Saturday, October 21, 2017

Rainy Day In Bangkok

Raining a lot in Bangkok these days.

Rainy Day In Bangkok, October 21, 2017

HF3535 Camera Latest Pictures

While I am in Thailand the build of my HF3535 camera continues in the Czech Republic. Filip the cameras builder had to delay the construction of the two HF3535 cameras he is making (one for me) because he hurt his right hand badly several months back. I will receive my HF3535 camera plus reducing backs, holders etc. on my return to Canada in April-May 2018.

I will need to use added tripod support on the front standard as I will be using will be very very heavy lens. The more compact folding design thou and relative light weight of this huge ULF 35x35 inch camera should make traveling the country at an advanced age more likely, more possible. At least that's my hope! This is all risky business, not sure my crazy "KANATA" wet plate plan will work, but what the f-ck you only live once, why not take some chances. I do not gamble, drink, smoke, do drugs etc. Got to take my chances and spend my doe somehow, making photos in a crazy way fits that bill. Photography gives me the high of highs.

Am quite excited by my HF3535, thanks so much Filip for your hard work.

Ain't She Beautiful! Ain't Photography Grand!!!!
"KANATA" Related Blog Stories

HF3535 Camera Body In The Czech Republic

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bought My Bus Ticket To Mae Sot

Went down to the bus station tonight and bought my VIP bus ticket for Mae Sot. The ticket cost 580 baht ($22 CAD). For the first time I will be leaving from Bangkok in the morning and be traveling all day. I chose the daytime option because I wanted to avoid waiting around Bangkok all day with 2 heavy bags and one overloaded backpack. I can now wake up early on the 22nd and go straight to the bus station from my hotel . The trip to Mae Sot should be 8 or 9 hours long with a meal part of the way through.

I have also been looking at the flying option to and from Mae Sot via Nok (Bird) Air. A one way ticket seems to run around 1999 baht (76 CAD), but can be a bit higher or lower. My iPad Nok Air app gives me a wide variety of pricing when I do various searches. The big advantage of air travel of course is the time the trip takes. The bus to Mae Sot takes 8 or 9 hours, a plan? 1 hour! You pay about 4 times the price but end up saving 7 or 8 hours. It is probably a lot safer as well, bus travel within Thailand can be quite dangerous.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Possible Mae Sot Room-$283 CAD A Month?

I found  2 rooms in Mae Sot,  cost of the rent would be 4000 baht a month plus "Elec. =8.-THB/unit Water =20.- THB/unit." with a minimum 3 month stay. There is a 6000 baht refundable damage deposit as well. With power and water added to the 4000 baht, the total cost per month might be between 6500 baht and 7500 baht. 7500 baht equals $283 CAD a month.

These photos are from the 2 different rooms, one is on the main floor of the apartment complex the other on the 4th floor with no lift (elevator). The location is quite good, and the rooms as you can see are quite big, 2 rooms plus a bathroom and small balcony. Each room includes a bathroom with hot water shower, TV with cable, free WIFI, air conditioning, small kitchen with sink, fridge, balcony, microwave.

These rooms are rather basic from a  spoiled Canadian persons perspective but the equivalent of living like a king- superstar from the "Families of the Dump" point of view. I might take the 4th floor room with no lift just to push myself physically. It would be quite difficult to climb those stairs loaded down with camera gear at the end of a long days shooting in the dump and elsewhere. I lived in a 7th floor room with no lift back in 1999 for 10 months when I stayed in Bangkok, of course I was 35 back then not 53. Another advantage of the 4th floor room is that it might be a bit more secure and safe. Will go see the rooms and make a choice on the 23rd or 24th.

I am quite happy with the options I should have. The rooms seem clean, relatively cheap, and have good light. I have always valued nice light in the places I stay, it makes everything so much more beautiful and less depressing.

Note* I would buy a portable butane stove to do some cooking on in the apartment kitchen, boil an egg, make noodles etc. With only one apartment in Mae Sot and eating at home sometimes, my trip costs will go way down.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Facebook: The Greatest Massage Of My Life

So tonight..I went for my 4th 2 hour massage in the 6 days I have been in Bangkok. I went to my normal massage place in the hotel but all the women were working and only men massage workers were available. I have only had one massage before from a guy in my life and it was OK not great not bad. I was not really into having a guy give me a massage again. Like most hetro-straight males having lady massage you is always more appealing than a man. The hotel I am staying at has a large gay clientele, probably 80% or more of their customers. The men working the hotels traditional massage business (not sex massage) do a variety of messages, traditional Thai massage (my choice) for 1 or 2 hours, foot massages for 1 or 2 hours, Oil massages, Swedish massages and 3 or 4 other exotic types of massages. I decided thou to give the guy masseuse a try. I thought he might be stronger massage than the middle aged ladies who had done my first 3 massages. This turned out to be a great decision. The man was about 30 years old gave me a great frickin massage!! His name is Karn, I plan on going back to him at some future date. He worked very hard and gave me a very powerful massage, stretching and pulling, using his hands, arms, elbows, feet and legs to massage me. He gave me a back and back leg massage of well over 1 hour, even walking on my back and legs, stretching and pulling the arms, fingers, legs, toes etc.Twisting and stretching my back etc. He even massaged the back of my head-hair for 10 minutes or so. Tonight Karn gave me the BEST MASSAGE OF MY LIFE..I gave him a big tip of 200 baht (500 baht to the shop) and he was very happy. I got his name card and plan to call on him again the next time I do a massage at the shop. Note* I plan to go to Mae Sot and the dump on October 22nd, time to get to work and stop this life of luxury!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Great Day At AIRLAB In Bangkok

I got introduced to a wonderful place and some wonderful people today at a company called "Airlab". If you are in Bangkok, I recommend you visit, a great place to get your film both color and b/w developed as well.
From my FACEBOOK post.

Had a wonderful day at AIRLAB in Bangkok. Thank you Jo and Bob for your great hospitality. You made my day. I got to see a wonderful photographic oasis, got to meet some great people, got to play with camera gear, and got some instruction on the wet plate process (thanks Jo). A near perfect day, even managed to navigate the BTS system (sky train) and MRT system (subway) on my own. Here are some photos from the day.

Jo working in wet plate darkroom at AIRLAB Bangkok, Oct 2017

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Lazy Day-Massage Thoughts

I left the hotel only one time today, go to the 7/11 half a block away to buy some 0% sugar Cola, some bread and a few meats. Got to have my late night snacks!

The rest of the day was complete relaxation and restfulness. I feel a bit guilty, but heck, sometimes you got to lay on your ass and take it easy :).

Some of the days highlights.
- Woke up 430am, wrote a blog (hotel room photos) did a bit of face-booking.
- Called home, mom was upset tried to cheer her up.
- Had a breakfast of 2 eggs, steak (kinda, Thais do weird things with beef), 2 pieces of toast, jam, butter, orange juice and hot tea, cost 200 baht ($7.54 CAD) minus my 50 baht ($5.65 CAD) discount coupon.
- Read some about the history of the Karen Burmese ethic group.
- Read the Bangkok Post.
- Had a long hot bath.
- Wrote another long blog (travel stories).
- Talked with a Thai man about visiting a local darkroom/wet plate making shop. Will visit there tomorrow I think.
- Did a 2 hour traditional Thai massage, my second in 2 days. Cost 500 baht ($18.85 CAD) with a 120 ($4.53 CAD) baht tip.
- I had an all spicy Thai supper in the hotel restaurant. Tom Yum Goong (Tom Yum soup with shrimp), Som Tum (papaya salad), Moo Tod (fried pork) and Kaow Nee-ow (sticky rice) with a cola. The meal cost $470 baht with a 20 baht tip ($18.46 CAD), I ate like a king, mouth a bit on fire now. The boy who took the order smiled when he put it down in front of me. It was a very Thai very Issan (Northeast Thai province) type of meal.

It was a nice day, a relaxing day, a chill day. After the crying baby 12 hour thing, maybe well deserved.

The lady who gave me a massage was quite old. She might have been the oldest person to ever have given me a massage. Through the years I have probably had 50 or more Thai massages. I think this lady her name was GAOW (glass in Thai) might have been the oldest, about 65 years old. I felt a bit guilty having an older lady do the massage (she made some small gasping sounds at times) but she was quite happy in the end. The 120 baht tip is quite high, maybe the best she has gotten in a long, long time. She went over and told her friend (working nearby) in Thai how much she got then she told me her name and her number (number 7, all massage people have numbers). She must want me to ask for her again. Her massage was pretty good, all the parts where she used her body weight (she was a bit chubbier) were excellent, the back section was very good.

Khun Gaow (Mrs/Miss Gaow) was telling her friend earlier in the massage that she had an upset stomach, her friend gave her some medicine to take later. Working a difficult job like massage must be quite hard at her age. Farang (Westerners) have very big bodies, making the massage persons job that much more difficult. The masseuse often gets repetitive type hand injuries etc. The younger pretty women often get touched and fondled by some seedy customers. I have been told by some massage ladies that men will grab their breasts etc. I guess the most dangerous part of the job is when they move up from massaging the legs, to the hands. Often the women hold the customers hand/arm quite strongly to limit where it can go and what it can touch. Some guys take advantage of the situation, rather sickening!

Anyway Khun Gaow was happy today, her job might be her only source of income. She might be supporting other people as well. I will try asking for her again.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Traveling Tales (Tails? Tales!)

I have 2 traveling stories, related to my time in the air before Bangkok, both are from the 12 hour hop (more like a painful drag through sharp rocks) from Vancouver Canada to Taipei Taiwan, the 2nd leg of my 3 plane journey back to Thai.

Tale #1

The story of, the baby is sitting where?

After I squished myself into my window seat, 62A on the left side of the plane, two people sat next to me, a middle seat Vietnamese dude (short but chubby, he hogged the arm rest) and a skinny Asian girl in the isle seat, probably Taiwanese. I had wedged myself into place when a young women with a baby walked down towards the back of the plane. I thought thank goodness, then she STOPPED!, looked at the seat number and sat directly, yes fricking directly behind me. The baby started crying!!!! I am not a big baby guy, never had a child, always hated the noise thing, something real parents seem to be able to ignore. Now here I was sitting directly in font of a baby wailing at full volume. Was I in hell, it certainly felt that way!?

The baby cried and cried. and then for a change of pace cried yet again! The mother tried her best to keep him quiet but for the next 12 hours he cried maybe a dozen times, not sure, lost count. There was also a ton of kicking, pushing and shoving of the back of my seat. I think the mother had the baby on the food tray table and he was kicking some major ass (around 1 year old I think). It was rather amazing, felt like I was in some kind of Peter Sellers/Adam Sandler pain and suffering comedy. Was there a camera hidden somewhere recording my reactions? I put in my ear plugs and tried to get through it as best I could. A painful experience the 11 hours without walking, no bathroom break, did not help. I did not want to disturb the people sitting next to me. Eventually the Vietnamese guy got up for the second time and I was able to escape for a pee and a walk round before landing. That made things much easier.

Tale #2

The story of, the lovey dovey kissing couple.

At the airport gate in Vancouver I had seen a young couple kissing. They looked to be in love, young mid 20s, him with a shaved head, her long brown hair with a the look of a person who helps others in need. They seemed to me to be a couple going to Asia to backpack around and live on the cheap. She has a gold wedding band on her left hand ring finger. OK fine, no biggy a couple in love, kissing at an airport gate. The Thai person in me was a bit uncomfortable with it, many older Thais do not show public affection but that is changing with younger couples. The Western person in me was like go for it guys while you can, life is to short to waste.

So I get into my squishy seat, with the baby behind me, I am looking straight ahead when the lovey dovey kissing folk sit directly in front of me. She in front of my seat, he in the middle chair. I get to now view their LOVE, up close and personal. My own personal reality TV show.  I can even look at the space between the seats to gather more gory details. So with the baby screaming in back of me, the  kissing starts up front.

Sometimes the kiss is one quick peck, other times its 2 or 3 longer smooches. Every 30 minutes or so the process is repeated. It goes something like this.  He looks left, she turns right. They look lovingly into each others eyes for 20 or 30 seconds, not saying a word, then a kiss or series of kisses. Another 30 minutes pass, and another sequence of loving looks and  kisses. On and on it went for the whole 12 hours!! 25 kissing sequences? Am not sure, lost count. This was sheer torture, I was forced to watch it, they were inches in front of me. Every time I thought I had seen the last of it, new love erupted.

I think he was the leader of the event. He was like a whale. You know how an ocean going whale requires oxygen, he was like that. The whale comes up to the surface for a breath, then dives down and does whale stuff before coming up for more air etc. I think this kissing bandit dude was the same, he required her kiss to live another 30 minutes. One time he even woke her up to get his needy addiction filled. He looked to his left and she was sleeping against the window, so he looked away. But 30 seconds later he looked left again, then leaned over, shook her shoulder till she woke before requesting another kiss. I thought to myself "Let her sleep you needy bastard!, stop being so selfish." That sort of neediness does not end well, wonder how long till they divorce?


Anyway, made my way through it all. Even managed to sleep for 5 or 6 hours. I had a dream that Paul McCartney (I call him Paul) lent me his cellphone (white IPhone) on the plane so I could order a darkroom enlarger (??) from a shop in Los Angeles. Go figure dreams, they rarely make sense. Nice to know thou that I have Paul's cell to use whenever I need it.

Todays Thoughts

Been feeling lonely and down lately. I was wondering if it would be better to haul all my gear to Mae Sot and avoid getting a Bangkok apartment to save on costs. In Mae Sot I will be making photos, making the movie, I have purpose. Here in Bangkok I feel alone and lost a bit, not sure I want to get an apartment here to further that feeling. Walking the street with the 10 million or so souls here yesterday was a bit daunting. I need to get my Thai sea legs back. The language is doing OK so far, not as big a headache as usual. Most times when I start speaking Thai again, it is quite an effort to do so, this trip that is coming much faster, launching right into it without too much problem.

Anyway today is another new day, woke up at 430am, the sun is bright here now getting hot, it is now 652am. I will probably buy my bus ticket to Mae Sot today, I have to go down the Mochit bus station via taxi to get that done. You need to buy the ticket in person and in advance, I do not think you can buy it online. Will go for a higher end bus, the tickets are relatively cheap. The higher end buses are more comfortable but more importantly have multiple drivers. In some of the cheaper buses the driver often uses drugs to stay awake and drives long 10 hour plus spells. I do not want to go there.

Here are some pics of my hotel room in Bangkok. The hotel that dates back to the 60s I think. Old but renovated and clean.  This is the first place I ever stayed in Thailand, during my first trip back in 1996, feel comfortable here. It has hot water shower/tub, cable TV, fridge, 2 beds, a/c and free WI-FI. The off season price (till the end of October) is 850 baht a night ($32 CAD), with a 50 baht discount coupon for their hotel restaurant, which I use. The hotel serves good food.

Need to get things going and get out of my gloom. The power for the computer problem is solved, need to find boots now. Once I start making photos, my heart will be in the right place. That has  always been a key to my happiness. I hope it works again.

Hotel room photos, October 2017 Bangkok

Facebook: A Few Things Have Happened

Had some issues but they are working themselves out. Lost power on my computer yesterday, had to go get another adapter cord at Pantip Plaza (main computer area of Bangkok). Paid about $20 CAD for the power cord/adapter now the computer is working again. I was quite worried as I need my computer desperately to write my blog and to edit my movie. Its most important function might be to transfer all the my audio and video files from SD cards to portable hard drives. I was pricing out new HP laptops and Pantip, cost for those would have ran $700-$1000 CAD. I did not, DID NOT want to spend that kind of money, am on a budget, got to have money to last the entire 6 months.

Highlight of the day, was getting a 2 hour traditional Thai massage, cost was around $19 CAD with about a $4.25 tip. Great massage for less than 25 bucks, I even fell asleep for a while. The massage lady kept complimenting my Thai. That is a Thai politeness thingy, I need to improve my Thai skills, 6 months here won't hurt, the old learning curve!! Hmm wonder if I should have another massage tomorrow? They also have the foot and oil types, thou I am not big on either of those. With oil you end up as like a greased pig (you are also almost naked when they do it, not comfortable doing that) and foot massages are intense they bloody HURT!

Geez as I type this it is raining again, rained hard all night last night, rain here much more aggressive compared to Edmonton, it sort of attacks you. There was flooding in the streets in certain areas around the city today. It looks like I will be departing for Mae Sot and the dump on the 18th or 19th, probably buy my bus ticket tomorrow. Facing one problem, do not have any rubber boots to wear in the garbage. I had to leave mine in Canada because of weight issues. I was hoping to find some here, but finding size 11-12 (western farang sizes) is difficult in Bangkok. Maybe I will ask the hotel people for a shopping recommendation tomorrow when I extend my stay here.