My Unlucky Streak…….

I am writing this on the go – as I’ve not had any time to just sit and chill out for a while.

When I left work and arrived in Hua Hin,  I sulked for a week as it pissed down with rain.

I went off to Pattaya for a weekend (with GM) – and it rained.   My return ferry trip to Hua Hin was cancelled a few hours before departure with only 40% refund given (more on that later).

Off to the UK – which had been planned for a while.   I had a lot of things to do with my cars and bikes.    I bought a Lotus Esprit Turbo for my b’day and had a light restoration done on it.   It was time to pick it up.   I also bought a motorcycle which needed collecting from the shop and booked my Harley and Ducati 916 in for a service too.  Lots to do, little time to do it.  I planned, organised and arranged everything down to the specific hour.  Planned for months.

Why did I bother?   The Lotus wasn’t finished.   Won’t be for another week.  The motorcycle wasn’t ready – won’t be for another week.    The Harley shop was closed on the day I took it in and when I called the owner, he informed me he had forgotten and was away for a few days!

The Ducati was given a fresh bill of health and I had a ride planned with a pal.   I even ordered a bright yellow Ducati Leather Jacket to wear so I looked the part.

All was going well for about half an hour – and 1) the fuel cap vibrated lose and covered me in petrol (I only noticed when my balls were stinging) and 2) the poxy thing broke down.  Battery dead and not charging.  So that cost a few bucks to get recovered back to my garage.

The next day my Jacket arrived… 3 days after it should have been.

Nothing.  NOTHING has gone right so far.

You thought I was miserable in Hua Hin?  Well that’s nothing to compared to my misery here in the UK at the moment.

At least the weather is good.

Miss Tim and I have managed to go for a ride on my new KTM for a few hours – and today we’re off to London with the roof down to go drinking along the River Thames.

We’re out of here on Sunday.   I am not looking forward to getting back to Hua Hin, but more so I am looking forward to getting back to work.

It’s a sad state of affairs when you have a better time at work than you do on your time off.

I am putting this all down to one bad month off.  The next one will be better.  I am off to Angeles City in November.   Surely I can find some happiness there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soi 4 with Stickboy

Gone are the days where I get excited about soi 4.  O.K, it may have taken 10 years, but we all knew it’d happen eventually.

For me the appeal went when all the fun went.

The people are different.  I don’t want to hang out in a place over-run with Middle-eastern folk.  They are not fun to be around.

And I don’t particularly like spending time in bars which is full of old hags trying to ponce drinks off you.  No,  soi 4 has changed (for me) and it’s not a place I enjoy like I used to.  It would take a special occasion for me to show my face.

That said, the opportunity arose to embark on a drinking session with Stickboy.  Stickboy and I have crossed paths on the odd occasion before, we know many of the same people – and share a lot in common when it comes to a night out.   Yep,  I’ll happily head to Soi 4 to hang out with Stickyboy.

The plan was to meet in Morning Night at around 18:30.      I arrived with Miss Tim into soi 6 (Citrus Suites) at lunchtime.   Still liking this hotel – although I see it’s fast becoming a favourite for the Chinese.

Time to stuff our faces.   I used to like Chequres.  LOVED their sausage sarnies.   However, as we approached we saw the kind of people sitting at the front of the bar who I don’t like to be near.  They were the old failed expats who drift from one happy-hour to the next.   I’ve no desire to be around these people.  I can now identify these losers by their footwear.  If they wear flip-flops, then they’re a knob.

I thought I’d give Hanrahans a look.   Food has always been good when I’ve been there.  Service was absolute shite but the food was o.k.   One thing that pisses me off though… is when the staff come and just stand near your table.  Why do they do that?  Is it only me that feels uncomfortable when having staff standing very close to you when eating?  Maybe they are fascinated by my ability to use a knife AND fork at the same time?  Or that I have an amazing talent whereby the prongs of my fork never face upwards.  Yes, even when eating peas.  Come on people, were you brought up or dragged up?

Back to the hotel for an afternoon nap with Miss Tim.   She’d arranged to see her pals so I was gf free for the evening.

After a shower and head polish I headed to Morning Night Bar.  Stickboy was going to be 10 mins late.  No worries.   Morning Night was pretty busy so I was ushered to a middle table which I had to share with some ugly trog.  I would have preferred a road side seat – but they were taken by girls who were also glued to their phones.  I didn’t feel like complaining. Instead just sat quietly and drank my drink.

I did notice that lots of the girls had pictures of their kids on their phones – and a lot of those kids looked like Jonas……

Stick arrived.  After a few kisses and cuddles (not with me) – he let go of the waitress so she could go get his drinks.   We had a catch up and downed more than a few drinks.

The trog that was sitting with us made no attempt to cadge a drink from us.  She did provide an ashtray and did wipe up some drink that I spilled.    I can’t remember what she did now, but she said or did something that had both Stick and I in agreement that she deserved a drink.  She was most appreciative.

We prefer this type of attitude.  If a girl is nice and polite, friendly but not pushy – they’ll get a drink.  Just like you would any of your pals.   Think about it ,you  (well not all of you) freely offer your pal a drink if you see them, but if your pal walked up and demanded a drink, you’d probably tell them to ‘do one’.

Anyway – 4 or 5 drinks in, we headed to the next bar.   It wasn’t far – it was the Stumble Inn!

Now, I’ll admit I have not always been a fan of the Stumble Inn.  On the past occasions I have ordered a top shelf vodka and been served it in what I would regard as a lady drink glass.  A small, thin glass tumbler.  No.  Premium liquor should be served in a thick glass tumbler!     The last 2 visits I was disappointed.  This time – no such issue.  Big fat chunky glass full of Grey Goose.  Perfect.

We sat and chatted to the English Manager. Nice guy.  He was having dinner which looked pretty good.  In fact, very good.  I thought the Stumble Inn was just deep fried shite and rice – but oh no, this looked like a home cooked meal.  I shall give it a try next time I am there.  It’s on my radar.

It wasn’t just the tumbler and the food that I noticed was different.  The staff were pretty good too.  I don’t mean the girls that sit on stools glued to their phone and expect a drink for doing nothing – I am referring to the waiting / service staff.   I stand by my previous comments that I was less than impressed with Stumble Inn in the past – but will say now that it’s a place that I will venture in next time on soi 4.

Like most conversations in soi 4 these days… we chatted about the ‘good old days’. When men were men – and so were the women.  No, that’s not right.   We spoke of how much fun is was in the past, and the atmosphere/buzz that many bars had.

We laughed that every customer in the bar turns into a Bar Manager/ Expert as soon as they’ve had a drink.  I can’t be arsed to tell all the stories I have to go with that – but let me put it this way, unless you’ve had or have a bar, then shut yer face, you just embarrass yourself.

With that on our minds… we decided we’d head to the K&S Bar.  Where?  Exactly.   K&S has to have the shittiest sign in Soi 4.  It’s pathetic.   It looks like a kids school project.   That bar is prime real-estate –opposite Hooters and they have a faded crap little sign which just doesn’t stand out or attract any attention. Oops… I am sounding like one of them wannabe bar managers now…?.

Surely you can do better than that?

Inside K&S – it was pretty much like the sign.  Unappealing.  We had a service girl come and take our order.  Then come back and ask again.  And I think one more time after that.  We had sympathy for her as I think she was not used to use just ordering 1 bottle of the cheapest beer they have during happy hour – which is what most of their customers are probably there for.

Great location – drinks were good, prices were good (I think?) glasses – and not a pushy waitress.  The staff looked like they all had kids – who probably work in Nana.  We had a few drinks and decided to head elsewhere.   K&S was nothing to get excited about – and could be so much better.

Speaking of crap signs,  there used to be another crap little sign for Melody UK Bar.  Those battle hardened soi-4 warriors will know of this bar.   In we popped.

They have a new sign (new name?) but can’t remember what it is.  Same bar inside.

The customers look like they’ve been going there for years – although there was a good mix.  Some of the girls looked to have captured some young guys and were playing pool.

Friendly staff – asked us if we wanted to be included in a game of pool.  Not a bad little bar.. pleasantly surprised.

Can’t remember the name of the little corner bar.  It’s small – and a little quirky.  I like this bar. Drinks were pretty good, no one hassling us and a live singer.  I am not sure if he was a live singer or a mime artist?  As we watched him playing guitar, then stopped to move a cable or tie a shoelace.. or whatever.  Point being, he took his hands of the guitar for at least 30 seconds but the guitar/music never stopped!

Had to laugh. Busted!

From Corner-bar (or whatever it is?) we headed to another crap bar which we would not have thought about going to on a normal day.  Hindenburg, Heisenberg?  Whatever.  You know the one I mean.  It is a pretty big wooden bar inside.  If I had to sum it up in one word… it would be ‘shit’.   It was torture.

Drinks downed and out.

If memory serves me correct – I think we went into Witches on the corner. Not 100% sure about that. It was either called Witches or was full of witches.  All that vodka was taking it’s toll.   I had to step up the drinking pace as Stick drinks beer like it’s free.

By around 11pm, Stick was getting restless and wanted to hit his favourite haunt in Nana.  Some little (gogo?) which we have probably all walked past 100 times and not noticed it.  Second floor – out of the way.  It’s a little bar that has its regulars.   The staff are well fed, not kids and well experienced in making their customers feel like part of the furniture.   Stick was at home and was treated like a Don.

Stickman never gave me a shirt.

Not my cup of tea – but then my fave place isn’t one that many other people are fond of.  We all have our own tastes after all.

I think around 1 am we headed to Butterflies?  Is that the one that looks like a prison?  Lots of cages?  I’ve not been there for a long time.  Pretty good.  Each time I go though, there are not many punters.  Is that because they’ve grabbed a girl and taken her away?

Not a bad line up – I think?   It was at that point Sticks drinking ability had way overtaken mine and I was left worse for wear and needing to get the hell out of dodge.

To some it up, it was good to have a drink with an old hand – who understands the scene.  Someone who is too long in the tooth to be amazed by everything. (not to mention wasn’t scared to put his hand in his pocket!)  For me Soi 4 is not what it used to be.   Just writing this made me realise how much I have gone off the place – as I can’t even remember the names of most of the bars we visited.

Ten years ago, I could name all the bars, the owners, the rent and half of the girls. (the other half were dating Jonas).  Those days, as is my love of soi 4, just a distant memory….

 

 

 

Riding over the Himalayas – Pt 4

If you’ve read the other parts – you can tell that it was a pretty tough slog.

Accommodation, food, weather, bikes roads… all shite.

So what was good? It can’t be all bad right? Well, the views were amazing. The photos don’t really capture the awe you get when standing on the edge of a cliff.

Here are a collection of some of my photos which you might like. And if you don’t, then let’s see your photos shall we?

I would love nothing more than to drag these Truck driving assholes out of their windows and beat them with their own flip-flops.  Assholes, the lot of them.  Can’t drive for shit and were driving as fast as they could.  Total lack of consideration for any other road user.  It’s no wonder they call these the most dangerous roads in the world.

They’re all in a hurry.

Not sure what was going on in this one.  It was like a game of chicken.  They both came to a halt and just stayed there.  Luckily we could go round the side of them (just).  Just a normal sight on the roads.

Clean your windows mister?

We passed many waterfalls.   At one point I got off my bike and washed all the shit off my boots and bike trousers.  It was no colder than the showers we had in our tents.

I thought it was quite resourceful when I saw a group of people cleaning their cars under one of them.  All well and good, but having seen that, there is no excuse for them smelly bastards to not get under the water themselves.

And not one Polish person in sight

There were stages of road which had a view that made you just stop and take it all in.  This long ride along a valley was just amazing.

Where is the nearest 7-11?

With all the riders at different paces.. we all took photos which captured other riders in the distance.   The shot below is pretty cool.  Could be any of us.  Except Huggy.  He always had the Sweeper vehicle close behind him.

Could be on MARS…

One of the rare pictures taken behind Huggy.  He did like to take things steady.  Don’t know what he was scared of?  It’s only a little drop over the side….

Watch out for bears.

The guy below ‘Samba’ was the Point man.  He would lead us the way.  He drove like a nutter and it was hard keeping up with him.  One of the afternoons on a long fast run I thought I’d give him a run for his money.  I stayed right on his tail and he couldn’t shake me.  In the end he went down – smashing his lights, mirrors and bent his handle bars.  The main damage was to his pride though.  I picked his bike up for him while he got himself together.    I promised not to tell the other guys in the support group about his crash.

Another day at work

The mechanics were pretty good.  However,  I had some problems with my bike which they struggled with.  A couple guys from the group test rode my bike and said it was dangerous and unrideable.  They couldn’t figure out how I was riding it (so well!)  I complained to the mechanics – that it was either fuel starvation or electrics.  Try the HT Leads from the Plugs I told them.

They checked it out – and hey presto – the leads were faulty.  At mid-high revs the bike would splutter and cut out.  The only thing I could do was use a higher gear and chose different riding lines.  This was a little on the dangerous side as bike was going faster in places that it should.  Anyway, once it was fixed – I was a happy bunny.

Wheel change in under 4 mins.

And we’re done.   Ride over.  No one died.   We had a days rest in a craphole called Leh.  Russ, Huggy and I all had a drink with the gang and spoke of the ups and downs and what tours/challenges we faced ahead of us.

They were a real good bunch of people.   Since the ride we’ve all been ‘group’ e-mailing and sharing photos.  Once we have all the photos, of course we’ll all forget about each other. That’s how this normally works.

Done.. I want to go home now.

With the ride over with – I couldn’t wait to get to a decent hotel.  All I wanted was a big fluffy white towel and a hot bath.  And food.  And wifi.   And a shave.

I’ve been asked if I was glad I did it – and would I do it again?

Yes, I am glad I did it.  It was a fantastic experience.  I loved the riding.  The rest was shite.

Would I do it again?  No.  Even if it were free.  I don’t see the point in doing it again.

What was the best road of the entire trip?   Easy….. the runway!

I flew 1st Class back to Bangkok.  I needed it.  It was the best sleep, food, shower, and wifi I’d had in a while.

Home James…

Most of my bitching and moaning were mainly for comedic purposes.  I couldn’t help making sarcastic or derogatory remarks when really I should have been overwhelmed by it all.  That’s just me.  I am not easily impressed.

So it was only right that when I was given the menu, I took a photo and sent it to Russ and Huggy with the caption “I hate Caviar”

shite.

Russ, Huggy and I are now planning our next trip.  Route 66 with some detours.   Starting in NYC – and ending up in Santa Monica.   There will also be a visit to Roswell, Huntingdon Beach, Vegas and Malibu.  Of course,  the last day will be spent drinking in L.A.

Who’s in?

That’s all folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riding over the Himalayas – Pt 3

O.k, so each day we’d get up around 6am. Drink some ‘Masala  tea’ (milky tea with 15 sugars) and wait for breakfast at 7. By 8am we were suited and booted ready to roll. We had a 5 min briefing and off we went. Meet up for lunch somewhere along the way and then head off again until the hotel.

That was the script.

Let give some details of some the challenges we faced.

Hotels /Guesthouses/Home-Stays.

For me, the accommodations are what spoiled the ‘adventure’. I am no snob (honestly) but I do expect a certain level of standard. Especially when I am paying premium prices. If I can stay on the QE2 for £50 a night, then I am sure the budget for accommodation on the trip would cover something a lot better than we were given.

Reminds me of home – in Iraq.

Most of the time there was no hot water. Some of the time there was no water at all. On the few times we had electricity, it was for a limited time only. Wifi? Forget it. 8 days with no cellular/data network.

o.k, so the tent had a good view.

One of the hotels was ‘acceptable’ – but still not a place I’d stay if it were anywhere else in the world. On the last day when there was wifi – it didn’t reach my room so I had to go to the lobby to connect. Even then it was dog slow.

The bathrooms…well… let’s not go there. No… let’s do. Here are some photos of the Toilet and the Shower. I know I am short, but even I couldn’t get under that (cold) tap.

The toilet or the shower?

Roads

The majority of the roads were gravel/stone. There were some days where it was nice tarmac – but mostly it was gravel. This would send shocks / vibrations up your arms for hours. After a days riding – you certainly felt it.

o.k… so they were not all bad.

Ever get your knee down on an Enfield?

We passed many locals on the side of the (mountain) road – breaking rocks. With sledgehammers. All day, just smashing up the big rocks and turning them into smaller rocks. If you ever think you have a bad job – then spare a thought for those poor bastards.

Hard day at the office.

Crossings

We got caught in a few storms – which lead to some land-slides. One afternoon there were several sections of road which got washed away. We had no choice other than to cross the section which was now a flowing river. It was tough. Real tough.

Riding through flowing water with no idea of where the rocks were beneath. I went through the water and hit a rock. I couldn’t see it and the bike was going nowhere. Several attempts to free the bike were unsuccessful. Exhausted as gasping for air – I had no choice other than to hand the bike over to a fellow rider and go catch my breath back.

15 mins earlier – that was a road.

This was normal. Some were fortunate to not get caught on the rocks. Others got stuck. As a group, we all pulled together to help out.

Once me and the bike were across. I’d park up and walk back into the water/mud and help out the next person who got stuck. This for me was actually quite a good part of the trip. All working together no matter how wet, muddy and cold we got. No one was left behind.

There were other crossings which were dry – bit still an absolute nightmare to cross. Just large boulders and rocks where a road should have been. The bikes took a real hammering. Amazed they made it.

Going nowhere

Food

Everyone on the ride all got the shits. That was – except for me! I avoided most of the food.

Breakfast was safest. Toast and Marmite. Vegemite for the Aussies. Can’t go wrong with that. Load up as much as you can so you’re not hungry come lunchtime.

Lunchtime was usually a regroup for everyone. We all descended on a roadside stall/café. There was no way in hell I was eating that garbage. I’d watch the old ladies cleaning plates from a tap using just their hands… no thanks.. not for me.

When asked if I wanted lunch – I politely told them to shove it.

I would instead chow-down on Cereal bar. You can poke your Dahl and whatever shite was on the menu.

Dinner was usually served at 8pm. By this time we were all hungry. 8 out of 10 nights it was Dahl on the menu. Rice of course and some other poo coloured crap. Again, I’d swerve all that and grab any bread that was on offer. There were nights where I just walked away from the table in disgust. Surely they could have put on a better offering? A good way to lose a few kilos though.

Altitude

We climbed to over 5500 meters . 17500 ft. Not much oxygen up there. Very hard to breath. Small things like putting on your socks would see you get out of breath. Sleeping? Hell.. I thought I was suffocating all the time. Horrible. Unpleasant and I didn’t like it.

When will this be over?

Didn’t really notice it when riding along – unless you got stuck and had to drag your bike over a rock. I did see the Doctor with a large oxygen tank and was hoping he’d give us all a shot on that but he never did.

The Bike Gear

I got fully kitted up. The helmet was my Union Jack lid! Easy to spot in a group. Drone footage and photos – I wanted to stand out a little. The usual tough waterproof gear with protection. Great set of boots and extra body armour for good measure.

Our luggage was carried in the Support vehicle, so I made a point of packing as much clothing as I could. 12 pairs of socks, 12 pairs of skiddies, jeans, shorts, t-shirts etc.. I didn’t much fancy having to wash my clothing in the local river like the rest of India.

Always be prepared!

My plan paid of tenfold. Many of the group had to wear wet, dirty clothing from the day before as there was no means to wash or dry their stuff. As all boy scouts… I came prepared.

Navigation

We were given the GPS coordinates which were downloaded to my iPhones. I carried the 6+ to use as a GPS and the iPhone X for my camera. Neither were any use as a phone or internet access up there.

Day 1 – when I pulled over for a rest with some other bikers… a little car pulled up with two Indian chaps and called out to us. Our Indian leader approached the car. I didn’t like the sound of this – as I thought they’d seen one of us break down or even crash.

Amazed I was when they called my name! Turns out that my iPhone 6 fell out of my pocket and landed in the road! Several 100 cars and lorries drove over it – as the screen was cracked. It still worked though! Luckily, in the cover I had a business card and also a photo of a bike on the screen – so they must have put 2+2 together and realised I was a foreign biker and pulled over when they saw us.

Of course I gave the guy loads of Rupees for being a good Samaritan. – The phone still worked and you couldn’t notice the screen when looking at the GPS. Lucky boy! I got the screen replaced back in HH for 2500bht. (bargain!)

Where the fuck is my bike?

I think you get the idea of that it was all about.

I have some other cool pictures which I’ll share on my next instalment.

Carry on

 

 

 

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.

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, pretty much all round super-hero.… 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 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……