The only farang in the village

Much ado about nothing particular

(no subject)

As the world breathes a sign of relief that not all Americans are conservative, evangelical or a tea potter we get this bit of election trivia above that has amused many. 

What do they call those girls ?????

People have had a field day reminding her that we A. have a Prime Minister and not a President and B. she is an athiest.

First sail
Tomorrow, I get to sail my new boat for the first time. I have taken her out of charter for a week then I will put her back to work .....

I was going to rename her Mausgras, but then I realised that many of the charter companies that take bookings for her will have her listed under her current name "Lolita". It was too much of a hassle to get everything changed so Lolita she will stay for the time being.

check out her video on youtube

Review of 5 inch Galaxy Note 2
I still have a lingering head cold that just will not completely go but my new Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is already making me feel better.

Note 2 chartplotter
I can even use it as a chartplotter on my boat. Sixty dollars worth of software compared to $3000 plus for a dedicated chartplotter

It is significantly different to the SII I used to have. It has the latest Android operating system which has quite a few different features.

The 5 inch screen does make it a lot easier to read of course but it also has more content so you do not have to scroll so often. The biggest plus is the touch sensitive keyboard. The larger screen means larger buttons, so it is much easier for fat fingers to hit the right button. My error rate has dropped significantly. Also numeric keys are displayed together with the alpha keys making it unnecessary to shift between the keyboards.

A big new feature of the Note 2 is the new S-Pen. I am still exploring the capabilities of the new feature. But first impression was it is very easy and handy to use and in some applications superior to a finger. It is very adaptable but is basically just a very accurate "finger".

Handwriting recognition seems to have improved light years since the original IPAQ attempt about 10 years.(Anyone remember that one). It does not require any training of the system or restriction to any particular writing style. It readily accepted cursive or block writing or a mix of both. I wonder how long it will take for smart programmers to bring in other non-roman character recognition.
Combined with predictive text and a requirement to check and accept each word it was almost fault free but still slow compared to touch typing on a full keyboard.
I imagine hunt and peck typists will find it a great boon.

I am not sure how I will use it. I think for someone just starting keyboard skills it will be a great tool but for someone like me to have to learn another new one ... well lets see.

I suspect it will become a personal preference thing. Some will prefer to use the pen others will be happy with their finger.

My one minor complaint was the pen's positioning at the bottom of the phone. I felt intuitively it should be pulled out the top. Maybe its a left hand/right hand thing or like reading right to left. I guess I will quickly develop the new habit.

Speech recognition seems to have improved as well. I have used it in the google search function several times now and the error rate has been noticeable reduced.

As a phone it is much like every other phone now ... not much there to discriminate. It is supposed to have one function that I have not explored yet. Apparently if you are one of those people that like to hold it in front of your face instead of to your ear it will continue to function as a phone while you are viewing a web page. I guess it could be useful if you want to read something and talk at the same time.

I have only used the fixed camera once so far and in poor lighting conditions but my first impression is it may not be as good as earlier models but still quite good.
Video recording and Youtube display is absolutely brilliant.

The GPS is quick to find your location and logging on to wi-fi or 3G networking is much easier and quicker with inbuilt apps in the operating system rather than having to download a third party app or go all the way into the settings menu.

I really think 5" is the sweet spot for screen size. Its big enough to give a useful display as a tablet but still not lose the convenience of a pocket size phone.

My biggest complaint at this early stage was my hand did get to ache a little after several hours holding the larger unit.

I wonder if Apple has made a mistake going into the 7" market. But then maybe it has a future 5" Apple phone up its sleeve .... remember you heard the prediction here first.

That's about all I can say at the moment, I have only had it 12 hours but with a bit more use I will do an update

spending money
I'm really disappointed that the great Indian Ocean sailing trip is off, for good this time. I have decided not to go, even if he changes his mind again.

I don't feel like getting drunk. The only thing I can think of to cheer me up is to go out and spend some money on a new Galaxy phone or tablet.

This will make number four in three years but what the heck, they are great phones when they work.

I have looked at all the tablets on the market, incl. the iTAB, but everything in my head says don't buy. They are just another thing to carry around or curse when you need it and you have left at home.

I have an ultra light laptop. I need a full keyboard because I do so much writing.

The new generation smartphones are brilliantly useful because they are not only a communication device for voice, text and email they give me access to all the reading and research I have to do on the internet. I can be anywhere from lying in bed to travelling on a train and I can do some reading/research.

Sure the screen is small and it would be nice to have something larger but they are quite adequate.

So why do I need a 7 or 10 inch tablet computer. I cannot do any real typing and they are too big to a useful phone. It is just another thing to add to the mental checklist when I leave home; spectacles, wallet, phone, keys, tablet.

If I find myself in a coffee shop with a few minutes to spare I bet I will spend more time wishing I had not decided to leave it behind.

OK, I think I have convinced myself now ... time to go out and buy the new 5" Galaxy Note 2.

(no subject)
After three days in bed with a miserable cold it feels so good to wake up and feel almost good again .... hour by hour I feel better. .... ready to take on the world ... but I think I will do that tomorrow.

Back to Oz
First it was on, then it was off at the insistence of his wife, then he decided he would call her bluff and it was on again. Now she has called his and he has caved in and it is off again.
I don't think I want to go now with someone that cannot have the confidence of his wife. It makes me lack confidence in him too.
I an bitterly disappointed, I was really looking forward to the adventure of sailing back to Oz.

So even if somehow it is "on" again, I will turn him down.

I hope they used gloves
I just love Thai newspapers. 


This is from the Phuket Gazette. But the best part is where the police discovered several men masturbating in cars but let them go because they were not the one they were looking for. 

Vegetarian festival
In all the years I have lived in the region this is the first time I have come across this festival which is apparently unique to the Phuket region.

It was really quite a long procession, must have taken an hour to pass and I lost count of the number of groups/temples participating. While the people in the parade were only using mock self harm at some of the temple gatherings the piercings and cuttings were for real.

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The following is from the festival website.

Phuket's Vegetarian festival (or jia chai in local Hokkien Chinese dialect) began in 1825, when the govenor of Thalang, Praya Jerm, moved the island's principal town from Ta Reua in Thalang District to Get-Hoe in Kathu District, where were tin mines and Chinese miners. Kathu was then still covered by jungle and fever was rife. It happened that a traveling opera company (called ngiu in Thai or pua-hee in Hokkien dialect) came from China to perform for the miners

When the whole company grew sick from an unnamed malady, they kept to a vegetarian diet to honor two of the emperor gods, Kiew Ong Tai Teh and Yok Ong Sone Teh. The sickness afflicting the opera troupe then disappeared. This greatly interested the people of Kathu, who asked how it was done. The answer came that ritual vegetarianism with its attendant ceremonies had been the cause, with the result that people embraced the faith enthusiastically. Thus the festival began:starting the first evening of the ninth lunar month, it continued until the ninth evening; the aim was to bring good luck to individuals as well as to the community.

(no subject)
As an expat and traveller I am very aware of foreign exchange rates. The Aussie dollar is at a historic high which is good for me as an expat but I understand how it can also be hard domestically.

I was lucky that I bought my boat when the AUD was relatively high (but not the highest) in recent times. Even a drop of one cent meant a difference of about $1000 in the cost of my purchase.

But what really pee's me off are the outrageous charges bank levy. I bring cash with me each time leave home because I get much better rates here than at home even with the local charges.

Sometimes, I withdraw $1000 (which keeps me going for a month) from an ATM but when I add up all the bank charges and the lousy exchange rate which happens in Australia it costs me nearly $100 or 10% of the withdrawal amount. This is made up of $5 fee to the local bank, $5 by my bank, $35 foreign transaction fee, and about $55 in the difference between the rate I can get for cash here and what my bank in Aust gives.

I wonder how many tourists realise just how much using an overseas ATM costs them.

Log of the Cocokai 1
Earlier this year I sailed up from Singapore to Langkawi in Malaysia. This is a long overdue "log" of that trip.

30/May/2012 – Flew from Bangkok to Changi Airport in Singapore in the morning. Immigration procedures passed with the usual Singaporean efficiency and minimum of hassle. From there it was only a short taxi trip to the nearby ferry terminal to check out again for the trip across the Singapore Strait to Nongsa Point in Indonesia.


Again all the immigration redtape was handled quickly and painlessly, even my departure card was pre-printed by computer. That is the first time something like that has happened. Singapore is really an amazing 21st century city.

I was expecting it to be different in Indonesia but the “Nongsa Point Resort and Marina”, my destination, had its own ferry terminal and immigration office. The Resort–Hotel dominated the area. A short (free) bus trip took me past a manicured golf course to a forest covered hillside with scattered luxurious villas. Amazing what a little (or a lot) of money and the right political connections can achieve.

I had to keep reminding myself that this is a developing country. A western country like Australia could never build anything like this place. Between all the government regulation, environmental concerns and opposition from community groups it would just never happen.


Then my first meeting with the skipper, of the “Cocokai,” a 54 foot schooner. Greg could have been Viking, with his long blond unkempt curly hair and leather wrinkled skin from years of salt and sand. He and his partner were half way through their circumnavigation. However, they had taken a break and flown back to the USA. Greg had now returned and was taking the boat up to Langkawi where his partner and her daughter were to rejoin him.

The other crew members arrived not long after me on the following ferry and after a bit of exploring around the marina it was an early night to be ready for an early departure the next morning.




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