Thursday, August 30, 2007
Below is a real Bangkok floating market. The fruit and vegetable seller was stopping off at most of the klong-side houses.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Unusual site on the big canal today was a large dead monitor lizard over a meter long. Seen a few dead dogs and some very large dead fish before but this was a first. Stunk a bit so didn't hang around.
Saturday was a good football day. My team Charlton played badly in the first 45 minutes and went into the break losing two-nil but came out in the second half to win three-two. Maybe things are getting better.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
A lot of empty land either side of this klong. I don't really understand why land is so expensive in Bangkok when there is so much land undeveloped. In the UK there is a reason because of the regulations and Green Belt policy, but here there isn't this sort of reason.
Not much of interest on this walk. Some fairly rough and recent shacks on the canal side and not much that looked like old communities. There was a plastic Garfield in the water though.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
On the map the red dots show today's walk while the blue lines show what I need to walk to fill in a gap. Not much to say about the walk. Very rural except where I stopped was a giant school, must have thousands of kids. I will find out the name.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Added a "Favourite Authors" section on left. I think it's a bloggy thing to do. I was searching out an old book today and then trying to track the author's latest book via the net. Bit of waste as he hasn't published anything since 1989. This was Anthony Price. So I added Graham Greene and John le Carre, (sorry no accent), to Anthony Price.
Why these three? Well Graham Greene as being simply the best story-teller from the UK since the war. Le Carre as he seems like the natural successor to Greene and I'm enjoying his move to the left as he gets older. A bit like Tony Benn in politics. And Anthony Price because once picked up, I could never put a book of his down.
Strange as I have nothing in common with any of these guys. They were all public school boys and relatively well off.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Sunday was really upset with some long-distance interference in our life here by some upcountry religious idiot. Got really heated and I jumped in the pickup and went for a drive. Got a bit Jesse Gump then, kept on driving. Started going east, then northeast then decided northwest and north. Thought I might drive all the way to Chiang Mai and sleep the morning in the mountains.
Sense kicked in and turned back after dinner in Tesco-Lotus supermarket at Lopburi. Cost of fuel was becoming embarrassing and I had better get it in for a service before I really do it. Still did a 500km round trip. Pretty sure I could do Chiang Mai in one go while still keeping the speed and under 100 kph.
Having written this I just decided to go out for a walk. Must be feeling better.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
No walk today as never left this computer, just too busy. It's a bit late but I wanted to upload the two maps below. Both show the waterway connecting the two rivers, Chao Phraya and the Bang Pakong. The Klong Prawet Burirom was built between 1877 and 1880. The maps are dated 1886 and 1896.
Below is the 1896 map by Maxwell Sommerville, a visiting Professor of Glyptology from the University of Pennsylvania. (I'm still not sure what glyptology is.) It looks like he has based his map on an earlier work as the western end of the waterway is showing an existing river course rather than the canal. His trip was actually up the Chao Phraya rather than to the east of Bangkok so he wouldn't have seen it.
The second map is British from 10 years earlier and shows the klong, on this called the Petrio Canal. I will have to identify the towns shown with their modern names sometime. Maybe tomorrow I will get the Google Maps of my walking area up.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The square tiles would date back to at least the 50s I think. This house obviously pre-dates the housing estate it is in by quite a few years and it has access to the klong.
It's a bit too hard to follow them this year with no radio or TV coverage out here, and evening matches are always far too late to stay up for. Rumours are out again about a take-over of the club with Middle or Far East interests involved. Will have to wait and see.
I do hope we have a good season. We should because for once we are the big fish in a small pond. We have the most expensive squad in the division and it should be the most skilful also. A bit like the Chelsea of the Championship.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
My grandmother's funeral was in St Margaret's Catholic Church, Canning Town, in East London many years ago. It was the church I was baptised in on the first Sunday after it finally reopened after being rebuilt. It was badly damaged in the Second World War during the massive bombing this part of London suffered.
I remember a youngish priest taking the service. He said something that has stuck in my mind ever since. He told us we should be jealous of my grandmother as she died believing that there was another life still to come. He was right and I have always been jealous of those having this belief, more so since I tested my own mortality recently.
Of course this is why the left has always been suspicious of religion, that the belief in a better world to come might take away the need to make this present world better and fairer. Sometimes some parts of religion get very close to the politics of socialism. I have been reading on and off a tribute book to John Smith, the late Labour party leader. He did consider himself a Christian Socialist.
I'm not sure if Gordon Brown thinks he has any of the socialist bit left in him now. The non-conformist part of Christianity in the UK has had and maybe still has strong ties with labour movement. It was a shame that the last pope and I suspect this one are quite reactionary and have taken the catholic church a distance away from many social issues. I guess if anyone asked me my religion I would still say catholic. It's still a tribal thing, a bit like my football club.
What is very wrong is for the left to think they can fight alongside the most reactionary of religious leaders in a common cause. Whether it is the radical Islam, catholic or the born again Christians of the US, a distance should be kept. These people are far to the right and their religion is an excuse to turn the clock back hundreds of years.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Below is the the beginning of a new (to me) canal heading north. Maybe another day. I went to the right here.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Anyway best cure is having a long walk and I will leave the politics alone for today. Picked up from the railway station, Ban Thap Chang, I finished at on Saturday and headed north under the Chonburi motorway. The community on both sides, mainly moslem, look quite well established with many traditional wood homes. The klong itself had little boat traffic but this might be because the houses on at least one side have back gates facing onto roads, lanes or tracks. The large house below has both a modern style roof and a traditional one on the section behind. I was looking at some old, 100+ years pictures last night and the only thing that has changed on these roofs is cement sheets in place of thatch.
Far more of the big fishing nets on this klong than most and many were still in use. The balance on them and the lines from the nets make it easy for even a child to control them.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Lots of religious places on the klong as with everywhere in Thailand. Below is nice mix of mosque, temple and Chinese temple. The temple below had some clever mosaic work on it.
This mosque, Masjid Al Kubror, had a fairly modern look to it.
Alas, not to be as the Football League has the web broadcast rights and charges for it. The BBC is not allowed to have its programs charged for so instead nothing. I sat last night looking at web page updating with text commentary of the game. One-one, not what was hoped for but not a disaster.
As a kid I would go to the club's ground, the Valley, and watch them. Then a long gap through young to early middle-age where I didn't. Now, again I follow them. During that gap if asked I would still say they were my team. It's a tribal thing. I like tribes, but I like them based on small groups rather than large ones like nations. The smaller the better, the less harm they can do.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I haven't said how pretty some of the homes on the klongs are. The house below has beautiful pot plants along the pathway.
Below is a traditional styled Thai house with boat access. When I first came to Bangkok I lived in a house with a roof like this and it was a lot cooler than the cement house I now live in.
Not me this time, but off the BBC news website today. The 'he' in 'he writes' is Christopher Beaumont who in 1947 was the private secretary to Sir Cyril Radcliffe, chairman of the Indo-Pakistan Boundary Commission. His papers are being released by his son.
More quotes from the BBC.
"The central theme ever present in Beaumont's historic paperwork is that Mountbatten not only bent the rules when it came to partition - he also bent the border in India's favour. The documents repeatedly allege that Mountbatten put pressure on Radcliffe to alter the boundary in India's favour. "
"Beaumont goes on to argue that it was "irresponsible" of Lord Mountbatten to insist that Beaumont complete the boundary within a six-week deadline - despite his protests."
Friday, August 10, 2007
I can walk the main klong, Klong Prawet Burirom, west for about 45 minutes until the pathways run out on both sides. This is about a kilometer before Srinakarin Road crosses the klong. Yesterday I drove to pick up the klong on the other side of this road. I found a parking place about 500 meters past the road bridge and walked back to the bridge from there.
I didn't know before but the klong changes name at this bridge and becomes Klong Prakhanong. It also becomes far busier with fast long-tailed ferries zipping up up and down. By the time I got there it was the end of the school day and boats were queuing up to load kids onboard and take them home. Teachers were keeping the kids under control. See below as another 60 or so are about to go home. That's a mosque behind the kids. I will try and do the walk westwards over the weekend. Maybe it will be less busy then.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
The failure of the Communist Party can be blamed on the actions of Russian government and on Stalin in particular. This was what the second movement most certainly did. It wasn’t that the ideal of a socialist state or that bringing this about by revolution was wrong, it was this one man that did the damage.
Looking back the forty years to when I was a young cadre, to be burnt out within a couple of years, I can see the mistake. We were asking the right question, ‘Why did the Russian revolution go so badly wrong’. We just weren’t getting the correct answer. Of course Stalin was a bad guy, a murderer and a traitor to the socialist cause, but what allowed him to become the leader of the party?
It was easy for us to believe Trotsky equals good guy, Stalin equals bad guy. What this doesn’t take into account is that system allowed Stalin to become leader. It wasn’t a coup, he was the successor to Lenin. So what sort of system had Lenin and Trotsky put in place that let this happen?
Once you start have doubts in Leninism you wonder if the idea of a revolutionary vanguard leading the proletariat is possibly not such a great idea. Maybe real change comes from the bottom up. Interesting idea.
The first part of the walk was through a small community with a school on the klong then had to cross to the other side as a new housing estate had no walkway or access to the canal. See the photo above. It's a shame really, but I guess they worry about security and keeping the riff-raff out. Still their loss, they could have had a commuter boat ride to miss the traffic.
In the distance you can see the new airport skytrain under construction. Here I crossed the railway and went under the Chonburi motorway. Again, once you go north of the motorway, it starts to get quite rural. Further along the klong goes under the Bangkok Ring Road and the builders had destroyed the pathway. Detoured through some muddy tracks and picked the klong up again.
For about 10 meters the path was covered in large red ants and their eggs. Either the rain had knocked the nest down from the bamboo above or some of the kids had raided it for either fishing bait or for the eating, the eggs being a delicacy. Robert Ruark, a Hemingway like writer, described the African honey badger as the most aggressive animal he knew. Seeing it on Animal Planet I could understand his view; although saying it was like a woman as it went straight for a man's balls might not be totally true.
I think he never run into the tropical red ant as, to borrow a boxing term, they are pound for pound the most aggressive animal going. Even though you are walking on top of them some will still get up on your legs to bite. First time I stopped and picked off three biting my socks. Coming back I did that stretch of path at a canter and only had to pick off one.
Anyway filled in the loop but this should be the last of my long distance walks for now. I will stay more local and less rural for a while.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
Maggie didn't hold the middle ground. Ted Heath was an old One Nation Tory but Maggie wasn't. Maggie was far to the right, closer to the pre-war Tories, but she was elected. So was the main reason Blair got elected because he held the centre ground. Maybe, or was it because the post-Thatcher Conservative Party was divided and had built a reputation of sleaze.
If occupying the centre-ground gets you elected how come we haven't had a Liberal government since Lloyd George.?
So today here's a picture of the southern end of Klong Thap Chan. I will try and fill the gap over the weekend.