The long Loei rocky road home.

11 Months, 28 Days, still sober – Yes folks only 3 more days to go…..


Mobi- Babble

Here is the second part of my trip report.

On Thursday, Noo spent the day with her family, while I stayed back at the guest house doing my usual computer stuff. In the afternoon I decided to have break and took a long walk along the riverside, and thence to a nearby thoroughfare which led me to this Chinese temple, virtually in the middle of nowhere.

I then retraced my steps back through Taa Sadej market.

Where I found this interesting busker, trying to make a few Baht…

On Friday we rose quite early, and checked out of our room at Mut Mee Guest house in Nong Khai. We were soon on the road that follows the Mekong in a North Westerly direction, up through Nong Khai and into Loei province.

We made a quick stop at Tha Bo where Noo bought a new fridge for her Dad. His existing fridge is over 20 years old and is held together with rubber bands. It was so rusty that it was in imminent danger of electrocuting the next hapless person who tried to open the door.

Having arranged for a songtaow to deliver the fridge to his home a few kilometres away, we were back on the road which was becoming increasingly unsuitable for my low slung beamer. It was full of deep pot holes and deep fissures and in some places the road had disintegrated entirely into a dirt track littered with sharp rocks.

Some of the views of the Mekong along route 211 were quite spectacular; but the driving was very hard work, as for the most part I had to drive at extremely slow speeds and navigate our way along roads that could easily damage my wheels and/or suspension if I wasn’t extremely careful.

A Laotion truck on the Laos side of the Mekong. (Not bad zoom quality from my little Canon)

This little trip was starting to convince me that if I wanted to do any more of this ‘exploring’ up-country, then I would be better off changing out my vehicle for something more suitable.

After what seemed an eternity, we finally made it up to Chiang Khan and took a drive up a very steep mountain track to a huge Buddha and Wat that over-looked the Mekong.

We then made our way inland, but the terrain was still extremely bad, so by the time we finally made it to Phu Rua in Loei, the sun was setting and I was completely exhausted from the concentration involved in protecting my trusty BM from damage.

The road to Phu Rua –  one of the better stretches

There is a huge national park at Phu Rua which has a number of mountain ranges, waterfalls and other worthwhile views, which on a typical weekend attracts many Thai tourists. We discovered this to our cost as resort after resort was fully booked by Thai tour groups who were descending on the area in Busses and minivans for a weekend away.

We were starting to think we may have to spend the night in the car when we came across a delightful little place, a bit off the beaten track, which had simple, but very clean rooms available, at simple prices. The room was 400 Baht and very basic, but it had all we needed – a double bed and a bathroom.

As night descended, the temperature plummeted to around 12 degrees Centigrade and we both put on our winter woollies to keep warm. I even bought Noo a woolly hat which she didn’t take off until about noon the following day!

The place was empty when we arrived, but later in the evening a number of Thai guests arrived, who in time- honoured Thai fashion, turned on their stereo and proceeded to have a party, all of which we could hear through our paper thin walls. But I was so tired that it didn’t really bother me and before long I was sound asleep.

Just as well I got a few hours sleep, for the night was still upon us and the cocks had yet to get into high gear when our considerate fellow guests turned their radio on at full blast and we were treated to a rousing, early morning, music reveille.

When I had cleared my bleary eyes sufficiently to focus on my watch, I found that it wasn’t yet 6 am. But I reasoned, somewhat philosophically, that it was probably just as well, as we had a very long way to go if we were to make it back to Pattaya before sundown.

Much as I wanted to drive to the Phu Rua National Park and up to some of the scenic summits, I decided that if we were to do this, we may never make it back to Pattaya that day as we were now even further from home than when we were in Nong Khai; and we were also quite a long way from the major trunk routes.

Resolving that we would spend a day in Phu Rua National Park on the next occasion we went to Nong Khai, we headed off towards Dan Sai, before making the long trek home.

The road to Dan Sai was good and once again the views were spectacular as we travelled through the steep hills of Loei.

One of the major sights of Dan Sai is Wat Neramitr and we stopped off there to admire the beautiful temple and the murals that adorn its walls.

One of the many beautiful murals at Wat Neramitr. (I used a flash to cancel out the top light.)

I decided to drive back south on route 21 which runs all the way to Saraburi, via Petchabun. I had travelled this road several years ago when I stopped off in Petchabun on my way back from Chiang Mai, and found it to be a little used, very good, fast 4 lane highway. And so it proved to be again, and we made excellent time along the entire length of the road.

Again, there was some spectacular scenery en route, both in Loei and Petchabun, which also is a very mountainous province.

It was on the final leg of the journey, just when I was starting to feel rather weary, that I experienced the biggest problem of my journey. After driving through Saraburi, I headed east, past Nakhon Nayok towards Prachin Buri, with the intention of picking up route 331 which runs from Kabin Buri, all the way to Banglamung, near my home in Mabprachan.

I don’t quite know what happened, but I got to Prachin Buri OK but then  found myself on route 304, which I hoped would lead me to the 331 , but I ended up getting completely lost. By time I realised I was lost, I had driven quite a long way off my route. I was in fact heading back towards Kabin Buri, so what with retracing my steps and a more few false starts, I finally managed to find the elusive 331, after driving for an hour or more across country on a very slow, traffic congested, one lane road.

So it was home at around 5.45 pm, having been on the road since very early that morning, and to be honest, I think I am still recovering…

The dogs went ballistic as you might expect and the next day, Christmas Day, we had a quiet, restful day at home with them before deciding to go out in search of a turkey dinner in the evening. We failed miserably to find a suitable restaurant (they were either fully booked or weren’t doing anything special) and ended up sharing a pizza an empty restaurant just down the road from my home.

But it was fine – I’m not big on Christmases and Noo doesn’t know any different.

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!….

The road to Nongkhai, via the City of Angels

11 Months, 22 Days, still sober

 

Mobi- Babble

I am breaking a rule of a lifetime in this blog, as for the first time I am publishing photos of people in my life. In this blog you will find a few pics of Noo and her family as I cannot see any harm – given that neither she nor her family nor anyone who knows her, will ever read any of my blogs.

No, this is NOT  Noo….

Last Sunday, we packed our bags and rove up to Bangkok for a couple of nights before heading off up to Nong Khai for a few more, leaving our three lovely pooches in the capable hands of our trusty gardener/pool cleaner.

The purpose of my stay in Bangkok was to see my two specialists at Bumrungrad  Hospital.

Amazing though it may sound, even though Noo once worked as a fork lift driver in the Bangkok suburbs, somewhere out in the boon-docks of Bang Khae, she had never set sight on central Bangkok. So it was with an ‘ooh’ and an ‘ah’ at the sights of the towering, fanciful skylines of one of the world’s most exciting cities as I drove into Bangkok and along Sukhumvit Road to check into my regular Bangkok lodging – the Honey Hotel, on soi 19.

I have been using this hotel for the best part of 35 years, and I think all my wives, bar one, have slept with me there on one occasion or another through the years, to say nothing of the countless long term, short-term and even ‘one night stand’ lovers who have shared my bed there through the years. The Honey Hotel is like a favourite  pair of old  slippers – it may be a bit worn out and past its best, (like me), but it always feels so comfortable to me.

The room rates are extremely reasonable, the rooms are clean and have everything I need – air conditioning,TV, fridge, and hot water ; the coffee shop serves up excellent Thai and farang  food at reasonable prices, and there is convenient covered car park, where the long serving security guard always gives my car a wash without having to be asked, even if I haven’t been there for over a year.

I rarely use my car in Bangkok as taxis are cheap and plentiful and the ‘sky train’ and underground are just five minutes’ walk down soi 19 to Sukhumvit. I don’t mind driving – the problem is parking. Years ago, when I lived in Bangkok, I employed a driver, purely so that he could stay with the car and find somewhere to park whenever I went out anywhere.

So on Sunday afternoon, I took Noo out for a walk along Sukhumvit Road, from Soi 19 down to soi Nana, fighting through all the street vendors that cram the side walks. Then across the road for a quick ‘looksie’ at the Nana Entertainment Plaza (NEP) bar scene, (she had never heard of it), before jumping on a Sky train to go to the massive MBK shopping complex, where we spent an hour or so wandering around to buy a few bits and pieces for her folks in Nong Khai.


I had a bit of a ‘bad turn’ in MBK and realised that my forthcoming medical check-ups were not before time. Anyway, after a good rest I felt  better and we retraced our steps to Nana, where Noo had to collect a wheelie bag that we had bought earlier and then we walked back up Sukhumvit to the hotel, where we both collapsed from exhaustion on the bed!

Later, after we had recovered our energy, we took a walk to Soi Cowboy, where I showed Noo the ‘sights’ and before having a meal nearby. On the way there we passed the newest addition to the Bangkok landscape, the towing ‘Terminal 21’ shopping complex at the corner of soi 19 and Sukhumvit.

Soi Cowboy

Xmas Tree outside Terminal 21

The last time I was in Bangkok, this latest addition to the Bangkok Skyline was still under construction, and a year or so before that, the corner was the well known location of  ‘Country Roads’, a live music bar with loads of whores for hire. For many years, in front of  ‘Country Roads’,  was the site of ‘On & Off‘, a street beer bar, owned and run by On,  the wife of my friend Rob – the one who passed away a few weeks back.. On was a very lovely lady from Korat, who I referred to briefly in my recent ‘obituary’ to Rob. (‘Death of a Salesman’).

Bangkok’s skyline  is forever changing, and over the decades I have come to expect the unexpected but it was quite a jolt to find the glitzy hi-tech 21St century  ‘Terminal 21’ where – only a few blinks of my eyelids ago – was the seedy ‘Country Roads’ and the even seedier ‘On & Off Bar’ with its third rate hookers and drunken, often impecunious farang customers.

The next morning, (Monday), it was up with the dawn chorus to drive down to Bumrungrad Hospital at the crack of dawn to have my ‘fasting’ blood tests.

I had to drive as, through the years, I have come to realise that no taxi will take me from Soi 19 to Soi 3 in the morning rush hour, ostensibly due to traffic jams. I always find this a bit of an enigma, as it never takes me more than 20 minutes, max, to drive there at that time of the morning. From Soi 19, I take a right into Soi Asoke, which, I admit is a bit of a traffic night mare, but once I have edged my way up Asoke to Petchburi Road– a distance of about half a kilometre which takes about 15 minutes, I am home and dry. Straight down Petchburi and a left into Soi Nana and then a right into Bummers. Easy peasy! These taxis don’t  know everything.

An account of my marathon 10 hour stint at Bumrungrad hospital can be found below, under a separate heading.

After driving back to the Honey in the late afternoon, we had a brief rest before driving  to Soi 22 to meet up with an old friend kin Washington Square. (Ye I know I said I use taxis, but Washington square is one of the few places that you can easily park – albeit for an extortionate fee.)

We met up at the Hare and Hounds, one of the very few bars still open in what was once a thriving area of Bangkok bar and restaurant-land. The square is now a total dump and seems to be getting worse.

All the long-term tenants have been thrown out by the Indian owners of the land, but they have yet to do a deal with potential property developers. Apparently, the Central and the Beer Chang people have come and gone after failing to come to an agreement. Meanwhile, the enormous square is a blot on the landscape. I wonder how much longer it will stay like this?

We didn’t stay too long; my bar days are behind me – particularly with Noo in tow, and it was noticeable how pissed my friend and a few others were becoming with a consequent deterioration in the quality of their conversation. In any event, we planned to rise early and it had been a very long day at the hospital.

No, this is NOT Noo…

So on Tuesday we set off for Nong Khai, and in spite of the morning rush hour it wasn’t long before we were heading Northwards on the express way for the 7 hour drive to Nong Khai.

The trip was pretty uneventful, with the only item worthy of note was the quite extraordinary number of police road blocks throughout our journey. A combination of luck, and possibly having a dark windowed beamer meant that we succeeded in sailing, unsullied, through all the check points; but I did notice that it was not only trucks and pick-ups that were being stopped; many decent looking cars were also being ‘waved over’, by the swarming, officious-looking traffic cops.’

This is by far the largest number of police check points I have ever seen on the roads of Thailand – even during such festivals as Songkran – and in Nong Khai itself, the roads seemed to be teeming with cops who were stopping and checking vehicles of all kinds..

I am not sure if this phenomenon is due to the police coffers being unusually empty, prior to the New Year season, or is it due to something a bit more sinister? Is there something going on? Are they looking for something or someone in particular? Who knows?

We checked in at my pre-booked guest house – a charming little complex over-looking the Mekong River entitled Mut Mee. The views and ambience are excellent, So far so good, but the good stops there.

The rooms are charming but very basic. There are no TVs’ (no problem), no fridges, and believe it or not, no water or glasses. They have a strange system; something  that I have never come across before. Meals can be ordered by writing your order in your ‘room book’ and leaving it in the kitchen, and similarly water and other drinks can be obtained by helping yourself from a central fridge in reception and writing the details in your room book. Coffee and other hot drinks also can be obtained like this but you have to make them yourself. All meals and refreshments so obtained are to be consumed in a communal outside area. So there is no free water and not even a glass in your room to wash down your late night pills.

‘Room with a view’ – the Mekong River and Laos beyond.

Morning coffee outside my room

You know who…

Sorting the Mobi provisons

The Mut Mee complex. Mobi’s room straight ahead.

To make matters worse, they even charge you for toilet paper!

I confess that I seriously considered moving, but in the end it was all too much hassle. In any event we got round their silly system as fortunately I then had the foresight to bring with me our own coffee and breakfast supplies (cereal, milk, orange juice etc), together with mugs, bowls cutlery , tissues etc and we also had a cool chest. So we made a quick trip to the 7/11 and bought some water and ice and we were in business.

We resolved not to partake of any of their additional catering services and  have dined out every day for lunch and dinner and catered for our own breakfasts, coffee, and so on.

Yesterday morning drove to Noo’s home village, near to Tha Bo where we went to her home and met up with her family, including her parents and her two children. This was my third visit to her home and I am now treated as one of the family.

After all these years, I think I can tell the good folk from the ‘not so good’, (or shall we say mercenary), and I can equivocally state that these folk are amongst nicest, friendliest and most caring I have ever met out here in Issan-land. I speak precious little Issan but with my bad Thai and their Thai/Issan, we managed to communicate quite well. Of coursed it goes without saying that a lovely good hearted girl like Noo would also have a lovely, good hearted family.

Some alternative forms of transport at Noo’s home.

The ubiquitous ‘family table’, situated underneath  the home on stilts.

Noo’s youngest – couldn’t resist sharing this with you.

Then I took the family to visit a nearby Wat where they did all the usual praying for  ‘good luck’, as well as ‘freeing’ some terrapin-type creatures  in the river for extra good luck. This was a variation on a theme I had not come across before. Usually, you pay a few Baht to let birds free from tiny cages.

Loadsa luck for Noo and her family…

Buy your terrapin’s freedom here!

The river behind the Wat.

When we were all ‘prayed out’, we  drove down to the nearby Tha Bo Market, and did a bit of shopping. I bought myself some Adidas trainers for 450 Baht!

Tha Bo Market

Then we took a 25 kms  drive along a picturesque road that borders the Mekong river, to Nong Kai City, where we are staying. The family went to look around Taa Sadej market – a famous riverside market, while I stayed back at the room.

Today, I have sent Noo off to spend the day with her family in the village near to Tha Bo, and I am spending the day at the guest house.

I am writing this blog, outside my room, which looks out over the Mekong river, and I am quite content and at peace with the world.

It really is very pleasant here, and I am quite sure that I would be a regular guest at this place is it wasn’t for the silly, unnecessary, mercenary-like catering arrangements, which have been invented by its misguided farang owners. But there again, they seem to have plenty of guests, so who I am to say they have got it wrong?

But it’s just not for Mobi.

Tomorrow we will head off into the wilds of Loei province to check out some recommended sights and will stay the night somewhere en route, before heading back to Pattaya on Saturday – just in time for Christmas!

Mobi’s  medical miscellany at Bumrungrad

I was reluctant to go back to this hospital as it is very expensive. I can manage the consultant’s fees, meds and blood tests – just about – but if I need to have any ‘procedures’, God Forbid, you are talking big money.

So what with one thing or another, I hadn’t seen my diabetic specialist for a year, (should be every 3-6 months), and its about 3 years since my heart specialist saw my ugly countenance.

But in the end, I decided to bite the bullet and do the necessary. Why don’t I go somewhere cheaper? Well the plan fact is that I really don’t trust hospitals and doctors in Thailand. From my own, and also many other farangs’ experiences, it is very obvious that most Thai Doctors just treat their profession as a business and they are out to maximise their  profit/income.

This is the reason that most of the best doctors practice in the major Bangkok private hospitals. This is where the big money is. Sad to say, it is largely the ‘dross’ – the medical light weights – who go to work the provinces.

Over the years in Thailand I have had many experiences of countless doctors in all manner of hospitals , including expensive and cheapo ones in Bangkok, to hospitals in places like, Chon Buri, Sri Racha,  Bang Saen, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Sa Kaeo and goodness knows where else. 

So I think that I do possess a reasonably objective view of the state of play here, being a long term out- patient (and in-patient) who has kept himself well informed about his own medical conditions, and the latest treatment options.

In particular, excluding the major private hospitals in Bangkok, the Thai medical profession’s attitude to diabetes is stuck somewhere in the 1980’s. Apart from the aforementioned,elite hospitals, you will never find a Thai hospital where there is a specialist whose full time speciality is diabetes. Diabetic patients are always referred to the regular GP or ‘internal medicine’ doctor, whose knowledge and treatment of the disease is woefully lacking.

 I was once admitted to Samitivej Hospital in Sri Racha with Dengue fever., Samitivej is on the top rung of Thai private hospitals and the specialist who treated my dengue fever was first class, I couldn’t have wished for more expert and caring treatment. 

Yet the doctor responsible for looking after my diabetes couldn’t understand why I was taking 4 insulin shots a day, instead of only one!  I won’t write an essay here on the advances in diabetes treatment through the years but I can assure that his knowledge was decades out of date. This was by no means the first doctor I have come across, outside Bangkok, who seemed to know less about the treatment of diabetes in the 21st century than I do.

Not so, my wonderful specialist at Bumrungrad, who I have been seeing for over ten years. She always keeps herself bang up to date with frequent trips abroad to learn and discuss with her peers the latest advances in drugs and techniques and treatment.

(She is also very cute, and maybe I am imagining it but I always feel she has a soft spot for me…)

As for heart specialists – well I am sure there are hundreds of good ones around – but how can you tell a good one from bad one? Or how can you know for sure which one will only recommend a certain procedure because there is money in it for them?

The lady I have been seeing at Bumrungrad, (yes, you’ve guessed it, all my doctors are female), once thought my arterial stenosis was serious enough to justify a ‘stent’ implant. But just to make, sure she arranged to do a confirmatory angio-gram, to be immediately followed by the stent procedure.

I was required to make a very large monetary deposit in advance of this ‘operation’ and you can imagine my surprise when I was subsequently awoken from the anaesthetic to be informed that she hadn’t after all gone ahead with the stent as the narrowing wasn’t sufficiently acute to justify it. Subsequently, about 90% of my deposit was refunded.

For those of you who know anything about such ‘cash cows’ as Bangkok Pattaya hospital, I will ask you, in your wildest dreams, can you ever imagine anything like that happening there?

So I fell in love with my ethical cardiologist and was broken hearted, (excuse the pun), when I learnt she was leaving Bummers to go to live and work in the USA. Hence no Mobi heart check-ups for the past three years.

However, I recently  heard through the grapevine that my lovely lady of the heart was not only back in Thailand  but was back at her old job at Bumrungrad, so I needed no further inducement to have a long overdue check-up.  It was about time too as the meds I have been taking for years no longer seem to keep my blood pressure under control, and when I was in Bangkok Pattaya last year with my smashed wrist, the heart doctor there told me that I had a dodgy heart valve.

I had to be at the hospital before 8 a.m. for my blood tests and then had to hang around till noon for my first appointment with the cardiologist. Unfortunately the results were not too promising.

My blood pressure was so high that the nurse actually took it twice as she didn’t believe the first reading. Not a good portent.

It turns out that the reason my blood pressure is so high, despite the mountain of medication I take, is because my heart is struggling to pump blood through my partly blocked aortic valve.

The doc arranged for an echo cardiogram stress test in the afternoon which confirmed her diagnosis. The echo cardiogram showed that my aortic valve was quite bad and she actually cancelled the stress test part of the procedure, which involves running on tread mill, as she feared what might happen to my heart!

The bottom line is that the damage to my aortic valve is just below the ‘danger limit’ of 40% in ‘lack of functionality’, (mine’s about 38%); but rather than jump right in and put me under the knife, she has proposed a programme of treatment for the next three months to see if I can arrest or slow down the disease progression and delay the need for surgery. She as good as admitted that surgery will be necessary at some point, but the longer I can postpone that time, the better.

Replacing a heart valve entails major open heart surgery, involving a week in hospital and several weeks of after-care/recuperation, and also involves a moderate degree of risk, especially in diabetic patients. It is also bloody expensive – the doc said around 700,000 Baht (15,000 pounds, give or take)  for the op, (not sure if this includes everything), at Bumrungrad.

I guess I’m going to have to do a bit of shopping around.

So the current plan involves a continuation of my efforts at daily exercise, which will help to make the valve stronger, some fine tuning of my medication, and re-doubling of my efforts to lose weight.

These steps might ameliorate the state of the valve, but my condition will have to be monitored very closely. She has warned me that any major re-occurrences of my recent symptoms, such as chest pains, breathlessness and feeling faint will be a signal that surgery needs to be carried out sooner rather than later. If some or all of these symptoms re-occur, she told me to go back and see her straight away  for a further assessment of my condition.

Finally, more  doom and gloom from my diabetes doc. My weight gain has resulted in dangerously high blood sugars, although the few kilos I succeeded in losing over the last week or so have already resulted  in a slight improvement over the last few days. Again, some adjustments to my medication, plus more exercise and weight loss will help to put things back on course.

BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot…

Mobi breaks his vow!

11 Months, 11 Days, still Sober

Mobi-Babble.

The roads to hell, along with most of us travellers, are always filled with the best of good intentions, but as they say, sometimes even the best laid plans….

For those who know me of old, you will understand that this much flawed reprobate doesn’t always live up to his avowed aims. This can be anything from quitting the booze, to taking more exercise or merely becoming involved in some new worthwhile activity.

Our minds are willing but sometimes our hearts are weak – or is it the other way round? Anyway, I am not ashamed to admit that sometimes the Mobi-will power is a little lacking.

On Friday, I had a lunch appointment with my investment adviser who came down from Bangkok to meet with me. After we had discussed the deplorable state of the world’s finances, the worrying political state of affairs in Thailand, and the even more worrying state of Mobi’s finances, we concluded an unsatisfactory meeting but a nice lunch.

So being at a somewhat loose end, temptation got the better of me, and I ended up in one of my favourite ‘Gentlemen’s establishments’ in suburban Jomtien.

It was a completely ‘spur of the moment’ decision, as I had not even come dressed for the occasion – wearing jeans, rather than the obligatory ‘loose shorts’ which are usually ‘de rigour’ for such places.

I’m not going to beat myself up too much over this rash decision, as this was my first foray into any such place for several weeks, and I suppose, deep in my heart, when I resolved that my life as a whore-monger was over, I always knew there would be the occasional lapse. Why not?

Anyway, I confess I had a pretty good time. One of my favourite, very sexy young ladies was there to greet me, and before long I had no less than three of the most gorgeous young ladies, all clad in figure hugging, low cut, deep red mini-dresses that barely covered their scanty knickers, sitting with me, around me and almost in to me.

They were a bit put out by my ‘formal’ attire, but it wasn’t long before they found a satisfactory to the solution the problem, as long as I didn’t suddenly stand  up from my bar stool , which might have proved embarrassing. (Note, I said ‘might’ as these days it takes a lot to embarrass Mobi – or indeed the young ladies who work at these establishments).

Anyway it was great fun, and as ever, the customers at nearby tables just couldn’t believe what they were witnessing; many, no doubt, were eating their hearts out. In all, I was probably there a couple of hours and by the time I departed, there weren’t too many girls there who hadn’t come over to ‘sample’ the Mobi-goods. It must be very boring when I’m not there to provide an afternoon’s entertainment!

I nearly went home, but at the last minute, I diverted to another one of my favourite haunts – this time, east of Suk. The place was devoid of customers, but all my ‘old flames’ were there – in particular three young ladies, of 21, 25 and 31 years of age respectively.

I was welcomed like a long lost ‘brother’ and it wasn’t too long before I was replicating the pleasures I had just reluctantly left back in the Jomtien club. It is quite ridiculous how much pleasure a gentleman of a certain age can derive from sitting with three young ladies, almost a third of his age, and indulging in a little slap and tickle and a fun-filled session of light hearted repartee.

I was back home by 6.30 pm where little Noo who was waiting patiently to prepare my evening meal. She had also been out for the afternoon to see her friends and do a bit of shopping, so I didn’t feel too bad about my own activities.

Apart from going on the occasional shopping trips and meals with Noo, I hadn’t really been out of the house for weeks and I really believe it did me good to have a bit of a ‘break out’.

I did feel guilty enough to take her out for an evening meal, which we both enjoyed and after which, we reaffirmed our love for each other – as if that was necessary…

My trip schedule to Bangkok and Nong Khai is all finalised. We will go to Bangkok next Sunday and stay a couple of nights, during which time I will see my specialists at Bumrungrad.

On Tuesday, we will head off for Nong Khai and I have booked a room in a nice little guest house overlooking the Mekong River for three nights. We shall catch up with Noo’s family, and do a bit of sight-seeing, which will also include a trip over the Friendship Bridge and into a Laos for a day trip.

I am actually looking forward to it, and plan to do a bit of blogging en route – time permitting. The folks at the guest house have suggested that I extend my stay till Christmas as they will be having a big party, so I’m a considering this; it might be good fun. I will decide on this after we arrive there.

Today we are all feeling the ‘cold’. It actually dropped to about 22 C last night, and right now it is about 24C and I am sitting at my desk with a shirt on and no fan. Noo is walking around with a jacket on, and any moment I expect her to start lighting fires to keep her hands warm. If it gets any colder it will start to feel like an English summer.

The on-going Euro fiasco

So many millions of words have been written on this subject, particularly from the British aspect, that quite frankly, you can ‘pays your money and takes your choice’ from the so-called experts with as many wide ranging views and opinions as they are days in the year.

We are in uncharted territory, and no one can really say for sure where this is all going to lead.

For my part, I have blogged on several occasions that I had always been totally against the UK joining the Euro, right back to the time when the whole of the British financial community was convinced it was the only way to go. I knew it wouldn’t work, for all the reasons that have now become apparent and I derive no great pleasure from being  proved right.

But where are all those learned and famous people who told me, and others like me, that we didn’t know what we were talking about? Where are they now?

Have they apologised or in any way admitted they got it wrong? Not a bit of it. Most so-called public figures are too full of their own hubris to ever admit to being wrong.

And it seems to me that this has happened to the entire Liberal Democrat Party who has been vehemently flogging the ‘Euro’ dream for so many years, that they simply cannot find in themselves the courage and honesty to admit they may have been wrong. They would rather stick to a manifestly misguided and unpopular policy and see the British economy collapse, than re-think their now discredited policies.

Cameron is out there alone and good on him. Even now, so few people realise that the Franco/German axis is out to get us, determined to cut us down size and try to destroy our financial services industry which accounts for about 9% of Britain’s GDP and countless millions of jobs, both directly and indirectly.

Make no mistake, if we had signed up to the deals this week, it would be the beginning of the end of Britain as an influential world economic power. The French would like nothing better as they have always hated us, and I suspect the Germans have never forgiven us for refusing to join the Euro in the first place, and probably for the World Cup… and the Second war….

EU regulations have been stifling British businesses for decades and it been forever getting worse, with crazy restrictions on how many hours an employee is permitted to work and even the latest assault on agency /or contract workers, the use of which has made o9ur companies more versatile and has been highly beneficial for businesses and workers alike.

If we became free of all this EU bureaucratic crap, but still being able to access the European markets, (after all there is such a thing as WTO agreements), I truly believe our entrepreneurial and hard-working Anglo Saxon ideas and inventive culture will make this nation prosper like it hasn’t in a very long time.

I only hope that Cameron has the courage to stick with it; and while I understand his reluctance to hold referendums in the middle of all the recent negotiations, I say bring them on – sooner rather than later. I am totally convinced he will get a strong mandate from the British public to move further and further away from this increasingly monolithic European malaise.

And we all know what happened last time Gerry hatched a little European conspiracy… (see below)

American Factoid

Did you know that 80% of students in American colleges who study Maths and computer science degrees are foreigners, and once qualified, they return to their home countries.

They do not stay in the USA because, due to Al Qaida mania, they cannot get visas to stay, so they go back home, and join companies that compete with American companies.

Thousands of American businesses are unable to develop and expand due to lack of Americans holding computer science and maths degrees.

The increasing government regulation on the American business environment is probably far greater than it is even within the EU. Even the Germans know how to free up their business from too much bureaucracy, (hence being the most successful manufacturing nation in the west), and recognise the need to import much needed ‘third world’ scientific skills, without too many silly visa restrictions.

The great American Dream was built by immigrants. WTF happened?

Taking care of illegal, non-productive, Hispanic families has a far higher priority.

Until they all go broke….

‘Conspiracy’ and ‘Countdown to Zero’

I watched two very different, but in their own ways, two very disturbing movies recently.

Conspiracy, (2001) is a ‘made for TV’ movie by the BBC in conjunction with HBO –and is a re-enactment of the 1942 ‘Wannsee Conference’ in Germany where the ‘Final Solution’ phase of the holocaust was devised.

The story is based on notes recovered of the actual conference and all the characters taking part and the views they convey are historically accurate.

In some ways an impartial, uninformed viewer might wonder why a bunch of Germans sitting around a table dispassionately discussing an aspect of their war strategy could provide interesting viewing. At first, this could well be the case, but as soon as the whole purpose of the meeting becomes clear – the question of how to ‘deal’ with millions of Jews in Europe – then what initially appears to be a boring ‘business’ meeting’, transforms itself into an evil plan to ‘dispose’ of an entire race of people.

Yet the discussions take place in an atmosphere of apparent civility and politeness, as though they were merely debating the pros and cons of a new sales campaign rather that the annihilation of millions of fellow human beings.

One of the few major disagreements is over whether or not any regulations need to be amended in respect of non-Jews who married Jews or in the disposal of the offspring of such marriages. This seems to create far more argument than the central point of the conference, which is how to kill and dispose of the Jewish people in the most efficient manner.

The characters are played by a power house of British acting, with the notable exception of the American actor, Stanley Tucci , who plays the affable but very evil Adolph Eikmann, who was subsequently put in charge of the ‘Final Solution’.

Top British Shakespearean actor, Kenneth Branagh, plays General Reynard Heidrich, who was in charge of the conference and ultimately persuaded the attendees to agree to his ‘solution’, which was, in effect the transportation of Jews throughout Europe to specially constructed concentration camps which had been fitted with the ‘death’ gas chambers.

The entire ensemble cast are brilliant in portraying what appear to be ordinary, loyal, hard-working Germans; some from the military branches: army, Gestapo, SS, and others from the Civil Service, all going about their daily business in a perfectly normal, matter of fact manner.

Yet over the weekend of the conference, they finalised a plan which resulted in the killing of over 6 million people; one of the most appallingly chilling events in the entire history of the human race.

Countdown to Zero (2010), is actually a movie-length documentary about the ever escalating and proliferating nuclear arms race and the increasing likelihood that one day, we all might disappear in a puff of radioactive dust.

I won’t go into details, except to say that I would recommend this film to all who are interested in world affairs and I can certainly say that I learnt quite a lot about the history of nuclear arms, and the alarming number of authenticated ‘close calls’ that have occurred over the past fifty years.

I also was interested to learn how alarmingly simple it is to make a basic nuclear bomb – not particularly efficient, but powerful enough to flatten a large city the size of New York. No sophisticated missiles or warheads are required – in fact with a chunk of enriched uranium, no larger than the size of a briefcase, and some materials that can obtained in the hardware stores of virtually any city in the world, just such a bomb could be made and ignited.

And we have to thank a certain Pakistani gentleman who goes by the name of Abdul Qadeer Khan, for not only providing nuclear technology but also nuclear materials to North Korea and Iran to name but two, nuclear hungry ‘rogue’ states. He is still fêted as a ‘hero’ in his own country.

Back in the 1960’s John F Kennedy said: “Every man woman and child, lives under a nuclear ‘Sword of Damocles’, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment, by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness.”

This statement is clearly the underlying thesis of the film and there are fascinating insights by such luminaries as former CIA agent Valerie Plume, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter, Tony Blair, and Robert McNamara, which all add the credence of this well researched and chilling documentary.

Download it and watch it if you can. The next bomb, if and when it happens, could outdo the atrocities committed on the Jewish race back in the 1940’s.

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!…

 

mmmmmm….

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