They appear to have sharpened the headlights, further distancing BMW’s volume car from designer Chris Bangle’s flame styling. The tail lights appear more upright, following the styling of the current 5-series.
Expect production to begin in 2012 for 2013 model years.
Despite the disposable nature of consumer goods in America, several of the items I use daily are older than me. I suppose 29 years old isn’t terribly old, but consider how easily people discard and replace their belongings and the astonishing changes the world has been through since 1981:
–End of Cold War
–The Gulf War
–Mobile phones for everyone
–Korean cars became respectable
I exist in a very different world from the one I was born to and so do some of the cars, electronics, and appliances I own and use daily.
I fail to find joy in the “irony” of “vintage” — the fashionable revival of old objects simply for their age. I do have a sizable vinyl collection — I like the covers, the way they sound, and the “live” feeling of the needle vibrating over grooves and physically reproducing the audio. But I realize, obviously, that digital music is far more dependable, convenient, and consistent (if not quite as pleasing to listen to).
While I enjoy old electronics and classic cars I favor the comfort, safety, and security of the modern world. Some prefer life before the prevalence of cell phones and the internet, but I have no positive recollections of having to use the phone book to blindly shop for services, nor did I enjoy having to use a filthy phone booth to make a call from the road.
And my grandfather, who died when I was a kid, would probably have lived a few more years if he had access to today’s advanced healthcare.
Though I do have fond memories of the past, I have no silly notions of it being better. The modern world is exactly where I want to be.
That said, some products of the past were built to a higher standard, intended to last as long as their owners.
Here are a few examples of old things that I own and use on a regular basis.
At the bottom is a Technics SA-110 receiver my dad purchased in the early 1980s. He won a small prize in the lottery and bought this receiver, a matching tape deck, and a pair of Kenwood speakers. A few years later he bought the black Teac equalizer sitting above it.
I acquired the Fisher CA-120 amplifier a year ago through Craigslist — I’m a sucker for VU meters.
These are my two turntables. At the bottom is my Technics SL-BD10 belt-driven manual turntable with a Grado Black cartridge. I damaged my cartridge while attempting to clean it, so I purchased an Optimus LAB-1000 turntable from a Swedish fellow, also through Craigslist.
One of my hundreds of vinyl records.
These JBL speakers from the 1990s sound incredible, with a full and natural sound that faithfully produces recordings without attempting to reshape the sound.
Its hard to believe they were $2000 for the pair back then. Adjusting for inflation, that’s the equivalent of $3000 today.
This is a GE hand mixer my mom bought in the early 80s. Check out the color! I still have the original blades and use it once in a while to make Jello pudding. Almost three decades later the darn thing still works like new with zero maintenance.
Note that it was made in the USA – Bridgeport, Connecticut. I know, its filthy.
My workhorse printer. I picked this up for free nearly eight years ago through Freecycle. It needed a $5 roller kit and nothing more. Yes, new laser printers are faster and more power-efficient, but $10 aftermarket toners keep my old Laserjet humming along for cheap. Because its used at home, speed is no issue (it’s quite slow).
I still use a red steel toolbox that belonged to my dad. I backed over it once and the darn thing didn’t bend or break! And of course here’s my 1991 Saab 900:
Old automobiles, unfortunately, are different from old electronics and toys. They require ongoing maintenance and care and one lazy or neglectful owner is enough to ruin a vehicle, as I’ve discovered after thousands of dollars in repair bills, compensating for the total neglect of previous owners.
Today’s heavily computerized automobiles may require a dealer visit for service and troubleshooting, but repairs are typically (typically!) less frequent. Excluding depreciation and the cost of fuel, it generally costs less to put 100,000 miles on a new car than it did a couple decades ago.
In the Pacific Northwest, salt is used sparingly in the winter, so like communist Cuba you may see several 40-60 year old cars in average physical condition being driven routinely. There’s something oddly reassuring about that.
Older may not always be better but in a highly disposable world, the old can outlast new.
The cause for rioting: “On Saturday a small crowd including Mark Duggan’s mother and fiance gathered outside a Tottenham police station to demand a senior officer explain how Mark had been shot dead by police. After hours of waiting outside no explanation was forthcoming.
“Police say Duggan, an alleged drug dealer and gang member, shot at them when they attempted to arrest him but forensic evidence for the moment points to only police ammunition being used at the crime scene.
“The family left, and the small crowd’s patience exploded. Two police cars were set on fire, the first material victims and the intitial targets of local’s anger. Today the police apologised to the family for their handling of the situation.“
Taking pics with a tiger. This didnt look safe to me
The place had a huge garden
The bathroom had no paper. I fortunately kept several paper towels in my pocket, and then used the spray to finish the cleanup. It was… miserable… and filthy. This meat grinder was disgusting, covered in flies
Dumb playboy sticker
Went to the beach for dinner. Looks like a Kia, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, a Camry, an Accord, a Toyota, something else, and an E-class wagon. I guess this place was high end dining.
The fish go from these tubs to your plate
Nice view of the water. Lots of fishing boats
It was excellent food.
My brother cleaned out his crabs
A Ford Ranger
An Audi A6. I kind of want one.
Mom stopped to buy fermented fish. I dont know how Thais eat that stuff. Growing up, I remember how awful it smelled.
A store selling lights?
20 June 2011
Back “home” in Kabin Buri
Some sugar-covered thingies.
I bought some doughnuts at Tesco.
Salmon flavored chips. Not so good in execution.
Hot dog chips. Blech.
21 June 2011
Heading to Bangkok to fly home.
SO MANY BAGS for no reason.
Korean Air has a class called “Morning Calm”
Uncle, brother, grandmother
Had dinner at the airport.
So good I forgot to get a picture before eating it.
PERRIER! A GODSEND.
lol, an article about George Michael
My brother met a cute girl at the airport in Korea. Got her number. She initiated conversation (she was from Illinois or Wisconsin or something) and I had to walk away and text him to remind him to talk to her.
lol creeper pic
Arrived in Chicago feeling very, very tired.
The moment we stepped foot on US soil, the level of airline and airport service, courtesy, and cleanliness steeply declined.
First thing I wanted was Italian beef at O’Hare, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good as Portillo’s. Sad.
My dog’s level of excitement upon seeing me was a bit underwhelming.
It was a relief to drive on properly maintained roads where I wasn’t afraid for my life. I really, really missed my cars.
Thailand is an exciting place to visit, but the place I call home is dull, pristine, and quiet, and I’m thankful for that.
I popped in my Top Gear DVD and watched the Lancia challenge
16 June 2011
Went back to Jungceylon mall. My brother bought some underwear. Took another ride up the diagonal escalator/ramp. Notice the wheels on the cart — instead of the whole wheel turning, there are a pair of thin wheels mounted to one wheel.
We went to the street for food and found an AMAZING kebab stand owned by a middle eastern fellow
Got back to the hotel and snapped a picture of this Peugeot RCZ, $98,000 in Thailand, probably after a massive VAT tax
Lamb kebab. SO F*CKING GOOD.
Enjoying a gin and tonic
Went online and found a local kickboxing stadium. It was $60 for front row seats just inches from the ring with free round trip transportation.
Waited in the lobby to be picked up. These huge doors are always left open.
The van was full of Australians
Got a picture of the van’s plate so I’d know which one to take back to the hotel
It was a Thursday so the place wasn’t completely full, but the crowd was good.
This metal tray is where the fighters sit on a plastic chair to get coached and refreshed between rounds
There were eight fights starting with the youngsters and going up to the heavy professionals
The night began with everyone standing for the national anthem, then the 77-pounders got in the ring
Food and drinks were cheap. We loaded up on $3 whiskeys
I sat close enough to the ring to perch my feet on it. I could feel every move.
The white tourists bought the more expensive seats while the bleachers were filled with locals and Indians. The Indians really got into it This guy in blue got pummeled HARD. He was on the ground for quite some time
The women were boring.
Before each round, you could pay to go into the ring and put a lay on each of the muay thai fighters
I was getting hit with spit, sweat, and water from where I was sitting. The smack from every punch and kick was easily heard. This French guy Sebastian was very, very good, and ended the night.
I got a t-shirt that doesn’t fit me. Will make a nice gift for someone skinnier.
Got back to the hotel and walked to my favorite kebab stand
17 June 2011
Breakfast the next morning. SO MUCH BACON. I ate most of it before I could take the picture.
The AC in the van was leaking. We had to stop at a shop to have them refill the refrigerant
They also sold mods and upgrades light neon lights and ugly body kits. You know your parts are legit when theyre branded “JAP”
Lots of Toyota Commuters in for service and upgrades
That doesn’t look safe.
Some of the bridges were drove on had wood surfaces, not reassuring.
lol, collagen. A fruit drink with a weird name.
Not wanting to get sick, I decided to skip the roadside food and go to 7-11 for pork buns
These pies looked safe
Orange yogurt drink
After 11 awful hours in that miserable van, we finally got back to Kabin Buri. It was impossible to read or sleep because the ride quality was crap and the roads were terribly bumpy.
18 June 2011
I apparently had an aunt I had never met — my uncle recently remarried. The next morning we went to the golf course and she arrived in her brand new Isuzu pickup.
The stitching was terrible, but it rode well and looked nice.
Arrived at the Kabin Buri Sport Club
My uncle apparently talked me up big time to the waitresses. One of them asked if she could have my hat — I told her I needed it to cover my balding head.
Headed back in the truck after a day of eating, relaxing, and using the internet.
From back here, you can smell the third world right up your nostrils. The burning, the sewage, the animals, the diesel, all of it.
An abandoned rickshaw? The Falcon bedliner had a built-in cupholder for tailgating
This miserable looking old truck full of people sounded like a tractor and belched smoke
This appears to say “NING — NOT SANITARY CHOPSTICKS” Its supposed to say “NING-NOT, SANITARY CHOPSTICKS” — The manufacturer is “Ning-Not” but they appear to have accidentally mislabeled their chopsticks as unsanitary.
People seem to park wherever they want. Some guy put his motorcycle and trailer right behind our van, so our driver picked up and moved his stuff.
Another gas station
The main drag in Patong is narrow and windy, all one way.
We arrived at a Courtyard/Mariott located right on the beach.
Check-in took a while
A Holiday Inn was across the street
Sparkling clean rooms
Weird shower with no curtain or door. The glass is permanently in place. There’s a one-inch step separating the shower from the rest of the bathroom, but water from the shower still splashes into the toilet area. Typical thai bathrooms are literally “bath rooms” where the whole area is tiled and used for bathing.
There’s a cosmetic surgery place two blocks away in case I decide to get implants or a sex change.
Its about 2am on a Sunday night, so its quiet
Ordered room service. Pad thai, chicken satay, pad se ew, Singha
LOL, foam party
And if that’s the sexy swimsuit, I’ll pass. 6000THB is $200USD
The live band looks like a cross between NSync and The Spice Girls
14 June 2011
Two pools, one on the third floor and one on the 7th
My brother and I went looking for the beach
The compass/GPS on his Android phone as well as mine was worthless. The arrow was stuck in place but spinning wildly. It took us away from the beach.
It was hot as hell…
…and we walked for miles…
…and ended up in some spooky areas.
Hmm, Starbucks. That means there’s white people nearby, which means…
That was fun, but how the hell do we get back to the hotel?
We didnt recognize very many landmarks and had no idea which direction the hotel was, so we sort of guessed. That wasn’t our building.
Cats and dogs just sort of hang out in Thailand. They usually have owners, but they roam free and sort of just come home when theyre hungry, and they live outside. This cat gave birth and was taking her babies across the street one by one. You can see her sagging stomach.
Montana Grand? Are we near Helena?
Somehow, we ended up finding the hotel. I was drenched in sweat.
Took a shower, checked the map, looked outside for reference points.
Relaxed and ordered dinner. Beef salad, mango ice cream, Perrier, Pepsi Max, and a bacon cheeseburger for the hell of it.
I had a lot of internetting to catch up on. They charged per PC for internet access, so I cheated by installing Virtual Router, a program that turns your PC into a wifi hotspot. I was connected to the hotel by ethernet.
15 June 2011
We got in the van to go do some sightseeing.
There has to be at least 20 people crammed into this pickup, and its trying to go up a steep hill.
A couple maps at a view point we stopped at. There’s islands and such.
Hot girl’s motorcycle broke down.
Stopped for dinner by the beach
Gin and soda
A pineapple drink
”Not going anywhere? Grab a Snickers”
1kg lobster, $15
I ordered ice cream and got this pile of diabeetus. It was awesome
The girl over there has horrible posture
Dogs doing things
That cant be safe. Wires and such dangling everywhere
Left the hotel and walked to Bangla, the red light district
It doesnt get weird…
..until you get further in
This guy got into my picture. He was holding signs advertising ping pong shows. If you dont know what that is, Google it at home.
Several convenience stores were selling beer, and we were able to carry and drink outside
Off of Bangla were small streets lined with bars, go go clubs, massage parlors, “Husband Day Cares”, and strip joints. Each one had a theme, one in particular, “Soi Crocodile,” had nothing but ladyboys.
Tiger beer, by the way, tastes great
After a few beers I was like “HELL WHY NOT” and we ended up going down to the end one of these alleys to see a free ping pong show. Entry was free but the first beer was $16. Every drink after that was more reasonable at $5. We were treated to a shower show, some stage dancing, and… umm… insertion shows. I’ll never look at a push pop the same way again.
A hooker slid up next to me and started chatting me up. To disarm her a bit and eliminate the weirdness, I told her in perfect Thai that I was Thai-born and on vacation from America. She asked me to buy her a drink, so I did — she got us cold towels to cool off so I figured why not reward her for the service.
Then another girl slid up next to my brother. She looked much younger and had braces. The girl with the braces asked for a drink, but we declined.
I didn’t want to wake up one morning in a bathtub full of ice and my kidney missing, so I tipped the hooker next to me (she had me slip the bills under her top, and things) and we left.
A European fellow sitting with his prostitute.
I was drenched in sweat and took a shower as soon as we got back to the hotel. We ordered pizzas for dinner.
15 June 2011
My brother and I put our computers and US cash in the safe and walked to the mall, Jungceylon
They love the king here, and insulting him is grounds for punishment
Cristin Massage is apparently popular with European and Australian visitors. From what I read, you go in and pick a girl from the “fish bowl”, a glass cage where they all sit together. Pricing is based on age. You then go to a private massage room upstairs where she bathes you by hand, then performs a “full contact” oil massage on an inflatable mattress. Then you move to the king bed where the sex is had. Pricing ranges from 1500 to 2000 baht ($50 to $80). Supposedly, they’re a bit inconsistent with condom use. I imagine the building to be swimming with HIV.
We arrived at the mall. The closer you get to Junceylon, the more white people you see.
I cant imagine many locals having the Outlaw burger.
A knockoff Apple store
Looks like West County Mall to me
They do a fountain show at 7pm and 9pm, inspired by The Bellagio in Las Vegas
Big C, a large multilevel department store
My brother bought headphones. We eagerly needed vegetables for regularity
There wasn’t much to eat in the mall other than fast food, and we thought it would be silly to spend a lot of money on the mall’s Thai restaurants. Curiousity was killing me, so we did the douchey tourist thing and went to McDonald’s
Laminated menus on the counter got around the language barrier by letting people point at what they wanted
Tomato, Chili Sauce, American Ketchup — Tomato and Ketchup were the same thing.
Among the pie flavors is tuna.
I ordered a Big Mac which comes just one slice of cheese to keep it under 500 calories.
The potatoes tasted different. Good, but different.
My brother wore his Brooks and Dunn t-shirt
Total was $10 for two combo meals: one Big Mac and one double filet of fish.
“GO UPPER, SMART SHOPPER” — Apparently people needed convincing to use the escalator
Religious statues at the mall.
We ran into two girls, one Australian who said she studied in Missouri and one Australian. After some friendly conversation I folded my arms and waited for their pitch. They were handing out drink coupons for a club called “Seduction”. They promised it would be free of hookers and ladyboys.
Lots of suit makers and tailors. Last time I was here, in 2006, Nissan made a huge deal out of the new Versa (known locally as Tiida), but its apparently been a flop. I’ve seen two here with Chevy Optras, Chevy Cruzes, Honda Civics, and Toyota Corollas making up the rest. Oops, concrete problem
We arrived at the hotel (1.4 km away) and ran into my mom in the elevator who told us it was happy hour, so we headed down to the bar and ordered a couple margaritas
My mall purchases — a memory card reader (my fourth!) and a rare issue of Top Gear Australia with a free DVD! The articles and reviews are written by both the TGUK and TGOZ hosts, and the measurements for power and torque are all in kilowatts and newton-meters. The memory card reader I brought from home died, then the two I bought from Lotus died, so a shop called “Banana IT” had one, and we’ll see how long this lasts.
Enjoying a margarita.
TIME FOR GREEN BEANS. 1 kg was about $1.15
Placed them in the coffee pot with water and they were done in minutes
Used the ice tongs to remove them
Later that night we went back to Bangla and checked out the expat pubs where all the Europeans drank. Most of them were empty, but it was a Wednesday night.
Another go-go bar. Supposedly, the bars that get any business at all have regular hookers. To take a hooker home, you have to pay the bar a “fine” in the amount of about 15 dollars or so. Then, you have to find a room. The higher end hotels disallow prostitutes from coming in because of theft and crime concerns, or they will require you to show her ID in case you’re robbed. This is why so many bars and massage parlors (I later learned) have rooms for rent upstairs, usually about 10 bucks. So for $15 to the bar, $10 for the room, and $50 for an entire night of ‘boom-boom’, you can go home with a venereal disease as a souvenir.
A massage parlor. These places are PUSHY. The masseuses are all hookers. I almost elbowed a hooker in the face for being so damn aggressive with her sales pitch. The girls stand on the curb with signs for prices including foot, back, oil, and facial massages. Then they say “massage, massage, massage” over and over. If you ignore them, they’ll run up and grab your arm. I said “NO!” and my brother goes “DONT FUCKING TOUCH!”. I jerked my elbow backward to get free and almost hit one in the nose.
Passing them on the street later on, I noticed some of them saying to each other “That guy said no, dont touch” in Thai. These massage parlors all call each other to set pricing and probably to report creepy customers who take things too far (whatever the hell “too far” means in prostitute jargon), and I imagine they also got the news that some tourists dont like being grabbed.
Fish markets are still open at 11pm.
Mario appears to have been hung himself after being forced to sell iPhones. This quiet road off of Bangla was like an oasis of peacefulness in the middle of all the bars, strip joints, and clubs. The street was clean with snowfall LEDs and gentle lighting.
Some guy drawing pictures
After miles of walking, we did finally go to a massage parlor, a legitimate one that guaranteed no funny business. You can tell the proper ones by the lighting and the open windows where you can see everything. We each got a Thai massage for just $13 for an hour. After washing our feet they had us go upstairs to a quiet room with relaxing music and air conditioning. I was worried at first, but the customers were separated by curtains not walls, so it was legit. I was also worried because our hostness was a tranny, but she didnt do any of the massaging. It was instead older Thai women. The problem with a proper Thai massage is that it HURTS. I was twisted, contorted, and brutally tenderized like a piece of chicken fried steak. But I felt amazing afterward, ready to do cartwheels.
We stopped at an outdoor market to buy some food. My brother and I found a strong and consistent wifi signal and I made some free international calls home (thanks to Google Voice, PBXes, and Sipdroid — see the article I wrote). I sent my bank an email letting them know I was traveling and that my card needed to stay activated. Since we seem to go to this outdoor market regularly, I’ll be bringing my laptop next time. ——————————————————
My grandfather sat down at the table to eat with us. He handed me a bowl of sliced fruit, which I ate. My aunt walked by after we ate it, took a whiff, and said it was rotten. Oops. He grinned.
[Well played, trolldad.] —————————————————— A narrow bottle of Coca Cola. This country is slowly embracing plastic, which is good in some ways, shitty in others. Coke seems to taste purer and cleaner from a glass bottle.
Finishing up Bob Lutz’s book “Guts”. I have the Kindle version.
7 June 2011
Mom decided to make macaroni and cheese, which was quite good. The problem is, after not consuming dairy for so long, my digestive system responded poorly to it.
Mom brought back some noodles for lunch. It was hot out and the kitchen/dining area doesnt have AC, so I brought the bowl back to my room. Eating hot soup in a hot climate makes no sense to me.
Mirinda, pineapple flavor
A lizard decided to hang out.
8 June 2011
The “Town Car” arrived. Heading to Bangkok today
Room for 15 people, or a dozen Americans
Went to a Jiffy gas station to buy some snacks
The sandwiches here lack content. You get bread and a meager helping of meat and cheese. Those brightly colored rolls on the lower shelf are cakes made to look like sushi. Cute.
It was food, and it got the job done for less than a dollar. An equivalent gas station sandwich in the US is inexplicably $2.80 or more.
Delicious melon flavored yogurt drink
The smaller siblings
HELLO KITTY SHIT IS EVERYWHERE.
A Chevy Optra. It had Nismo stickers on the front, lol
The driver had some planes on the dashboard
The Indian part of Bangkok
The womenfolk (my mom, aunts, and grandmother) went clothes shopping, so I took a nap.
Parking here was illegal, and the driver was ticketed for it.
This guy’s political signs are all over town. He’s very expressive.
A BMW 730Li in the worst color possible
Police lights for sale.
At the police station paying the parking fine. The impound lot was packed.
The site of some recent protests of some sort.
It basically says, “Dont let animals get elected”
This guy loves his lubricant spray
The railroad crossing lights come on ten minutes in advance of the train’s arrival. It was a bit annoying.
Toll booths every 15 or so miles, 25 baht or just under a dollar for 4-wheel vehicles
The old Bangkok airport
Arrived at the mall
Robinson, the green sign on the right, carries products similar to Dillards, Macy’s, and the former Famous Barr.
1937 Lynx Sprite
Went to a thai food buffet at the mall. It was mediocre.
Went shopping for Nice Pants (TM) and Nice Shirts
I was tempted to buy white leather sandals. My brother got a new shirt, some khakis, and some dress shoes. I cant figure out why so many pants were tall. Thai people are not tall. Fortunately, tailoring is free! You buy your pants, get them measured, and they adjust them on the spot at no cost at all.
“Kansas City” lol
Wicker baskets and such. I think Brown Farm is where Jesdas are made
Douchey Apple-type store
Frunway or F Runway? Either way, it makes no sense
lol, take your kid in to have it shined
The fifth floor of the mall is dedicated to games, computer parts, and TONS of pirated movies and software. There was a crowd around the LCD screens watching bootlegged films
Nice looking mall
Delicious ice cream. You could really taste the vanilla. People were ordering them with honeydew and cantelope on top with a heavy squirt of coconut syrup. I think the ice cream is fattening enough on its own.
lol, a foot. I think Mega Sale is a Best Buy type of store
I ended up not buying anything. Their pants maxed out at 36″. I need 38-40″. I suspected also that their idea of a men’s Large shirt was really a smallish Medium.
I was hoping I’d see some attractive women at the mall, but they were overwhelmingly bland.
9 June 2011
Went out for lunch with my aunt, brother, brother, and sister
She decided to take us on an alternate route on an even narrower dirt road
Noodles, my hat. The food here is quite good, especially for 60 cents, but I suspect its been making me sick.
Let my brother play Angry Birds to make him stop running around
My cousin got a Gameboy Advance from Bangkok. Whats awesome is that they preload the system with four dozen pirated games so you dont even need to use the cartridge.
Because of the sausage fingers, I thought I took this picture of my hand and wondered why I took it. Then I noticed the shorts. One of my cousins apparently took it.
Some guy campaigning for public office
10 June 2011
Went out for lunch with my uncle
Rode around in the “rear passenger compartment”
M-150 energy drink and an orange Fanta for me
lol, “Dang Beauty”. “Dang” means “Red”. lol
A dog taking a nap on the shoulder of the road. I dont understand how there’s so little roadkill when so many dogs around here sleep on the pavement. I’ve never seen a dog on a leash, being walked, or being played with. They just kind of hang out.
My uncle went to buy some bedding or something
Waiting on the shoulder where he parked
Heading home. Gets really swampy as we approach the house. This area used to be much denser with trees and tropical stuff, but much of it has been converted to agricultural use
Someone else’s house, floodproof
Just noticed this poster outside the house. No way in hell would I drink that water. That kid is guzzling a glass of parasites
11 June 2011
My stomach has been getting worse and worse. My asshole burns like a cross at a Klan rally. I went to Tesco/Lotus with my mom and uncle and bought some pro-bacterial yogurt drink, mango juice, croissants, and wheat bread. I’ll be sticking to clean packaged foods for a while.
Americans like to bitch about “manufactured” and “processed” foods but you know what? After two weeks of pissing fire out my asshole, that processed packaged shit from the factory is a godsend — free of parasites with predictably acceptable quality. Bring on the preservatives. Bring on the xantham gum and sodium benzoateactylateaciteafate. Just spare me the live microscopic creatures.
They need to work out some kind of shopping cart return method. They just pile up out here.
lol, compact pickups with cargo stacked to the sky
A little parade of some sort. Apparently its a celeration of some young fellow being ordained as a Buddhist monk.
After taking two Aleve and a long nap, I feel better. Tomorrow I’m going to the golf course to drink beer and enjoy some wifi.
—————————————————— 12 June 2011
Driving range. I don’t play. I’ve tried, I’m terrible at it, and I don’t enjoy it.
Ordered boiled rice with chicken for breakfast. I havent seen AIM windows in days!
Started raining hard.
This dog hangs out at the golf course. I assume he does his #1 and #2 out there too.
After a few hours of interwebs we walked over to the restaurant for lunch. We both ordered fried rice with chicken and cokes. This plate of food was $1.60!
Granted, the serving was small but people here eat less.
Later that day, we went to an outdoor market.
My brother bought some ear buds, $10 USD
13 June 2011
The next day we drove 10 hours to Phuket. We hired a driver. They’re typically $20 a day plus fuel, food, lodging, etc.
We had the van, a 15-passenger Toyota Commuter, inspected before the long drive.
I bought juice and a hamburger at a convenience store.
My brother got rice and eggs.
I also bought a tuna sandwich
LISA LISA AND THE CULT JAM!
Some salt farms
The trees were looking more and more tropical as we got closer to the water
Stopped at this rest area. The bathrooms were AWFUL.
Stopped here for dinner. It was a large outdoor-style place with several food stands and tables. There was a roof but you were basically sitting outside.
These highways were built somewhat recently, a godsend compared to the maddening gridlock I remember back in the mid 90s. Because traffic flows more freely, pollution at the street level doesn’t feel quite as sickening.
The Civic with different tail lights and a BMW 5-series to its right.
BMW’s presence here is much greater than it used to be, but it still pales in comparison to Mercedes-Benz. I told my brother that if he saw a Cadillac, I’d give him $50. If he got a picture, I’d give him $20 more. I think I’ll be holding on to my money.
There’s a cell phone somewhere on that Samsung billboard.
I think we approached the city on highway 7? My phone’s crummy GPS kept putting me in Los Angeles.
American Standard! A huge billboard for toilets. A lot of the old-fashioned porcelain holes are being slowly replaced by Western-style upright flush toilets.
Nissan Cefiro (Maxima/I35)
That’s a Ford SUV of some sort up there.
’Lolyers’ Council. Check out the red E34 BMW.
White dude staying cool. Americans and Europeans are starting to look weird to me. I guess they’ve always looked weird, but I never noticed until they were singled out as a minority.
Roundabout. Apparently some political protests took place here a few months earlier.
Another sharp-looking W124 Benz
At the King’s Palace. Out of respect, they ask that people not wear sleeveless shirts, shorts, short skirts, overly tight pants, overly tight shirts, or just about anything that isn’t a basic sleeved shirt and long pants. My brother, sister, and stepdad went inside to buy some ugly-ass parachute pants.
The big temple that the King worships at.
The pants are white Dockers, acquired on sale for only $30 at Macy’s. That month-long road trip I took earlier in the year caused me to gain a dozen pounds, unfortunately, so the pants aren’t fitting as comfortably as they should. I suspect that through a combination of diarrhea and sweat, I’ll lose it all by the time I get home. Left to right: Uncle, stepdad, sister, me, brother (behind me. looking down), grandmother, cousin, aunt, mom, brother.
Americans and other foreigners pay more for entry than Thais. I started speaking English so the tour guide caught on that I wasn’t a Thai citizen (I haven’t been since 1997) and charged me extra.
Our licensed tour guide. He’s 74 with a solid sense of humor.
Check out the architecture. Its so obsessively ornate it’s almost Catholic.
My mom told me I used to run around here as a toddler.
Its effing hot and I’m dripping like a rain cloud.
Mom had me get a candle, flower, incense, and a gold foil to make a blessing. I’ve come to really despise these tedious rituals, so to appease her I lit the incense, lit the candle, placed everything where they were supposed to go, affixed the gold foil to the statue, and got the out of the way.
The tour guide said this was something along the lines of “the biggest buddha statue.” I’m sure there’s some wacky character somewhere in the world who has built a larger one, but I took what he said to mean this was the most culturally significant.
When you go inside, you have to remove your shoes and sit on the floor with your feet facing away from the statue, as pointing your feet at anyone of higher esteem (or a religious symbol) is considered disrespectful. I told my mom my knees weren’t going to tolerate it and walked out. My left knee was acting up again, and I hate sitting on the floor with my legs folded behind me — its ridiculous and uncomfortable. I think its time for Thais to adopt church pews.
Stunning detail. It borders on silly, which is how I feel about the Cathedral Basilica in St Louis. Its beautiful if you stand far away, but up close it has the same impact as 30″ spinners on a pink Escalade.
Still, you have to admire the amount of labor and level of devotion that went into putting this together.
From far away its visually stunning. As someone who prefers minimalist architecture, this feels like staring at the sun.
Photos weren’t permitted inside, but I got to see the king’s throne. It was elaborate, ornate, and way over the top. A free and modern society with a monarchy is so… dated. The throne room was air conditioned, so I was reluctant to leave.
Like the British, the palace guards must stand completely still.
Some marching exercise of some sort.
This is a reception building. President Clinton was here in 1996. Elaborate shows and dances were performed in the square. Personally, I find such displays to be weird, creepy, and undemocratic. Some people take pride in them. So be it.
From left to right (front): My brother, my sister, my grandmother.
A busy intersection
Walking across the street. The crosswalk was broken so we basically risked death. I put my hand up to try and get the traffic to stop.
Went to Au Bon Pain across the street for pastries and vanilla shakes.
Those idiots sitting in the doorway blocking everyone are vendors trying to make money off of tourists. They were selling Chinese accordion fans, pictures, drawings, and other nonsense. I shoved one on the way in (making it look accidental of course) and intentionally dropped a piece of my cinnamon bun on the floor next to one of them as I walked by. They had the gall to act annoyed. THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR BLOCKING THE DOOR, MORONS.
We met up with my cousin’s aunt. My first car was a Sentra like this but in white.
Some military buildings
A Toyota Crown
A Corolla taxi with ugly-ass frog eyes.
A Nissan Teana (Maxima)
An Acura [Honda] Legend!
A railyard full of retired passenger cars.
My little cousin got excited upon seeing it, and actually so did I.
People in this country have pretty good teeth.
I dont know what this is, a mall?
[Big C is a chain of Wal-Mart-style discount superstores with clothes, groceries, electronics, and darn near everything else.]
A Sangyong Stavic, I believe. Made in Korea.
Not sure what’s going on in this ad.
[We were there during the elections. This guy’s signs were attention grabbers.]
A college of some sort offering an MBA program. That reminds me… I need to study for the GMAT.
Royal Air Force Academy entrance
My great aunt greeting us
I started sitting up on the couches in 2006. In 1996 I think I sat on the floor. I’m too fat, too Westernized, and my knees and joints are too shabby to do the traditional floor thing.
A hearty lunch with tom yum goong, chicken curry with chicken feet, roast chicken, and rice. Good stuff.
Our “limo,” a Toyota Commuter. The chauffeur is sitting on a bench waiting for us.
An upright toilet with old-fashioned flushing. You take the container in the blue bucket and pour it into the toilet to flush the contents down.
I can feel diarrhea beginning to set in. I think it started when I mistakenly used tap water to wet my toothbrush.
I’m SOAKING WET from sweat. I had to ask for a towel. On the plus side, I found a wifi connection and got online with my phone. Left to right: Me, my great aunt, my brother.
My grandmother and her sister
Some dragon fruit
This strip mall sells automotive stuff, mostly Autozone-type nonsense.
Like Oregon and New Jersey, an attendant fills your tank.
It was a LONG, HOT day spent mostly outdoors. I’m kind of glad its over.
3 June 2011
I somehow woke up at 7am.
Went for lunch. My uncle’s Toyota diesel pickup has about 150,000 miles. Runs great.
Note that many cars sold here do not have heater cores, because heat in Thailand is like air conditioning in the arctic.
My diarrhea is approaching “full blown” status
Finished reading The Wal-Mart Effect around 1pm.
Finished writing my review at 3pm.
Headed to Tesco-Lotus for groceries and other odds and ends.
This LG 50″ plasma TV is about $3000USD, a bit high, I think.
These digital cameras are reasonably priced, between $30 and $100.
This computer is $566 USD, and everything on display is quite underpowered. Above, a Toshiba laptop for $400 includes a measly 160GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, and an AMD processor line that I’ve never heard of.
Trying out exotic varieties of chips including seaweed.
Blech. This ground meat display was out in the open with flies buzzing about. I guess its self-serve.
PAPER TOWELS! Every place I’ve eaten or been to expect you to use toilet paper to wipe your hands and face as you eat, which means you end up with little clumps of TP all over your face and hands. Paper towels are godly. I bought six large rolls.
Cream to ease your next colonoscopy… or a biscuit roll.
Mayo in a flexible plastic container. Weird. It has a seal at the top.
Because there is no center lane, people seem content to use the oncoming lane as a turning lane.
Looks like a safe place for a kid… not.
More proof that the third world has moved beyond manual windows.
I think 90% of the vehicles on the road are pickup trucks.
Went to the outdoor market. Picked up some fried doughnut thingies.
Piracy! Illegal copies of whatever music you want, if you’re into pop. They were playing Train and Savage Garden on a loud sound system. Ugh.
Stopped at a bank. Hours are 11am-7pm.
Bought fried fish
One of our dogs. The dogs here tend to be pretty ugly.
I bought some custard spread, delicious on bread and pastries.
PAPER TOWELS! PRAISE JEEBUS!
Found some blueberry and chocolate banana Pocky. The chip flavors are chicken, seafood, and seaweed. Haven’t tried the chips yet. The Pocky had all melted together, unfortunately, forming one massive super-Pocky.
Dinner for me. Some rice, chicken, and cucumber.
BREAD! OH SWEET BREAD. I didnt realize how much I missed it. I ate a slice with custard spread.
Croissant sack, only $1 USD. Surprisingly good.
My cousin hanging out.
I bought this yogurt drink with active cultures in an attempt at filling my digestive system with something that might counteract the bug that’s giving me diarrhea. I dont think its working.
Hillaroid being interviewed on TV.
Grandpa is intrigued.
They have satellite TV and a bazillion channels. This girl is talking about phones. She’s holding up the iPhone 4.
Some Laotian dance show.
An ad for the Toyota Corolla Altis.
A motoring channel. All theyve done is walk around looking at motorcycles and cars. No one is doing any driving. The girl is hot though.
The news says someone was caught trying to smuggle reptiles out of Thailand. I bet it was that kid in Portland, Oregon…
Blueberry Pocky. The heat caused most of it to melt together and form one giant Pocky.
I watched a few episodes of Breakout Kings.
Nori Seaweed Lays. Not bad. The seaweed taste is subtle and pleasant.
The chip is lightly seasoned.
Spicy grilled chicken Lays. Strangely, both plain and rippled chips are in the bag.
This Spicy Seafood flavor is a lot like tom yum goong.
4 June 2011
One of the dogs. He’s camera shy.
Went for a ride in the back of the truck to get lunch. The camera, memory card, or card reader is misbehaving.
Ordered fried rice.
It started raining right after we got back from lunch
Chocolate banana Pocky has an unusually strong banana aftertaste
The ice cream truck came by. It wasnt quite a truck. It was more like a motorcycle with a refrigerated sidecart attached to it. Cones were available, but this one came in the form of a hot dog bun.
Burning off my remaining stash of Criminal Minds episodes
Kids playing tarzan on the hammock
Dinner. Nice spread
lol, my mom back in the early 70s
Drifting on TV. So boring
Enjoyed a box of sweetened milk while watching O Brother Where Art Thou. I expected better from The Cohen Brothers.
5 June 2011
We crammed into my aunt’s car to go to lunch
I ordered noodles with pork
My brother and sister were spoiled with ice cream
I dont think any cars in this region are equipped with a heater core
Turned my suitcase into a desk.
My clothes drying outside. It takes forever due to the humidity
Enjoying Automobile Magazine as a storm rolls in
Mom picked up KFC for dinner. It was as terrible here as it is back home.
The egg tart is basically a miniature pie filled with custard.
A quiet day overall. —————————————————— June 6 2011
M-150 is a non-carbonated energy drink. It gave me a swift kick in the ass. I stayed up late last night watching the Oliver Stone movie “Wall Street” and got up early to head to the golf course. I ended up not going and I’m glad I didn’t — I intended to hang out and mooch some wifi, but learned that the clubhouse lacks air conditioning.
[Discovered later on that there’s a coffee shop there with cold AC.]
I continued reading “Guts” by Bob Lutz as I scarfed down a bowl of noodles for breakfast.
Went with mom to the market. I was utterly bored — I ended up stuck with a bunch of women shopping for clothes.
Tuk tuk, an open-air three-wheel taxi that’s as much Thailand as apple pie is American
Little brother scoping out the backpack selection
A Hyundai Starex van
My older little brother
I got the train conductor to wave at me!
The engine sounded loud and crude
The passenger cars looked pretty beat.
By the open windows I’m going to assume there’s no AC.
It was about five or six cars long and sputtered by slowly, making tractor-like sounds rather than the smooth diesel-electric hum us Westerners are accustomed to.
Stopped at a roadside stand to buy some soda. It was served in a bag. It was warm — I’ve been avoiding consuming any drinks that contain ice because the ice typically comes from unpure sources.
Got home, one of the dogs offered a salutation.
Seven us squeezed into a Toyota Yaris (Vios)
This road was pointlessly marked into two lanes. It was wide enough for one car and one motorcycle
More narrow roads
Got out on a main road. We were heading to a computer store about an hour or so away. A storm was approaching.
Construction debris was in the air, making it difficult to see.
Stoplights with timers. The bottom two lights were green arrows pointing forward and right
An old VW Golf, which is a bit rare here
Motorcyclists seem to go in whatever direction they want
Got to the HP store. They didn’t have anything of value. The long drive was kind of a waste. I’m not sure why we came all the way out there — my uncle and grandmother even followed in a separate vehicle. I told my mom the Lotus department store ten minutes away from home had whatever they were looking for in the electronics section.
My brother and I searched for wifi and found a decent signal. There’s lots of open routers in Thailand