Portugal, Spain and The Best Italian Restaurant in the World

May is a good month to get out of Phuket. It’s when the monsoons hit and when it isn’t raining, it’s very hot.

This year we left our home in Phuket for a six week vacation, touring Southern Europe. With an American passport I can go just about anywhere, but my Thai wife needed a Schengen Visa. Not an easy thing to get, but we eventually figured it out. It will be easier the second time around.


Our first stop was Lisbon. Portugal is a great place to spend some time. We toured the whole country spending a month there. Lisbon was beautiful, but Porto may be the most beautiful city in the world. We loved the people, English is commonly spoken. It was the least expensive country we visited.

Coming from Thailand where wine is heavily taxed, a bottle of wine is $15, there was wonderful Portuguese wine for $3. The bread, the cheese, the desserts, the beef, things Thailand doesn’t do well, it was a revelation! Every restaurant was good and often great. I use Tripadvisor.

We tried to stay in apartments instead of hotel rooms whenever possible. That way we could prepare a lot of our own meals and the Thai girl could make the food she loves.

We were in Northern Portugal for the first two weeks, toured the Douro Valley wine region and then headed down to the Algarve, Portugal’s Southern Coast for the final two weeks. We loved Portugal.

I want to rent a condo for a month next year in the Algarve. You can rent a one bedroom condo in the low season (September-May) for $750 a month. We particularly liked Portimao, a great place to explore the Algarve from. We rented cars at very low rates.


Then, off to Spain and the largest cities of Barcelona and Madrid for a week. Instead of condos we stayed in small hotel rooms, in the the old town sections of these historic cities, walking and taking public transportations, we went everywhere. We loved dining on Tapas every night. Have a drink and tasty small meal, move on and repeat. These cities are magnificent and it doesn’t take long to master public transportation with the help of Google Maps.

Flying around Europe is a bargain. The airlines are in in a cutthroat price battle and the consumer wins. Warning: they make money on screwing the passengers on baggage requirements. Make sure you know what your airline’s requirements are. We had an overweight bag that we had to pay a $50 penalty on, that was more than our two tickets!

Finally on to Milan Italy, where we rented a car and drove 120 kms North to the Piedmont (Piemonte) area for the last four days of our trip. This was a very special four days. The beauty of the area is truly magical.

It was epicurean experience, simply the best food and wine I’ve ever had. This is where we found the Best Italian Restaurant in the World. Every meal we had was outstanding, not what you would expect when you think Italian food.

I was ready to turn around and do the whole trip all over again when I got back, but I guess it will have to wait for next year. Meanwhile, I’ll hang out in the tropical paradise of Phuket. Ciao.

Kamala Beach Is Being Destroyed by Condo Development

The unbelievable pace of condo development in Kamala Beach is unfathomable. Why is this happening in the Phuket real estate bubble? Why are there thousands of new condos under construction in a market that is virtually dead? Everywhere you look in Kamala you see the construction. Have all these developers lost their minds? Who do they think is going buy these condos in a market where NO ONE IS BUYING CONDOS!

10 Reasons I’ll Never Buy A Condo In Phuket

The environmental impact of these projects is staggering. Phuket doesn’t have the infrastructure to support the development. There is no where to put the mountains of trash now. We run out of water every April and sewage treatment is overwhelmed before these developments are even finished! In a Western country there would have long ago been a building moratorium until these environmental issues were addressed.

All these photos represent a different development in Kamala. Another development in which the condos will certainly be empty, overpriced and unsellable, yet the building continues.

How did we get to this point? By having no oversight on development in Phuket. The lack of government oversight has allowed developers to do anything they want. Who suffers from this lack of oversight? Everyone…for generations to come. Where are the sidewalks? Where are the parks? There is NO community planning…just building.

Why is this disaster taking place? I have only one answer…greed. Greedy developers believing they’re going to make huge profits. Since we know that’s not going to happen, why does this continue? I don’t have an answer. Maybe it’s just the momentum of starting the project that keeps it going. Poor business decisions trump common sense? No one is going to buy these condos. If these developers are looking for people to walk in and plunk down the money for a condo in their unfinished development, they’re screwed. They all have fancy sales offices where they’ll tell you all about their luxurious, incredible opportunities for investment. It’s all bullshit.

The ugly reality is every one of these developments is in trouble. One of the developments in Kamala that’s not even half finished (with a crane still on top of it) has stopped construction because of lack of sales. I went in to the sales office and they offered me a substantial discount off of a unit. When I pointed out that construction had stopped, they said no, they still build on Saturdays. Doesn’t give a buyer a lot of confidence to actually buy. Anyone want to buy a condo in an unfinished development…good luck. The jury is still out on if any of these projects will ever be completed.

What about the guaranteed 7% yearly returns all of these places offer? Doesn’t that make for an attractive investment? Hardly. There are laws against short term rentals of condos. It’s illegal to rent your condo for less than a month. How can the condo development offer a return on an empty condo? If the condo ever gets built there is no way they can return the money. The developer’s management team will undoubtedly have moved on by the time you’re looking for your guaranteed return on investment. Try to get your return through Thai courts? Good luck with that.

Kamala Beach continues to be destroyed by developers. I don’t get it.

Mercury Blues

Pete Bowen’s cover of a song that constantly plays in his head. Fun rock & roll…love that slide.

The El Rex-X/David Lindley version inspired.

“Mercury Blues” is a song written by K. C. Douglas and Robert Geddins, and first recorded by Douglas in 1948.The song, originally titled “Mercury Boogie,” pays homage to the American automobile, which ended production in 2010.

The song has been covered among others by the Steve Miller Band (1967, at The Monterey International Pop Festival, and 1976, on their album, Fly Like an Eagle), David Lindley (1981), the Finn Pave Maijanen (1987), Alan Jackson (1993), Meat Loaf (2003) and Dwight Yoakam (2004). Lindley’s version, from his 1981 album El Rayo-X, peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Meat Loaf’s version appears as a hidden track at the end of his 2003 album Couldn’t Have Said It Better. Dwight Yoakam’s version appears on his 2002 boxed set, Reprise Please, Baby, and later on his 2004 compilation album, Dwight’s Used Records. More recently, a lively, truly blues version appeared on Jackson Browne’s “Love Is Strange” (2010), backed by David Lindley.

Rights to the song were purchased by the Ford Motor Company (who already owned the Mercury marque). Ford, in turn, used it for a television commercial featuring Alan Jackson singing his version of the song with the word “Mercury” replaced by the words “Ford Truck.”

Pete Bowen

The Best of Kamala Beach Phuket Pictures of the Year 2016

If you follow me on Facebook, you’re getting fresh Kamala Beach pics almost everyday. I walk Kamala Beach every night with an iPhone 6S Plus and a beautiful Thai girl. With the sun going down on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, some days you’re going to get lucky and get a great pic.

Looking back at 2016, I got lucky often. I’ve got some pics I’m proud of here. That’s shooting everyday and I get a couple of ones a month I really like.

Look at the joy on this girl’s face! She was dancing around the beach on her own all by herself. That’s spectacular joy. Proud of that one.

Sun behind the clouds, the single guy out on the end of the rocks

The bird out of the sun pic! That’s the kind of photo you look at on the computer when you get home and say, “Wow, look what I did!”

A girl walking into the sunset, simple and beautiful.

Framing a small boat in the sunset. It works somehow.

An attractive gal walks out of the water at the south end of Kamala

A pensive couple on the beach

After delivering some tourists a long tail boat gets ready to return

Kamala Beach in May, after everyone has gone home. That’s when I like it the best. Yeah, it’s warm, but I got it to myself then.

Just a pic of the sun and the clouds, but majestic!

We’ve got to have a pic of the Thai girl here. I think this is the day we mastered stop action.

This is a stylized version of a pic I took of the South end of Surin Beach last summer on one of those rough days.

I spotted this older couple hiking down the beach with their sticks. Unusual effect from the sun really blends the pic.

Starting to spot a theme here? Women walking into the sun. This one was a winner.

Just a cute little girl walking along in the sunset. Love this pic.

And the #1 pic of 2016 is this one. There was a big beauty pageant going on in Phuket that day, I stumbled onto this photo shoot on Surin Beach. There was a photographer taking pics of the model and I walked by and stole this one. I think this gal won! I saw another pic of her and she was one of the most popular models, if she didn’t win. Anyway, I took one shot of her because I didn’t want to seem too obvious. I got lucky.

Sometimes you get lucky, but the most important thing is showing up and taking pics, lots of pics.

Remember, the best camera is the one you got with ya.

See pics daily at the new The Phuket Sun

Pete Bowen

Rocket 88 the First Rock and Roll Song

Long before Tina, Ike Turner and the Rhythm Kings went into Sun Studios in Memphis and recorded a jump blues song called Rocket 88. It rose to be a #1 song on the R&B charts in 1951.

Some say…this was the first rock and roll record. That’s debateable. Jump blues and swing combo music had been around for awhile, but Turner made the style even rawer. The song features one of the first examples of fuzz guitar ever recorded, as a result of dropping the guitar amplifier before the recording session.

Determining the first actual rock & roll record is impossible, there are simply too many candidates for that distinction. Rocket 88 with lyrics about cars, booze, and women with a big rocking beat, certainly gets the song up there as a prime candidate.

Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and His Comets would probably get the most votes for the first rock and roll song, but it’s not the first. Haley’s recording did became an anthem for rebellious 1950s youth and brought rock and roll into mainstream culture around the world.

I’ll leave it to old Ike Turner to put Rocket 88 in it’s historical place, “I don’t think that “Rocket 88” is rock’n’roll. I think that “Rocket 88” is R&B, but I think “Rocket 88″ is the cause of rock and roll existing …”

I love car songs from “She’s real fine my 409 to Little Red Corvette. What rhymes with Tesla? I’ll have to work on that one.

Enjoy

How to Rent a Car

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Consumer Reports is one of my favorite magazines. You’re always going to get an honest appraisal of a product or a service from Consumer Reports.

They recently did an article entitled Rent a Car Without Getting your Wallet Emptied. It was fine as far as it went, but I don’t think it emphasized where you can save the most when renting.

I start by going online to any of the travel sites that compares the pricing of the various agencies. Sites like Expedia, Travelocity, it doesn’t seem to really matter. The prices are about the same. I like to get the biggest car I can that doesn’t cost much more than the cheapest. I’ll upgrade if it’s reasonable and no it’s not the above Porche. Think Nissan Altima.

The biggest expense for renting a car is the insurance, the collision damage waiver or CDW and it’s the trickiest part of renting a car. The CDW can double the cost of renting. The Consumer Reports article touches on this, but doesn’t spell it out specifically. “American Express and many Visa and MasterCard programs also supply rental-car insurance, so long as you pay using that card.”

Here is the deal, you have to rent with a credit card not a debit card. Use a Visa Credit Card and the CDW is covered for three weeks.

The counter people will work you over for the CDW and additional insurance. It’s how they make their money. Ignore them.

I was just looking at renting a car in San Francisco on Expedia and the CDW was included in the rental, no Visa credit card required. I advise everyone to be careful. Call your credit card company and make sure of the coverage and read the insurance portion of the Rental Agreement. They’re usually trying to screw you some how.

And agree to bring the gas tank full rather than any of the other options.

That’s it. Be careful out there! If you’re renting a car in Thailand, remember it’s the most dangerous place to drive in the world. I would avoid driving here, if possible. Driving in a third world country is a different cup of tea.

10 Reasons I’ll Never Buy A Condo in Phuket

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I’ll never buy a condo in Phuket. Never say never, but in this case…NEVER.

I hate what is happening with all the development in Kamala. I’m watching an environmental disaster as one unneeded development after another begins construction. What is the justification for all this construction when there is already an enormous property bubble? Phuket has tremendous environmental issues already with inadequate water, raw sewage spilling into the ocean and no place to put the trash. Yet, 4000 more housing units will be coming on the market in Kamala alone! It’s insanity. In a Western country there would be a building moratorium till the utilities caught up with the construction. I think the only way to stop the insanity is to starve the beast. Don’t buy a condo in Phuket. Maybe it will slow them down.

Foreigners can’t buy a house and have it listed in their name. It can only be registered in a Thai’s name. Foreigners can buy a condo in Thailand. Many have and many are very happy with their purchase. There are a few lucky ones. When I make an investment, I can’t afford to make it based on the possibility of getting lucky. Buying property in Thailand is fraught with problems. Buying a condo in Phuket is a bad financial decision.

10 reasons why I won’t buy a condo in Phuket

#1 It’s cheaper to rent
Let’s do the math: Say I like a condo near the beach that costs 5 million baht. I can earn 6% investing my money in the stock market. Every year 5 million baht would generate 300,000 baht or 25,000 baht a month. I rent a beautiful 2 bedroom house for 17,000 a month. That means if I bought a condo, I would lose 8,000 baht a month. Rents are going down in Phuket with all the new development and places are easy to find. My house is bigger and better than a 10 million baht condo. Rent.

#2 Condos do not increase in value, they go down
The argument is always that the unit would increase in value over time, unfortunately this argument doesn’t hold water in Phuket. The historical 10% increase in value that is the rule of thumb used in many Western countries isn’t applicable here for a number of reasons.

#3 Selling a condo in Phuket at a profit is almost impossible
Good luck selling a condo in the enormous real estate bubble that grows by the day here in Phuket. The fact that no one is buying hasn’t slowed the developers. People generally will not pay a premium price for a second hand unit. New condos aren’t selling, why would you buy a second hand unit? The more expensive the unit, the smaller the market is. Everyone I know who has bought has either bailed out at a loss or is stuck with the condo they bought. The real estate market is basically dead.

#4 Condos are overpriced
Where do they pull the pricing for new units from? Condos are ridiculously overpriced. There is the issue of “artificial pricing” whereby the developer sells, or at least transfers ownership of many of the units to friends and family members who then sell the units once the building is completed. This makes it appear that new units are selling to buyers, don’t buy it. Very little is being sold in Phuket. For a while Russians were buying condos, then the Ruble took a dive. Chinese are reluctant to buy. Buyers are few and far between.

#5 Condos age miserably
Will the building you are looking at buying have the same charm as a 50 or 60 year old condo block back in your homeland? No, not with the local construction standards. Recently built condos can be a mess. The problem is with no tenants, the building isn’t getting the required money coming in for maintenance to be carried out. The tropics eat buildings. The jungle wants its land back.

#6 Condos are often badly managed
Money for the maintenance is often squandered, pocketed or simply isn’t collected. One of the big problems faced by MANY condo buildings is that the owners of condo units go bust or simply don’t pay the maintenance fees. The entire condo project can deteriorate with enough deadbeat owners. Renting out the condos for three months a year doesn’t cover the costs. I know of number of situations where the management and the owners are at legal war. Litigation is slow, expensive and almost always favors Thais.

#7 Maintenance fees are expensive and often inadequate for maintenance
Maintenance fees on Phuket condos tend to be expensive and are often not paid. There isn’t a lot the management can do about it! With a lack of funds for these basic services, building maintenance just doesn’t happen and value goes down. Often management is just ripping tenants off. Condo owners have to have a strong owners committee or they’re in for problems. Owners of older condos are often hit with a very expensive extra fees when for example the entire place needs to be repaired or repainted.

#8 Ownership problems are very hard to fix in Thailand
Some neighbors are going to be problems. There is going to be noise issues from inside or out. Problems that are easily solved in the West can be very hard to fix in Thailand. I’ve moved three times because problems have developed. You’re stuck there with little recourse if you’re a condo owner.

#9 Up and moving is no longer an option
Problems are not always easily solved. Even trying to solve an issue can see things escalate to another level where the only thing left to is…MOVE. You can’t. You got 5 million baht invested in this mess.

#10 Construction is poor and rarely built to specifications
Nothing is built to original specifications in Thailand. Cutting corners on large projects can set a family up for life. What was designed by engineers often doesn’t resemble the finished product. Corners are cut, stuff stolen, general malpractice, mildew, water and poor construction by unskilled laborers result in buildings that are a mess and in constant need of repair.

Ask a realtor if he owns the property he lives in. They rarely do. I don’t know one. That could be because they’re starving in the real estate business or they already know buying a condo in Phuket is a bad financial decision.

One final thing, if you’re going to blow money on a Phuket condo, at least make sure it’s finished. Lots of places like this around.

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The Disastrous Phuket Property Glut

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Nobody can dispute there is a Phuket property glut. Because of the disorganized way property is marketed in Thailand, it’s difficult to say just how large the oversupply of condos/apartments/houses is. There is no organization among realtors or listing of properties for sale, so no one knows.

I think there is a HUGE property glut.

There is a Phuket property glut simply because property isn’t selling. No one is buying. This can be traced to the worldwide economic decline. Property sales had been drastically falling off for a few years, with the Russians saving the market until the Ruble collapsed. Who knows how many of those sales are now in default? Throw in the declining Australian dollar and the Phuket property market has come to a standstill.

The Chinese, the majority of tourists now, were never a factor. The Chinese will not buy property to holiday or retire to on Phuket.

Tourism is down an estimated 25% over last year, which wasn’t a good year. Thailand has become more expensive than it was in the past. The baht has remained strong against many other currencies. Realtors occasionally sell something when the price gets ridiculous, but very few are coming to Phuket looking to buy. New projects remain vacant and deteriorating.

I’ve advised people never to buy in Thailand.. Property in Thailand is a terrible investment. With the over development, prices have been falling. A lot of property has been for sale and unoccupied for years…even at fire sale prices.

Thailand represents too much of risk for far too little reward and that is not even taking into account the current state of the property market. The higher cost of living for many, failing critical infrastructure, lack of good governance, terrible traffic, rising crime, drug abuse, no public transport, bureaucracy surrounding visas, corrupt officials and you’re going to buy property here?

Buying property as an investment makes no sense. Renting property out has become much more difficult. In prior years you couldn’t find a place to rent from December to March. That’s all changed. There are plenty of places to rent this high season.

What is the preposterous result of Phuket property glut? The fact that no one is buying has no effect on new construction. More property is in the pipeline right now than ever before with more projects on the drawing board. The Phuket property glut is going to get much worse!

All this construction has turned Phuket into an environmental disaster. The complete lack of planning has come home to roost. The utilities on Phuket are already completely overwhelmed. Water, sewage and trash are all stretched far beyond limits. Yet, new construction projects are all full speed ahead. It’s an ongoing environmental disaster, with momentum.

In any Western country, a building moratorium would have been in place years ago. There is no planning in Thailand. Everything gets approved. Money talks.

What can be done at this point? Nothing, it’s crazy. The Thais aren’t going to stop the building. All I can suggest is, Don’t buy property in Phuket.

I love living in Phuket. Please come and join us, just be sure and rent. Long term rentals are cheap with lots to choose from.

Maybe some time in the future, a banker or CEO of one of these corporations financing the next property disaster will look at the glut of existing unsold property and say, “Hang on a minute…”

I don’t see any sign of that happening now. The Phuket property glut and what it’s doing to the environment just gets worse.

Kamalala – Music Video

A song about a woman, Kamala…lalala Come on, girl, I love you!

This song started bouncing around my head, walking the beach. I wrote and recorded it a year ago and only now got around to playing with it.

The Thai Girl did the videos. Thanks, baby.

Phuket’s Biggest Star Wars Fan Reviews The Force Awakens

Ashley Peck’s day job is Manager of Baan Natasha Beachfront Guesthouse and Bar at the South end of Kamala Beach.

He’s so big a fan of Star Wars, he saw the new “The Force Awakens” at three consecutive showings on Premier Day. That qualifies him as Phuket’s Biggest Star Wars Fan. He obviously loves Star Wars. You can feel the love in this vid.

A link to Baan Natasha Beachfront Guesthouse http://www.baannatacha.com/

Our New Flipboard Magazine is Live!!!

View my Flipboard Magazine.

I love Flipboard. It’s great site to read about all the things that interest you. I’ve put a magazine of my own of Flipboard. I hope you’ll take a look.

Flipboard collects quality content on your favorite topics from the world’s most trusted sources, and presents them in a beautiful magazine format. See for yourself: try Flipboard on your smartphone, tablet, or desktop.

The Do’s and The Don’ts for Phuket Tourists

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Walk around Patong’s Jungceylon Shopping Mall in a bikini? Just don’t do it in modest Thailand. We could probably come up with 50 Do’s and Don’ts for the naïve Phuket tourist, but let’s start with five:

5. Do – Get Off the Beach – Hanging out at your resort is a wasted Thailand vacation. Phuket is one of the most beautiful places in the world with a dozen incredible beaches. See it all, experience it and get away from your resort. Everything is half the price, once you get off the beach. Eat food from the street vendors. Try the locally owned little restaurants. See the place. Go for it!

4. Don’t – Rent a Motorbike – Phuket roads are the most dangerous in the world. There is a constant parade of injuries coming into Phuket’s emergency rooms. You’ll see wounded, limping casualties with bloody bandages everywhere. Don’t think about coming to Phuket to learn how to drive a motorbike. Unless you’re an experienced motorbike driver, don’t take the chance of ruining your vacation with a motorbike accident. If you want to cheat death, then at least wear a helmet! And be careful! Drive uber defensively.

3. Do – Find the Local Fresh Markets – In Kamala Beach alone, we have markets on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. These are the markets the locals go to buy fresh food and supplies. There are also t-shirts and everything else tourists buy at half the price of the shops around the resorts. If you can’t find it at the market, you don’t need it.

2. Do – Ignore the Touts – Walking around the tourist shops, you’re constantly assaulted. Tuk tuk? Buy a suit? Have a drink? Massage? The touts are relentless. The secret is to completely ignore them. Pretend you’re deaf and don’t respond. Don’t even look at them. You need to develop the 500 mile vacant stare. That’s when you ignore them and continue to look off into the far distance. For the very polite, try the words for no thank you in Thai, “Mi Ow Krap” (kap for women). That usually doesn’t work. Try it again in a louder voice. The 500 mile vacant stare works best.

1. Don’t – Fall in Love – This last one is for the guys. We might be prejudiced, but Thai girls are the most beautiful in the world and so accommodating! They can be so sweet, but use your head. Be careful with money and don’t do anything foolish, like buy them gold. We see guys fall in love with bar girls, all the time. Remember, they don’t love you, but they do love taking money from the poor misinformed, walking ATMs. They’re really, really good at it. It’s their job. By all means enjoy your stay in the Land of Smiles(LOS), just don’t get emotionally involved with a Thai girl, you met on vacation. Long distance relationships don’t work.

And have fun, you’re in most beautiful place in the world, LOS!

Getting iPads and iPhones Repaired in Phuket

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We’ve got our share of Apple products with iPhones, iPads and even an Apple TV. Occasionally we’ll need service on these products, so I wanted to pass on my experience of getting Apple products repaired in Phuket.

Here is the first thing I’ve learned: Don’t drop an iPhone or iPad. I’ve managed to break two screens in the last year, an iPad and and iPhone. The glass screens break pretty easily. Well, easy for me, anyway.

If it’s only the glass that’s broken, if the device is still functioning, then you can take it to a number of places for a glass replacement. Don’t take it to Apple.
Look in the IT areas of Junceylon in Patong or Big C and Central in Phuket Town. Walk around and ask who repairs of Apple products and they’ll point you in the right direction. The cost runs 1500-1800 baht depending on the device. They sometimes will lower the price with a little negotiation, but usually there is only one stall doing this work and it’s a set price. Repairs usually take an hour.

Last week the display on my Mini iPad 2 started showing lines down one side and the display was shaking. This was something more complicated than broken screen glass. First I went to the Apple support website and spent an hour online diagnosing that it was a hardware problem and the display needed to be replaced. They gave me the contact information for the Certified Apple repair shop in Phuket Town.

There is only one Certified Apple Reseller repair company but they do have two branches. I hit the one at Central. They looked at the iPad and said the display needed to be replaced. The cost would be 8900 baht, it would have to be sent to Bangkok and take three weeks. I told them I’d think about it. As I was leaving they said to me, “Don’t open the iPad. If you do Apple won’t service it again.” Here is where they try and get you. Only an Apple certified repair shop can fix your iPad or Apple won’t fix the device again. This is a sleazy thing they do, they want to screw you for the high Apple repair costs.

I was thinking at this point, I would just buy a new iPad Mini 4 (64Gb) for 16000 baht, rather than spend 8900 baht to repair my 3 year old iPad 2. It just didn’t seem reasonable to repair the old one. I walked over to PowerBuy to look at new iPad models. I was lusting after the iPad Air 2 at 20400 baht and decided to buy it at Junceylon Shopping Center closer to home. I hate driving to Phuket Town if something went wrong with it.

I happened to see one of the stalls had a sign up for Apple repairs. I showed them my iPad and they said the display was bad. Charge for a replacement display was 3500 baht and it would take an hour. 3500 baht, do it! Now, I saw why the Certified Apple repair place made a point of telling me not to open the iPad. The repair from Apple was going to run 3 times the repair from an independent shop and take three weeks.

The repair shop told me they repair a lot of iPad displays. They guarantee the new display for 30 days but that it would last years, better than the original. An hour later I picked up the iPad and it worked perfectly.

If you have a repair that is under warranty than yes, seek out the Certified Apple repair shop, otherwise look for a repair shops that do this work. Things like a MacBook repair would have to go back to Apple, but for phones and iPads many places work on them.

These independent repair shops are not hard to find. Save yourself a bundle and stay away from Certified Apple repairs.

Laemsing Beach Phuket Thailand

Laemsing Beach is the beach in between Kamala and Surin Beach. There is a popular observation point that overlooks the beach. As you’ll see, access takes little work. Quite a few steps down to the beach, but once you get there…it’s just beautiful.

Best of Year Kamalala Pics

They saying goes, “You’re best camera is the one you have with you.” I always have my iPhone 5s with me and it takes great pics. With a little Photoshop tweaking anyone can take great pics. I just happen to live in a very photogenic environment, beautiful Kamala Beach in Phuket.

Here are some of my favorites pics from the last six months.

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Looks like a volcano erupting off coast. Took this yesterday.

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Always looking for that perfect sunset photo

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I don’t remember seeing anyone sitting up on that rock at the North end of Kamala before. It’s a tough rock to climb encrusted with barnacles.

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The TG and I playing with the panorama feature

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Sometimes you don’t know what you have till you get the pic home and blow it up on the screen. This is my current wallpaper

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Everyonce in a while, you get something uber dynamic

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Sorry, not a beach photo. That’s me on the streets of Hanoi. A lady handed me this grabbed my camera and took my photo. Looking back, I should have bought something from her. That was the point of her doing that.

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Catch this lady fisherman most every low tide evening.

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Good photos are too easy sometimes.

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Four swimmers catching a sunset

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And another dramatic sunset.

Hope you enjoyed.

You Belong To Me

See The pyramids along the Nile
See the sunrise on a tropic isle

You Belong to Me is a classic. I rediscovered this beautiful song listening to some 50’s music on YouTube one night. There was the Patti Page and The Duprees versions, but it was Jo Stafford’s 1952 version that was the biggest hit. That’s right, the song is 63 years old. In that year three artist had a hit with this same song including Dean Martin!

See the marketplace in old Algiers
Send me photographs and souvenirs

It’s been covered by dozens of people since then. When I looked up the song on Wikipedia, I discovered why the song was so familiar, Bob Dylan’s version appeared in the soundtrack for the 1994 film Natural Born Killers. I have the mp3! I had just forgot about it. I really admire Bob Dylan, but sorry Bob, in this version you sound like a gay duck.

The Diva Annie Lennox recorded a version of the song for her 2014 release, Nostalgia. Interesting that on that same album was a version of Hallelujah which I had also recently recorded (see the previous Kamalala post). Lennox’s Nostalgia album consists of cover versions of compositions she found on YouTube. That’s how I found You Belong To Me. Great minds thinking alike? More like just recognizing great songs.

Fly the ocean in a silver plane
See the jungle when it’s wet with rain

What a great song, simply beautiful.

I recorded You Belong To Me on Garageband in my home studio in Kamala Beach Thailand, just a Fender Strat, bass and me.

Gaba is THE Drug for Chronic Pain

Drugs

I was seeing a doctor as a last resort for terrible back pain. It felt like I had a knife stuck in my shoulder blade. I knew it was from my old, degenerating, arthritic spine and I was grasping at straws at that point. The doctor had little to offer except codeine, muscle relaxers, and a therapy program, the usual ineffective answers. But, he also threw something new into the mix, Gabapentin. Turned out, Gabapentin was a game-changer.

A billion people in the world suffer from chronic pain, based on an estimate that 100 million Americans who suffer from pain. What are a billion people doing to relieve their suffering? Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the first line of defensive. They’re usually ineffective against chronic pain. Opiates are a very popular way to go. The big problem with opiates is that you will become addicted, if they don’t kill you. 15,000 people died last year in America alone, from opiate painkillers. I can’t even imagine how many people are drinking themselves to death, numbing the pain with alcohol.

Gabapentin or Gaba should be the first line of defense for chronic pain. Unlike opiates, it’s not addictive and it’s highly effective, far more so than opiates that just mask the pain. The beauty of Gabapentin is that it works on the neuropathic aspect of pain.

Gabapentin was originally developed for the treatment of epilepsy. It’s a relatively new anticonvulsant. It’s still being investigated for potential use in the treatment of bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, behavioral dyscontrol, and substance use disorders. It has relatively few side effects and it’s use doesn’t need to be monitored by a doctor.

I’ve read extensively about Gaba and the explanation of how the drug works. It’s very complicated and the bottom line is, they don’t really know.

Why aren’t doctors telling their patients to take Gabapentin for chronic pain? Why do we chase useless therapy from chiropractors and acupuncturists? That’s a billion dollar question. There hasn’t been a lot of study on Gaba, for one thing. There are a couple of studies that show, when taken in the correct dosage, it’s highly effective.

The only way to see if Gabapentin works for you, is to try it for a month. It’s that simple. If you’re in pain, I suggest you try it.

I guarantee you, your GP will not know how to correctly prescribe Gabapentin. When first prescribed by a doctor, here in Thailand, he told me to take one 300 mg capsule a day at bed. That’s an incorrect dosage and completely ineffective. Since I don’t trust Thai doctors, I went home and Googled it, found the correct dosage and started taking it. In a week, my back was feeling better for the first time in months. In three weeks, I was pain free, a miracle!

The secret to Gabapentin, is taking it in the right dosage.

Here are my suggestions for taking Gabapentin:

1. Purchase 100 Gabapentin, 300 mg capsules. You’re going to be building up your tolerance to this drug. Take one capsule once a day for three days. The most common initial side effects of Gaba in adult patients include dizziness, fatigue and doziness. I remember experiencing a surreal feeling occasionally. Don’t worry, all the side effects soon go away.

2. Increase the dosage to two capsules a day one in morning and evening for three more days. Then increase the dosage to three capsules a day, morning, mid-day and evening, before or after meals, it doesn’t make any difference. You will then be on a daily dosage of 900 mg. After two weeks you should notice the pain getting better. In three weeks, the pain maybe gone. There should be some results. If there are no results after one month, stop using Gaba, it’s not working for you.

3. If the pain is better, but not gone in a month, you may increase the Gabapentin dosage. Increase it slowly. For a few days take two capsules at night. Then add two capsules in the morning. 1800 mg is still a safe dosage, that’s what I take. The maximum dosage, I’ve read is 3600 mg. Remember, increase dosage slowly to avoid side effects. If you choose to stop using Gaba, taper off slowly.

I’m not a doctor, I only play one online. I could suggest you speak to your doctor before starting to use Gaba, but I doubt he’ll know much about it. The doctor will look it up, tell you there is a high suicide rate as one of the side effect and not to take it. Yea, there is an infinitesimally higher suicide rate. I wonder what the suicide rate for opiates is? Read up on Gaba if you’re in pain. There is plenty of info online.

I only know it works for me.

Good luck.

Questions and comments at petebowen@outlook.com

A Hot Day at Angkor Wat

Southeast Asia gets hot this time of year. 98F/37C with 75% humidity is too damn hot. But, I live here. I’m climatized. No, it was ridiculously hot, but I was on a mission.

Angkor Wat is an overwhelming experience. It’s the incredible place that time forgot. There were a million people living here. It was the biggest city in the world at the time. It was all based around the water system of canals and reservoirs that allowed the population to grow. First it was a Hindu, then it was Buddhist. Over population and war took it’s toll and Angkor Wat eventually fell in to ruin.

Read the fascinating history of Angkor Wat here: http://www.siemreapcambodia.org/history/

What we’re left with from 700 years ago is an amazing architectural monument. A visit to Angkor Wat is a once in a lifetime experience that I’ll always treasure.

Yea, it was hot.

Twists and Goes

I recorded “Twists and Goes” in my home studio using GarageBand for the instruments and mixing it down to a Tascam 8 track, where I added the vocals. I shot the video using an app called Video Star on the iPhone and mixed the introduction in with Movie Maker software.

I’ve written music forever but my first music video. I know it’s amateurish but we had a good time.

Shot on Kamala Beach by the Thai girl.