Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Bangkok to Surat Thani

650kms, 9 hours, one night.

Another trip, another journey. This time from Bangkok to the town of Surat Thani. Surat is one of the larger towns of southern Thailand, capital of the province of the same name, and the province (of the same name) is home to the beach resort island of Koh Samui.

Me, the bus guy, and the bus.
people people people--the loneliness of the travelling man.
It is a burden. Surrounded by people but always a part.

my ticket

A fine few weeks in bkk. Saw some friends, saw some new places, visited and revisited some nearby provinces, but time to move on.
Get your ticket.
Sai Tai, at night, main entrance.
I departed bkk from the southern bus station, aka Sai Tai, which is to the west of bkk--go figure. Getting there required a taxi ride from nana—there being little public transport to a major transportation nexus—go figure. Taxi = 200 baht, 60 baht tollway, and 100baht tip because the guy did not haggle about using the meter. It's all an adventure.

Again, Sai Tai is big. Enter go right, up two escalators and u r in the ticket area. Wander around till u find what u want. Avoid friendly folk who try and help you, most will b touts, who will do no more than overcharge.

VIP bus 700 baht. Cool.

The trip you ask? Ok. The usual.
A cat, met at a stop.

My reason to return to Surat Thani is to do some more waymarking in the area, including the nearby provinces, and to see the east coast 'Thai Silk Road' sites. A few weeks, will be fun. Then further south!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone. :)

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Elisabeth Sladen, aka Sarah Jane Smith. RIP

Another face from my youth, the bright and attractive actress Elisabeth Sladen, who played the 'Dr Who' companion Sarah Jane Smith, has passed away, and at the relatively young age of 63. I remember her as the companion of John Pertwee and Tom Baker. She played a feisty investigative reporter, turned time travelling companion—a part she played well. I recall her time on the show fondly, and was sorry when she left. She did return to the series from time to time ( :) ), but, for me, it will always be the 70s.

Elisabeth Sladen 1948-2011 RIP.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

A day @ Nakhon Nayok and Prachinburi

As part of my ongoing quest to visit every Thai province and every Lak Mueang in Thailand I visited the two remaining 'day trip' provinces to the east of Bangkok. Originally, the plan was Mo Chit bus terminal outwards, but a friendly taxi driver offered to take me there and back for 1500 baht ~ $50. A taxi maximizes my chance of doing two provinces in one day, plus it makes a driver very happy.

First Nakon. The closest, and on the way to Prac. 1 hour plus to Nakhon. pop. 20k? Burbs and rice farms most of the way. Nakon is a small quiet town of rice farmers and light industry. Very few farang. Spent three hours or so here, snaps and general looking around.

Prachinburi was a 20 min drive to the south east of Nakon. pop 20k? Rice farms and light industry all the way. The road was fairly busy, the route to Cambo, and the Songkran time of the year.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone. :)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Ebook sales beat conventional books — Feb 2011.

This is what can be considered a micro-blog post. Something small, something interesting, just to let those folks, who do in fact read my blog, know what I believe is important.

So, it seems that as of February 2011 that sales of ebooks has trumped sales of conventional, paperbound books. What I say to this is, about time! To me, progress seems to take too long, where is the future now! I recall back with my Palm 5 (the early 2000s) lamenting that ebooks were not sufficiently good enough to replace paper books. Now, at last, they are.

Of course the numbers in this article are a little rubbery, but it is there. Ebooks have come of age. What does this mean?

It means books should be cheaper. I hate the bleating of the publishing biz, who rival only the music biz for burying one's head in deep sand. Ebooks have the potential to decrease costs, increase availability, and enhance the reading experience. Lets get creative. Yet, all we hear from the books publishers is whining about problems, and about costs, and more whining. These guys are coming to the party with a huge investment in the old publishing business, and they are unwilling to change.

There are new breeds of publishers, such as Baen books, who have regularly published ebooks for a decade, and have made money doing so, for example. There are also authors who directly market to their readers, and make money doing so.

I am glad that ebooks are finally taking off. I can now walk around with 10,000 books in my pocket. My books are much cheaper and the vast array of public domain material  opens up new areas of reading pleasure.

A little bit of the future has arrived. At last. More more more !

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Buffet—a guide.

One of the joys of life on the road is the occasional chance and opportunity to ‘pig out’ at a buffet. Buffets are one of life’s little surprises, a pleasant surprise (and that is often a surprise, in itself). Rather than sit stiffly gazing at a menu, one has the opportunity to sight one’s prey, to seek out and acquire one’ food. Very manly. When you are hungry, when you need the big meal, when you are ready to eat—find a buffet.

Where to find your buffet.
Buffets are all around us, you just have to look. Most of the ‘prestigious’ hotels have buffets, usually breakfast and lunch, but also dinner. Some of the ‘cheap charlie’ hotels around the world also have. In Pattaya for example (a great city) several hotels have $4 buffet breakfasts and $6 buffet dinners, and not bad quality. Take the time to scout out what is available in your vicinity and to find the best deal: check websites, browse through foursquare, ask your facebook buddies. On your hunt you will notice that prices can vary widely between the same level of hotels, also look for specials. 
i. Preparation
This may seem obvious, but do not eat before the buffet begins. If it is a brekky buffet, do not eat the night before. If a dinner, east a light brekky, and skip lunch. Even have a nap beforehand. Some light exercise will get your metabolism buzzing, ready to process that buffet goodness. Be Prepared ! You might also want to avoid carrying excess baggage into the restaurant, notice I said a”void”.
ii. Curtesy
When you enter the restaurant be courteous to the wait staff. Nod to the boss waiter, tell the cute waitress a joke. This makes yourself known, and even a little liked.
iii. Money
Pay when you enter (most places do this), get the money out of the way. Tell them that you are eating the buffet, nothing else. This leaves you free to concentrate on what you came here for.
iv. Location location location
Find the correct table and chair. Somewhere close to the food, away from the toilets and not on an isle. This keeps you close to what you want, and minimises annoying other people. Try also to get some elbow room, put a bag on the chair next to you. A man needs his space, specially when eating.

v. Scout it out
You are now ready to make your move, but, first, walk through the food area. Take a look, suss out your targets. This can be difficult, it is always tempting to jump in and fill a plate, but don’t. Figure out where everything is, then make your move. 
vi. Utensils & accoutrements
Get the biggest plate available, and fill it up. None of this small plate for this and that rubbish, pile it on—but fill your plate, not bury it. For the rest, napkins, sauces, cutlery, walk in, grab what you will need for your stay, and take it back to your place.

vii. Prioritise
Identify what you like to eat, make sure you get plenty of that. Keep an eye out for something new. Put a piece of that on your plate, try it. 
viii. Trickery 
Avoid fizzy drinks. These fill your stomach with gas, limiting how much food you can eat. Clearly, a trick by unscrupulous restauranteurs. Drink water and fruit juice, tea if included (some restaurants with a buffet attempt to trick you into buying expensive drinks. Say to these bad people: “Just water, thanks”.)
ix. Eat healthy
When I say ‘I like to eat’, I do not mean 3kgs of chocolate fudge cake, with extra sugar and chocolate poured on top of the chocolate. We all want to live, part of achieving this is to eat smart, which means to eat healthily. Fruit and veg, fruit juice, water, not too much oil. You know what I am talking about. We control our urges (thus enhancing), or they control us.
x. Company
If you are eating to eat, then bring along either just yourself, or like minded people. Avoid pesky relatives or annoying spouses, who will question your motives and style.

xi. Pace yourself
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Eat a plate, sit back for a moment, let the body process. Buffet usually last a few hours, use every moment.

Don’t be intimidated by owners or managers who want you to leave before you are full. Know what you want, go directly to it, and get it. Avoid children and old people, they slow you down. Don’t waste food, someone has to work to make it. Always get a clean plate. Never eat on your feet, you have a chair for a reason, use it. Allocate an hour or two after the buffet for relax. You had a busy day, you have earned a break. 

Lastly, leave a tip. It’s a hard job being a waiter.

See you—next to the potato salad.