Monday, October 30, 2006

Abu Dhabi trip, Part 2

My cold's feeling a lot better this morning, and it feels much better to have got all that about King Khalid Airport off my chest, so now I feel able to finish the story.

The living room in our suite: Swanky!

There's actually not a great deal to tell about our time in Abu Dhabi itself, as we spent most of the time relaxing by the pool and the beach, and shopping and eating: two of my favourite pursuits. The hotel had a small beach on a man-made lagoon, and in the middle of this small lake of calm water was a floating platform made up of air-filled plastic blocks fastened together, with swimming-pool-style steps providing access. The water felt warm as we stepped in on the beach and we could see small fish swimming around our legs before reaching the deeper water and swimming out to the platform. Abigail dived into the sea for the first time. We got out after a while and I walked over to the fresh water shower on the beach, to read a sign there warning that there might be Jellyfish about! Good job we hadn't read that earlier, as it would almost certainly have deterred us from going in the water.

Karen getting a henna tattoo

The pool area was very nice; not a very big pool but it had the two most important ingredients in a holiday pool: a water slide and a pool bar. We spent a good few hours here, reading on sun-loungers and propping up the pool bar with our Martinis.

You gotta love pool bars!

...although it is possible to love them too much.

Abu Dhabi is actually the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but you wouldn't know if for all the upstaging Dubai does. Dubai is like its younger, better-looking, more rebellious sister; the older has more experience and should be taken more seriously, but it's the attractive, flamboyant younger one that visitors are interested in. Like Dubai, there's development going on here but at a much lower scale, as the city is already pretty well-developed, with shopping malls and restaurants to rival those of the young upstart.

Still growing...

We'd bought one of those tiny pocket-sized guidebooks, and one night I was flicking through it trying to find a nice restaurant for dinner. This was Eid after all, and I quickly found that many restaurants were fully booked until late in the evening, so it was that we ended up reserving a table at Jade -- a "Chinese/Japanese fusion" restaurant, according to the guidebook. This prompted mixed feelings -- Karen and Abigail are not big fans of this kind of food, but Elliot and I love it. We had already seen another Japanese restaurant called Wasabi just down the road from our hotel and had dismissed in precisely on these grounds, but as I said, beggars can't be choosers during Eid. We got in a taxi from the hotel and I told the driver to take us to, "Jade restaurant. It's in the Al Dair Mina Hotel."
"Al Mina?"
"Yes, Al Mina" (reading from the guidebook).
He still looks like he doesn't understand but he's starting to drive off anyway, which is making Karen nervous (remember the 'Samboon Dee' incident in Bangkok!). I end up calling the restaurant so that they can give him directions in Arabic, and after about 30 seconds of gabbling and head-shaking he hands the phone back to me and sweeps into U-turn, looking a bit put-out.
"Very close to hotel!" he says. "Next time no taxi..." and then he slaps his thigh to indicate that where we want to go is so close to where we started from that next time we should walk. I feel incensed by this: after all, this is our first time, we don't know the city; how the hell are we supposed to know where it is? I'm about to pull him up on this but quickly realise the futility of it, given the language barrier, and just sit there fuming instead and putting his tip money back in my wallet.
Guess where the taxi pulls up? Yes, outside Wasabi -- the Japanese restaurant we had poo-pooed earlier in the day. It turns out Jade had changed its name to Wasabi at some point in the past (no-one could tell us when), but when I phoned to make a reservation and opened with, "Hello, is that Jade?" they said, "Yes"! Had they told me the name had changed we could have avoided all this. Still, we were there by now and had a table reserved, so in we went. It turned out to be very nice indeed and we had a lovely meal. My favourite part was the Sake. They had a "Sake List" in the same way as other restaurants have a wine list. I ordered the Sampler 5, which as the name suggests is five glasses of different Sake's for you to try. Up until now I had always believed that Sake should be drunk hot, or at least warm, but according to Wasabi the majority of Sake's are best enjoyed chilled, like white wine, and it is only certain types that benefit from warming up. My Sampler 5 arrived: a cylindrical clear plastic bowl (bit like an ice bucket) containing five long, clear cylindrical glasses of Sake resting on a bed of crushed ice -- lovely! Although each was unmistakably Sake, it was surprising how much they differed in flavour.


It quickly became a Sampler 4 though, as the cocktail Karen had ordered was in need of "spicing up" a bit, so one of my test tubes was sacrificed for the greater good.

The short holiday over, time to brave Gulf Air once again. We arrive at Abu Dhabi Airport at 11am to check in for our 13.25 flight to Bahrain, to be told by the (female!) check-in agent that the flight is delayed by two hours. Not again! We explain that this would cause us to miss our connection to Riyadh (again), so she offers us seats on an Etihad flight later in the day, direct to Riyadh. This sounds great until we hear that departure is at 19.50 that evening: nine hours from now. We accept -- no alternative -- and she points me to the ticket desk at the end of the hall where I need to get the tickets changed, then -- waving a pointing finger in Karen's direction --, "It's OK, just you {me] need to go. Mummy can take seat." The look on Karen's face says it all: Mummy?... Mummy???
I gently lead her and the children to a row of seats before she bites the agent's head off, and then stride down to the ticket desk, where I am informed that there is no room in Business Class (we had Business Class tickets to Bahrain) and that we will have to go Economy and then claim a partial refund later. Again, not much option but to accept grudgingly, although I do insist on an invitation to the Business Class Lounge: if we're going to be hanging around here for nine hours we may as well do it in comfort.

I return to where the others are waiting to find they are surrounded by a group of Arabs taking their falcons on holiday -- at least that's what it looks like. Probably going to the all-Arab-peninsula Falconing Championships or something.

Karen and the children are somewhere behind this lot

"This is the ONLY way to fly!"

That's pretty much it. You can read about our nine hours in the lounge here if you really want to. A nice break away sandwiched between two nightmare journeys. We have decided never to depend on a connecting flight in the Middle East again.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Abu Dhabi trip

My cold is really streaming now and I'm sitting here on a cloud of crumpled tissues. I'll try to soldier on to the end of this entry, but my nose is dripping onto the keyboard and each key I type responds with a little squelching sound. Anyway I'll keep going 'til either the laptop short-circuits, the story becomes unreadable due to finger-slippage, or I die.

The plan was to fly to Abu Dhabi from Riyadh via Bahrain: Karen left it too late to get direct flights (but if you ask her about it she'll try to convince you it was my fault)! Our journey began, therefore, at the hell-on-earth that is King Khalid International Airport. Normally I/we fly from here to UK on bmi which, being a quiet and punctual route, makes for a relatively straitforward airport experience. This time however, we're going Bahrain-Abu Dhabi with Gulf Air, and things are very different, in a bad way.

You know you've got a stressful time ahead when crowds of passengers pressed up against the main doors prevent you from even entering the terminal building. After a struggle we finally pushed our way inside - mainly by using our suitcase-laden trolley as a battering ram -- to be confronted by the enormity of the next challenge facing us: checking in. The check-in area was a seething mass of people all crammed together, the vast majority of which was made up of single Pakistani men all dressed alike and all carrying the same two odd items in addition to their luggage: each had a briefcase with a large sticker on the side (or was it parcel tape?) bearing some text in marker pen that I couldn't make out, and a plastic jerry can full of water. These puzzled me quite a bit; what was in those briefcases? Maybe that's just what they happen to choose for their carry-on baggage. And what's the water for? Do they get partcularly thirsty when travelling? I just asked Karen and she says it's Holy Water, but couldn't provide more detail. Maybe I'll look it up and if I do, maybe I'll let you know what I find out. Or maybe let's just leave it at that.
Separating us from our objective -- the check-in desk -- was a throng of smelly (B.O. with a capital "O!") male passengers in no discernable queue or any other kind of orderly arrangement, then a security checkpoint -- the same kind you always see at airports: X-Ray machine, metal detector etc. only here there's one before you check-in as well as after -- manned by Saudi guards who don't want to be there, don't care how long it takes you to get through, and in general just wish you would go away and let them enjoy their cigarettes and tap out their text messages in peace. And beyond the checkpoint, the final hurdle, another throng of similarly smelly, similarly unorganised male passengers all wearing the same type of robes and all carrying stickered briefcases and jerry cans of water.

This is turning into a rant about King Khalid Airport isn't it? Sorry.

We were standing there, feeling utterly helpless and wondering what to do next (give up and go home?) when our saviour appears, in the form of a little Indian man in green overalls.

"You want Gulf Air?" he asked, taking hold of my trolley.
"Erm, yes...?"
"This way please" he replies.
"Er, hold on a minute. What are you going to do? Where are we going?"
"It's OK. This way, come!"

Now we know what's going on here: he's an airport porter -- there are dozens of them around all in the same green overalls, which in itself isn't helping the congestion problem -- and he wants my business. Karen and I are wary of being ripped off, but the alternative -- a reserved English family with a sense of fair play attempting to queue our way politely to the front so as not to push in and risk offending anybody -- was too stressful to contemplate, not to mention the fact that we would never get to the plane on time that way, so I told the man to lead on, and in the same breath turned to Karen and the children and ordered, "Here we go, stay close and don't get left behind!" as if I were Indiana Jones leading them through the Temple of Doom. The little man darts first left, then right, and I'm desperately trying to pick out some identifying mark on his overalls so that I don't lose him in the crowd and start following the wrong porter. We stick to him like glue as he pushes his way to the front, through the checkpoint, and on into the second crowd. Within about five minutes we are third in line (yes, by this time there is some semblance of a line) at the Gulf Air Business Class check-in desk. We're not flying business class but by this time I'm prepared for a fight, so just let him try and move me to another queue! It is at this point that we understand the reason for all the congestion: the check-in staff, like the guards, don't really want to be there, don't care how long it takes you to get through, and in general just wish you would go away and let them enjoy their cigarettes and tap out their text messages in peace. It takes our guy fifteen minutes of vacantly staring at an unseen (from our side) computer screen and tapping sporadically on the keyboard to check in the single passenger in front of me. My blood pressure's rising, my pulse is quickening, and I'm starting to feel faint from the cloud of B.O. I'm being forced to inhale. Finally it's our turn and the first thing we realise is that this particular check-in desk has no luggage scale, so although he can check us in we then need to check our bags at another desk. Our porter hears this and is on the case (sic) immediately, taking Karen in tow and pushing his way to the front of the next "queue" with our bags. I'm finally given four boarding cards by our sleepy agent and quickly pass them, baton-style, to the porter over a line of heads. As he and Karen check the bags I start to wonder how much all this queue-jumping assistance is going to cost me.

Ten minutes later we stumble back out through the checkpoint, minus our bags but plus our boarding cards, and it's time to bid the porter farewell.
"Thank you: how much?"
"100 Riyal" (with a smile)
This is about £15 quid and way more than I was expecting!
"No, too much. 40 Riyal!"
"No sir, is no good. Please give 80."
I look in my wallet and don't have anything smaller than a 100 Riyal note.
"Here, give me 50 back."
He takes a wad of cash out of his overalls, counts off four tens and holds them out, smiling. By this time I'm past caring, and I'm still high on armpit stench so I let it go. I've paid him the equivalent of £10 Sterling which is a bit of a rip-off but, on reflection, he has just saved us at least an hour of hellish waiting and jostling so, what the hell.

Immigration and the second security check are positively streamlined procedures by comparison, and pretty soon we're in the poor excuse for a departure lounge: a couple of refreshment stands and just one tiny duty free shop (remember, no alcohol here) which we have to walk to the next terminal to reach. After a quick browse around the shop we get to the gate, to read on the computer screens that our 17.20 departure to Bahrain is both leaving at 18.00 and on time! Not sure how they manage that. Our original departure time comes and goes and there's no plane a the gate yet. We saunter up to the airline representative -- a podgy twenty-something man with what I can only describe as a Bob-gone-wrong hairstyle, mobile phone-in-hand, and a now familiar vacant middle-distance stare -- and ask when the flight will be departing, as we have a connection to make.
The agent shrugs and says lazily, "Maybe... 6.30"
Maybe? "MAYBE??" <-- Karen's had about enough by now.
Another shrug tells us it's probably not worth pursuing, so we skulk back to our seats.

The flight finally starts boarding at 18.10 and we take our seats in Row 40 amid the aforementioned throng of smelly men. Oh No! It appears that we are one smelly man short! The crew are making final call after final call, and eventually the decision is taken to off-load his baggage before we can depart, so we end up sitting there stationery for an hour and twenty minutes, fretting about missing our connection. I ask the flight attendant about it and she tells me not to worry -- the Abu Dhabi flight we need to connect with is also delayed, so we should make it.

We land in Bahrain and leg it off the plane, along the jetty, down a long corridor and up a (non-working) escalator to find that we've missed the connection, which took off on time. Dejected, we trudge back down to the transit desk, where they put us on an Etihad flight leaving at 22.35, which would get us to Abu Dhabi around 12am and two hours later than planned. Upon reaching the gate we find that the Etihad flight is subject to a 90-minute delay, and will now be departing at 23.55.

We finally land in Abu Dhabi at around 1.30 am, and Joy! our hotel limo is actually there waiting for us! At last, something's gone right! We get to the hotel around 2am and check in, to be told we have been upgraded to a Royal Suite from the Diplomatic Suite we had booked. "Lovely!" we thought. We are taken to the Royal Suite: very nice indeed but with one major drawback -- it only has one bedroom. A further wait of around half an hour ensues while they find us another room: the Diplomatic Suite we had booked in the first place, and we all fall into bed at about three in the morning.

That's it: I can't go on. The rest of the story will have to wait 'til tomorrow. Stay tuned for part two while I go off to get some more tissues to mop the keyboard with.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Eid Mubarak!

Going away for a few days. CLICK HERE for details.

Friday, October 20, 2006

No Rest for the Wicked

It's half-term so the children have a week's holiday from school. Despite that, Abigail's coaches have told all the team members to swim 3km during the break, so this morning (Friday: Sunday in our world) we went to the Embassy so she could swim a few lengths.

"Ready, on your marks, GO!"

First job was to measure the pool. We know it's shorter than the standard 25m but we don't know by how much. It takes us three tries to measure it accuratly (WITH a tape measure), and it turns out to be 20m long. This is bad news for Abigail because her 1km practice just grew from 40 lengths to 50. I've brought my camera bag with me - partly because I like playing with it and partly because it gives me an excuse not to do any swimming myself - so while Abigail's practising her techniques I'm trying to get some good action shots.

Elliot doesn't get involved (he "doesn't feel very well"), and Karen's got a book to read, so that's how the four of us spend a pleasant late morning; Abigail swimming, me snapping, Karen reading and Elliot feeling sorry for himself.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


In case you've been asleep for the last few weeks I'll repeat that we recently WON A HOLIDAY TO BANGKOK in a prize draw at a local hotel, and went to the Intercontinental last week to be presented with our tickets and a certificate by the hotel's management. This morning I received an email from the Manager of the hotel informing me that the photo had been printed in today's copy of Arab News, so naturally we ran out and bought a copy so that you could all share in our joy :-)

I don't even get a name-check; Abigail and I are just, "and family"!

We haven't booked the holiday yet but it looks like we'll be going mid-November - can't wait to see Bangkok again!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Lost in Translation

Author's note: This is a partial copy of today's post on Bloody Marvellous! As I'm sure you've guessed by now I'm having a bit of a schizophrenic moment between the two blogs. This story should really belong here by rights but it's also compatible with the "mission statement" of Bloody Marvellous, so I'm taking the path of least resistance and posting it twice, because I don't want readers who only read one of my blogs to miss it. I'll try not to do this again...much.

Outside of Ramadan the shops close four times per day for prayer time, re-opening after about 30 minutes. Every store or mall has either a mosque nearby or a prayer room with mats facing Mecca so that the staff can pray. During prayer time the shutters come down, new customers are not admitted and no business can be transacted, but in some shops customers already inside are allowed to remain there and browse until prayer time is over. We regularly time our supermarket shopping trips to coincide with "lock-in", so that we can work around prayer times and still get our weekly food shopping done. It's quite nice being shut in a large supermarket: the lights dim, the staff all disappear and you are more or less alone in the store (there are others partaking in the lock-in, but in a superstore the size of Carrefour you're not likely to see them).
This happened to Karen and me the other day, when we had almost finished our shopping, forcing us to spend the half-hour of voluntary captivity browsing the non-food section.

At times like this and when we've got nothing better to do (and there isn't much better to do here), we like to amuse ourselves by reading signs and labels that have lost something in the translation from Arabic to English, such as this message on a little wooden sign sticking out of the ice on the frozen fish counter:


Even funnier are the children's clothes. The Saudi budget clothing market seems to have latched on to the idea that it's cool to have children's T-Shirts, pyjamas etc. with slogans printed on them in English. Sporting an English slogan on your chest must tell fellow Saudis: "Hey, look at me. I'm sophisticated and cool because I'm into English fashions!" This is quite sad because, not only are these the worst taste garments imaginable - with fringes in places that should be a fringe-free zone (i.e. the entire garment), and colours that I never knew existed let alone should be allowed out in public - but they also bear the most bizarre legends that have obviously been written by someone who cares more about spattering the front of the shirt with English characters than delivering a meaningful message. Here then are some examples of real phrases that you can buy printed on bad-taste clothing in Riyadh (and I guarantee there are NO typos here - every one appears exactly as I've written it):

On a girl's T-Shirt (bright orange with the slogan down the left and a Bratz-style cartoon chick down the right)

On a toddler's T-Shirt (various dayglo colours available):
how nice you look
a friend is

On a teenage boy's shirt:
hip hopchaofa boys king

On a small boy's shirt (age 5):
Served hot wateroff
Should be served
toooed off
Morning Pleasu
Hot water esoresso served
This was obviously once about espresso being served with hot water and topped off with something, but somewhere along the line the tails of the "p's" were lost and no-one noticed. The same no-one also noticed that it is complete gobbledegook.

On girl's pyjamas
All the splendour in the world
is not worth a good frinds

And my personal favourite, on a pair of boy's pyjamas:
The darkest
Three days old
Has trod fish smell

It's like each phrase began life making some kind of sense to somebody, but got hideously mutilated during its journey from conception to hanger. I have a picture in my mind of the phrase's epic journey, beginning in the mind of a "designer" in the clothing company, then travelling to the place where the slogan is printed via a tortuous route of fag packet scribblings, coffee-stained faxes and muffled telephone instructions.

Whatever slipshod, half-hearted, error-check-free process they follow, the end result makes us giggle in supermarkets.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Swim Meet

Given Abigail's love of all things pool-related and the fact that there are very few opportunities for children here to get together in large numbers and compete, it was no surprise when, a couple of weeks after term started, she declared that she wanted to try out for the school swim team.

Competitive swimming is taken pretty seriously among the international schools in the Kingdom and several schools employ professional coaches. The British School team used to be called The Barracudas but have now changed their name to the Tiger Sharks (Barracudas are continuing and are now our arch rivals!).

Every child that tried out for the team was given a place in the school's four-squad model:
  • Junior Development
  • Junior Elite
  • Senior Development
  • Senior Elite

Abigail is in the Senior Elite squad which means she's a competent swimmer in the senior age bracket. There are lots of children in the squad who are faster than she is right now, but she's only just started proper training so we expect her times to improve quickly.

The field of battle

Yesterday (Friday) was the first official Swim Meet of the season. Six teams met at a residential compound at 7am Friday morning for a full program of heats in several events. Yes, I did say 7am. And Friday is our Sunday remember, so several Mums and Dads were a little bleary eyed. Five-thirty am is not my favourite time to get up at the weekend, particularly when we only got to bed after a party some three hours before. If there had been a Bleary Eye competition for the parents we'd have been tough to beat.

The warm-up

Coach Butch gives a last-minute pep talk

Abigail preparing mentally while she gets ready

"On your marks..."


Not Abigail but a good photo!

Abigail in action

She won her backstroke heat!

"I mean business!"

The event was long, hot, and tiring but the children all seemed to enjoy themselves, which is the most important thing. I'd say there must've been about two hundred children competing, more against their own best times than against each other. Abigail swam in three events: 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke. She won her backstroke heat (we were so proud!) but was disqualified from the breaststroke heat for executing an illegal turn - lesson learned.

There are similar meets planned for every Friday in November so we'll have to try and have early nights on Thursdays while we look forward to Abigail's times improving with each event.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Still Bloody Marvellous!


This is shameless plug number 2 for my new blog: Bloody Marvellous! (note to mother and other computer duffers: click on the words "bloody marvellous" above to visit the new blog. It's called a hyperlink) :-)

Normal service will be resumed in the next day or two, once I've given
click here! ---> Bloody Marvellous! <---click here!
enough time at the top of the page.

One thing I'm working on is my new book, "Around The World in Eighty Catchphrases" that may or may not ever become a real thing. So far I have my two, plus three donated by Candice (see comments on Insha'Allah):-

1. Bangkok: "Same same, but different
2. Riyadh: "Inshallah"
3. Australia "No worries"
4. Colombia "Tranquila"
5. South Africa "Howzit"

So, well on our way. What's the commonest phrase in Stockholm? Moscow? Dublin? New York? Anyone want to send some more in or should we just draw a line under it right now and move on?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bloody Marvellous!

Announcing Bloody Marvellous!, my all-new second blog.

The idea is to use Neal of Arabia to focus on life in Riyadh and our other adventures, plus photos etc., and to use Bloody Marvellous! to give my pet loves and hates a platform of their very own. If you've ever seen the BBC series Grumpy Old Men you'll know what to expect, except I'm not always grumpy and I'm supposed to write about something nice every day as well as something crappy.

Go on, head over there now. You can be the first dot on my little map thingy.


It just struck me this morning that I've never talked about Insha'Allah - pronounced and hereafter written, inshallah. I can't believe how I've left this word out of the general picture of life in Riyadh for all this time, as it is used daily in the Arab world and affects our lives in many ways.

Inshallah means "God willing" and is used frequently by Arabs in different ways - sometimes to convey good wishes: "Get well soon inshallah", but sometimes as a get-out: "Your pizza will be there in 10 minutes, inshallah". To a Muslim everything that happens in the world is God's will, so you can understand how the word gets dropped into almost every sentence.

Here are some recent examples of us being on the receiving end of the Inshallah Factor:-

When we came over to Riyadh in January Elliot brought his beloved mobile phone with him, but of course it wouldn't work with his local number because the handset was "locked" to T-Mobile. I mentioned this to Ali - the Embassy's banking representative when I was going through the process of getting cash out to pay for the car, and he said, "No problem brother. Just give it to me and I'll get a friend of mine to unlock it". "Great," I said. "How long will it take?" "Next week inshallah." came the reply. That was eight months ago. I have now given up trying to chase him up for it and the other day went to the mobile phone souk and bought Elliot a secondhand phone the same model as the one Ali has, apparently, lost.

Karen takes the three rubies she bought in Bangkok to the gold souq to have them made into a pair of earrings an a matching pendant. The jeweller shows us some nice designs and we agree on a price. "How long will it take?" I ask. "They will be ready this time next week, inshallah" he says with a yellow-toothed smile. We go back exactly one week later having unsuccessfully tried the jeweller's mobile several times to inform him that we are coming. When we get to the shop we are told they're not ready yet. "Trouble at the workshop. I call you tomorrow evening inshallah". We finally got the new jewellery yesterday (Sunday). Karen's thrilled with it.

We decide to blow up one of Elliot's photos to poster size and hang it in "the west wing" - the servant's quarters of the house that the children use as a games room. I take the memory card to Samir Photo Lab in the Faisaliah Centre, where they say "No problem, of course we can do 70x100cm enlargement.". "When will it be ready?" "Tomorrow evening inshallah". You can guess the rest. I've got a lot of stories like this.

An expat friend coined the phrase "Inshallah driving" the other day to describe the deathwish style in which many Saudis throw themselves and their families around in their cars. Two regular sights on Riyadh's roads are the Saudi Young Gun: lone driver about 16 years old in full thobe and shameel (Arab headdress) driving along with left foot up on the dashboard, mobile phone in one hand, cigarette in the other, and a Starbucks coffee AND the steering wheel between their knees. I kid you not. The other common sight is the 4x4 with a family of twelve inside, with small children clambering unseatbelted about the cavernous interior as Dad swerves in and out and invents a new lane any time he gets bored with those the authorities have marked out.

Maybe this is the seed of a new book: Around The World In Eighty Catchphrases, in which I list every major city and the catchphrase for which it is famous:
1. Bangkok - "Same same, but different"
2. Riyadh - "Insha'Allah"

There, I'm almost halfway down page 1 already! Any more suggestions?

Playing cards with the lads tonight while Karen hosts the monthly Girlies Book Club meeting. Could be my lucky night, inshallah.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

You'll never guess...

"We never win anything."

How many times have you either said that yourself or heard someone else say it while buying raffle tickets or entering competitions? We used to be in that "never win anything crowd", until we started winning that is.

You'll remember us winning a digital camera in the raffle at a charity ball a few months ago? Well now we've topped that!

You remember in the last posting when I mentioned the prize draw the restaurant was holding at the end of their Thai Food Festival?

OH YES, we've just won a holiday to Bangkok.

Imagine our surprise! Of course there were the obligatory but good-humoured cries of, "fix!" from people when they found out, but the hotel manager is happy that we just got lucky, and what a nice 20th anniversary present with which to finish off our celebrations.

Oh you poor things. Scarcely have you returned to normal after putting up with my dronings about Thailand for the last few weeks than I'm off there again. We haven't booked it yet but will need to go soon - the tickets expire in mid-December. So there's a nice early Christmas present for you all - more stories about Bangkok (Stop that yawning!).

I'll tell you what. Just to keep your interest up let's make it different this time. How about you tell me what aspects of Bangkok you'd like to hear about and that's what I'll write; kind of like a radio request show only without the good music. Just click the "comments" link at the bottom of this post and tell me what info about Bangkok you want me to come back with, or tell me never to write of Bangkok again and I'll "blog off" for a while.

I can't wait - but then you all know how much I love Bangkok. I imagine this time it will be Same Same, But Different.