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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Hua Hin, Thailand

I have, at the time of writing, lived in Pattaya, Thailand for ten months and I have enjoyed every minute my time here. The land of smiles has, for the most part, defeated my clinical depression to the point that I rarely have to rely on medication. Considering the many years I suffered from this debilitating illness, this is by no means something I claim lightly.

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Thailand is a beautiful country. I have hardly touched the surface of what it has to offer in terms of tourist attractions.

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I have visited Bangkok, Roi Et, Chantaburi and of course Pattaya I have travelled around on foot, bike and bus, to learn what the city of Pattaya has to offer. There is an abundance of must see and do tourist attractions in Chonburi Province. It is not just Walking Street I can assure you.

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I was afforded the opportunity to visit the town of Hua Hin on the opposite side of the Gulf of Thailand when the new passenger ferry services came into operation early January 2017.

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The ferry is of a catamaran design and glides over the waves at an average speed of 27 knots or 30mph. Security is high at both sides with airport style scanners and searches before you are permitted into the waiting areas.

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The staff are polite and helpful at the ports of Pattaya and Hua Hin. They even salute their passengers as they depart the ship.

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The ticket allocation was a bit of a disaster on the outward bound trip but the staff handled the situation well and we were actually given premium seats as an alternative to the ones paid for.

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The journey takes around two hours and is effortless. We booked business class for that little bit of additional comfort. The extra cost is minimal and worth paying for a tranquil area, with padded seating and free coffee during the trip.

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Upon arrival in Hua Hin, it was evident that the traffic was nowhere near as chaotic as the city of Pattaya, where everyone appears to be in a hurry and lacking patience. My new home city is well known for its accidents and deaths on its roads. Hua Hin was far more relaxed. People travel with less haste and display superior commonsense. The roads were in better condition too, and even had pavements on most of them. Hard to believe but it is true!

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There were plenty of tourists but the majority are older married couples. There are no Go-Go Bars to be found in Hua Hin and although it does have a fair sized area of sexy bars, it is not in your face the way it is in Pattaya.

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There is also a large ladyboy contingent within these bars and I found it difficult to tell who was and who was not a ladyboy. There are many gay men, the camp type too. However, none of this should put you off visiting these bars.

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There is fun and hilarity and non stop entertainment to be had, for these people know how to enjoy themselves and never force themselves on to anyone. They simply enjoy their work and put a lot of effort into assuring the customer is happy. We had a fantastic time singing and dancing along with the bar staff.

 

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I found the prices higher than in Pattaya, which was surprising. From a can of coke being six baht dearer to the average meal being 25% higher.

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There is no bin to hold your drinks bill in, so you have no idea how much you are spending till you ask for the bill. I prefer the Pattaya method, where I can check the contents of the bin and see how much I have to pay at any time.

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The town has much to offer its visitors. The Hua Hin Safari is a must. It has Elephant Rides/Shows, Cobras and Crocodile Events and much more.

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The highlight for me however, were the tigers. Not any old tigers here. No drugs are used, for there is no requirement. No these are babies. You can handle a four week old cub and have your photo taken with it. You can bottle feed an eight month old tiger, which is a massive creature and not much smaller than the parents. Lie down beside them and rub their belly, let their rough tongues run over your leg or arm.

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This is an amazing experience and one that you should do. It is not cheap, costing around £25 but it is probably a once in a lifetime experience and if the truth be told, I would have paid £50 to get close to these animals. You can spend as much or as little time with the tigers as you wish. There is no one rushing you or asking you to move on.

The temples around the town are awesome and again, you have to visit Wat Huay Mongkol Temple for instance or the seven kings statues at Rajabhakti Park.

Another truly inspiring and exceptional place is Monkey Mountain. As the title suggests this is a mountain featuring an abundance of monkeys, that you really can get up close and personal with.

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You can purchase food and stand amongst them as they climb all over you to access the edibles. You will do well to retain ownership of the bucket of fruit for more than 45 seconds, for they will climb up your body, sit on your head and basically turn the bucket upside down and empty its contents on the ground. Great videos and photos to be obtained here.

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There is a Floating Market, which I found disappointing in comparison to the equivalent in Pattaya, for there were no boats in the water, shepherding customers around. They were present but there was no one to take you out on the water. Maybe it was their day off, who knows. The market itself is very good but that one aspect let it down.

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We spent three days in the town and had an absolute ball. The people are friendly, there is plenty to do and restaurants galore. Some of the eating places are excellent and they are always chokablok with diners.

Taxis are slightly different in Hua Hin. They have the traditional Tuk Tuk, which is not available in Pattaya. They have the standard Taxi Meter cars but not so many. They also have what I can only describe as a small, unstable looking van, with the back removed and replaced by open railings.

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They have baht bus style taxis but these only have eight seats as opposed to the twelve of Pattaya and of course there are taxi bikes and private cars too. Oh and the cycle rickshaw is also to be found in Hua Hin.

Fishing plays a large part of the local life in Hua Hin. From small boats to individuals collecting crabs in the sea. There is plenty of evidence at the markets too where a multitude and vast variety of fish can be purchased.

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My biggest regret from this trip was losing two memory cards with over 500 images that unless I revisit the town, cannot be replaced.

For this reason I have had to use photos from the places we visited to populate this post and for that I apologise.

I did have a walk along one of the many quiet beaches, where I snapped fishermen at work, children frollicking in the sea and enjoyed the tranquility on a very hot and humid day.

Hua Hin is a town I will return to, hopefully before I depart Thailand. A one day trip is all I need to obtain the images I have lost. The ferry and hotel will be under 3000 baht. My personal taxi cost me around 2000 baht on my last outing and food possibly 1500 baht. So adding it all up, £150 will cover another trip to this fabulous town.

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Oh and £25 to hold those baby tigers!

Please note that the images without my logo on them were not taken by me and utilised from Hua Hin sources. Thanks to those who captured the scenes.

 

 

Jerry Lee At Murphy’s

Following on from Jerry Lee Carlson’s gig at the Robin Hood Tavern on Tuesday, Jerry played Murphy’s Irish Pub in what is commonly known as “The Darkside” area of Pattaya, which is basically anything east of Sukhumvit Road. This area of Pattaya is classed as the non-tourist region but the truth be known, there is a large contingency¬†of expats living and loving life in the Darkside.

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On Friday evening I arrived at the venue for my second helping of rock ‘n’ roll from Mr. Carlson and was pleasantly surprised.

If I am perfectly honest, I expected the pub to be “run down” or “rough” due it’s location but I was wrong, very wrong!

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In fact the picture of the Darkside painted to me by many people is erroneous in so many ways. I noticed a number of venues along the street, whilst driving past or walking by, all of which were admirable assets to the city.

I was in a few bars asking for directions and found the staff and customers in each one, to be friendly and welcoming. It is Pattaya after all, what more could one expect?

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But not only was Murphy’s a modern, stylish bar, it had two swimming pools, excellent food and a large rectangular bar in the centre. It was immaculately in appearance and busy with customers, many who had come along specifically for the gig.

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The crowd were a mixture of young and old, westerners and Thais, all enjoying the excellent delicacies served by the bars kitchen and supping on bottles or draught beers.

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I found the staff to be polite and courteous, always serving you with a smile and nothing was too much trouble for them. Within an hour, I knew most of their names, mainly because they were happy to get involved with my camera and had name tags on their shirts.

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Jerry appeared ¬†donning a gold jacket and began to blow the audience away. It was instantly noticeable that the quality of the sound was unparalleled to previous gigs. It was superb! ¬†No disrespect to other venues of course. The Hood gig was fantastic too but for some reason, the Murphy’s event¬†sounded so much better.

It was the same show, the same entertainer but it was different!

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I later discovered that the management had went out that very afternoon and purchased new equipment specifically for Jerry’s show. The speakers and amp were brand spanking new and at great expense to the bar.

It was paying off for the audience were singing, clapping their hands, stomping their feet and just like the previous gig in central Pattaya, we had a dancer or two.

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Jerry is a master on a keyboard and his audience was in awe of his talent. His vocals are¬†remarkably akin to the rock ‘n’ roll star, almost mimicking the legend that is Jerry Lee Lewis, with¬†even his stage act surprisingly¬†like¬†his champion. He has Jerry Lee Lewis down to a tee.

Obviously he has honed his skills over many years with the result being a polished performance for Murphy’s audience.

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Great balls of fire, Whole lotta shakin’, Folsom Prison Blues, Little Queenie, I saw her standing there and many more legendary songs were sang, accompanied by his pumping piano style, much to the audience’s delight.

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I was in heaven, for here I was doing the two things in life that give me extreme pleasure. Photography and rock ‘n’ roll.

Jerry produced two sets, which included a costume change, before closing his show, although those watching were determined to keep him there for as long as possible. I can’t recall if it was four or five encores but when you have that many, it doesn’t matter too much.

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The man was on fire and had the crowd eating out of his hand.

A bit of Lewis Boogie, Johnny B. Goode, Rock Around The Clock, Hound Dog, High School Confidential and even some country music were thrown into the mix.

After the show, as always, he walked around meeting and chatting with the guests, posing for photos and even signing autographs.

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You can tell when an act is good by the audience’s reactions but it says a lot more when the venue immediately offers you another evening two days later. So Jerry was playing at Murphy’s again on Sunday night.

This time I went along for a meal beforehand. A Steak and Guinness Pie to help soak up the alcohol.

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The Sunday show was unplanned, with little time to advertise the fact the he was playing, which resulted in a smaller crowd but this did not hinder the showman that is Jerry Carlson from putting on another sublime show of rock ‘n’ roll classics, nor did it prevent those watching from enjoying themselves.

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Many people could not believe what they were observing. People shook their heads in disbelief as the intimacy of the smaller crowd, permitted clearer views of the man and his adeptness of a piano’s keyboard.

He invited people to come closer. Of course I do not require much encouragement, for I was already crouched in front of the man.

To get up close and personal with such a talented musician is indeed a pleasure. For me, there were no restrictions. I was in front of him. I roamed freely around his vicinity, snapping images till my heart was content.

The flash had to be used but he was so deep into his performance he did not blink. True professionalism.

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Again, I was given the freedom of the bar to take as many photos as I desired. Not one person refused to take part and as a result, the bar and Jerry got some excellent images to remind them of two spectacular shows.

So overall, it was a superb week of music for me, great crack with old and new friends alike and the food was top drawer too, in both venues.

Pattaya needs more music like this. Whether it’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, Soul, Blues or any other music genre; the city requires; in fact¬†demands to be served by acts like Jerry Lee Carlson.

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So let’s hope that Murphy’s and other suitable venues begin to bring us great entertainers for us to enjoy, after all, that new sound system has to pay its way.

A huge thanks to Steve and his staff for looking after me and my friends over the two evenings. Truly appreciated.

Thanks also to the twelve friend who came along with me over the two nights.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Darkside area of Pattaya and would like to visit Murphy’s Irish Pub, either for music, food or just to sample the many beers, click the links below.

You will have a great experience.

Click for Murphy’s Irish Bar’s Facebook Page

A Night At Cloud9 Bar

A good friend of mine requested that I should come along to Cloud9 Bar on Wednesday 28th of December to say farewell to a long standing member of staff. I happily agreed and suggested I could capture the moment for ning on camera.

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Ning is a comical girl who always has a smile on her face and will often be seen laughing and joking with the customers. So it was a no brainer when I was invited along.

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The bar itself sits on Soi 15 off Soi Buakhao, one of the most popular streets in Pattaya. It is a modern bar, which has had a fair bit of money spent on it before it opened for business about six months ago.

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There is an excellent pool table, which caters not only for guests of the bar but for the pool team too, which plays in the local league competitions.

Large screen TVs dominate the walls, showing a mixture of football or other sports and music videos, which are diverse, catering for most tastes.

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The staff are friendly, offer a fast and reliable service and more importantly, do not hassle the customer in anyway.

For the party, the bar laid on free food, which was a mixture of Thai and western cuisine and was very palatable.

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There was also a surprise Birthday for Ning’s¬†boyfriend, which added to the evening’s entertainment.

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The alcohol in Cloud9 is incredibly cheap, possibly the cheapest in town. I am told other bars in the area match their prices but I have yet to find another one that keeps the prices as low as Cloud9.

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My lady and I had a grand time, meeting new people from around the globe. There were many hilarious moments, mainly from two Australian chaps, who were comedians in their own right.

And of course, there was ample opportunities for photographic purposes, which is my passion. Many of you will be aware if you follow my Blog, Facebook Page or Flickr.

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If you are in Soi Buakhao, give the bar a visit. Your wallet will thank you for it later ūüôā

A final note to a special lady – Ning, I hope you enjoy your early retirement. You will be missed by all at Cloud9.

The Corner House Bar

On Christmas Day I was invited to attend Christmas lunch at the Corner House Bar in Rompho in the city of Pattaya. I didn’t intend to venture far for Yuletide but I decide to take my friend up on his offer. I also took up the option of taking my camera with me.

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I have been in The Corner House a few times previously and always found it a friendly place to have a drink or an inexpensive meal, so I knew roughly what to expect.

Upon arrival, I sat outside, for in Thailand Christmas is a warm event. The sun was splitting the skies as the temperature peaked at around 33 degrees, unlike the cold wintry Crimbos I am accustomed to in my homeland of Scotland. a pleasant change indeed.

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The bar is situated at the corner of the Rompho Market Complex in Jomtien and is one of the first you will observe as you approach the area from Jomtien Beach. It has ample seating inside and out or you can sit on a bar stool within the bar and enjoy the sun as you watch the world go by. It has two open sides, which contributes to its spaciousness, with ambient lighting giving it a homely feel.

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You will be welcomed by friendly and courteous staff, who will serve you swiftly but will never hassle you in anyway. Press the bell for service and the girls will appear, take your order, delivering it to your table posthaste and always with a smile.

There are TVs suspended from the ceiling or walls as the bar offers live football and other sporting events for the customer to peruse whilst enjoying a cold beer.

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The Corner House serves excellent food from a small but varied menu, which is very affordable. The food is delicious and portions are on the large side.

If you fancy a game of pool, there is an excellent pool table in the bar and I am told the pool team is rather good.

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So back to Christmas lunch. Turkey is something I am not a huge fan off, unless it is for Christmas lunch or dinner. My food was well presented and looked mouthwatering. As I sampled my first piece of white meat, I was in heaven. The turkey breast was moist and cooked to perfection. The brown meat matched the breast for taste and quality, mixed with succulent potatoes and trimmings.

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I had of course been working the camera before and had watched with interest how the staff dealt with the high demand, seeing as the bar was sold out for Xmas lunches. They worked their socks of attending to their customers. The kitchen staff, the waitresses and bar girls all toiled in the heat of the moment to ensure that every customer was a happy one.

The bar had a DJ playing a mixture of Christmas tunes and assorted songs covering most genres. However the music was never overpowering, with the volume set so that people could enjoy each others company.

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What truly amazed me, was the diversity of the people in attendance. The majority were from the UK or Australia but it wasn’t single men. The bar had attracted families from the age of seven through to people in the sixties or seventies.

The was an extended table, which had twelve people seated at it, all English, all ages and with one intention; to enjoy themselves.

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The Corner House has a fantastic laid back and friendly atmosphere within good surroundings.

So if you are ever in Rompho and you fancy a quiet drink or a luscious meal or even to take in a football match on TV, then give The Corner House Bar a visit. You will not be disappointed.

Walking Street may be the place for wild nights out but The Corner House offers an alternative that is often desireable. This is a venue where everyone is welcome.

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The Floating Market

Pattaya’s Floating Market was a venue that I had walked past many times but delayed visiting because many people told me it was either rubbish or a waste of money.

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However, I wasn’t particularly interested in what it had to sell me but more what it had to offer me as a photographer. These two things are a world apart as far as I am concerned and so after six months of living here, I finally took the decision to go and see what, if anything, this unknown place could extend to¬†me.

First impressions were easy. 200 Baht in a taxi or ¬£4 in UK terms and 200 Baht entry fee. You can do your own math to convert from Baht to Pounds for the entry fee ūüôā

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Nom got in free as she is Thai, which I could argue that I live here but for 200 Baht, I was never going to do so.

When you enter the market, the first impression is how creaky the wooden walkways are and the amount of timber used to create the buildings, for it is just wooden buildings supported by beams and stilts on water with a murky appearance.

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There are shops everywhere selling the normal touristy items, clothing, hats and so on. Then you have the food retailers, who will peddle everything from an apple to a coconut.

There are restaurants to be found all around the market, offering a variety of produce, cooked to your liking.

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There are coffee shops dispensing both hot and iced drinks with the latter being absolutely necessary due to the humidity.

Along the many sidewalks you will find bridges leading to other areas, some of which move freely as you traverse them. One in particular is a rope bridge, with wooden slats, which sways from side to side as you advance along its narrowness. Daunting at first but you soon get used to it.

Humpback bridges offer good views and photo opportunities as the boat people sail beneath you.

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You can of course pay extra to travel around the market in one of the many boats if you so desire.

There is also a zip slide, which sort of baffled me by its presence but it did seem popular on the day.

Oddly enough there is a British phone box situated in the centre, although it is painted blue as opposed to our traditional red ones from days gone by.

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We spent approximately 90 minutes walking around the many shops, stopped for an iced coconut drink and freezing cold coffee as we attempted to rehydrate ourselves and I even purchased some socks. Yes I did say socks. Good quality trainer socks for walking purposes.

If shopping is your thing, you could easily spend a day here, so for value for money, it is not too bad at all.

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The highlight for me however was a small caged area full of macaws, parrots, a deer, a giant tortoise and some rabbits. Now apart from the birds I couldn’t get to grips with what the other creatures presence was for but the macaws and parrots were a dream discovery.

As we entered the arena, the birds immediately landed all over us, perched on heads, shoulder, cameras, bags and hands. We bought some food to attract them but there was clearly no need for their curiosity brought them to you anyway.

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Nom featured in many of the images as she was in her element handling the birds. Her beauty and the colours of our feathered friends delivered, in my opinion some fantastic photos.

We spent at least 30 minutes in this enclosure before I noticed the flying creatures had wrecked my camera bag with their beaks. I knew they were on it and thought nothing of it but then we spotted the mischief they had been up to.

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The tassels had been removed from the zips, all 14 of them, making it difficult to open and close the pockets and compartments. Who would have thought the beak of a parrot could be so dexterous and proficient at destroying a camera bag.

When the food ran out they began nibbling at our ears and fingers, which was more irritating than painful but occasionally a yelp could be heard as they bit down just a tad too hard. This shriek was more often than not from me ūüôā

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We decided enough was enough and left for a cold drink.

On route I came across a chap making music by rubbing the tops of wine glasses. Now I have witnessed this before but it was his appearance that grabbed my attention, for he was the spitting image of one Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean!

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Not only did he resemble the pirate but he wasn’t too bad on those wine glasses either, producing a pleasing version of The Beatles song Hey Jude.

Further along we walked over yet more bridges, waved at the many tourists travelling in the boats and browsed an ever increasing number of shops selling shoes or wallets or some other commodity that would interest a curious tourist.

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Was it worth the trip?

Well to be honest, I would have paid for the birds alone. They were fascinating, charming creatures that provided me with ample photos from my day out.

Without the birds – well yes I would still have found some things of interests to take photographs off, for the market has much to offer the world of art.

If I had no interest in photography it may have been a let down for me as I am not really one for browsing my way around shops or window shopping.

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The tourists present seemed to be enjoying themselves though, so based on that I would say, if you are in Pattaya, it is a cheap day out and one you should probably undertake.

I believe the images on display are pretty much self explanatory so I will will leave you with my favourite photo from the day.

I was on Facebook using the “Live” feature when a beautiful yellow parrot flew onto my phone. I quickly raised my trusty Nikon D750 and captured the bird, nibbling on my iPhone as I filmed another bird resting on my head.

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This image alone made my day worthwhile.

You can see the entire collection from The Floating Market by clicking here.

If you wish to visit the market it is on Sukhumvit Road and is open from 09:00 till 20:00 at the time of posting.

 

 

Pattaya At Night

Most of my images so far from Thailand have been taken during the daytime when half the city is asleep. By this I mean those who work in the entertainment industry.

This is of course is what the city is famous throughout the world for but is nothing like it is portrayed as. Yes of course there are bars where you can see pretty girls dancing naked and despite prostitution being illegal, you can pay girls to spend the night with you.

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But you should be aware that the lady and you are entering a personal agreement not you and the bar you met her in. I will also point out that 99% of the girls are brilliant. They are normal human beings and in my opinion deserve a lot more respect that they receive. You will find a bad apple in any walk of life but be careful, act sensibly and respectfully and you will enjoy this wonderful city and its night time activities. Plus there are some awesome music venues, pool bars and restaurants to be found.

Girls flock here for work in the way that tourists come in their droves for fun. But unlike other countries, it is not as seedy because the ladies who work the bars here are doing so to provide food, schooling, medical care and clothes for their children or to send money home to their parents, who will live, more often than not, hundreds of miles away, usually¬†looking after the girl’s babies.

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It is a very different way of life from what us westerners are accustomed to.

I have deliberately avoided posting images of the workers from the touristy Walking Street or LK Metro because I see no need to do so. There are thousands of images available on the internet and websites that will provide you with all the information you require. Most are excellent and informative and worth reading before coming to Thailand.

My posting today is for photography purposes only.

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The top image is taken from The Pattaya Beer Garden¬†and features the Pattaya City sign. Unfortunately the “CITY” part was not illuminated for reasons unknown to me, I guess a fault in the wiring due to the heavy rainfall we have here during the wet season. But I still like it, with the reflections on the water adding interest to the photo.

The second one is of the same sign but taken from Bali Hai Pier, which is much closer to the point of interest. Again the lights are reflecting on the surface of the sea and the colours have changed as they do every few seconds.

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Some evenings there is a laser show. I have yet to determine where it is coming from but various coloured beams of light shoot up into the night sky and would make a spectacular photograph. One for another evening I hope.

Sunsets. Something an old friend, who recently passed away, loved to capture, often along the beaches of Ayrshire or the mountains of Glencoe in Scotland. He introduced me to sunsets and as such I still make the odd attempt to snap them wherever possible. On this occasion I have to confess to cheating slightly. Although we were 30 minutes away from darkness, I forced the mood and lighting by altering the ISO and Shutter Speed of the camera to produce the effect of the sun going down. It also fabricated the silhouettes of those playing beach volleyball.

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My next offering was taken at Jomtien Night Market, a stones throw from the volleyball players. Basically it is across the road. This was my first visit to the market, which is a small, compact offering with an abundance of stalls selling a diverse array of food and the normal clothes and touristy items. Well worth a visit if you are in the Jomtien area.

Back to Walking Street. I was heading from Bali Hai to the Pattaya Beer Garden for dinner, when I passed this youngster with her hula hoops, doing her act in the hope of visitors dropping 20 Baht into her tip box. Coming from the UK, I am wary when photographing children, so I asked Nom to check it was OK to do so.

Now it was not the girls looks nor her expertise with a hula hoop that was bringing in the tips. It was her adeptness for shouting out “I love you” to passers by who simply fell for her cuteness and in turn placed money in her tin.

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I will end this post with an image, which was again taken from the Beer Garden. Whilst not having a tripod with me to make use of slow shutter speeds and thus avoiding camera shake, I utilised the wooden beams around the restaurant to rest the camera on to get this one. It features Seazone, which by all accounts is a wonderful seafood restaurant on Walking Street. This of course is to the rear of Walking Street. As you can see, it is a busy place.

Dont forget to follow me by hitting the button on the righthand side of the blog. You will find links to my facebook page and a contact sheet, should you desire to do so.

My next post will feature the wet season. Rain, rain and more rain.

Thailand – The Beginning

On April 2016, I made one of the most important decisions of my life. I decided it was time for a new chapter to my humble existence, for I was lonely and bored of my tedious lifestyle in Scotland.

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I travelled with a friend from Stranraer who had been going back and forward to Thailand for a number of years and he took the planning and hard work out of my trip, which to be honest was proposed as a holiday with a view of remaining in the country if I settled. I knew within three days that I was not returning to the UK.

I secured a Retirement Visa and have been living in Pattaya ever since.

I have an abundance of stories and photos to share and will endeavour to bring as many to my blog as possible to maintain the blog.

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This initial post is merely to deliver and update to¬†the blog as I haven’t been posting for sometime. The first image is taken from Pattaya Bay, whilst returning by ferry from the Island of Koh Lan. Anyone who has visited the wonderful city of Pattaya will be familiar with the sign, which is photographed more often than not at night and I will post nighttime images soon.

Next is a photo that depicts the old and the new. Pattaya is a city that is based on both traditional and modern life. For instance you can enjoy amazing street food, cooked over hot ashes, often from a motorbike and sidecar. The flavours can be mindblowing. Then you have the contemporary city with its skyscrapers and modern shopping malls. For me though, the real Pattaya is the older timeworn and antiquated buildings and transport such as the sailing vessel above. Once again this was taken in Pattaya Bay.

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I mentioned food. This image was snapped as a friend was enjoying traditional Thai food. I like the Bokeh and clarity of the fork and squid.

Food in this country is high on the agenda for every Thai. The locals eat more often than westerners in general and their portions are huge, yet there are very few overweight Thais to be found. Their diet consists mainly of spicy seafood and what I call “jungle”. My girlfriend will enjoy five or six large meals per day and yet there is nothing of her.I eat once or twice and I sit here writing this dross, looking like a beached whale in comparison. Her favourite delicacy is Papaya Salad – an immensely hot jungle based offering. You do not want to kiss someone who has just eaten this.

Food is cheap. She can eat for under 100 Baht (£1) while I can enjoy western food for between £3 and £5. Going to a decent restaurant and having a meal for two and a beer or two will normally be under £10 or 500 Baht. The food is delicious in most instances and even if like me, you cannot eat jungle or very spicy food, there is an abundance of western establishments that will cater for your needs.

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Now Pattaya is an amazing city and I enjoy long walks traversing the streets and smaller sois. I often get myself lost but the people are so friendly and welcoming that I never feel threatened or in any danger.

The image above is taken from the 55 floor Pattaya Park Tower, a major tourist attraction in the city. The tower has three revolving restaurants, which I have to confess, I have not tried so cannot pass comment on them but I am told they offer excellent cuisine. It also has a zip slide which can be seen in the image below, featuring my Grandson who came for a holiday.

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It looks a lot scarier than it actually is. The initial departure is daunting but the slide itself is slow, allowing you to take in the excellent panoramic views as you coast down.

The park surround the tower consists of swimming pools, a monorail, a couple of theme park rides, snooker tables, jogging routes, water slides and numerous hotels and shops. Well worth a visit if you are here.

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Next we have a view taken once more from the top of the tower. The two buildings on the bottom right are the location of my first condo when I arrived here. Although the city is vast it is well spread out and not as busy as its near neighbour Bangkok.

I say near neighbour but it is actually around 75 miles away and the location of Suvarnabhumi Airport, where I landed, following a 13 hour flight via Dubai. To give you an idea how affordable this country is, I travelled from Bangkok to Pattaya for £20. Try travelling 75 or 80 miles in the UK and see how much it costs you. My guess would be £100-£150 plus.

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My lovely girlfriend Pranom, whom I met in June 2016, took me to the city and province of Roi Et to meet her family and see Thailand away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy Pattaya. This image was taken knee deep in the mucky waters of the rice fields.

On the same day I watched an elderly lady produce cloth on an archaic loom, a man milk his cows by hand and water buffalo chilling in the cooler waters of the rice fields.

I also took some fantastic photos of a massive Buddha parade, which I will show in another post.

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The Thais love their religion and Royal Family. Of course it was heartbreaking when the news broke of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s passing a few days ago. The revered king was 88 when he died and the country is now in a state of mourning. His majesty was the longest serving head of state at the time of his death. He was so highly thought of here that people openly cried in the streets when they heard of the sad news.

The Buddhist Temples such as the one above in the Province of Roi-Et were jammed full as people prayed for their King.

On a happier note, there are gorgeous temples everywhere in Thailand, which are well worth a visit for the tourist. Some of these buildings are spectacular Рa must see.

27332923381_2fad80f292_k¬†Now Thailand has what is known as the wet or rainy season and flooding is a daily event in some parts of the country. We are currently enjoy the said season now. I say “enjoying” because the thunderstorms and atmospheric, electrifying events, usually featuring deafening thunder and sheet lightning shows. So my image above is a rarity in that it contains fork lightning.

I had noticed the flashing show from my balcony and decided to give it a go. Could I capture the electrical display? Well I did but it took me over an hour to do so, always missing by a split second.

The rain of course is another matter. Once the skies open, the streets become rivers in minutes. It could be a few inches or it could be two or three feet in depth. Cars and motorbikes are stranded, although why you would even attempt to ride a motorbike is beyond me.
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I will cover the weather and transport in a following post, not to mention the stories of everyday sightings that will leave you amazed.

The couple above are yours truly and my beautiful lady Nom. We have been together four months now and have at the time of writing never spent any time apart.

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This one is taken at a recent trip to the Floating Market, which again I will cover in more depth in a later post.

I will leave you for now with the knowledge that Thailand is the land of the free. Everyone is accepted here. Whether you are gay, lesbian, ladyboy, transvestite or just plain weird, you will be welcomed.

No one gives a monkeys what you are.

The people are happy, although in the main – poor. Their friendliness has to be seen to be believed. The respect they show their elders used to be found in the UK back in the so called “Olden Days”. The bars are fantastic and again I will cover the Go-Go bars, my favourite haunt Rompho and much more as I play catch up.

Finally one of my favourite photos. This one was taken as a parrot nibbled my phone which was live on Facebook, filming other birds. I held my Nikon D750 in my other hand and snapped away.

I hope you enjoyed this post and will come back and read more of my antics in Thailand – a beautiful country with amazing people.

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