Last day in Bangkok & Chatuchak market

19.05.2019

Sunday morning. I woke up early, already around 5:30 AM. Went downstairs to grab some breakfast and do final planning for my last day in Bangkok. Big on my list for today, before taking the night train to Butterworth:

Chatuchak (weekend) market.

Sure enough, Dao, my host, was already awake, happily singing, as she always does. Actually, all she seems to do all day is either sing or talk on the phone. Sometimes she even sings while talking to on the phone. Hehe. 😀

But anyways, back to the topic – according to Google maps, Chatuchak market is ca. 10 km away from my hostel. In my case this means hour and a half walking time, which is more than ok. And (also according to Google maps) it’s really just one long boulevard, nearly all the way… easy peasy.

After a short stop at 7eleven, armed with a bottle of cold water I started walking towards Chatuchak market. But… by the time I reached Democracy monument roundabout (just a few hundred meters away 😀), I realized that the day was a bit too hot for what I had in mind. I mean, I do love this weather but… this is too much of a good thing.

After my recent TukTuk experience I considered myself to be a seasoned tuktuk customer, so I decided to hail a TukTuk which will get me straight to Chatuchak market. As it was Sunday early morning, the streets around Democracy monument were quite empty and unusually calm. Practically no cars and no TukTuks around. But, believe it or not, the moment I thought of it, a TukTuk with a passenger (local guy) in the back seat appeared in front of me, slowing down. The passenger jumped out from the back seat and immediately asked: “Where are you going?”

Me: “Chatuchak market. How much TukTuk to Chatuchak market?”

Local guy: “Oooooh, Chatuchak, mmmmh. Weekend market closed now. Opens two o’clock!”

Yeah, right. I had this already… “Ok, ok, but how much TukTuk to Chatuchak?” I insisted.

“No, no, weekend market closed” said the local guy while jumping back on the TukTuk.

Me: “Ok, but please tell me: how much?”

Finally he replied: “Two hundred” as his TukTuk was driving away…

“Two hundred baht? WTF?! Good that he didn’t say 500 baht. No way TukTuk costs 200 baht from here to Chatuchak… I’ll have to ask someone else…”

So I continued walking down the street and aproached the first person I found: “Good morning sir, can you please help me?” And I quickly continued before he could answer anything: “How much would a TukTuk cost from here to Chatuchak market?” (I figured that any random pedestrian on a sunny Sunday morning would know this off the top of their head… 😀)

He looked at me and just said “Chatuchak, mmmh”. Then he lowerd his head and stared at his feet for a few moments. These few moments seemed like eternity. Suddenly, he raised his head and with a proud look in his eyes -as if he rememered something really important- he said: “10 kilometers!”

Now, if this were a scene from a comic book in which I was one of the characters, I would probably have had three big question marks above my head in that scene. I guess he realised this, so he added: “200 baht. Better take a bus.”

Hm… Bus. Yeah buddy, good idea. BTW, this was also on my to-do list – jump on a local bus from anywhere to anywhere in Bangkok, just to feel the vibe.

“Ok, thanks, man! Thank you so much! Have a nice day!” With those words I parted with the nice guy and continued towards the big boulevard on the way to Chatuchak market. (that’s where I hoped to find the bus stop).

Very first bus ride in Bangkok

After wandering around in the hot sun, finally I found a bus stop. Whoooo-ha! Chatuchak, here I come! But, wait… how do I know which bus to take?

I couldn’t ask Google because I had no Internet connection, so I asked the only person around – a senior who was sitting there and waiting for the bus. And as the old dude was not 100% sure, he consulted the street cleaning lady, who happened to be passing by just then. And after a short conversation, they both agreed that I should take bus No.16, on the opposite side of the street. “Thank you so much”, I said to both of them and ran accross the street to catch my bus.

In Bangkok, busses normally slow down a bit when approaching bus stops and people then give a hand signal to the driver that they want to get on the bus. Otherwise the bus just drives by without stopping.

I was the only one waiting at this bus stop, so I waived at the bus driver when I saw No.16 approaching. Bus stopped. Door opened. I got on the bus.

Bangkok’s city busses always have a driver and a conductor. When the conductor lady came to sell me the ticket, I asked while handing over 20 baht to her: “Chatuchak market?” And I saw immediately in her face that No.16 was not headed towards Chatuchak market. She took the 20 baht, but didn’t give me any ticket. Instead, she sat in an empty seat just in front of me and showed me with the hand to stay where I was. “Oki doki” I thought. And I sat there looking through the window, filming and taking photos of my very first bus ride in Bangkok (the one from the airport to Khao San Rd. doesn’t count :-). The first time is always exciting.

After just a few stops, she said to me: “Next stop. Bus No.3.” And gave me back my 20 baht. How cool is that?! I got off on that stop and prepared to wait for No.3.

After 20 minutes waiting time it seemed that all other busses except No.3 were coming and going… And then, bus No. 524 stopped even without me waiving. The doors opened and an old lady stood there shouting: “Chatuchak market, Chatuchak market!” Very cool! Immidiately I forgot the bus No. 3 and boarded this one. The bus ticket costs only 15 baht, BTW!

After ca. 30 min., No. 524 stopped in front of the BTS/MRT Mo Chit station entrance. The old lady conductor pointed towards the market entrance: “Go there.”

Following tourist masses, finally I reached this world famous market…

Not sure what this market is so famous for, tho’. Clothing, souvenirs, handycraft, tea… everything and anything immaginable can be obtained there. But, honestly, neither the choice is bigger nor the prices are lower than in the city and it pays visiting only if you wish to see the largest market in Asia! And, as far haggling is concerned… forget it. Nobody’s going to haggle with you if you’re buying any of the stuff in usual quantities… (or at least not seriously haggle).

To be continued…

My first Tuk Tuk ride and the Lucky Buddha scam

Last night I was too tired to continue writing, so I’m continuing today… and today I meant to brag about my first ever TukTuk ride and how happy I was and what a nice experience that was (ok, except for a short stop at the “Silk factory outlet”) and how I donated a flower wreath to the “Lucky Buddha”, which will bring me luck and prosperity…

Yeah, right. Lucky Buddha my ass. Yesterday I lost the city map which I have been using, so today at breakfast I wanted to look up in Internet the location of that Lucky Buddha temple I visited yesterday. WTF?! First few Google search results for the keywords “Lucky Buddha” were actually blog posts about the “Lucky Buddha scam” (for example this one: Lucky Buddha Scam). Oh, no. 😔 But, go on, read for yourself. Here’s the full story…

Lucky Buddha scam

Yesterday, after the marvelous Khon show, I decided to walk back to where I started, instead of taking the shuttle bus. I was loosely headed towards the Grand Palace and Wat Pho area but I didn’t really have any set itinerary for the day.

Don’t trust young students on the streets of Bangkok

I was walking down the street for a while, when this nice friendly young guy approached me on the the Charoen Krung Rd. He seemed really nice and so we started chit-chatting about everything and anything. His english was really good, he introduced himself as a student, studying Engineering here in Bangkok. At some point he asked me where I was going. I’m not sure now what I answered, but he went on saying “you know, the temple is closed now, because of the Buddhist holiday”. I never bothered to ask to which temple he was referring to and before I knew it, he said: “You should go and donate a flower to the Lucky Buddha today. Today is a special day! This will bring you luck and prosperity”. Fak, yeah! That’s exactly what I need – luck and prosperity. And I knew today was some big day for Buddhists, as the Emerald Buddha Temple was closed for public today. “Ok, dude”, I thought to myself, “keep on talkin’.” “Do you have a map?” he asked. Of course I had a map. I’m a genuine tourist. So I handed over the map and he encircled three locations on it:

  1. Lucky Buddha Temple
  2. Silk factory outlet
  3. Tall Buddha (Standing Buddha)

“Did you watch the news yesterday?” he asked. “No, there’s no TV in my hostel”, I replied. “You know, today is the last day of factory sales in Thailand. During one week in a year, Thai government waives the taxes on garment sales so that people can buy clothes tax-free.” Now, I’m not a shopper, but if I could find some nice summer pants, I would perhaps buy those…

“Let me get you a TukTuk”, he added. What? “No, man. Thanks. I prefer walking”, I replied. He asked: “Why would you wanna walk all this way, when you can take a TukTuk for 150 baht?” My spontneous reaction was: “150?!? WTF?!” He saw that, so he quickly corrected himself: “Ok, 100 baht”. I was like: “Cannot the driver just take me to the first place for 30 baht and I’ll continue from there?” He looked at me as if I was crazy. “Why?” he asked. “Because I love walking around” and I proudly took out my iPhone and showed him my Health app with yesterday’s 32.911 steps.

He looked at me again, he was not sure if I’m crazy or he is. “C’mon, 100 baht” – and he quickly hailed a TukTuk which was just passing by (or so it seemed to me at the moment :-), not waiting for my reaction. “100 baht” went through my head. “This is less than 3 EUR.” And since I never took the TukTuk before, this was my chance. “Yeah, man. Let’s go!” I said to myself and jumped on the TukTuk. “YOU’LL REMEMBER ME!” I heard him shout while I was riding away in the back seat of the TukTuk for the first time of my life…

My very first TukTuk ride

And, boy was I happy at that moment! I was off to donate a flower to Lucky Buddha, filming my TukTuk ride from every possible angle and chatting with the driver, who -by the way- spoke some basic english, too. Just imagine how cool this experience is for a first timer: relaxing in the back of the TukTuk, warm smelly air of Bangkok boulevards blowing through my hair (and nostrils). Me sitting there and smiling as if I just reached the ultimate Ananda (= state of bliss or happiness in Hindu philosophy, rem. NewLifeGuru). The ride took somewhat longer than expected and when we finally arrived at a small temple, he parked his TukTuk in the shade of the inner yard. It struck me that the Lucky Buddha temple was really small, but I didn’t give it much thought. Dudes, I was about to “get lucky” (well, in a different way), so I didn’t care for anything else at this moment.

The “Lucky Buddha”

We got off the TukTuk and my driver led me to a store, where I dropped 20 baht to a donation box. We took 3 incense sticks and a beautiful Marigold garland (wreath of soft yellow flowers) and we went over to the “Lucky Buddha”, where he showed me how to burn incense sticks and donate the flower to the Buddha. “Normally”, he said – “people use only one incense stick”, but since it’s a special holiday today, “three incense sticks should be used.” Boy, was I lucky that I happened to be in Thailand exactly on this important day…

He then sent me inside the chapel to pray to the Buddha. So I took off my shoes, opened the sliding door and went in. I was alone in the chapel in front of this beautiful golden Buddha statue. Actually, there was three of them, so I wasn’t really sure which one is THE Lucky Buddha. Anyways, I previously read somewhere how to properly sit in front of the Buddha and how your feet must be showing backwards and must never be turned towards the Buddha. I’m not an overly religious person, but I try to respect that sort of things. So I was sitting there on the carpet with my feet tucked behind my lucky ass, admiring the divine aura of the golden Buddha statue(s)… look, I’m not a Buddhist – but merely a Tourist, so I did what we tourists do best – I took some photos of the Buddha and the chapel and left…

After I finished “praying”, my friendly driver took me to another small chapel in the back of the Temple, where I saw a small version of the “Reclining Buddha”. Like any good tourist, I took some more photos and since I had another few coins left in my pocket, I dropped those in the donation box.

When I finished here, my new friend showed me around the small temple some more. There were many Buddha statues in a row: Buddha for those born on Monday. And Tuesday. And Wednesday… and there was even one “for every day” (?!). There were also many school pupils around. He said that the temple is attached to the school and started elaborating on that topic in his basic english. Oh, dude. At that moment I had enough of the “Lucky Buddha” experience. I knew that my luck and happiness were anyway not going to come to me right there on the spot, but rather in the time to come, so I suggested that we move on…

A friendly stranger

The TukTuk was not parked in the same place where he left it when we came, so my nice driver led me to it around the corner. BTW, all this time I was in a total state of bliss, had my guard completely down. I just had my first ever TukTuk ride, had just donated a flower to the “Lucky Buddha” and enjoying the smell of incense in the shades of the temple’s inner yard. Is this life, or what? Had he led me to some dark corridor at that moment, I would have followed without a question. I felt totally safe and secure.

“Do you need to go to the toilet before we continue our tour?” my driver asked.

“No, thank you” I replied.

“Ok, but I do.” he added. “Please jump in the back seat and wait for me here. I’ll be right back.”

So he disappeared somewhere and I was left there waiting at the back of the TukTuk, reviewing the new photos on my mobile.

“Where are you from?” – the question came from a local guy sitting on a bench just a few feet away.

He was sitting there so relaxed, as if he had all the time in the world, his legs crossed and arms resting on the bench.

“From Serbia, Europe” I replied.

“Aaah, Serbia. Mmmh.” he acknowledged.

“You here on a horiday?”

“Yep.”

“How wong you stay?”

“Just four days. After that I’m taking the train to Malaysia.”

“Aah, ok. Maraysia. Beautifuw country”.

Then he went on saying that he’s just after making a donation to the Lucky Buddha. His wife is pregnant, he said while showing the “big stomach” with his hand. They want a boy, that’s why he was here to pray to the Buddha. “Aha, and now that you made a donation to the Buddha, you’re sitting here and chilling by yourself? Don’t you have to go back to work?! Or go and be there for your pregnant wife?” – that’s probably what any random suspecting policeman personality would have been asking themselves. But not me. I felt that – me too – I just donated to the Buddha, so we’re in the same boat, buddy. I could totally relate. His wife is pregnant and he’s praying for a boy. How neat is that?!

“You’re lucky that you’re here today”, he said. “Today is a big religious holiday.” A thought crossed my mind: “Yeah dude, I know this even without you telling me. The Emerald Buddha Temple was closed for public today and the place was full of monks.”

“And did you know that today is the last day of the one-week tax free sales, sponsored by the government?” Nah, I didn’t know that. Oh, wait – yeah, that guy on the street mentioned it.

“I’m not the kind of guy that wears suits”, I replied.

“You know where Armani suits are made?” he continued. “Here, in Thailand. And why? Because of cheap labour, good quality and low export tax”. “Export tax” yeah, right. But, at that point in time I was not listening anymore, as I really had enough of the “Lucky Buddha time” and I sure had enough of waiting in the back of the TukTuk.

“Yeah, I have that factory outlet on my itinerary for today” I told him.

“Ok, good!” he approved and continued with the story of his brother, who lives in New York and who is always using the chance to buy his Armani suits here in Thailand. “In New York, you would pay 2000 $ for the same suit you can buy here for 5 times less. For 300 – 400 $ you can get a tailor made suit here in Bangkok!”

“Man, I really don’t need a suit, but – do you think I can buy only pants at the factory outlet?” I asked because he seemed so friendly and I just wanted simple cotton or linen (not rayon!) summer pants.

“Yes, of course! You can buy only shirt or only pants, sure…” as the friendly stranger was finishing the sentence, my driver finally appeared. He jumped in the driver’s seat and we drove off to…

The “Silk Factory Outlet” and the Guy from the Outdoor Gym

After a relatively short ride, the driver parked in front of a fancy tailor suit store. “This sure don’t look like a huge governmental silk factory outlet store” I thought to myself. I looked at the driver: “Is this the silk factory outlet?” “Yes, yes, yes” he replied quickly while nodding. Hm. Ok. So I pushed the glas door and entered the fancy air conditioned tailor shop. I was greeted at the door by a somewhat short but sharp dressed gentleman with a slight Indian accent: “Welcome, Sir.”

The tailor shop looked just as fancy on the inside as it did on the outside. A few neat design models and fancy suit mannequins were displayed among the endless rolls of silk and cotton fabric. Honestly, I felt somewhat embarrased, being in a place like that, wearing beat up and dusty tracking shoes and a black polo shirt “decorated” all over by white traces of dried sweat. Yuk!

In the back of the shop, there was a group of fine young gentleman sitting on a leather couch and chatting. And among them I recognized my new acquaintance from Myanmar, whom I met a night before in the outdoor gym in the Rommaninat park. “Talking about a small world” briefly crossed my mind. I excused myself with the fine gentleman at the door for a moment and friendly waved to my new acquaintance. He stood up and came to greet me. The short guy was not pleased about how the situation developed. They exchanged a few words in some foreign language and the only thing I understood from their conversation was the “weight lifting” gestures my new ‘friend’ made.

My new acquaintance went back to his group on the couch and I turned to the short guy saying that I was trully sorry, as I landed here by mistake. I thanked him and said goodbye, then took his hand with both my hands and shook it, leaving him standing there in a state of shock. Ok, being a salesman indulging in tourist scams, probably he was not that shocked, but nevertheless…

The Tall Buddha

My friendly driver did not seem to be very surprised to see me coming out of the tailor shop so quickly. He was immediately ready and we moved on towards the Tall Buddha Temple. The entrance fee is 40 baht and inside one can admire the huge 32 m tall golden Buddha statue. Very cool, very tall but… honestly, I’ve had enough of this tour.

So I quickly left the temple just to find my driver slurping some chicken feet soup at a nearby hawker’s. I wasn’t hungry at all, otherwise I would probably have joined him. He quickly finished his soup, cleaned his mouth with one hand, paid for the soup and got back on the TukTuk to get me back to Grand palace area.

The actual Lucky Buddha Scam

All of the sudden I didn’t feel like going there anymore, so I asked the driver to drop me off at Dinso Rd., near my hostel. When we arrived there, I took out 100 baht, which was what we agreed for the ride and and another 100 baht as tip for being nice and friendly and showing me how to donate the flower to the “Lucky Buddha”, on my way to luck and prosperity.

I got off the TukTuk being as happy as a guy can be. Luck was bound to come my way and I paid only 200 baht for it altogether (that’s less than 6 EUR). Little did I know at that moment that it was all part of a scam scheme. What?!

Today morning while looking up the location of Lucky Buddha in Internet, the whole story revealed. The nice and friendly Engineering student, the TukTuk driver, the relaxed guy on the bench in the Lucky Buddha temple, the tailor shop – they were all part of the “Lucky Buddha scam”. What a disappointment. Not because of the 200 baht. Not at all. Actually, the whole experience was worth much more than that. It was even funny and exciting in a way.

What is most disappointing -besides the realisation that I was being totally naive- is that for a moment I actually thought lady luck might be coming my way for those 200 baht. I’ll have to try a bit harder next time, I guess… 😀

Bonus story about life, luck and happiness

This whole story reminds me of a guy who went to throw himself off a very high bridge into a deep and cold river. He climbed on the railing and was standing there for some time, sobbing and crying on that cold December night. “Hey, stop!” said a voice behind him. “What are you doing?”

He turned around and saw a guy, dressed as Santa, looking at him with his arm extended invitingly: “Please don’t jump. Don’t give up that easy. Come down, let’s talk”. Our guy steps down from the railing and asks Santa: “Who are you, man?” Santa replied: “I’m an Angel. This clothes are merely a disguise. You see, winter after winter so many people are taking their lives and this can be avoided. That’s why we Angels, we’re roaming the Earth and helping people and preventing suicides.”

“Yeah, right. How in the world will you be able to help me? Recently I lost my job and yesterday I caught my beloved wife cheating on me with another man. My kids don’t respect me at all and I’m probably the unluckiest and unhappiest person in the world” said the poor guy.

“No, no, no, it’s not all that bad! We angels can revert all that! Would you like that?” asked the Angel.

“Yes! Of course!” replied the man.

“Ok. We’ll undo all those negative things that you went through.” said the Angel. “After all, Christmas is coming in a few days and you should be with your beloved family, celebrating Christmas. But, you see, we Angels like to have fun, too.”

“Ok. So what can I do for you?” asked our guy.

“This will perhaps sound a bit weird, but – I want you to…” Angel whispered quietly in poor guys ear: “give me a nice BJ”.

“What?! No way I’m doing that!” said the guy.

“Ok, you don’t have to. But then I cannot help you. Sorry. I can see that you’re of the selfish kind and we Angels, we don’t like selfish people. Selfish people always expect to get something for nothing.” – Angel replied in his calm angel’s voice.

“Ok, ok. I’ll do it!” the guy said. And he got down to it…

After a while, Angel asked -while our guy was still busy doing the BJ- “I’m just being curious – how old are you?” Guy replied: “44”.

And the Angel then asked: “Seriously, dude, you’re 44 years old and you still believe in Angels?!?”

Grand palace, Wat Phra Kaew and Thai masked dance

I woke up today morning around 6 AM, had a quick breakfast and walked straight to the Grand Palace entrance. There, I was one of the first visitors to queue up in front of those metal detector gates. At 08:30 sharp, the gates were open. This time I was ready, unlike yesterday. Yesterday I went there in bermudas and flip-flops. Of course, they re-directed me already at the first gate from the queue directly into a shop of some sort, so that I can buy long pants. 200 baht for sh!tty 100% rayon pants? No way. I walked away yesterday. But today – a different story. Long pants, shoes instead of flip flops…

Bought the ticket (500 baht) and went inside. So beautiful. Right after the entrance gate there was an official desk offering free guided tours. Cool! So I registered for the first tour, which was at 10 AM. The tour started and I learned really a lot about Thai history, Royal dynasty, architecture, some religious background etc. Only, after 5 minutes, I lost my group because of the crowd. And when I say “crowd” I mean crowd: 10.000 Chinese tourists filling up the last square inch of the temple grounds.

So I went back to the desk and signed up for the tour at 10:30 AM. Actually, I first tried to find my original group, but after just one round of running around in the heat, I gave up. Which turned out to be quite a lucky strike! Joie, the new guide was even better. By far. And she was also kind to wait for and look after her visitors 😀. And she told us so many amazing stories about the temple’s architecture, royal family, Thai history, the Emerald Buddha,… Really nice.

After literally running through the public area of the Grand palace in the hot midday sun, I went outside to catch the shuttle bus to Khong, Thai masked dance. After a short bus ride we reached the theatre. And the show was AMAZING!!! Excellent live music and marvellous dancing with some really cool scenography. And all that included in the Grand palace entrance fee. Great.

My first ever TukTuk ride

After the show, I decided to walk a bit instead of taking the shuttle bus. And sure enough, after a few meters, a young guy approches me and we started some chit chat conversation…

Uh. My eyes are closing. I’m so tired… sorry folks, to be contd. tomorrow. 😇

Arrived in Bangkok!

Yes, I know – I haven’t been writing since October 2018. This is due to techn… nah, this time I’ll tell it like it is: nothing blog-worthy has happened to me since. I lost ca. 10 kg, lost my job, did a roadtrip around Asia, thrown a big mid-life party and… I’m telling ya – nothing really… I mean, who in the world would blog about such boring things?

Ok, but now I decided not to be lazy anymore and update this blog regularly. So here you go:

I arrived to Bangkok yesterday. What a beautiful city! To me personally, it feels like a mixture of Saigon and Taipei. And I’m loving it!

My hostel is located near Khao San Rd. / Democracy monument, so I took the bus S1 from the airport to Khao San bus stop. It took some 50 minutes and the ticket costs 60 baht (that’s approx 1,7 EUR).

The History Hostel

The History Hostel was easy to find in a side street of Dinso Alley. I was greeted by an extremely nice lady at the front desk. She immediately found my online booking and after I paid for the next 5 nights, she showed me the room. Really cozy and clean 4 bed dorm (although currently I’m alone in the room). AC works like a charm and the bed is very comfy and clean!

First ever Eurowings and low cost long haul flight

I managed to get some sleep on the plane (I had the whole 29th row for myself, so I laid accross four seats). BTW, this was my first Eurowings and my first long-haul low cost experience! I booked the cheapest ticket for ca. 200 EUR one-way (no food, no seat pre-reservation, no in-flight entertainment). Mostly a nice experience, specially considering the fare. While boarding, me being a smartie, I grabbed one of the blankets from the overhead bin and took it with me to my seat. And there he came, the cabin attendant, yelling after me: “folks in the front rows have paid for these blankets, you cannot simply take one like that!” He was so loud, other passengers already started turning to see what was going on. Oh, well. I decided not to buy the bloody blanket for 6 EUR as he offered. The rest of the flight went just fine. In the morning, before landing, they even served some complementary drinks. So I had a cup of black tea.

Train ticket to Penang / George Town

Ok, back to Bangkok… My plan was to buy the train ticket to Penang / George Town for Monday, 20th May. So I walked to Bangkok Hua Lamphong train station to get this done already the first day. In various Internet forums and blogs they say that you can take your time with buying the ticket, but I figured I better get this off my to-do list…

The lady at the ticket desk spoke very good english and after typing in the date in her booking system, she turned the monitor towards me and said: booked out! What? How can this be? Ok, “I’ll take first class”, I said. “Mister”, she replied, “this train is booked out”. Oh well, that’s my luck 😊. So I bought the last 2nd class ticket for 19th May…

Dudes and dudettes, sorry, but I’ll have to continue writting tomorrow. I need to sleep now. Today I made 32.991 steps according to my iPhone’s Health app (~20 km). And in the evening I worked out at the outdoor gym in the nearby Rommaninat park. So I’m quite tired now.

Two full weeks without sweets!

Hey there folks,

I made it!

What? 

No sweets for two weeks!

It wasn’t even that hard. I had practically no cravings, except on two occasions: last week, when my wife baked an apple pie and yesterday, when a colleague of mine opened a fresh box of soft cakes (my favourites). 

BTW, here’s what I count among sweets: 

  • Any kind of candy
  • Any kind of cakes
  • Any kind of biscuits or cookies
  • Any kind of (sweet) pastry 
  • Any kind of ice cream
  • Any kind of fruit yoghurt
  • Any kind of dried fruit (figs, dates…)
  • Honey, agave or maple etc. syrup
  • Or any other food that has more than ca. 6g of sugar per 100g

I normally eat fresh fruit very rarely if at all (instead I really enjoy eating vegetables), but if we include an apple or a banana in the above list – oh, well – then I failed miserably. I ate an apple AND a banana this week. Hm… 

Obviously, I haven’t simply decided to stop eating sweets out of nothing. The true reason is – I want my (long gone 🙂 six-pack back!

I mean, if someone has managed to quit smoking, stopped drinking alcohol, doesn’t drink any coffee and doesn’t eat any bread for years AND now also says goodbye to the sweets – getting back a six-pack shouldn’t be a ‘mission impossible’ now, should it? 

Next milestone: one full month without sweets! 

Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted!

No more sweets for el capitan

Dudes and dudettes, dear friends! It’s been a while since I published the last blog post. But, worry not, you haven’t missed much…

In the meantime, I started taking diatonic harmonica lessons, learned how to repair MacBook Power Adapter (and actually repaired it), designed a video game, sold the remaining stuff from the basement on ebay, got a pair of brand new teeth, gained some weight and… I decided to quit eating sweets. Again. Only, this time I really mean it. No more sugar for this guy. It’s already 4th day today since I quit eating any kind of sweets. 

Chocolate? Nope, I don’t eat chocolate anymore. Cookies perhaps? No. Cheese cake? Nah. I’m not even eating dates, which used to be my favourite sugar substitute. Since I’ve never been a fan of Coke and co. anyway,  essentially – I just had to get rid of typical sweets from my diet. 

But why did I suddenly decide to stop eating sweets, you’re asking? Well, last week at work, our cleaning guy came to pick up my trash bin in order to empty it, just like he does every other day. That trash bin was full of chocolate wrapping papers, soft cake packagings etc. He looked at the trash bin, then he looked at me, as if he feels sorry for me and said: “Hey capitan, what’s wrong?” He just shook his head and moved on, not waiting for an answer or an explanation. That very moment I decided to finally lose weight and stop eating sweets. Enough is enough.

From my experience, this process is very similar to quitting smoking (or overcoming any other addiction) :

Admit (to yourself) that you’re addicted and that you need to quit
Decide to break the addiction
Find good reasons why you need to quit eating sweets
Quit

1. Admit

In the very first step, you have to admit that you have a problem. Because, if you “don’t have a problem” (or more precisely: you don’t see a problem), you won’t be able to find a solution. That’s obvious, right?

2. Decide 

Once you realised that you do have a problem with addiction (of any kind), it’s time for a decision. Decide to quit. You don’t have to actually action on it right now, just make a firm decision: e.g. “I’m not eating any sweets anymore”

3. Find reasons

You’ll need really good reasons to quit. The better reasons you have, the easier it will be to convince yourself that you need to break that bad habit.

4. Quit

Simply quit. If it’s smoking – just stop smoking. If it’s eating sweets – just stop eating sweets. As easy as that. Your reason(s) will support you in doing so.

And, as my favourite yoga book* suggests – this should be done not by forceful suppression but by detachement. If you suppress the desire, this desire is still there, just sitting and waiting for the right moment to come. Detachment is the key. 

So I detached myself from the sweets for the time being. Let’s see how long I’ll stay sweets-free this time. 😀 I’ll keep you posted. 

 

 

 

* Bases of Yoga by Sri Aurobindo

Taekwondo and the “Secret”

I haven’t been attending Taekwondo training for almost a year now. Reached the blue belt and… paused. I just had to stop for some time because of my knee problems. I guess I was too heavy  (ca. 106 kg at that time) and my knees were simply not able to carry all that weight. Specially with all the spinning, kicking and jumping around.

Since approx. end of June I’m down to ca. 96 kg and my knees practically don’t hurt anymore. Naturally, I started thinking of continuing my “Do”. But, you know how we procrastinators are: today I cannot go because of … [insert literally anything here]. Rain was forecasted for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow I’ll have to … [again, insert any excuse here].

The issue is – Taekwondo black belt is one of the items on my life goals list. And I’m really commited to achieving all of the goals on that list during this lifetime.

TaeKwonDo
Taekwondo – kihap (기합)

Now, believe it or not – but yesterday morning my instructor texted me to remind me of the afternoon trainig session. Ok, perhaps this doesn’t sound like much of a surprise. Only, I haven’t heard from him for months! And now – out of nowhere – I’m getting a message with an invitation for the training. Call me crazy or desparate or whatever, but I really believe in “The Secret”. I believe that whatever goal you have – you can achieve it. You just have to know what you want, why you want it and you have to take meaningful and targeted action towards achieving your goal.  And should it ever happen that you procrastinated and neglected your goal – you’d get a wake-up call like I did.

I also believe that during our lifetime, we encounter such people that seem to help us achieve our goals. On the other hand, we also encounter such people who seem to hinder us from achieving our goals. The funny thing is  – more often than not we only realise which are which after many, many years…

Of course I attended yesterday’s training session (and fell asleep from exhaustion the moment I came home :-). I even promissed to show up next monday. Because – by summer 2019 I’m planning on passing the red belt test and by Christmas 2020 I’ll be a black belt holder.

How about you guys and gals? Do you believe in “The Secret / Law of attraction”? Do you have a list of your life goals?

Smoking kills

Cigarettes stink!
Cigarettes stink!

My ex band mate’s wife died the other day. Lung cancer. Boy, did I cry when I got the news. She was such a good person, helped me and my wife when we needed it back in the day. I was totally shocked, didn’t even want to realize what I just heard. 

As I said – a wonderful person but also a chain smoker. You would never see her without a cigarette. So sad. Why do people do this to themselves? Why do people smoke this stinking poison?? 

She was diagnosed with lung cancer towards the end of 2017. Her family and friends have done everything to save her, tried several therapies but to no avail. 

Is smoking a form of masochism? Because, what other mechanism makes a healthy, intelligent person reach for the cigarette?

Quit smoking, dudes and dudettes! 

It gives you nothing and takes away everything! 

Need help quitting smoking? Just watch “Quitters, Inc.” in Stephen King’s movie Cat’s Eye (1985).

 

p.s. one more thing: cigs stink like hell. Don’t believe me? Do this: stick your nose in the next ashtray full of cigarette buds and take a deeeeeep breath through your nose. Breathe in through your nose as deep as you can. Ok, now – if you really did this, no need to reply to me or this blog post, because the answer is written all over your face: cigarettes stink like hell!

Sh*t happens…

Hey there, dudes and dudettes! I’m back. Finally. And I’m really sorry if you have been visiting this blog from time to time just to realize that there were no new posts. You see, I was unable to upload new posts due to… to… ahm… TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. Yep. Technical difficulties! (Note to self: wow, this is such a great excuse. Works every time and it sounds so real, people don’t even doubt it. I’ll have to use it more often!) 

Ok, ok but what’s with the sh*t happens story, you’re asking? Well, recently I embarked on a path of becoming a frugalist. Fruga…what? Frugalist. Check it out here. Really cool lifestyle concept. And so, on my way from pure consumerism towards radical frugality, I decided to throw away, give away and sell my belongings. Literally everything. Ok, almost everything. But I guess you know this already. I believe I’ve mentioned this idea in one of the previous posts some time ago. And guess what – I already sold a few things on eBay and got rid of some old stuff. Yay! But there’s so much more to be listed and sold… 

Anyways, to cut the long story short: I decided it was time for my Maurice Lacroix chronograph to go.  For those of you who don’t know what a chronograph is – it’s just a flashy name for a wrist watch with a few additional “complications” (that’s what they call wrist watch functions beyond simply indicating time. I’m serious. Marketing never sleeps). Being a chronograph and not a plain wrist watch with a stopwatch makes it more expensive, too 🙂 My particular chronograph is a beautiful, stylish but also somewhat older quarz model. Nothing too fancy. Since the battery was already with one foot in the happy hunting grounds, I decided to change it DIY style. C’mon, how hard can that be? And I’d save 15 euros, too.

Oh, man. Big mistake. A perfect example of “make or buy” decision gone wrong. It’s not that I didn’t have the tools, skills, time or patience. Not at all. On the contrary. I did a wonderful job opening the case without a scratch. And then I went for the battery clamp screw. Did that, too. Unscrewed the screw and… 

Maurice Lacroix battery
Maurice Lacroix battery

Then I got the stupidest idea ever: to make a photo of the battery clamp while that tiny screw was hanging in it’s tiny screw hole. I reached for my iPhone which was lying on the shelf just behind my back, and made a few photos. And when I checked the last photo I took, the f@”&$*%* tiny screw was *not* on that photo. What?! It was there just a second ago. As you can imagine, I was about to explode. Oh, boy was I angry with myself. DIY? Seriously? Save 15 eur? WTF?! Idiot. But then I decided not to get upset at all and said to myself “you’ll find it, man. Don’t worry. Calm down. Breathe in, breathe out and start searching”.

And then I launched the rescue mission: first I checked around the desk. Under the monitor stand, perhaps? Hm… No. Under the printer? Nope. Keyboard? No. Hey, maybe the bloody thing is still in the watch somewhere? So I shook that watch inside out, hoping that the darn lil’ thing will fall out from the housing. Nah. No dice. So I went down on the floor. There was still hope that I’ll find the tiny screw on the floor somewhere. BTW, I’m calling that little thing a “tiny screw”. If you’ve ever opened an iPhone or any other cell phone, then you’ve seen small screws. Now, this thing is 10 times smaller! It’s literally just a bit bigger than a grain of sand. Crazy! How do they make them so small? Ok, so I searched high and low, square inch by square inch… and nothing. Ever heard of “needle in a haystack“? Well, this is the point where that figure of speech comes to life. 

But, not all was lost! I could swipe across the floor with a strong magnet! Ha! A trully marvelous idea! Said. Done. But – nope. Fail. “Error” (as my colleague Deniz used to say). And then I went for the last resort: install a fresh vacuum cleaner bag and vacuum the whole damn floor. Afterwards simply use a utility knife and carefully cut the bag open. The screw must be somewhere inside… Now, this last step I haven’t done yet. Because… what if I don’t find the screw inside the vacuum cleaner bag?! 

Home-cinema

For years I’ve been dreaming of a family-home-cinema evening: just the six of us, in our standard five+one formation (five humans + our canis familiaris), squeezing  cuddling on our living-room couch and watching a good movie on a big movie screen. Right… now you’re probably asking: oh, yeah, if you’ve been dreaming of this for years, how come you never managed to organize such a simple event so far? Well, the answer is simple: it’s first of all video-projector producer’s fault. Those prices… they’re incredible. Way too high. It’s their fault that so far I could never justify shelling out hundreds of €€€s for a piece of equipment which would be used only occasionally… Oh, wait a sec, my conscience is telling me something: excuses, excuses… Ok, nevermind. In a nutshell: we’ve never had a chance to organize such a family event so far (due to video-projector producer’s pricing policies 🤥).

And then my employer declared bankruptcy, ruining my dream carreer… Ha? Say again? Bankruptcy? What does any company’s bankruptcy have to do with family home-cinema dreams? Well, it has everything to do with it. You see, since the very first moment of the insolvency proceedings, the company (i.e. insolvency trustee) has been trying to get as much cash as possible by selling all possible assets, including all of the remaining marketing collaterals, furniture and IT equipment. For the first time in my life I got the chance to purchase an old but really nice pre-owned Dell DLP office projector at an affordable price. Poor thing has probably been hanging from the ceiling in some meeting room as it was rather dusty, but with only a few scratches and -most importantly- it was in the price range which I could afford  (perhaps one could have fished out a similar unit at a comparable price on eBay? We’ll never know…)

[now you get to choose the ending]

Ending nr. 1

And so I brought the projector home, we connected an old laptop via VGA cable (this projector can only do XGA) and streamed “Balto” from Amazon Prime. It all worked out perfectly and we enjoyed our first ever family home-cinema evening and the movie about a brave dog who… ah, you don’t need to know this right now. 🙂

Ending nr. 2

And so I brought the projector home, we connected an old laptop via VGA cable (this projector can only do XGA) and played a DVD movie. Tried to play the movie, that is. Because the darn thing was obviously broken. Aaarrghh! The picture started flickering after only few minutes and projector bulb went off and on again… oh, man. I brought it back the next day, but the IT guys wouldn’t accept any returns. 😥

Ok folks, so what did we learn from this story? Which ending did you like more?

Please leave a comment and like!*

Home-cinema
Home-cinema evening

 

* due to lack of Facebook and Youtube channels, we currently only accept “old-school likes”. Just in case you forgot how this is done: put on your best used car salesman’s smile while looking straight at your device’s display. Now, while smiling and looking straight at the display, make an upwards motion with your hand and do the “thumbs up”. Don’t forget to keep smiling! And if you really like this blog a lot, do the upwards motion & “thumbs up” with both hands at the same time! And now nod with your head. Oh, and make sure you don’t get caught doing this because people *will* be asking questions… 🙂