When ‘drinking and driving’ is acceptable…

Now, obviously this is not meant in the literal sense of the term, I’m not suggesting you hit the vodka then go for a spin, but if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to convert your VW campervan into a fully functioning bar complete with state of the art turntables and disco lights, this post is for you!

As you hop from island paradise to island paradise around Thailand, these portable clubs are becoming more and more popular with the backpacking crowd due to their increasing number and low prices.

Fear not though, if you’re more ‘fancy hotel’ than ‘grotty hostel’ you’re going to love these too!

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Designs vary from campervan to campervan, some with open-air bars emblazoned with graffiti and crammed with every drink possible to suit your tipple. Others, such as the booze wagon below uses its decks and bright lights to put its punters in the mood for a party!

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One example I saw (and my personal favourite) although, unfortunately I didn’t manage to capture the action, was seeing a crowd of locals clambering over each other for what I guessed was a life or death Gin and Tonic at one of the campers, sun on their back and sea breeze in their sandy hair. As you can imagine, being the token white person I was intrigued as to what was so special about this specific ‘booze cruiser’. As I peered round to have a closer look I quickly realised what everyone was so eager to see…a 50 inch plasma flat screen television playing the first premiership game of the football season in high definition. The atmosphere was buzzing and the locals were loving every second!

No matter the location, they turn any shopping mall, park or back garden into Ibiza in seconds.

Or even better than that…picture the scene. You rock up to your favourite summer festival, you’re gasping for a drink after lugging your 10 man tent (you don’t know why you have a ten man tent, there’s only two of you….but oh well) and there in the distance you spot a crowd of people gathered around a caravan of LOVE starting the party without you….WHAT?!

Don’t panic, there’s plenty of cheap plonk to go round!

All it needs now are a set of off-road tyres to remove it from the festival mud it will inevitably become incarcerated in…Glastonbury here we come!

Time(piece) is Money. Your handy guide to holiday haggling!

If you’ve ever been to Asia, and not noticed the endless fakes and forgeries available to you, you probably spent too much time drinking local spirits laced with god knows what and not enough time shopping!

It’s always hard to stop yourself from snorting with laughter when you see signs like “100% Genuine Fakes here” whether your roaming around China Town in Malaysia, marching around markets in Bali or trying to avoid death by Tuk Tuk in Thailand.

“Yes boss, look look, best price”…you’ve been caught! You know what you have to do. You’ve seen a watch that would look perfect on you and now you have to haggle hard for it.

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At this point, the timepiece of your dreams could be anything from a Rolex to a Rotary, a Breitling to a Boss and each ticking away (some not) at you, willing you to buy them and love them….you feel the sweat start to trickle down your forehead.

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You beg your pores to stop, the last thing you want is for the shopkeeper to see how entranced you are by his bounty. You look dismissive…but every fibre of you is itching to try one on, they look as good if not better than the real thing, simply because you’ll be saving a fortune!

You pop it on, all the time the shopkeeper is trying to negotiate a (ridiculous) price. The general rule of thumb being, whatever he says offer him no more than half as an opening bid, and always get a price from him first NEVER make the first offer.

You’ll find this process a lot easier if you’ve got a little more cash to burn and opt for the ‘Luxury’ experience of a watch shop over market shopping.

With (arguably) the same stock but kept in much better conditions, these fully air conditioned, shiny stores offer the full blown experience you would get buying the real thing at Harrods.

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You’ll be dizzied by the attentiveness of the personal assistant. Your watch will be placed on your wrist for you (just incase you lose the use of your limbs due to shock) and buffed to within an inch of its life.

Either way, the choice is yours.

But don’t forget:

– Always feel comfortable negotiating
the price of anything you want to buy. The staff will be expecting it. Even shops will be willing to drop their prices if you ask.

– Walk off. 90% of the time a lower price will be yelled at you as you leave. And if you’re feeling really brave. Go for a walk and come back and try and knock the price down a little more.

– Be aware that the cheaper end of high value products on markets, such as watches, are probably chucked in a bag at the end of the night not tucked in and kissed good night like the ones you’ll find in shops. This can often mean that they have a much shorter shelf life.

Happy Shopping!

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The (Inter)National Gallery

Walking round the street stalls after a couple of Changs could leave you wondering if you’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and wondered into the National Gallery.

What you expect from market shopping in Thailand is bargain t-shirts, imitation Ray Bans and the odd phallic ashtray or bottle opener. What you don’t expect to see are mini galleries of stunning artwork.

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What is undeniable is the sheer talent of the artists who can copy any famous work of art from Klimt to Leonardo Davinci, or paint you amazing copies of famous photographs including the stunning ‘Afghan Girl’ National Geographic cover of the 1980’s.

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Each artist has his own style (I’ve yet to see a female painter in action) and their work is as beautiful as the originals (and at a fraction of the cost).

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However for me, the most fantastic thing about the process is the passion the painter has for his work. When the last of the crowds of clubbers have staggered home wearily, you’ll find artists sitting calmly behind their easels, watching the world go by whilst perfecting their latest offering.

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What a beautiful life.

Stop dicking around, I’ve had emuff of you!

It seems only appropriate in a land where girls are as easily bought as a knock-off watch, that genitalia would feature in day to day life in Thailand.

Apart from endless t-shirt emblazoned with slogans such as ‘No money no honey” and “sleep with me, free breakfast” Koh Samui is also home to some rather rudely shaped boulders.

In the Top 10 of every ‘Best attractions in Koh Samui’ list, you will inadvertently stumble across Grandmother and Grandfather Rock.

To be honest, speaking as somebody who worked in home care with the elderly for a while, these are rather perky specimens of old people nethers, infact if I got to be a granny and was as taught as this I’d be pretty chuffed!

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As for Granddad, he is clearly permanently excited to see Grandma (with no chemical aids!)

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Unfortunately, they’re so far apart that they will never have the chance to ‘get their rocks off’.

Like it, or lamp it!

The subtitle I wanted to use was ‘feeling light-headed’, as I am currently writing this from a very hot hotel room in Koh Samui, where it seems I’ll be staying for a while due to spending all of yesterday in the sun and not drinking enough water!!!

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This rather ‘Jazzy’ lamp is oddly plonked outside a massage and spa centre, on the main strip in Chewang.

I’m not sure if they’re trying to warn everyone that standard practice in a Thai body wrap is to bind you head to toe in bandages and lop your head off for the reasonable sum of 300 baht (they do promise you’ll lose inches I suppose…) or maybe they’ve found a use for all the customers who’ve ever questioned their massage skills (Anne Boleyn style….CHOP).

Either way, I had to share it, because for me it conjures up memories of being 8 years old and dancing around my Aunties lounge with my two equally excited cousins to ‘Joseph and the Technicolour Dream Coat’.

What??? You don’t remember the Egyptian mummy girls???

Just me then!

Lovely Flow-hairs

The first thing you will learn when braving any kind of clothes shopping in Asia is that if your rear is over a size 6 it’s not fitting in!

Fortunately me for me and (and my rotund behind) the heartbreak of failing to cram my posterior and ample bosom into anything other then a couple of “oh-so attractive” bin liners or a two-man tent (and even those are akin to a kennel for a chiwawa) was eased slightly, although my pride was still in absolute tatters, by these florally coiffed (no bottomed) lovelys.

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So feel free to buy me flowers, I know what I’ll be doing with them!

An ‘off the wall’ special

Please accept my apologies in advance if some of these references are particularly ‘bad’. If you wanna be ‘startin something’ then comments can be left at the end of this post otherwise let’s throw a ‘blanket’ over the whole thing and carry on…

I look back and ‘remember the time’ we spent the evening shooting snaps of the incredible wall art in and around Georgetown, Penang whilst travelling through Malaysia. This one is a bit ‘off the wall’, depicting the late Michael Jackson. In colour I must add… Not ‘black or white’.

Those that at first think this is mindless graffiti ‘you are not alone’. However people can point fingers all they want at youths, local gangs and ‘smooth criminals’, but at the end of the day they should either just ‘blame it on the boogie’ or enjoy the spectacular art that Penang has to offer.

FYI most of the incredible street art around Georgetown is painted by Lithuanian-born Ernest Zacharevic, dubbed Malaysia’s answer to Banksy, although there are many many others.

But for those that still feel they are yet to ‘get enough’, I can definitely recommend a visit to Penang, for all it’s delights. Including the food, the culture, the art and it’s ‘HIStory’, it is one not to be missed. One could say, you just can’t ‘beat it’…

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More Penang street art

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