Saturday, June 21, 2014

They love failing to perform for your amusement



I love a good zoo, but as this is Thailand I'll settle for a crappy one with depressingly cramped cages and inhumane shows in which malnourished animals are forced to perform inappropriate feats for the amusement of braying crowds.

I've unintentionally patronised my share of animal rights atrocities in this country, such as guys beating the crap out of crocodiles, elephants forced to fight and play football (those were the same place, that's good value) and tigers jumping through rings of fire, but this time was different. These parrots weren't having any of it, and watching their flustered handlers struggle to fill the dead air as the stars refused to open compartments, overturn bowls and pick numbers off a board was like being in an amusingly awkward scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm. The animals were fighting back in the most effective way they could without subsequently being destroyed - by making their handlers look like complete knobs.

If only they were chickens, I could make a quality pun about them staging a coup/coop that would also bag me a few extra searches by people looking for a slightly out of date Thailand keyword, but unfortunately they had to be beautiful macaws instead. Even more regrettably, they started doing what they were told after a while, presumably following a few 'stern discussions' backstage. Those bruised wings will heal in no time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chalong and thanks for all the honey



Since I missed Phuket off my enthusiastic criss-crossing of Thailand the first time around in 2011, I was keen to try to recapture that youthful, cynical optimism before the rest of Southeast Asia suffocated the optimism part with its repetitive temples, endless stuffy weather and ubiquitous taxi driver scum.

You can already tell it didn't exactly work, but it was fun to climb aboard the lazy tourist conveyor belt for another round. Here's everything there is to see in Phuket, or more accurately, the itinerary in the leaflet that looked slightly better than the others that were basically the same because it swapped inhumane elephant riding for an only slightly inhumane bird show (coming next time). Now I don't ever need to go back to Phuket.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Karon Eileen



While it might have been more entertaining to read about me getting hassled by transsexual prostitutes every time I left my hotel, I selfishly avoided Phuket's party capital Patong to stay in its quieter neighbour Karon, and my week was the better for it. I'm not as dedicated to your amusement at the expense of my happiness as I used to be.

I also didn't go parasailing or whatever that is in the photo, but it looks fun, doesn't it? "Wheee!" etc. Here are some tame holiday snaps.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Out of the frying pan, into a similar albeit slightly higher quality frying pan



When foreign dignitaries who drew the short straw and ended up stationed in North Korea are given 'sanity leave' every few months to calm down in a less mental country, they wouldn't ship them to Somalia would they? So I probably should have chosen somewhere other than Thailand for my eagerly-anticipated escape from the ongoing nightmare of Southeast Asia's armpit.

My first experiences after landing in Phuket were the unhappy ending to a typically stressful day spent transiting in Manila, my least favourite city east of Cairo. But the next day things brightened up and this island didn't turn out to be anywhere near as awful as I'd always assumed it was going to be, having deliberately avoided its lure on every previous trip to Thailand before buckling under an attractive promo flight that would take me to roughly the area I wanted to be.

While the Philippines keeps providing new examples of why it would be a bad place to settle down and hope in vain for a stress-free life, Phuket has reminded me why Thailand is such an appealing option for expats, even the ones who aren't bitterly divorced senior citizens with loose morals. Thailand wins the contest by a long way, though it does help that I'm 500 miles away from Bangkok right now or it could be a closer call.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A justified childish day out



I've been to something like 23 zoos, aquariums and assorted animal sanctuaries as a childless adult (~20 of them featuring in this blog). There's nothing wrong with that, though I've always been a bit self-conscious about it, especially when Google started recommending my website to people searching for 'creepy guy at the zoo'.

After an unprecedented couple of months with a regular weekly workload I recently had my first completely free weekend in a while, and was able to draft in my sort-of-niece-and-nephew as the perfect camouflage for my shameful desire to see remarkable creatures in inhumane cages. The other adults would just assume I'd been coerced into spending my day watching orangutans climb the walls and hanging heavy snakes around my neck as we shared defeated shrugs that suggested we'd all rather be down at the mall, catching the game or whatever else normal adults are supposed to enjoy, the losers.

We all had a nice day out, if slightly stressful at times, and it provided more useful training and education for my theoretical parenthood in the future. Based on today's insightful module, kids are really not that badly behaved as long as they don't have to wait for food to be served in a busy restaurant and aren't obligated to get the majority of said food into their mouths when they scoop it up. So if I have kids, I probably just won't feed them. The signs said we're not supposed to feed the animals anyway! Look, I'm already doing dad jokes, I'll be fine.