“Money Number One and its author, Neil Hutchison, censored in Thailand

It has been said that Neil Hutchison needs to be considered The Bible when it comes to dealing with Thailand’s bar girls and that no Westerner should deal with the Thai women he is likely to meet here without reading either “Money Number One” or one of Neil’s similar masterpieces such as “A Fool In Paradise”. The fact is Neil is telling the truth although many naive Westerners fail to realize it. Today I went to the Central Pattaya Mall to get a copy for a very good friend of mine who I just visited in Japan, thinking he’d get a big kick out of the book and who I could later have some good conversations with concerning the cultural differences between Japan and the West, Japan and China, and Thailand compared to his own country and other countries he’s visited. To my dismay I could find no copies of either “Money Number One” or any of Neil’s other books at Asia books. So I asked the bookstore attendant if she had “Money Number One”, and when she told me the bookstore had discontinued all of Neil’s books, I asked her why. She replied: “Because Thais have been complaining about the books because it shows Thais in a bad light.”

I then went to a second bookstore in the mall. Once again I asked where I could find, “Money Number One”? The woman in charge of the section where the book normally should have appeared told me, “We don’t have it” and when I asked her why, she told me, “We have problems with the publisher (Neil Hutchison). I then asked her, “Is the reason the same that Asia Books has” that certain Thais have complained?” She said yes.

A Fool in Paradise book coverThis required further investigation so I emailed Neil Hutchison for the answer. A few hours later a close associate of his emailed me that “Certain do-gooders had complained about the cartoon front cover image for “A Fool in Paradise”, because it depicted Thai bar girls in a sexy, provocative light and that this detracted from Thailand’s image. So the authorities removed them from Thailand’s bookstores.

Well that’s complete rubbish. Truth is when we are talking about the bar scene and most women associated with it, that’s the way it is, and money is number one. Neil exposes a major element of Thai society for what it really is and many Thais simply do not like the truth to be told.

Thankfully one can still occasionally buy one of Neil’s books in the shadows of Thailand’s mainline book stores where the more obscure shops can still be found or get a copy online from Neil’s web site Money Number One. I strongly urge anyone who comes to Thailand to get a copy, and to heed Neil’s advice. And if you are male and contemplate any form of relationship with a Thai woman whether it’s for five minutes or a lifetime, consider it the Bible.  Just remember that there are no exceptions to Neil’s unencouraging words of advice.    This includes you.

American Medical Association claims that Obesity is an acceptable disease

Put bluntly, the AMA is endorsing fatness as a way of life and what Americans should settle for. But I will strongly suggest that in most cases obesity is a result of laziness, stupidity, and lack of self respect. If the AMA is really serious about calling itself anything better than a tribal association of witch doctors, then my name is Dr. Corbett. Let me guide you then out of your fatness and all of this bacterial or virus nonsense that the AMA wants to blame for your looking like a buffalo. Come exercise with me, watch what you eat, and see who’s really right on this one–the AMA or Dr. Corbett. Get on the elliptical machine for six days a week for an hour, or if you are slow, two hours a day until you exercise off 750 calories. Do it for a few months while getting a good grasp of how many unnecessary calories you eat and come back and tell me who’s right.

Think I’m off base? Consider that the February 21st, 2014 Sunday Review in the New York Times stated: “In June 2013, millions of Americans contracted a disease. They developed it not because of some pathogen or illness, but thanks to the American Medical Association’s decision to label obesity a “multi-metabolic and hormonal disease state.” Which means the AMA was telling fat Americans: “Accept your being an overgrown hippopotamus because there is nothing you can do about it.” There’s a lot to the article, which is well worth reading. Where the editorial falls short is it doesn’t provide any answers, only the dilemma that it is difficult to make a choice between making people feel good about their obesity and inspiring them to actually do something about it.

Let me assure you, the fact that Americans today weigh 25 pounds more than they did in the 1960’s is unnatural. Pizzas and McDonalds, a sedentary lifestyle and unwillingness to exercise did it–certainly not an incurable disease called obesity. I am currently visiting Japan and I can guarantee you that neither the bacterial form of obesity or virus carried mutation has made any serious inroads here. For the most part I’m not seeing many fat people here in Japan.

A few days ago I asked my Japanese friend, Takoi, why the women here weren’t fat like American women. He replied: “Because Japanese women see thinness as the best way to be.” That was in Tokyo, but now that I’m in Kyoto and have been here a few days longer, I must say that obviously the Japanese must be doing a lot of things right when it comes to being slender as opposed to the American approach advocated by the American Medical Association of “Don’t rock the boat. Feel good that you look like Jabba the Hut.”

The situation has gotten so bad that a good friend of mine who lives near me in Thailand told me, “I never want to bang another white woman ever again.” My friend is 71.

The truth is that most people can do something about their elephantine figures, and that using their brains and having the willpower to do what must be done is the only alternative to being ugly and fat for the rest of their lives. Viewing themselves as victims of an incurable disease called Obesity as recommended by the AMA only serves to create an acceptance that being grotesquely fat and ugly is unavoidable.

Once again, I’m not the AMA, and I’m not about to tell you to feel good about yourself. So let’s face the facts. Americans are not the same race of people they once were. Just keep in mind that the average American soldier during World War II weighed just 152 pounds and that today the average American male comes off the scale at 194.7 pounds according to Wikipedia. Even worse is the figure for American females of 74.7 kilograms or 164.7 pounds. Good God, I’m 66 years old, I am five foot eleven, and still weigh only 75 kilograms, which is the same that I weighed in college. This is inexcusable. I’m ashamed for my fellow Americans. The United States has become a hog farm for humans, and I’m not afraid to say what the American Medical Association is either too gutless or too much into the profit motive to admit.

Did I say profit motive? Damn right I did. It’s either that or dim witted. It all boils down to this. Fat people have a lot more health problems than thin people do. To begin with the typical American male’s heart was designed to support a body weight of 152 pounds, the typical body weight of a World War II soldier. It was not designed to pump for a body of 195 pounds, thus supporting all those extra arteries,veins and tissue for nearly one third more body mass. So to begin with Americans can expect a lot more circulatory problems and that means more profits for the doctors. On the other hand, perhaps doctors are not really that greedy so it’s gross stupidity that causes the AMA to lull Americans into acceptance of their corpulent bodies. And if it’s not stupidity then it’s simply that they are too gutless to tell the truth.

The truth is if you are American, chances are you are grossly overweight so you have two choices. Either accept the fact that you are destined to being a fatso for the rest of your life or that you are going to conquer what the AMA chooses to cause a practically incurable disease called Obesity, no matter what it takes. This means that you must quantify how many calories you are putting into your body each day and make certain that you burn off more calories than you consume. For example, one bottle of lite beer contains around 110 calories. To burn that off I need to run one mile or do eight minutes on the elliptical machine until the machine’s digital readout gets to 110 calories. I exercise very hard for one hour a day six days a week. In that hour if I’m on the elliptical machine I will burn off 750 calories which is good enough for 7 lite beers. But if I’m drinking a non lite beer, that’ll come out to 160 calories so in that same hour I will burn off approximately 5 beers. Since I am undergoing so much pain during that hour, I favor drinking the lite beer over the higher caloried regular beer because I am getting so much more out of my one hour’s exercise. So what about one large piece of cheesecake? I’m not sure on that one, but I’ve read that an average size serving is 257 calories. This means 2.6 miles of running, fast walking, or over 20 minutes on the elliptical machine just for that single slice.

So what about those 14 beers I had last night? Yeah, I know, I know. I’m quite the derelict. 14 beers if they are lite beers comes out to around 1400 calories. So if I am burning off 750 calories during one hour’s exercise session, it’s going to take two days in a row to burn all that beer off, which comes out to 1500 calories, but only if these are lite beers. But I do not drink in the afternoons so a martini lunch is not in the cards. I’ll usually have one big night out a week. But suppose I have two big nights out when I get sloshed to the gills? Comes out to 3000 calories. So I must keep in mind that 3600 calories equals one pound. If I keep that pace up for a month I’ll be gaining 3000 times 4 or 12,000 calories in that month. That means I am apt to gain about 3.5 pounds a month on account of the beer alone. However, I am hitting the exercise hard six days a week so that must be put into the equation. Six times 750 calories is 4500 calories that I’ve burned off and that has to be balanced off against the 2800 calorie gain from that two nights beer drinking.

What all this boils down to are two words, Quantify and brain. That is one must use that brain to constantly quantify exactly what one is doing to one’s body in terms of how many calories are being consumed versus how many you are being burned off. So what does it really take?

A lot more than you think, and certainly a lot more than the doctors are telling you, who are probably recommending three days a week of exercise. And that is complete bull. When I work out on the elliptical machine I maintain a pace that most 30 year olds are unwilling or unable to attain. Perhaps I’m lucky and have been blessed with much better than average genes. But if that’s the case, there’s still hope for you even if you think you have been victimized unfairly into suffering a lifetime of being fat and unsightly. A big man often exercises next to me at the health club. Once I’ve done one hour’s torment and pain he’s just starting to hit his stride. The man will do another hour. He’s British and I suppose he weighs over 300 pounds. He travels incessantly all over Southeast Asia, but when he does, he chooses hotels that have exercise rooms, which he consistently uses. I’ve heard he’s lost at least 20 kilograms or over 50 pounds. And he’s still losing weight. But he’s got a long way to go still. His business keeps him working over 60 hours a week, yet he still manages to do two hour exercise programs. The man’s got a ready smile and an undefeated attitude about him. He’s an inspiration to me because I can tell you this….he’s undergoing a lot more physical pain and challenge than I’m having to overcome at just 75 kilograms. Compared to him I’m just another wimp.

Why my favorite shop in Thailand is amazon.com

Don’t get me wrong, I love living here in Thailand, but that being said, I am increasingly buying many items in the U.S. whenever I can. Take sunglasses for example. I routinely buy Rayban Aviators or Outdoorsman sunglasses which I deem infinitely superior to el cheapos that are available worldwide. Today, my girlfriend and I went to a shop near my condo for the express purpose of having the attendants take off the templates or arms from a 58 millimeter pair of Rayban Outdoorsman to put those on a 62 millimeter pair of Rayban Aviators and replacing the arms of the Outdoorsmans with the templates from the Aviators. I have been keeping the 58 mm Outdoormans in a desk just in case I should lose the larger pair of Aviators. Meanwhile I had gotten my Thai girlfriend a much smaller pair of Raybans which she feels are too small. However she does not like the hook on style of arms that were on the Outdoorsmans whereas I actually prefer them to the standard templates I’ve been using with my 62 mm Aviators. THe solution came to me in a flash. The 58 mm pair of Outdoorsman’s I am keeping just as a spare are a bit too small to my tastes so my plan is to buy a new 62 mm pair of Aviators in the U.S. for my new spare and to give my 58 mm spare Outdoorsmans to my girlfriend.

So we went into Charoen Optical here in Naklua. Although I have a number of tools in my condo I was not sure I had the right size of small screwdriver to work with the very small screws in the two pairs of Rayban sunglasses. So I showed the attendant who first waited on us the two pairs of sunglasses and asked her if she could swap out the templates for us. I told her I’d give her a tip even though in the U.S. any optical shop worth its salt is going to perform this service for free. The reason is most American shop owners know that if they give you good service you are likely to come back so even if they are giving away service for free, a lot of future business will result from this.

But this is Thailand, the land where money is number one. But to this I’ll now add stupidity, laziness, lying and dishonor. Right off the attendant says Midai, which means “No can do.” And I”m thinking maybe midai for you because you probably can’t do anything but certainly not for any optical shop in the U.S. The woman is soon joined by two other attendants who soon prove to be just like her, as useless as tits on a boar.

I now tell the girls I will give them 50 baht, which is close to two dollars if they will swap out the templates for me. One of the attendants now starts to explain that the templates cannot be swapped out because of the glue. Well, I am pretty sure that Rayban is not using glue around those little screws that fasten the arms to the frame of the sunglasses. Then she tells me or I think she’s telling me that the screws in the two pairs of sunglasses are not the same and therefore the swap cannot be done. But that makes absolutely no sense at all. I am over 90 percent sure that the same sizes of screws are used and that Rayban has designed their sunglasses so they can be easily repaired with new arms and screws if necessary.

I suppose these attendants think I’m really stupid if they expect me to believe all the reasons for Midai…..that is all the reasons they cannot get a simple job done. So I look one of the attendants in the eye and I ask her, “Around you sure, Midai?” And she looks me square in the eye and replies. “Sure.”

I know she’s lying. I also know all three of these gals are completely incompetent. I have already resolved to do the swap myself. But before my gf and I leave the shop I start looking at the pairs of Raybans they have for sale. The cheapest pair of Aviators are 9,000 baht which is around $300.00. I can buy the same pair from amazon as well as a number of other online retail outlets for $100.00, one third the price.

I have screwdrivers and other tools back at my condo, but I almost drive my motorbike to a local hardware store to make sure I get the exact size of screwdriver I need. I don’t. But when I do get home I find at least two very small screwdrivers in a set that will do just fine. I also take the pair of tweezers out of one of my Swiss Army knives because I will need all the help I can get with those very small screws.

It takes only 10 to 15 minutes for me to swap out the templates in the two pairs of Baush and Lomb sunglasses. Then I race downstairs to have my girlfriend try on her new pair of sunglasses. SHe likes them a lot. But there’s another woman down there talking to her in our parking lot. It is our maintenance man’s wife who handles the inside cleaning in our condo. I make sure that she knows how stupid I feel those employees are at Charoen Optical. But…I also made it clear to her that I did not regard her husband the same way at all. Thank god he’s not the same. He gets to our condo at 6 a.m. or even earlier and it seems that there is very little he cannot figure out for himself. He’s terrific. I also have a high regard for his sidekick who is our engineer and electrician. In fact, the electrician asked me to get him a pair of Raybans last year so I bought him a pair from amazon.com and brought them back to him upon my return from a short visit to the U.S. He enjoyed the sunglasses and the price….100 bucks.

Now I must go back just one day…yesterday. My girlfriend and I found a shop in Big C where I got a nice warm sweatshirt. We go to Japan tomorrow and I did not have enough warm clothes. I paid more than double for it compared to what I should have spent, but again, I”m not in the U.S. and there is hardly any long sleeved sweatshirts to be found. They also had a lot of knives in this shops from well respected U.S. companies such as Gerber, Buck, and Victorinox which makes Swiss Army knives. I price out a Japanese made Recon Tanto by Cold Steel and the girl told me it was 9000 baht. When I got home I priced the same knife out at Amazon.com and it cost around 2,500 baht.

Thankfully not everything is selling here at such ridiculous prices. All I’m saying is be careful and do remember that money is number one, that laziness here has been brought up to a cult status and that far too often Midai means “we cannot do, but you probably can”. Oh, one last concept and that is one of “no honor’ Now one would think that one might be ashamed of saying Midai when what is requested is a very easy thing to do. So by saying, “I cannot do,” one is dishonoring oneself for being one lazy, or one very stupid, person”. Fat chance though. This is one very strange land

Do not behave like a foolish tourist by overpaying Pattaya girls

Walking Street is the Mecca for tourists who wish to sample Pattaya’s wondrous night life and delectable available women. It is also avoided for the most part by most of my expatriate friends who view most tourists as total idiots when it comes to the women here. The reason so many expats despise sex tourists is the sad fact that the majority of them act as if they know it all,  fail to seek advice from the guys who live here, and even if given well meaning advice, ignore it.  But the worse thing about  foolish tourists is most of them are guilty of overpaying Pattaya girls for sex.   Ultimately this is very bad for all concerned including the women who work in the bars and night clubs in this city and the fools who have caused the problem in the first place who will no longer be able to afford the girls.  As for the girls, if most men can no longer pay for them, the majority of them will soon find themselves out of work.

Take the example last week of an American who accompanied an expat friend of mine to the Walking Street go go bars. I really don’t know this man at all although I just met him and got the story first hand. Perhaps he’s used to paying California prices for prostitutes of hundreds of dollars for just twenty minutes of sex. Perhaps he doesn’t pay California sex workers at all thinking that he cannot afford their services. I really don’t know, but this I do know. He went into one of the go go bars with his expat friend where he found a girl he wanted to have sex with. Straight off, either the girl or the go go bar establishment told him it would cost him 2,000 baht for short time ($60.00). And then since he already had a girlfriend or wife staying with him at his hotel, he needed a place to take the go go dancer. The nearby short time room cost him another 300 baht. Then there was the bar fine of 700 baht he had to pay the go go bar in order to have it allow the go go girl to leave the bar with him. So having his thirty minutes of short time wound up costing him a total of 3000 baht or $100 American dollars. But he was not quite finished yet, and neither was the girl for that matter. Feeling sorry for the girl for having to work in such miserable circumstances, he gave her a 1000 baht tip thus raising his cost to a total of $133.00.

His expat friend, another American, who just happens to live full time down the street from me probably warned him to go elsewhere to look for a girl. But this guy’s a tourist, and as I’ve mentioned before, tourists know so much more than we expats. Gene and I could have taken him to an entirely different area of Pattaya where he would have wound up paying between 500 and 800 baht to short time a girl and just 300 baht for a room with no bar fine whatsoever. His cost for short timing a girl would have been just $33.00. Chances are the girl would have been just as good looking, and I can virtually guarantee that she would have been much better in bed than the spoiled go go girl he had gone with instead.

Did I mention spoiled go-go girls? Yes, I most certainly did because most of you tourists are spoiling them to the point that most of us who live here and know better want absolutely nothing to do with them. First off, what the American who had just spoiled the go go girl didn’t realize is that once he had bar-fined her and turned her loose after having sex with her was now free to go find her second customer. She might have returned to the go go bar looking for her second bar fine of the night, or now free to go wherever she pleased she might have gone to Lucifer’s or Tony’s or Insomnia as a free lancer to go with any man willing to pay her asking price, a price that did not include a bar fine. I give you 80 percent odds she has a Thai boyfriend waiting for her at home, but whether she does or not you will notice that most go go girls have no interest in spending the entire night with a customer versus your typical beer bar girl whose goal is the opposite–that is to spend the entire night so that she can impress her customer to spend additional nights with her. With most go go dancers the name of the game is constant turnover rather than impressing a man so much that he might pay her for a week, a month, or even years of companionship.

Do you think I’m joking? I live here so I know. I used to frequent a beer bar near my condo that just happened to have the best looking group of bar girls around. Time and time again after midnight or so, if the night was going slowly and the girls were not getting bar fined I’d watch a group of them leave the bar and stand together waiting for a baht taxi to take them down to Walking Street so they could go to Insomnia in search of customers.

When I first moved here to Pattaya 500 baht used to be the commonly accepted price for short time. With go go dancers, the price of such a short time would have been 500-1000 baht with an all night long time costing up to 1500 baht. Go to the same go go bars today and the girls are quoting anywhere from 2000 to 3000 baht short time, and sometimes even higher. Especially if their go go bar attracts mostly Japanese and Korean men for their customers. Japanese men in particular are widely known on Walking Street to pay stratospheric prices for sex.

Now I just don’t understand most of these Japanese guys I see down on Walking Street throwing their money at the girls. Sometimes they throw baht right at the girls dancing on the stage. Other times they purchase ping pong balls from the bar which they then throw at the girls on the stage who scramble all over stage, groveling on their hands and knees to gather up as many ping pong balls as they can which they then turn into the bar for cash. To me, there’s nothing more stupid than throwing money away at go go girls. And yet, so many Japanese customers seem to enjoy doing it.

Perhaps it’s a modern Asian version of the old Indian Potlatch ceremony that’s at play here. The Potlatch used to be a form of celebration practiced by Pacific Northwest Indians to demonstrate their wealth and status by giving away gifts to their peers who would then try to outdo their rivals by giving away even greater amounts of wealth. So when it comes to throwing away lots of money at the girls, ping pong balls or paying more for sex than the rest of us are used to paying, many Japanese just might be demonstrating, “I have more money than you, more power, or more status. In effect they are trying to tell the world, “I am a real man because I can afford to throw my money away.” Or perhaps they are getting a certain malicious pleasure out of seeing all these women humiliating themselves by groveling around on the floor for a few baht.

To be honest, I really don’t know, but I am going to Japan one week from now where I will be seeing a very old Japanese friend of mine. I will be asking him, What is it with so many of these Japanese guys wanting to throw their money away at women?” One thing for sure though is that many of these Japanese are spoiling things for a lot of men by driving the price for sex upwards to levels most men either won’t want to pay or who cannot afford it.

Now I really don’t have it in for the Japanese. They build great cars, They produce wonderful cameras. They are clean and orderly. And I am going all the way to Japan just to see a very good friend of mine, who happens to be Japanese, who I’ve not seen in years. I can go on and on about their wonderful attributes. But I absolutely fail to understand their ridiculous and stupid behavior when it comes to the go go bars here in Pattaya. We Westerners revel in getting value for our money. Even when it comes to women. And throwing ping pong balls at the girls simply doesn’t equate to anything approaching value. But in the end as stupid as so many of these Japanese men seem to be, I find most American and European tourists to be just as stupid by failing to seek the advice of those who know better or upon getting such advice, completely ignoring it.

One more bit of advice, however. Don’t think of Walking Street go go girls as being special. I remember a certain slender girl who used to dance at Heaven Above. A good friend of mine had the hots for her, and he wound up bar-fining her. But he went out with us to a couple more go go bars, and when he returned to Heaven Above, he found out that another man had bar-fined her. Upon giving the option of picking another girl by the club, he declined and was given his bar fine back. A couple of months later we found her working at a Soi Six Bar where the cost of a room upstairs was 300 baht and where he no doubt would have wound up paying her just 500 baht for the short time. Another Soi Six girl worked for a couple of weeks at Baccarat on Walking Street, a club that has a very heavy Asian customer base. At Baccarat her bar fine was 1000 baht where she probably would have asked another 2000 baht for short time. Not able to make nearly as much money at Baccarat as she had been making on Soi Six she soon returned to Soi Six where a man can have sex with her for 1000 baht total–700 baht for her and 300 for the room upstairs.

These are the same girls. They have the same brains, the same bodies, and the same hearts, but when they work at a Walking Street go go bar you get to spend a hundred American dollars for them, but when they work on Soi Six you pay just one third the price. That’s why so many of my expat friends are so contemptuous of the Walking Street go go bars.

Because of their misrepresentation of their rooms I will never use Agoda again

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Agoda misrepresents its rooms far too often in my experience, and my recent booking of the former Best Western Hotel in Kyoto Japan is the final straw.  This is what happened.  This is why I will never use Agoda again.

I booked a standard double room for this Kyoto Hotel for six days starting on February 18, 2014 fully believing I’d be paying $593.08 for two persons, my Thai girlfriend and myself and that we’d have a double bed. But I have a good friend in Japan who we will be seeing and when I forwarded my agoda.com booking confirmation to him, he emailed me back: asking me politely, “Are you sure of this reservation?” He had highlighted “Number of adults–1.” Then he remarked, 1 person? Shouldn’t it be for 2 persons?” So I looked at my confirmation from agoda to double check and it turned out he was right. The wheels started turning. “I am going to have one nasty surprise when I finally get to this hotel with my girlfriend only to find out that she cannot stay in the room with me. The wheels continued to turn….”Certainly she will be allowed to occupy that double bed with me, the only question is how much additional money will I be forced to turn over?

My investigation now turned to checking out the hotel’s web site which was now under the new name Hotel Vista Premio Kyoto

Notice that one pays 17,000 yen if only one person occupies the standard double room but if two people occupy the same room it costs 20,000 yen. No breakfast is included nor any other extra amenities that I can determine so the hotel is charging 3000 more yen for the exact same product or service with no additional costs that it incurs that I can determine. By now I’m totally pissed off.

So I tried calling customer service at agoda.com. My plan is to accuse agoda of misrepresenting this room and hiding the fact that I will get a nasty surprise once I get to Kyoto by having to cough up additional money so that my girlfriend can stay with me. It’s a United Kingdom phone number, and I call it on Skype only to be informed by an answering machine that the systems are undergoing repair. I resort to sending a complaint online to Agoda customer service. I then place another long distance call direct to the hotel in Kyoto but by this time I’ve made a second booking through booking.com planning to cancel the agoda booking later on. The desk clerk in Kyoto tells me her hotel has me down for both reservations. So I ask her, “what happens when I turn up at reception with my Thai girlfriend and you have me down for a maximum occupancy for one person (I already know the answer)?

“Well, we will have to charge you 2,000 extra yen per day for your girlfriend”, she tells me. Although I can do the math on my own I ask her what the entire six nights will run me in American dollars. She tells me $118.00. I then ask her who gets this windfall at my expense, the hotel or agoda.com? She tells me the hotel gets the extra money.

A few hours later I get an email from customer service at agoda.com verifying that they’ve called the hotel in Kyoto and that the hotel will charge me an additional $118 upon my arrival with my girlfriend.

Okay…I’ve made the second booking with booking.com because I feel the cheaper rooms that are left are going to go pretty fast and because I don’t want to give agoda.com one more dollar because I felt that the agoda.com web site had indicated to me while I was making my reservation that I was getting a room for two people, not one. In other words, by this time I was nearly certain that Agoda.com was playing tricky dicky with me.

But I had to be fair. Perhaps I had made a mistake while making my booking with agoda. So I went through a dummy booking to see what really happens while reserving a double room for two people. First off, I could not click a check box for two persons, but from all indications I could see that the maximum occupancy for this double room was for 2 persons, not one. Well, perhaps I was still missing something here. So I asked two good friends of mine to see what would happen to them if they underwent this same reservation process. One of them reported back to me that until he got to the point of putting in his credit card and other personal information while going through the booking process that he was in fact reserving a standard double room for two people, not one. There wasn’t a single hint that he was reserving a room just for himself.

Well that did it. I had been completely fair and tried and found Agoda.com guilty of deceptive and dishonest business practices, and that’s exactly what my friend reported back to me. So to cover my butt before posting my findings in this blog I did two screen captures while once more going through a dummy booking on my own.

Note that this booking is clearly for a maximum occupancy for two persons indicated by the little symbol in the second image for two figures, not one. Needless to say I didn’t go through the final stages of this dummy booking which would have meant charging my credit card.

So today I checked my credit card’s activity online, and yes…I have already been charged the full $593.08 by Agoda.com. I’m sure my card will be credited by this amount next month, but I still wanted to be absolutely sure so I once again called the hotel in Kyoto after canceling my reservation on the agoda web site. According to the hotel the agoda.com reservation has already been canceled.

As for my booking.com reservation…I made it clear to reception that I”m keeping it. It is at a higher price than the original price quoted to me at agoda. But when one goes to the booking.com web site the default and pricing defaults for an occupancy for two persons. My confirmation email from booking.com verified this is for an occupancy for two guests. What I can gather is that booking.com already knows there is an additional charge for the second guest and that it has already absorbed this additional charge it is quoting for this room. However it most certainly appears that it is significantly higher priced than Agoda.

My friend tells me that he will never use agoda after helping me check this situation out.

Update on our quest for an American tourist Visa

We got it, a one year visa to the U.S. in spite of all the nonsensical advice from know it alls who claimed it would be difficult, or next to impossible. And we didn’t spend one dime with any of those flim flam visa advice agencies. Did it all on our own. I am especially gratified recalling what a Thai legal advisor I had some dealings with before told my girlfriend in a bar in Drinking Street around a year ago. This man used to give presentations at the Expat Club before 100 to 150 Westerners. He told us, “Forget it. Don’t even try. It’s a waste of your time and money.” But I don’t think he was listening to me. I told him I didn’t want a fiancee visa, I only wanted a short term travel visa. Turns out it’s called a B-2 Visa and there’s an entirely different application process for it on the American Embassy web site. Meanwhile friends of my girlfriend who only had a sixth grade education told her, “It’s easy for you and Jack because all you are doing is applying for a short term visitors visa” (they might not be well educated but they were listening).

Got delayed a little getting the Pin number one must purchase in order to set an appointment with the American Embassy in Bangkok. The web site did not function when it came to accomplishing that with my credit card but we got it easily at the Thai Post office. The next problem occurred when I tried to access the area on the web site where I could see what dates and times were available. I had already submitted my girl friend’s picture and the DS-160 application form under which I got a user name and password. The user name did not work when I tried to make an appointment online. The trick was to create a NEW user name so I sent a message to the U.S. Embassy stating this problem and I got a message back that I had to use a new user name even though I already had one. Okay…from then on, no problems. One more trip to the post office, this time to pay my nonrefundable $160.00 application fee and we were on our way. (Incidentally the Thai post office seems extremely well run. In eight years I have never failed to get a single visa statement, bank statement or purchased item sent to me from the U.S. even when the mailing address is horribly botched).

We had prepared documents galore stating and proving our case that we have been together for over 4.5 years, that we had traveled together to Vietnam, Malaysia, Macau and Hong Kong and that we are about to go to Japan. The embassy official who interviewed my girlfriend looked at next to none of that, but he did look at a document I had scanned proving I owned a condo here. My girlfriend entered the embassy at 10.00 for her 10.30 appointment, but they started processing her at that time and she was out of the Embassy at 10.30. The official who interviewed her kept her passport, and that indicated to us and a few of her Thai friends that she had been successful. She had to pay a small fee to have the embassy send her passport back to our condo by courier. Two days later…it was here.

The people she talked with at the embassy told her that all these agencies that help candidates get their American visas are a waste of time and money. The point made was, they can’t stamp your visa into your passport. Only we can.

American version of The Russian Walking Dead of Pattaya

If you are in the U.S. and cannot view The Russian Walking Dead of Pattaya click here.

This video is available in full HD resolution on my You Tube Channel and on my facebook page. It is not viewable in the United States and some other countries on You Tube. However, I was able to reduce its file size and put it up on my web site at alphapro.com and it’s really not bad quality at all. So I am calling it my U.S. version. Apparently You Tube is concerned about possible copyright violations and that’s why it’s censored this video in the U.S. and certain other countries.

Since I have used only short segments of the television series of the Walking Dead, my personal feelings are that I’ve not violated any copyrights held by Starz t.v. which produces the t.v. series. In fact, I’d think it might in a small way even help promote the series resulting in a net gain for Starz.

So do the Russians really behave in this way? Do they really clog up the streets of Pattaya? Do they really walk three and four abreast down the street as if they own it as if cars and motorbikes do not exist. Yep. They really do. To get the actual video footage of the Russians flooding up and down the street, I had to spend just 15 minutes getting these scenes.

The East Saint Louis Cement Mixer meets Pattaya Bar Girls video now available for tablets and other mobile devices

And here it is

If you have a desktop or laptop computer I recommend that you go to my You Tube Channel. So why couldn’t you get this great video on a tablet or other mobile device before? The You Tube censorship team decided to restrict the circulation of this video due to potential copyright violation. So, it made the video available for computers and not available for Kindles, other tablets, and phones. The culprits are two songs in my video that are purely bar background music. I was not even aware of such censorship until I tried to get this video on my Kindle Fire from a Bangkok hotel room. So I had two choices…..I cut cut all the audio on both songs or I could just accept the situation as it stands. However, tablet and other mobile devices account for 30 percent of my total of nearly 1.4 million You Tube videos on my Jack Corbett channel.

I object strenuously to such vehement censorship. Granted, You Tube offers a spectacular service and it’s free. But in the case of this video the entire video would be destroyed if I’d allow You Tube to delete those two songs from my effort. This would provide a very boring and very inaccurate depiction of the entire bar scene at Drinking Street I’m trying to portray as the entire object of this video along with so many others is to put the viewer right into the bar as if he’s actually there, and that means experiencing the action and all the background music in its totality. THis is exactly that these two songs amount to–background music. It is not as if I copied audio tracks from a purchased DVD and offered it for sale or even as a giveaway. This is strictly background music as it is picked up by my very small digital camera with its miniature microphone. Therefore I hardly think I’m guilty of copyright violation.

So I put this same video directly on my alphapro web site. The video here is not up to full 1080 by 1920 HD quality such as you’d be getting from the You Tube version of it, but it’s still pretty good quality certainly far better than enough for a tablet or other mobile device. It’s just not good enough to view clearly on a 55 inch t.v. screen.

The Do Nothing Congress

the Gop Cartoon Strip

I just read in the “New York Times” that this Congress has passed fewer laws than any other Congress in American History since 1947. That’s 63 years ago, the year I was born. In essence that means this Congress has not done the job it’s been paid to do and that it has betrayed American tax payers who pay its salary. So when it comes to the next midterm elections let us never forget the following key facts and always remember that Republicans do not deserve our votes.

● First off, it’s the Republican Administration under George W. Busch that landed us in the recession, not the Democrats, and most certainly not Obama.

● In 2008 when Obama took office we were on the verge of a catastrophic world wide depression that would have made the Great Depression of the 1930’s look like a picnic. The Obama administration avoided it.

● The Republican Party has been hijacked by its right wing tea party faction. Because of this it has become the party of NO to anything and all things brought forward by our president or Democratic Congressman and Senators that could possibly improve our nation’s future.

● The Republicans have shut down our government in order to force Americans to accept the demands of its Right Wing Faction. It has used this threat repeatedly in order to get its way. This has impaired the credit rating of the United States of America while making the entire U.S. appear ridiculous in the eyes of the rest of the world.

● It is the GOP administration under George W. Busch that gave us two useless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have drawn out for years at great expense to the American tax payer, both of which have been lost.

● The Republican Party has dredged the bottom of the barrel by offering Americans the likes of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Caine, Rick Sanotorum, and Mitt Romney for president who as a group would make the Three Stooges look like the Three Wise Men.

● I have included Sarah Palin even though she ran only for Vice President. Had McCain won and died in office, she would had her finger on the nuclear button. The horrifying thought of this totally unqualified candidate for Vice President can be fully appreciated by watching the movie, “End Game”.

● Like it or not Obama care is the law of the land. Republicans are breaking the law in its endless attempts to hold it hostage by shutting down the government, derail it state by state, and sabotage it at every turn.

● The Republican Party denies that climate change is man made in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. If given its way– if we continue to vote in a Republican Majority in Congress, vote in a Republican controlled Senate or president in the next presidential election we are voting for the destruction of our entire planet.

● The Republican Party legislature has joined together in lockstep with every single Congressman and Congresswoman opposing our president and the American people who elected him at every turn. Therefore all Republican lawmakers and all future Republican lawmakers must be held accountable.

● Considering all of the above the only good Republican is a Republican who is out of office. Make it happen.

Lastly…I cannot draw. But I will do what I can when it comes to defeating this Republican scourge that has been created ever since the GOP has allowed itself to be hijacked by its right wing. Here’s the url of my GOP Cartoon strip for those who enjoyed the image heading this post

The Walking Russian Dead of Pattaya

The Russians are taking over the city of Pattaya, clogging up the streets, zombie like, walking three and four breast, multiplying, fearless of the traffic.

I am sorry to say that I cannot embed this file as embedding has been disabled on the Jack Corbett Channel for this video due to “Third Party Content Violation”. This is due to the fact that this video contains bit and pieces of the first two episodes of the Walking Dead, season 1. Each snippet is only a few seconds in length. Nevertheless I have copied from “The Walking Dead” and have interspersed these Walking Dead snippets with real video footage I got of Russians walking down the street here in Pattaya. Well, we will see what will happen with those copied snippets. Personally I think no harm is done. It would be one thing if I’d copy an entire episode then distributed it to the public. My purpose is altogether different, that is to satirize Russians who walk three and four abreast down the street as if the street were a sidewalk. But I’ve also taken a few shots at how such streets are mismanaged by the authorities here. So who’s responsible for the creation of these Russian Walking Dead? Watch the video and make up your own mind.

Thoughts from the Expats Corner