Appon's Thai Life

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School Supply Shop Bangkok

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I've found this fantastic school supply shop, full of art supplies, bunsen burners, pipettes, all manner of prisms and lenses and musical instruments. Along the back are chemicals, copper sulfate solution, acids and powders of all kinds. Where else in the world can you walk into a shopping mall and buy a color blindness test for under $1.

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Centipede15" Scary, Ouiuuuwwww

I stopped to take this video after a woman street vendor screamed, it's a 15 inch poisonous centipede which promptly escaped between a gap in the fence. I only managed to catch the last part of it's escape.
After I walked away, another scream, same vendor, she's lifted her mat and found another one hiding underneath.

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Imperial World - Dynamo

I bought this kit at Imperial Shopping Worlds, at a third floor school supplies shop (link to where is here).
It is a demonstration of a dynamo powered by the water wheel that lights a little light (LED I think).
I have to say it's not so good. The dynamo doesn't push into the wheel as it says in the instructions, I've had to glue it instead, as you an see from the photo, Despite that I did get it to work pretty well.
Cost 190 Baht, about $6, 4.5 Euros.

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Dish Washing Soap Kit

This is the education kit I bought in the Imperial World school supply shop. It makes liquid for cleaning plates and dishes. Lots of ingredients, I'm not really sure what the liquid in the bottle is, the Thai lists it more as 'base' than anything, perhaps glycerin? It's quick to mix and yes it does work as a soap. You can see at the end I washed some dishes with it, and it did take off the grease.

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Viles Sold on the Street

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What could be in those little viles sold everywhere on the streets of bangkok. All those fancy colours and funny letters on them? Are they some elicit drug? Some magic potion that makes you healthy? No, it's much simpler than that:
These little viles sold on the streets of Bangkok are contact lenses. Mostly fashion lenses with 0.0 magnification. Lots of big black pupil lenses (open pupils are a sign of love, so these fashion lenses often have big black pupils). Lots of odd colours and garish patterns for girls that want to look different.

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Jatujak Horses

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JatuJak weekend market is a great place to find interesting and unusual things. Above is a horse made of wood, sold in the furniture section of the outer market. Below is an iron horse sold as art in the art section. I bet I can find a plastic horse too, but with 5000+ stalls in the weekend market, it may take a while.

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Cooling Spray at MBK

It's hot and humid today, far too hot to be out in the sun. At MBK (Ma Bun Krong) shopping center they have a mist spray operating to cool passers-by. There's no wet patch of ground below the spray it's all evaporate long before it touches the street below.
MBK nearest stop National Stadium in Bangkok is a huge shopping complex that competes with so many others in this district and the cooling spray is very welcome.

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70's Retro Chic Bangkok

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Fancy some 70's retro decorations for your home? Another Jatujak outer market find, a retro accessories shop, selling 70's globe radios, lamps, TV's and toys. It was before my birth, and all these things look so weird and alien to me, but I have seen these in movies.
Since the shop is outside the weekend market area, it's open every day, look for it in the streets on the far west side of Jatujak. See the map below.

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Rainy Season Thailand

Rainy Season brings down-pours and floods. Thankfully not so strong in Bangkok this year, but in the Northern province of Naan there's been a lot of flooding. Just before the rice harvest too. Roads become rivers and cars become boats.

The markets also become more 'interesting' with all the electricity and wires running around, and water everywhere. It adds a bit of spice to life.

(I've updated this video since I first uploaded it, with some decent flooded road scenes. Imagine crossing that junction in the flip-flop shoes we wear in Thailand. We know the water may be filled with all kinds of bacteria, including some very serious ones caused by rat urine, and any cut or damage on the feet can let it in. Yet if you have to cross the road, you have to cross the road.)

Fortune Teller

This fortune teller is on the 2nd floor of Imperial Shopping mall. My fortune was, well lots of generic things about being good, and not worrying if people don't listen to what you say, and that if I get a baby it will be a girl, and any sickness will pass soon and no quick luck.

Well I didn't win the lottery, so it's come true, no quick luck! And have you seen the readership of this blog? So I don't worry if people don't listen to me! How accurate! There's lot of superstitions in Thailand, people believe in ghosts, spirits, all manner of luck and karma.

The map for Imperial World is after the break.

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Black Thai Toothpaste

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We have a very interesting toothpaste in Thailand, it's a herb toothpaste called Twin Lotus herbal toothpaste and it's black and tastes very strongly of mint and menthol. When you brush your teeth it's easy to see where you haven't brushed enough because the black toothpaste stands out against your white teeth.

That said it is bit fierce and not for everyone's taste.

English Taught To Thai Children

From an 'English for Thai students' TV program. Ductile? Duteous? Dutiful? Pliant? Tractable? I really don't think a lot of these words are used. Does anyone say 'duteous'?*. I tried reading Sherlock Holmes, 'A Study in Scarlet' in English and it was unreadable. My English wasn't good enough (this blog is proof edited by British friends). The words were old, unfamiliar and many words have fallen out of common use.

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Lighting Thailand

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These mass produced novelties, made with fairy-lights inside, are everywhere, and very popular. I have them to add some color to a dull room. They're novel, but they're not really lights, I wouldn't use them for lighting a room.

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Roasting Chestnuts, Bangkok

A quick thing to look out for in Thailand, roasting chestnuts, the black beads are special sand they are roasted in so they cook evenly and all the way through. Chestnut season is late summer, through to autumn, and the smell of freshly roasted chestnuts is delightful. If you're visiting at this time you'll see quite a few of these, especially in Chinese areas.

These I saw in China town, a packet of fresh roasted chestnuts was 20 Baht.

Ghost Vendor

In Thailand ghost stories are very popular and very common. Farmers and truckers will see ghosts in the dark unlit farms and roads all the time. But I was in Chinatown, right in the center of Bangkok, and in broad daylight and saw an incredible sight:

The disembodied voice of a ghost vendor trying to sell me radish jewels! OMG! There's nobody there! A pee-lock (ghost)! And she guarantees the taste of her delicious radish jewels!

Some say, she died in torment because nobody bought her radish and chestnut desserts, others say she was too bone lazy to sit at her stand all day long. I guess we'll never know the truth.

See, or rather don't see, the ghostly radish vendor at the green arrow on the map below. Be sure to hear her wails of 'hom hom'.

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Huggy Bears

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A quick find. These uiltra-cute hugging bears are curtain ties. Velcro on their paws lets them hug things. Found at a stall at Siam BTS station.

Alien Statue Jatujak

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A great find in Jatujak, very realistic Alien statues made from welded steel, found out towards the edge of Jatujak, near the park. Each one hand made, individual. This Alien one sells for 150,000 Baht, take a closer look at the ribs, they're spanners of different sizes. They remind me of the Elephant made of spoons I saw in the Erawan Museum.

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Crazy Clocks Bangna Central City

I've found these amazingly cute animated clocks in Central City Mall at Bangna, Bangkok. Japanese made, naturally, only the Japanese have money to waste making these things. They're expensive too, 10000 Baht upwards, some elaborate ones go for 60000 Baht upwards.

I found there are many similar clocks, it seems Seiko and Citizen make a small number of each clock and sell them, as novelty items, around the world.

Take a look at this one, the numbers dance to the theme from Titanic:

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Bubble Blowing Penguin

I find these toys so much fun, pity they need topping up with liquid soap. I like the idea of coming back and finding the house filled with welcome home bubbles from an out of control, crazed, bubble blowing penguin.
They're sold everywhere, but this one I saw here, at the green marker on the map:

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Jin-Joks Everywhere

You get spiders crawling into the house, I get jing-joks, little lizards or salamanders, I'm not quite sure what the English for Jin-Jok is.
They're not a big problem, they don't cause harm, or eat wires, but they are sort of annoying, always moving just in the corner of your eye. Best to catch them and let them go outside.

Say it with Chocolate

I saw these in Udon Thani, it's a Thai company that makes gift boxes of chocolates. You spell out messages with lettered chocolates. A very nice idea, catch the company at their website, ABC Chocolate.


Baiyoke Sky Tower, Bangkok

Over on my Thai Travel blog, I'm doing a loop of the Baiyoke II skytower. A viewing platform on the top of the highest building in Thailand, that rotates in a loop so you can see the view out over Bangkok.

Shy Plants

Touch the leaf of a shy plant and it closes up to a brown shriveled stalk. I played with these as a child, and I still find it fascinating.

Cable Noodles

Bangkok wasn't designed, it evolved and the easiest place to see this is in the cabling. With the city predating the Internet and telephone, of course there is plenty of new telephone spaghetti running the length of the main streets, but many parts have had electricity added too. If you wander a few of the streets in central Bangkok, you can see high voltage electricity cables running within arms length of buildings.

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Walk through a Slum

If you've stayed in the posh Centaura hotel in Central World, then you may have seen a slum area below from your window. Well that slum area is also a little community of people, shops and stalls and happens to be a good shortcut to Platinum (pronounced more like pa-too-naam in Thai), a cheap place to buy clothes in Bangkok, and further down the road, Pantip Plaza, a place to buy computers. Here's a walk through from the Centaura side to the Platinum side.

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Dog Bottom Paper Dispensers

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We use toilet paper as napkin paper in Thailand, so what better way to disguise a product intended for wiping your bottom, than stick it in a holder of ... a dogs bottom.

The cuteness of these dispenser, I just had to share with you. I saw them in UdonThani, next to the Train Station, there's a set of shops and stalls, and this was one of those stalls.


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Carved Coconut Duck

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I found this vendor selling carved coconuts made into bowls, plant holders and pots. Really cute, the craftsmanship involved is very high, each one in the husk and shell of a single coconut.

He has a wide variety too, see the hen below, wouldn't that be a nice place to store eggs?

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Wok as a hand basin

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I like this, it may be a little bit rough with the concrete and scale, but the idea of using a wok as a handbasin I like. If I have an outside sink, I think I'll try to make a custom sink, perhaps one out of glass mixing bowl, or a resin coated bread basket.

I saw this at Khlong Lat Mayom, a popular Bangkok floating market. I have an article about this market over on my Thai Travel blog.

Bangkok Island and the Flood Gates

I thought I'd explore Bangkok 'Island', a loop of land that has been cut off by a man-made canal. (The locals call it 'pigs stomach' because of the shape.) As with my Monkeys Boats Guns day trip, the plan is to start from the south end of the BTS Skytrain system, cross the river by boat and see what I can find. I started from Bang Na station, one of the new stations added at the south end.

A short tuk tuk ride away, Bang Na pier with a temple next door awaits. Now is a good opportunity to pray for those whose lives were cut short recently, so that is first on the agenda.

Crossing the river is cheap, only 6 baht, there's a lot of piers along the river and it's quite easy to find a place to cross. I use the small boat, the bigger public boat goes to a different pier. Ten minutes later, I'm across. There's a floating market here, but only on weekends, and the sign on the other side mentions a night-time fireflies tour, I'll do that tonight! Already I have two new things to see, but not right now. Now I'm going to see bridge "Bhumibol", named in honour of our King, it's a two part bridge, Bhumibol 1 Bridge & Bhumibol 2 Bridge, only a road bridge, no walkway which is a pity, the view from there must be spectacular.

I also found Homestay here, small family run hotels, see my travel blog for details of the Homestay Bangkok.

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A tale of two piers, Bangkok

If you look at the satellite map of Thailand there's a pier, not far from Bangkok, at the mouth of the Chao Praya river, in Samut Prakan. Time to go explore!


View Piers of Bangkok in a larger map

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Lightning Storm

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Currently Thailand faces serious flooding. Most provinces have had some flooding and with the recent downpours, even Bangkok outskirts towns like Pathum Thani are flooded. Homes are lost, families are in government shelters having lost everything. A father of 4 children recently hanged himself after losing his house and everything he had.

Every night seems to bring new storms, see the picture above? It's the dark of night, I haven't altered the brightness of that photo, it's a frame taken straight from a video of a lightning flash I recorded, below is the lightning bolt shortly after the flash. It's the middle of a long storm, thunder and lightning and rain and rain and more rain came down, and this is a typical night in this unusual rainy season.

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Everyone is doing their part, the whole of Thailand is pulling together, I've made my donation, and if you'd like to help, I recommending Channel 3 as the best way to ensure your donation arrives to the people who need help quickest.

The map on the Governments response pages shows red area are the areas suffering most right now.


Account: 014-3004-448,
"Channel 3, For Flood Victims 54"
Channel 3,
3199 Maleenon.
Rama 4 Road,
Klong Toey.
Bangkok, Thailand.

Bangkok Bank
Swift code: BKKBTHBK
333 Silom Road,
Bangkok 10500
THAILAND

The page (sadly only in Thai) for Channel 3 help page is here.

Flood Preparations 21st October 2011

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Here in Bangkok we're expecting the flooding to arrive. It already has in the outlaying suburbs, the dams north of Bangkok are full beyond their capacity, and the gates have been opened to release some of the pressure into the canals- better a slow rise in water than a rush of water if a dam burst.

If you click the map above, it takes you to the Governments Crisis Map, showing the current state of the flooding. Down the right hand side are overlays, the top options shows the areas declared as disaster areas, the second from top is the flooded area overlay.

With the news full of images of villages and towns covered in water, Bangkok people are panic buying, the photograph is of Tesco Lotus shelf, the one that normally is filled with instant noodles and dried goods, stripped clean.

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BIG+BIH Gift & Housewair Fair, Bitec, Bangkok 2011

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The BIG Gift & Houseware Fair 2011 is on at Bitec exhibition center, Bangkok. It finishes tomorrow (Sunday 22nd Oct), so you have to be quick if you want to visit. I sometimes show off handicrafts and OTOP products that catch my eye, the BIG Fair is for more professional companies to show their wares internationally.

I'm going to be showing some of my favorite items from the show, starting with the decorative colourful ornamental works. At the top we have some of the work of Tom Mango Co Ltd. You'll see a lot of metalized lacquer-ware in Thailand, used to create a sense of opulence and luxury in a bedroom or spa. I thought this was by far the most stylish of this type of work, made from Mango wood, see more photos lower down in the article. Tom Mango Co Ltd, website. Email: sale@tom-mango.com for details.

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BIG+BIH I'm Not a Paper Cup

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My favorite product from the whole BIG+BIH: "I am not a paper cup", a sippy cup, a proper fired glazed cup, with a soft moulded silicone lid that fits on the top. It even says "Caution Contents Hot" like the coffee cups you get from McDonalds.

Fill it full of ice, pour over your guava juice, or beer, clip on the lid, and drink your juice without the ice coming out. I also found that it keeps the drink cooler longer that my other glasses do, the heat from your hand doesn't warm up the cup because it has an insulated gripping band, and the lid keeps the cold in.

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BIG+BIH Wall Coverings

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The BIH stands for 'Bangkok International Houseware', and a large part of the show was dedicated to furniture, wall decorations and house hold equipment. I wanted to group these 3 companies together since they all make ways to make boring plain walls interesting.

First up, Korakot Aromdee, an artist/designer makes these swirling wooden relief panels that add texture to a wall. korakot@korakot.net website www.korakot.net. He does sculptures in the same technique:

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Ikea vs SB Design Square, Bangkok November 2011

Ikea opened it's first store in Thailand on 3rd November 2011. I was there at the opening, and two days later. SB Design Square opened it's new flagship store, only a few weeks ago. Both are near to each other along the Bangna Express way, so how did they fair?

From the video it looks like SB Design Square doesn't have enough customers to support a mall that size. My visit was deeply unpleasant, as you walk around sales men follow you ready to pounce, 'no photo' signs are everywhere. As I took out my camera and took a photo, a security guard behind me joined someone from the mall management. I put away my camera quickly. You're aware that eyes are on you as you walk around and look at furniture. I saw a table I liked, and office furniture that I prefer to Ikea, but mixed in among overpriced furniture with an unpleasant shopping experience.

(Added comment) If SB design management are reading this, take down the no photo signs, tell the sales staff to lighten up, go through the store and remove any badly made furniture. If you want to sell premium furniture, great, but I saw lots of melamine mixed in, and it caused me to view the rest of the furniture as lower quality by association.

Ikea was packed, any doubts that the Ikea formula would succeed in Thailand firmly put to rest. Even the restaurant was busy, selling Swedish meatballs.

I believe that within 2 years, Ikea will aggressively open new stores across Thailand, and that SB Design and perhaps Index stores will aggressively close stores.

While I was in Ikea a little life tragedy unfolded. A nice woman was dreaming of the life she would have with her new English boyfriend, sitting at a 12 place Ikea table. When she heard me speak English, she asked me about a letter she had from him. A short chat with her, she had been on the Internet dating site, an English man had contacted her, and agreed to marry her without meeting her and was sending her money for the marriage, alarm bells started ringing in my head.

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Home Made Acne Cream

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I have acne, bad bad acne. I've tried all the usual remedies, Benzoyl Peroxide, all manner of antibiotics, anti-bacterial skin creams, you name it I've tried it. The most effective was the antibiotics, but usually one immune bacteria would take advantage of the lack of competition and I'd end up covered in some new type of spot.

I've found this magic green herb cream made by a woman in Udonthani. It was absolutely amazing, one week and my spots were gone, my pores were tighter, my skin smoother. Only trouble is the price of the cream is far too expensive for a tiny little pot, and I wonder what she puts in it and why I can't find a similar commercial cream here in Bangkok.

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Bitec Thai Food Fair, January 2012

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Bitec, the large exhibition center in Bangkok, has a food and hospitality trade fair running, and naturally I have to attend. The trade fair is called 'TRAFS' which stands for Thai Retail, Food and Hospitality Services. So it's for hotel chefs who want to set up a shop, or its for shops that wish they were bars, or for, well as trade shows go this ones a little confused. So I'll focus on the food part and skip the rest.

Lets start with Tipco (click for website), shown in the photograph above. Tipco are a major Thai fruit juice maker, you can buy their products from all major Thai supermarkets. I selected 3 of their juices that typify Thailand. From left to right: Pomegranate Juice, Guava Juice, and Mangosteen, if you're in Thailand drink the juice that the locals drink! Orange juice is expensive here and unpleasantly sweet too.

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BIG+BIH Show Bangkok

Another year another BIG+BIH show, the twice annual Bangkok gift and housewares show I've covered before. Some of my favorite things were on show, but I've selected a few new items from this years show that highlight what Thai crafts are about.

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Starting with this from the housewares section, these stools are carved from a single trunk of wood. Amazing twists and turns and yet they are so solid and heavy with a real feel of quality about them.

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SpokeDark vs ZeFrank's Back

This is Spokedark.tv, a Thai web-show filled with satire and comedy. This episode is a show from last year, under the previous military-friendly government. He uses clever satire to say things he otherwise couldn't speak openly.

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Rainy Day Fun: Wafer Biscuit Jenga

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Well the rain goes on and on, and I have to make my own fun. Try this: "Wafer Biscuit Jenga". The rules are the same as Jenga, players take turns, using only one hand to remove a single wafer from the stack without causing the stack to fall. The top two rows must be left untouched.

If they successfully remove a wafer, they add it to their pile ready to eat. The person who topples the tower, hands back their pile of wafers and does not get to eat them. Everyone else can then eat from their winning piles.

I used different flavoured wafers, the popular cocoa wafer lower down, the unpopular strawberry wafer at the top. Rainy days don't need to be dull.

Rainy Day Fun: Soda Science

More rainy day fun from my childhood. We have soda water in Thailand sold in bottles and used as a whiskey mixer. Since it's a mixer, its very very fizzy and under a lot of pressure. The trick is to get it as cold as ice but not frozen, then open it. Instant magic freeze! It use to fascinate me when I was a child.

Any idiot can drive a scooter

Scooters are so easy these days. They have electric push button start, they have automatic gears, even automatic stop if you put the kick stand down. If you can ride a push bike you can ride a scooter. Any idiot can ride a scooter, and this idiot decided she would learn.

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Olympics Silver, 58kgs Womens Weightlifting!

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Yeh! Pimsiri Sirikaew got a silver medal in the womens 58kgs Olympic weightlifting, she lifted 136kgs Clean & Jerk. She's from Khon Kaen in Isaan! An Isaan girl like me!

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Phuket Triangle

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(Image courtesy of Thai Rath).

Last Sunday (28th October), I was visiting Tonsai Waterfall and exploring the jungle behind it. The waterfall snakes up a hill that's covered with dense jungle, and I have to admit I took a wrong turn while following the path, but managed to find my way back.

By an amazing coincidence, the British man and woman above, were also in the jungle at the same time and were lost. By 5pm they couldn't find their way back and the taxi driver who waiting for them raised the alarm. It gets dark at 6pm and the rescue services couldn't find them and had to call off the search at 3am.

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Drifting Rocks Illusion

When I visited Koh Naka Noi, the smaller one of the two Naka islands just off the North East of Phuket. I was chatting to the boat captain, and didn't notice the rocks.

I've seen this described before, the boat's engine is turned off, the waves are still and the rocks drift across, as if floating.

Yes they are rocks, and not debris.

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ISP Tektonic

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A quick thanks to Tektonic, (who provide this sites website hosting for the last 4 years or so) for the free upgrade to bring our virtual private server up to date with their modern plans.

As memory got cheaper, so Tektonic upgraded their servers and our plan with it. This should help the out of memory errors the site suffers when it's under heavy load. It was a nice touch to hit a problem, and be offered a free solution from them quickly and without asking.

Escape from a Hangover

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There's a few movies around right now featuring Phuket and Thailand. In Hangover II, a group of friends have a bachelor party only to wake up in Bangkok, missing a friend, well most of him, he left his finger behind.

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Phuket is Busy 2

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Over at Heroines Monument, as part of the celebrations of two sisters who saved Phuket from the Burmese, they're having a party.

Every night from 15th March to 24th March, there's live music from a popular band, a fun fair and food festival. I went to last nights show, but the main act was on very late, 10:30pm, but there was a good support band before them. The last two days are a beauty competition, I'm too old to enter, the age limit is 25. They should have a beauty competition for the older women too!

The festival is in the evenings over the next week, during the day there are still plenty of stalls open, you can't miss it, it's at the Heroines Monument in the center of Phuket, shown on the map below.

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Siray Island Phuket, Decay

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I've been visiting Siray Island, a small island right off Phuket town, connected to the main island by a bridge. It's just a short drive away on my scooter, so I thought I'd spend the day here.

Mostly it's been positive, some fun monkeys, a temple with spectacular views, a bay with a pier so long, you can walk to the end and be practically out at sea.

But towards the north end of this island, its a bit more decayed and a whole lot more annoying! See the map below, on Google I spotted a beach at the end of the road.

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Phuket Boat Show, Not just for the Rich

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Phuket Royal Marina is running the Pimax boat show right now. I've done my share of boat spotting before, but only saw the outsides. The great thing about a boat show, is you can get into the boats, clamber around and see how the rich live.

More than that, you can bring false hope to salesmen who think you're prepared to spend $5 million on their latest floating motorhome. Well at least I started out with that intention, but I was surprised to see a few boats in my price range, and even one of the large yachts could be hired for a week for the similar cost of an American holiday!

Suddenly the boating life doesn't seem so out of reach.

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Phuket Bike Week

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Phuket Bike Week is on, I've been busy with Songkran, and Krabi and green tea pies and missed most of it. Today though, today will be different, I'll take my own bike over to Patong and enjoy the sensible quality bikes on show!

I'm not really a bike person, but I'm sure I can review a bike show. So first up, speakers, the most important thing in the bike, I can confirm the speakers on the bike above still work! Despite someone accidentally painting over the speaker grill.

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My First Geocache

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If you've been reading my travel blog, I'm covering Geocaching in Phuket, the game of hiding and seeking caches using a GPS device.

I've done the finding, now I'm going to do the hiding!

Contents

So my cache will be a small water proof container, containing a few of the common cache basics: a log book for people to record their visits, a pencil to write with, a pencil sharpener because when have you ever found a sharp pencil?!

In addition, I'm putting a piece of the stick, from the consecration ceremony of Wat Padungthamapotivad. This should bring the finder good luck.

I took a trackable coin from one of the caches I found, in Phuket Town Park. These coins need to be placed in another cache, and so it's in my cache too.

Finally some ear-rings. People like to take little cheap trinkets and place one of their own inside, earrings are perfect for that.

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House Cancer

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Traditional Thai houses are made from wood, not just any kind of wood, Teak. There's a good reason to use teak, bugs don't like to eat it. If you made a house from a softwood like pine, with a few weeks your house would be dust! You can see what termites can do, in the old piece of wood above. They've completely shredded it.

I've been house hunting, and found what I thought was the perfect house. A large new built house, quite cheap, on a nice estate, with a large garden, quiet enough for my cooking videos and sturdily built.

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Prison Product, Furniture, Phuket

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If you end up in prison in Thailand, one of the things you can do is to learn a trade. Wood working is one of them, and the end result of a lot of this wood work is furniture.
That furniture gets sold at events like these, Prison Product shows. But this is Thailand, we don't just have a show with a lot of furniture to look at, we have dancing and beer and food, and food and food and some more food.

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Light em up!

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I moved house. One of the first things that happened as I was moving was a break-in. I arrived one morning to find a patio door unlocked, but the fly screen and the door were carefully closed as if I'd forgotten to lock it. I double check every door before I leave, so I know I didn't forget, so how could it be unlocked?

Close inspection of the lock outside, revealed metal shards where the key goes and scratches. It had been levered open, probably a big screwdriver.

An inspection inside the house, was fine, nothing had been taken. I was lucky, no cash or easy to steal items were inside, I was part way through moving and the small stuff was in the old house.

Time for some new locks, some alarms, cameras and better security lighting. I won't be covering the alarms or cameras, but let me show you my new combination garden lighting/security lighting.

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Bug Control, The Natural Way

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The new house is next to a jungle, occasionally a monkey will visit the house, or the whooping sound of a gibbon is heard nearby, but mostly the visitors are bugs. Common house flies, mosquitoes, and the geckos and spiders that come along to eat them, and the cockroaches that eat the waste and dead remains of geckos and spiders.

I've decided to tackle this in a nature friendly way, and luckily there's a plant fair on a Saphan Hin in Phuket, and I can buy all those specialist plants I need.

First up a few Venus Fly Traps around the house. The saleswoman says they need full daylight and have to live outdoors, so I'll dot a few around the house.

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The dentist, what could be more fun?

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What could be more fun than a visit to this dentist?

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Supercheap, risen from the ashes

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It's been one month since Super Cheap, Phukets huge old style market burned to the ground, and the new supercheap is already up and running. Well at least the car park has been converted into an open air market, and bustling shoppers are once again buying.

Meanwhile behind metal screens, the old burned down store is being cleaned away. I caught a glimpse of the giant shelves that once housed all manner of food stacked to the roof. Now just twisted metal in the distance.

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LED's Everywhere

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After the success with my garden lighting, I got a little carried away with LEDs. At Keehin, the store I bought my garden lights from, I found rolls of LED's in rolls up to 30m that you can plug into the mains.

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Monument Festival, Sisunthorn Phuket

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It's festival time in Phuket, and the annual Monument festival is here. This year it's bigger, featuring two stages instead of the usual one.

It's happening now, 15th to the 26th March 2014, with the big act on the 26th. I say big, this year it's a name I don't know, but the final day is usually the best day to visit.

The acts start around 8pm, but the later acts 10pm onwards are usually the main show. The second stage was playing traditional Thai music, the warbling singing of old Thailand. I assume it will be doing that all through the festival.

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iCondo Udomsuk 103 Bangkok

I've seen this condo built behind my favorite bars, and decided to take a good look. This is right next to the main night life area in Udomsuk, a long street off Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok. A one bed here costs 1.79 million, or about $55,000. I see they're filming adverts here (embedded below), as they try to sell the units. So let me give you the low down.

The condo is cheap by Bangkok standards. The nightlife here is very good, the people in this condo walk outside and within a few hundred feet is a whole group of restaurants, bars and music venues. Some terrific food stalls too, so many pubs and clubs I didn't get chance to check them all out.

Central Bangna Mall is surprisingly only 1km away down the side streets, Paradise mall, and Seacon Square, and Mega Bangna a taxi-ride away. The Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International airport is on this side of Bangkok and easy to get to by Taxi from here. The rooms feel quite large, and the level of fit impressive. Basic furniture is included in the price.

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As a condo, you can buy a unit here and own it as a foreigner, so you could buy a holiday condo here and use it as a Bangkok base. Electricity bills can be paid by Internet, and water is paid to the condo management anyway. The place is secure with guards and electronic key entry. I was only there a few weeks, but I left with a good impression of it.

The negatives? Well it's not near the Skytrain, That's why in the video they show him hopping in the shuttle bus, to the sky train. Udomsuk road can get very busy, and the noise from the bars goes into the small hours.

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The Google Maps Problem

As you might be aware from reading my travel site, Google maps did an update and it broke a lot of embedded maps. Major features were lost, and Google maps was never that great to begin with.

Let me explain.

I used Google maps for years. I had all the Thai Travel places listed, and embedding a view onto the map with the relevent place selected. Google maps was the best of a bad bunch. I could add multiple places, and embed a view onto the map with one place highlighted, but the view would have badly chosen zoom.

I've simulated what it use to be like:

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Not perfect, but at least you could point to a place and say 'here it is'. Which is surely what maps are about! Pointing to a place and saying 'here it is'!

With the new maps update, this is what the user sees:

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How are they supposed to know which point on the map is the one I am referring to? Google have lost the "here it is" functionality! The cornerstone of any map!

Ideally the view onto the map would be chosen with more intelligence, or done per embedded map. So that a better view could be chosen. Something like this:

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Train Market or Car Park?

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Train market is a really nice night market between two three very large shopping malls. Seacon Square and Paradise Mall in Bangkok. Since writing this, another mall has opened between the two, Ha Ha mall, so now Train Market is really sandwiched between Ha Ha and Seacon Square... better hit the submit button quick before they build another mall!

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One of the nice things about Train Market is the interesting vintage stuff they have to draw people in. Tonight they have a good selection of vintage American cars. Old trucks, petrol pumps of days gone by, vintage scooters and pickups. It's all very transport themed with lots of clapped out old bangers. Rust is suprisingly pleasant to see in a world made of plastic and since I'm here shopping for gifts it's like visiting a historic monument to see these jalopies.

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Imported Whiskey

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I've been shopping and I spotted this bottle of Imported 'Grand Royal Reserve Whiskey'. It certainly looks the part in a golden box, an embossed bottle, a paper label to seal the screw cap.
It's won lots of awards too, the label boasts of many world class awards that this whiskey has won.

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MONDE selection, San Fransisco World Spirits awards, VIP Platinum. This is really a world class spirit! But where is it from? There's no Thai writing on it, no Asian scripts, no Simplified Chinese. Surely this is a European product? Perhaps even Scotch?

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Making Cement Sexy from SCG

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Siam Cement Group have always tried to promote themselves in imaginative ways, but how do you make cement sexy? How do you turn a grey powder sold in large brown recycled paper bags into an exciting modern news-worthy thing??

You don't! Instead you hire other more inventive people to do it for you!

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This is 10 cal tower, a recent architecture project from SuperMachine, the Bangkok design studio of Pitupong Chaowakul. An Escher like series of ramps and stairs to explore, naturally its all SCG concrete. It's next to Bang saen beach in Chonburi and I'll see it next time I'm there.

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Ink'd in Train Market

I'm not into the tattoo culture. I don't really want to get a dragon permanently drawn on my back and quite frankly you see old men in Thailand with faded, distorted tattoos and wonder what the heck they were thinking!

What happens when you change your mind? Laser tattoo removal is expensive and not perfect.

But there is an alternative! A quick spray on tattoo, takes minutes, is painless and costs 70 baht. So if you really want to get decorated with ink, this I don't mind!

This booth I found in Train Market in Bangkok.

Harbin Ice Wonderland

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It's damn hot in March and April, and a small stand selling tickets to an Ice Wonderland caught my eye. So off I go to see 'Harbin Ice Wonderland'.

Harbin is the site of the Chinese ice festival, where they cover the town with ice sculptures, and this is just a little mini-taster near Bearing BTS Station, in Bangkok in a large temporary enclosure.

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Bangnarmphueng Floating Revisited

Another weekend, another floating market. Once upon a time we were starved for floating markets, now they're everywhere throughout Bangkok!

I'm visiting Bangnarmphueng market again, the market on the pig gut of land near the center of Bangkok, this piece of land can be visited by a short boat trip from many of the piers along the east bank of the river.

It's really grown since I was here last, the temple is larger, but is still being extended. The market bounds have grown, and many more foreign tourists are here too.

Perhaps other markets are nearer, but this market offers you the excuse to take a boat trip to reach it!

North East of Bangkok you can find: Kwan-Riam floating market, Wat Prayasuren floating market, There's this one Bangnarmphueng Floating Market Bangkok, North West has Talin Chan and Floating Market Khlong Latmayom.
While over to the west outside of Bangkok, Amphawa is a famous.

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Spirited Away

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If you've ever watched Spirited Away, you'll recognize this character immediately. I think students are making a little movie piece at Train Market. They look semi-professional, but few of the people passing recognized the character, and even fewer understand the beauty of this movie it's taken from.

They make a movie about a movie, so I am making a movie about them making a movie about a movie! A meta-meta-movie! Perhaps I'll do a 'making of' movie of this movie for the full triple-meta!

(Meta Meta Movie below)

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Exploring a Lake in Chiayphum

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On the way back from Chaiyaphum, I decide to explore around a lake using a dirt track on the map. There's not much in the way of lake to be seen, but cattle, lots of small cattle farmers drive their cattle down this road.

What exactly are those humped cattle? Too small to be buffalo, the hump makes them more like zebu than cows.

100,000 YouTube Views

I didn't celebrate my 10 years in blogging, back in November 2014.
I didn't celebrate my 10 millionth page view.
But I'm sure as heck going to celebrate my 100,000th YouTube video view!

To celebrate I've collected the top videos in each of my Thai Food, Thai Travel and life blogs.

Top Video: Me winning the lottery? I bought the ticket in the floods, so it was sure to be lucky. I didn't even get one number right!

Runner Up: Bangkok Flood Controls. The early look at the pre-2011 flood preparations in Bangkok.

Tranforming Typographic, Coca Cafe Ho Chi Min

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A nice little find on my Vietnam trip, the restaurant chain, Coca, which is also in Mega Bangna here in Bangkok, has a branch in Ho Chi Min. They used Thai lettering to assemble English words by the shape of the letters instead of their sounds.

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It's easier to see than to explain, it was a little clever thing that made me smile.

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Papa Market (Train Market)

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Not long ago at Srinkharin Road number 53 in Bangkok, there was a successful all-you-can-eat Korean buffet. It was delicious food sold very cheap!

Since then, a new mall opened up next door, HaHa mall, and the buffet has gone to be replaced by a mini-clone of the next door Train Market: Papa market!

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Mosquito Massacre

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I'm not fan of mosquitoes! In my garden I keep little fish in pots. The fish are never fed, they eat the mosquito larvae and keep the number of mosquitoes down.

But that's still not enough! Lucky for me I spotted this video:

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Steam Punk at Train Market

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Train Market continues to delight. This is definitely the place to hang out if you're an arts student.

Not far from where the 'Spirited Away' group were a few days ago, a Steam Punk bar has opened. Or should I call it a 'Steam Pug' bar. I suspect they didn't know how to spell it.

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Click below for a video.

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Water Pure As Can Be

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I finally gave in and got myself a water filter. It's easy and cheap to buy drinking water in bulk in Thailand, it comes in big 25 liter bottles, it costs 12 baht, about 40 cents. It's made just down the road in a factory using the latest reverse-osmosis process, and it's absolutely no hassle to buy.

So why buy an expensive filtering system? Honestly I'm not really sure why I did it! It's not like I have to purify water anymore. The days of growing up on the farm, drinking well water have gone.

I think it's because it's handy to have it on tap. For rinsing vegetables and fruit, its quite nice to be able to turn a tap and put them under running water.

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Ao Po Marina Boat Show - Boat Booty!

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Ao Po Marina has a boat show! Or should I call it a Yacht show! If you're a multi-millionaire who wants to buy a yacht, then by all means visit. As I was just looking, all I got to see was the backs of boats and a lot of "by appointment only" and "VIP only" signs!

They want to sell them, but they don't want to clean them! This really isn't a show for lookies like me, yet if you wanted to spend a few million dollars on a super-yacht, they'd give you a private viewing. So who exactly is supposed to go to these shows? People who like looking at the backs of boats? Some sort of boat-booty-fetishists? Someone who likes to look at the backs of boats, and only the backs?? Bah!

I think they should sail the boats out, tie them on anchor moorings, and run guided trips on little launch boats around them, then at least we can see the whole boat! A guide can explain the price and features of each super-yacht so us lookies can enjoy these too!

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Sea Scooter Woes

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This is a sea-scooter. I tried these in the UK while on holiday. They were terrible, slow, barely able to pull you along, but I quickly learned that those are the entry level model. That Sea Scooters exist that are much more powerful, it was only health and safety reasons that prevented the bigger ones being used at that water park.

So I decided to go find myself one, so I could enjoy Phuket in a new dimension! A wetter faster dimension!

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I'd recently bought a drone, a Phantom 3 Advanced, light enough not to need registering, but good enough to make HD videos. It's been amazing, far more amazing than I could ever imagine! I guess the success of that meant I wanted to explore all the toys that can be bought.

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A Little Bit of Sweet

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While I'm out on the town, now is a good chance to enjoy a little bit of sweet. The bank notes in Thailand have ultraviolet patterns on them, as an anti-fraud measure. But you can really only enjoy them in a club.

The best of these is supposedly the new 1000 baht note, I have the older notes, and they feature a fireworks show (shown below!).

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Virtual Reality Meets Reality

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You will gather I'm finding new ways to explore Phuket island. First I explored inaccessible mini islands by air using a drone, next it was by sea with a toy I'm calling an my new instant mermaid, and now it's in virtual reality.

What if I take one of those VR Headsets, that work using a smartphone, like Google Cardboard, find a VR Street View in Phuket and then compare it to the real thing. How would they compare?

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I'm in Central Plaza Mall, Phuket to see a duck cooking competition anyway, so this seems like a good place to try this out. Sure enough street view has several VR views in the mall itself.

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Garden Visitors, Monitor Lizard

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Yet another garden visitor, it was only a few weeks ago that another snake came to visit. Snake control took it away, but they promised me it was harmless.

It was an all green snake, he said it was safer to call them anyway, because the green ones with the flame tales are poisonous.

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The most useful camping tool I bought

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I've been going camping quite a lot recently, there's something about cooking eating and sleeping under the stars that's really special.

But it has its problems. When I first went camping I forgot any form of light and stumbled my way around at night.

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Mystery Ikea Office Chair Decay

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My usual enthusiasm for Ikea products took a major dent this week. The Lillhojden Office chair, in my Bangkok office has started falling into pieces in a rather mysterious way! I've had this chair for a couple of years, so its out of warranty, but I'm much more concerned with the way its decaying.

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Removing the cover reveals the cushions. The back cushion is covered with a sort of paper, and that paper has become all brittle and is completely flaking away front and back of this cushion. I thought it might be some sort of fungus or rot in the paper itself. Except this rot is rather selective!

The underside of the seat of the chair also appears to be covered in a black version of this paper, and that is breaking up too. But the seat cushion, again covered in the same paper, has no damage at all!

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Microbugs ate my Ikea Chair

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Last week I noticed that my Ikea office chair was degrading. The cushion covers inside were brittle and flaking away. Ikea were no help, and since a lot of my furniture if from Ikea and is made with this method, I decided to investigate myself before I have to throw out a lot of furniture!

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Microbugs ate my *other* Ikea chair

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In Bangkok, my office chair from Ikea crumbled inside. The seat cushion and back flaked away as though they were made of crumbs. When I came back to Phuket, the exact same model of Ikea chair had failed in exactly the same way! Hundreds of miles apart, yet the same problem.

They were bought at different times, and lived in different places, the only obvious thing connecting them is the rainy season. It's very humid here in Thailand at this time of year.

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The Phuket chair has far more obvious fungus like appearance on the outside. Suggesting rot rather than mites.

I think Ikea does not make furniture that can survive the wet season in Thailand. My other HomePro office chair, is older, has no damage and no problems. But then Homepro have been in Thailand a long time, and Ikea only just arrived.

Lesson learned: don't be the first to buy anything! Even Ikea furniture is new if its in a new market.

Mystery Object

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What is this mystery object shown above? It's made of plastic and metal, it's 25mm across and I carry it in my bag wherever I go.

Possibly one of the most useful tools I have in my bag! The background is a hint too, it's a night out on the town, at Chilva market in Phuket, I'm at a table eating a meal. That is the typical place I would use this.

(To see click 'read more').

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Romantic Robots in Seacon Square

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It isn't often you get to see the mating rituals of robots. But over the next few days (till Saturday 21st January 2017), Seacon Square shopping mall in Bangkok, is showing natures glorious ritual in its central square with a robot speed dating night, called "Wars of Steel 2".

They've built a steel cage dancefloor with seating stands and anyone can sit and watch the romantic action. The video (below the break), shows you just how sweet this is, with the correct music. I chose "Besame Mucho by Cesaria Evora" to set the mood.

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Ko Mak Noi, Fresh Crab

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I've been visiting Thanbok Koranee National park again, and dropping by Lam Sak on the way back. I had planned to buy some fresh fish off the fishermen at Lam Sak Pier, but whenever I arrive, all the bulk buyers have bought everything for wholesale in Phuket! So instead I ask around and find out I can visit a fisherman's island, known for its crab.

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