27th April – At home by the Lake in East Pattaya – an almost dry day for a change…

3 months, 27 Days – still sober.

Yesterday I spent the day at home, but today I went to see Dang, my estranged wife and then decided to be a little bit naughty. More on all this tomorrow.

Today’s collection of ladies all hail from Vietnam. I hope you will agree with me that the women from Vietnam are really something special – even amongst Asian beauties.



A couple of days ago, hundreds of Taliban staged a daring escape through an underground tunnel from a jail in Kandahar which was holding some of the organisation’s most notorious killers. This unbelievable breach in security has triggered warnings of yet another new upsurge in violence. The mass escape is a major propaganda coup for the Taliban and a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai described the escape as a “disaster”.

It is the second mass escape from the jail in three years. In 2008 around 900 inmates, including 400 Taliban fighters, were freed from the jail when dozens of militants on motorbikes and two suicide bombers attacked the front gate. Their escape led to an upsurge in violence in Kandahar’s Arghandab valley.

In a statement, the Taliban boasted that “the most astonishing thing” was that the escape had taken four-and-a-half hours, finished at 3.30am but went unnoticed until four hours later. At the end of the tunnel, the escapee said the prisoners swapped their striped, prison issues for fresh clothes before being loaded into vehicles that formed a flotilla ready to disperse the escapees.

His account of the ease with which they escaped and the failure of prison guards to notice will raise questions about discipline among staff and the training they received from Canadian ‘mentors.’ “They were just sleeping,” the escapee said. “They are always intoxicated, smoking heroin, smoking hashish, or sleeping.”

He will now re-join the insurgency, he said. “I have been doing jihad for 10 years. I will fight again, I will fight again.” Local intelligence officials fear an upsurge in violence will be repeated this time. “This will have a negative effect on Kandahar’s security situation,” the deputy intelligence chief in Kandahar said. “I don’t know how many among them were leaders or prominent people, but if there is a fire and you put more wood on it, there will be more flames, so these escaped people will add fuel to the fire.”

The British Defence Secretary described the incident as a major blow. “It’s a worry and a setback,” he said.

Yesterday, two buses carrying Pakistani navy officials were hit by roadside bombs, killing four and wounding more than 50 others. The blasts took place roughly 15 minutes apart in different areas of Karachi, the country’s biggest city.

Islamist militants have staged repeated attacks on security forces and other state targets in recent years. Allied with or inspired by al-Qaida, they are seeking to overthrow Pakistan’s US-allied government or force a halt in army offensives against their safe havens in the northwest close to Afghanistan. Karachi, the economic heart of the nation and the home of the Pakistan navy, has not been spared. The victims included naval officers and employees of the force and one of the dead was a female doctor.

Meanwhile, 14 people, among them women and children, were killed when fire ripped through a bus in south-western Pakistan late Monday. A witness said the bus in Baluchistan was attacked by gunmen who later set it on fire.

Baluchistan is wracked by separatist violence and civilians are often targeted, especially settlers from elsewhere in Pakistan. Information from the region is very hard to confirm, and transparent investigations are rarely carried out into violent incidents.

Islamist terrorism in Pakistan began in earnest after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, which caused widespread anger in Pakistan and destabilised its border regions. The extremists began targeting the Pakistani state after it allied with Washington in its campaign against extremism.

The people of Pakistan hate the western forces, particularly the Americans, with a purple passion and many, but not all, Afghans are not too far behind them in the hatred league.

Can someone please explain to me how, with the best will in the world, the allied forces expect to defeat the Taliban in a country where they are universally reviled and where insurgents are allowed to plot, maim and kill the general population at will?

Obama has stated his intention of withdrawing most of the US forces from Afghanistan in 2014, as by that time, he states, the Afghans will be in a position to take care of their own security.

Judging by the fiasco that occurred at the Kandahar jail just two days ago, the notion that the Afghans will be capable of  protecting their country from insurgents, without the continuing, massive assistance of outside forces, is just a massive pile of horse shit and everybody knows it.

On Monday night I watched the Aussie programme, Q&A, on the Australian Network. One of the panel members was a startling beautiful Afghan refugee by the name of Najeeba Wazefadost. Najeeba had come to Australia on a refugee boat when she was 12 years old, without knowing a word of English. Now, at 23, she has graduated from the University of Western Sydney and speaks heavily accented but wonderful, very powerful English. I was astonished by her sheer bravery in appearing as a panel member on a nationally televised programme, where her fellow panel members were mainly middle aged, highly experienced public speakers – politicians, journalists and the like..

Naturally, a number of the audience’s questions centred on the Afghan refugee and/or war issues; these are very hot topics in Australia. Najeeba held her corner magnificently, her arguments were compelling and my heart went out to her. She explained how grateful she was to get an education in Australia and also explained how wonderful it was that many girls and women back in her home country were now able to go to school and assert their fundamental rights as women; all thanks to the intervention of the western forces in her country.

But upon further questioning, she conceded that she was talking mainly of Kabul and a few ‘pockets’ throughout the country; the areas where there was a heavy concentration of allied forces. For the remainder of the country, the women were still treated virtually as slaves, and were not allowed to attend school or assert themselves as human beings. Najeeba actually laughed out aloud when asked if she thought that by 2014, the country would be sufficiently stable to permit the withdrawal of foreign troops. It was clear that in her view, it was a totally preposterous notion, as it will take many years – probably decades – before the Taliban could be finally defeated and a proper democracy and civil rights for women could be established throughout the country.

We all know that she is correct. So what do we do? Do we abandon this part of the world in the knowledge that we simply do not have the will or, frankly the wherewithal, to remain entrenched there for countless years, draining our resources and losing our young men. If, as I have previously suggested, we give up the unequal struggle, then there is no doubt that the region will become embroiled in a mass of butchery, cruel repression and religious extremism; furthermore, the leaders will do their very best to export  terror and their abhorrent doctrines to our own shores as their stated aim is to defeat the west and convert the world to Islam. If we leave them to their own devices, hundreds of thousands may die and millions will live in poverty, terror and misery. Maybe in the end it will all wear itself out and a new dawn will come. When? Who knows? – 50 years? 100 years? I certainly won’t be around to see it.

The alternative is to face the reality of the situation, refuse to stand by while half the world goes up in flames, grit our teeth and hunker in for the long haul; hoping that eventually, the sheer moral force of good over evil will ultimately prevail. But at what cost and with what guarantees?

What say you, dear readers?

Poetry in music

A few years back, when I was still living with Dang, I used to go to a  DVD store in TukCom to buy my pirated western TV programmes and also to buy the occasional live music concert DVD. I was flicking through the list of available music concert DVD’s one day, when for some unaccountable reason I rashly, (or so I thought at the time), bought a DVD featuring John Denver in a ‘Wild Life Concert’.

I don’t know why I bought it, as although I was familiar with some of Denver’s songs (Leaving on a Jet Plane, Country Roads, etc) I wasn’t a particular fan and found his style of music fairly ordinary, to say the least, maybe a bit boring, even if he did seem to have a knack of writing a ‘good tune’.

Anyway, I watched the DVD on the night I took it home and my estimation of the man and his music shot up ten thousand-fold. I watched him perform many songs that I had never heard before and as the lyrics were shown at the bottom of the screen, I also had the benefit being able to follow his beautifully crafted words.

Since that first showing, I have watched the video on many occasions and it never fails to move me and inspire me. Denver was a truly gifted songwriter and it is a tragedy that he is no longer with us. The concert was only recorded a couple of years or so before he died in a plane crash and he seems to be at the height of his powers, singing with a small live audience, in a simple setting with a small, but highly talented group of musicians to accompany him.

John Denver has never been embraced by the mainstream Country music industry, and indeed many of his songs have been worldwide pop hits, rather than country hits, but many of his lesser known songs are genuine American folk songs – maybe I should call them ‘Western’ songs. I have really struggled to narrow my choice down to a single song to include in this section of my blog, so in the end, I have settled for two songs, as both of them have so much meaning and  I can play both of them over and over again without ever becoming bored. I will publish my two selections today and tomorrow.

The first song is ‘Poems Prayers and Promises’ and is a sentimental ballad about someone reaching the twilight of his life and becoming a little sentimental and maybe a touch philosophical. I am sure Denver wrote it for himself but I like to think he wrote it for me☺

Poems, Prayers and Promises

I’ve been lately thinking

About my life’s time

All the things I’ve done

And how it’s been

And I can’t help believing

In my own mind

I know I’m gonna hate to see it end

I’ve seen a lot of sunshine

Slept out in the rain

Spent a night or two all on my own

I’ve known my lady’s pleasures

Had myself some friends

And spent a night or two in my own home

And I have to say it now

It’s been a good life all in all

It’s really fine

To have a chance to hang around

And lie there by the fire

And watch the evening tire

While all my friends and my old lady

Sit and pass the pipe around

And talk of poems and prayers and promises

And things that we believe in

How sweet it is to love someone

How right it is to care

How long it’s been since yesterday

And what about tomorrow

And what about our dreams

And all the memories we share

The days they pass so quickly now

Nights are seldom long

And time around me whispers when it’s cold

The changes somehow frighten me

Still I have to smile

It turns me on to think of growing old

For though my life’s been good to me

There’s still so much to do

So many things my mind has never known

I’d like to raise a family

I’d like to sail away

And dance across the mountains on the moon

I have to say it now

It’s been a good life all in all

It’s really fine

To have the chance to hang around

And lie there by the fire

And watch the evening tire

While all my friends and my old lady

Sit and watch the sun go down

And talk of poems and prayers and promises

And things that we believe in

How sweet it is to love someone

How right it is to care

How long it’s been since yesterday

What about tomorrow

What about our dreams

And all the memories we share

Watch John singing: Poems, Prayers and Promises

And here’s the last of my ‘Vietnamese Eight’:-

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