches here after October – but I get the impression it’ll be a Family type of Brunch. I might give it a go.

Another one off the bucket list.

Speaking of lists…. here is one taken from the website.

A WORLD WITHIN REACH

• 224 refurbished rooms and suites
• An interactive exhibition on the QE2’s history
• Dubai skyline and oceanic views
• Five restaurant and nightlife venues
• A chic shopping arcade (coming soon)
• A spa (coming soon)
• Live entertainment, a theatre and cinema (coming soon)
• Concierge services
• Complimentary shuttle bus services (coming soon)
• Airport transfers

Even though I was unable to enjoy a fully opened QE2… it’s still pretty cool to be able to say I stayed here.

The biggest problem.. and I have no idea how to address this…. was that there was no ‘buzz’ factor.   Does that make sense?  I didn’t feel any excitement or atmosphere.

I remember being in the presence of Concorde when I was younger – and I was in awe.  I don’t know…. something is missing for sure.

Will I be back?  Maybe around Christmas time.

 

Update from the Himalayas!

A little update from (or near) Tibet.

No internet for a week. Madness.

The ride has been tough. Really tough. Landslides, river crossings, crashes, falling rocks etc… I feel beat to shit.

Almost over. Tomorrow I head to Dubai and Thailand the day after. Looking forward to a nice big fluffy towel and a hot bath.

Loads of great photos I’ll share when I am back to civilisation.

if you get a moment – lookup the most dangerous roads in the world – India.    You’ll see what I’ve been upto.

Getting high…

Off to the Himalayas!

If I had to list a 190 Countries that I want to visit – India wouldn’t be on there.

So its with mixed feelings that I find myself flying off to Delhi next week.

Why am I going?  Glad you asked.

I am off on a motorcycle tour over the Himalayas.  For a biker – it’s meant to be one of the best rides in the world with some of the most amazing sights you’ll ever see.

Two weeks on a Royal Enfield riding over the mountains at high altitude and staying in some kind of tent (I guess?)

Which way to Pattaya?

I’ve got around 10 motorcycles – .  I love my bikes.  Never once have I wanted to ride a Royal Enfield (crap) though.

So why am I going to a place I don’t want to, to ride a bike that I don’t like?

Well,  it’s me upholding my part of a deal with a couple of pals.  I wanted to do Route 66 – but as my pal is American,  he wanted to go somewhere outside the U.S.  So..  Himalayas this time and Route 66 on the next adventure.

For the past 6 months I have been sorting out my bike gear in the UK and have it all sorted away in Dubai – ready for my collection next weekend.

I have everything I need and more.  We’ll be riding on some of the most challenging and dangerous roads in the world.  I have full body armour, a good helmet, tool kit, 1st aid kit, alcohol wipes and much to my optimism, disposable toilet seat covers.  Yeah right.. like there will be toilet seats.  I very much doubt there will even be toilets?

My pals Russ (U.S) and Ian (UK) by their own admission are not the most experienced riders in the world.  In fact – I saw Russ on my scooter in Thailand last month and would swear he’s never ridden a bike before.  He didn’t go over 30kph.

So being the speed freak that I am,  rider of R1’s, Fireblade, Ducati 916 etc.. and having been riding for 38 years (I 1st bike when I was 5) – sods law says that I am the one  that will fall off.  Maybe ride off a cliff or into a rock?

Must be some action around here?

If the bike ride doesn’t kill me – then the dysentery and food-poisoning probably will.
(from some web-site)

Highlights on this trip:
The highest motorable pass in the world
The second highest motorable pass in the world
One of the “Most dangerous roads” of the world
(One of) The most beautiful mountain road in the world
Unique road trip through high Himalayas
Part of the original ancient Silk Road
Visit capital of India: Delhi
Visit capital of Ladakh: Leh
Visit Buddhist temples
Visit summer capital Srinagar

This is the road…..

In  few days I head to Dubai to hook up with my pals… have brunch and then head off to Delhi at the weekend.

It’s one of the most exciting adventures we’ll ever do… and I can’t say I am sharing the excitement of my pals

I am looking forward to is growing a beard though.

To the Philippines and beyond…..

(For a detailed account of what Angeles City is like… these old postings are spot on)

At last – made a trip to the Philippines after lots of whining from GM and Bubba…..

GM is a big noise at some Casino in Manilla.   For years he keeps saying I should pop over there for a weekend.  Thing is,  he seems to come to Bangkok most weekends, so there was little point?

After a lot of planning (abusive whatsapping) we came up with a plan.  Just so happens that GM was in Bangkok (again) so we both flew to Manila together.

The flight with Flip-Air was about 3000.    I usually fly with Emirates (work) and am fortunate enough to be able to use the Fast-Track route – and not have to queue with ‘other’ people.

However, I am no snob (really… I am not) – so was happy enough to queue with the peasants at immigration.    Is it me, or has anyone else noticed the Asians (Chinese this time) are rude little bastards when it comes to queuing?   As I moved forward one place, the person behind me didn’t fill the gap immediately – resulting in a little Chinese girl abandoning her queue and slot in behind me!  Amazing.  If I were the one behind, I’d have picked her up and thrown her across the hall to the back of the queue.  And I could have done it.  What gets me is… she was parallel to the queue she jumped into.  She probably only saved herself 30 seconds?  Odd.

When walking up the gangway onto the plane – again, we were over taken by some other Asians (Flips) who seemed to have a semi-sprint on to get to the plane.  I don’t get it.  It’s not like we were walking slow.  They just walked around us as we reached the plane door and had to queue.

It’s odd behaviour.  I would have loved to kick off.. call them all a bunch of idiots and even give a few (a lot) a slap.  But this wasn’t my Country.   Not my rules.   Instead, all GM and I could do is shake our heads and laugh at them.  Flips English is good – so I was hoping to offend one at least – so they would engage in an argument where I could at least beat them up verbally.  Nadda.

Nothing of interest about the fight or airport.  Usual.    Outside into a taxi pretty quick.  Same as Bangkok, it’s hit or miss getting a cab where the aircon works.   There was a little trickle of air but I am unsure if it was aircon or the driver farting.

Luckily the 1st hotel I was staying in is about 10mins from the airport.  The Golden Phoenix.  Sounds grand.  It isn’t.

The staff seemed uninterested – handed me a key-card and let me figure out for myself that I had to take the escalators to the second floor – then walk along a corridor to find the elevators.  Thanks.

The room was…. Well…   crap.   It was like a sauna when I opened the door.   Old room – quite long and a tiny little aircon in the corner.

It was only one night.. how bad can it be?

Quick freshen up – water stuffed in the fridge, aircon on to cool the room down and out I headed to meet GM before heading to Meklati – where all the action is.

Who needs aircon?

Action he says.    For some reason I was expecting something quite grand.  Something like Walking Street or Soi Cowboy.  The only connection I could make with Soi Cowboy – was that Meklati was like the Wild West.   Sleazy, dirty and grubby.

We trawled a few bars – meeting up with Bubba and Bruce (Aussie).  Bubba & Bruce live/work in Manila.

The 1st few bars we visited were pretty nondescript.   I was shocked that all the girls are mainly ‘plump’ and in need of a good orthodontist.  My only experience of Flip women – is the flips in Dubai.  The service staff, girls in the office, airport, restaurants etc.. all of whom seem rather pleasant.  I was expecting the Philippines to be filled with much of the same.  I was wrong.

It was apparent to me that if you are good looking, well presented and in shape – then you leave Manila.

The last bar we went to was a significant improvement.  Bruce and Bubba seem to be well known there and were getting all the attention.  It reminded me of me.. back in the day when I’d visit Pretty Lady with a fist full of dollars.   Times change….

I was the newbie here. Didn’t know the rules (although whoring is universal, I wasn’t there for that).

A few girls spoke with me – I was polite of course.  Drinks are very cheap so we bought some.  Then we were asked for more as the girls slammed each drink. Then they asked if we could buy the Mamasan, Pappasun and Daniel-sun a drink.. and then the waiter… and the door staff… the beggar on the street etc…  hmm.. sounds familiar?

We couldn’t get smashed – as we were heading to Angeles City the next day.

Time to call it a night.   Can’t say I was impressed.   But, it’s my 1st time there so I am not going to pass judgement so quickly.

Back to the sauna at a respectable time.   I slept under the aircon. It was still hot.

Couldn’t wait to check out the next morning.  After a long trek I managed to find the Reception.

Now, I travel a fair bit and have stayed in many hotels.  Many.  Many good and many bad.  After a while you get a feeling of what level of service to expect.    For example,  on check out I am used to the Receptionist to ask if my stay was o.k.  Do I need a receipt.  Would I like a taxi etc….

Not this place. Nope.  Nothing.  Apart from asking me for my credit card – there was no interaction whatsoever.  That’s the last time I’ll stay there.    When Agoda e-mails me asking if I’d recommend the phoenix hotel to a friend.. they’ll be getting a big fat NO.

Angeles City was the destination.   I’d say AC was the Pattaya of the Philippines

Well done to Bruce for sorting a minivan and not a shitty taxi..

The hotel (ABC) was a blast.   Everything you could ask for.    That is, if everything you asked for has an adult theme.

The receptionist was a pleasant and friendly girl.   Forget nettle juice and a cold towel, they gave us a welcome Tequila shot!

Hats off to GM – he took the Tequila (with me) – Bubba and Bruce declined.  I had no choice.. I am the artist formally known as Daywalker.  I had a reputation to protect.

I had chosen the best room they had available.  It had it’s own dancing pole, hot tub, sound system and a selection of litre bottles of booze.

The Suite…

We had planned to meet at the roof bar of the hotel in a few hours – to cash in on our free drink vouchers.

bring your kids….

The bar is very ‘adultish’.  There was some girl gyrating on a guy who was on a sunbed.   How rude.

After a few cocktails of pure sugar and a feed – off we headed into the night.

There is nothing I can really say, that hasn’t already been said.   The bars were average and the girls were below average.  What was fantastic though, was the price of drinks!   As the booze was so cheap, after a while we didn’t care about the place being a crap-hole.

Maybe I am being a bit hard on Angeles City, but I don’t like the amount of street beggars (kids), I don’t like the copious amounts of street vendors trying to sell me fake crap and I really didn’t like the amount of males trying to beckon me into a bar.

We hit many bars – none of which sticks in my mind.  The last bar we ended up at seemed to be the most popular.  Atlantis.   They had a group of pole dancers, coyote dancers, break dancers and ugly dancers.   Something for everyone.

I tipped the pole dancers as they actually put on a show worthy of Philippines Got Talent.  I noticed that no other customer offered any tips to any of the show-girls.  I guess they were saving their money for their next Hyundai.

Anyway, when I offered them a tip – they were all extremely appreciative and all left the stage and joined GM and myself for a drink.  They were a good friendly bunch.   I assume they were all P4P – but that wasn’t discussed.  I was genuinely impressed with their pole dancing abilities!

GM and I drank well into the night – making us drunk and hungry.  Time to hit the road via a food house.  I can’t be sure – but I think I may have thrown up?  Time for food.

Joliebee!  Is a popular (I assume that because they’re everywhere) chicken place.  Off we stopped for a bucket of chicken. Each.

Having ordered some chicken – and being told to wait 15 mins for it (I guess they didn’t plan ahead – knowing people would come into a chicken house and ask for chicken?).  While sitting there with GM, we noticed a little Security Guard darting all over the place.   He was wiping down tables,  moved some chairs around,  bagged up a load of buckets for customers and was generally doing whatever it was he could do to help.   This guy also had a gun.  What a fantastic worker!  This guy couldn’t do enough and it was fascinating to watch him.

It did however get us wondering if he was employed a general assistant – and told he is also the Security Guard,  or was he taken on as a Security Guard and told to help out serving Chicken?

The reason I wonder – is because I’d like to think that Armed Security Guards would undergo some sort of firearms training.  And I don’t just mean point it and squeeze.  Before pulling the trigger on your ‘piece’ and unloading your magazine clip – there are many things you have to analyse. I am not going to claim I know all there is – but I do know you have to conduct a risk assessment.  So I am hoping this guy has had training – and isn’t just a cleaner with a gun who will shoot you if you don’t clear up after yourself.

We staggered back to the hotel   Bubba and Bruce had long since gone.  Once again GM and I were the last men standing.

The plan was to meet at 11(ish) for breakfast……

To be continued…

At last.. a Hotel I like!

Last month when travelling through Bangers I stayed at the SM Grand.  Never again.  What a crap hole.   When I left, my driver pointed out the Citrus hotel on soi 6.. informing me it was a new hotel.

Within 5 minutes of frantically tapping on my iPhone app…  I had booked a room there for the following week when I would once again be travelling through Bangkok (in the way to the Philippines)

Who doesn’t like a new hotel?    Everything works, the TV is not the size of a washing machine, the power sockets take USB’s, the wifi works and the knobs on the toasters are still in place.  Yes, we like new hotels.

The Citrus was (for me) perfect.   I didn’t have to fill out loads of forms or wrestle with the porter to take my bag.    The staff were all still under the influence of a ‘new fresh atmosphere’ that a new business has.  They were all keen and enthusiastic.  Long may it continue.

The room was surprisingly good too.  Decent size – everything was new of course, so it’s expected to be nice and new looking.

There are hotels which you plan only to be in while you sleep for 8 hours – so all you want/need is a clean room with a bed, aircon and a fridge – and there are hotels where you will spend some of your waking day in – so you want a nice environment.   For me, I do enjoy kicking back in a (nice) hotel, ordering up some room service, watching a movie and surfing the odd website.  That’s how I relax.

The Citrus was suite was perfect for that.   No need to describe it – you can see by the pictures.

Everything you could want – it’s there.

The staff were great.   The breakfast was surprisingly good.   Usually the buffet breakfasts are just a load of cheap crap – but this was different.  A large selection of all the usual breakfasty type stuff, but cooked eggs/omelettes were cooked to order.  Perfect.

Again, pleasant kitchen/dining staff.

This is now my fave hotel.  O.k, so it’s not the Landmark or the Marriott, but it’s not the price of those.

We had only one night there – but will certainly spend more time there next month for sure.

If I had to think of one thing I didn’t like about it?  Hmm….  I’d say it was the other guests.  Every hotel has them… the assholes that don’t respect the meal times.

Breakfast is something like 07:00-10:30.    We were checking out at 11am and could see some ‘Asians’ still turning up, sitting down and keeping the staff from clearing everything away.

Why does it bother me?  Well,  I am thinking of the Staff.  They have many things to do.  We would complain if they didn’t open the restaurant on time, so why should we delay them in closing?  Some people are just ignorant assholes.

At check-out, I was asked if I needed a taxi.  I did.  I told them I wanted to go to the airport – but didn’t want a scumbag taxi off the street.  For some reason each time I flag down a taxi,  after HE has decided he will take me to where I want to go, having argued with him to use the meter and then listen to him telling me about how he needs a tip,  I then have to negotiate with him to put on the aircon and turn down his crap music.  That’s assuming the cannon he is using as an exhaust isn’t drowning it out.   No….   I’d rather pay a few quid more to ensure safe passage to my next destination.

I asked the hotel for a car to get me to the airport.   They said it would be 400bht.  PERFECT!

A new Toyota pulled up 5 mins later.  It was spotless inside, the driver never said a word for the whole journey apart from ‘thank-you’ when he dropped me off and I gave him 500.

So ignoring the breakfast douches… the hotel stay was great and I thoroughly recommend staying there!

Next stop… the Philippines…..

Settled in… now time to get back to work.

Another month flies by… so what’s been happening?  What is currently pleasing me and what is pissing me off?

First of all, it’s now been over a month in the new house and all is well.   Internet / TV all works as it should.  Aircons nice and cool, the cats have identified the furniture where scratching will do the most damage and the gardeners have made it known that they shall be in the garden most days for no reason that I can understand.

I no longer have a pool.  This was by choice.  I wanted to down-size.  The last house was rather big and cost a lot to run – and considering I am only physically in the house for around 4 months per year – I thought I’d do the sensible thing and get a house more suitable (cheaper) which meets my needs.

The new house has a communal pool and a gym – which is pretty good.  We also get to see people in the day – walking around, walking dogs and generally going about their business.  The little ‘hood’ seems a friendly bunch and we must get around 6-10 ‘Good Mornings’ as we sit out the front having a coffee in the morning.   Am I pleased?   Yes I am.  Good job Miss Tim in sorting all that for me!

What I am not too pleased about it the Letting Agent.  Star Property.  Not only have they failed to retrieve our Deposit on the last house – they are also ignoring my e-mails.    Miss Tim doesn’t share my anger – as ‘This is Thailand’.   Which means we have to accept incompetence?

It’s about 7km into the town centre of Hua Hin – which isn’t too bad.  A tuk-tuk costs us 250bht each evening we go out and have a few drinks – which is most nights.

After 5 years, we still like Hua Hin.  We have our regular restaurants and bars.  We have our lunchspots, parking spots and hiding places.

One of the bars we have recently been visiting is Father Teds.  A bar that we have over looked for many years because of our 1st visit (5 years ago) saw us being seated in a crappy stool upstairs with crap service.  That was a long time ago and our latest experience is much better.    So much better that we must visit at least 4 times a week now on our nights out in the town.

The food is fantastic, the prices are really good and the fit-out of the bar is so much better than the other bars of Hua Hin.   My only complaint (and there was always going to be one) would be some of the staff are useless.

What really pisses me off when eating is that as soon as I put my knife and fork on my plate – showing that I have finished, the staff come and grab it and clear my place.   Even though other people at the table may still be eating.   This pisses me off.. as Miss Tim and I often share food.  So just because my plate is empty, it doesn’t mean I am done eating.

But also,  if they clear my plate away – that means I am now left looking at the person still eating.  This makes them uncomfy.  Can you imagine 4 people at a table watching you eat?

Thai’s are not fast eaters.    So more often than not, Miss Tim is sitting at the table, stuffing her face while we all watch.   I don’t like it.   I now make a point of telling the service people to leave my plate alone.

As we were impressed with the food – we thought we’d give the breakfast a go.   As the board says breakfast is available from 9am.  By the time we got there – it was 09:56.  When we arrived, there was a service guy outside wiping down tables.   We walked in only to be told they don’t open until 10am and to come back later?!!

Breakfast starts when?

Now,  if he had just pointed at a table for us to sit at – by the time we had settled in – it would have been 10am.     But, as he just said to come back later – even though we were standing next to the sign that says breakfast from 9am, we walked off and found another place.  I should not have to plead with people to spend my money at their place.

However, this is the Thai staff.  I have come to learn to expect this (and less).  There is an Irish chap there in the evenings (Owner or Manager) who always makes a point of saying hello/good bye and gives us a smile.   Pity the Thai staff doesn’t have the same attitude?

We did visit a  new (to us ) bar called ‘East’.  A rooftop bar.   It sounds better than it is – as the view is mainly a bunch of tree-tops.  You can just about see the sea – but it’s nothing of interest.  They have made an effort to be a bit trendy I guess – so we gave it a go and hit the cocktails.  Can’t remember how much they were?  I think around 350bht but I could be wrong.   Can’t say we enjoyed them.  They were just coloured sugar water.

These sugary drinks have removed more teeth than Mike Tyson

Another favourite of ours is the Tapas Bar ‘Cool Breeze’.   Really good food and amazing bread.  The (Thai) staff always mess up an order or two (to be expected) but again, the Brit Owner/Manager more than makes up for it by coming over and saying hello – and always thanking us and shaking my hand when we leave.  Real good service.  In my old age, I have come to appreciate good service.

Speaking of Service…   I have asked Miss Tim to take the PCX in for a service.  This time I have asked her to get details of what they do in this ‘service’.    We take the bike in every 3 or 4 months for (as Miss Tim calls it) a ‘check-up’.    This check-up/Service seems to only take them about 20 minutes so I am not exactly sure how much they are really doing?

As I said the other day – I can hear a difference in the engine.  It could be the rings on their way out and I can definitely hear some worn bearings.  For sure,  there is a problem.  A trained ear should be able to identify it straight away.  So I have told Miss Tim to have them give it a thorough check.  If they say it is fine – then I shall go to the shop next door and buy a new bike – having made sure I tell them they are a bunch of incompetent idiots.   If they can identify the problem then I shall let them fix it.

Hopefully they can fix it – as Miss Tims parents’ house is getting full up with old  bikes we keep giving them each time we buy a new one.

Recently I have been over to the Philippines and Pattaya.  Had a good time.  I’ll pen down anything that may be of interest over the next week.

I have also found an absolutely fantastic hotel…..  must be the best one yet……

Carry on….

 

 

Frustrated in Hua Hin

Still waiting on the house deposit.   The Agent has informed us that filling/painting the drilled holes in the wall which mounted the TV will cost 2500.  That’s fine.  They will prepare an invoice for us.  That’s fine.

I am interested to see if they actually give us the invoice and expect us to pay that before we are given the 40k+ deposit.    I almost hope they do – so I can go nuts at them.

It’s been a month since we moved out of the old house.  Each time we ask the Agent, they say they’ll ask the Landlord.  I have repeatedly told Miss Tim to TELL the Agent that we want our deposit back.   I have a tin of paint and a bottle of fairy liquid waiting just waiting to be chucked in the swimming pool if they refuse.

Hua Hin is pretty quiet at the moment.  Rainy season seems to be upon us.  Can’t say I am impressed.  Luckily I am off to work next week.

Last week I headed over to the Philippines to see GM.  Good time.  I shall write up a report when I can piece it all together.

Tomorrow, I am heading over to Pattaya for the night.  Ferry booked tomorrow afternoon, returning on Saturday afternoon.   A one-night blow out.  Can’t get into too much trouble in 1 night surely.

In Hua Hin – with the weather being a bit cooler – Miss Tim and I have taken to early morning cycling.    There is a nice little Bakery down the road – about 10km away.   The idea is to set off at 7am (it opens at 8am)  – get some fresh bread and come home and have coffee and french bread (bacon butty) on the veranda.

As we were making good time – Miss Tim suggested we took a side road for a bit more of a ride.  Bastard road went 20km before joining a main road.

Eventually when we got to the main road – there is a very nice cycle path which runs for miles alongside the main road.  Plenty of signs that say ‘Cycles Only’.  It’s safe and smooth.

Of course, this is Thailand.  So this Cycle Only path is full of asshole Thai’s on their motorbikes.  This really made me angry – so I made sure I got in their way.  I then hurled abuse at them, pointing at the Cycle Only signs.   What good did that do?  None.

Miss Tim doesn’t see what my problem is.  I tried to explain that as a motorbike can ride along a cycle path, then is a bloody great lorry also acceptable?

After an hour of failing to get anyone of these assholes to engage in some unarmed combat – we reached the Bakery.   It was closed.   Of course it was.  It was a Wednesday.  Just because the website says it’s open at 8am every day, and the sign on the door says it’s open every day – who are we to assume it’d be open?

Off home we went.  Just under 40km clocked up.  No bread and pent up anger for these assholes riding their motorcycles on the cycle path.   I often hear people just say ‘this is Thailand’ – but I don’t think ‘TIT’ is an acceptable excuse for being an idiot.

Not much else on the agenda until I go back to work (via Dubai) next week.  Except for trading one of the bikes in.    Five years ago we purchased a new PCX150.  Great little bike which has never let us down.  It’s now got 17000km on the clock at gets serviced every 3 months.  Not sure what their ‘service’ involves – as they seem to do it in 15 minutes, so I just assume they squirt oil on the right bits.

5 years of my ownership – and it’s better condition that 1 year of Thai ownership.

The PCX is still in fantastic condition.  Why trade it in?  Well,  I can hear things.  Worn rings, things knocking and blowing.   It’s not the quiet sewing machine sounding engine it once was.   I could just have the engine re-built.  If I had the tools and could be bothered, I’d do it myself.  But I don’t.   As for putting it in a shop here, well, I just don’t have the confidence in these people.   That just leaves trading it in for a new machine.

The way I see it, a new bike versus another weekend in Angeles City…. hmmm.. it’s a close one…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home sweet home.

It’s been a week since I arrived at the new crib.  Smaller than the last – but less expensive too.  This complex has a massive pool and gym.  It also has a security gate which is manned properly instead one old boy who just eats all the time.

I am hoping this will be my last house move – until I make the final move back to the UK.  I have been thinking about the move back for some time now.

The new house isn’t bad.   Miss Tim did well to move all our shit.    All that’s left it to get the 40k deposit back from the old Landlord.  Not an easy task.   It should be as simple as the Agent doing a survey of the house, seeing if there is any damage – and deducting the cost of repair from the deposit.

As we are not scumbags, there is no damage.  Apart from a couple of holes drilled in the wall for the TV – it’s pretty much how it was when we moved in.

Of course, I expect to hear tales of how doors were hanging off hinges, leather sofas ripped, mattresses soiled and taps missing.    None of that will be true.

Take off some money for a cleaning company to give a good clean and a handyman to touch-up a few holes and repaint – and I think 5,000 would be a fair number.

By the time someone is ready to rent it again, it would need another thorough clean anyway.   The Landlord has 4 of these houses in a row – and only one tenant. I expect it will be gathering dust for a while.

In a ‘normal’ Country, the Letting Agent would hold onto the deposit.  Part of their responsibility would be to manage these things.   Not here.  Not Dubai either.  It’s pretty much upto the Landlord if they decide to return the deposit or not.

The Letting Agents don’t seem to have any influence or offer much support.

However, if this Landlord doesn’t return the best part of my deposit, I may just have to use the spare key that I have.

I may just have to remove the TV.   I may just have to remove the fridge too.  Or I may just have to accidentally pour a tin of black paint into the pool along with a bottle of Fairy Liquid.

Who knows?

The Agent told Miss Tim that we are to wait until the end of the month to receive word on our deposit.

Tick-tock……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in Thailand….

Dubai was a disaster.  When I last wrote – my plan was to spend the rest of the day/night crying into my pillow.   As it turns out… I’d be crying the next day.  In pain.  On the plane.

Sitting in my hotel room, my pal called and said there is a Brunch happening at McGettigans Irish bar.  Wahoo!   So off I went.

McGettigans during Ramadan must be the worst Brunch out there.  The food was absolute crap with less selection than the Sizzlers salad bar.   Still, we were not there for the food.   We had several hours of boozing ahead.  It had been after all, a month since my last drink.

I’d be lying if I said I could recall all the events of that evening/night.   Being off the grogg for a month had an effect as I got drunk.  Badly.   I have no recollection of where I ended up – except at some point during the night I did manage to find my way back to my hotel room.

The hotel room which I received a phone call at 6am, telling me my Emirates Chauffeur was downstairs waiting for me!  Thank goodness I booked one, as I’d have been asleep until house-keeping hoofed me out.

Luckily I had packed the previous day.  What else did I have to do?   When the phone woke me – I didn’t have a clue where I was.  I was fully dressed.  My head was pounding.   I ran to the toilet to throw up – which was already full from last nights/this mornings vomit.  It wasn’t nice.

No time for a shower.  Quick splash, clean the toothy-pegs,  throw on some Brut and get the hell out of there.

The drive to the airport was bad.  I wanted to puke.  The sun was burning my eyes.  My pockets were completely empty of all cash.  I have no idea why, or how I got home.  I can only assume I tipped my cab driver a few hundred bucks?

At the airport – the poor bastard held out his hand, wanting a tip for driving me to the airport.  Normally I would, but I had no cash on me.  Then again, the ride is factored into the price of a Business Class ticket – and it’s not like he has a bad job, driving around in a BMW all day.  Sod him.

Before I could check in – I had to make a b-line for the toilets.  Once again, I had to throw up.  I sat there, in a mess, on the floor, wondering how I could possibly postpone the flight and find somewhere to sleep it off.

I pulled myself together, stuck my face under the tap and tried to clean off  puke-splash from my shirt.

I found a corner in the lounge and guzzled 3 bottles of cold water.  Never more than 1 minute from the toilets.

On the plane, the lovely Cabin Crew lady saw that I looked like a sack of shit.  She asked if I was o.k – to which I responded with “brunch”….   she knew.   All Emirates girls (and boys) know about the Dubai Brunches.  She took pity on me and brought me some pills and cold water.  What an Angel.

As soon as we were in the air, the seat was reclined, the mattress was laid out and I fell asleep, crying into my pillow.

I slept pretty much the whole flight.   Bangkok airport was pretty quiet and I was in the next Emirates car within 45 mins of touch-down.

Straight to soi 4……

I have found a few decent hotels which I like now… but that didn’t stop me being an idiot and trying something new.   This time I booked a Suite at SM Grande.   It was 3000 per night which I thought sounded reasonable.

I didn’t have any small cash on me.. just airport ATM fresh 1000’s.  I usually tip the Emirates driver a few hundred, but as I had nothing small, and the car ride is all included in the price of the ticket – sod him.  He’s Thai, driving around in a Benz all day.  Life aint that bad for him.

SM Grande – What a shit-hole!  I can only assume the current owners are just trying to get as much money out of the place – and are not reinvesting a penny.  It’s old.  The furniture is old and knackered.  The aircon in the bedroom pumped out hot air, the wifi didn’t work, there was hair in the bath and the 28” TV was the same size as a washing machine.

Don’t be tempted by Suites.

The weirdo neighbor next door for some bizarre reason would leave his hotel room door open all day while he sat in there with some skank listening to crap music.   Each time I left my room – I closed his door.   Looking back, I should have walked in and called him a fucking asshole.  Next time.

I arrived late Saturday night and just couldn’t be bothered to go anywhere.  The lounge was cold so I just kicked back with some food and watched the Washing Machine.

Sunday was a meet-up with PRP.  He has been traveling Oz for the last 3 months, so I went to meet him at No Idea for lunch.  No one word about Oz was spoken. Just tales of what he’s been upto since he’s been back.    Twins, Cowboy, Soi 33 etc….

It wasn’t long before we were in full drinking mode.   Too Easy Bar, Top Secret, Foxy’s and various others.

It had been a month.  Can’t say I was overwhelmed to be back.  If anything, it was a little disappointing.  Yeah, it was good to catch up with the lads, but the old skanks in the bars just don’t really get me excited anymore.

By midnight, everyone feeling drunk, I was glad when it was decided we’d call it a night.

I was happy that it was my last night in the craphole that is SM Grande and the next day I would be heading home to Hua Hin.

Miss Tim had moved us into our new home.  Hopefully all my shit made its way to the new house – and I won’t be seeing Motor-cy taxi drivers wearing my sneakers over the next few months.

A Cry from Dubai

Another 28 days in the bag. Office keys handed over to my back-to-back (the guy who shares my job with me) and off I go.

But go where?

As always, the first drink I have after 28 days of clean living is a glass of Champagne on the plane leaving work. Usually I like to stop over in Dubai for a few days to catch up with some pals and visit some places that I took a shine to when I was living here. Right now, ‘here’ is currently in the Four Points Hotel on Sheik Zayed Road. The rooftop bar is a great chill-out place at night with a fantastic view of the Dubai Skyline. I stayed in the hotel next door for over a month when I first moved here in 2015. I know the area. I feel at ease here.

Fridays are Brunch days – all the booze/food you can sling down your neck for what (in Dubai) is a reasonable price. Everyone gets wasted and has a great time.

So it’s safe to say – I look forward to my time here.

Thing is… it’s now day 2 of Ramadan. Doh. When booking my flights/hotels – I completely forgot about the Holy month. It’s not something I understand if I am honest, but each to their own.

No brunch, no live music.. and for me… not much fun. Instead, I have resigned myself to having a few days relaxing around the hotel… take a little walk maybe? More likely I will spend the next few days crying into my pillow.

This is my first stay at the Four Points. So far I am not impressed. I arrived last night – having booked my non-smoking room with a city view. At check-in, I was asked if I wanted smoking or non-smoking. After that I was asked if I wanted the City view or the Barron Land view. Odd. What was the point in booking all this online?

The view at 7am. Bored with that now.

It was 8 pm so I thought I’d see what the room service has to offer. After searching through the 10 leaflets of promotions, recommendations and club membership offers, I called down to room service and asked where the menu is. “It’s right next to the phone Sir” – the Filipino girl said. Really? You think I would not have seen that as I picked the phone up?

After convincing her there was no menu in the room, she said she’d have one sent up. Half an hour later it arrived. Food ordered – which was another half an hour.

Another problem with this hotel room is there is no room to put the dinner tray. The desk is fill up with an over-sized lamp, internet cable (who uses them?) and a box fill of leaflets.

Again, not impressed.

Now, this is a four-star hotel. For the price of this small hotel room – I could (and often do) get a very nice suite in Bangkok.

One of the things I like in nice hotels is the toiletries. I don’t like having to cart a toiletries bag when I travel – as I mainly have carry-on luggage and the airports that I travel through confiscate most liquids – no matter what the size. So the little toiletries in the hotel bathrooms are very useful to me.

This one however – is not. No toothbrush (good job I never travel without one) and no shaving kit. Instead, there is a sanitary pad, shower cap and make-up remover sponge thing? The three items that I have never needed. Well, maybe the makeup remover. Ever shaved your head using shower get mixed with shampoo? No great. Not great at all.

So far it’s not going well. I’ve called round the lads to see if there is any action to be found. Luckily my pal has a place on the Palm – overlooking a bunch of Yachts. If nothing else, I guess a few drinks looking at how the other half live will do.

Tomorrow I am heading to Bangkok. I have 2 nights there. I have a suite booked – so am looking forward to the complimentary shaving kit.

Killing time, avoiding Songkran and catching up with Jonas

As much as I like Thailand – I love the UK. Wasn’t always like this. But now I have come to learn to appreciate my homeland.

The cold weather? Love it. The dark mornings/evenings in winter? Love it. Springtime? Love it all.

So I welcome the opportunity to get back to the UK when I can. I usually make 3 or 4 trips per year.

Miss Tim joins me for the Summer and Christmas visits. Any other time and I am a lone traveller.

She doesn’t understand why I like the UK, and doesn’t understand why I like visiting if I have no reason to go there.   ‘What do you do there” she often asks?

Well,  I have a fairly decent set-up in the UK.  I am a bit of a petrol head, so like to spend time in my man-cave. One week at a time should just about do it.  Spending a month in Thailand at a time just makes me frustrated and angry.  I need to get back to civilisation every now and then.

So, a few weeks back I popped back to the UK for the old mans B’day – and to collect a load of motorbike gear for my Motorcycling tour over the Himalayas in a few months.

While I was in the UK, the timing was perfect for Jonas to pop over from Sweden for the weekend.

My place in the UK is in Norwich. I am not from there – but I ended up there somehow. I like Norwich. It’s a nice place. I have a very cool, Riverside apartment. It’s right next to a huge pub, cinema, bowling ally, restaurants etc.. it’s the number 1 place to live in Norwich. Not too shabby for Graham.

Home sweet home…

Norwich city is a nice, clean place.  People are friendly and there are plenty of bars and restaurants.

I picked Jonas up at an airport late on Thursday night and brought him home via a kebab house. We LOVE kebabs.  Probably the most unhealthiest food on the planet – there is just something about it.  Mostly enjoyed when you’re drunk of course.

If only they had these in Hua Hin

Why is it I have not seen these in Thailand?  I’ve seen that horrid beef wrap/shwarma shite.. but never a proper Doner kebab.   Maybe that could be my next little project?  The Mango Doner?

Friday morning we headed over to my man cave to swap over some cars and move some stuff around. Jonas likes the man cave. I can spend hours in here – cleaning bikes which are already clean.  I wish I could have a collection in Hua Hin – but the roads are shite and every other driver on the road can’t drive for shit.   One day, when I return to the UK for good, I shall be able to enjoy my toys.

The man-cave.  This is half of the collection.

By lunch time we hit the streets of Norwich and visited as many bars as possible. The trend at the moment seems to be ‘Cocktail Bars’. And why not?  A cocktail afternoon it was then.

It was good to have a drink with Jonas.   He is doing good in Sweden. Has a good job, his Thai girlfriend is now living there – with Jonas and his kid.   Life is pretty good (normal) – and he has no regrets of leaving Thailand.  Yeah he misses some things.  All of which can be sorted with a holiday which may come next year?

Gangsta-Cocktails?

Around 7pm – we jumped on a train for the 30 min journey to a little sea-side town to visit a pal and continued drinking with him. Several drinks later we were pretty hammered from the days drinking.

We had consumed quite a bit.  The UK booze is cheaper than Swedish booze, so Jonas felt like it was his duty to drink more.  Of course, we all know what happens to Jonas when he goes drinking.

Next to the train-station – Is a kebab house. Well, it’d be rude not to right?

Jonas…. nuff said

Saturday morning… after Jonas finished throwing up – we headed into the city again for more cocktails.

One of the bars we came across is an America style Sportsbar. It looked great. TV’s all over the place. For us – the owner of this bar absolutely nailed it.

The walls had some pretty cool artwork on them too. It’s very refreshing to go to a bar done properly.

(have to say, I am impressed with the Camera on my iPhone X)

We hopped from bar to bar pretty much all day – with the intention of hitting the table dancing club later that night. Feeling pretty drunk we headed back to the crib for a little nap, ready for the evenings shenanigans.

Top tip.. NEVER GO FOR A LITTLE NAP if you are heading out later! At 7pm.. we had a little doze on the sofa. When we woke up around 10pm.. we were grumpy and a little hungover. We got our shit together and made the effort to get out.

Just 15 mins and I’ll be ready.

Heading into the city.. it was drizzling with rain. The feeling of heading out and getting (more) drunk had passed.

I felt nothing short of relief when Jonas suggested we just got some food and head back home! That we did.

Sunday morning was an improvement on Saturday morning – as Jonas was not throwing up. He slept good.

A bit of a lazy morning.. lying on the sofa watching Cop shows on TV. I swear that if there were not a height restriction back in the day – I’d have been a cop. Obviously a traffic cop, driving around really fast and chasing baddies. That’s all they do anyway right?

Out for a spot of lunch and it was time to take Jonas back to the airport.

A good relaxing weekend. Some drinks and some good food. I guess this is a far cry from what we are used to (in Bangkok) but still a good time none the less. We spend most of the time in the bar – laughing and reminiscing over our previous escapades in Thailand.

With Jonas gone – it was back to the crib for me. No more kebabs.  – it was also a good chance to give the crib an airing.  Jonas + booze + kebabs = a very stinky toilet.

After spending the morning cleaning the remains of Jonas from the bathroom, covering up everything my  crib with dust-sheets and turning everything off – I headed off out the UK again.

Being a little savvy on flight times – I was sure that a morning flight to Dubai would be quiet. Not sure why? Maybe people don’t like getting up early?

I didn’t bother upgrading myself – instead I chose to save my air-miles for a better occasion. Flying Economy can be o.k in certain situations.  If the flight is not full then a few empty seats puts distance between you and the scumbags.

My assumptions were correct.- the plane was half empty. I had a row of 3 seats all to myself. For me – this is the equivalent of a Business seat. For a fraction of the money.

Dubai was a business lunch with the team. Best behaviour.

Another night in Dubai

I’ve stayed in many hotels in Dubai – they’re all pretty much the same.  My fave at the moment is the Four Points Downtown.  A couple hundred bucks a night – but well worth it for the view at night.

Saturday was time to head back to Thailand. Songkran was coming to an end so I would have missed all the stupidity.

Once again – the flight was empty. I guess no one travels to Thailand for the end of Songkran? And when I say empty… I mean there were less than 30 people. At first I thought I had missed the flight as the departure gate was empty.

On the plane – the cabin crew just said to go sit where we want. Amazing.

Breezed through immigration and was home by midnight.

Miss Tim was back home with her family for Songkran and would be home in the afternoon. I was free!

I purposely went away for Songkran.  I am not a fan.  I just arrived back in Thailand on the last day when all the stupidity had come to an end.  Phew

Sunday saw me head into town to the Irish bar to watch the F1.  Really good (pub) food. The owner is useless though. He just sits there playing on the computer while his 2 staff scramble around trying to serve a full bar.

Probably the busiest I have seen the bar in a long time (during the day). Full of guys watching the Rugby and the F1. All drinking beer and eating food.

It amazes me why this bar has no aircon on during the day? Instead the doors are open and the place is a sweat box. Full of flies too. Why not close the doors and stop the heat coming IN! Put the fans on as a minimum. I can understand he is probably trying to save on cost – but with a bar full of people – there is justification to turn on the AC’s.

It took more than 15 mins to get served. It wasn’t the service girls fault – she was run off her feet.

Even though I had to wait a long time,  I went over to the service girl when I left – and gave here a few hundred baht tip.  She was shocked.  I said that she deserved a tip as she had not stopped running around, taking orders, serving drinks and carrying food.  All on her own.  I don’t recall any of the customers giving her a please or thank-you when I was there.  All they did was raise an empty glass in the air and point to it.  Tossers.

With the F1 over and a belly full of food – time to leave the tossers and head home.  I was still worried there were buckets of water waiting to be thrown at unsuspecting people like me.   Many cars were still covered in white power from Songkran but thankfully it was all done and dusted.

The plan was to have a few relaxing days at home – and then head back to work.  All was going to plan until Miss Tim presented a pile of empty boxes and asked me to pack all my shit ready for the move in a few weeks.

Damn.. I thought I would have escaped that.

After my month at work – I shall be stopping off in Dubai for a few days.  I messed up (again) as it will be Ramadan – so not as lively as it should be.

From there, I’ll be heading to Bangkok for a few days and then back to HH and straight to the new house.

I am hoping Miss Tim would have everything unpacked and settled by then.  Time for me to just kick back to the month and do nothing.

That’s the plan anyway.   But plans change……

 

On the move again…..

We looked at a house the other month. The photos looked great. Real nice and relaxing.

A bit of me that….

When I went to view it – I was shocked. They had obviously used photoshop to make it look appealing. The whole area is a building site. There was no road to get to the house – just a muddy/dusty path. Not impressed. Not impressed at all.

What will that be like during rainy season?

Real Estate agents here are stupid. Why do they waste so much time and money – showing people houses which are nothing like the houses advertised? Do they think people will accept something which clearly is not as described?

Building site view

Who is paying the bill for the Agent to show me around? The fuel, the car, the insurance, phone calls and the physical time? Who pays for that? How can they expect to cover these costs when showing people houses which they are not expecting to see.

The house we currently have is showing it’s age. The paint is falling off all the walls around the pool/garden. It’s not something I like to look at.

Two of the three bedrooms are not used – except for somewhere for Miss Tim to put her clothes and shoes.

I want to down-size. Two bedrooms and no pool. I am fed up with the pool cleaners / gardeners in the garden more than I am. I am the only one that uses the pool – so I think it’s a waste. If there is a 2 bed house with a Communal pool then I’d be happy.

So.. we asked the Agent…. Two beds and no pool. Easy right?

Not long after, we got a call about a house… 5 beds and massive pool. What is it I am doing wrong?

The houses which the Agent gave us info on were all rubbish. Honestly, I don’t know how these people are in business. This sub-standard would not be acceptable in the UK that’s for sure.

I took it upon myself to find a place. An hour later I found it.

New(ish) house. three beds (2 beds and 1 office). Communal pool which is a 30 second walk and also has a gym/club house.

Rent was not a lot which is also a bonus.

TAKE MY MONEY!!

Deal done 10 mins after I saw the house.

Had to handover 2 months deposit because we have cats.  As we all know, it’s rare to ever get a deposit back, so I was not happy about this.  Having said that, my cats are little bastards and will probably wreck the place.

They’re ready to wreck the new house.

Looking forward to next month when I can sit in the Jacuzzi with my ice-coffee and kick back for the month.