Friday, March 30, 2012

Driving in Bangkok :)

Pic from is mostly from personal experience so subsequently it is from a UK perspective. I learnt to drive in the UK, got my first license & car in the UK and after driving for about 5 years I came home, wow, what a learning curve :)


Getting the wrong message

Out of all the differences in driving behaviour and driving manners, the most vital thing to remember is the flashing of headlights. In the UK, if a driver started flashing the headlights at you it simply means 'I am so kind and having such a great day, so I am now giving the right of way to you, please don't forget to say thank you, :)', of course you would pull out and certainly give him/her a quick wave/nod of a heartfelt appreciation and off you go. For the same action in Thailand would simply get you killed, over here flashing headlights is a stern warning, 'if you come out I am going to ram you with all of my might and send you to hell's deepest pit, please take heed na krub'.


Iron Testi*&%s :), and 'Yes' Size does Matter

I am of course talking of the 'right of way' here, over there the right of way is far too complicated, involving what road you are on, are you coming from the left or the right, even the speed you are travelling. Over here it is just a simple matter of size, of your vehicle :), the bigger you are the more of the right of way you have :) that is unless you have balls of steel (or nerve of steel for the ladies), in that case, the right of way will always be yours :) but that does not mean the other drivers won't be pi**ed off at you, can you feel the road rage brewing?


Road Rage

I believe Road rage is all the same globally, pure anger from the naval of your stomach suddenly erupting with such ferociousness that you loose all sense of control, then they pull out a gun and shoot you, that is road rage over here. So please if someone cuts you off, try not to return the favour unless you like eating lead for supper.


Express Way is a bit strange

For a 'right hand drive' or 'left hand traffic' countries like us, the slowest lane on the Express Way would be on the left, meaning the people who are in no hurry or trying to achieve 30 km to the litre will drive on the left hand lane.

Just wanted to give you a head up here so that you don't get too frustrated on our Express Way. Well, the slowest driver tends to drive in the middle, I have no idea on the logic behind this, may be they are just very kind in opening up both lanes either side for overtaking, oh yes and we do, do overtake on both sides, so please be careful. Admittedly most of the overtaking will still be on the right, but now and then I have seen super fast car overtaking on the left.


Silence is Golden

Comparing with some of the other South East Asian countries we are comparatively quite quiet :) no one uses the horn unless it was really necessary or in some rare cases to vent one’s frustration. Even in very heavy traffic where people tends to push left and right trying to find a quicker way through a wall to wall of cars, often cutting people off and often very pointless. I am proud to say we are pretty chill about that, it must have been through natural selection because if one starts pumping the horn sooner or later someone will shoot you, so through natural selection the ones that are left are pretty chill when it comes to traffic jam and poor driving manners that come with it :)


Another plane of existence

Motorcycles, although you can see them and they ‘certainly’ can see you, but you’ll feel that you don’t exist. Don’t loose your nerve when you see ten or twenty motorcycles speeding down in between cars stuck in traffic, and if one is stuck next to you, either fold your side mirrors or just move your car a little so that he/she can be on her way, then you can sit back and be very envious that they are now moving and you are still stuck and going nowhere fast :)

It is common to see motorcycles riding against the traffic, they will do their best to hug the footpath but it can be a little daunting when there is a bunch of them, there were times I had thought I was the one who was driving the wrong way down a one-way street, by the way if you hit one of them you’ll be in the wrong, see next paragraph :)


Heads they win, Tail you loose :)

Here is the food chain when it comes to an accident; if you are in a car, the results are pretty much fixed, lol. The circumstances does not matter, if you hit a pedestrian, you will always be in the wrong. If you hit a motorcyclist, you’ll always be in the wrong. If you hit someone from behind, you’ll always be in the wrong. If you are bigger than the thing you’d hit, then it is likely that you’ll be in the wrong (of course there are freak circumstances where you are in the right but it is just easier to assume that you’ll be in the wrong, always, no need to get your hope up to have it knocked down again.


Saving it for later

There are loads more (driving upcountry is so different than driving in BKK), just needed the time to get them out, by the way walking is even more complicated on Bangkok’s streets, but at least you’ll always be in the right when a car / motorcycle hits you :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I only love Marcella :)

M and M 2Dear M and M,

A couple of things this week, Matt surprised us again last Sunday, on the way to the car after Matt’s golf lesson and lunch we found ourselves debating which floor we parked the car, your mother said 3rd, and I said 5fh.

Out of the blue Matt shouted out 4, at the same time jumped and slapped the number 4 button, landed with a thud then went silent staring at the both of us. Your mother and I looked at each other and laughed, we let the lift took us to the fourth floor.

Let just say we were both quite embarrassed, because you ‘little monkey’ was right on the money :), your mother took a peek out of the lift and the car was right there on the fourth floor :)

This morning we all woke up late so we had to rushed a little, no play time before shower and breakfast, after Matt was dressed in his school uniform and we were about to leave the apartment, he leant back against one of the wall and said. “I don’t love Papa anymore and I don’t love Mama anymore, I only love Marcella (huge laugh)” then put his shoes on and left the apartment with another huge laugh. He went back to apologise afterwards once your mother had threatened not to be there when he comes home after school :) (“under her thumb, both of you are, she has” it only make sense if you say it in Yoda’s voice :) ).

From the picture above and the way Marcella behaves around Matt, I can see that he will have a lot of influence on her :)

Father and Mother are the hit words at the moment, well, it started off with Papa and Mama, then changed briefly to Dad and Mum, now he had gone all proper on us with Father and Mother… all very strange, he loves to read and I am betting it’s from one of the gazillion books he has in his room that is having this influence.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Center of Everything :)


Dear Marcella,

You are now the center of all attention, from my extensive side of our family, as well as from your mother’s side, and you are showing your good nature self (when stomach is full, haa haa haa) by loads of smiles after smiles :)

And you are much more responsive to all of our attention now, smiling, laughing, looking around and so on. Soon you’ll be crawling, I already have a video of you rotating yourself, we were all cheering you on like a bunch of lunatics :)

Looking so comfortable :)

Ipad 2

Dear Matt,

This was taken around the time of Chinese New Year, I remembered throwing randomly a few pillows onto the floor, and the next thing I saw, was you laying so very comfortably on those pillows and watching a video.

Your mother and I can not believe that in just about a month you’ll be four years old :) Scene like this will soon be gone, you’ll be too big, or too cool (haa haa haa) to lay down on fluffy pillows and watch a silly video on the iPad :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Worth a Visit: Sergey Larenkov

then-now-15I have always been drawn towards “Then and Now” photographs, whether it be ‘Dear Photograph’ or ‘Back to the Future’, but these ones from “Sergey Larenkov” are amazing (click his name to go to his site), I feel that due to the topic that he had chosen (historically so important to all of us) and his execution of putting the photographs together (merging, overlaying), it is just perfect in conveying the emotions and really does bring the past, to the future, to us. If you have time, please visit his site at you won’t be disappointed.


I first saw his photographs on ‘The Chive’, but there were no information to where it had come from or who was the owner, so the next logical thing to do was to ask Google (using ‘then and now photos of WW2’), a few links came up, one of the link was ‘Pakistan Defence’, it had the same set of photos but this time Sergey Larenkov was watermarked on most of the photos, and that was all any needed to find his site :)


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Monday, March 19, 2012

Now it’s Official :)

H and WDear M & M,

Today your mother and I are now officially husband and wife :) Don’t ask why we had left it so long (after two ceremonies, after two receptions, after six years and  you two later, :) ) before going to the register office, I’d guess it wasn’t important for the both of us. However now that your mother has sacrificed her career to look after the both of you, registering seemed to be quite important, one prime example is the visa application, if we remained separate it would have been so difficult for her.

We went to the district office this morning, arriving there at around eleven(ish), there were tons of people  but the district office and other government offices have improved light years to what it was before, all web based application now :) Registering the marriage took less than half an hour and all we needed was our identification card, the rest of the documents was pulled from the system, such as our housing registration and your birth certificate.

I am more than glad we did it, just to make it official and by the book as they say :) she has already started to threaten me with the “D” word… haa haa haa :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Six Days in Berlin :)

Dear M & M,

Well, when I say six days, if you include the time spent travelling it was more like eight days, I’d left on Sunday night and arrived back Sunday late afternoon. This time Matt didn’t even batter an eyelid when I’d left, it was a relief not having to cope with all his tears but at the same time it was kind a strange (sad? / downer? / anticlimax? / ???), I said “bye Matt, see you in a few days”, all he said was “Bye Papa, see you soon” :) haa haa haa. Of course Marcella just gave me her usual huge smile and looked away, that was enough for me :)

There were two main events this time, a huge sales meeting (Sixt Rent a Car) and the ITB Berlin (super huge Travel trade show). All the flights from BKK to Berlin were full, we ended up having to fly to London then to Berlin, it was nice to be back in the UK once again after 14 years although it was only for a flight change :)




Berlin was freezing, your mother was the best, she went out and bought all the “under garments” (eei eei) without me asking, which had literally saved my live :) Only a week before we arrived it was minus 20 :) I think the coldest it got for us was about minus 3 but with wind it felt like minus a million :)




Apart from the meetings, it was fortunate that the company gave me some free time to roam around. What a city! The history is of course a very big part of it, and the afternoon tour of the city (on one of those buses) was perfect just to get an overview of it all. The places we saw in Berlin was too numerous to count, ‘Check Point Charlie’ is a popular one, the wall of course, Brandenburg Gate, Victory monument and many more landmarks.


DSC03141We were lucky to also have time to go outside of Berlin, Potsdam was the area and the ultimate destination was Sanssouci (Summer Palace of Frederick the Great), another reason why Potsdam is well known is because of the ‘Potsdam conference’, and if you are wondering what this is just Google it (presumably Google still exists by the time you read this post :)

The rest of the group left before I did, so I ended up alone for almost a day, decided to visit ‘Topography of Terror’ and ‘Museum of Photography’ before catching the flight Stuttgart then Bangkok. I was all so very interesting I didn’t even have lunch :) There were so many more museums, could have spent another two days just visiting them.




















Topography of Terror just immerged you in the history of between 1932 (ish) to 1945 (ish), basically the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler. The the Museum of Photography, it isn’t about cameras! there was a permanent exhibition of Helmut Newton and the top floor was housed a changing special exhibition, when I was there it was about Japanese photographers from the end of WWII to the modern (ish) time. Just wanted to mention that the newer building are just as interesting as the older ones :)

Then that was it, it was time to go home, managed to grab a very, very late lunch (about six pm). Would love the opportunity to visit this great city again. By the way Stuttgart’s airport is huge! Please allow plenty of time when you are thinking of making a transfer there, almost had a heart attack running from Gate Axx to Bxx, must have taken more than 20 minutes, running, and on conveyer belts most of the way :) \



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Must improve!

Pic from Matt,

You were a little bit strange yesterday, when your mother came to pick you up she was told by your class teacher that you had an altercation at the pool, apparently you wanted something from your classmate but he refuses to give it to you, because he was playing with it, and so you decided to take it and even bit him (luckily it was not hard). You were clearly in the wrong, the teacher did say that you felt sorry but nonetheless we decided to take action as this was not an acceptable behaviour from our view.

On the same day you had another episode, threw a ball at Chloe then hit Pui in the face, even your mother didn’t know why you were acting up like this. We took this very, very seriously, and we sincerely hope our actions and discussion will help you to improve. I spent most of my life in boarding schools, luckily they were good ones so bullying was minimal but whenever we noticed it we would always intervene.

We shall be keeping an even closer eye on you for the next few weeks, and sincerely hoping that this will not happen again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

M & M: Hello Bob, Hello Marcella :)

Dear M & M,

A couple of weeks ago it was ‘dress up as your favourite character day’ at Shrewsbury, of course judging by the last ‘dress up as your favourite animal day’ I could already tell that there would be some totally awesome costumes walking around, and I wasn’t wrong :)

First of all I didn’t expect it to be such a big event, as it turned out, it wasn’t just Matt’s year that got dressed up, it was the entire school (and a school parade too), including teachers, and oh, they were totally excellent! I just couldn’t stop smiling, there were a million princesses, but only a few prince, some went as character from ‘Car’, one teacher was a mummy (10 points) there were even a couple of Harry Potter in the running around. But to my knowledge there was only one ‘Bob the Builder’ and that was Matt! :) :) :)


Bob builderI didn’t know why Matt had chosen ‘Bob the Builder’ rather than ‘Handy Manny’, essentially they are the same character but on the opposite side of the Atlantic :) but Handy Manny is always on the telly and Bob wasn’t, who knows, but ‘Bob the Builder’ it was. As it turned out your mother was first class once again, my mother got you the tools while Gio found a small dungaree, it was perfect :)
















Behind Bob

Matt’s belt kept falling off, just like a pit crew at F1 I had to dashed in, tightened up the belt several times. Ms. Rachel (head of class) was a witch (no, just her costume) and I believe her assistant was a ‘Cat’. In class seeing a princess playing with a pirate was a laugh :)

I am sorry but I can not post pictures of Matt’s friends simply because I have not obtained any permission from their parents yet :) but I have loads, Best and Otto were so adorable :)

Your mother wished she had come, the only reason she didn’t because none of us knew (even other parents) that this was such a big event.



DSC02987_00333I was away for the entire week last week, Berlin was freezing and I did miss you all terribly, due to the current schedule finding time to hold Marcella was a bit difficult, usually Matt and I would leave  before she was up and by the time I was home she would have already been tucked up in her dream land :) So I never pass up a chance to hold her whenever I could :)

I hope you two get along well as you do now, Matt totally adores Marcella, and I so hope that she doesn’t give him too much trouble, lol.



Saturday, March 10, 2012

Four days in Vietnam :)

Dear M & M,

Earlier in Feb. I’d visited Hanoi (the capital) and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) on a business trip, what a wonderful couple of cities, I feel the set up is exactly like Beijing (the capital) and Shanghai, one is the administrative city while the other is the business/trade city (respectively), of course the latter is much more enticing for businesses, but one can not avoid the capital as that is where the policies that dictates the country come from.

Geographically VN is in such a strategically important location, the coast line is 3,260 Km long (excluding islands), running the entire length of the country. To the North is China, to the East is Laos and Cambodia, and I think that was/is why VN was/is so attractive. Long coast line means easy access for both ‘trade ships’ as well as' ‘war ships’, for once VN is in your hand one can easily move east to reach Laos, Cambodia and eventually Thailand, and that is it the whole of South East Asia in a jiffy. The Chinese came by land from the North, the French came by sea from the West and the American came from above by air, you two must read up on the history of VN.




Crossing the roads was fantastically fun, it’s like playing Russian Roulette with an automatic revolver. It had been some years since my previous visit and it was amazing to see all of the development! There is no doubt that soon Vietnam will (economic) become a major player at the regional level, and perhaps the world.





























































I am not going to bore you two to tears on the business side of the trip, just wanted you two to see some of the pictures that I had taken (when not in meetings). You two must read up on the history of Vietnam, it had gone through a lot of heart aches, war after war, and in the end the people did come through, victorious, one must look forward towards the future but the past should never be forgotten.

As I am finishing off this post, I am sitting in Berlin and have been here since Monday (5th of March 2012), this trip was for the ITB Berlin (World’s leading travel trade show), all I can say is WOW what an event… however I think I’ll leave the detail for another posting :)

















Friday, March 2, 2012

All together in Pattaya :)

Dear M & M,

DSC02767_001This past week was Matt’s half term break, so it was the right time to find something fun for the both of you to do, we were a little apprehensive at first because Marcella is so very young, even with Matt, he was at least nine months before we took our first trip to the sea.

Your mother decided to go back to Centara Grand, Matt managed to have a fantastic time there (so many moons ago) even though he had a bit of a run on his tummy :) the water park is superb for children.

Your mother booked a bigger room this time, so all five of us (Pui came too) could be together. The room was fantastic, spacious with a huge balcony and an amazing view. There was a bunk bed for Matt, of course he bagsied the top bunk as soon as he saw it.





















Not long after our arrival in the room, Matt disappeared behind the wardrobe’s door without my notice. By the time I heard the ‘beep beep beep beep beep, aaarrrrrrr, clunk’ it was of course too late! He had already locked up the room safe… I wanted to be cross, but from the conversation that we had I ended up laughing my $%@# off :)











Me:        Matt can you tell me which numbers you’d pressed? (assertive voice)
Matt:     I don’t know Papa
Me:       Come on Matt, you must remember, what was the first number you’d pressed?
Matt:     Zero…
Me:       And then?
Matt:    eight, five, two, one, three, four, fi…
Me:       No, that is too many, let start again
Matt:    Ok Papa, zero, eight, two, four…
Me:       Ok, tell me again which number you’d pressed?
Matt:     zero, eight, four, five…
Me:       ??? tell me again ???
Matt:    zero, two, one, three…
Gio:     Haa, haa, haa, haa, haa (from somewhere outside the room)
Me:      Come on Matt, let start again… (with a huge smile, which was a sign of defeat)

I ended up pressing different set of numbers each time until the safe locked itself for fifteen minutes, of course I gave up and called the engineer, who promptly came with this huge machine, Matt was impressed :) but he promised not to touch the safe again (and he didn’t too :) 











The long weekend was wonderful, Matt ate well and virtually lived in the water park, especially the tunnel water slide, he just couldn’t get enough of it, but surprisingly he wasn’t too keen on the sea though.

We had pretty much spent all our time in the resort, so that Matt could have as much water time as possible, but after about two hours or so he would request to go back to the room, to further play in the huge bath.

Marcella had her first real dip for the first time, and didn’t even cry, the weather was very hot from the searing sun, but the small pool was in the shade, so it was quite cool. The water was warm, just right for Marcella, she looked absolutely adorable.

















Unfortunately most of the photos were not of us by the pool, I had decided not to take the camera but to actually join in the fun with the two of you (the pics below was taken using your mother’s BB).
















On the drive back, we stopped off at this great restaurant, ‘Moom Aroi’ (a direct translation would be ‘Corner Delicious’, well, ‘Delicious Corner’ would make more sense) (your mother’s choice again, ten stars for you, Mama), more than highly recommended. On the GPS, there were two ‘Moom Aroi’, so we picked the one by the sea and we were not disappointed, the service was fast and professional, the food was great and the most important thing for me… there were plenty of parking :) We didn’t arrive in BKK until five, of course my parents were there waiting to see you two.