Chinese Food At A Top Bar

A few weeks ago it was announced that the Corner House Bar in Rompho, Pattaya had done a deal with a local Chinese takeaway company called Wok N Rok, with the outcome being, the bar would be hosting a special buffet featuring Wok N Rok food.

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Going forward, the Corner House will also be offering Chinese cuisine from Monday to Saturday, so not only do I have access to some of the best delicacies in town, I can now eat it at one of my favourite bars.

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I decided to pop along to the buffet night and took my Nikon D750 with me to grab a few photos.

The food is cooked in a typically British style of Chinese cuisine, similar to what you find in almost any town or city across the UK. The chef is Thai but she spend many years working in Chinese restaurants in Scotland, so this for me is like a piece of home.

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My favourite is Chicken Curry, I cannot order a Chinese without having a curry, and Wok N Rok offer a fantastic variety of curries including beef, pork, chicken and special curry.

I am also partial to some Sweet ‘n’ Sour or Spare Ribs in either Gravy or Barbecue Sauce or in some instances, I will even have them dry.

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Wok N Rok have an extensive menu so it could take me some time and many visits to see Stuart and Phetch at the Corner House before I have worked my way through what’s on offer.

The buffet was a huge success as people ventured in over a four hour period.

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I hope that the daily service will take off, for Chinese restaurants are few and far between in the city of Pattaya.

I only took a few photos on the night, mainly due to a variety of circumstances but the food as you can see is amazing.

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The Corner House rarely do things by half measures and this was no exception. Everyone appeared to enjoyed their “All You Can Eat” buffet and washed their meal down with a few drinks of their choice.

Sadly I got caught up in other things and did not get the opportunity to sample the self service fare on offer but I will be around soon to order my favourite curry.

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Nom on the other hand, delved in and sampled the delicious food from what was, a substantial buffet.

Can you do it again Stuart?

And we need another Rompho party night ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party Times In Pattaya

It has been a while since I found time to update my blog but despite this, I have been active with the camera, although not as much as I would have liked.

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I still have an ongoing issue with my Nikon D750 but there is little I can do until I find a way to get my D610 delivered to me from Scotland.

Most of my attention has been taken up by parties, a subject that often involves great hilarity and meeting new and wonderful people here in Pattaya.

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Take my first image for instance. I was at a birthday party for a good friend “Phetch” when I spotted a gorgeous little girl enjoying a lolly. I introduced myself to her mother and asked permission to take a few photos.

The result is an image of an angelic little girl.

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My next offering is of the birthday girl herself and her boyfriend Stuart as he presents the birthday cake. This lovely couple own the Corner House in Rompho.

Next we have two images that for me, were the best of the night. Wan attended the party and sat beside myself and Nom. She had a couple of drinks and got up to dance. At the time however, she was on the stage and singing along with the band, providing me with a few classic images.

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Wan is one that you never take your eyes off, for you just do not know what she will do next.

The image of the lady singing (the one WITH the microphone) sings with a another chap that I have never managed to discover their name either as a duo or own identities. They are often seen entertaining around Rompho though.

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They are an excellent duo and produce some great cover versions of rock standards and ballads.

Staying at the Corner House Bar, I have included one of Nom, taken with Wan, before either of them had been dancing.

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I was going to say they were taken before any alcohol was consumed but that may be a lie.

Shortly after Phetch’s party, I was invited to another party for my good friend “Dong” er Martin.

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Martin and his delightful partner Oil, own New Country Road Bar (NCR) in Rompho, a short walk from the Corner House. I had assisted with some arrangements for this event, following the highly successful Jerry Lee Carlson gig at the NCR. Click here for photos and blog article.

Martin, like Stuart, has been very supportive of me during troubled times, and I owe this pair my very existence in Thailand. Yes you know who to blame now ūüôā

Dong as he is affectionately known is pictured above.

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The entertainment for this came in the form of a Scottish lassie living in Pattaya by the name of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Stephanie. Steph does a lot of oldies like her name suggests, with a bit of hip shakin’, gyrating and knee grinding thrown in.

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One of the guests was a guy called John, another top man living here in Pattaya. John loves to dance, especially to the likes of Chuck Berry and despite being in his 70s, the man can boogie all night – almost non-stop.

Where he gets his energy from I have no idea but I wish I had half of it. Stamina beyond belief!

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It is incredibly rare for me to feature in my photos, mainly because I am almost always behind the lens.

But due to camera issues, another splendid chap known as Marcus attended, with a view of offering advice but as a result of his presence, I got some time to be on the receiving end of the camera. Marcus is a top photographer in his own right.

This one is of Nom and I, which would usually only be captured on a phone picture.

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Anyone hosting a party in Pattaya should really look into hiring the Jäger girls. These two lovelies work for free, promoting Jägermeister and other drinks such as Jim Beam.

The deal is simple, they will sell customers one measure from your own stock and they will provide a free drink from their collection. The guest gets two drinks for the price of one, the bar gets the sale they may never have had and everyone gets inebriated. Result!

It is difficult to say no to a Jägerbomb when a two ladies are offering a free one, along with a photo too.

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So what happens when customers get free¬†J√§gerbombs and Jack Beam? See for yourself ūüôā

I don’t know the girl standing behind Nom but she was the life and soul of the party. She had everyone in tears of laughter all night long. A top girl and one that would be welcome at any party of mine. Here she has bent a drunken Nom over and well – I will leave the rest to your imagination ūüôā Jenny can be seen sitting on the bar looking weary.

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Another classic featuring the wonderful Julie, who is a regular with husband Steve at both aforementioned bars. Steve and Julie love to dance and are in fact, featured on many video recordings from this night. Friendly people who liven up every party they attend.

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The image above is one of my favourites. I had just met Karin for the first time and found her to be an outgoing person who loves to sing and enjoy herself. I snapped this photo when she was laughing and chatting with her friend Poi. Completely natural and one that I am proud of.

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Next is Martin’s girlfriend oil, who was still reasonably sober at the time but like the majority of Thai ladies, they love to dance. And boy can she dance! Later in the evening she was found on top of the bar with Jenny dancing to many party hits.

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Above, we have Poi and her magician boyfriend. The latter entertained us with some magic tricks when we required a bit of respite from the antics going on inside the bar.

Rompho throw the best parties ever. I have attending parties galore since arriving here and very few disappoint. Often people get very drunk but you never see anyone causing trouble. No requirement for bouncers here.

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I will finish with a photo taken at Phetch’s party at the Corner House, simply because I wasn’t sure what was going on but again, it depicts fun and beautiful people. Well OK – Stuart adds the fun part.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven In Pattaya

What a fantastic couple of weeks I have enjoyed as far as music is concerned. Firstly, I went to see Helmut and Friends at the wonderful Hemmingways in Jomtien, where the band blew me away, with some amazing cover versions of soul, blues and rock tunes.

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Helmut is a guitar maestro and handles everything from Mark Knopfler to Gary Moore. In fact, the whole band are superb and if you haven’t seen them and you are in the Pattaya area, head along to Hemmingways on a Thursday evening from 20:00 and observe an awesome band in action.

The food in the bar is rather tasty too, I hasten to add.

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However, this post is about a certain Jerry Lee Carlson from Sweden and Håkan Nelson, from the same country. The pair played four gigs in Pattaya and I was fortunate to see two of them.

Initially I ventured out to The Triangle in central Pattaya, where a large crowd gathered to enjoy the show and secondly at New Country Road Bar (NCR) in Rompho, which is located in the Rompho Complex in Jomtien area of the city.

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Many people said the event would never work in Rompho but my friend Martin asked me to promote it for him and I did just that. Firstly with posters and flyers then numerous videos supplied by Sweden’s number one rock ‘n’ roll star, Jerry.

Jerry has played all over the world, including tours of Europe with his legends show, featuring tributes to Elvis, Roy Orbison and of course Jerry Lee Lewis.

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He has recorded a number of albums, appeared on TV and radio and is simply, one of the best entertainers you will ever see.

A lot of planning and preparation went into the NCR event, hours of hard work, hiring equipment, tables, covers in case it rained, food and so much more. Was it worth it?

Damned right it was.

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NCR attracted 102 people seated, plus 16 inside the venue and approximately 40 bystanders, who watched from the sidelines, due to either a lack of seating or they were enjoying the event from another bar.

Jerry kicked off the show as always with thundering rock ‘n’ roll classics from his hero Jerry Lee Lewis. He sang the hits of Elvis, Fats Domino, Hank Williams and even did a rendition of a Robbie Williams hit, just to show his versatility.

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Rock, country, blues and boogie woogie tunes all blasted out from the venue. H√•kan Nelson on drums was his usually faultless self ashe followed Jerry’s left hand to keep the tempo going.

People came from other bands to watch the gig. Local media in the form of Pattaya People were present to record video material, which will air shortly. Love Pattaya were represented too and kindly supplied the bar staffs shirts.

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Bar owners came from pubs in Pattaya and Rompho to enjoy a fantastic show.  Many people came to Rompho for the first time and hopefully they will return with other new faces for future events.

Jerry sang “Great Balls Of Fire”, “Whole Lotta Shaking”, “High School Confidential”, Hound Dog”, Bonnie B”, ” Mean Woman Blues”, “Lewis Boogie” and many more classics from the golden era of music.

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If ever there was a man born to entertain, Jerry Carlson is that man. He is a genius on a keyboard/piano and sounds identical to a certain Mr. Lewis, when the legend was in his prime.

He also does a great impression of¬†Andy Kaufman’s fictional character¬†Latka Gravas from the hit US sitcom “Taxi”.

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Jerry also impressed with a version of “Take Me Home Country Roads” with a “NEW” added into the lyrics, just for the bar. He sang ” Blueberry Hill” replacing Blueberry with Phratamnak to give the song a local feel about it. Phratamnak Hill is a popular area in Pattaya with tourists.

Yours truly even acted as compere for the night, introducing Jerry and¬†H√•kan. Not something that was planned, I can assure you but it’s amazing what you can be persuaded to do following a few Smirnoff Midnight’s.

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Jerry did three sets and even came back for an encore or two once he had washed the sweat from his face because it was incredible hot on Saturday evening.

Like many others, I felt disappointed when the show came to its conclusion. The guys had entertained us for a couple of hours but I would have happily listened for another two hours.

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I love rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly, especially when it is produced to this standard. But all good things have to come to an end – till next time that is. Jerry and¬†H√•kan’s return cannot come fast enough and rumours are rife that they may return as a trio. I hope so!!

Next up NCR have Rock ‘n’ Roll Stephanie, who will feature at Martin’s birthday party. Steph, like me, is Scottish and does a fair bit of hip shakin’ during her act.

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If that event proves successful it will pave the way for further live music events at NCR, which can only help to attract visitors to the area, which in turn will benefit the many other bars and restaurants in the complex.

I happen to know a few great singers and bands in the UK, who if they ever fancied a busman’s holiday to Pattaya, could be catered for.

Ziggi – your audience awaits you ūüôā

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Helmut & Friends At Hemmingways

I have visited Hemmingways a few times for food but I have never ventured into the bar/restaurant on a Thursday. This is when they have their live music nights, which features a band known as Helmut and Friends.

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Manager Mark, had previously invited me to come along on a Thursday evening but time had always been an issue for me. However, when assisting with a promotional project for a good friend, who just happened to want to see the group, it was a sealed deal.

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But there was something else to factor into the equation.

Pranom’s mother was visiting from Roi Et and I wanted to take her to a pleasant eating establishment, where I knew the food would be of an exceptional standard and the surroundings would match the quality of the cuisine.

So with these two details taken into consideration, it had to be Hemmingways.

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As always we were greeted by one of their friendly staff as we entered the bar. A smile and a warm welcome are not unusual in Thailand but the employees here are top drawer.

The band had set up but were 30 minutes away from commencing their show. So we took the opportunity to order our food and a drink.

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I have to confess that the staff at Hemmingways are exceptional, as mentioned above.

They look after you from the minute you walk in the door. They all speak very good English, which is a huge bonus, even though I was with two Thai ladies.

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The food as always was tasty and well presented with large portions. The ladies enjoyed a Thai offering from the extensive menu and I went for a burger that was put together following  my instructions.

I was armed with my camera, for I had agreed with the bar that I would take a few images for the venue and the band.

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Having never heard Helmut and Friends play previously, I was keen to perceive what they had to offer. I had listened to mixed reviews but 90% of the people I spoke to, rated them very highly.

They would not disappoint.

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I had a twenty minute chat with Helmut before they commenced playing and discovered that they often performed as a five-piece outfit, fronted by Filipino singer Jovy Del Rosario, who by all accounts is a fantastic vocalist.

Alas, on Thursday, there were playing as a four-piece band and one wondered if it was going to be a second rate show. But they were far from that!

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They began with a number of slow songs, mainly, I would imagine, because people were still enjoying Hemmingways’ cuisine. Songs such as “My Girl” provided light entertainment, whilst the diners enjoyed their food.

The band sprung to life during their second set of the evening with an absolutely brilliant version of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, done in their own impeccable style. The vocals on the song from Jayson Camilo were astonishing.

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They continued with well known hits such as “Africa” and “Down Under” and even had the audacity to cover Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summer Time”, which again was flawless.

During many of their songs, the band can be observed sharing jokes and generally having a great time, which often had the audience laughing along with them.

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Helmut is a huge Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits fan and let us see just how good a guitarist he is with a variety of amazing solos.

Anyone who can replicate, Knopfler on “Sultans of Swing” has to be a genius on a guitar and the song suited his vocals to a T, to quote an old idiom.

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This was jaw dropping stuff from Helmut and appreciated by those in the bar.

Then to show us their true versatility, they sang an uptempo version of Dean Martin’s “Volare” and and worked a treat. Vocals being from Jayson once more.

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In their third set they did many rock ‘n’ roll songs from the likes of Chuck Berry before displaying their versatility with Stevie Wonder classics and “Get Down On It” from the disco era. The bass playing on the Kool and the Gang hit from Jeckson Echavez was exceptional.

Drummer Marvin Javier, provided the beat and held the band together as they played hit after hit, from almost every genre of music you can imagine. The keyboard skills from Jayson and lead guitar solos from Helmut, truly are world class.

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Add into the equation, the amount of fun the band have as they play for you, and you really do have a fantastic ensemble for parties, night clubs or any other event you care to name.

Hemmingways have secured Helmut and Friends every Thursday from 20:00 and I would highly recommend, popping along to see them play. The venue is a high class establishment, spacious, air conditioned, free Wi-Fi and offers a huge selection of draught beers, wines and spirits.

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And in between the group’s sets, you can enjoy watching sport on one of their many televisions, strategically placed around the venue. They even have a beer garden, should you care to sit outside.

I would like to give a mention to the staff who work at Hemmingways. Rarely will you meet a nicer group of people, who treat their customers with the utmost respect.

From the minute you enter the premises, to the moment you leave, the crew at Hemmingways ensure you want for nothing.

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If you haven’t been there – it is well worth making the effort, whether it is for live music, excellent food or to view a sporting event on TV, Hemmingways is deserved of a visit.

Helmut and Friends were: Helmut Schachtner on vocals and guitar from Germany, Jayson Camilo, keyboard and vocals, Marvin Javier on Drums, Jeckson Echavez on bass,  all from the Philippines.

Missing was Jovy Del Roasario, whom I will make a point of going to see very soon. When someone tells you that “she will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up”, you have to take notice.

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By the way, the Hemmingways staff are a fun loving bunch too, happy to get involved with the photography.

Thanks to the band and to the management and staff. See you all soon I hope.

 

 

 

 

Songkran 2017 – The End

I wrote earlier that Songkran 2017 had so far been a huge disappointment compared to last year. But the Thai people were just saving the best for last.

Today, I travelled to Rompho Market, a large complex of bars, street food, massage shops, barbers, restaurants and other small businesses.

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I had observed from my condo window, that an assortment of small stalls were set up along the roadside, which are not normally there. Curiosity got the better of me so I had a sneak peak at what was going on.

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Street vendors were selling food, water guns, waterproof pockets and a variety of other items, which may prove useful for the water events and those in attendance.

But what was more surprising was the vast amount of people who had gathered by the side of the road, with one goal in mind – to immerse people in water.

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Now I am a good two miles from the centre of Pattaya and have never witnessed the likes of this previously. As I headed towards Rompho in my taxi, there were literally thousands of people. lining the streets and showering passersby with water.

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The traffic congestion was horrendous but far from boring. I could have spend all day watching the antics of the locals as they went about the business of soaking people or indeed being soaked in return.

A guy had a fire hose and was showering people as the they passed by in open backed pick-ups. Pick-up and trailers were full of people and containers of water. Again, there was only one place that water was going.

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People were dancing in the middle of a four lane road, which had cars using the wrong side just to make some distance, including my impatient taxi driver.

It was party time in Pattaya at last. A time for me to attempt to capture the action.

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However my camera was very much tucked away in my bag and remained there till I got to Rompho. Then I went in search of the hilarity.

It is fair to say that the majority of the people who take part in the shenanigans are either girls or kids. The men of Rompho preferring to remain in one of the fifty bars, although that did not always guarantee safety, as you can see in the second image from the top.

My good friend Jeff was treated to bucket of icy water as he enjoyed a beer.

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People walk around with buckets of what is either flour or talcum powder mixed with water, to form a paste, which they then use to cover a persons face with the substance.

I am not sure what the significance is but most people welcome the temporary facial.

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I had two fears. One was someone pouring a large bucket of water over me and drenching the camera and the other was being hit in the eye with the high powered jet from one of the water guns.

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The camera is allegedly waterproof and has had a number of wet days over the years.

The eyes however; well let’s just say one of these guns could blind someone.

I was hit in the eye on day one and I can tell you, it hurt like blazes. I did not hold back when telling the guy he was an idiot for aiming at my face. He did apologise profusely I have to add.

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Songkran from a photography point of view is a fantastic time. I only wish I had a back up camera so I could risk getting right in amongst the action but having only one with me, I opted for safer ground.

Today was the final day of the celebrations. The people of Thailand will no doubt party throughout the night but tomorrow, it will be back to work for most.

The image above of my mate Jimmy getting wet, came about because I instructed the girls and kids to target him.

This was actually the last in a series of six images. The best ones were taken seconds before but alas they were also blurry and no good.

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So it’s a sad farewell to Songkran 2017 but I sincerely hope I am around for the 2018 celebrations.

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Thomas And The Power

Anyone who knows me, will be well aware that I have a great love of music, especially live music. When it is done well that is.

Since arriving in Thailand, good music has been lacking in my life. There has been exceptions of course such as the fantastic “Jerry Lee Carlson” from Sweden but generally speaking, there isn’t much on offer here.

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Yes there are some excellent Thai bands but they are usually let down by the vocals and again, I will emphasise, there are exceptions to this rule.

Rules of course are meant to be broken.

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I have heard a couple of groups who impressed. One from Jakarta at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pattaya and another at The Corner House in Jomtien, this time from the Philippines.

But overall I haven’t been overwhelmed by the what has been on offer in Pattaya.

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Yes there are fantastic singers in the city but many rely on backing tracks and for me, this does not constitute live music. The karaoke styled singers are fine for background music or light entertainment but they cannot be taken seriously unless they play “live” with a band and without backing tracks.

Some are actually very good, for again, there are always exceptions to the rule but generally speaking, it has to be live for me.

I will take a moment to say that I know of at least two singers, who could play on any stage. They have the talent for sure but lack ambition or drive to take that vital step. I won’t put names to them, for that would be wrong of me – but I really wish they would take a chance and develop the talents they obviously have.

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I would kill to see certain entertainers here in Pattaya.

Some of the rockabilly or country bands I saw in Scotland or even a few of the many rock bands I took photos of across the UK in the year leading up to my departure from Scotland. I can always dream I suppose.

Busman’s holiday perhaps for singers/groups maybe?

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Anyway, I diversify.

A friend I met at a gig, contacted me and asked me to attend one his shows РI agreed but with trepidation.

Sure I knew he was an excellent drummer for I witnessed his ability when he performed with Jerry Lee Carlson but I knew¬†nothing of the others he was performing with under the banner of “Brian Thomas and the Power”.

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As always I arrived early at the venue, which I knew well. In fact it was one of the first, if not “the” first bar I drank in when I arrived in Pattaya in April 2016.

Back then, every bar was new to me and I was keen to explore but I returned to the Lion Pub frequently in my first three months in Thailand, mainly for food.

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The Lion Pub is a large spacious venue, filled with high tables and stools, numerous TVs,  a couple of pool tables and a stage.

It is an excellent bar that also serves wonderful food and prides itself on its coverage of all sporting events.

If it is on, just ask at the bar and it will appear on one of the many TVs.

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However, I had never attended a music night at the Lion Pub, so not only was the band unknown to me but I didn’t know what to expect from the sound and lighting on the night either.

The latter of course being important to me as I was armed with my Nikon D750.

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The warm up for the band seemed to be prolonged and at times I considered vocalist Brian to be either a perfectionist or somewhat pedantic as he strived for a polished sound before commencing the show,

I guess a bit of both but as I was soon to discover, it was worth the wait.

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The band play a mixture of rock and soul music but they do lean heavily towards soul, even when performing rock classics. Not that they do any songs in their repertoire an injustice. Far from it, in fact.

They have an original feel about their sound that gives a uniqueness to the songs they deliver.

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Brian is an excellent vocalist. Being from New York, there is no requirement for him to put on a fake “American” accent. It comes natural.

He reminded me at times of another American singer, Huey Lewis. I am not sure if he will enjoy that comparison or not. Time will tell ūüôā

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Brian is an accomplished guitar player covering both rhythm and lead variations, again with a soul music style about his play.

The bass guitarist Scott, provided the beat along with Håkan on drums and to be honest, when you added in the saxophone played by Noi, the sound was phenomenal, even before any vocals were applied.

It was evident that I was in the company of a proficient set of musicians.

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The band played a variety of well known tunes that had the audience’s feet tapping from the start.

But more was to follow when seventy-three year old John, arrived and gave the evening another dimension and the dance floor a purpose.

John loves to dance, especially to rock ‘n’ roll, which the band duly provided.

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Once John was on the floor, the ladies soon joined him much to the enjoyment of those in attendance.

Back to the band. They covered many famous and well known songs, from Motown and other soul and rock sources. INXS, The Blues Brothers, Chuck Berry, Johnny Otis, Johnny Kid and the Pirates, the Temptations, Rufus Thomas to name but a few of the artists covered by Brian and the the guys.

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The spectators were invited to join in during audience participation slots. Yes the old “na na na na na” permits everyone to take part, irrespective of what language you speak.

Overall, I was impressed by Brian and the Power and would happily venture out to see them again. I would recommend them to anyone who loves live music.

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I am always seeking good music shows, so if you know of any – get in touch. Pattaya only for obvious reasons, unless someone fancies taking me on a musical adventure ūüôā

Songkran 2017

I arrived in Thailand on April 12th, 2016, just in time for the Songkran celebrations, which commenced on the thirteenth of the month.

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What an experience it was too!

Arriving from Scotland, I was thrown in at the deep end as Thailand celebrated its New Year. And I have to confess, the Thai people know how to enjoy themselves and have fun.

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It was partly because of these festivities and one or two other lifestyle changes, that influenced my decision, not to take my return flight back to my homeland. It was time for me to try something new and I believed that I had discovered just the place to begin a new and exciting life.

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When I arrived I was in the company of a fellow Scot and his Thai lady, Kenny and May. Five weeks later, I was on my lonesome. But I managed fine, met knew friends, and of course met a fantastic woman. We hit if off immediately.

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Now one year on, It is Songkran again and I was desperate for the celebrations to get underway so that I could venture out with my camera. The first day was a huge disappointment however. There was a lack of bars participating in the event compared to last year, so the hunt for a suitable vantage point to shelter from the water games was not forthcoming.

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I sat in a bar overlooking the road but alas, I failed to achieve a clear view of the activities.

Today though, I went alone, found a line of bars on the beach that were all actively immersing people with water as they passed by. I chose somewhere as close as I dared to be, for the safety of my photography equipment. It is allegedly waterproof but I don’t like to chance my luck.

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I had my first beer in over a month in bar number one, took some photos and repeated my activity in two other bars close by. Thai people love to have their photo taken and will often approach me to enquire where they may see the photos later. My Facebook friends list grows constantly because of this.

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Once I had enough images, I walked through the small alleys, taking the hits from the mixture of welcoming warm water and the incredibly freezing cold wetness from the bars that added copious amounts of ice to their supplies.

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The look on people’s faces when they are suddenly saturated in ice cold water is truly worth seeing. It is however, a different experience when it happens to you. Remember it is 32 degrees in Pattaya when someone pours icy fluid down the back of your sweaty shirt. It certainly comes as a surprise!

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Songkran is the celebration of Thialand’s New Year and is a “must see” tourist attraction. It offers not only the water sports as I call it but there are parades with people being transported around on the back of lorries dressed as anything from sailors to Thai traditional dress.

Music blares from every bar participating and massive containers are alongside the venues to hold the water, which is dispensed over walkers either by small buckets or water guns.

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It is believed that the water washes away bad luck amongst other things. So when a Thai person pours water over your head, they are basically wishing you a Happy New Year and a prosperous future.

When a tourist does it, well its because they are being childish and joining in the fun. And it is highly entertaining for those who like to participate.

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Many expats, flee the country at Songkran because they hate the time of year. I prefer to endorse it and engage in it as much as possible. I will offer myself for target practice to any child with a water gun or bucket, then enjoy their huge grins as they see me grimace when I discover the water is Baltic.

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This, for me is Thailand. Songkran, the rural provinces with the rice fields, water buffalo and ladies adorned in traditional Thai dress, is what the country is all about.

So if you ever come to the “land of smiles” do it during Songkran. You may never go home again!

Ya Ya

I wandered into a bar to in Soi Lenkee on Saturday evening following the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

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I was chatting away to the owner, when she presented me with the opportunity to photograph one of the workforce and of course I just happened to have my trusted Nikon 750 with me, although the lens I was carrying, would not have been my first choice.

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Now I don’t need to be asked twice to photograph ladies.

I have enjoyed working with scores of models over the last ten years or so and I was not about to refuse an opportunity to photograph Ya Ya.

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Ya Ya is not your typical looking female it has to be said. With her short hair, tattoos and red dye over the top of her head, she stands out from the crowd. Her large eyes pull you in towards her as you shoot.

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Add to this the dark, almost black lipstick she wears, natural beauty and you have the making of a good model, even if it was only in a bar in Soi Lenkee, Pattaya.

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Ya Ya was a natural. She didn’t require much guidance from me although she was happy to take advice or pose as directed when called upon.

Even when asked to pose naturally as if I wasn’t there, she managed to pull the stances off perfectly. Many models simply cannot do this, which is odd in itself.

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She displayed no signs of nerves during what was only meant to be a couple of fun shots. However, I managed to take over fifty images of her in the space of fifteen minutes.DSC_8217

When I got home, I was amazed at how things had panned out and would love to see how she faired in a studio. Maybe one day soon!

I am still searching for a studio that I can hire in Pattaya but so far, it has been fruitless. Maybe with a bit of financial investment, and a business partner, I could possible set up own my own. And maybe – just maybe, Ya Ya could be the first to don the studio lights.

 

St. Patrick’s Day, Thai Style

Last Saturday, I took to Beach Road in Pattaya, to take in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. It was a scorcher of a day and at first I believed my information regarding the time the parade would commence was wrong.

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I popped into one of the many bars along Beach Road, trying to determine if the parade was past, had I missed it, was I early or was I even at the wrong location.

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After forty-five minutes, I gave up and decided to take my camera elsewhere.

I was only left the vicinity by ten minutes when I was informed it had started. I walked with great haste back to the beach in time to catch the procession.

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First to approach me were the bands and there were a few. There wasn’t a great deal of music being played as those involved paid homage to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away in 2016, having served just over seventy years and the nation’s monarch.

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They were followed by a number of disabled people, some in wheelchairs, others more able bodied but clearly physically or mentally impaired. This for me was one of the highlights. You have to give praise to the organisers, schools and institutions, who made this little piece of magic happen for those lovely people.

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Those who took part were clearly thrilled at their involvement and it was clear to see, they were having fun. One fellow passed me, waving as it to say “take my photo” as he clung to the the back of a vehicle that was slowly pulling him along.

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As always at any parade held in Thailand, you will find beautiful ladies involved. On Saturday, we were treated to the gorgeous Hooters and dance studio girls along with the ladies who passed by in traditional Thai dress.

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My favourite form of photography is working with people. Whether it is in a studio, a football match, a concert, a party or like this one, a parade. I am in my element with people to aim my lens at. I love nothing more that interacting with anyone who wishes to get in front of my camera.

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Thai people seem to adore having their photo taken and will happily stand and pose, even if it means holding up the parade – and they did just that, much to my pleasure.

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Of course we were treated to men, women and children dressed up in their green garbs, especially for the day, and with bright sunshine, the colours were enhanced as they wandered up the road.

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Lorries and cars decorated in a variety of diverse adornments were seen by the large crowds that had gathered. Cameras clicked away as the procession slowly worked its way towards Walking Street.

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There was of course the comical outfits too, which was matched by those who had spent hours or possibly days preparing for the event.

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It wasn’t quite as fabulous as the Buddha festivals I have attended but it was still something to behold and generated a lot of interest in the city.

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There are numerous Irish bars to be found in Pattaya, some of which I have frequented and had a grand time. I think every bar or bar owner had contributed in one way or another.

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I think overall, the children stole the show. The youngsters were obviously delighted to be taking part, and their huge smiles filled onlookers with delight.

So here’s hoping I live long enough and remain in the Kingdom of Thailand to see another St. Patrick’s Day or maybe even ten ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pattaya Beach Football

I was invited to attend and photograph the 12th Pattaya Beach Football Cup at Jomtien Beach in Pattaya, Thailand. If I am perfectly honest, it turned out to be something totally different from what I was expecting.

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I wrongly assumed that it would be a bunch of holiday makers, who were unfit, hungover, overweight and didn’t know one end of a football pitch from the other.

How wrong could I be?

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The real scenario was that many of the players were professional footballers and were here to win this cup. The mentality was serious.

The stamina and fitness was genuinely of a very high standard.

The skill levels on show were superlative. Many of the players were flown in especially for this tournament.

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Twelve nations were represented including the host nation Thailand along with Cameroon, Norway, Scotland, England, Germany, Russia, France, Italy, Finland, Ireland and my assigned country Holland.

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There was also a ladies competition, which pleased me, for as many of you will know, I used to work closely with women’s football in Scotland for over three years, so when I was made aware of the female game, I didn’t need much persuasion to give them some publicity.

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The opening ceremony was held, presented by the officials, sponsors and local dignitaries.

The teams entered the arena carrying their national flags. Many of the players at this point had not arrived but the ceremony took place regardless and was a success.

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Following the speeches and photographs, the competition got underway.

The tournament was split into two groups of six ,with the top two in each group progressing to the semi-finals.

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The first match I observed was between England and Germany, which culminated in great disappointment for me. I expected the German team to be exceptionally good but alas, the English played them off the park or in this case the sand.

It goes without saying that I am a lover of German football.

England dominated before running out easy winners in the end. Maybe next year the German team will offer a greater challenge.

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Still I was there to take photos and make videos, so I got on with the task.

Holland began with a win over Ireland. A respectable and close game of football but the Dutch were simply too strong for the Irish, who incidentally had a Scotsman from Peterhead in the squad.

I had a good old chinwag with the lad before the match.

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Day two and beyond saw the team in orange face other opposition in the form of France, Finland, and Russia. The Russians were, like Holland, well supported. The atmosphere was electric as Russia took a two goal lead. At this point I had the Russians down as clear favourites to win this match.

Not for the first time over the course of the tournament, I was to be proven wrong.

The Dutch came back to win the match scoring four times in the process. Relief all round!

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They then faced the team that had won the tournament for the previous six years – Norway.

Like all but one of their previous matches, Holland came back from a 2-0 deficit to win and earned their place in the semi-final against Thailand.

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Once again my adopted nation were slow out of the traps before overcoming the host nation.

I actually enjoyed watching Thailand play. They were well prepared, displayed exceptional adeptness with a ball and had a very athletic goalkeeper, whose agility was remarkable.

In the final they met the current champions Norway once more, who had disposed of Cameroon in a rather heated affair.

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So it was Holland v Norway in a repeat of last year’s finale, which of course the Norwegians won.

Could Holland defeat them twice in one week? Hundreds of people turned up hours in advance to discover who the victors would be.

Once more the Dutch fell behind early on and I wondered if this was a step too far. I mean how many times can one side come back from going behind to claim victory?

The Norwegians looked strong and once they took the lead, they settled, playing some good football. Their hearts were firmly set on winning that seventh title in a row.

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However team orange were not going to lie down and accept defeat without the usual fightback. And fightback they certainly did.

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Chances were missed at both ends before Holland finally equalised. Once they found the net, they began to dominate and control the game, eventually winning by a scoreline of four goals to one. A just result in my opinion. They had controlled the match with the majority of the play and took their chances in front of goal.

Norway desperately tried to come back. Even in the last minute and three goals behind, they drove forward in search of a goal. However it was not to be. Not this year.

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Over the piece Holland deserved their medals and cup for they fought hard, had a never say die attitude and were completely professional from the outset.

The competition’s top scorer, a chap called Ali, hit the net 20 times for Holland. An impressive achievement.

The final match was chaotic for photographers. The presentation was a frenzied affair as Camera men and women fought for space with people standing with mobile phones or small cameras.

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As a result, the images I obtained of the Dutch team receiving their trophies and medals were poor and I feel I let the guys down, through no fault of my own.

In the ladies competition, I was asked to do some photos for Planet Football, a local football academy in Pattaya.

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Now this side had the smallest squad of all the teams who had entered but their five or six girls put everything into their play and went on to win the trophy with relative ease.

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The ladies provided some wonderful entertainment, as these games were played in a more light hearted spirit but they engaged the crowd, who were engrossed in their matches as much as they were with the men’s.

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Now you cannot have a successful football competition without players but you also require supporters.

The organisers built three stands to accommodate the fans but this was not sufficient, such was the demand to watch this tournament.

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People were climbing scaffolding, which supported the floodlights. They stood behind the advertising boards, sat in the sand behind the goals or were squashed into a corner with minimalistic views.

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This did not deter them however as they create a deafening blare of chants and songs. Once again it was orange clad Dutch who stole the show but other nations got behind their team, even if it was in lesser numbers. Half a dozen Finnish ladies throats must have been sore from encouraging their side.

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The Russians were out in force to watch their countrymen too and of course the Thai’s, typically the ladies, could be heard screaming at any opportunity that their boys had to¬†score.

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Once again many thanks to Colin, the Dutch Manager for inviting me along and a congratulations to the organisers, who ensured the competition ran like clockwork.

My only criticism, if you could call it that – would be to increase the size of the venue to seat more people. Is that really a condemnation though? Of course not.

 

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This is a very popular event but I know people were leaving due to lack of seating. Success breeds success and my personal feeling is that another hundred seats would not go amiss. The event has the capability of becoming even more prosperous, so what not endorse and encourage this!

I would also have a dedicated press area, especially at the presentation. Fighting for space with a proud granny or wife is not fun lol.

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Following the presentation of the cups (and their were many), the Dutch team and countless¬†supporters walked the short distance to The Tulip House, which was one of the team’s sponsors. The bar provided entertainment for the ensuing party that was quite simply – amazing.

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With 90% of the people present being from Holland, it was a colourful, joyous event, with singing and dancing throughout the evening. These people know how to party and party they did!

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Sadly, having been on my feet for five hours, whilst carrying a heavy bag full of camera equipment, I was ready for my bed and I departed the scene of the celebrations earlier than I would have preferred. From a photographer’s point of view, the festivities would have provided some excellent shots. Having said that, I did get a few while I was there.

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I would like to end with what turned out to be a very important image for me. It was taken on the spur of the moment when I noticed a very thirsty young female player, drinking from a bottle of water but the majority of the water was not reaching her mouth. It appeared that she did not care either due to intense heat and thirst she was suffering from.

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I used the image to promote my Facebook Page and at the time of writing, it has been viewed by almost 17,000 people, liked by nearly 3000 people and attracted 1000 plus page likes in less than six days.

I have no idea who the girl is but I must offer my sincerest gratitude for making a wonderful image for me.

You can see the image above. I love it and I hope you do too.

I have just found out that the top scorer Ali, mentioned above, has been interviewed by a Dutch newspaper and they have asked permission to use some images. Many thanks to both the newspaper and Ali.

Also to all the people I met who encouraged and thanked me for the photos – I offer my sincerest gratitude.