Sunday, 10 April 2011

One Month in Bangkok

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble. One month in Bangkok makes a Daleroxxu,,, whatever, I take everything in my stride son. Yeah, it's gone by pretty damn fast but I've been in Bangkok for little under a month now.



After my first week here I decided that I didn't like the location of my hotel much. It was in a quiet area where locals live and some small shops, a location that I chose to get away from the annoyances of the tourist areas.
Unfortunately there were no decent western food restaurants near by, nor was it anywhere near the Sky Train which goes pretty much everywhere that I'd want to go in Bangkok. I checked out of that hotel and checked into a hotel suite between Asoke and NaNa, a location heavily frequented by tourists and therefore also by annoying slimey suit salesmen, Tuk Tuk drivers, market stalls taking up 90% of the sidewalk, whores, gruff ladyboys, screaming women offering "MASSAS MASSAS" and filthy beggars. Basically anyone that annoys me while I walk down the street I have nothing but the strongest loathing and contempt for. I'd happily stand by and watch any one of them die in a grease fire, but was willing to put up with them so that I could be next to a BTS Sky Train station and a load of 24 hour restaurants. It's also an area that I was already familiar with due to my last visit to Bangkok.

My new hotel room, while large, comfortable and with a fast and stable internet connection, seems to be jinxed though, because no sooner had I set up my laptop and sat down to watch the latest episode of my favourite sitcom of 2011, Outsourced, than the screen froze. I rebooted and the screen was all garbled with green lines and wouldn't boot up properly. DAMN. The same fucking problem that has caused me so much grief this year, and that I have had "fixed" twice already, once in Malaysia in January and then in Bangkok in February.

I immediately packed up my laptop and took a taxi to Pantip Plaza, the huge IT mall in Bangkok, to find the geezer that "fixed" my laptop the previous month. He pretty much admitted that he had just done some quick fix the last time because the part that needed replaced is extremely difficult for him to obtain due to my laptop never being released in the Asian market. He said that I would need to leave it with him for up to 3 weeks, but he would fix it at no extra charge. So I left it with him then just kinda wandered around Bangkok like a lost puppy, not knowing what to do with myself now that I was laptop-less.

After some comfort eating in one of my favorite restaurants, I went straight back to Pantip Plaza as I had decided to buy a cheap laptop, or PC, to use while my laptop was being repaired. It made sense because with no computer, I couldn't play poker, e.g. I couldn't work and make money! Trying to find a suitable laptop was a waste of time, even in the IT centre of the country, this huge mega mall, there's not a single laptop with a 17" 1920x1200 resolution screen that I need to tile my poker tables. Not even anything close.

I ended up at the very top level of the mall, at a big computer store called IT City. I bought their cheapest PC and their best monitor, for a total cost of 12,690 Baht (USD $423). The PC was pretty basic but still with a dual core intel CPU and 2gb of ram, plenty good to run PokerStars and Holdem Manager. The monitor was a 22" BenQ 1920x1080 resolution, not quite what I was looking for but it was the best they had and was close enough.

The PC didn't come with Windows installed. I said jokingly to the boy that was serving me "Of course, why would anyone want the cost of a Windows license included in the price of their PC when there are at least 50 stalls in the Plaza selling a copy for 100 Baht?". He said that he could have someone install Windows 7, Office, Photoshop and more onto the PC for 200 Baht (USD $6.66). Pretty damn hilarious that in this big legit PC Store the staff are making arrangements for me to get pirated software loaded up onto my brand new machine, but that's just the way of life in Thailand, fuck international copyright laws, every movie, game and software application is copied and sold freely and openly.

No sooner had I taken receipt of my PC than a teenage girl put it on a trolley, and whisked it out of the legit PC store and into a shady looking stall elsewhere in the mall. 40 minutes later I paid the girl her monies for services rendered and got my brand new Windows 7 PC into a taxi home.

I hooked up my new PC straight away, switched it on, and as Windows started booting up I see the big letters XP. Are you fucking kidding me, the bitch gave me XP! I was ranting about it on Twitter straight away and one of my friends DM'ed me "Haha! At least you walked away with XP. Last Bangkok girl I was with give me more letters and viruses than that ;)". Thought that was pretty damn hilarious.

The idea that this the new computer would more than pay for itself by allowing me to play poker while my laptop was being repaired turned out to be another great Daleroxxu idea that ended up as a huge epic fail, as I lost in my first couple of sessions, sigh!

Something that had been annoying the hell out of me was that my left eyelid was constantly twitching uncontrollably. It's a condition called Myokymia and I've been the victim of it a few times over the last few years, but has always gone away on it's own within a week or so. This time it started back in Macau at the end of February, and I expected it to just go away on it's own, but more than a month later it had gotten worse rather than better. It got bad enough for me to go to the hospital to see a doctor who gave me some tests and asked me a lot of questions about my lifestyle. I left there under strict instructions to completely cut caffeine out of my diet and stay the hell away from staring at computer monitors until the twitching stopped. Apparently staying up through the night, staring at little poker tables on a laptop screen continuously for hours while getting super stressed out and drinking copious amounts of Coke Zero wasn't exactly helping my problem!

I barely played any poker for about 10 days and only drank fruit juice and water. I am about 80% cured from the twitching so far, and hoping it will go away completely. I just wish I knew to take the break from long sessions online BEFORE i bought that damn replacement computer.

13 days after taking my laptop in for repair, I got the phone call saying that the part had been replaced and that the laptop is now working like brand new and ready for collection. Hooray! I'm now rocking the dual-monitor setup and have a desktop PC to rest my feet on. This is more screen real estate than I've had all year, I almost feel spoiled, until I remember about the 30" 2560x1600 Dell that is currently gathering dust in my parents attic :(


As the 30 days on my Visa On Arrival are almost up, I had several choices if I wanted to stay here longer. Go to the Immigration Bureau and pay 1900 Baht (USD $63) for a 7 day Visa Extension, do a visa-run by bus to Cambodia for another 15 day Visa On Arrival, or take a return flight to KL or Singapore for another 30 day Visa On Arrival. I could also stay over for 1 or 2 nights in one of those locations to visit the Thai Embassy and get a 2 month (extendable to 3 month) Tourist Visa. Yeah, I really should have done that while I was chilling in Kuala Lumpur for 16 days last month, but I did come to Bangkok on pure impulse, getting here only hours after deciding to come, so it's more to do with lack of planning than me being lazy.

I decided that the easiest thing to do was just pay for the 7 day extension while I decide if I want to stay here longer, so I found the location of the Immigration Bureau from their fabulous website http://www.immigration.go.th/ . Maybe if the Thai government's IT workers would take a break from continuously blocking and censoring the crap out of my favourite websites and spent a little time working on that site it wouldn't look like it was created in 1995 using Windows Notepad and MS Paint. I circled their location on the big map that I had and took a taxi there. Despite showing the taxi driver this clear and large map he couldn't find the place, and was driving around in circles. We were pretty damn close, because he stopped next to a train station, that I could see on the map and I knew exactly where to go from there, but he couldn't understand me because he didn't speak English. Still I was pointing out, using the map, where he had to go from here, and he was still clueless. I couldn't make my mind up whether this guy was just the stupidest monkey ever to drive a cab or if he was just trying, successfully I may add, to run up a huge fare on the meter. Eventually we got there and I shipped him the HUGE fare he ran up of 120 Baht (USD $4).

The Immigration building looked old and there were about 1000 poor looking asian people sitting on the ground outside with pieces of paper in the baking sun. There wasn't one single white person there, in fact all the asians were staring at me like I don't belong here. After wandering around for 5 minutes failing to find the part of this building/complex where I pay my money and get my passport stamped, I joined a queue of asians holding forms just so that I could speak to someone who works there. When I got to the front of the queue I was told that Immigration services has been moved to the new Goverment Complex starting from 2009, and that this place only handled special work permits for citizens of Laos, Burma and Cambodia. Fuck me, I really don't belong here! This government complex turned out to be so far away that it wasn't even on the big fold out map of Bangkok that I had. So ridiculous that they moved locations in 2009 and the same shitty map to the old building is still on their shitty old website!

I jumped another taxi, but this time made sure the guy knew where we were going before I stepped foot inside the cab. He said it was about 20 minutes on the highway, damn that's far away, but at least he knows for sure where it is so no problem. And this cab ride was no problem until we gained some speed on the highway and the driver seemed to have trouble keeping in lane, with some occasional swerves. As soon as he started slapping himself in the face I knew what was up, I've used the old slapping ones self in the face trick to stay awake myself, this bastard was falling asleep at the wheel. His next trick was to take a handkerchief, soak it with a bottle of water and pat his face with it. I seriously wanted to ask him to pull over and let me out, but by that time we were in the middle of nowhere on a highway, am I seriously going to get out there?

He did get me there alive, to the very modern government complex. I appreciated how new and clean and well air conditioned this place was while I was sitting in a queuing system for 3 fucking hours to submit and collect my passport and visa application. I'm 100% sure there must have been someone I could bribe to get it done faster, I just didn't know who. So after all of that nonsense I, at last, had a stamp on my passport allowing me to stay for 7 more days in the Kingdom. The bastards should really have given me one extra day to make up for the whole day it took me to get the damn stamp!

I now have another week to decide if I want to stay here more longer term. I do like where I'm at just now, I'm very close to the action yet just far enough up the side street that it's very quiet, and staying on the top floor of the hotel helps with that too, so no problem sleeping during the daytime. While it's certainly way more expensive to stay in a hotel than rent a condo, I like the flexibility of being able to check out and change my plans at a days notice, rather than having a commitment to rent a place for at least 6 months, and also have to sign up for utilities and get an internet connection installed. I reckon the money I save on not having to pay an electricity bill for the air conditioning that I have blasting 24/7 keeping this room at a comfortable 17 degrees C makes up for paying extra to live in a hotel. That and the huge amount of food I consume at the buffet breakfast that's included with my room.

On the negative side, the weather in Bangkok is absolutely killing me. I can't stand it. Every day is around 38 degrees C and 92% humidity. Walking around outside is like walking through a sauna. I only have to think about going out during daylight hours and the sweat starts pissing out of my pores. I've pretty much given up on going outside before 7pm, but as all the malls are open until late night and there's plenty of 24 hours restaurants here, I can still sleep the day away and live life at night time quite well. Even at night though, the heat and humidity cause me to go through a whole suitcase of t-shirts within a few days. My laundry bill would be astronomical if it wasn't for the fact that I wash all my clothes by hand in the sink like a 1940's housewife, instead of paying the absurdly expensive hotel laundry service costs like a sucker. Actually I found an absurdly cheap laundry place nearby, that would do my whole laundry for the price the hotel would charge for one t-shirt, so I think I can stop doing the hand washing. Oh how I'll miss the days of soaking wet clothes hanging on anything that is remotely hangable all over my room.

I was moaning about how I want the weather to change to Shaniac on Twitter late one night, right before going to a restaurant. I then went out, got to the end of the road, a bit sweaty already, then crash-bang-flash-swooooosh I got completely owned by a heavy thunderstorm. I'm used to my clothes being a bit moist by the time I get to the restaurant because of sweat and humidity but this time I was sitting there is completely soaked through clothes eating my dinner. But on the plus side, the storm washed away all the filth from the streets. It was the first time I walked home late at night without having to navigate my way past 100 gruff looking ladyboy whores. In fact there wasn't a single one of them. Seems like they'd been washed away by the rain like the filthy disgusting cockroaches that they are! Apparently the wet season is beginning now in Thailand and will last for 6 months, this is the time of year that westeners go home. Even jcar9271, who I stayed with in Phuket last month, has decided to GTFO from his 'sick house in Thailand' this week. Judging by the size of his cheesy grin in his blog photo he's pretty happy with that decision.

I have been enjoying my food recently. I've had a whole month of eating out at least twice every day to figure out, by trial and error, where to go for the best food. For instance the Nachos at the JW Marriot are miles better than any of the Mexican restaurants I've been to here.


I should really capitalize on my research and write a 'Fat Bastard's Guide To Bangkok' book.

I did find the Hard Rock Cafe here at last, on my third attempt at looking for it. It's being renovated and is located on the top floor of a building covered in scaffolding. No wonder I couldn't find it sooner. Hard Rock Cafe is my favourite restaurant chain in the world. You are always guaranteed a top notch meal there no matter where you are in the world. In fact I would have to say that they are 'the PokerStars of restaurant chains' in that they are better than their competitors in every single way.

Talking of PokerStars, I'm super pumped about the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) that is coming up next month. I'm not sure where I will be in the world when it kicks off but even if I'm on the moon I'll be sure to be playing in a ton of events.

At least one more week in Bangkok, then,,, whatever, I'll figure it out!

5 comments:

  1. Glad you fixed that twitch in the eye. Must be a relief. Do you still get the itch in your groin that you were complaining about? Amatay might have some ideas.

    Washing your own clothes wtf wtf wtf? The reason we go to Thailand is because we don't have to do this shit. Stop being such a fish!

    Looking forward to hearing your next destination

    glgl
    jcar9271

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  2. Hi dale,

    Been a fan of your blog for a while now, anywho I was wondering if knew what would be the best avenue to trying to become a part of Team Online, I'm a pro ssmtt'er/sng grinder full time and I'm on the next series of the amazing race australia and I'd love to be able to promote a website during all the promotion I have to do.

    Cheers man appreciate it,

    Ryot (2+2 & CardRunners)

    http://www.cardrunners.com/blog/ryot

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  3. Ryot, I don't know if they are looking to add to the team during this time period, best thing to do would be just email support with your bio and ask.

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  4. That's pretty scary with the taxi driver :-/

    Sigh @ the eye twitching, anything like that is just so gay for us, I had conjunctivitis last year and I'm probably killing my eye slowly by playing poker every day as I seem to get a mild version of it every evening.

    Lolz @ you hand washing your clothes.

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  5. Cheers Dale, I've done that now, all the best

    ReplyDelete