Friday, January 26

Thailand

Sunset Beach

Index- use these links to skip to the sections of this blog.
  1. The Journal
  2. Bangkok
  3. Maz
  4. Khao Sok
  5. A Quick Bite
  6. Passport
  7. The Narrative of Stephen Walrond of Saito
  8. Happy New Years

Thailand: The Journal

Apparently blogs are a cry for attention, much like slitting your own wrists or playing truant from school whilst sniffing glue.

This isn’t my opinion, oh no. My opinion, if not stated clearly enough in my blog manifesto, is that blogs are for public thoughts placed in a public forum to entertain and inform a specific audience and give them a chance to interact, reply, debate or question.

This is my opinion: Journals, as I understand them, are a waste of time, ink and paper or electricity. A person writes their thoughts down as if to do so clarifies them and makes sure they do not disappear into the ether, and then in the journal they remain never to be seen by a living soul save the author. It’s like painting a self portrait and only ever looking at it yourself.
I will admit that there is a certain amount of vanity involved in blogging, but more than that it I would like it to be a social thing, to spark conversation and also to stop ideas floating into the ether.

All of that aside, I attempted to write a journal in the original sense of the word, but it soon became boring. My photos serve well enough as a journal of my time in Thailand so I will use them to illustrate this blog entry.

Thailand: Bangkok

Adjectives which describe Bangkok: Large, busy, hot, impoverished, dirty, grimy, littered, commercial, exciting, sleazy, beautiful, ugly, traditionalistic, marvellous, awesome, historic, fast, laid back, boozy, western, eastern.

Chilling Budha

CIMG0664

Floating Market

Reclining Budha 2

Clay Eggs Red

Thailand: Maz

I like my conversations with Maz.
She has things to say which must be said now and with passion.
The things she says amuse me and make me want to prompt her to say more.

Maz will talk a lot about what she wants from life, from friendships, from family and relationships. She knows herself very well, that's unusual and deserved of respect.

Thankfully Maz was my travelling companion.

Marion

Thailand: Khao Sok

Lizard

Verbs and Verb Phrases describing things done in khao Sok: Chewed Coca Leaf, drank, ate, was merry, slept, got bitten, trekked, trekked at night, trekked by elephant, trekked some more, swam in rivers, waded, took photos, met people, talked, slept in the jungle, ate from the hollow of a pineapple, arrived, left.

Bus to Khao Sok

Khao Sok

Mountains - Limestone

Our Lizard Thingo

POV



Thailand: A quick bite

The food is good! Thai people have food down, oh yes, they do food very well. Green chicken curry, Pad Thai, soups, snacks, fruits, insects, I loved them all.

To my surprise its not just Thai food that the Thai’s do well. They do German food (Meatballs and Mash), British food (roast ham, cheese and mustard sarnies) and Indian food (Chicken Tika Masala, Butter Nan etc) well too. Everything is on the menu, pizza, seafood, burgers, ice creams, my ankle, my knee, my shoulder, ostrich steak, alligator and my wrist.

Oh, and my thigh comes highly recommended, a particular favourite with the bed-bug crowd, the less picky mossy crowd taking ankle and even toe, the philistines.

Yes, it seems that I’ve once again served myself up as a buffet for any six-legged son of a larvae patch that fancies some dark meat. I can’t help but wonder if I have brought this upon myself though as I happily indulged in such Thai delicacies as cricket, and maggot.

Well hopefully now the insect kingdom and I are even, maybe we can call a truce… please.

Not So Hungry

Thailand: Passport

I left my passport
Past the port
Past the hill
And far behind this stretch of sea
I left my passport behind me
So I must go back
To retrieve my identity

Thailand: The Narrative of Stephen Walrond of Saito

I sat quietly brooding, damning myself for being so careless as to leave my passport at the messy hovel I had slept the night before. I would have been more enthusiastic in my self-admonishment had I not felt the severe weariness brought by sleep deprivation and alcohol abuse.

The night before had been much like the night before that, save the fire, but more about that later. I had left the apartment at some point with Marion, I proceeded to drink too much and eat too much and become far too drunk as a result. I had danced on chairs, had deep conversations about the nature of relationships and finally drank so much that my merriment turned into bewilderment and then the next stage I had become abusive and surly. I took myself to bed before I said anything to provocative and slept quite uncomfortably but well enough to be oblivious of Marion’s return.

I woke on New Years Day, showered and put on the cleanest clothes I could find. Marion and I packed our things and discussed the events of New Years Eve and then she laid out the itinerary for the day, mostly boat trips and transfers from boats to busses, I took very little interest in any of it safe in the knowledge that sticking close to Marion would lead me in the right direction.

We handed in our keys and paid the remainder of out bill and I was thankful that this would be the last encounter with the disagreeable custodian of Yoghurt Home 3. He was much like other Thai people; he would repeat each instruction hurriedly with flailing gestures and not an ounce of civility. I couldn’t stand him but smiled and nodded politely hoping that some common courteousness would rub off on him. Keys given in and money paid our business was concluded and we set about leaving for the boat.

One crowded taxi ride later and we are at the port waiting in the mid day sun for the ferry to arrive. Whilst in the taxi my stomach swam with the sickness of a nights abuse and every lurch or sudden stop would encourage it to torment me further. A dull throbbing and the insipid conversation of the other passengers similarly abused my head. These self appointed bastions of ‘Koh Phangan cool’ virulently characterised what they called ‘the new comers’, those who had ruined Koh Phangan and seemed to be each responsible for the bastions having a terrible New Years. Apparently Koh Phangan was better in the old days when it was left to the bastions and the bastions alone, I silently disagreed, despite my current state I thought the night before was tremendous fun and reckoned that previous years were equally tremendous too.

The swaying of the small rusted boat had the affect of calming the violence in my stomach and making me feel drowsy. I fell half asleep and as often is the case I amused myself by making poetry in my head. It would always frustrates me that I can never recall the poetry I think and put it straight to paper, this time however I was content with just thinking the poetry know full well that they would never be heard again, not even by me.

Our transport was about to make its first stop at Koh Samui when a vague feeling of dread engulfed me. I had forgotten to take my passport from the disagreeable proprietor of the over priced ghetto I had just left, and he had forgotten to offer it to me.

I had to go back, I had to alight at Koh Samui and return to him and get my passport, if I could have been there that instance I would have struck the man about the face with a clenched fist and all the contempt I had felt for him and myself. Instead I had to quietly brood until brooding became wallowing and self-pity turned to self-doubt.

It was New Years day and my muddied head was so full of piteous and deriding thoughts aimed squarely at my own feet that I wondered, if this was how 2007 was to go on whether I wanted to see the rest of the year at all. What a terrible beginning it was, a foolish mistake, much like others I had made before, stupid and thoughtless and bloody inconvenient. I was vexed beyond consoling when I left the boat and I remained much in the same mood whilst I waited for a vessel to return me to Koh Phangan.

Hours past and I distracted myself with coffee and cake and when it was time to board I drew a deep relieved breath, entered the craft and sat sullenly infront of a TV screen.

Happy New Years

Then, something odd happened. I was on the ferry watching the rubbish TV they had put on, making my way back to Koh Phangan, and all these boy-bands songs are playing, and I'm pretty sick of them, then Robbie Williams comes on singing My Way by Frank Sinatra, and I swear to god it was like a sudden moment of clarity.

I realised that I was worrying so much about the small mistakes and minor inconveniences that I was missing the fact that I was having a great adventure. It was the line "mistakes, I've made a few, but too few for me to mention", I realised that anytime something goes a little wrong I act like my life is a house of cards and they've collapsed from the bottom. I forget that with patiences I can rebuild the house with the extra knowledge of what makes the house fall.

Then I felt as if I was at piece, I enjoyed another Koh Phangan sunset, collected my passport and had a smoke with a lad from Nottingham. I went to bed convinced that I was meant to forget my passport because I was meant to learn that lesson from Robbie Williams.

Thailand: A Ring of Fire

Love is a burning thing
and it makes a firery ring
bound by wild desire
I fell in to a ring of fire...

I fell in to a burning ring of fire
I went down,down,down
and the flames went higher.
And it burns,burns,burns
the ring of fire
the ring of fire.

The taste of love is sweet
when hearts like our's meet
I fell for you like a child
oh, but the fire went wild..




So, as this picture shows, being drunk doesn't make you fire proof and, jumping through rings of fire is stupid.

Thursday, January 25

Do you know not to believe everything you read on the internet?


At the moment there is quite a lot of concern over bird flu in my part of Japan, Miyazaki. The wholse story can be read here.

Obviously us foreigners are concerned about the whole bird flu thing too, but a certain member of the JET community decided to post a letter (the contents is in bold below) on the ken-list (a message board for foreigners in Miyazaki).

The letter provoked me to reply and I had written out my reply when I remembered the wise words of Benjamin Franklin.
Any thing started in anger ends in shame
So instead of shame myself on the Ken-list, here is my reply in full to the post.

Do you know that 'bird flu' was discovered in Vietnam 9 years ago?


Do you know that barely 100 people have died in the whole world in all that time?

So the Hong Kong flu epidemic in 1968 (http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/avianflu/timeline.html ) which killed 700,000 people was attributed to a strain of avian flu, which means this document was written in 1977 and the author had an aversion for the number 7 and any zeros which followed a comma.

Of course this could just be a mistake which has arisen from the term Avian Flu now meaning the one strain of avian flu which was discovered in a human in 1997 (indeed 10 years ago), H5N1.

Which makes sense, because it would be idiotic to believe that birds, sorry the species termed as Avian, a vertebrate class with upward of 8,800 members, never caught influenza before.

And only 100 deaths, nice round number, sure it was 107? OK, well if its only 100 deaths in 9 years, about ten people a year then that's just fine. But, before you start tounge kissing the first rooster you see in celebration lets see if that is true.

In January 06 deaths numbered under 100, phew, we can all relax and get back to fondling that rooster… oh but wait, in January 2007 deaths number over 150, stone-me-crows guvna! That's almost a 60% increase over the last year of the total accumulated deaths in the previous 9. (http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/country/en/ )

OK so its worse then we thought, hopefully though there are some drugs we can take to help us from not dying.

Do you know that it was the American government who alerted us to the efficacy of the human antiviral TAMIFLU as a preventative?

Do you know that TAMIFLU barely alleviates some symptoms of the common flu?

Oh bugger me, we’re doomed! But, wait a moment! TAMIFLU is a preventative drug not a ‘cure’ for Influenza A. So the fact that it doesn’t tackle the symptoms of Influenza A is neither here nor there.

My concern is whether it will stop me from contracting avian flu if I came into contact with a carrier of H5N1. Well, would it?

Ignoring the adaptive nature and tenacity of a virus such as influenza, even human influenza drugs have to be constantly monitored to ensure their effectiveness against the same strains as those strains adapt to become resilient to the drugs. Lets ignore that and ask whether TAMIFLU does what it says on the box and prevents a user becoming diseased with FLU A or B.

According to The U.S. National Library of Medicine that is exactly what is does (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/uspdi/500062.html ). Exactly what it says on the tin, it does prevent.

But back to the fourth question, I would answer, show me a antiviral drug that stops all the symptoms of flu for a person suffering flu and I will eat my hat… it's the flu, its not a cut finger, theres no plaster for the flu.

Do you know that its efficacy against the common flu is questioned by a great part of the scientific community?

Do you know that against a SUPPOSED mutant virus such as H5N1,
TAMIFLU barely alleviates the illness?

The desired result of Tamiflu is that it prevents a person getting flu, but I think that the author of these questions thinks that it actually cure the flu, bless his cotton socks and woolly little mind.

As for alleviating the illness caused by H5N1, a dramatically more aggressive strain of human flu which causes respiratory problems and pneumonia, well we established already that its an antiviral drug not equipped or designed to cure disease.

Why is SUPPOSED capitalised or even in the sentence at all? Does the author suppose that H5N1 isn’t in fact a mutation of more common and less pathogenic strains of influenza? What is he trying to stress here? Anyway…moving along, he has more questions and I’m eager not to answer any of them, lets proceed.

Do you know that to date Avian Flu affects birds only?

Do you know who markets TAMIFLU?

Avian flu only affects birds, that's amazing, and that must be why they call it avian flu, scientist are so damned clever.

However, theres a process called reassortment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reassortment ) which means that a virus, such as flu can adopt the properties of avian flu and human flu and then become transferable between the two species. Eeek, just when I had bought myself and the rooster tickets for the oprah.

Ok, next question… is it Roche Labs? It is… do I win a prize?

No? You suck!

Do you know who bought the patent for TAMIFLU from ROCHE LABORATORIES in 1996?

Gilead Sciences.

Do you know who was the then president of GILEAD SCIENCES INC. and remains a major shareholder?

Donald Rumpsfeld, former secretary of defense in the USA, please get to the point.

Do you know that the base of TAMIFLU is crushed aniseed?

Do you know who controls 90% of the world's production of this tree?

Ummm… Roche. I’m just guessing but in my mind, and logic or common sense aren’t my strong suite, but bare with me, in my mind selling a patent for a drug with a base ingridient of aniseed to a company who own a whole heap of aniseed is a stroke of genius.

Do you know that sales of TAMIFLU were over $254 million in 2004 and more than $1000 million in 2005?

Do you know how many more millions ROCHE can earn in the coming months if the business of fear continues?

George W. Bush bought 1 billion USD worth in 2005, so you’re telling me apart from old Georgie boy there were no other sales of TAMIFLU… oh! I see what you’re trying to get at, it's a conspiracy, those sneaky sons of bitches.

‘The business of fear’, I would argue that fear isn’t a business, my friend, its an art-form. But I see your point (not exactly subtle are you chap), however before I go burn some stripes and banners, call ol’Rooster back up and start tongue tickling the silk voiced crooner (the guy just gets me up in the morning, if you know what I mean). Lets examine some facts.

Roche has sold subpatents to several other drug manufacturers. India is producing Oseltamivir (the actual name of TAMIFLU, TAMIFLU being a brand name) (http://english.people.com.cn/200606/13/eng20060613_273717.html ). Granted, they still get there cut but that's business. Take it up with whoever deals with monopolies. Oh wait, the Philipine government already have and they are obviously not alone as Thailand, where Oseltamivir was not patented by Roche are now selling generic versions of the drug, and probably making a handsome sum for their selves.

I guess the governments of these countries are taking the threat of avian flu seriously, a disease that kilss about 60 people in a year and leads to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of livestock has the affect of making people sit up and pay attention. Throw in the fact that its transmutable to humans.

So… shouldn’t we be precautions, my mother always said prevention is better than cure.

So the summary of the story is as follows:

Bush's friends decide that the medicine TAMIFLU is the solution for a pandemic that has not yet occurred and that has caused a hundred deaths worldwide in 9 years.

OK, so its significantly more than 100 RECORDED deaths (notice how I’m capitalizing my words, no explaination needed I hope) and the death rate has seen a significant increase in just one year. That's ignoring the serious illnesses caused by avian flu.

This medicine doesn't so much as cure the common flu.

Nothing cures flu, you’re an idiot.

In normal conditions the virus does not affect humans.

Wow… are we talking ‘normal’ as in conditions where fresh water fowl, the number one carrier of avian flu (all types, not just the ‘SUPPOSED mutant’ that is H5N1), don’t evidently migrate and spread the disease where ever. And where farmers don’t come into contact with their own poultry and where influenza isn’t a virus capable of mutation (or is it ‘MUTATION’?) and capable of crossing species barriers? Is it that the ‘normal’ we are talking about? Because if it is I have some oprah tickets to bid for on eBay.

Rumsfeld sells the patent for TAMIFLU to ROCHE for which they pay him a fortune.

Yes.

Roche acquires 90% of the global production of crushed aniseed, the base for the antivirus.

Yes?

The governments of the entire world threaten a pandemic and then buy industrial quantities of the product from Roche.

No one threatened me. I don’t feel threatened. I’ve been warned, I’ve been educated upon the dangers of, but no one threatened me.

So we end up paying for medicine while Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush do the business.

Do the business? Are they seeing roosters as well? Oh! You mean they screw us over. Those sneaky sons of bitches. Boy, that makes me so mad!

They’ve made up some disease, and then they make some ‘medicine’ for said ‘disease’ and they expect everyone to buy it from one company which is making the shareholders of this other company really rich.

And only 160 odd people in rubbish third world countries have died (reportedly) from a ‘SUPPOSED mutant’ virus which can not be caught by humans.

Well, they must take us for fools.

ARE WE CRAZY, or just gullible?!

WE, my friend are crazy, yes! As daft as a coconut, and YOU, you are the only sane person in a world full of lunacy.

Thank god, that you can phrase poorly researched ‘facts’ into hypothetical questions that patronize and condescend to your audience. That's the way to get people on your side and to topple evil, conspiring and conniving governments.

We must be gullible because without one reference we’ve read from the top of your diatribe to the bottom in some vain hope that you were going to say something worth reading.

The fact that TAMIFLU does prevent influenza has been recorded in clinical studies, which however do show that they are becoming less and less affective, because viruses adapt, meaning that at some point the drug will be useless and a new drug will be needed. Companies are looking into making these vaccines now.

But that doesn’t change the fact the H5N1 has killed people, and was contracted through contact with birds, and birds fly, and viruses mutate and the nature of this virus isn’t known. A cure doesn’t exsist and history shows cases where flu has killed hundreds of thousands.

We would be crazy not to be cautious.

But that is just my opinion and I probably no about as much as the YOU about the subject.

Please excuse me, I have to break it off with this bird.

Monday, January 22

For Olgz



Link to the site I made, here -> http://roxik.com/pictaps/?pid=a193526

Saturday, January 13

No Time

With all the procrastination I've been doing I've just had not time to finish my Thailand blog entry.

So again...! Here's some poetry.

Haiku’s

Rabbit:

pupuna voisin
nussia puputyttöjä
päivästä päivään

I won't tell:

haluaisinko
laittaa kielikoruni
vasten kieltäsi


Modern Parvenu... Tiring Ascension -

Saw you at Tesco,
Alone with Loyalty Card,
Won't Stop say 'Hi'.


Woken by housemates,
Still feel so tired,
Better wake up now.



No clean knives again,
Could use a spoon for spreading,
No clean spoons again.


Bin day tomorrow,
Better take out the trash soon,
It can wait til morn.


Girl with broken home,
Boy with golden heart on sleeve,
Heart is broken too.


Sex only as bait,
Attention is her main goal,
Gets neither, says no.



STD Clinic,
Wait in line for one doctor,
Behind twenty men.


Big spot on my nose,
Talk to me not my spot please,
May take a long lunch.



Drove into work slow,
Couldn't sleep so left early,
Felt alone again.

The first two were by Elinoora Bloom and were posted without her permission, but she's a bitch who stole £180 from me so... bovvered.

Monday, January 8

Poetry to break the silence

Eeek! Stagnant blog alert.

Whilst I'm writing up my holiday entries here are three poems. Two short one and one mammoth work in progress. All feedback welcome.


Grunts and Groans of JETS
Jets like to bitch and moan
To complain grunt and groan
About other Jets and how
Things aren’t like they are at home

I like to listen to Jets moan and groan
And might have a little moan of my own
Because as much as Jets dislike other Jets
Jets hate to be alone


Humble Pie

Those eager to make something of their selves
Will tell you just that
They will tell you where they will go
As if where they will go is fact

I refuse to be so cocksure
In case one day I have to take it back
With a helping of humble pie
To supplement the humility I lacked

Death Sings
Please click this photo to see an amazing set of moving photos

I don’t know what the future holds
But tomorrow is another day
And for my future to have tomorrow
Is all I’ll ever pray

Tomorrow brings hope
And for hope my heart sings
But if hope no longer tomorrow holds
Then all things end but Death who sings

And Death in darkness marvels at what he’s made
With the end of all things for eternity in the void
He waits
And nothing tomorrow brings

But death sings into the vast dark unending void
His words are swallowed whole
By the space left by what he destroyed
And the hollow in his soul

Yet death sees past the endless void
Past time and hell itself
He sees and longs for where I reside
With life and love and health

Yet Death knows too well
He must remain in his eternal gloom
So enviously he decides I too
Will join him in his tomb

And for eternity he will sing to me
Of destruction and of doom

So Death sets to remove
Hope from my tomorrow
And in its place he leaves a void
Not mayhem, not chaos nor sorrow

And for eternity he will sing to me
Of destruction and of sorrow

In eternity Death sings to me
And never a song of mercy
Each word he sings damns me
And each verse he sings curse me

And for eternity he will sing
But never once of mercy

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