Tag Archives: travel

places i have visited in my life

6 Dec

london

i saw this blog with a link to a website to build your own map of places you have visited. it seems i have visited 26countries, and i built a map of it. but when i tried to copy it and show it here i could not do it. i wonder how it is done. you can tell i am not a computer savvy guy. ah well, it did make me realise that i have visited quite a lot of the world. maybe that is why i dont fancy globe trotting anymore. 

I know how to copy and paste the link. so here it is my world map of places i visited in my life. some places i have been again and again, thailand being one of them, others i only visited a small portion of it once and briefly at that. haha. i have not included airline stopovers where i did not get out of the airport… like dubai airport … as i think that does not count.

in my young days i want to see things, and go there and fly there. and i was fortunate to be able to have done all those things and seen those places at a time when visitor numbers are way smaller than they are now.

there is no gainsaying it, more visitors means the place is not as nice to visit. you know that old cliche that we hear from old people all the time that the olden days are better.

it is true. the olden days are better. i look back and see that so many things are adulterated, and lessened and travel is one of the experiences that have changed and become less enjoyable now.  

so many being able to  travel which by itself is no bad thing but it means inevitable  leading to  the reduced seat width and space to accommodate them; (just to name one of the many compromises) and the heightened security measures so that there is so much more delays, just to name a few new things that have happened nowadays makes it less enjoyable.

i am just glad i did all my travelling before all these things happen.

to those who are just starting on their travel adventures i am sure they wont notice the difference. and they will look back years from now and tell their children when they did it , it was so much better. haha.

attending a gay travel fair

18 Jan

london

I thought it is a straightforward event, it is a gay travel fair, which is also to celebrate a 2yr existence of a gay news website. and held in Heaven, the gay (or used to be all gay, though now it is gay friendly) nightclub. but it seems to be caught in the question of do we gays holiday in countries that are antigay or in this case with countries who are gay friendly but  whose policies downtrod other people. 

You might argue it is legitimate to boycott countries that have antigay laws. like russia for eg, but so many countries have anti gay laws, even malaysia where i come from, and I am not sure i want to say boycott malaysia, because though there are anti gay laws they are not strictly implemented and the gays are tolerated… you might say just being tolerated is not enough and i agree with you, but one must be realistic, it is nice to have the whole world love us, but that is not going to happen. there will be plenty of anti gay laws all over the world. 

link to world map showing which countries are anti gay or not

Added. 12.2.14 i said malaysia is not applying its antigay laws. but in the case of anwar, the law is being used to silence him . i forgot about his case when i said malaysia do not implement the antigay laws. here it is being used to politically silence him. human rights watch has told the malaysian govt to stop it. it is appealing to have his not guilty verdict overturned. it is really too bad of the govt and i wont blame gays for boycotting malaysia. 

Added. 15.2.14 just found out russia bans gay pride marches. so it is  bad too…so go ahead and boycott it i say.  

So maybe we boycott those countries who actively prosecute the gay people amongst them. 

but there was a demonstration just outside heaven by a group saying we should boycott the gay travel fair because inside , one of the exhibitors was a israeli travel company encouraging tel aviv and israel as a gay destination. not because israel is homophobic, in fact far from it, it is very gay friendly, but for its politics, its stealing land from the palestinians and building illegal squatter villages there. so here is a twist boycott a gay friendly country whose policies are unfair. 

this complicates matters a bit. one must be realistic, if u are going to call for a boycott of a country because it has bad aggressive policies against its neighbours you would have to stay at home for no country is entirely free from this accusation. whether in the present or in its past. Also, why boycott a travel fair? call for a boycott against the country… 

I think we should really be more selective in who we call for  a boycott campaign, otherwise it makes us a laughing stock.

as a gay guy i dont really book my holidays with travel agents. i can perfectly make my own bookings and prefer to go on my own and take the local hostels and such. with spartacus gay guides, to find out about gay venues, and lonely planet or other travel guides it is easy to make our own way.  

 What I would like is to have a gay company who would provide a local guide who really knows his way around and based in a anti gay country such as saudi arabia, or iran, or north korea,  in a country that is rather dangerous, not only for gays, though mainly that, or dangerous because of the politics and unrest. this would be great for those gays who like to live dangerously. haha. and the tourists will be giving their money directly to the gays there…  but it is such a niche job, i doubt any public company can do it. it has to be rather clandestine, because once in that country a lot of the things will be in the underground network and illegal and not to be publicise; all very hush hush.  so it just cannot happen even though such a company would be very useful and offer something unique. it just wont work. there wont be enough foreigners to sustain it. these gay guys have to like that adrenaline rush of danger and be rich. Sorry gay guys you just wont get that kind of company. I think  being a gay travel company is real tough. i guess we just have to concentrate on gay party circuits and/or fetish weeks or gay cruises. Plenty of gay customers for those. 

added. correct me if i am wrong, but even the russian antigay is not quite so clear cut. Being gay in russia is not illegal. that is something that is a good thing. dont you agree? there are so many other countries where gays are prosecuted because being gay is illegal. it must be a plus for russia. what the hooha is about is the one that is about children. not teachingthem about alternative lifestyles , presumably the gay lifestyle being one. it sounds very similar to the british section 28 in the education bill about not teaching children about the gay lifestyle. well, uk have section 28 so even a gay equality country like uk can pass anti gay laws… it was repealed in 2003 so at least uk is off the hook there. maybe russia will one day do likewise. I suppose it will have to go through that process of getting enlightened. 

EasyJet is coddling more business travelers—and forcing its biggest budget rival to do the same

3 Oct

For any consumer-facing business, it often pays to move upmarket.
this article about easyjet going upmarket to woo business travellers and proving it is the right strategy as it flags 50% growth shows why things get more expensive rather than less.

look around you, a new startup will first cater to the cheap market, and invariably if it wants to expand, it starts encroaching on the luxury market and try to lift itself up to cater to them.

i can see it in the street food hawker stalls so ubiquitous in s.e.asia. people are now offering those same street food and jazzing them up , adding bits to it, adding airconditioning etc and marking up the prices to take it upmarket.

coffeeshops are another business that has gone upmarket. the kopitiams (local coffeeshops) which sell really cheap local coffee are now superceded by starbucks etc.

Even the humble hamburger is going upmarket with shops like byron trying to push it up.

it means gone are the days when we can get cheap things.

Costs are rising too, so that any of the businesses that start off as low cost ones have to go upmarket to survive.

i have a feeling that poundland and the 99p shops may be forced to follow that route too.Most probably by reducing the amount and still keep the headline price at £1.

The trend will continue and it makes me wonder what we can do to find alternatives. Well, one way is to downsize by cutting them out. which is what i have done, in that i dont bother to buy coffee in starbucks or cafe nerro, or whatever. Or not eat out, or pack my own lunch; I find it easy to do, but i guess not everyone will  see it as progress. it is like cutting off your nose to spite your face to deprive yourself of such goods or services.

In fact, if i were younger, i too would find it difficult to give all those things up.  i can remember my young days here in london, always eating out in restaurants and cafes, and  going to the theatre seeing musicals and plays, and going to concerts  and buying designer clothes here in london and in paris and new york, and travelling all over the world; driving everywhere in my car, and even buying a flat; because they were quite cheap relative to what i was earning.

Quite impossible now. The funny thing is having done all those in the past, i find i dont fancy doing them now so i can very easily give them up and not feel i am depriving myself of pleasure. You have to experience them, to find out they are not all that great that you want to do them all the time. But the present generation won’t be able to get that experience and will always feel that they are losing out, no matter how many times we old codgers tell them those things are overrated. 

 

its a jungle out there

18 May

London
I always say the urban environment we live in is like a jungle , instead of predatory animals lying in ambush to kill and eat prey, we have shops and businesses waiting to take cash from us.

The latest whiz is the contact less cards. They allow payment without even needing to swipe the cards on a reader. The oyster card is an example, but now they even have a Barclay card that u can use on the buses.

You might think that is a great idea, but it seems they extend the range of these cards in stores (like Marks and spencers) so that even cards that are in your purse, near the reader can have the money taken from them, and without need to tap in your pin number.

The article reports it happening to some customers in M&S store.

I am not affected as I don’t have these contact less credit cards.correction 21.5.13 i have them, except i dont know which ones are contactless, but since i never carry them around with me, it does not affect me.

Some people don’t check their statements so may never realise it is happening to them.

Another way they try to screw money out of you is in the check out till in supermarkets. The amount may not be the same as advertised. This may be due to the till not being adjusted for the new price, or the goods are placed in the wrong shelf, (either by staff or by careless/lazy customers who return the goods to the wrong place) and what u thought is the price turns out not to be.

I always take this as the fun of living in a city or town. It keeps you on your toes to avoid such things, and makes life a bit more exciting. Haha.

Once, I put two oyster cards in the same card carrier, and placed it against the reader on the bus and found that the reader had taken the fare money from both the cards. So that made me realise never to put the spare oyster cards together.

(oyster cards are the name of the contact less cards used by tfl, transport for London, to pay for fares in the tubes, buses and trains. They are cheaper than using cash)

added. heard a bbc report saying be careful when u put your wallet with other credit cards and oyster card to the bus or tube reader, as it can take the money from all the credit cards in the wallet which allow contactless payments.

No wonder i have noticed no one put their oyster card or freedom card in the wallet and present that. Instead people take out the card and present it and i used to think that is quite inefficient.

I myself put it in a airline toiletry pouch round my neck. i use it as a wallet, but i have no credit card in there. 

You soon learn by trial and error what the pitfalls are.

I was watching this tv program, idiot abroad, about ricky gervaise playing a trick on karl Pilkington, sending him abroad and putting him through awful touristy ordeals.

This one showed him in china, and some of his observations are really spot on, showing all the awfulness of visiting a place just for the sake of it.

One thing he said while standing on the great wall of china, quoting from a guide book that that section he was on was refurbished in the 80s and he said what is the point of coming here to look at something that had been built in modern times, or something like that… and I thought very true really.

A lot of old things have been refurbished because old things do crumble away, not to mention all those footfalls by tourists hasten their crumbling even more. Haha. And if u think they should have left the wall alone, and not try to improve it, u might change your mind when u do see the original state of it. Karl was sent to walk the wall, and we are shown the bits of the wall that is crumbling away, and believe me when I say it was very unimpressive. Haha.

Gervaise wants us to laugh at karl not appreciating travelling , and telling us they want to show him that travelling improves the mind, but I think the program really shows the opposite. That travelling is pointless really if u force it on someone who is not interested. U end up making him really upset at all the weird things these foreigners get up to. And come away convinced that they are all mad. Its all very well seeing their culture, but it is never going to make u like doing some of the extreme things they do and eating the things they do.

It looks like they are bullying karl.

It might even make him go away thinking these foreigners are a bunch of mad people . That is to say, it might make him more intolerant of their culture and habits.

Normally this program is on sky tv, and I don’t subscribe to sky tv. But this one was shown on pick tv, which sometimes show selected sky programs for free.

I think seeing it once or twice is enough for me. It is not much fun for me to see the poor guy being subjected to these awful experiences. Too much like bullying. though I suspect it is all acted out, and karl is simply following a script. Though those bits showing him enduring all the things cooked up for him does not looked acted. 

 

 

expat in thailand

18 Mar

London
My friend who lives in Thailand now has gone. He was here for 2nights.

He is here on holiday. Staying with another friend outside London and had been here for 2months , and next week will be going on to Toronto, to meet his relatives.

He has been living in Thailand for 6yrs now.

And now he is rather worried about whether he can come back here to uk if he were to get a serious illness.

It is the perennial worry of all expats. They love to live abroad and are perfectly happy to dish the uk, but when they fall ill, they hasten back here for the nhs.

The older they get the more the health problems loom large.

Anyway, he is here for a holiday, and so not yet forced to come back for his health.

When u consider so many in the world would love to come here to the uk but cannot, it is ironic that we have people here who want to leave and go live elsewhere in the world where they are not going to have free health care and be forever living in strange cultures.

With strange foods, very hot or very cold nights, either way they need heaters and air conditioners. You would think they must love being in the hot climate. And the hotter the better, but not so. They use up a lot of electricity, because they will heat up the place and cool down the place on the same day. Worst than when they are in uk, because at least in uk they need only use the heaters in winter.

(though if u use my experience, they wont even need to do that (heat in winter).

My friend had to tolerate my not having the heaters on, and I have told him about it that was the condition if he wants to stay here.

It has been mild this weekend , but I can see he feels cold. (i have blankets and hot water bottle for him so he is warm enough.

Later he told me he was recently diagnosed with hypothroidism , that would explain why he feels the cold. Though I think it is also because his body has never got to acclimatise itself and get used to cold weather. At the drop of a hat he will turn up the heaters. Instead of putting on more warm clothing.

He does not dress properly for the weather that is for sure. He only got on a denim jacket and a t shirt and sweater. I lent him a wool muffler.

You know old people do this silly thing, not dress properly; but u don’t feel u can tell them off for doing so. They are supposed to be adults , but they have the mind and tantrums of a child.

So many times I have heard old people say, ‘don’t tell me what to do.’

The thing about being old is that you will sooner or later get some illness, it is inevitable. U are lucky if u can delay that day when u are diagnosed with an illness… a failing heart, kidney, liver , and whatever other organs that can go wrong will.

That is the buggery thing about going old.

I know, it is rather a bleak view of ageing. But the more I see old people, the more I come to this conclusion. It is not really very nice to go really old. don’t believe anyone who wants to live long and whose idea of a happy life is to live to a ripe old age. U suffer a lot when u grow old, all the aches and pains of creaky joints and failing organs.

Granted not everyone will experience that. I mean if u look at those old Japanese people living in the mountains, u can see they generally have good health and are active and independent in their society. That is the kind of old age I would like.

It seems most of these old people who live to a ripe old age live in the highlands. I think the thin air makes them breathe more, and more vigorously, and that is something I find old people in other areas don’t do much. Breathe deep and often. And of course, there are all those hills to climb up and down.

I think if u can do that throughout the day. Consciously breathe deep u will have a healthier life.

the experience of travel

14 Mar

London

12.3.13 Wednesday

These few days have been really wonderful to be in London.
It has been about 2C in the day, and windy, but it has been sunny and blue.

This kind of weather is excellent for walking. I am always wrapped up warm so the cold is not a deterrant. In fact, it can be really nice to walk in this cold weather.

I read in the papers of snow in other parts of uk, but nothing like that in London. We do get the occasional hail, or tiny bits of snow flakes, which melts the instant it hit’s the ground.

As usual, if all you get is information from newspapers u would think we are being snow bound and trapped in traffic. But it is nothing like that in London.

0C is not uncomfortable, when u consider people in Canada, or usa suffering -10C or -20C. That is cold.

Even if the day is not sunny, like that day a few days ago, it is still very pleasant to go out. Then head for an indoor attraction. I went to Westfield in shepherd’s bush. It is the first time I went there, even though they have been opened about 3yrs ago, and it is quite a nice shopping complex.

It has glass ceiling which allows natural light to come in. I like that. And it is a vast space, so u don’t feel cooped up. And there are lots of seating, and not only at the coffee shops. No one hassles u if u just sit and have a rest. U can even have a short nap.

It is a rare shopping complex which provides so many seats for just resting instead of forcing u to keep moving or buy something. I see people on their laptops, so wifi is available. Not sure if it is free but it should be.

A warm shopping complex with its controlled environment is ideal for a cold day with strong winds outside. You would think all the people here would go to these shopping malls. But we have only this one built not long ago. Shopping malls like the big ones in asia don’t seem to catch on here in uk. I wonder why?

In s.e.asia. I know people like to go to the air-conditioned malls just to hang around in the cool. In fact, we have to because it can be really uncomfortable to be outdoors in that heat, but in uk, it is pleasant to be outdoors even if it is cold. So there is no great incentive to hang around these shopping malls.

Sometimes inside department stores, it can get so hot, I am glad to get out.

It is a fact that with the cold u can dress warmly , but when it is hot, there is nothing u can do. Even being naked is no help. In fact it may be better to wear something white and cover yourself all over, rather like the arab men do. White reflects the heat. But their women wear black. It must be really hot under their black covering.

When the sun is shining, even though cold, it is much nicer to be outside. Maybe that is why oxford st is still very popular as a shopping street, even though u can have a long walk between shops. And u can get a snow shower , as happened when I walked there recently.

London is blessed with lots of public open spaces, like the parks, and the squares where u can sit without having to pay for it. In the park, u can see the flowers , though the daffodils in st james are not yet in full bloom. You can watch the public. Leicester square is a good place to sit and watch people. There is that marble seating all round the perimeter of the square, as well as benches inside the square garden. Just chose a spot that the sun shines on. It is a nice spot to eat your packed lunch too.

I went inside one of the cinema complexes in Leicester square and noticed that the cinema tickets cost £14. That is why I have not gone to see a film for ages.

You might ask yourself what can a person do if they don’t want to spend anything?

U can pack a lunch and a thermos, and go window shopping.

It can be fun, I was passing this place in the haymarket, a street that leads off picadilly circus, and saw a group of Japanese going inside and followed them. It was a department store with all the English goods in one roof. All the things that Japanese tourists thing is typically English. All the clothing in small sizes too. Haha. And even shopping bags with the harrods logo and name on them. And all the shop assistants were Japanese looking and speaks Japanese, even to me.

The tourists could have gone to the harrods shop, itself, or Fortnum and mason to buy the tea, and get the full experience of shopping in the real thing. After all didn’t they come all this way to experience that?

But I guess when it is about the serious business of buying the stuff, they much prefer coming here and getting it all in one stop and be able to be served by Japanese speaking shop assistants.

I found out regent street is closed to buses. So if ever your bus route go through there, avoid that bus.

I made a mistake with the bus 88. It goes pass my place so I usually take that bus. But I made the mistake of going to oxford circus to catch the bus rather than go down to haymarket. And so I was stuck in the bus whilst it went along lower oxford st, to Bloomsbury and then swung round back to piccadilly. It took an age. I could have walked quicker. Ah well, I was not thinking.

It was not that awful, because I am in no hurry to get anywhere.

If u are thinking of going the full length of the bus route, it might be better to just get off at both ends of regent st, walk along regent st and catch the bus further up.

Well, that is a bit of local information for you.haha.

13.3.13 Thursday
I read this ‘lovely girls, very cheap’ by decca aitkenhead. It is an except in the new granta book of travel, 2011, which I borrowed from the library.

‘Everyone who came to Thailand to spend foreign earnings on fun was defined by the gap between their wealth and Thailand’s poverty. Despite the backpackers’ belief in their own poverty, what they actually take from Thailand is the experience of being immensely rich. They behave in the same careless, bored and discontented way as rich people anywhere, with no purpose but their own amusement. Guarding their money like their own. It is a cruel irony for those who set off imagining they will find themselves by travelling, and find instead their identities are reduced to the sum of their traveller’s cheques’.

I think that really hit the nail on the head. It encapsulates what the travelling is to many people especially to those who travel to the world’s poor areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 bad foods and other thoughts about healthy eating

2 Jan

London
1.1.13 tuesday
Watching this tv program on bbc2, called nature’s weirdest, presented by chris packham, showing travellers to foreign countries being infected with parasites and bringing them back in their bodies, makes me glad I am not travelling now.

And that I am glad I did not pick up these parasites when I was travelling in my younger days. U might say many of us travel to cities and towns and so are hardly likely to meet up with these parasites.

But many of these parasites are spread by flies and biting insects and these will invade towns and villages.

There is one that lives under the skin moves about and cause the immune system to reacte to its presence by causing a swelling in the skin. So over the years, u might find different parts of your body mysteriously swelling and subsiding for no reason at all. The worm do not damage the body of the host, which is clever of it, because if it did and kill the host it wont do itself any good.

I guess it is up to your soul whether u will get infected. After all many have gone there before and came back unscathed, until u came along and picked it up. So why you and not the others? It must be your soul wants to experience it.

I saw ‘Up’ the movie on tv just now. I am glad I did not see it when it first came out. It got a lot of good reviews, with people saying it is so feel good a movie, but I just cannot believe the story line. A house that flew away on balloons, is impossible.

And all those talking dogs … it was so ridiculous, I switched the tv off and went to cook my dinner rather than see it to the end. It was too childish by which I mean it was creating silly sentimental situations.

2.1.13 Wednesday
I got an email from stumbleupon.com I subscribed long ago but forgot to visit it for sometime now. This emailed sent me some suggestions so I clicked on one, and came across this website, with the headline 5foods that are bad for you.

i did not realise it at the time, but it was an advert for a weightloss website and the video is a standard one used by all of them to catch the eye.
The link went to a weightloss website but the video is very interesting, even though it is a spiel for joining their membership, (quite reasonable I thought at £29 for a one off payment, and money back if u don’t lose weight.)
And their list of 5 foods that are bad for u is very good.

It is concentrated fruit juice,
Wholemeal bread
Margarine
Soy
Gm corn.

They are all processed foods made by manufacturers.

U might think soy is natural, it is from the soya bean and we in Malaysia all know it as the soya bean milk drink and tofu. In their natural state they are very healthy, we used to buy these drinks at the hawker stalls, and slabs of tofu in the wet market; but not when the manufacturers have got their hands on it. Haha.

As for the genetically modified (GM ) corn, it illustrated it with a picture of a corn on the cob. i think corn on the cob  should be ok, but all the stuff they add in foods by the manufacturer to bulk it out will be bad.
I don’t buy the suggestion by the website that GM is bad.

It is the amount of any foods eaten which determines if u gain weight or not. I think u can still eat all the above so called bad foods, and not lose weight provided u eat very little of it and mix it with a lot of other types of foodstuff that is in its original state. Like fresh veg, fruits, and foods u cook from scratch.

My suggestion for what it is worth is that they are not bad, per se. You can eat them just don’t eat a lot of them.

I find the secret to weight loss is really eat very little of any one type of foods. but have a vast variety of them, so that add them up and u can eat as much as u like.

In the video it is mentioned that sweet increased glucose levels and affect insulin production, all of which affect the suger levels in the blood and that have an effect on fat storage by the body.

So cut out the suger and that is why the concentrated fruit juice is not good for you. They have a lot of suger in them. I don’t hear them say don’t put suger in your tea or coffee. That would be the natural conclusion of not having sweets in the diet.
Needless to say I don’t put suger in my drinks, nor drink soda or squash drinks.

The bread? It is a processed food, like pasta, pizza.
I eat them, but I keep them frozen so I don’t feel I have to finish off the whole loaf at once, for fear it goes off.

Margarine, is because of its transfat. So now they are suggesting u eat butter instead. But again, don’t slather the butter on like there is no tomorrow. I bet u can eat margarine, but just coat it thinly and not pile it on. I spread it very thinly if I use it . I don’t spread jam on top of my magarine on bread. I just spread one layer and that is it.

Soy and corn will be in a lot of processed foods so best just avoid processed foods. And remember, cheese , olives are processed foods.
Quite a lot of foods are processed though u might not suspect at first.

U cannot eat fresh olives by itself, it is inedible.

So best to not eat a lot of them, because in many cases it is hard to know what is processed or not.

This guy says there are 5 foods that are absolutely so bad, u cannot even eat them in moderation.
He lists doughnuts, soda, French fries, chips(I think he meant what the british call crisps, tacos, corn chips), fried non fish seafood.

The non fish seafood, like shrimps, lobsters, clams, oysters, shell fish, he says is full of mercury. And parasites.

I like shrimps, but they are expensive anyway so that limit’s the amount I eat them. So I guess they naturally limit my intake of them. Sometimes it is good not to be so rich … because it makes u eat less of these expensive stuff and save your health. Haha.

If u are very rich u can eat loads of meat, fish, seafood, caviar, etc that cannot be good for you, just the sheer amount u can eat, it makes a glutton out of you. And u have to have great discipline to limit yourself. If u are rich, and u cannot eat all these things as much as u like, it kind of take the fun out of being rich, don’t you think?

I doubt their advise about not eating those things. Health wise it is not that big a factor. once in a while it is ok to eat them. Anyway, don’t get so obsessed about them, the amount of mercury poisoning is so small, u will die of something else first.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/10/18/worst-foods.aspx