Saturday, 4 March 2017

Xi'an ..... end of the silk road.

Xi'an

When I first entertained the idea of China I was offered positions in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhuo. The usual suspects. None of them appealed. I asked the recruiter if he had anywhere more interesting. He shrugged and suggested Xi'an. Images of terracotta armies, silk road camels, Marco Polo, ancient emperors and adventure instantly sprang to mind. I accepted and his eyes lit up. Xi'an is a hard sell as many foreigners are seduced by the bright lights of China's booming first-tier cities.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Eight years in Thailand

Thailand

It's with mixed emotions that I sit here in Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok with all my worldly belongings.

I first visited Thailand in October 2006. A short flight from Kunming, China. I was 32. Young, dumb and full of cum. Twas my first time south of the Tropic of Cancer. The metallic snow-capped mountains of Yunnan had given way to the luscious jungles of Chiang Mai. Talk about contrast. Exotic palms towered over alien looking banana trees. The stuff of postcards.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

How to get a Chinese Z visa in Thailand

Chinese Z visa
A step by step guide to getting a Chinese Z visa (for teaching) at the Chinese Consulate in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I did this in early 2017. The whole process took four months but we had a few hiccups which you can avoid if you follow these steps.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Selling a CBR250. Ganja and Snakes.

Selling a CBR250

Things happen for a reason. My last school forcing a shit sandwich down my throat was a clear sign. Time for a change. Compounding that was a 600km MaeHongSong loop that felt like I was just going through the motions. I've ridden to every province in Thailand and it's beginning to feel old. When you get bored of riding here you know it's time to move on.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Ditch Jobs. Acquire Tats.

Old lass

I moved to Chiang Mai exactly three years ago (Oct 2013) and went out with Oil for six months. She recently contacted me to say she'd dropped a sprog so I looked her up. I can't describe the emotions I felt on seeing the new her. Relief is probably the best word. I had no idea she'd balloon into a land whale. She was a hot 24yo when I knew her. Woah.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Raunchy RoiEt. Irresistible Isaan.

Hill Tribe Village

We went to Wan's still electric-free village to celebrate a wedding. Were these kwai an ominous sign? A 16yo lass had married an 18yo lad. When I was 16 I couldn't tell 'me arse from me elbow' and things aren't much better 26 years later. Marriage? F*ck that.

Friday, 10 June 2016

A decade in Asia

10 years
I left England 10 years ago today. A whole decade. The 12th of June 2006 to the 12th of June 2016. My last sight of Blighty were the remote Shetland Isles slipping away on a bleak southern horizon. The ferry was making its way through the icy Atlantic to Torshavn - the capital of the Faroes Islands.

I was 32 back then. 42 now. I didn't intend to stay away this long, it just happened. The last decade has been a roller coaster ride through everything Asian. Let's take a peek through the murky telescope of history.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Upbeat Umphang

Umphang

is Thailand's largest district located in Tak Province. At 4,325km² it's larger than 26 of Thailand's 76 Provinces. It's about the same size as Isaan's Mukdahan Province. It's also the remotest area in Thailand with a population density of only 6 people/km². There's only one road in and out - the 1090 from Mae Sot. It's 164 km of motorbike porn with 1,219 curves through pristine wilderness.

Me and wor lass went there as part of a 4-night 1,400km Songkran loop. Twas mint.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

No Electric - but it cometh.

Chiang Mai

The 21st March 2016 marked 7 full years in Thailand. I remember watching Fulham beat ManUre in a late-night coffee shop in Trang on that day in 2009. Little did I know I'd be destined to stay here in perpetuity. This pie chart shows where I've lived during the last 10 years in Asia. I've been in CM 2.5 years - the longest I've lived anywhere since leaving home at 17!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Phitsanulok Promise

New Year

This spherical lump of iron and rock we inhabit completed another arbitrary orbit of our local hydrogen-to-helium fusion reactor. Or, in English, 2015 turned to 2016. To mark the event I invested in 6 Bhutanese Ngultrum (£0.05). So far the Ngultrum has remained steady against Sterling but I'm expecting a sharp rise in the near future. However, I wouldn't rush out to buy Bhutanese currency based on my actions since my last financial blunder saw me hand over my life savings to Brendan Terrill, a thieving paedophile, currently locked up in London.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

The meaning of life?

Birthday Boy

I turned 42 last month. This got me thinking about the meaning of life. Curiously, 42 is, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, "The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything". However, this coincidence does nothing to demystify the nature of the Universe from my end.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Phayao Paradise

Work

I recently found myself teaching A Level Maths and Physics in a Chiang Mai High School. I like the students and they appear to be enjoying the material we're working through. We were the first class to get this dormant 40,000B oscilloscope working in addition to other intricate pieces of experimental beauty. It's just like doing a Royal Naval Engineering Apprenticeship again. Canny.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Bureaucracy and Bikes

Forms

Recently, I've struggled through a whole plethora of expat bureaucracy. It started with a one year visa extension which means I'm good until 10th June 2016 - exactly a decade after leaving Geordieland in June 2006. I reached the Ted-Shed in pitch black at 0400 only to find myself 12th in the queue. I got home at 1300. 9hrs is better than the 12hrs it took last time. I met two Jehovah's Witnesses from the USA (13th and 14th in the queue) who were fluent in Hmong!! I was glad of their company as they eased the passage of time which seems to stand still here.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Work.


Stats

This blog has received almost 90,000 visitors since its 2006 inception over 9 years ago. However, of the 166 posts written, the most popular one, by far, is about how I lost $250,000. Next, is one about soapy massages.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Nepal and The Himalayas.


It’s impossible to encapsulate the essence of Nepal in a single blog entry. However, with that been said, I’ll give it a go. Pour yourself a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Pre-Nepal Scrawl.

New Year

2015 began as 2014 ended. With a Sea-of-Leo marking our planet's insignificant orbital progress around an obscure fiery ball of hydrogen. The arbitrariness of our human-constructed time measurement system (seconds, minutes, hours etc) fascinates me - we still use Babylonian units of 60 from over 5000 years ago. I wonder what aliens would make of our celebrations marking this trivial celestial event?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Chiang Mai Marathon 2014. Northern Thailand Monster Motorcycle Loop.

2014

has been a tumultuous year. The most significant event, personally, was losing my life savings. $250,000 gone. Rich to poor in a breath. An early retirement dream that took two decades to build took only moments to unravel proving that entropy is alive and well in our lives.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Post-Financial Apocalypse.

Tragedy

Last month's post was the site's most popular receiving thousands of hits. It left me thinking: "People love tragedy." With that in mind, I still feel like I'm walking through the wreckage of a nuclear holocaust. The landscape is barren and there's no sign of life. However, there are glimmers of hope on the scarred horizon.

Monday, 27 October 2014

How I lost $250,000 with Barry Payne of Easyqrops

This month's tale shines a light on the darker side of humanity. It's a story of deception that led a foolish man to lose everything. A sequence of events showing how things are never as they seem.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Riding a Ducati in Chiang Mai.


In March 2015 I'll be trekking the Annapurna Circuit after blowing £250 on flights to Katmandhu. Nepal will be my first new country since Taiwan in August 2007.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Chiang Mai Birds, Booze, Bikes and Bullshit.

Birds

I've been dating recently but still haven't met the 'right' one. I'm beginning to think the 'right' one doesn't exist. As rare as unicorn shit. I'm not really sure why I'm bothering as I still have zero desire to relinquish my freedom.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Chiang Mai Soapy Massages

Soapy Heaven

I've covered many aspects of life in Thailand on this blog. However, one area I've always shied away from is the litany of sexual services available to single men. One of the ultimate experiences is to spend a couple of hours in a bath with a beautiful young lady.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Dobers in Tobers

1996 was a good year. England hosted Euro96 and reached the semis. Gazza's volley shut the Jocks up. The Spice Girls were telling us what they wanted while Robbie Williams divorced Take That. Foot and Mouth ravaged the British countryside and Newcastle United narrowly missed the EPL title. That was all background noise as, in May of that year, I embarked on a great adventure.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Chiang Mai Earthquakes and Coups. Nan Loop.

Nan Loop

I finally had the pleasure of cruising through Nan Province. This 980km loop took three days. These maps both show 980km. Thailand is bigger than people think.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Chiang Mai Football Club, Half Marathons, Freedom and Self-actualisation.

What's the most important thing in life?

A subjective question. There's no right or wrong answer and every person has their own view. Possible responses might include: family, friends, wealth, home, job, health, religion or sports. I'd never considered this question before but after some introspection I reached the conclusion that FREEDOM is my answer. Not the Mel-Gibson-in-Braveheart kind but the bird kind. The freedom to spread your wings and just go. The freedom to set and pursue goals. Geographical freedom. Financial freedom.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Learning Thai and Motorbiking in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

I was born and raised in the English county of Northumberland. With an area of 5,013 km2 it's England's sixth largest and with a population of only 316,000 it's the most sparsely populated. Situated in the extreme north of England it's one of the most beautiful.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Cambodia

Update

I'm back in Chiang Mai after 25 days in Cambodia. It's great to be back in Thailand. I had to go to Cambodia to obtain an Education Visa to facilitate my study of the Thai language over the next year.

Monday, 6 January 2014

New Year bike tours in Northern Thailand

Retirement = Freedom

I retired six months ago and it's wonderful. Now that I've embraced the concept I can appreciate what true freedom is. I love not having to sell my time. Time on earth is precious and we can't buy it back when we're old. Luckily, I'm free to indulge my whims anywhere anytime. Magic. With this in mind I turned down two full-time job offers teaching maths in Chaing Mai. It's glorious sitting in interviews knowing you don't need the position. Liberating.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Chaing Mai motorbike trips

I've lived in Chiang Mai for a month already - time flies! During that time I've been on numerous motorbike trips.

Green is the 90km Sameong loop. I've done it twice as it offers a convenient escape into the surrounding countryside. This 3hr route provides great scenery along with roads as seductive as a Bangkok gogo dancer. You can observe families of elephants with their Mahouts (from the Karen tribe) while you slurp cappuccinos in a fancy restaurant.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Embracing minimalism and early retirement in Chiang Mai.

Old?

It's only five days until I'm 40. Seeing as the life expectancy for a Thai male is 71, it's safe to assume I've slid half-way down life's mortal coil. Rather than morbidly looking to the future, I'll take a quick introspective peek down my murky telescope of history.

Life started charting its own course when I left home to join the Royal Navy at the tender age of 17. By 20 I was serving on HMS Coventry in the Adriatic Sea as part of a UN force during the Bosnian war. At 23 I had completed submarine training and joined HMS Victorious - one of the UK's four nuclear deterrent submarines. I left the Royal Navy at 27 to pursue a BSc(Hons) with the Open University followed by an MSc at Newcastle University. At 32 I made what I regard to be the best decision of my life and I left the UK!