Sunday, 31 December 2017

Selfies in the old days.

Selfie, a fairly new "international" word which basically everyone in the world has learned very fast.

Smartphone with timer in 2016

Some people just hate it and some can't live without making them regularly. Some are very bad making selfies, like myself. I just can't make a good Selfie.
But then we have the ones who has become almost as professionals in Sefie shooting. With the right angles, make up, facial expressions, and of course the editing of the pictures.

Poor attempt in 2017, with a smartphone.

For me, and I guess for many of the older generations, taking pictures, and especially Selfies (self portraits was it called back then), was a little risky in the sense we never really knew what we would have returned after the pictures had been printed. Unless you had a polaroid camera. Don't forget we had to pay for the bad pictures as well.

Unfocused, fairly ok attempt with a smartphone in 2014

How would the new generations handle this kind of nerve-wrecking waiting time before they could post their Selfies, and start counting the "likes" they expect on the social media. 

Selfie time with a regular phone with camera in 2003.

Not to forget the fact that most Selfie experts make so good selfies you can not really recognize the person in the pics. 
Fake pictures? Or just edited to perfection? For sure not reality.

Party Selfie picture with a regular camera in 1986.

It was without a doubt a lot of fun memories back then when we opened and had a look at the pics.

Selfie with, NOT a smartphone, in 1985.

Selfie time from 1983

Hmmmmm,maybe I am indeed a bit narcissistic after all. Just not a good one.


Saturday, 30 December 2017


Have you ever been to the Philippines before? If yes, then you most likely have been flying in or out from the infamous NAIA 2 terminal in Manila. Why infamous? Well, this airport really has something of a bad reputation , built up over many years, which amazingly enough happens to be used by the national carrier, PAL – Philippine Air Lines, as well.

It all starts as soon one arrive the airport area and the driver tries to navigate through a total chaotic traffic situation basically in front of the doors to the departure hall. Where there are more family members and friends than actual travelers, clustered together right by the entrance where one will show the passport and ticket, in order to pass first check point. One kind already has this sneaking feeling this is going to be an interesting experience.

After almost elbowing myself, with a sorry this and sorry that, I pass the first security check point to line up at the first baggage x-ray point. And it is understandable in these days, with all the security issues everywhere. Except that there are normally only 2 machines operating for 1000s of travelers and their luggage at NAIA 2. Oh well, we all must go through this.

 Then, after the first x-ray checks, more chaos awaits you with all the people moving in all directions, looking for their check in gates. The check in area is so narrow it is quite amazing to think that up and running intelligent people actually thought this out. People bump into each other all the time, looking for their gates. Some give up and line up by the information desk. They are actually helpful. And you are directed to the correct check in counters. This is because of poor information on the sometimes not always up and running boards.

Check in goes fairly quick, which is probably the most positive about this nightmare of a terminal. After all, we should also give credit were it is deserved. And off we go to passport checks, and another absolutely crazy solution. They seem to change the configuration (layout) of the passport control points ever so often. Ok, I have been 21 times to Manila, but 10 months since last time. But it must be the 6th or 7th new layout in 11 years.

It takes only 35 people in total before the lines start to form in to one single line, which starts to stretch along the airport itself. Absolutely ridicules, and one can not see which type of line one belongs to before one is well inside the area. Was watching a senior citizen who lined up at the senior citizen line, and kept waiting and waiting. Nobody helping. Finally, after some time she asked one of the immigration's officers who just hang around the ones working, and she was scolded and told to line up in the other lines.

After this ordeal, we are into another even worse one. Namely the terror of the last security check of hand luggage, shoes, electronics, except the “American Freedom Check” (cavity checks).

Again, only 2 machines for 1000s of people. With, wait for it, only 10-11 boxes available for items like laptops, etc. It feels like this is some kind of joke, but I realize it is just plain simple stupidity. Stupidity by the morons who created it, and by the cowards who are too afraid to tell their bosses how idiotic this system is. You finally get yourself a box, which is kicked over the floor (Indeed it is) and put all your stuff in one simple box. Laptop, pads, mobiles, chargers, Camera, belt, watch, and your shoes as well, all in the same box. My God, what’s the use of a box if it all are in a pile anyway.

Could just as well have been in the bag then. And when it has been through the machine and you start to pick up all your stuff, the other boxes are coming through and they start to pile up. Because the security staff want to use the few boxes asap for all the other pax already lined up. I only wish someone filmed this lunacy. Of course, the unintelligent security crews do not see the problems. After all, these inbreeds have gotten their jobs via family members or bribes.

Ahhh, finally inside the international part, and I want something to eat, or drink. Aha, now I start to understand why so many pax in the passport line carried with them stuff from various junk food chains in paper bags. Because there are 2-3 tiny small food vendors inside this International airport. Again, one must truly be there to really see this madness. Can you imagine the lines in front of these 2-3 tiny shacks of vendors. Yes they are shacks. Same as you might see on a corner somewhere. Not too hungry, so it is more laughable than to cry of.
The food lines are cutting through all the pax trying to move to their gates, because again, this part is also a narrow intestine of a place. The few places available for pax who have bought food is already taken by regular pax. So people stand all over and eat.
What about the rest room facilities. Oh dear oh dear. If you are in an urgent state, you might end up have to drop it in your undies, and hope for solid stuff. Toilet lines stretches out and in to the main departure area where rest of the pax trying to move from A to B. What a sight!

 A few duty free shops are here (2 of them I think), and the best about them? They have stolen most of the air condition! Because again, not surprisingly, this airport can not be cooled down when it is hot outside and the sun is shining. So they have placed big industrial fans here and there, which the duty free shops have taken a few and directed towards their shops.
And there we are, in all the noise from repeatedly announcements, loud chatter from all the pax, sweating, and trying to navigate between lines here and there.

 Summary, if the person this airport is named after, had seen this. He would have pushed up the lid on his coffin, stared into the air in disgust, before continue to rest.

NAIA 2, the embarrassment of the Philippines.

Ahhh, that was a good rant.

Monday, 18 December 2017

The "Righting of the Ship".

Chris and I

After a re-read of the Bangkok Beat book about the days of Chris’ takeover, it all comes back to me, the same strange sensation of excitement and worrying for the place I loved so much.

My brother and my mother with the band.

I had already been a loyal customer for years before the transition period,and sometimes I went to Check Inn 99 four times per week.
Some of the nights, amazingly enough, I was actually the only customer inside the place during the entire evening. I could come somewhere between 8 and 9 PM, and then stay until closing hours. I always sat at the same table every time I was there. A low sofa made of bamboo with a bamboo table with a glass plate.
The only high chairs, as far as I remember was the few located around the bar counter.
Next to my sofa (on my left side) was a long line with hostesses who sat in their chairs sleeping, chewing on something, playing with their phones, or just chatting with each other.
I remember clearly what Kevin writes about in his brilliant book Bangkok Beat, customers with a darker skin tone than me were stopped by the staff with the message this was a private Club. A strange way to conduct business, I thought.

Chris, Too (my wife), me, and brothers in law.

Then one evening I could feel a strange atmosphere as soon as I sat down. I was told by one of the staff the bar was sold, and the new owner had said he would make some changes to the place. As a regular customer, one will always be a bit negative when these kinds of news are shared. Regulars always want the Status Quo to remain unchanged.
I remember I had seen Chris before, but not where and when I had seen him. I guess he had been around the last few times I had been there, and I just thought he was just another customer maybe.
Then one evening Chris approached me, and introduced himself as the new owner. So this is the guy, I was thinking. Let’s hear what he has to say. But as we all know, it is very easy to like Chris as soon as one talk with him. Chris has this ability to treat each and every customer as he/she is a VIP. And he did that with me as well. He already knew I was one of the regulars for years, so he was kind enough to share some (just enough) info about what he planned to do, and why he had already started to make the changes.

Me with the original (band) crew.

I remember as Kevin writes about in Bangkok Beat, how more and more of the Hostesses disappeared. I remember the low furniture I used to sit in was changed with high tables and chairs. I was not impressed, until I sat there. It was better. I had to admit that.
But I was not impressed by all the Hostesses disappearing. But as we all know, it was actually for the better. I had to admit that myself. The famous righting of an almost capsized ship had begun. And as we also know, with Chris at the helm, he made the ship steady.
My “second to none” favorite bar in Bangkok had been saved.
Thank you Chris.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

I am blessed.

I work on a luxury cruise ship, where we have very few guests/passengers, and with a very high rate of crew.
The guests pay a lot for the service and luxury provided.
We are an international crew with members from about 30-40 different nations.
We are very well taken care of onboard.
With all the breaks and meals we need, and with all the different selection/choices of food in the Crew Mess.
About 20 years ago, I had only been onboard for a few months, and we were repositioning from the Mediterranean towards South East Asia for the winter cruise season there.
We stopped in Djibouti to top up bunkers for the ship.
As always, since a cruise ship (as all hotels) produce a lot of garbage (food waste, regular waste, broken items, scrap, etc), we ordered a huge garbage container on pier so we could off load the waste.
What I experienced next will forever be remembered.
It was like Christmas Eve for the locals.
They were all over the container bringing most of what we dumped, with them home, as they could still use it.
Stuff we didn’t need was indeed highly valuable for the locals.
I remember so clearly how many of us crew members, including myself, had complained about the food quality in the crew mess lately, and that we wanted the standard to be raised to a satisfactory level.
I felt so ashamed of myself, and told myself to never take anything for granted in life, and always think of what a blessed life I have, and how lucky I am to come from a rich country where we are provided for.
I am so happy that I am able to contribute and try to be a difference in someone’s life, by sponsoring “My Children”.
I am blessed.

Imagine............. if only the Middle-class people in the world chipped in a lousy 25 Dollar each, every month.
Imagine that impact!

I am truly blessed.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Down the memory line. Year 2012

It is nice to celebrate friendship by sometimes walking down the Memory Line.

This is a couple of pics of my dear friends Chris and Mook, when they visited me at work, when we called Bangkok.

M/V Seabourn Pride, alongside in Klong Toei, Bangkok.

Chris checking out the facilities.

Please Mook, watch where you steer, not at the photographer.

Dear friends.

Let us eat.

Thank you for the visit, I probably visit you later (at CheckInn99).

Friday, 15 December 2017

Today's laugh

A Tweet I just had to re-tweet.

Really made me laugh out loud.

Then came the 90s.

Then came the 90s. 
The 90s was also a very good time, although, maybe a little less irresponsible behavour.
This is the time when most of my friends started to settle down. or at least tried to.
For me, I tried, but not sucessfully.
I decided to leave the navy in 1993, in order to go back to school.
Joined the Cruise Industry in 1995 (plenty pics to come).


Still some partying.


Joined Cruise Industry in 1995

The 80s, time of my life.

The 80s was probably the "time of my life" with losts of fun and irresponsible behavour. 
We (the friends) hooked up whenever we could, to have a good time.
I joined the navy in 1983, as a drafted (conscription) private.
Decided after a year to sign a contract as a professional.

Taken after or during a party in 1984.

Party time.

Irresponsible drinking.

Always a sig in my mouth.

Party party and more party

Ok, finally a job with some responsibilities.

Navy days.

Heart Attack!

 I recently suffered a Heart Attack, which when I come to think about it was no surprise at all. I am overweight, middle aged, and in no goo...