Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Now in Bagan

This will be our only post from Bagan and the final one of the month.

Sadly the hotel we are staying in is at the very arse end of
absolutely nowhere and despite talking directly with the establishment
to confirm we had internet access, it turns out they lied. They seem
to think that having it in place during November allows them to tell
everyone its already working.

As you can imagine, the manager caught me a my finest and today (we
arrived yesterday) he arranged to have the hotel car take me to an
(the only?) internet cafe, literally miles way to try and make amends.
The problem is that it really is slower than dial up and the
frustration levels are mounting.

Not to worry, we look forward to returning to Yangon soon and should
be back guffing on by the weekend. Thereafter we fly down to Manila
via a night at KL and we hope to be reconnected to the outside world
without restriction soon.

In the meantime, enjoy the start of a new month (the best of the
calendar; our wedding anniversary is on the 10th and my birthday's on
the 11th) as September sees us begin our 54th straight month on the

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Over and Out

OK, that's your lot from Mandalay.  Tomorrow morning (early) we get picked to take us to the bus station and our onward to Bagan.  It's another seven hours but we should have air con and perhaps even internet when we arrive?  Let's hope so; it may be slow but it does get through eventually.

See you all at some point soon.  :o)

There Can Be Only One

There are 19 places which bill themselves as "the most unique town in America."

Myanmar Stuff From Wiki

Union of Myanmar
IPA: [pjìdà̀uɴzṵ mjəmà nàiɴŋàɴdɔ̀]
Flag Coat of arms
AnthemKaba Ma Kyei
Location of  Burma  (green)in ASEAN  (white)  —  [Legend]
Location of  Burma  (green)

in ASEAN  (white)  —  [Legend]

Capital Naypyidaw
19°45′N 96°6′E / 19.75°N 96.1°E / 19.75; 96.1
Largest city Yangon (Rangoon)
Official language(s) Burmese
Recognised regional languages Jingpho, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Mon, Rakhine, Shan
Official scripts Burmese script
Demonym Burmese/Myanmar
Government Military Dictatorship
 -  Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Sr. Gen. Than Shwe
 -  Vice Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Vice-Sr. Gen. Maung Aye
 -  Prime Minister Gen. Thein Sein
 -  Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo
 -  Bagan 1044 
 -  Independence 4 January 1948 (from United Kingdom) 
 -  Current constitution May 2008 
 -  Total 676,578 km2 (40th)
261,227 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 3.06
 -  2009 estimate 50,020,000[1] (24th)
 -  1983 census 33,234,000 (3
 -  Density 73.9/km2 (119th)
191.5/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $71.818 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $1,197[2] 
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $27.553 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $459[2] 
HDI (2007) 0.586[3] (medium) (138th)
Currency kyat (K) (mmK)
Time zone MST (UTC+6:30)
Drives on the right[4]
Internet TLD .mm
Calling code 95
1 Some governments recognise Rangoon as the national capital.[5]
2 Estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

In Pictures Then

Todays's Myanmar Alphabets


Myanmar Numbers compared to English


Talking the Talk

Alphabets & Numbers

Myanmar script draws its source from Brahmi script which flourished in India from about 500 B.C. to over 300 AD.
Myanmar script is basically similar to the Brahmi script. Both script systems are constructed with the components consisting of consonants, consonant combination symbols, vowel symbols related to the relevant consonants and diacritic marks indicating tone level (niggahita, visajjaniya).

After the dissolution of King Asoka's Maurya Kingdom, the script changed gradually. The scripts which developed after Brahmi were named after kings such as Kusana, Gupta and Nagari in the north and Pallava, Kadamba, Calukya in the south. These Indian scripts spread to Tibet, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and such regions along with Indian beliefs and culture in the period A.D.. 100 to 800 A.D.

Pyu used the Kadamba writing as a base to develop their own script. Mon used the Pallava writing or their base. Rakhine used the Nagari script as base in their Sanskrit stone inscriptions. Myanmar writing originated in the Bagan period. Myanmar avoided the difficult Nagari and Pyu scripts, and chose the easier Mon letters and symbols.

The developers of Myanmar script took what was appropriate to the Myanmar language from Sanskrit, Pali, Pyu and Mon, and discarded the rest. Some consonants were retained to facilitate the study of Pali. The vowel mark (a_ mf), the tone mark (_ð), the characters > , I, Y , were invented.

Writing on a clay tablet of the Bagan period, the Thetsoe taung Hpaya stone is held to be 50 years older than Rajakumara's inscription of AD 1113.

Just as there is the relationship of the development of the scripts of the Pyu and Mon to the development of the Pyu and Mon urban states, so also is there the relationship of the development of Myanmar writing to the development of the Myanmar urban state. Though the Bagan state was in existence from ancient days it began to flourish only during Anawratha's reign in the 11th century.

After the Rajakumar stone inscription of the early 12th century no more Pyu writing has been found.
Mon stone inscriptions began to disappear after the latter part of the 12th century. However, Mon continued to be alive in Lower Myanmar. Middle Mon stone inscriptions began to be found around Hanthawady in the 15th century A.D. Mon writing is thriving in the Mon state today.

Reference: Myanmar English Dictionary. Myanmar Language Commission.

Taken from here with thanks.



Wish List

A recent poll of Americans aged 30 to 45 indicated that the TV show they would most like to see return to TV is VH-1's Pop Up Video, followed by the original Knight Rider, Gilligan's Island and The Love Boat.

Aren't we lucky these guys run the world for us?


And Spurs lost.  Arse...

Birthday Treat

Another rather good discovery by wifey on her never ending search to make our travels as easy as possible. We intend to island hop when we reach the Philippines (I believe they have several to choose from...) and the Superferry company offers a discount if you use their services on your birthday.

However, it sounds a little more involved than we we were first led to believe.  The discount value is also a little ambiguous/confusing.  Do they mean the date (ie 11%) or my age (46%)?  Anyway, this is what they replied with:

Warm greetings from SuperFerry!

Regarding your inquiry, you may avail of the birthday discount provided traveling date falls within the week of your birthday.  Percent of discount is same as your age (e.g. Birthday is September 11.  Departure date should fall on September 6, 2010 or not later than September 12, 2010).

Same discount may also be extended to immediate family members if you are traveling together.

As part of the requirements, passenger must present at least two documents or IDs as proof of his/her birth date.  Passengers may present any two from the list of valid documents/IDs below:

Birth Certificate

On the other hand, immediate family member must also present at least two documents or IDs as proof of relationship with passenger availing of discount.  Immediate family member may present any two from the list of valid documents/IDs below:

Company or School ID
Birth Certificate – for children of passenger availing discount
Marriage Certificate – for spouse of passenger availing discount
Birth Certificate of Passenger – for parents of passenger availing discount

Birthday Discount is not possible for reservation but may only be availed by proceeding personally at Corporate/Main Offices.  The discount is also not applicable for E-ticket transaction.  Hereunder is our Corporate Office in Manila, open Monday through Sundays from 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM.

              SuperFerry - Pier 15, ATI
              Pier 15, Eva Macapagal Super Terminal
              25th St. corner Railroad St.
              South Harbor, Port Area Manila

Thank you and should you have other concerns, please feel free to e-mail us at info@superferry.com.ph.

At your service,

Paying By Plastic

I'd like to understand the logic behind the thinking by companies who insist that when paying for certain items (such as hotel rooms or flights) the credit card used for the transaction be presented to the customer service operative.

Have they considered that sometime people buy things as presents?

And if one can't show the exact same credit card, presumably they will not provide the service paid for, but then what?  Will they re-credit the sum they have taken as payment?

Ill thought out and potentially disastrous.  Imagine wifey's mum not being allowed to fly simply because her daughter bought the airline ticket as a gift on-line and lives 7 000 miles away?

Another Winner

Wifey was rather pleased with her food yesterday too. She doesn't eat chicken and sometimes misses out on the local fast food.  A new stall was selling bags of chick peas which were incredible.  Really savoury and spicy and she gave it a ten out of ten for taste.  All for Ks 300- 21 pence.  You's pay a few quid in your local curry house back in England for that and it won't anywhere near as good.

Steady On

The chicken croquettes are rapidly becoming a favourite with me but you need to be on your toes to keep pace with the fluctuating costs.  I ordered four pieces from one stall and he wanted Ks 1 200.  When I laughed he asked me what the problem was and I said it was him.  I can get the same from another lady across the road for Ks 800.  He wasn't impressed and he didn't get the sale.

I don't like getting ripped off just because I am a tourist, no matter where we are.

Shopping in Mandalay

Both supermarkets offer you unlimited, free plastic bags but for some reason, they are see-through.

No wonder we get some stares as we bring home our booty.  There must be some people who live on what we spend on crisps and pop for an entire month.

Off Line

Unfortunately it seems we are unable to get access to the internet today.  A pity as we have a few posts lined up.  We'll try again later but if not, hopefully we can get through in Bagan, where we go to tomorrow,  Aparently they have over 3 000 pagados there.

Mind you, it's over 7 hours on the bus first...


The Russian word for a railway station is "vokzal", which sounds a little phonetically similar to Vauxhall.

Interestingly, this isn't a coincidence- the story goes that a Russian delegation visited Vauxhall, South London in 1840 and mistook the name of the rail station there for the generic building name.  From there, they decided that when constructing railways in Russia, stations would be called "vokzal".

Wee Nip

Here's an exciting new scotch you might be interested in- whisky made from the urine of diabetic patients.

The biomedical tipple - named "Gilpin Family Whisky" (after it's "founder") is created using the high-sugar urine produced by elderly diabetes patients, including Gilpin's own grandmother.  He filters the urine using the same processes used to purify water, removing the sugars in the process, which are then used in the fermentation stages.

But don't worry, Gilpin isn't planning to market the piss whisky commercially, but if you fancy sampling some of the stuff, it  will be shown at the 100% Materials design event in London in September- complete with tasting opportunities.  :o)


A Boots loyalty card made out in the name of Dr A Suicide Bomber, which was sent to a customer by mistake, has forced the high street giant to apologise.  The offending loyalty card was sent to Andrew Adams, 63, of Swansea who says it was "unbelievable" that the company issued the card.  The Daily Mail (probably) reader said:

"I'm not a doctor and I'm certainly not a suicide bomber.  I could not believe it when it arrived. It's unbelievable it ever got through their system.

"I've got a rather strong character so things like this wash off me but what if it had been sent to some of a nervous disposition or someone elderly?

I spoke to their head office and they were very apologetic."

Yes, yes, some idiot at Boots brightened up their Friday afternoon and let this perhaps tasteless joke go through, big deal.  But what an utter prat this guy is.  Not only does he bleat on about it and yet insist he's hardly bothered, but then he takes it to the national press?  Boots apologised and yet this guy  has to have his pathetic 15 minutes of fame.  How sad is he?


Commuters may have missed out on £2.6million of fare refunds for late trains last month, with almost 1 million London Underground passengers failing to claim after their services were delayed by more than 15 minutes.

To help get your compo, there';s a new site aimed at making it easier to get your cash back.  Try:  Mytube waslate.com

Only 31 356 people applied for payouts in July, pocketing £84 661 between them.

Just Up the Road Then

Tornado hits the Essex town of Stanford-le-Hope, 25 miles from London (Masons News Service)

A 300 ft tornado hit Stanford-le-Hope, a town in Essex and just 25 miles from London and which is also around the same distance from Southend/Leigh on Sea, where we used to live.

The huge twister was surrounded by dark grey storm clouds and circled around for approximately ten minutes before calming down.

It's a funny old world, as they say.

High on Up

After figures showed a ten-fold increase in the number of operations to assist weight loss among the obese, tax payers everywhere have suggested that maybe the NHS should think about putting some of these hospitals on top of a big hill.

Researchers for Imperial College London said that more people were now aware of the 'easy way out' surgery option, so perhaps making it more difficult for them to get to the easy way out might deter 'a few of the bigger ones'.

One researcher said, "Just about everyone who is overweight has heard of the gastric band, and so now they all want one.  It's getting very tedious for the nation's doctors."

"We've tried fobbing them off with a big elastic band that they wear like a belt, but Google has totally screwed us on this one. They have pictures of the real thing, and all sorts of information on them."

"It's got to the point where we're only able to fool the really stupid ones."

Obesity cost

Leading think tank The BrainsTrust has suggested a radical new approach to obesity care, in order to weed out those not fully committed to the process of losing weight and to save valuable tax money which could be put towards the care of smokers or drinkers.

Spokesperson Dwight R Larglebecker explained, "If there's one thing that truly obese people love more than eating cakes, it's not having to walk up a hill."

"So we suggest making them walk uphill to the clinic, and ensuring they must come back for referral appointments every day, for four or five months. Then hey presto, there's no more need for a gastric band."

"However, early indications show that if all gastric bands were placed at the top of a mile-long steep incline, it would reduce operation requests by 97%."

"The other 3% have one of those electric mobility scooters, so maybe we should think about including a moat?"


Open Wide

THE National Health Service is now mainly employed as a device for extracting fat from chocoholics, experts have claimed.

The Institute for Studies found that around 80% of NHS time and resources were devoted to anaesthetising flabby women before gouging out great chunks of them or fitting them with a Snickers funnel.

Professor Henry Brubaker said: "Our team of researchers spent a day with 10 large NHS trust hospitals and kept getting knocked over by massive ladies.

"As soon as you get back on your feet there's another one bearing down on you. Eventually you have to scurry along the floor like a mouse and hope you don't get trodden on by one of these chocolate-flavoured leviathans.

"Occasionally one of them crashes to the floor and all they can then do is put up some screens and suck the lard out of her right there in the corridor.

"It makes a hell of a noise. I suspect it sounds a bit like hoovering the inside of a horse."

The department of health insisted that reducing the size of fat ladies was cheaper and more efficient than letting them get so fat that they start to make other people feel sick.

A spokesman said: "Fern Britton's Snickers funnel will save this country £2bn over the next 10 years in lost productivity and dry cleaning."

But Professor Brubaker added: "Fair enough, but it's still a lot more expensive than just telling her to get a fucking grip."


Fashion Faux-Pas

Researchers have discovered wearing socks and sandals is not the invention of middle-aged Brits abroad, but by ancient Romans over 2 000 years ago.

The discovery was made during a archaeological dig of newly found Roman ruins in North Yorkshire when a 2 000-year-old sandal was discovered.  Tests showed a nail used in the construction of the footwear contained traces of fibres, suggesting they had been worn with socks.

I don't care who came up with the idea, it's still a non starter in any circumstances.


CHRISTIAN doctors are regularly sending patients home with a course of Testament, according to new research.

Lazarus didn't need antibiotics
Patients with a variety of complaints have been advised to rest, drink plenty of fluids and seek everlasting salvation through the grace and glory of the son of God three times a day until they're dead.

Meanwhile it has also emerged that one Christian GP sent an elderly woman in Knutsford to heaven after inducing a second stroke in a bid to turn the other cheek to the first one.

Carlisle taxi driver Roy Hobbs said: "In my line of work I'm easy meat for hemorrhoids but my GP just sent me away with that verse from Corinthians about love being patient and kind.

"I came back a week later and told him that love was not really doing it for my backside, but he just told me to forgive my arsenuts for they knew not what they did. Then he smiled serenely through his beard and asked me to join him in a rousing chorus of
Lord of the Dance.

"I can't sit down."

The London University survey found that 12% of doctors described themselves as 'religious' even after comparing the story of Lazarus with the large body of medical literature on the subject of being dead.

Those 12% were found to be 60% more likely to refuse palliative care for the terminally ill in extreme pain, preferring to tell their patients not to worry as they would soon be in the loving arms of Archangel Brian.

Julian Cook, a abdominal surgeon from Peterborough, said: "I like to get in there, have a poke about, see what Revelation has to say about gall bladders and then let Jesus close for me.

"I was so sure that someone would have stopped me by now. Good old Jesus."


Dry Eau

A substance known as "dry water," which resembles powdered sugar but is 95% "wet" water could help fight global warming.  Scientists claim the powdered water will change the way chemicals are used and that it could even be used to soak up greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Each powder particle contains a water droplet surrounded by modified silica, which prevents the water droplets from combining and turning back into a liquid.  This means it has an amazing ability to absorb gases, which chemically combine with the water molecules to form what chemists term a hydrate.

The mind boggles.


Emile Heskey to receive lifetime achievement award for services to barn door protection

Emile Heskey to receive lifetime achievement award for services to barn door protection thumbnail

Aston Villa centre-forward Emile Heskey is set to receive a lifetime achievement award for a career spent refusing to harm barn doors in any way, shape or form.

Whilst strikers around the world are happy to hit barn doors with reckless abandonment, Heskey has steadfastly stuck to his pacifist principles and left all barn doors in his path completely unthreatened.

As one barn door protection officer explained, "It doesn't matter if he's ten, five, or even three yards away, he simply refuses to hit them, and for that ongoing kindness we recognise him with this award today."

"Emile is a magnificent role model to young footballers that a successful career in football doesn't mean you have to aggressively hit all barn doors that are put in front of you."

"You can make a very decent living by missing just about every single one that finds its way into your path."


In a typical act of barn door kindness during Aston Villa's Europa League exit to Rapid Vienna, Heskey showed just why his so deserving of this award.

He chose to put his shot yards above the barn door from six yards out after a missed Petrov penalty left the barn door at his mercy, and when strikers with lesser moral fortitude would have taken it off its hinges.

"That was typical Emile," said one barn door owner.

"It would have been so easy to smash the ball into the barn door from that distance, hell, you or I could have done it, but it takes a special kind of footballer to miss it so spectacularly under such pressure."

"Emile is to barn doors, what Princess Diana was to landmine victims - and long may he continue."



Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.

- Franklin P Adams 

Gran Tourino

What better way to round off the evening after our feast?  We flopped out in bed and the movie of the night was Gran Tourino, the last film directed and starring Clint Eastwood.

It's a little twee and predictable (even the ending won't take Einstein to figure out what's going to happen) but the quality of acting makes up for it and I can't believe how good Eastwood still looks.

Grab it on DVD or watch it on Sky as soon as you can. it's well worth a night in.

Lucky With the Weather

Since we've arrived in Mandalay, we had one burst of light showers lasting around an hour during the day.  We've also had two nights of torrential downpours, one of which flooded a couple of minor roads for a few hours.

Other than that, it's been brilliant sunshine all the way with temperatures always in the mid to late thirties.

We're not complaining.  :o)

Dining in Myanmar

Thinking back on some of our posts, it may come across that it's difficult to eat well here when it isn't; and it needn't be expensive either.

We have a limited budget per month and from that, we have to make savings wherever we can, to put towards trips to countries that are more expensive than our usual budget allows.  Then, depending on how much "spare" cash we've raised, we can decide on how long we can afford to stay.  That's sadly why we can only afford a week in Taipei, Taiwan coming up at the end of September, this time around.

Which is why we use local food outlets and hawker stalls and perhaps why we haven't always had the biggest of choices- we are simply trying to make up some extra wedge for the next leg of the tour.  There are "proper" restaurants around here and all will comfortably offer you with dining options to suit your wallet or palate.  Here're a few examples of what you can get at the hotel to give you an idea of choices and price:
  • Grilled sandwich with fries:  US$ 6
  • Burger and chips:  US$ 6
  • Pizzas:  US$ 7 - 11
  • Salads:  US$ 4 - 6
  • Soups::  US$ 4 - 8
  • Pasta:  US$ 7
  • Fried Noodles/Rice US$ 5
  • Desserts:  US$ 4
Bon appetite...

NOTE:  You can forget about McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Kentucky and the rest of the fast food joints that plague the more westernised Asian cities.  Of course they have their place but it's quite refreshing to not see the neon advertising lights of the mass produced lard outlets.

What a Blow Out

Without doubt the best meal since we have been in Myanmar.  Absolutely huge portions of all dishes and with everything cooked to perfection, we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at the hotel and fully intend to dine there once more before we leave on Monday.

The only minor observation is that, as with most other Asian countries, the concept of courses is lacking.

A dozen spring rolls arrived first with a spicy dip and we eagerly tucked in, but with barely a couple savoured, the two main course arrived (hot and sour pork and then sautéed fish with peppers- I think chef switched them over from our order but who cares), followed by the soup and a mountain of steamed rice.  Finally, a vat of stir fried vegetables completed our feast.

We did ourselves proud and promptly demolished the lot, taking our time to enjoy each and every dish but we had to send back a plateful of fresh fruits as we couldn't possibly have had one each.

Cantaloupe, two types of melon and the sweetest pineapple since Thailand graced the plate but it was we could do to finish it between us.

Not Many Brits Around

We have seen quite a few tourists staying at our hotel and while the majority are more advanced in years, there are also younger couples. However, there aren't too many Brits.  The majority appear to be Dutch and German and surprisingly, Russian.

Good to see more nationalities taking the plunge and venturing off the beaten path.

Faddy Butter Balls

I wish hotels and restaurants wouldn't try and get to fancy with some of their dishes.  Take the humble, but essential breakfast, pat of butter.

OK, little swirls or balls look fine and dandy, but to submerge them in iced water is stupid.  It makes the spread rock hard and your toast soggy with the excess water that invariably clings on, no matter how much vigorous shaking you offer.

Let the butter soften naturally at room temperature and be done with it, please.


On one of previous posts we put up a couple of pictures of the bank notes they have in Myanmar and I mistakenly suggested the Ks 20 note was worth 15 pence when in fact it's much less.  It's only 1.4p.  We since also received a Ks 5 bill which is worth a piddling 0,35 pence.  :o)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

He's Talking Bollocks

Uefa president Michel Platini has warned the Football Association that delaying naming a new chairman could damage England's 2018 World Cup bid.

The FA has still to appoint a full-time successor to Lord Triesman, who quit in May after he was secretly recorded making allegations about rival bids.

But why would anyone take what this guy has to say seriously?  He goes on to comment about TV replays not being a solution to referees not seeing certain incidents:

"So far the technology has not worked very well.  I am more in favour of the experiment where the extra referee can see when the ball has gone over the line. For me that is the only solution."

Really?   When/where exactly did the trials take place?  I certainly can't recall any.  And how would he respond to further human error if the extra ref misses the incident too?  Tennis, cricket, rugby; all major sports have embraced new technology, so why do we pander to these "purists"?  There is far too much money at stake in this global sport and it's no longer an acceptable excuse.

I wonder how he or that dinosaur Blatter would feel if the team that misses out would sue them directly for loss of earnings?

Slim to Bob

The BBC looks at (mainly) Tottenham's chances back up with the big boys:

Peter Crouch was not even trying to be careful what he wished for as he basked in the glory of Tottenham's qualification for the serious business of the Champions League group stage.

"We want Real Madrid and Inter. You don't know how good you are until you play against the best," announced Spurs' hat-trick hero after Harry Redknapp's side eased fears they might squander a potential £30m jackpot by easing past Young Boys of Berne.

Now Crouch and Spurs will get the chance to find out as the draw in Monaco threw them up against holders Inter Milan, albeit in a different guise under the leadership of former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez as opposed to Jose Mourinho.

Werder Bremen and FC Twente complete a tough reintroduction to Europe's elite group for Spurs in a draw laced with cautious optimism for all of the Premier League's representatives.

Mourinho, inevitably, will be at the heart of the most appetising of the Champions League groups, with his new Real Madrid charges up against AC Milan and Ajax - not to forget Auxerre.

Real, AC Milan and Ajax have written some of the greatest stories in the tournament's history, winning it on 20 occasions between them - this is the "Group Of Glamour" not the "Group Of Death".

With Wembley as the final destination for this season's Champions League, there may even be an extra incentive, if it were needed, for the English quartet to make up for the disappointment of last season, when there was no presence in the last four.

And while Spurs face a hazardous, but not insurmountable group, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal will feel confident about their hopes of making it into the knockout phase.

There will be a parochial interest of sorts in another - let's get the cliche out of the way - "Battle Of Britain" meeting between Manchester United and Rangers, reuniting those two great old friends Sir Alex Ferguson and Walter Smith.

But even under their experienced and shrewd manager, it is hard to see Rangers making a serious dent in the reputation of their English rivals.

As the club that broke the top four mould last season by removing Liverpool from what had become an established group since Everton's incursion in 2005, much interest centred on how Spurs would fare in the draw.

The simple verdict will be - could have been better, but could have been worse.

Inter, with Benitez keen to repair any lingering damage to his reputation in the tournament he treasures above all others after his departure from Liverpool, will be their sternest examination. Spurs, however, will not shrink from the challenge.

The Italian champions' pedigree was on display for all to see at the draw in Monaco as they made a clean sweep of the individual honours for last season's tournament. Julio Cesar was named goalkeeper of the year, Maicon defender of the year, Wesley Sneijder midfielder of the year and Diego Milito striker of the year.

And what are the chances of Redknapp taking advantage of Mourinho's obvious and long-standing antipathy towards his successor Benitez by seeking out a few secrets that could unseat Inter?

Werder Bremen finished third in the Bundesliga last season and recently sold World Cup star and inspirational midfield man Mesut Ozil to Real Madrid, while FC Twente enter the group phase still armed with the confidence of their Eredivisie win last season, even though the architect of the triumph, former England coach Steve McClaren, has departed for Wolfsburg to be replaced by the Belgian Michel Preud'homme.

Spurs must guard against the sort of frailty that saw them dice with elimination against Young Boys, but Redknapp will hope that will have provided the stark warning of what is required at this level.

And there is a creative streak throughout this Spurs side that can trouble any opponents - so while this group fulfils Crouch's criteria of testing their pedigree to the full, it is still a section they can still have hopes of navigating their way through.

United, Chelsea and Arsenal will have reacted to their draw with a measure of pleasure and serious aspirations of qualification for the latter stages.

United will be wary of Valencia, but stripped of David Silva, now at Manchester City and with the brilliant David Villa at Barcelona, they will not present the formidable offensive force they have been in the past.

Rangers will raise their game against English opposition as ever, but with apologies to those north of the border United will surely have too much class for them. Turkish champions Bursaspor will present the sort of passionate and gifted challenge this country always provides, but this is a group that holds no terrors for Ferguson.

The question for United, as it was last season, is whether they have the ability to negotiate their way past the higher quality opponents they will face in the later stages. This was the problem last season - and I fear it will be again this time, especially in defence - but United are written off at your peril.

Rangers, even apart from United, have a tough fight on their hands, but manager Smith has been through these campaigns before in his long career and will relish the task facing him and his team.

Chelsea are again in pursuit of the missing trophy in their collection, the honour that sometimes seems destined to always elude them. Whether it is a "ghost goal" against Liverpool, penalty woes against Manchester United, injustices of officialdom against Barcelona or being outmanouevred by their former coach Mourinho with Inter last season, Chelsea have not cracked the Champions League.

So this seasoned collection of players goes to the well once more - and with a group that should see them ease through this stage.

Didier Deschamps will return to Stamford Bridge with Marseille after taking the club to their first French Ligue 1 triumph in 18 years, while Chelsea's Didier Drogba also faces his former team.

A talented squad, a gifted manager and a passionate home support make them a test for anyone, but Chelsea will hope to make their experience and quality count, as it should, against Spartak Moscow - complete with new signing from Celtic Aiden McGeady - and Slovakian champions Zilina.

Is this the year Chelsea finally lay their hands on the biggest trophy in European club football? They will, in my opinion, reach the latter stages again but the same old foes, especially in the shape of Mourinho at Real and Barcelona, lie in wait and threaten disappointment again.

Arsenal must compete with the logistical problems of the lengthy trip to the Ukraine to play Shakhtar Donetsk and a reunion with former striker Eduardo. He will undoubtedly be afforded a warm reception on his return to the Emirates, having seen his burgeoning Arsenal career curtailed by the serious leg injury sustained in a tackle with Martin Taylor at Birmingham City.

Braga have given notice of their threat by disposing of Celtic as well as Sevilla in the Champions League qualifying rounds, but once more, a group that also contains Partizan Belgrade should provide Arsene Wenger's side with a route into the knockout games.

Arsenal and Wenger's philosophy on the beautiful game was put into sharp relief as they lost heavily in Barcelona last season. And who can forget Barca's opening 20 minutes at the Emirates - quite possibly the best passage of play I have witnessed in the flesh - in that quarter-final first-leg?

Wenger will hope Arsenal will learn from those harsh lessons, but they will be regarded as underdogs should they reach the latter stages.



SPURS - tough group but a chance of progress

RANGERS - outsiders but the wily Smith may spring a surprise

A Day In

Today (yesterday in real time as I upload the off-line posts the following day) we are having a lazy day which entails us staying entirely in the hotel and its gardens.

Following a blow out breakfast there's no need for lunch, particularly as we have what sounds like a sixteen course dinner to look forward to later.  We've been watching the TV, playing on the 'pooter (as in Blogging), reading (currently through the first 100 pages of the "Night Train to Lisbon"; not bad) and we're off for a swim shortly (as soon as the sun moves off the pool).

Two bonus points arise from the exceedingly decadent do nothing day.  The first is that I have been able to spend the entire day bare foot and the second is that we haven't spent a penny.  Love it.

Out and About

As you can probably guess we didn't spend too much time sight seeing yesterday as the weather was simply too hot to go walking around for hours.  We did see a multitude of open air fresh produce markets, several indoor malls (same as the outdoor ones but more fabrics, utensils and household goods) and plenty of gold and jewellery stores.  All fascinating and we have a load of pictures which we are sadly unable to upload at the moment.

Tomorrow we continue our excursions and hope to explore the other side of town.  By all accounts it's meant to be very authentic with people working in the street to ply their trade.  Should be a good few hours out again.

Free Scoff Tonight

Over breakfast we were invited to choose our meal for our complimentary meal for two.  From a set menu of two choices, either Asian or Western, we've both opted to stick with the local (although the chicken breast in mushroom sauce and fries nearly convinced me) and we now look forward to what hopes to be a very pleasant evening.

We will be tempted by vegetable spring rolls followed by fish ball soup.  We then have a selection of Chinese dishes including hot and sour fish, sautéed pork with peppers, stir fried vegetables and steamed rice.  To finish will be fresh seasonal fruit.

This could well be our best meal to date here and I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

We also just had the chef call us to confirm our dishes and enquire as to how we'd like them cooked.  Hot and spicy was the unanimous decision, we're missing our heat input  :o)

Good Day

We've always been fortunate during our travels and stayed at good hotels.  However, it's not just the facilities of the accommodation that help make a stay a pleasant experience; it's also the staff.

Once again we have found all the Mandalay City Hotel's personnel to be extremely polite, helpful and very cheerful.  They are unobtrusive and yet are always to hand and each and everyone greets you with a beaming smile and a "good morning/afternoon/evening" depending on the time of the day.

None of your average "hello" here.  It's quite delightful.


Survey finds public wants cold-callers banned, what do you think?

Survey finds public wants cold-callers banned, what do you think? thumbnail

Three-quarters of people want cold calling to be banned, according to a consumer survey which phoned people up at home to find out their opinion.

Which? magazine's telecoms expert Ceri Stanaway said: "Cold calls are at best a nuisance and at worst an intimidating intrusion into our lives."

"Three-quarters of the people we asked said they'd like the practice to be banned outright."

We sent out reporters out on to the street to interrupt people in person, and to ask what they thought about having their day interrupted over the phone.

Woman on the Street "I don't mind them, as they're pretty much the only calls I ever get.  I like to chat to the nice man whilst he convinces me I need insurance for the Sky satellite system I don't have."

Rachael Dawes, Spinster

Man on the Street "I love being cold-called. I've set up a £2-a-minute premium line as my home number so I'm perfectly happy to be sold to by a complete stranger sat in another continent for £120 an hour."

Richard Batley,  Accountant

Man on the Street "Cold calling is a valuable public service.  How else in this day and age would the general public possibly find out about, or search for, a product or service they might need, eh?"

Stan Blackie, Consumer

Woman on the Street "They don't bother me.  I got in there first and called every company in the world to tell them I didn't need anything."

Jane Horsler, Grandmother

100% Peak Time

If you need to use a train then it's 'peak time', clarify rail firms thumbnail

Responding to claims that their peak-fare rules are unfair and confusing, train companies have explained that peak time is limited only to the times at which you want to use a train.

Which? magazine said operators were not providing a consistent message and gave the distinct impression that extracting as much cash as possible from travellers was the number one priority for any travel organisation.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said, "There would be little point putting a peak fare in the middle of the night, would there? How could we possibly fleece you with such a service."

"No-one here is forcing you to buy a ticket to travel at a time which is convenient for you.  Why not travel at a time which is convenient to us instead, and save yourself some money?"

"Yes, we know people often say that the customer is always right, but those people are rarely running a profitable rail operator, are they?"

Peak Time

Rail travellers have asked for further clarification from rail firms, as peak time often changes from organisation to organisation, with peak periods ranging from just a few, to several hours.

An Atoc spokesperson clarified, "There is a very simple test to find out if it's peak time.  Ask yourself, 'do I absolutely positively HAVE to use a train right now' - if the answer is yes, then it's peak time."

"If the answer is 'no, I have absolutely no desire or need to use a train at this point in the day', then I think you'll find it's officially off-peak time."

"Me? No, I drive everywhere. I'm not mental."


No Space Today

More than 4.7 million motorists will head off on a Bank Holiday break this weekend in England, in the vague hope of nabbing one of just 279 000 available parking spaces  The number of cars set to hit the roads this weekend compared to the number of spaces at top tourist destinations means every place will be coveted by 16 cars.
Brighton is said to be the biggest nightmare with one parking spot for every 79 cars, followed by Bournemouth with just one spot for every 76.
The report also revealed one in two motorists will resort to dirty tactics to secure a space like speeding around a car park (25%) or driving the wrong way (17%).

So just get a motorbike and laugh all the way to the beach.  :o)

High Flying Mice

A council has splashed out £190 000 on building a bridge designed to help dormice cross the road safely.

The high wire style walkways were built across a busy new 4.6 mile road in the Rhondda Valley so the construction didn't upset the local rodent population.  Three interconnecting tubes suspended from 20ft wooden poles are said to offer dormice a way of crossing the road where they would have once used trees.

I'm sure the mice are well chuffed but at what price?  Madness.

Do You Come Here Often?

Although many women claim to find them naff, researchers have found almost two thirds actually like it when a guy uses a corny chat-up line on them.  Almost four in ten women have gone out with a man who approached them using a cheesy line, with one in ten even going on to have a long-term relationship with them.
The survey also revealed 59% of women think a man using a chat-up line shows he has a great sense of humour, with another 58% saying it shows he is confident also.  Perhaps even more surprisingly, one in twenty women even reckon they'd be more likely to go out with a guy if they came out with a chat-up line to impress them.

Stroll On

A busker in London has started to refuse cash payments and is now only accepting money for his performances via credit cards.  He plays on a guitar which has been adapted to feature "contactless technology" allowing passers-by in Soho Square to swipe a card and give him money.

Listeners only needed to wave their card over the head of his instrument to make a £5 donation.

Five quid a song?  Yeah, righty-ho...

Back and Forth

The palindrome, "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama" was used as an advertising slogan to attract public support for its construction.


Another good post from Au P:

This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word Is 'UP.'  It is listed in the Dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? 
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?  Why do we speak UP, and why are the Officers UP for Election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?
We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.  We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.
At other times this little word has real special meaning;  people stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

 And this UP is confusing:  A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.  We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP !

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary.  In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.  It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. 

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.  When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP and we top UP our tans.  When it rains, it soaks UP the Earth.  When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP.  One could go on & on, but I'll wrap It UP, for now ... my time is UP and I've probably filled you UP with enough UP knowledge !

Oh....one more thing: what is the first thing you do in the morning & the last thing you do at night?


The Cucumber in its Full Glory

Cheers to Au P for this post.

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5 Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6.. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

Pass this along to everybody you know who is looking for better and safer ways to solve life's everyday problems

Political Guide for Tourists to Ireland

Ireland is an island to the west of Britain but Northern Ireland is just off the mainland not the Irish mainland, the British mainland.

The capital of Ireland is Dublin. It has a population of a million people, all of whom will be shopping in Newry this afternoon.  They travel to Newry because it is in the North, which is not part of Ireland, but still pay in Euros.

Under the Irish constitution, the North used to be in Ireland, but a successful 30-year campaign of violence for Irish unity ensured that it is now definitely in the UK .  Had the campaign lasted longer the North might now be in France .

Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. It has a population of half a million, half of whom have houses in Donegal.  Donegal is in the north but not in the North. It is in the South. No, not the south, the South.

There are two parliaments in Ireland. The Dublin parliament is called the Dáil, (pronounced Doyle), an Irish word meaning a place where banks receive taxpayers money.

The one in Belfast is called Stormont, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning placebo, or deliberately ineffective drug.

Their respective jurisdictions are defined by the border, an imaginary line on the map to show fuel launderers where to dump chemical waste.

Protestants are in favour of the border, which generates millions of pounds in smuggling for Catholics, who are opposed to it.

Travel between the two states is complicated because Ireland is the only country in the world with two M1 motorways. 

The one in the North goes west to avoid the south and the one in the South goes north to avoid the price of drink.

We have two types of democracy in Ireland. Dublin democracy works by holding a referendum and then allowing the government to judge the result..
If the government thinks the result is wrong, the referendum is held again. 

Twice in recent years the government decided the people's choice was wrong and ordered a new referendum.

Belfast democracy works differently. It has a parliament with no opposition, so the government is always right. 

This system generates envy in many world capitals, especially Dublin.

Ireland has three economies northern, southern and black. Only the black economy is in the black. The other two are in the red.

All versions of the IRA claim to be the real IRA but only one of them is the Real IRA. 

The Norths biggest industry is the production of IRAs. 

Consequently, we now have the Provisional, Continuity and Real IRA. 

The Real IRA is by far the most popular among young graffiti writers simply because it is the easiest to spell.

Cheers to Au P.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Doomed I Tell Ya

Champions League debutants Tottenham will face holders Inter Milan in the group stages of the competition.

Inter coach Rafa Benitez makes a quick return to England, which will host the 2011 final at Wembley, with Werder Bremen and FC Twente also in Group A.

Manchester United take on SPL winners Rangers, Valencia and Bursaspor in Group C while Chelsea face Marseille, Spartak Moscow and Zilina in Group F.

Arsenal will play Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga, Partizan Belgrade in Group H.

Spurs kick off their campaign away to Werder Bremen on 14th September and travel to Inter on 20 October before hosting the Italian champions two weeks later.  Full tables:

Group A
Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, Tottenham, FC Twente

Group B
Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Hapoel Tel-Aviv

Group C
Manchester United, Valencia, Rangers, Bursaspor

Group D
Barcelona, Panathinaikos, FC Copenhagen, Rubin Kazan

Group E
Bayern Munich, AS Roma, Basel, CFR Cluj

Group F
Chelsea, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, Zilina

Group G
AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, Auxerre

Group H
Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga, Partizan Belgrade


Budget affects poorest the most, what do you think?

The coalition government's first Budget has hit the poorest families hardest, a leading economic think tank has said.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the measures announced in the Budget in June were "regressive" and had a proportionally larger affect on the poorest members of our society.

Its analysis suggests that low income families with children are set to lose the most as a percentage of net income, and so we sent our reporters out onto the streets to find out what you thought about a budget which targets the poor.

Woman on the Street "I don't have any sympathy for them.  It's their own fault for not being born into a family with loads of money."

Shelly Davies, Heiress

Man on the Street "The government has made a massive mistake here. You shouldn't target the poor, you should target the stupid - they won't make a fuss.  And if they happen to be both, then all the better."

Dave Davison, Tax Accountant

Man on the Street "I didn't read the small print at the time, but there it is, right there in their manifesto - 'we'll make poor people poorer"."

Andy Morris, Lawyer

Woman on the Street "Poor people? Wait, we still have poor people?"

Delores Matthews, Pensioner

Travel Tip # 1 992

When travelling and staying frequently in hotels, get friendly with the Housekeeping team and get hold of a spare "Do Not Disturb" sign.

It's guaranteed that some places will not provide this invaluable piece of kit and you will at some point get awoken with a thumping on your door at 06:00 as they ask if you want your room cleaning.  Save everyone the bother and make sure you use your sign.

Hip to be Thick

THE nation's cool teenagers are celebrating their worst GCSE results ever after being too hip to make the slightest effort.

Cool teenagers, classified as those who are popular, good-looking and in a band, scored a record average low of four Ds, two Es and an N, which means they didn't turn up to an exam because they were off their tits in a squat with some 20-year olds.

Educationalist, Emma Bradford, said: "The UK's dangerously beautiful young hipsters have scored their poorest ever grades, successfully proving that they don't give a shit what the establishment thinks of them.

"They are doubtless pleased, in a nonchalant sort of way, that they have thwarted any attempts by the government to make the exams easier to pass.

"So they will be partying all this week in converted lofts with a mixture of
Skins extras and minor indie celebrities, meeting people who know Alexa Chung and possibly experimenting with heroin for the first time. The little shits."

Tom Logan, 17, who prefers to be known simply as 'T', scored 5 Fs and a K. He is now hoping to do a lot of gigs with his electro-grunge band The Crack Eskimoes and have sex with a massive amount of girls.

He said: "I wouldn't say I'm pleased or sad about the results. It's simply not relevant to me or my art, not that you'd understand.

"Maybe in five years' time I'll be working on the pork counter in Morrisons while all the nerds are earning 100K in the City, but I won't even care because I'll have my memories of debauched sex and drug experiences which they would gladly sell their souls for."

Tom's classmate, Joseph Turner, who got 10 A*s, said "I feel like the hard work's really paid off. My parents are really pleased and have already bought me a book about the Oxbridge entry process.

"So, what's this 'vagina' I've been hearing so much about?"



275x250.jpg A £40 000 golf buggy which has a refrigerator built into the dashboard, can now be driven on Britain's roads after receiving legal permission.  The Garia cart is the world's most expensive golf buggy and is made in the same factory as cars like the Porshe Boxster.

It has suspension inspired by super cars and a drive train built by the same firm which produces Ducati gearboxes (so utterly shit then), but until recently it could only be used on the golf course.

However, makers now say it can be used to drive "directly from your home to the golf course"- as long as you don't live too far away, because it can only do 35 mph.

I expect Plod will then be keeping an eye out for anyone doing so to ask them for their insurance documents and tax discs.  Mind you, anyone pretentious enough to own one deserves to get pulled.

Just Do It

According to middle-east television channel Al Jazeera, terrorist organisation Al Qaeda has been sent thousands of anonymous letters and information packages outlining in great detail the easiest way to blow up the Big Brother house.

The house, which now contains the biggest names from the show's ten-year history has been placed under protection in case a terrorist atrocity were to take place causing vast swathes of improvements to the lives of every single person not in the house.

A letter sent to the Al Jazeera news channel was read out on air, claiming that "the house now contains all of the most annoying TV celebrities from the last ten years, well, those that aren't already dead, anyway."

"So please find enclosed a map of how to get there, details of the security arrangements and twenty-five pounds towards your expenses.  Use something which includes a fireball, please."

"You would be striking a blow against the decadent heart of the western godless infidels, whilst also immeasurably improving current British television output."

Big Brother

Despite the security concerns, a police spokesman explained that they are doing everything in their power to ensure the safety of the Big Brother residents.

"There is nothing to worry about, the house is well protected, except between the hours of 2am and 6am during which time any attack would definitely succeed in gaining the sort of attention any right minded terrorist group is looking for."

"The Big Brother house is our nation's Twin Towers, and it's loss would probably mean the collapse of our entire nation and way of live. Definitely."

"But if an attack were to take place during those hours we'd just have to put it down to being 'one of those things'.  That's between 2am and 6am, for clarification."


Traffic Jam Part II

THE Chinese were celebrating another great leap forward today as their lives finally achieved Western levels of hellish pointlessness.

Confucius didn't even have a telly
Thousands of people stuck in a 10-day long traffic jam near Beijing sounded their car horns to mark the moment China matched Europe and the US for self-defeating greed and impotent fury.

Wan Jing, an accountant, said: "I am constantly filled with anxiety, I cannot sleep and my once busy penis now flops pathetically like the neck of recently strangled duck. It is a great victory for the wise men of the Central Committee.

"I think of my mother and father working in the fields and eating three meals a day with their family and friends before telling each other wondrous stories and drifting off to sleep. What utter morons.

"I doubt they could ever, in their wildest dreams, have imagined me sitting here going absolutely nowhere for 10 days and winding myself into a tight ball of never-ending hate - in a brand new Golf GTI!"

Yang Shao, a construction foreman, said: "Confucius would no doubt say that in finding one's way one can lose one's way. But he was just some old fucker who lived in a tree.

"The world will quake with fear at the sight of our massive jam and see that we now have the economic and technological wherewithal to completely ruin our lives."

He added: "My grandfather lived to the ridiculous age of 117 and was finally killed by a car when he was running across the road to buy some cigarettes.

"It is my dream to be the first member of my family to die of a stroke at the age of 52, preferably behind the wheel of my Audi as I plough across four lanes of world-beating rush hour traffic.

"I'd like to see Confucius come up with something clever about that.


Traffic Jam Part I

A massive traffic jam in China has now been slowing traffic heading into Beijing for over nine days.

The queue, containing thousands of lorries and cars crawling towards Beijing, stretches back over 100 km (~60 miles) and it was triggered by road construction and repairs to highways used by cargo lorries.

Drivers trapped in the jam are said to be spending their time playing cards, sleeping on the road and bargaining with local food vendors, who are making the most of a captive audience and asking highly inflated prices for their wares.


40% of Brits claim they've had a paranormal experience and seen a ghost or UFO, it has been found., after a survey also discovered one in five of those reckon they have seen a ghost, while 19% have spotted a mysterious object in the sky.

Another 16% believe they've had premonitions while 6% even believe they have a guardian angel.  A further 44% of Brits also believe aliens visit Earth and one in five even believe aliens could be living amongst us.

Careful folks, these people walk amongst us.  :o)


A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she's a tramp.

- Joan Rivers

Numbers in Myanmar

In most foreign languages, while the alphabets are different to the ones we are used to, the numbers always remain constant. Not so here, the numbers are entirely unrecognisable and it's a pity I can't access the web to show you an example.  We'll try to take a photo of a clock or something and hope we can upload it.

This does make it a bit more difficult to get by but we can always resort to the good old fashioned and foolproof method of putting up the number of fingers.  :o)

Snack Foods

We've been getting braver with the hawker stalls and started to buy some snacks such as pakoras (sp?), corn fritters, chicken croquettes, samosas and onion rings.  At least, that's what we think they are.

They cost peanuts and taste bloody marvellous.  Definitely a change to eat food that is meant to be cold...