Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Bangkok has become larger than it’s reputation. Everything you can imagine happening happens in this mega city at the speed and frequency of an eye blink. How many monikers does this town carry…let’s see. ‘The Big Smoke’…The Big Mango’, ‘Sin City’…’The Hip Kingdom’. There are probably others…but I don’t hang out in ‘that’ part of town.

The infrastructure build out of the past ten years is starting to rival and surpass many western capitals. The construction is on an insane trajectory. It ain’t the quiet little ‘Asian Secret’ some people still come seeking. And by the way, what are we to make of those tourists who still show up wearing matching ‘jungle wear’ outfits? Man, talk about a time warp. Seriously people, you ain’t on safari… or anybodies ‘Bwana’ in Asia.

This city is sizzling with mod-cons, the likes of which are a first time experience to many of the Europeans who stumble out of a Finland wilderness or Canadian backwater. The fact that Bangkok has an attractive architectural history, amazing beaches and fascinating Buddhist culture is just ‘the cherry on top’ to suck 30 million tourists a year into the country.

But, as my friends often remind me…”Don’t be complacent about the dangers”. It has, in fact, become far more dangerous to travel in Thailand. The crime statistics are higher than ever, many tourists and travelers bring it on themselves. As a casual observer of the ‘Darkside’ I have definatley noticed the pattern and timing of a majority of crimes against tourists.

Aside from horrible occurrence of road related deaths on weekends and holidays, the worst time to be out anywhere in Thailand ( but especially Pattaya, Bangkok or Phuket) is between 1:30 am and 5:30 am ….when the majority of people on the streets are drunk or those hunting drunks. Simple robbery has many times turned to murder, it’s nothing personal, many Thai’s and related peoples don’t manage violent behavior very well, it’s new to them. Many times the robbers are desperate sex workers and villagers who’ve come to see the big city lights and get the first look at foreigners who seem to drip with a wealth they have never seen .

My advice…’stay out of the infamous wild bar scene’. You’ll say, “What fun is that?” I’ll say, “What’s your life worth?” And people…you simply can’t believe the insane behavior of the ‘Farang’ crowd. Anyone living here will tell you that foreigners are more dangerous than the Thai’s. So , if you want to have a great time in Thailand, stay away from area’s where the greatest numbers of tourists hang out. Tourists attract criminals of all kinds…..there are many criminals pretending to be tourists and hiding among the crowds. That’s where you find the most sleaze and crime.

Street crime is not the norm, but the frequency of people being robbed in isolated places, like the beach, or a historic park is growing. Being robbed by a sex worker is almost a given…these people are not your friends. Sex workers are steeped in the anecdotal tactics of the ‘ladies and gentlemen’ who have gone before them. Even the youngest sex worker can drug and rob you if you slip into complacency for even a second when alone with her/him.

Famously, the airport taxi into the city has been many unfortunate tourists introduction to crime in Thailand. Those guys are sharks…and you should always into that relationship with your eye’s open. Never agree to having the meter turned off in exchange for a flat rate. Try to use some common sense and don’t get into the first cab you see. The idea of ‘queuing’ by cabs is only done in Europe.

Here you want to check the cab and it’s driver very carefully and if ‘number six’ is the only one that doesn’t look like a crackhead…you walk past the rest. But…that’s no guarantee. I only use ‘Uber’…or ‘GrabCar’…you can download either app free after buying a data card from ‘True Mobile’ or any of the other kiosks at the terminal. You won’t regret getting better service if you do. I won’t explain how either system works…just sayin’…that they do good work. So many new arrivals get robbed by taxi driver’s that it’s worth paying attention to.

More to come…just not today.

happy days

happy days

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If my life was a ship, and my ship had a flag, I would hang it upside down from the yardarm to signal a state of distress and consequently lower it to half mast further indicating a great loss has occurred. Recent inquiries to main stream media outlets about publishing stories relating to the sex exploitation of young and poor in desperate countries have all come back rejected. “We think it’s too controversial” said one editor, as if the morals of the editors at the heart of the industry have shriveled and died.

Hollywood producers, ‘Hangover’ and ‘Hangover 2’ have won the hearts and minds of media pundits everywhere. The word according to the media is that Asia is a place to run wild, fuck everything that walks…or crawls…and go home, hopefully without an incurable drug resistant STD. “What happens in Bangkok…Stays in Bangkok”. Who gives a damn what kind of mess you leave behind? As long as you’ve had a good time…and take lot’s of drunken selfies…right?

A particularily inane reporter from Barrie Ontario asked me to only contact him if I had the name and address of someone from his immediate area who was caught in a child rape or similar heinous holiday crime . None of the other things I ‘d mentioned regarding widespread sexual exploitation of desperate uneducated minors, ( like the horrible oppression my organized Russian gangs, starving children left behind in alleys with the pimps while Moms are blowing tourists or pulling razor blades out of her vagina in the bar) fodder for a massive wave of simultaneously retiring western baby boomers, held any interest to him.

This purposeful ignorance on the issue of sex exploitation by the global media is appalling. When the very famous journalist Bernard Trink was fired his long held position as columnist of twenty years to the Bangkok Post in the 1980’s for warning off people coming to Thailand for sex tourism, it was then a shocking move by the media in Thailand. Who would have ever thought a secretive cabal would want to silence a voice advocating for the betterment of women and how sex tourism is an embarrassment to the nation…not a pillar on which to build an economy. Ah well…what do I know? TIT Bernard always said, …This is Thailand.

its all around us

its all around us

Robots scare the crap out of Stephen Hawking. “Humans are evolving so slowly that artificial intelligence will walk all over us”, he says. Personally, I’m more afraid of humans who switch their moral and ethical compass off when they leave for a ‘third world vacation’. Artificially enhanced intelligent robots of the future might be frightening in theory, but in practice human beings who conveniently forget to be human while on vacation do a lot more damage in the here and now. I don’t know about you…but I live in the present.

I was scouting competing travel video the other day and I wasn’t impressed. There’s a social algorithm popular with a certain alphabet demographic… that accessible hedonism is available at the end of every commercial flight, like unicorns are attracted rainbows,  that it is ‘a right and an entitlement’ to express oneself without morals or ethics in every imaginable way, while on vacation in the third world, where apparently…’everything goes’. Wow….I am not a person to be throwing ‘isms and ‘ists’ around…but the idea that ‘everything goes’ when you cross an international boundary’ is crazy weird.

One of the You Tube video’s I watched was a popular travel blog, plenty of views, with two passably blonde girls tittering excitedly about whether ‘ to go or no’. The topic du jour was whether watching a woman/girl pull razor blades out of her vagina in a Bangkok bar was a ‘go or no’. They enthusiastically doubled pumped one another to the affirmative…’GO’. OK… I’m choking back a little puke here… is it possible that two women can get excited about a razor blade vagina ‘show’ knowing the depths of depravity the performer must have plumbed to get to that state where pulling razor blades out of her vagina was her last option? Isn’t that on the moral level of ‘snuff porn’?

These were women talking…about another woman… having to pull razor blades out of her vagina..in order to make a living…for the sake of a few petulant, bored tourists amusement. How is it possible for anyone from any level of society to become so jaded and obvious awareness of the depravity they were watching…that they could laugh… not cry. It’s robotic…moral brain death…depraved to an nth degree of evil, it’s mind numbing. You shouldn’t be laughing when you see a woman have to sink to that level.

You should want to tell the bar owner to fuck himself with the business end of a garden rake and walk out..at the very least. Would you want that happening to any woman in ‘Your Town USA’? Why would you ‘rescue’ a dog at home and yet sit through a ‘show’ where a woman is pulling razor blades out of her vagina? Is it because the dog won’t bore you with his life story or need an education to find a better future ?

The depravity we see isn’t a ‘white/ brown’ thing. Tourists on holiday strictly for sex related purposes come in all colours and are of every nationality and social strata. They are equal opportunity exploiters. Today’s sicko social media is extolling us it’s OK to compete on experiences, where no limit of exploitation or depravity should hold us back from having ‘the best time ever’.

The travel video blogs are replete with solicitations to get the drunkest, the wildest…the most depraved regardless of the consequences to your moral being and the nasty crap you leave behind. Are today’s tourists just dehumanized robots on holiday, hyped by social media to ‘go one better’…to leave their humanity behind for the sake of a ‘good time’? Stephen Hawking has more immediate reasons to fear for the future of humanity.

robot holiday

robot holiday

The worst has happened. Our property managers have drained our swimming pool. This is a disaster !! No not really. We just have to find another pool somewhere in the neighborhood. I had to bus around today looking…and found quite a few that are either frog ponds or not as advertised…the search continues.

I should have seen this coming…they’ve been talking about resurfacing the pool for five years. In Thailand…it’s common to hear of great plans afoot…while very little ever gets done. In honesty the pool does need a few new tiles.

Of course they didn’t tell us because we’re renting and all the strata minutes are posted in Thai. It’s a hell of a thing to wake up and find you daily ritual has changed. Like I alluded to..plenty of pools around, while ours is out of commission for 6 to 8 weeks…..bummer. Or have I gotten so lazy I can’t even travel around my own area….some of that for sure.

BTW…wrong about the silent ninja Gecko’s…they’ve started to sing.

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We’ve only been back in Vancouver a week and already the walls are closing in. Fortunately we have only 8 more sleeps before we bug out to our traditional winter perch in Thailand via Hong Kong. I can’t fault the weather in BC in the time we’ve been back. The West Coast has experienced a ‘hundred year summer’ where the weather has been the best in memory. It has been warm and sunny as opposed to what we are accustomed to as normal when it rains and is mostly cloudy except for a few days now and again. It is normal for summer to occur the last two weeks of August and be raining the rest of the time. So…we got super lucky this year.

I would like to cheerlead for what has been my home town…but it’s hard to do when so little happens here. For a variety of reasons people in Vancouver tend be miserable. There’s a dearth of cultural activities and those are primarily administered by the social engineering wonks at city hall. Vancouver is not famous for it’s spontaneity. Now that the beaches have been closed due to fecal matter ( high coliform count includes hospital waste and viral waste) making the beaches and ocean a no-go zone for health reasons it’s hard to enjoy the coastline without that in mind. This is all because Vancouver continues to loose approx., 800 million liters of raw untreated waste into the waters surrounding the city every day. Yuchhh !!

I wouldn’t hurry to be a tourist to Vancouver due to the bedbug infestation of most major public buildings including hotels and hostels. Public health officials are warning people about possible rat borne diseases such as meningitis etc affecting children (and adults) due to an explosion in the rat populations. Sickening that rats have got out of control…but the famous ‘Mayor Moonbeam’ has no interest in tackling such things it seems. Video’s of the out of control rat population are abundant on YouTube. Not something any one locally is proud of…but the cities tourism mavins and politicians would have you focus on other
things…of course.

8 More sleeps….and we will wake in the Land of Yim (Smiles) …away from the malaise of Vancouver…The Land of Nod.

Wayne 2

The entire network of air traffic headed south came to a halt on Friday. Dallas Fort Worth in particular was hit by a massive early season ice storm. This is so unusual in Texas that the emergency administrations panicked and stuck their collective heads in the sand. The feeder airports like Vancouver, where we got stuck, can fly, but they have no destination to fly to, and that has caused thousands to be stranded in the airports overnight. Travelers are hard hit because airlines don’t give hotel vouchers for weather related delays. Hence there were thousands of people forced to sleep in the airports overnight….4000 in Dallas-Fort Worth alone.

Our being stranded in Vancouver for two extra days gives me a chance to get a good look at the city again. I can’t believe how miserable people really are here. There is no Christmas cheer. Say ‘Merry Christmas’ and you’re more likely to get a growling response about how crappy someones life is…or how much they want to get out. The cities famous road rage is whacked. There is zero courtesy on the roads. A simple drive to the grocery store yields people of all ages, races and attributes shouting at each other, honking, cutting one another off, failing to yield. If this was a sole indicator of peoples attitudes in a city then Vancouver deserves the reputation of ‘Road Rage Capital of the World‘…..what a bunch of assholes…seriously.

We’ve learned not to tell people we’re from somewhere nice. The mention that you’re heading out and you’ll instantly see the face of a Vancouverites turn sour. people seem genuinely angry if you have someplace better to go. I’ve been watching the local television stations for the past few days and I’m thinking that people here are being programmed to be as miserable as they are. There are two glaring aspects to the television offerings…one is the numbing number of murders, rapes, incidents of violence, police shooting citizens and getting off scot free 100% of the the time.

Everyone talks of how they neither trust the police or government and of how they’ve lost their faith in receiving justice, about fatal accidents, home invasion robberies, desperate families, starving children, poverty, grasping, needy, jealous, envious, rat and cockroach populations, breakout of maggots, bedbug infestations, polluting the harbour with raw sewage, arrogant civil servants telling people they’re stupid…things like that…there are no good news stories. A constant diet of these kinds of negative stories could be part of the problem. People might begin to see that they are being attacked from every side. With bad news inundating you from all sides, every day, I’d expect a person would come to expect a miserable outcome from every day activities. People get absolutely furious if you tell them their $45 dollar holiday turkey costs $12 in the USA. No one except the elite civil service has enough money to live at all well here…and everyone is furious that food and clothing in the US is a third the price….but ask why and the same people say “Its the high wages we pay government workers’.

The other prominent aspect of the news barrage is covetousness at it’s most raw. The television stations rotates possessions, hate fueled political diatribe, lottery wins, media stars with multimillion dollar salaries, expensive homes and the like that must have the effect of making people feel like inadequate losers. Together it is this characteristic which is most prominent in Vancouver’s population. People present themselves as mean, greedy, grasping, jealous, envious, burdened with dislike for the people around them and generally hate  for life outside themselves.

Another thing that is obvious is the failure of the multicultural experiment. You see ethnicities aligned against each other…there is no assimilation towards the greater good. Each ethnicity is distinctly separate…in isolated race ghetto’s, each with their own media, that appears to race bait one another without any blow-back from the administration….as if the separation exists on purpose. You’ll get the impression that a sanctioned state of apartheid exists is regulated by the government.

Poverty is increasing in Vancouver. The facade of middle income sanctuary is a myth. There is a thin layer of richly paid civil servants wrapped around a miserable rotting core. Child poverty is at it’s highest in Vancouver. Seniors are starving due to the high cost of living. Young families are the fastest growing segment of Food Bank clients. People who live in million dollar houses are sending their children to school hungry. 85% of income goes to pay mortgages. Credit debt is now the highest in the world with a debt/income ratio at 180% of disposable income. Those luxury goods advertised on TV are driving people into fits of dissonance. When people see that their civil servants being paid like international elites, four and five times what an average worker makes…of course it results in road rage and general incivility.

I have to laugh at the constant advertisements that describe Vancouver as ‘the best place on earth’. Thats something you’ll never hear on the streets of this city. Every one I’ve talked to wants to get the hell out….myself included.

November is a month that brings change to thousands of peoples lives who live in northern latitudes. Call them snowbirds or escapee’s, they all have one thing in common, a driving compulsion to leave the northern latitudes for sunny southern climates. The exodus of Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, is as predictable as the migration of birds. Leaving Canada or Finland for the winter months has become a cultural norm… a statement of your financial status. Those left behind are considered ‘unfortunate’.

Suntan holidays became popular when soldiers returning from the tropics after WWII arrived home from the Pacific with ‘sunshine skin’.  There was a huge demographic shift  in the late 1940’s when rural populations moved en mass to the cities. The balance flipped from 80%  rural and 20% urban to the exact opposite. The changing economy and increased post war wealth introduced a new aspect to the North American culture…recreation. Suntans on the streets of New York and London became a status symbol. It said you could afford to get away.

It was fashion mavin Coco Chanel that put tropical leisure on the map for the masses. She appeared on the cover of Life magazine sporting a suntan. This was a shocking display at that time, rather like a Lady Gaga moment. The confluence of adventure seeking ex-soldiers, sudden wealth and a new found societal acceptance of sunburn bloomed into a tourism crush in between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. It was suddenly cool and possible to winter in Mexico and the Caribbean. Aviation technology produced long range commercial passenger planes and locations like Hawaii and the South Pacific became accessible.  The cruise ship and retirement community industries were born.

In November the Boomer generation of Europe flock by the million to the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the North Americans focus is on Florida, Mexico and S.E. Asia. The post war economy has been very generous to the Boomer generation. It was a time when education and competition for seats in university was cheap and easy. Industries were still wanting for a few good men and opportunity for advancement was abundant. Inflation has made many Boomers rich with the passive holding of real estate investments. A prosperous and beneficial retirement is within sight for a great many  because defined pension benefits were once the norm.

We take the tourism industry for granted but it didn’t always exist. It wasn’t until the advent of ‘sunshine skin’ that it became possible to visit the undeveloped islands and continents of the third world. Now when  millions of tourists flock south for the winter they have forgotten the struggles of a preceding generation who didn’t enjoy the access to infrastructure available today. I shouldn’t take for granted that I can fly to Mallorca or Bangkok on a whim, because it wasn’t always  so easy. When the cold wind begins to blow we should thank a diminutive fashion mavin named Coco for the birth of modern tourism and the post war economic boom that produced the incredible wealth and leisure we enjoy.

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