Back From Ko Samet

Oct 31st, 2009 | Filed under Travel

I just returned from Ko Samet in Thailand. This is my first visit to the island in approximately fifteen years, and wow has it ever changed.

About five days ago my girlfriend packed her new swimsuit , I packed my bags, then got my eight year old son all ready to hit the beach and off we went. First we went by taxi to Ekami bus station, the 40 minute ride, in the 2006 Toyota Carola with Air Con cost about three US dollars, then we jumped on the 5 dollar per person trip from the bus station to the pier which took us to Ko Samet.

The tickets for the boat were about $4.00 per person for the one hour ride, my son traveled for free. The trip itself was quite nice, very slow and casual with lawn chairs on the upper level for us to relax in.

All of this had so far been very familiar, the bus station hadn’t changed in a very long time, the buses were similar to what I was used to. They played a Thai Comedy DVD on the bus for our entertainment, which are not exactly my taste, but I must admit sometimes the slapstick humor made me giggle a little on the inside.

Once we arrived at Ko Samet from the pier, we were greeted with a view of some dilapidated concrete beach bungalows that may or may not have had residents in them, some were defiantly too far gone for most people to consider staying there.

After getting off on the Pier, I no longer knew where I was, I was faced with a winding concrete street up a hill, and storefronts all along the way, There were five truck taxis waiting to take people to their various destination, each one would sit about ten visitors, it was all very well organized and friendly, I must admit I hadn’t asked any questions at this point and was just following the crowd. On the taxi I asked some people where they were going and they named beaches I was unfamiliar with.

Normally I first read my lonely planet before I go to a place so I have some basic idea where I am going, but this time I thought, since I had been here before, and had two fluent Thai speakers with me, as well as my own very poor Thai I should be able to figure it all out…

Well I couldn’t I was confused. We were dropped after a short taxi ride in front of a cobblestone road, with lights and palm trees on it, and a big entrance way with a park ranger waiting there to take a park fee from each of us.

Now I was really confused, the last time I came here, we took a truck around the island and were dropped at a beach, there was no park entrance fee. I was suspicious we were being dropped at a resort entrance, with a cobblestone pathway , I tried talking to the ranger but his English was very poor, from his Thai I began to understand that most of the Island is a national park now.

We paid the entrance which wasn’t very much, I’m not sure if I paid the Thai prices or it was the off season or the guy gave me a break or something but it was about $6US for the three of us for five days.

We walked around a bit looking for the cheap rooms and I found the area was absolutely packed with tourists, it was a huge disappointment to me how this had changed, I found myself wishing I had gone to Ko Chang or even Pattaya instead. I went to the taxi drivers and told them this wasn’t what I was looking for and asked if there was some nice, quiet place we could go, they told me that around here I was lucky to find a room under $30 a night, I asked them if they could take me to the furthest away area, and they did, after a few minutes the paved road became mud, and we continued for about ten minutes on the dirt roads, to the very end.

We got off the truck taxi and headed down a path leading from the road. it was still quite busy, but not so bad, we dropped our bags and I let my companions know that I would be back in a while I was looking for a room for us.

Sunset in the tropics is very fast, you can actually watch the sun move down below the horizon, It was already twilight and soon would be dark, when my hiking over the rocks and through the trees found a little beach right at the end of the path, I will not share its name with you, it is one of my only little piece of paradise left. I’m sure you can really find it if you tried, I mean the three resorts on the beach are full of others that found it also. Its not hard if you try.

Anyhow we found a little bungalow just up the hill and off the beach, the for about $20 per night with no hot water or air con. I know this isn’t every ones cup of tea, but just so you know the luxurious ones with air con, televisions, satellites, nice balconies with expensive padded deckchairs etc are also on the beach, if you looking to spend a little more money.

I was quite happy with the bargain, and the quietness of the beach. 80% of the people staying there were Thai.

The people that ran this particular cottage did not smile at us, they were not overly friendly, there was a baby and its diaper was being changed right on one of the restaurant tables. Although my first impressions were poor, by the end of the four day stay they had warmed up to us quite a bit, and were all extremely nice.

The other guests of the resort were all very nice and friendly, their kids played with my son, as did quite a few Thai teenagers. (Generally I find Thai all very kind and nice to children, the teenagers are very much like a large group of good volunteer babysitters.)

One gentleman that makes and sells jewelry on the beach, made a very nice shell necklace for my son, and gave it to him for free, very kind considering he must have put a couple of hours of work into it.

Sometime on the third day I was able to find one landmark that let me remember where I used to stay, there is a mermaid on the rock that was there way back when, and I found the hill above the Muay Thai Gym and bars that I used to have a little cottage on way back when, on stilts on the rock.

All in all it was cheap, the people were nice, the beach was fantastic, and the rooms were clean.

Exactly what I was looking for.

Anyhow now we are all back in Bangkok, itching our mosquito bites and wishing we weren’t so badly sun burnt.

It was a good trip, though, I wish I could have afforded to stay forever.

The Man and his stupid copywrite laws.

Oct 21st, 2009 | Filed under Opinions and Perspectives, Rants

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OK, I know we have to protect the logos and hard creative work done by others, but I am faced with a situation currently on both my personal and business side that is making me wonder exactly what the logic is of these silly decisions.

First off the music industry.

I happen to love music, I am a big fan of all kinds of music and have a large CD collection of over 2000 CDs, as well as DVD videos of many of my favorite bands.

I used to be able to see all these bands on MTV and enjoy their videos and music, as well as listen to them in my car as I drove. This is my problem. I can’t hear the music of my favorite bands anymore, not legally anyhow. Radio stations back home have these programming directors that may or not play it. It seems at least in Canada these days we just don’t get the DJs that play whole albums anymore, it’s no longer up to them, I hear the US is the same way these days, not sure about the rest of the world.

The programing directors at the radio stations now decide based on the highest profitability of the radio station which songs will be played, instead of the music loving DJs of old, that just played what they wanted. The same thing has happened to MTV, its all about profit now, which is fine for them I guess, but I may not like what is popular and now I cant hear the music I like.

So what do I do? If I want to hear, or “try out” some music, I do what most people do,  search the Internet for what I want to her. Very recently I searched for some songs from Nickleback. Even though they are one of the biggest rock bands in the world today, and I happen to like them. I search and I search but I cant find the official video. Ones that were put up by fans yesterday are gone today due to copy write laws.

Why on earth do these big bands no longer want their videos to be played. OK I know Nickleback and most other large bands have official stations on YouTube, and on their official website, however they don’t display all the videos, and I cant hear all the songs. Often the Websites are not as easy to use as Google and YouTube . If the songs I want are there somewhere, I cant be bothered to find them, after five minutes I just give up forever.

Basically to make a long story short, I used to listen to the music and then buy it. Now I can no longer listen to the music, so of course I am not going to spend my $20 to see if they have any talent left.

Music Company, Epic Fail.

Second of all Mickey Mouse

OK do we all know who Mickey is? I would say yes but barely, Disney is so famous with their protecting of copy write laws, I swear I am afraid just mentioning them here will end me up in court.

Now I loved Disney as a kid, and loved going to their movies, I made sure I saw every one ever made until about 10 years ago. Then I just kind of forgot about them. Though I sill watch their films with my son from time to time.

Anyhow here I am in Asia, and people tend to ignore copy write laws here, everyone is free to print a mickey mouse shirt, and sell it on a street corner for 5 dollars, people buy them cheap and wear them. On my ninety minute walk today I was met with his cute little face no less that four times. They have little mickey logos on polo shirts, he is on bags and hats etc. People like him, he advertises Disney, and they are doing it for free.

Back home no one wears mickey, its not that he isn’t cute, but the local Disney store from where I lived was about a 45 minute drive, and the shirts are $30 each. Why bother ?

I forget all about Mickey back home, good job copy write lawyers.

Epic Fail Disney (wonder if I will get sued now)

Third of all beer t-shirts.

OK lots of people love beer, and lots of people travel and would love to have a beer shirt from places they have been. But beer companies want to be the only ones selling their shirts. The shirts on most of the official beer company sites are quite expensive, say about $30 plus shipping. So I would assume generally the people don’t buy them.

I used to sell a particular beer shirt on my website and was forced to take it down. I had outranked their official site on the Google Searches and I guess they didn’t like that. By the way I had surfed there official clothing site four times or so and had found it very difficult to find the actual shirts, it was painful to look for them through all the graphics, not to mention I had checked there Internet traffic numbers and they just didn’t get that many people. Basically a really bad site with lots of good graphics.

Why on earth don’t they want people to run around with their beer logos on their chest? I mean they spend millions if not billions on beer ads, billboards and event sponsorship. When did these guys decide that free advertising was a bad thing?

Beer Company, Epic Fail

This is a common pattern in current international big business, they so busy protecting their copy writes they have forgotten all about maximizing profits. They don’t even realize they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Way to go big business, when I go get my beer tonight I will forget to get one from your company, I wont have a new CD to listen to as I drink it, and my son wont be bugging me to watch a Disney film or go to Disneyland tomorrow. I hope you have somehow made enough profit elsewhere to make up for a world that is no longer craving your items, and that you somehow survive  in the future as more and more people forget you exist.

Believe Nothing You Hear and Only Halve of What You Read

Oct 20th, 2009 | Filed under Interesting, Opinions and Perspectives

I had a good friend say this statement to me once, a long time ago. I can’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but of course this applies to almost every situation of your life.

“Believe Nothing You Hear and Only Halve of What You Read”

We all know people lie, weather to save personal damage, or to try and get what they want. Some people actually lie so much they cant remember what the real story is anymore. This is the obvious nature of human beings.

Have you ever heard of Disinformation Campaigns? There are so many huge companies and governments, including our own that put lies in the media to try and shroud the truth of things. Why do they do this? Often they feel it is what is needed to prepare a country to battle against its enemies, or to keep the population peaceful and happy. Occasionally it is for a powerful person’s personal gain, or a group of individuals. I guess you could say there are White Lies and Black Lies, even from the highest levels of government.

For instance have you heard the one about trees causing global warming? What a ridiculous concept.

It is true a tree contains carbon, as do all carbon based lifeforms such as humans. And they may at times release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, like humans. But because they are made of a large amount of carbon, they are storing it, not creating it, it is the carbon they take from mother nature as they grow to create their mass. Therefore by cutting down the tree you have broken the storage container, and all the carbon it had accumulated through its life again will be released through burning or decomposition etc back into the atmosphere. This is like saying a water balloon creates water. So stupid and yet people eat it up when it comes from a “reputable” source such as their government or scientists.

Considering we continue to cut down trees that are hundreds, if not thousands of years old every day, that is a huge about of Carbon being released back into the atmosphere, and nothing to absorb it again.

Some countries replant seedlings, this is great, keep this up, but a thousand year old tree obviously stored more carbon than the fifteen centimeter seedling we replaced it with.

The idea of saying a tree causes carbon dioxide and global warming, was to help some of the huge clear cutting firms, and the businesses that cut, ship and sell the wood to the consumers stop looking like bad guys.

Yes these people want us to believe that they are saving the earth by killing all the trees. The sad thing is there are enough idiots out there that believe what they read, and then will argue with you that Trees are indeed the cause of global warming.

I found this interesting article by rolling stone recently – And “The Man” looks to have made them take it down … Here is a copy of it someone put on the Internet, there are several others that also made copies before it was taken down.

A Copy of the original

Of course again, how much are you going to believe, when do you know its the truth? Since everything we have learned from the media and school and talking to other people is full of lies you must learn to see the truth through the lies. You must first understand that what you actually really know is very little, you can only count on your personal observations and your abilities to see through the lies.

Does Carbon Dioxide even cause global warming? Most everyone says it does, some say it doesn’t, regardless, someone is obviously running a Disinformation Campaign.

I use the basic rule never to trust anyone that is trying to make money off of me. Though anyone that wants anything from me in general I am skeptical about. Approaching articles this way, will cut through most of the great media lies you are bombarded with in your life. As well as let you know when you can trust a stranger or not.

Please be aware all your media is influenced with propaganda, your own government is as we speak preparing you to fight wars for them. The most common reason for war is to make money.

You should definitely look at the sources of your information as you read, and then decide if you shouldn’t believe any of it, or if it is reputable enough to believe halve. If you believe everything you read, then read this.

If you don’t send me all your money tomorrow you will die and suffer forever in the afterlife.

Losing the Rat Race? Switch lanes.

Oct 19th, 2009 | Filed under Opinions and Perspectives, Work

I used to run pretty hard in the rat race. at the age of 18, back in 1992 I was making sixty thousand United States Dollars a year, and that went up a little bit over the next 4 years, but I never reached $70 000. I was working 70 hours a week, most of my friends at the time were in University, making nothing, or almost nothing.

I was making more money than the people I worked with, and all my friends. I had won the Rat Race that was in my lane (Place and Time).

I used to teach English privately in Japan back in 1999 for $120 US Dollars per hour, tax free. That was my highest hourly wage ever.

Now I am not sure what you have made before or are making now, that is irrelevant. I have a brother that would not be able to live on a measly $70 000 a year, he has friends that spend that in a month, believe it or not. He is not winning his current rat race and is still driven to make more money.

The Rat Race

Happiness Is Just Around The Corner

The rat race is all relative to the people around you and your surroundings. I am currently living in third world Asia, and my measly income of approximately $1000 US a month, puts me in good standings with my neighbors, and friends here. Most of them make similar or less.

With my thousand dollar a month income, I have enough money to rent a decent sized two bedroom, two bathroom house, pay for my son’s private school, run the air conditioners 24 hours a day if I wish, surf the Internet, watch satellite television, take air conditioned taxis to see movies in the cinema at least once a week, eat out 2 times a day and every second day get a two hour traditional massage.

Back home the massages alone would be over $1500 dollars a month in Canada, and I dare say they likely wouldn’t be as good.

Life is pretty good here on a thousand dollars a month. Wouldn’t you say?

Back home making $70 000 a year I was unable to do all that. So if you look at me back home making $70 000 a year or look at me now making just under $12 000 a year. I am actually living a much better life now on the $12 000.

Which would you choose, the making more than your friends scenario where you are still forced to budget to make ends meet? Or the lesser income in a country where you get a lot more for your money?

Basically, if you are sick of the rat race, consider switching lanes. What are you really after in life anyhow?

The Things I Do For Money Lyrics – Northern Pikes

Oct 18th, 2009 | Filed under Music, Northern Pikes, Song Lyrics, Video

This song from the eighties does a very decent job of summing up some of my current thoughts about money. It started going around in my head so I had to  look it up.

Here is the cheesy eighties video to go with the fantastic music and lyrics.

 

The things I do for money, I’ll never understand
I used to be quite critical, but now I find I’m cynical
A lady with a starving baby miles away from me
No problems they’re just life and death
And what the hell is wrong with me
And everybody else

No questions asked
Just get receipts and write them off
Expenses – taxes are a ***** these days
Yet the lady and the baby starve
While waiting for a contribution in a UNICEF box
In a drugstore in this ugly little town

The things I do for money
I’ll never understand
The world is just a marble
In the palm of my hand
The palm of my hand
The palm of my hand
The things I do for money
I’ll never understand
The world is just a marble
In the palm of my hand

The things I waste my time on, I’ll never understand
I used to be quite practical, but now I find I’m tactical
I scrape and scheme and struggle hard
To get myself ahead
Have no concern for anyone but me