Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dear PAD

I see have made a mistake in thinking you are, deep down, rational people who will come to your senses and realise how silly you are being. As it turns out, you are crazy fooligans who do not deserve my faith. Where do I even begin in telling you how stupid you are being.

I know you feel cheated and angry that Somchai was elected. I get it. I felt the same way when that damn gnome of a man got voted back in as our Priminster 4 years ago. I was super sad as I beheaded one of my John Howard gingerbread men (I had and election party and made the cookies so everyone could have fun mangling Johnnie boy all night). But here is where we differ. I didn't start a riot. Why you ask? Because he was democratically elected. As much as I hated it, the people of Australia decided that's what they wanted and that was that. The best I could do was not support his terrible policies and not vote for him again the next time. Somchai was democratically elected by the people of Thailand. Your people. Do you see where I'm going with this?

So, even though he has just been elected, you seem to think he is already corrupt. He is going to steal money from the budget and the Thai people, just like Taksin. Word up PAD. You're costing Thailand and it's people 3 billion baht A DAY! That equates to $300 000 USD. People losing work, people can't get their products out to the world, airlines are losing money, tourism is almost at a stand still and well, you get the idea. You are doing the same thing you are alleging the government will do at some point! Hypocrisy in action. I know that you say this is Somchai's fault and if he'd just step down you'd leave and all this money would be saved but you have caused the problem in the first place.

1 millions Thais will lose their jobs next year because of the damage you've done. I hope your happy about that. Can you really live with that? And I see you are threatening violence now. Oh and taken a hostage. Showing everyone how sensible you are hmm?

You are thugs, you are criminals, YOU ARE TERRORISTS! You are stopping tourists getting home to their jobs, their families and their lives. You damaging your own country. Congratulations on making your country the mot dangerous in the world. Idiots. There are better, more democratic ways of going about getting your point of view across. Come to your senses and get the HELL out of the airport(s).



p.s. If you could get out by Thursday so I could actually go on my holiday to China that would be greatly appreciated. Morons.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I wish I'd known!!!! Chinese visa HELL!

I just spent this morning in the hell that is the Chinese embassy in Bangkok. I thought I'd share my experience with you because I wish I'd known before I got there. Mr A and I are going to China at the beginning of December and obviously need visas, hence why I went to purgatory.

Before I start, I'll just say that the actual visa process is easy. You have to wait for an hour or so but it's simple and straight forward. You need one photo and a passport and a single entry is 1100 baht. You pay when you pick it up. Easy.

Getting there is not so easy. The address on the website it not entirely accurate. It says 57 Ratchdapiasek Road when it should actually tell you it's on the corner of Ratchda and Soi 3. I spent an extra 10 minutes in the taxi trying to work this out. It also didn't help that the driver kept insisting I was going to a hotel or condo when I'd told him (in terrible Thai) that I was going to the embassy. The actual embassy is on the right of Soi 3 but the building that you get your visa is on the left. I managed to pick up two other lost foreigners who were trying to find it as well. We walked in together and the security guard flashed us the smile that I've come to know all too well. It says "Here come another bunch of suckers".

"You here for visa?" he said. We nodded. He asked to see our passports, which I thought was a bit odd but assumed they perhaps recorded the name of everyone who goes in and out. It is the embassy after all. After ascertaining our nationalities, he gave us the visa forms and said "He'd sort it out for us". I was starting to smell a rip off. I got about half way don't filling out my form and he tried to stop me, and the other guys I was with, from filling out the rest saying "I will do, I will fix.". I told him politely that I would like to fill out the rest of my form thank you. Then 3 or 4 other guys came in all trying to take our forms and passports. "We fix, we fix! No problem!!". I asked them at this point how much the visas were. The said 2000 baht, 900 baht more than I knew it was supposed to be. I told them no and asked for another form for Mr A. The guy grabbed a form for me and then grabbed the passports off me, without me even having filled out Mr A's info and told me to come back in 4 days and that would be 4000baht thanks. Well I snatched them right back and told him I wanted to do it myself. As if I'm going to give a complete stranger my passport and pay an extra 900 baht ($35AUD) for the privilege!!! He shot me a absolutely filthy look and told me to go upstairs. Which I promptly did!

This wasn't on the street. This was inside the embassy, the security guard of the embassy no less! What the deuce!!! Luckily I've lived here long enough to smell a con coming but I can't imagine how many tourists they dupe everyday, pocketing 900 baht from each rip off. Ridiculous! It made me so mad!

I know this is a really boring post but it's something I really wish I'd been aware of before I went. If I can save one person from the rip off I'll be happy. Just remember, if it seems dodgy or to good to be true, in Bangkok, is definitely is.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Before you visit any country, you should do a little research to find out about the culture and see if there is anything you do that might offend or be illegal. Here are a few you should be aware of.

1. Don't point your feet at Buddha or anyone for that matter. Feet are considered the lowest, dirtiest party of the body so to point them is considered especially rude and disrespectful. Inversely, don't touch people on the head, the highest and holiest part of the body.

2. Don't touch monks, especially if you're a woman. If you want to give a monk something, give it to a male companion first and get him to pass it on. Also, always let them go before you and offer them space to stand on the ferry.

3. Don't be naked. This seems like a no brainer but I still see naked peeps every time I go to the beach. Thais, despite the stereotype as a highly sexualized nation, are generally very conservative about their bodies. Public nakedness is a big no no. So when you go to the gym, don't get changed in front of everyone. There are little change rooms you can go into. And for heavens sake! Don't sun bake topless at the beach. I know you don't want tan lines but get over it. Tanning is bad for you anyway. I am talking about guys here too though! I see men (hairy, sweaty, fat men at that) walking around with no shirt on. This is also offensive.

4. Don't point at pictures of the King or talk about the royal family in public. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in Thailand loves the King. Pointing at him is considered rude and talking about the family is actually illegal. If you must point out a picture of the King (they are everywhere) use an open palmed gesture.

5. Don't bring in anything related to "The King and I". Strange I know and I have no idea why you'd bring anything unless you're a die hard fan that can't live without it, but anything to do with the King and I is illegal here. It portrays Rama IV or Phrabat Somdet Phra Poramen Maha Mongkut, Phra Chom Klao Chaoyouhua and was very shocking when it first came out in Thailand because of it's inaccurate portrayal of the King and his relationship with a foreigner.

6. Don't litter, spit or drop cigarette butts, even if you see Thai people doing it. It's very illegal and you'll get a nasty fine if a policeman sees you. Plus it's dirty anyway and gives foreigners a bad name.

7. Don't dress like a skanky hoochie Mamma or a complete Bogan at temples. You MUST cover up at temples. So pants and shirts that cover your shoulders are required. Women AND men!!

8. Don't do drugs mmmkay. They are really, really, REALLY illegal here.

And just generally be polite and friendly not a stupid, loud, ignorant tourist. There are far too many here already!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Moneypenny. Miss Moneypenny.

The ladies and I were still sick with the dressing up bug after Halloween so when the new James Bond came out (before the US may I add) we decided to go as Bond Girls. I picked up these awesome glasses last week so being a sexy secretary ala Miss Moneypenny seemed right up my alley.

Us with the Aston Martin. mmmmmm. Aston Martin. Kim is Kissy Kazuki (James Bond's baby mama) and Morgan as Pussy Galore (the lesbian cement mixing ex trapeze artist)!!!

Here we are with the man himself. Ohh Daniel Craig. You're such a hottie Mc Hot Hot pants! Those bluer than blue eyes get me everytime. Oh and Nick dressed up as Odd Jobb. It was super super fun and the movie was pretty good too. Not the best. But pretty good. Oh and here are Toby and Mr A in their "costumes" as the bag holders for the photos. That's what they get for not dressing up!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Oh Mai Oh Mai

It was a public holiday here in Thailand a few weeks ago so Mr A took a few extra days off work and we headed up North to beautiful beautiful Chang Mai. It's about an hour by plane but you can also take the train or the bus.

We honestly didn't do a lot. We were both really tired and just needed to get out of Bangkok and relax. There s tonnes of stuff to do in Chang Mai though. There are some beautiful temples, the night markets and trekking though the mountains. But like I said, we just relaxed.

The one and only activity we did was "Elephant owner for a day" at Patara Elephant Farm. I had always purposely stayed away from elephants treks because they are usually super touristy and the elephants are not treated humanely. But Patara Elephant Farm is different. The are focused on conservation and they have only been offering elephant treks for few years. The owner Ben is really passionate about the elephants and how important they are to Thailand.

We started the day by meeting some of the farmers in the area who help to support the Elephants. They sell their produce to the elephant farm which keeps everyone happy. Some of the farmers have been there supporting the Elephants for three generations. We got given some bananas by an adorable little girl for our elephants and then headed down to get changed into our tre chic elephant trainers uniforms.

Once we were all changed and looking sex-ay, Ben came to talk to us about the elephants and how to approach them before touching them. I learnt a whole bunch of things about elephants I didn't know.

Elephants facts that will make you go WOAH!!!

1. Elephants are registered with the department of transportation in Thailand, not Wildlife. They are still considered a valid form of transport and have a little microchip behind their ear that is just like a number plate!!

2. They eat 200kgs of food a day!

3. They have 6 sets of teeth.

4. Elephants sleep only 4 hours a night! Plus they get up every 30 minutes and switch sides because otherwise it puts too much pressure on their organs.


We also learnt that unlike a lot of places that rescue elephants (which are still good and very needed), Patara breeds healthy elephants with the ultimate goal of releasing them in the wild once Thailand's jungle is revived (it was only 20% of the country, now 30% with the target being 40%). He was so passionate and it really made me appreciate Elephants so much more.

Ben then took us to meet our Elephants. Mine was the cutest! Her name was Nui (pronounced Noo-ee) and she used to be a circus elephant until she got to big. She was very sweet and gentle and flapped her ears as I was approaching which meant she was calm and happy. I fed her bananas. FYI elephant tongues are weird.

After getting to know our elephants a little bit, we got taught how to do a health check. More facts on how to tell an elephant is healthy:

1. They have dirt mark son their sides. Elephants sleep lying down so if they haven't got dirt marks it means they have been sleeping standing up, which means they are sick!

2. Elephants sweat from around their toenails! So if they have dry feet, they are sick!

3. A healthy elephant does six or more droppings in one poop. Any less than that and, you guessed it, they are sick.

And you should also check the consistency and the smell of the poo. Which we all had to do. It kinda smells like grass. Grass and poop.

Then it was elephant bath time! First we had to beat off all the dirt with some leaves. Elephants are very hairy and dirty animals!

Washing Nui was made harder by a rascally little fellow named Pei-Mai.

He was 6 months old and unbelievably adorable! He wanted to play with everyone, wanted anything you had in your hand and kept trying to butt heads with everyone. CUTE!!!
You'll also notice that Nui has a chain around her leg. All the elephants still need to be chained up at night to stop them from eating all the farmers crops. It's a sad compromise that has to made in order to keep the peace and save them.

After that we led out elephants down to the water for a good bath. It basically involves throwing buckets of water over them and then carefully scrubbing all the dirt off so it doesn't rub their very sensitive skin when you ride them. They love it! I got a few videos. Keep an eye out for Pei-Mai!

Then it was our turn for a bath.

It should be noted that Nui is the one doing all the spraying. She was so cheeky! I loved that she had so much personality.

Once the elephants where all spick and span we learnt how to get up on their backs which was super fun!!! Noi was the demonstration elephant so I knew I'd have an easy time getting up. Sort of.

Once everyone was on board, it was off for a trek trough the beautiful country side to a water fall.

It was so very beautiful. The elephants were surprisingly nimble, making their was down muddy tracks and around trees with relative ease. When we arrived at the waterfall the elephants couldn't wait to get in the water. They dunked themselves right under with their trunks sticking out like snorkels. Nui quite promptly dunked me into the water too as soon as she was in.

At the falls there was a delicious Thai feast waiting. It was just nice to sit and relax with everyone and watch the elephants. So cute!

We then trekked back to the camp through a beautiful creek. It was so relaxing. I tell you, travelling by elephant is the way to go. You control them by both voice commends and kicking them behind the ear depending on which direction you want to go. It's pretty easy. The only hard bit is stopping them from eating everything in their paths. One of the guys, Shawn, had MaeBoonSorng Pei-Mai's mother and she was constantly stopping to eat anything and everything. You have to stop them from eating the crops and vegetation in the area to keep the farmers and residents happy. Elephants can be very destructive.

We changed how we were sitting for the last leg of our trip through the creek, with our legs facing the front. This was way more comfortable. It made me feel very regal, like a princess of Siam on her faithful steed.

When we finally got back to camp, we were judged on who was the best elephant handler. It was ME!!! As a prize, I got kisses from Nui!

If you happen to be in Chang Mai, I could not recommend Patara more highly. It's expensive, about $250 AUD but you get so much out of it! All the photos you see here were taken durning the day and you get given them as part of the package. You get around 4 hours riding the elephants and an AMAZING experience!

I was sad to say goodbye to sweet Nui but took away some great memories.

Oh and if you do stay in Chang Mai, don't stay at Elegant Lanna guest house. The service is horrible and I got covered in ant bites. Not good!


Thursday, November 6, 2008

My First Halloween!

Being Australian, Halloween has never really been a holiday I've celebrated. It's just an excuse to have a party, which is pretty much what happens in America anyway as far as I can understand. I don't think I've ever even dressed in costume on Halloween!! So, seeing as all my friends here are American, we decided to throw a party!

After considering many outfits including Bubbles DeVere, a craft box (made from measuring tapes and bobbins and what not) and Marilyn Monroe I decided to go with the Queen of Hearts. I already had a bunch of stuff for it, namely the heart fabric and red strapless top. It also gave me an excuse to wear my corset. I *heart* it.

I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. The costume didn't originally have the ruffle but I felt a little self conscious without it (the corset makes my boobs look even bigger than normal). Luckily I picked up a big roll of thick red ribbon at the markets 2 days before and had some white fabric left over from another project. I also made a huge bow for the back but I couldn't work out a good way to attach it.

Here's a close up of my make up. Sorry it's so fuzzy. I'm the worlds worst photographer. It was a bit brighter in real life. The flash washed it out. I really liked my heart shaped beauty mark.
Everyone looked amazing! Kim, Marisa and Morgan turned up early and got ready at my house (they had meetings at their school). Kim was a Bollywood starlet! She looked amazing in her hot pink glittery sari (which deposited gold sparkles all over my house! Mr A went to work looking all shiny and glittery on Monday. Tehehehe.). Morgan was the Monopoly Man and Marisa was a butterfly. They both looked super awesome.

Then Nick and Toby showed giant Panda suits, something that could be seen as suicidal in the Bangkok heat. But they were hilarious!!!

The only downside is they kept trying to do things with their "Panda Hands" and as a result dropped a couple of beer bottles on the floor. Silly pandas!!!

And then there was Mr A.

He was POPEYE! I made his shirt. Well actually I bought a cheap shirt and changed the buttons, added cuffs and put on the sailor collar. It turned out so well! I was really, really happy with it.

Little known fact: Popeye is a Guitar Hero.

Here are some the other peeps, eatin' my cupcakes. My lovely friend Natsuko, who brought a whole bunch of snacks, is the one in the red shirt with the horns. Dwight is the scary bloody doctor, Gaew is kissing the cupcakes and Pavnee has the red mullet!!

It was a great night! I made 2 kinds of cupcakes (and forgot to take photos AGAIN). Chocolate cupcakes filled with peanut butter and vanilla with cherry pie filling centers. They were shaped like hearts and they bled when you bit into them. I managed to get the filling looking pretty realistic.

Anyway, well left our house at around 10.30 to go visit and dance to Lee Shamrock. Lee is a genuine one man band. He is also the master of the quiz we go to every Tuesday (we won this week!).
We had a crazy fun time! We totally took over the pub! Marisa won a bottle of champers for her costume!

Which we promptly drank. Followed by more dancing!

We finished the night at Sunrise Taco, a place of 24 hour Mexican heaven. Twas quite funny walking through the Bangkok streets in costume. Some people had no idea. They probably just thought we were crazy farang. Which is true I guess! It was a great end to a even better night. My first Halloween, SUCCESS!!!