Monthly Archives: April 2009

In red

I got an email yesterday from one of the websites where I usually buy my clothes. The email contains the new style by Rufskin. When I opened it to check out the latest line, all I could see was “red”. I did not really expect to see the brand audaciously unveil such super colourful, in-your-face jeans as shown in the picture. The brand is certainly brash.

Rufskin’s denims and jeans are probably my favourite garments. By contrast, its tops, both t-shirts and knitwear, are total rubbish in terms of the quality of the products; the material is not good. This fresh offering almost wins my vote but I am not sure about two pieces of clothing in this collection, including the “red”. Even though it could, no doubt, help to enhance the attractiveness and hunkiness of the lower part of my body, it is screaming for too much attention. For sure it would not suit people who want to keep a low profile!

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Walking in the heat of Bangkok

It has been such a pleasant week in the UK. The weather has been lovely throughout the whole week. It is just delightful. But I am not sure about tomorrow’s weather. That is the UK weather for you. It is constantly changing. In comparison with the temperature in Thailand right now, I heard that this week is supposed to be the hottest week of the year. Unsurprising as April is the warmest month. So, I wish all  the best to people who are living in Thailand and enduring the unbearable heaviness of the current Thai temperature. Good luck!

The day before we returned to Britain, I had to go back to Bangkok to stay overnight. After we checked in at the hotel and rested in the room for a few minutes, we decided to go out to do some minor business – searching for a wedding gift to take back to the UK. We walked in the heat of Bangkok to the monorail station in the Silom area and journeyed to Ratchadamri station, located near the Four Seasons hotel.  After that, we walked a bit more in the scorching heat to find the place where I wanted to buy Thai silk as a wedding gift. Unfortunately, the area had been demolished and it was a pain in a neck that I would have to resort to buying something else. Initially, I did not know where to go next so I had to ask people to recommend somewhere where I should go for traditional Thai craftwork. We walked yet more in the polluted heat of Bangkok to find the place. By the grace of God, we came across a number of people selling folk garments and other very Thai things. I was happy then, as I had plenty of choice of things to get as a gift. I ended buying three cushion covers as shown in the pictures. I think these will do just nicely.

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To return to the hotel we had to take the monorail again and we walked on to Siam station: basically, we were a bit lost as to where to catch the train. I must say I found the monorail to be very convenient in a city like Bangkok. It was still very hot and I sweated profusely, like many people I guess. Even as a Thai person, I fould it difficult to deal with the Bangkok summer, never mind those westerners who I came across while walking to the station. To me, they were just like big penguins walking in the desert. It always amazes me that they can survive in this city. Anyway, in the end, we reached the station and travelled back to the hotel. Although I was exhausted from the heat, I still got what I wanted as a special offering to someone. Amen!

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Commercialism gone mad

The hotel where I stayed last month in Thailand was very nice and up to my standards! It was located in a secluded, non-tourist area and was eco-friendly in some respects. There were plenty of trees and shade and it was just like I was staying in the woods. I could constantly hear birds singing and the rasping sound of cicadas. It may sound like I had a wonderful summer holiday in an exotic place and it would certainly have been, had it not been for the incessant ‘plugging’ of the staff at the hotel.

I began to notice on the third breakfast that there was something odd about the way our butler behaved towards us. For the first couple of days, I pretended to ignore her constant selling schemes. My first impression was that it was part of her job to provide us with eveything we needed, including giving us ideas about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. As a matter of fact, we went nowhere whatsoever, and just lounged around in our villa during our entire stay. Later, I realised that our butler seemed to be aware of everything we did. Everytime we went to have a meal at the restaurant, whether in the morning for breakfast or at dinner, she would appear and offer us something to do or somewhere to go as part of the hotel’s apparent strategy of extracting as much money out of the guests as possible. Whenever the butler tried to get me to do something, I politely declined and came up with a white lie – something that I hated to do, but I had to.

It was even more irritating when the waiters also tried to get me to spend money on things I did not want. Again, I just declined and came up with some stupid excuse such as I did not want to travel to anywhere too far as we were allergic to the heat; it would cause us sunstroke. Then, it came home to me when one waiter told me that she had read the short list of things we had booked to do. We felt like we were being observed. I promised myself that they would not get much from us and they did not. It was so ridiculous that they expected us to spend money on things we did not want, since we had already paid a huge amount of money for the holiday in advance. As a person who loves to be left in peace, I found this incessant selling an extreme nuisance. I just wanted to be left alone.

I do not mean to be too hard on the hotel. Nevertheless I have never come across anywhere as unashamedly over-commercialised as this place. I just did not want to be indirectly harrassed to do things I really did not want to. That’s all.

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Paprika – the trailer

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Highly recommended

On Tuesday, I receieved a bound-to-be very exciting novel called “Paprika“,  by a Japanese novelist, Yasutaka Tsutsui. The book was published just this month and this latest is the third of his books, after Salmonella Men on Planet Porno and Hell, that appear in English. You can read about him and his work on Wikipedia via the link.  Apparently, some have already ranked him alongside my dear Murakami. Others have even said that  he is more fun than my Japanese idol. From what I saw in an animated version of the book, I am inclined to agree with them.

I have been watching Paprika for a second time, especially to write about it on my blog. The story goes like this:

“The DC Mini, which is a scientific device that allows psychiatrists, scientists (or anybody who knows how to use it) to open the door to people’s dreams has been stolen. The aim of creating this revolutionary machine was to use it to treat mental and psychiatric illnesses by looking inside patients’ dreams. Whoever stole the DC Mini, which is not yet complete and has no access control program, can connect to a psychotherapy machine at any time and from any place and use it to intrude into the minds connected to it. And that was what happened.

The chef who works at the Foundation for Psychiatric Research where the device was developed was the first victim and had the dream of a severely delusional patient planted into his brain. While the chef was suffering from the patient’s fantasy, his brain waves and body deteriorated, almost to the point of death. Then Paprika, a fearless detective and therapist who represents Dr. Chiba, the head of the DC Mini development team, had to enter into the chef’s dream with the help of the device, in order to return him to consciousness. Things started getting worse when another of her colleagues behind the invention of this device was trapped into a collective, huge delusional dream. So, not only does she have to save him from his unconscious nightmare, she also needs to get the device back as soon as possible before it falls into the wrong hands such as “dream terrorists”.”

In short, in order to understand this gripping story, I strongly recommend obtaining the book and the DVD. Enjoy!

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What a way to dine!

Between 15 March and 2 April, I had a holiday in Thailand. It was a great trip despite there being some nuisance from the hotel staff who continually tried to persuade me to spend money on unwanted things. The journey, in the end, was quite an experience which was pleasant in an irritating way. I will discuss more about this in a later post.

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This is the place that overlooks the sea, where we sat for dinner during our entire stay. From the day we arrived at the hotel, quite late in the afternoon, our butler kindly reserved a table for us and at approximately 19.00 each day, we would descend to the restaurant to enjoy a delightful Thai meal. The reason that we went early was to avoid having to dine next to other guests – I do not mind eating next to other people, but I prefer to eat without any distraction. On top of that, since we were the first to have our dinner almost every day, our meal was served pretty quickly. I must admit that as a person who is extremely fussy about what I eat, the chef and his team provided a good selection of Thai food. This suited me well as I could have a different choice daily. Sitting there and looking out to sea while having dinner, in a bizarre way, made the food taste better. It could have been because of the serenity of the scenery and the gentleness of the warm breeze blowing in our direction which seemed to make our chow all the more appetising.

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A writer as a runner

Yodmanudying at Yodmanudying’s Blog wrote a very well-thought out topic about Murakami’s memoir; “What I Talk About When I talk About Running”. It is a very good analysis of the book, but unfortunately it was not written in English. Too bad, I am not going to translate her entry into English and post it into my blog either. 🙂 Instead, owing to the fact that I have not fully recovered from jet lag or more truthfully because of my laziness, I have decided to re-publish the comment that I posted on her blog regarding the subject, as follows:

As a writer who wants to have a long run in a professional writing career, Mr. Murakami decided to make himself as healthy as he could by going to bed early, quitting smoking and keeping his body fit by running a marathon. To be a good runner he has to drive himself hard physically. Running is a time consuming activity and needs effort. The same applies to his job as a novelist which requires physical and mental drive. Aside from having talent in piecing words, phrases and sentences together, a good novelist must be able to keep his concentration and focus, as well as the ability to endure the long hard work associated with writing a novel. Here we can see the obvious comparison between his writing and running. What I like about this book is Murakami’s acceptance of the reality of his age. When a person gets older, no matter how hard he trains, he is never going to maintain the same pace as the young man he once was, but as he says in his book, “At least He Never Walked.”

It is a revealing book of the memoirs of a great writer and a decent runner. It is a jolly good read.

I often find inspiration in his books. Because not everyone is born with talent, but with sheer determination, will power and more importantly, believing and having confidence in yourself, you can still do eveything as best as you can. Even if it does not turn out as you expected, at least, you have experienced and tried.

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