Filed under: Culture, Expat life, Internet, Miscellaneous, Nightlife, Outside Thailand, People, Relationships, Sport, Travel, work | Tags: Arturo Gatti, Audley Harrison, backpacking, Bali, Bangkok, Barnsley, beaches, boxing, Boxing News, Britain, Cambodia, charity, Deontay Wilder, dogs, Eden, editing, England, expats, Facebook, family, holidays, hotels, Hua Hin, Indonesia, internet, islands, Jon Slowey, Kent, Ko Chang, Ko Kood, Koki Eto, Kompayak Porpramook, London, Lopburi, North Wales, Nottingham, Operation Smile, Paul Weir, politics, Portsmouth, property, Relationships, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, seafood, Singapore, South Pacific, Sport, Thai politics, Thailand, training, Trat, Travel, United Kingdom, Vietnam, Wales, white collar boxing, work
Sorry to use a cliché, but the past 12 months have continued to be spent in tropical Thailand, and while Bangkok lacks the beaches and tranquility that most would associate with an earthly Eden, it has, for the most part, been a year that was good to me.
What a shame that the country’s political scene is once again threatening to spoil 2014 almost as soon as it starts, but for now my focus is on what did happen, rather than what might, as I sum up 2013.
Thankfully, all my loved ones remained fit and well last year, including my three 80-something grandparents. Most importantly, my Scottish Grandma, who has always been full of vigour, has remained so since the death of Grandpa in 2012. If anything, she has thrived, having now been freed from the duties of caring for him virtually full time in the decade or so before he passed away. She has travelled, met her great-grandchildren and been busier than ever in her community. On top of this, when I visited her in June, we enjoyed some brisk walks amid the glorious Highland scenery and she set a pace that would put many people half her age to shame. Long may this continue!
Filed under: Culture, Expat life, Food, media, Nightlife, restaurants, Travel, work | Tags: Amazon, Bangkok, Barnes & Noble, books, bookshops, Burma, Cambodia, crocodiles, Dasa Book Cafe, food, guidebooks, India, Japan, Jareung Restaurant, jungle food, Khlong Teoy, Khlong Toey Market, magazines, Marc Schultz, markets, Middle East, Myanmar, Nabanita Dutt, Nana, Nepal, newspapers, Phatum Thani, photography, restaurants, San Francisco, sheep, shopping, snakes, spirituality, Sukhumvit Road, testicles, Thailand, Things Asian Press, To Thailand With Love, tourism, Travel, travel writing, United States, USA, Vietnam, volunteering, writing
Having been published in newspapers and magazines, I have now, with the release of To Thailand With Love, completed the trinity of print media.
I have been referring to it as “my book debut”, rather than “my book”, as I am just one of several contributors to TTWL. It is the latest in the “With Love” series, edited by Nabanita Dutt and published by Things Asian Press of San Francisco, which combines travel writing with guidebook-style pointers and listings. Typically, the writers provide features on travel experiences in the country and append info for the reader to visit the destination for themselves, should they wish to. Previous “With Love” books have focused on Burma, Cambodia, Japan, Vietnam and North India, while a Nepal edition was published concurrently with the Thailand release.
Quite apart from my involvement, I would recommend any of these books if you plan to travel to one of the countries covered, or if you generally have an interest in them. The “With Love” entries offer a slew of out-of-the-ordinary stories and ideas which you might not find in more traditional guidebooks, nor hear from “ordinary” tourists.
I have three stories in the Thailand book, covering a wander around Khlong Toey Market (a totally authentic fresh market with lots of weird sights and smells), a trip to Bangkok’s Middle Eastern quarter (you can be transported to Arabia for three Sukhumvit sois and eat some things you won’t find elsewhere in Thailand, including sheep’s testicles), and dinner at a “jungle food” restaurant in Phatum Thani (crocodile, cobra and much more is on the menu).
There’s plenty more to digest from the other writers too, divided into chapters covering food, must-see attractions, spirituality, hidden treasures, shopping, remote destinations and tips on local life, volunteering and more. Complementing all this is some quite charming photography by Marc Schultz.
To Thailand With Love is available at Dasa Book Cafe in Bangkok, from Barnes & Noble in the United States, and can be shipped worldwide from Amazon. If you would prefer to order a copy from a bookstore of your choice, the ISBN numbers are ISBN-13: 978-1-934159-11-8 and ISBN-10: 1-934159-11-5.
Filed under: Culture, Expat life, Food, Fun, Nightlife, restaurants | Tags: American food, Andrew Zimmern, Asoke, Bizarre Foods, coffee, curry, food, green curry, hotels, India, Indian curry, Indian food, internet, Italian food, Italy, Japan, Japanese food, Khao San Road, Laos, Manchester, MBK, Narathiwat, northeast Thailand, Not the Nation, pad Thai, pizza, Ploenchit, porridge, pubs, sandwiches, seafood, shopping, Soi Sribamphen, Soi Thaniya, southern Thailand, steak, Sukhumvit, supermarkets, sushi, television, Thai food, Thai restaurants, Thailand, tom yam, tourism, Travel, Travel Channel, Udon Thani, USA, Vietnam, vindaloo, websites, Western food
Thailand justifiably has a reputation for producing some of the world’s best food, and as with any national cuisine, the best Thai food can be found in the country itself. Thais who travel will often bemoan the inferior quality of Thai food overseas, while foreigners who have visited here will never look at another country’s green curry in quite the same way again. Hell, I once had the misfortune of ordering a plate of pad Thai in Manchester and finding they substituted tamarind sauce for tomato ketchup!
Yet exactly the same logic can be applied in Thailand – if you’re looking for good foreign food, you might be best off going to the country in question. Just because the local food in Thailand can be mind-blowing, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the kitchens of the Land of Smiles can perform similar culinary feats with dishes from abroad.
People who grow up with a certain type of food know it best. Add in the scarcity of certain ingredients in certain countries, plus how relatively new some foreign food is to Thailand, and stir in some peculiar local twists, tastes and takes on foreign dishes, and you have…
5 FOREIGN FOODS THAT THAILAND DOES VERY BADLY
Filed under: Culture, Expat life, Nightlife, Outside Thailand, People, restaurants, Travel | Tags: animals, art, Australian people, backpackers, backpacking, Bahasa Indonesia, Bali, Bali Hai, Bali Hai beer, Bali Museum, Balinese dance, Balinese food, Balinese girls, Balinese people, Bangkok, barbecue, bars, beaches, Beer, Brazilian Aussie BBQ, breakfast, buffet. Sky Garden, cafes, chilli, coffee, costume, dance, Denpasar, Deva Sari, drink, English language, Flora Hotel, food, Food and Drink, forest, gueshouse, Hindu temples, Hinduism, hotels, Indonesia, Indonesian food, Indonesian girls, Indonesian people, Islam, Islamic clothes, islands, jungle, kebabs, Kuningan Day, Kuta, Kuta Beach, Laughing Buddha bar, macaques, markets, masks, massage, monkeys, motorbikes, mountains, Muang Phuket, museums, Muslims, Napa Orti, Nightlife, painting, palace, Pasar Badung, Pasar Seni, Patong, people, Phuket, Pura Jagatnatha, Pura Taman Suraswati, rainforest, religion, Renon, resorts, restaurants, rice, Sacred Monkey Forest, Sanghyang Widi, Sanur, shopping, souvenirs, steak, temples, Thai food, Thai language, Thai people. Thai girls, Thailand, tourism, Travel, Ubud, Ubud Palace, Warung Ijo, white people
Last month I travelled to Bali, Indonesia, in what was primarily a social visit, as I have a friend who lives and works there. It hadn’t really occurred to me to visit Bali before, being that is an uber-touristy destination, but I figured that I would see more than beaches and bars with the combination of a local friend and my own inquisitive style of travelling. And so it was. As expected, the main tourist area of Kuta didn’t hold my attention, but some other parts of the island – unfortunately time constraints limited me to the south – were charming.
My thoughts on what I saw of Bali are as follows. It is not a chronological travelogue; more like a scrapbook of impressions and recommendations. Continue reading
Filed under: Culture, Expat life, Fun, Nightlife, Outside Thailand, People | Tags: Bangkok, beauty, Beer, bread, BTS, carrots, Chang Beer, clothes, cons, Europe, European beer, expats, food, happy hour, Heineken, Ireland, Irish bars, Khao San Road, light skin, London, maps, prostitutes, prostitution, red light district, Singha beer, skytrain, Sukhumvit, Sukhumvit Road, sunburn, Thai, Thai business, Thai culture, Thai food, Thai language, Thai people, Thailand, tourism, tourists, vampires, weather, Western food, women, work
Everybody needs somebody… to look down on, and few lifeforms get less respect than the lowly tourist. In Bangkok, they are easy to spot – bright pink skin, dripping in sweat, wearing a Chang Beer T-shirt and scratching their heads over folding maps and the BTS ticketing system. Tourists are naïve, vulnerable, confused and trusting – everything that the noble expat is not! But to the average Thai conman and opportunist, every foreigner is a potential tourist, and to every tourist, anyone of their same colour is likely one of their kin. But the resident farang is a wiser, nobler and all-round higher class of foreigner, and we must flaunt our status with our behaviour and habits. However, this is something that can only be cultivated over time, with experience – unless you consult my handy guide to…
10 WAYS EXPATS CAN AVOID BEING MISTAKEN FOR TOURISTS
Filed under: Culture, Expat life, Health, News, Nightlife, People, politics, Relationships, restaurants, Thai news, Travel | Tags: 7-Eleven, anti-government protests, antibiotics, Bangkok, beach, Beer, Benz Bungalows, Buddhism, children, Chinese, condominiums, crab, diarrhoea, dogs, English language, fast food, food, goats, Gulf of Thailand, Hat Thampang, Hat Thampang Bungalows, hospital, hotels, Hua Hin, Isaan, islands, Ko Sichang, Malee Blue, May 19, monastery, motorbikes, nighclubs, palaces, Pan & David Restaurant, Paree Hut, Pattaya, politics, rabies, Rama V, Red Shirts, restaurants, salad, seafood, shops, Sri Racha, swimming, temples, Thai culture, Thai language, Thai people, Thai politics, Thailand, Travel, tuk-tuks, whale
Thailand’s image needs all the help it can get right now. Last month’s dramatic footage of bomb sites and gun fights across Bangkok played out internationally and many countries have yet to lift their travel warnings to the erstwhile Land of Smiles.
For sure, confidence has been rocked, and even beyond the photos of war on the streets, the reputation of Thai people as gentle, benevolent Buddhists has been tarnished by displays of downright ugly behaviour during such fractious times.
Whether the protesters promising – and almost succeeding – to turn Bangkok into a “sea of fire”, or their opponents cheering and swearing as the death toll neared a hundred, there was precious little positive humanity on display.
Filed under: Expat life, International news, media, News, Nightlife, People, Thai news | Tags: Amsterdam, Bangkok, bars, beggars, bikinis, blogs, Blythe, Britain, BTS, child brides, child prostitution, corruption, crime, Culture, Daily Mirror, David Carradine, death, Disney, editor, gay, go-go bars, Google, hoaxes, Hollywood, hostess bars, hostesses, hotels, ID cards child sex, investigative journalism, Iraq, Iraq war, journalism, journalist, law, London, magazines, Mark Ebner, market, massage, massage parlours, Maxim, media, media law, men's magazines, middle-aged, movies. holidays, MRT, murder, Nai Lert Park, Nana, Nana Hotel, Nana Plaza, News, newspaper, Nightlife, North Korea, Pacific, Pacific islands, paedophilia, Patpong, Patpong Market, Pattaya, Phnom Penh, Piers Morgan, press, prostitution, red light districts, rickshaws, sex, sex games, shopping, skytrain, slums, Soho, Soi Cowboy, soldiers, subway, suicide, Suvarnabhumi airport, Swissotel, taxis, Thailand, Times Square, tourism, tourists, websites
As I work in the press, I’m always quick to defend journalists, especially against the stereotype that they “make things up”.
It is true, though, that facts can be shaped to fit an agenda, and also that whenever there are two or more sides to a story, a journalist can take whichever side best fits his remit. But they can’t simply make things up.
For a start, it’s against the law. If a newspaper prints a story about a person or event, and cannot prove that it is true if required to do so, then it will face penalties.
Take, for example, the 2004 case of the Daily Mirror‘s publication of photos which apparently showed British soldiers abusing an Iraqi captive. Desperate for a sensational scoop, The Mirror didn’t check the authenticity of the pictures, which were later proven to be fake. The result – editor Piers Morgan was fired.
So, a publication really can’t “make things up” without risking personal, political or financial repercussions. However, that’s not to say it never happens. While I may be quick to defend the press against this stereotype, at the same time I am quick to criticise journalists who do contribute to it.
Filed under: Culture, Health, media, News, Nightlife, People, politics, Thai news | Tags: 2010, advertising, advertising laws, alcohol, alcohol advertising, art, Bang Saen, Bangkok, bars, Beer, body painting, calendar, cander, censorship, Chang Beer, concerts, festivals, gay, go-go bars, hangover, Health, homophobia, Indonesia, Leo Beer, media, models, Nightlife, nude calendar, nude models, nudity, painting, politics, prostitution, reggae, sex, skin cancer, Thai, Thai beer, Thai girls, Thai government, Thai models, Thai people, Thai politics, Thai women, Thailand, Utah, vice, whisky
It is often assumed that the people who complain loudest about something have the most to hide. That’s the prevailing logic about homophobia – that those who hate gays do so because they are seeking to deny something about themselves.
And it is certainly the case with the recent controversy over the Leo Beer 2010 calendar launched here in Thailand last week – and promptly banned from sale or distribution by the government.
The reason for the ban was two-fold. First of all, alcohol advertising laws in Thailand forbid the linking of alcohol with fun. Secondly, nudity is forbidden in the media. As this was a calendar promoting beer through the use of body-painted (so, officially nude in that they weren’t actually clothed, even though they were at least visually covered) models, it was always likely to offend someone in a position of power.
Filed under: Culture, Nightlife, restaurants, Travel | Tags: Bang Saen, Bangkok, bars, beach, Britain, Buddha Cave, Cha-Am, Chinese, Chinese temple, European people, Germany, guesthouses, Hua Hin, Kaeng Krachan, Khao Sam Roi Yod, Khao Takiab, Ko Chang, Ko Samet, macaques, markets, mass tourism, Monkey Island, monkeys, Naresdamri Road, national parks, night markets, nightclubs, Nightlife, Pattaya, Queen Victoria, Queen Victoria pub, red light distrcut, Scandinavia, sea, seafood, seafood restaurants, sex tourism, south Thailand, sports bars, tailor shops, temples, Thai people, Thailand, tourism, tourists, Western food, Western restaurants, Yorkshire, Yorkshire Inn, zoo
Hua Hin is the best beach spot within easy reach of Bangkok – by a long way, in my opinion.
Pattaya remains the busiest, but its popularity is more due to it being Thailand’s sex central – and unabashed position as such – rather than its unremarkable beach, dirty sea and culture-less city centre.
Cha-Am and Bang Saen have a nice atmosphere to them, but their beaches are gritty, with parasols spoiling most of the views (Thais like to be beside the seaside as much as Europeans, but hate the prospect of the sunshine darkening their skin).
Ko Samet and Ko Chang are both wonderful, but at around 4-5 hours’ drive from Bangkok, plus a ferry ride, they’re just a tad too far for a short hop.
Hua Hin, then, at 2-3 hours’ drive from Bangkok, is not only viable but also offers a lot that the aforementioned seaside spots don’t. Continue reading