Friday, 28 November 2008

My Facebook details

Ian Paul's Facebook Profile

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The straw that broke the camel's back

Still in the UK and really furious with the PAD. I was supposed to be flying back to Toyland today but the actions of Sondhi et al in closing suvarnapoom (sic) have forced me to stay here another week.

After paying the British Council about 200 pounds to sit my DELTA exam in Bangkok it now seems as if I will have to pay again to sit it in England.

I was booked on an Emirates flight via Dubai into Bangkok tomorrow (Friday 28th) the Bangkok leg has been cancelled and my only option is flying back on the 4th December via - wait for it - Dubai, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, Krabi and then bus to Bangkok.

This is the final nail in the coffin for Toyland; I am now desperate to leave the place forever and quite frankly I would be happy to never see it again. I was unimpressed with Thaksin and his antics but the alternatives are a complete joke. I doubt if their combined knowledge would be enough to pass an 'A' level economics exam; what are they thinking? For a country that depends heavily on tourist revenue they have really shot themselves in the foot; well both feet really. They (the PAD) have condemned Toyland to remain, for the foreseeable future at least, a 'little people'. To draw loosely on a speech of Churchill's, my thoughts can be summed up thus: Never have I seen so many people so proud of so little.

I certainly don't want to be here when the current king meets his demise; I predict that there will be utter chaos and quite possibly fully fledged civil war (throughout the whole country as opposed to just the south).

Toyland, your attractions were not that appealing to me earlier, now the balance has tipped, the things which used to compensate for the heat, corruption and general lack of competence no longer matter so much. I have even given serious thought to taking a six month teaching contract in Afghanistan!

Guiness at 1.50 a pint in Kilburn, despite the weather, seems much more attractive right now; I never did like Singha anyway.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Which Social Networking site to use?

After careful consideration I have decided to stop updating my Hi5 profile, I shall display a link to both Facebook and LinkedIn in it and leave it.
I believe that Facebook has won the most subscribers and has the greater functionality; that said I think LinkedIn will be of most use throughout a person's life, I have already received a serious job offer through the site.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Doing some study in London

Right now I'm doing a diploma in teaching English to adults (DELTA), specialising in teaching academic English, at International House, Covent Garden, London. Hard work but I hope it will make me more employable and enable me to break into teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP).

I'm living in Kilburn, an area popular with the Irish so there are lots of 'genuine' Irish pubs.
On Saturday night I went out with my landlady to a bar called The Castle in neighbouring Cricklewood to see an Irish band called the Wolfe Tones. As I like folk music it was a good night for tunes: the lyrics however were a little too 'rebel based' for me. For example we sang along to 'The rifles of the IRA', and the words of another went like this:
'The devil is dead, the devil is dead and he's buried in Kilarney, others say he rose again and joined the British army.'

Never a dull moment in London.

Monday, 17 November 2008

An article published in the Bangkok Post (Learning Post) 15th July 2008

Bagging peaks

The United Kingdom is an uneven place when it comes to height; there are large areas of ground at, or only a little above, sea level. However, for a growing number of enthusiasts, the interesting parts of the UK are the areas over 3,000 feet (914 metres) high. England and Wales have a few mountains over this height, but it is Scotland that has the most.
An interesting weekend activity is fast becoming a competitive sport: Keeping a record of mountains climbed, or "peak bagging". There are more than 200 peaks over 3,000 feet that have become the focus of a growing group of mountaineers and hill walkers.
The challenge
In 1891, Sir Hugh Munro (1856-1919), a Scottish businessman, made a list of 3,000-feet high Scottish mountains. There were, and still are, 284 of them. The Scottish Mountaineering Club maintains a list of over 4,000 people who have climbed them all.
For some, the climbing of the Munros is a pleasant activity for a fine weekend. For others, they present a challenge to be attained as quickly as possible. To complete all the Munros is a formidable challenge as some of them are many miles from a road and require a long walk across remote land before they are reached.
There are mountaineers who have climbed them all in one long expedition. In 1974, Hamish Brown became the first person to do this; it took him 112 days. The book Hamish's Mountain Walk tells the story of his feat and is probably the reason why "Munroing" has become so popular.
Charlie Campbell, a former postman from Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, holds the record for the fastest round of the Munros. He completed the round in 2000 in 48 days and 12 hours. There are two young men under 12 who are currently vying to become the youngest "Munroist". The oldest person to complete the round was over 70 when he bagged his last peak. In 1985, Martin Moran completed a continuous round during winter conditions; he took only 83 days to do it!
The Munros in winter conditions are a very serious challenge. By world standards, though, they are not particularly high. The severe and unpredictable weather conditions in Scotland make them seem much more difficult than their lowly height, by world standards, would suggest. Snow has been recorded falling on Scottish mountains in July, usually the warmest month in Scotland. In February or March, the snow can be many feet deep. Some mountains never lose all their snow from one year to the next.
The mountains
The majority of the mountains have names derived from Gaelic, the old language of Scotland. They are mostly descriptive names, such as Stob Ban, meaning simply White Mountain. The people who speak Gaelic nowadays live mainly in the far east of Scotland. However, the popularity of Munroing has also spurred an interest in the Gaelic language, if only to understand what the name of the mountain you are climbing means.
The highest mountain in the UK is called Ben Nevis, which is 4,409 feet (1344 metres) high. It is also, of course, a Munro. Because of its "highest" status, it is a very popular mountain to climb. Many Munroists reserve it as their final ascent, often inviting friends and family to climb it with them and hold a celebration at the summit. There used to be a permanent weather station on the summit plateau.
The mountain is also one of three that feature in the "Three Peaks Challenge". The challenge involves climbers attempting to climb the highest mountains in England, Wales and Scotland and travelling between those mountains, all within a period of 24 hours. The individuals and teams who attempt the feat are usually sponsored, and they frequently donate the money that they received to various charitable institutions.

A letter published in the Bangkok Post 12th July 2008

Proper driving needed
I am from the UK and lived there for 40 years without seeing a dead body. Since coming to Thailand almost 10 years ago, I have seen about 20 corpses, witnessing the death of two of them. They were all victims of avoidable traffic accidents.
After visiting nearly 50 countries, I believe Thai drivers to be the most ill-informed, reckless and spatially unaware of all. I have had some near misses myself whilst driving and believe that the root of the problem lies in the lack of road user education.
As I grew up in Britain I was exposed nightly to road safety and awareness adverts, the catch phrases are with me yet. "Clunk click every trip", "Look right, look left, then right again", "Speed kills", etc.
I fervently hope that this new government, coupled with a public information TV channel modelled on the BBC, can together help, primarily, to reduce the death toll and, secondly, the tedious traffic jams caused by the long wait for the familiar white spray-painted outlines of vehicle positions involved in minor accidents.
Perhaps we could start with a "make sure there are no surprises" campaign, encouraging drivers and riders to indicate and look before changing lanes or joining a line of moving traffic. If only one person benefits by not being mown down by a pickup truck, surely it would have been worthwhile?

A poem about Thai shoppers

What did you do at the weekend?

A high percentage tell me shopping
Used to think they only knew one verb
Ten years now of watching them; No! It’s what they really mean
Britons branded shopkeepers: the Thai are happier cast as shopper
Bangkok: city of traffic, face and shopping malls
Working Monday until Friday, only reason – spending power
Counting down to opening time, Friday evening forsake the tower
End of week now shopping calls
Central, Robinson and Paragon, venues for the weekend dash
Not for Thailand dreams of Rio or of Disney’s waking dreams
Marks and Spencer, Burberry and Harrod’s: these are prized as destination
Frigid temples to promotion, sale and bargain
High priests Bulgari and Armani, to worship at the cashier’s altar
descends the weekend shopping army
Credit card, debit card and store card, yet others proffer crinkly cash
What did you do at the weekend?