Camera Rants because It still irritates and frustrates me…

After spending over a year seeing places, recording them with my camera and smartphone, one of the most frustrating things has been how long cameras have lasted. I don’t believe that this is the lifetime of most FujiFilm Cameras but it sure seems to speak at a lower level to their functionality. How could I have gone through three expensive FujiFilm Cameras in the space of two years? I had a FujiFilm X100F that I mistreated first. It got wet, dropped, fogged up, and had this happen repeatedly. Finally it had issues even working. Then it was a FujiFilm X-T2 camera. This is a highly rated camera and I believed I had found the camera that would last. The body and the 18-55 kit lens seemed perfect. So why did it only last a few months before the shutter button stared sticking? Sticking to the point of not working. Then it goes back to Singapore and supposedly gets fixed but two weeks later the same thing happens again. Finally a second X100F lasted me about 5k frames and it started having LCD and functionality issues.

Each of these forays cost me over $1k and in some cases over $1300. Why? Were my uses so extreme? I wanted to simply travel with the camera, walk every day, learn more on how it worked. You would figure that a camera that costs that much would have some significant quality components. The X-T2 camera was particularly frustrating in that I had to lose the camera for a month or two, have it shipped to me last November here in Siem Reap on a bus, only to find two weeks later it was doing the same thing.

I can only judge that I either have really bad luck with expensive cameras or FujiFilm Cameras have poor quality control or repair facilities, do not field check and verify their work. After the last thing with the second X100F I decided on a cheaper compact camera. I found a Lumix LX10 camera that cost me a bit over $600 in Malaysia. Half the cost of the others.

Now I just shoot with the camera on program mode and auto ISO and let it be. I have found out that someone that merely wants to capture things on the road, have images to share and archive on Google Photos or Mastodon does not need expensive kit. Learning that has kind of set me free in some ways. I’ve lost any desire to learn more about the triangle or why Aperture Priority is better at some points but Shutter Priority is better at others. Buying a cheaper compact camera with a 1 inch sensor has basically let me see the forest for the trees.

I’ve read people seriously upgrading to some Nikon with 3 lens or a Canon full frame camera or something else. My advice is consider carefully what your use is. Here is mine:

  1. I wanted something that would just take better photographs with better zoom and quality than a iPhone. At first I wanted to learn how it all worked by walking each day with the camera. That has changed. I don’t particularly care for taking photographs with an iPhone still. It just works and I want a bit more. If I want to change up to Aperture Priority or take it off auto ISO I want that flexibility. But read point 2 about the next thing.
  2. I wanted something that just took photographs with minimal effort at most times and that would fit in a bag over the shoulder. So a compact camera was perfect for my use. I also discovered that the size was a huge thing traveling. Having a truly small compact camera is just so much easier going through airports and bus terminals and train stations.
  3. I wanted something to just share the photographs with the people that want to see them now on Facebook and Mastodon. I do not need to take photographs with complex innards or RAW files or Lightroom edits. It’s too much work when my goal is something more simple. I want a representation of what I saw, when I saw it, and something I can save and share.

All of these things in the end argue against expensive mirrorless or DSLR cameras for me. I simply don’t need something that does not add anything to the equation. So a mission I had since 2017 ends because I no longer care about learning beyond whether I should shoot in Program or Aperture Priority mode and with or without auto ISO enabled. I also want to learn 4k video on the camera since it does that. But only for fun!

This is the last point in photography for me. Somewhere it stopped being fun and became challenging and frustrating. Watching the FujiFilm Cameras come and go was very irritating. I spent over $3k on all this gear to only see it last months. I have lost belief and feeling for those camera lines and why should I spend even more for another X-T2 or X-T3 or X-T30?

If the Lumix camera were to break, no big deal. I had it and used it and enjoyed it. I may buy something like the Sony RX100 Mark VI next time because it still offers the main thing I am looking for. Less irritation and frustration and actual photographs for fun and no profit besides my own.

I bring all this up so you can perhaps do your diligence considering a camera. Maybe your needs are much more. Maybe much less and a iPhone or android phone will work. Just look at your use cases and do some research. Don’t take my word. At the end of the day for me it was about enjoyment and personal fulfillment. Maybe your needs are more complex.

I’m only here to raise the issue and not offer a conclusion. Photography though for me is supposed to be fun and let me record, share and archive the images where I want. It is also not supposed to break the bank or have a high cost of entry for a simple use case.

If this sounds like a rant against FujiFilm; it is. I will never buy another from them. I’ve lost the feeling that the quality of their cameras match the money I have spent. Their repair facilities are up for question too. The main thing though is to come out the other side and see where the whole thing leads you.

Productivity Platforms, words, ecosystems… Some thoughts on things

I spent a bit of time recently comparing the different productivity applications for what will work for my admittedly simple needs. If you research online on applications that run on your ecosystem (mine is Apple), you will find those apps which just about cover all the bases and there are a bunch of adherents to those apps. Then there are the ones that split their work across multiple apps. Lets look at some constants though that I considered:

  1. Portability. The real thing is not the app itself; the real thing is the data or the contents or whatever. You should be able to take the data where you want and not be constrained by sets of conditions imposed by the app. So what is the most portable? Clear text or markdown is the most portable. So we will start there. You want something that is clear text and if you can start things in clear text, you are farther along than having to export from an app’s proprietary system to text.
  2. Centralized User Experience. If you are like me, you want a single thing that you can adopt and use that meets a set of expectations on your platform. In other words, you want to write a diary or a note or a blogpost and be able to share the data. Its much easier if the experience is similar. Another factor is where the data goes. Its easier if the data is centralized in the cloud and not on some individual device somewhere.
  3. Fits your life and style. You want something that if you write an article, story, blogpost, diary entry it fits. For me this has meant experimenting with so many apps but finding one that lets me bring all the little things together that have to do with text and notes.
  4. Understand diversity and embrace though. Some things just do not fit in clear text and you have to be flexible. Perhaps a list of travel destinations, itineraries, and reservations is best served in a spreadsheet like Google Sheets. Be flexible and understand and appreciate the diversity. Also be the first to admit your particular choice is not the one and be ready to move. Hoping your data is portable (see part 1 above).
  5. Be productive, happy, and enjoy your work, play, information. If you are not happy with the choice you will not use the choice. Instead you will seek out exceptions to the methods and soon if you are a lumper the information is split across many distinct apps. Not what you want? Perhaps time for a change. If you are a splitter, its all okay because you know the mind map where things are. This information in this app, diaries in that app, notes are in another app. Blog posts in yet another app.

So the last rule is the most important in all of them. You have to be happy with the choice. If its enforced it reminds me when I worked using Microsoft Project for project schedules. No one was completely happy with the choice but we all chose it anyways. Perhaps it met a threshold of use which is another idea. Is there a threshold of use or diversity which is acceptable? Like if its meets 75% of your needs its okay and you can deal? Give it some thought and perhaps there is no one tool for you that meets the goal and you decide to splump. Splumping is my word for doing both and you basically decide because the threshold is not met you need to find the tools that work the way you want.

So you may ask me what is the tool? There are as many tools and approaches as blogs and everyone captures notes, diaries, information the way it works or perhaps does not work for them. For me, clear text is the portability thing. I also want all the information in one place where I can go where the tool presents it in a way that makes me able to find, add, delete, edit the information in a single place. Finally for me it has to empower me, make me happy to use the tool, and be able to sit down and use it with no hesitation.

If you are the classic lumper you will want a single source of the power. If you are a splitter, its easier to draw that mental mind map with muscle you have and know diaries are in Day One, notes are in Evernote, writing is in IAwriter or Ulysses. You know the map, right?

I am not a splitter though. What I want is a single bucket where all the ideas flow from. I don’t have many ideas but what I want is a way to take what I do have and not search across the MAC hard drive for a thing. Here are my rules and exceptions. See what you think:

  1. If its information with words and text, it goes into Ulysses. This includes diaries and journals, blog posts, ideas, thoughts, travel plans at a high level with graphics included.
  2. If its clear text based, it goes into Ulysses. All the basic notes and classifications, web links and pages I wish to study and keep. It all goes via the Ulysses share app from Chrome.
  3. If it is not clear text based, it may be better served to be in a spreadsheet. Some things like detailed travel plans are just better served in a spreadsheet like Google sheets.
  4. If its an image or a PDF and it supports 1 or 2 above, it gets added as an attachment to the note in Ulysses.

So what does this do for me workflow wise? It gives me a single bucket more or less besides 3 above to find things, tag things, search for things, export things if I need to. Writing is not about the next great American novel. Writing is any time you put figurative pen to paper. What do you want to capture? How do you want it saved? What will happen years from now if you happen to turn all this over to someone else? I have this dream of some day turning over the Ulysses library to my daughter. It will have a decade of journals and notes, ideas, curses, wonderment and…

Content!

I really want the content to shine through so it must be in clear text and it must be portable and meet all the criteria I’ve laid out. I can accept spreadsheets for things and let them help me but if its information in words and notes, it belongs in the central repository.

For me that repository is Ulysses. Perhaps if you are not on a Apple ecosystem, you will find something else. But I have to admit its why I chose Apple stuff. Its not merely the hardware or software once removed. It’s the ecosystem. Its how it all comes together and integrates. For me, Apple does it best. No pressure and stress folks!

Perhaps for you it’s something else. Give it some thought though. Information, access to information, backing up information, finding and searching reams of information. Very important stuff. You may be like me and only have a few buckets. But why not make the buckets easier on you. Clear text and markdown will always be easier. Its the basic cross platform thing defined well. Words. Simple words.

Now what you do with the words, their influence, how they turn your world is something else. Thanks for reading this slight variation on my travel stuff. Its been brewing for awhile since Thailand. Ulysses just gives me a platform to write whenever on iPhone or Mac.

A day of walking around Siem Reap

A few little things along the Siem Reap River today. Beautiful day for walking and taking photographs of the little things. My favorites!

Been some interesting weather here. It will be beautiful in the mornings to about 3pm and then the rain sets in and it will rain for about 30 minutes. This afternoon I left at 430 for dinner because I was really hungry and the the skies were just beautiful again. The rain does come back sometimes in the evening but tonight it did not.

Enter Siem Reap; Cue the relaxation and introspection

So here I am now in Siem Reap. It’s nice to be back here. Restaurants, food, and bars. Friendly people. Great smoothies. Down the street from my place is a nice little coffee house where the owner showed me the afternoon drink menu first off. Its warm here so an iced latte in the mornings tastes really good. Then I come back to the room for awhile and enjoy the coffee and listen to music or read news. No real hurry.

Today I went to the Missing Socks Laundry Cafe where they make the best waffles! Its a friendly little cafe, with good wifi, and the people treat everyone very nicely. I can sit there with the coffee after a late breakfast, let things slowly spin down and then leave. Not really knowing where I shall go I end up at the Old Market and get two cheap t-shirts that started at $10 for 2 and I talked her down to $8. I could probably have gone inside the market and got them cheaper but it does not really matter. I just get these cheap shirts, wear them awhile and that’s it. I’ll probably go again and find a new belt or I will wait until I get to Phnom Penh and go to the Central Market for that one day. I don’t really need much else.

Tonight at about 5 or 6 will walk down to this other restaurant I found and try some of their Khmer food. I have a hankering for something like Lok Lak or fish amok or something. Have not had either of those for awhile. Then it will be nighttime again and the day is over and another day cues up. Another day with really nothing much to do so tomorrow will visit this nice bakery for coffee and pastries.

Siem Reap is probably the best foodie destination and I really enjoy the different types of food one can find. Mexican or burgers. Italian or Chinese. French or whatever. Its all here for you. At some point I will visit the Angkor Wat sites again but I have weeks until that time so will probably not rush it. I want to go to the museum again as well. Its all walkable for me from where I am.

Its a great excuse to stop and get a smoothie at this nice little coffee shop and read on the kindle or just sit and watch the sights go by. The smoothies are fresh and the shade is nice. I can just watch the day go by with no real interference and think about the last 5 or so months on the go. I had wondered last year what the days would be like seeing the three places I got to see. It was a great time going at that slow pace I go.

I’ll be ready for Vietnam in June for a few months. That trip is all in one country and I already have the visa that gets me in. Something tells me the remainder of this year is gonna go kinda fast. Come October after Laos, I will be visiting Kampot and Kep for a few days before flying out to Taiwan. It’s gonna come soon I think. It will be strange to get back to the US again. It will have been almost 2 years by the time I go back to visit.

Wrapping up 5 months or so

Being here at the Don Mueang Airport waiting for my flight to take me to Siem Reap means this is the end of this whole thing seeing Singapore, Malaysia, and one city in Thailand. I loved Singapore and Malaysia quite a bit and while I would not go back to Singapore any time soon, Malaysia struck a resonant chord. Especially George Town which is a wondrous city full of history, architecture, food, and truly friendly people. I also enjoyed Kuala Lumpur. I feel that KL has this soul and feeling and is open and welcoming to all people. The blocks walking there were full of the old and new. The historic and sky scrapers and places of real note like Petronas Towers. I also visited Port Dickson, Kuantan, and my second favorite place Melaka. Each has a special place for me and I can see coming back to Malaysia.

I cut short the trip to Thailand because Bangkok simply did not impress me. It is not a land of smiles. Its a land of tourists and backpackers and a variety of sights and sounds I do not wish to repeat. I was disappointed because Bangkok has no real soul. It has history but there is no transcendance of the yesterday to today. It has beautiful Wat temples and sky scrapers and malls and wonders of architecture but it does not have the soul and feeling like Kuala Lumpur has. I did not find the street food scene all that well done either.  A lot of the places looked dirty with some questionable hygiene going on. It was difficult to find coffee places where basic breakfast could be served. I could always go to Starbucks or Coffee Club and I did. The Thai food at a variety of known and unknown places was just so so. The Padthai, supposedly a grand dish of the street food scene, was often over-cooked or tasted like it was being warmed up again aftert being cooked earlier. i also went to a few well known restaurants and while they were okay, i would not compare them to so many of the places I have eaten elsewhere. It was all just so so. I spent almost a month in Bangkok. Would I go back? No way in hell.

My favorite country had to be Malaysia and all the history and wonderful food there. The historic and cultural scene, the wonders of George Town and the city scenes in KL, the beauty of Melaka walking along the river. All of the country just made everything I saw, visited, worthwhile. Each of the cities is unique but when you get to Penang Island and George Town, its special. Street art, restaurants, historic districts, beautiful old buildings. Wowzers! I would say my favorite places had to be Melaka and George Town.

First though was a week in Singapore. I had not been back there since 2011 and this visit did not disappoint. I got to see the Gardens by the Bay, the beautiful Bugis Junction area, the street and city scenes, and such a variety of restaurants! Singapore is a land of differences too. There are small food court or hawker stands, a few free attractions but you know for the big ones you are gonna pay, nice cultural and historic views along the river front, and finally just the cleanliness of the city. Really just amazing! I would recommend anyone visiting Singapore. Its got so much to offer and you can ride the SMRT all around to get there.

So there you have it. I finished with 5 months traipsing from Singapore to Thailand. Now back in Cambodia for awhile. I’ll stay here in Siem Reap for a month and cycle life down a bit. Get back to basics of things like walking, daily photography, eating. Then its back to Phnom Penh for a few weeks before leaving for Vietnam for 3 months.

All good!

Siem Reap food and places

I’m wrapping up the three weeks in Thailand through tomorrow. No remaining places to go see but I will get back around the MBK Center tomorrow because I like it there a lot. I fly to Siem Reap on Tuesday at 10am so will be leaving for the airport by 730 or so. It will be nice to get back there, plan on seeing the Angkor Ruins, spend some days wandering the city again, stopping at some of my favorite places for food and beer. Along the Siem Reap River are literally hundreds of street food stands and small shops that sell some of the best fresh smoothies I have had. One in particular is owned by a group of young Khmer women that really do a nice job on the fresh juices and coffees. There’s a group of restaurants I’d like to promote if you happen to get there:

  1. Sister Srey Cafe. This literally means Sister Sister. The coffee shop and cafe is located right by the river and is always bustling with the tourist and local crowds and with a good measure of ex-pats that appreciate the rather eclectic foods that they provide. My favorite is this hashed brown breakfast with eggs, bacon, and slices of tomato. The coffee is quite good too and its fun to sit afterwards, read some news, and enjoy the morning by the river.
  2. Missing Sock Laundry Cafe. This is a wonderful little spot where a coin operated laundromat is out front and the cafe behind has the best homemade waffles. The barista has won awards in the past and the cafe has been recognized a few times by TripAdvisor. They also have Khmer foods but I go for the waffles and latte.
  3. Red Piano Lounge on Sok San Road. One of my favorites. There are two Red Piano lounges with one being on Pub Street that somehow does not have the vibe that the one on Sok San Road has. I go there to eat when I want something different.
  4. Little Casablanca Restaurant. A friend turned me on this to restaurant and its a small place if you are not looking for you will miss. I had one of the best steak dinners there and the attention to detail is superb. I really like the atmosphere and friendly staff there.
  5. Sok San Road at Large. All up and down Sok San Road you will find restaurants and bars. I’ve enjoyed eating traditional Khmer foods for great prices like Amok and Lok Lak and some of the best Khmer curry.

Since I talked about food, its only fitting now to discuss the things I like to do in Siem Reap apart from the Angkor Historic Park. Give these a try if you make it there:

  1. Walk along the river and find the three or so shaded bridges and take a break with a coffee at the benches. Very relaxing by the river.
  2. Visit the Old Market by the River. Shopping is fun there and some of the shops will haggle but some I believe are fixed price. I don’t always like to haggle and if something only costs a few dollars it seems a waste of time to go after some deal. At the Old Market you can find cheap sandals, t-shirts, shorts, socks and all kinds of souvenirs.
  3. Night Market and Pub Street. These are fun to visit on an evening. The shops start setting up to sell crafts and clothing, shoes and other goods by nightfall and the Pub Street gets going then too. You can find just about kind of food along the Street and often pay more for it. I had some nice Mexican food at both the Night Market and Pub Street. One night before when I was there I found a street food stall selling tacos which were quite good.
  4. Walk from the river in either direction and enjoy another Siem Reap from the touristy one. Small residential streets, kids yelling hellos and waving, small food and coffee stands all along the streets. You can also walk north to the Royal Residence area and find a nice park to stroll in. I think Siem Reap is pretty nice if you like walking. Nothing besides the historic sites are so far you could not walk.
  5. Finally on the opposite side of the river than Pub Street is a nice market area with local crafts to go through. I walked most days before along the river in both directions and found the river walk area to be very nice. As you get away from the tourist areas along the river, you will see smaller residential areas but businesses still thrive!

So many other things to do while in the city too. I mentioned shopping but there are very nice supermarkets catering to foods you may want to find but are limited sometimes. There are also tailors and shoe shops and some shops which sell a variety of good away from the river but still within walking distance. You can find the business districts by just walking to the Residence and Park area and walking west of there a bit on surface streets.

So its gonna be really nice to get there and enjoy some time not spent exploring in the different directions but still getting the walks in that I so enjoy doing with the camera. The markets and evening scenes are fun to capture with the camera and sitting with a smoothie or beer and watching life go by is one of the big things I enjoyed doing there. I never felt there like there was a loss of different restaurants to find. One can walk along Sok San road and find just about anything to eat.

Finally there is the Angkor Historic Park to get to which I left out of the rest of the things above. The park is a wondrous thing but I want to do it differently this time. I don’t want 5 temples. I want to focus on just a few like Bayon and Angkor Thom and a few others. I want to get a tuk tuk for a day and visit on my schedule, take photographs and walk around the site areas.

After this time at Siem Reap I don’t know when I will get back again. This year is pretty booked up with stuff like Vietnam, Laos, Taiwan and Philippines. Next year is still being thought about. I would love to get to Sri Lanka but it depends on how things are there after the horrible incidents of the past. I may substitute India and also reach the Maldives for some bit of time next year after the states.

Anyways, that’s about it for now looking forward to Siem Reap and the foodie stuff that awaits there. I really like the city and people and things to do there. Having another month means slowing it all down and taking it on a day by day basis and mostly moment by moment.

I’ll catch you all on the flip side of my arrival back in Cambodia on Tuesday.

Better times spent blogging and thinking about blogging and traveling and thinking about traveling

I tend to read a few blogs. I don’t read many travel blogs because I tire rather quickly of the same things on them. The run of things tire me out when they consist of the 5 things to see or the perfect itinerary in Stockholm or what to do in 24 hours in a place. When I do read a blog I would like to find out the content and feelings behind the place. What the honest impression was and whether you found yourself, lost yourself, or were able to transcend and get that rarity of enlightenment. One day when wandering in Tokyo, I set out down a small sidestreet, maybe it was an alley. It had casual turns that I followed. Soon other smaller alleys came together and I was faced with thinking about a left or right turn or a straight ahead thing. Truth is I don’t even flip a coin. If the turn to the right looks all shiny and bright, I will usually go left just out of spite. This time, I determined to not use Google Maps whatsoever so continued. If you have been to Tokyo and particularly Shinjuku you know its huge. It also has many small neighborhoods, schools, businesses out and away from the downtown and the big buildings. I found those and took turns without really considering where I might be.

Left and right and left and right I went. Kind of like life goes you know. I remember vaguely driving home from work after another frustrating day in IT. Driving over the Dumbarton Bridge and realizing I was trapped even after exiting the bridge. It was perhaps a Friday or a Tuesday but all I could think of was making it home. Perhaps a stop for dinner after my 14 to 16 hour day. Then of course, my work phone would start chiming. Incoming call. Of course. So I had to stop. It was a damnable WebEx that I was not invited to but that I must attend or perhaps my group VP calling me to find out if I had a bad day or my manager calling to tell me to not forget the 20 things I had to do as he headed off on medical leave for weeks or months. The damned phone stopped me dead in my track so I had to get off the bridge and park in some mall or shopping area in Newark California. There was no choice like later. I could not decide to ignore it. I guess I was too dedicated. I could not turn the phone off.

Flash forward to Tokyo and Shinjuku. Now I had the choices. Left or right or straight ahead. It did not matter a bit. Tokyo was much bigger than I could ever hope to see. It ambled along endlessly so I just took the turns as I would that day.

Imagine my surprise when I finally saw a big street ahead and it was close to the Starbucks that I had started at that morning. Surprise surprise! I laughed at how I believed I was an adventurer, a finder of mysteries, a vagabond or a hobo. Then I end up back where I started.

Traveling and Thinking…

Then there is traveling. We travel or we think about traveling or we consider thinking about what we think about when we travel. I read all the time that travel blogging is hard work. It requires painstaking dedication and one must give of oneself tirelessly to become successful. One person that shall remain nameless painstakingly creates a schedule of hours of work each day starting or culminating with their blog post or Pinterest Pins or Instagram moments. Every picture at some beautiful Angkor Wat ruins has them in the picture too. I guess when other people think about travel its proof that the person was there. They can say,

Hey! I was at Angkor Wat on such and such a day in 2019. Here’s the proof. See? I am in every picture and I’m wearing flowing gowns and I have a Nikon something or other camera and I am thinking about how I will blog this, pin it, and create more instagram posts.

I always feel in the end when I think about what I do is that its not traveling or being a tourist. Its slower than either. I could spend months in a place if I wished. Like I could go think about traveling in Kampot Cambodia for 3 months. I could wander the wondrous street art in George Town and consider that no moment leads to another. In the battle of traveling and thinking about traveling and blogging and thinking about blogging; I operate at no space in time. I sit down and decide like now to write and its a particularly good feeling to find that empty canvas where my words move from left to right and the content springs to life. Words and feelings. Thoughts and deeds. Knowing I am not that person that spends the hours each day creating. For me it will always be the living in a place. Finding the little side streets and alleys in Hiroshima or Osaka and maybe I don’t see one of the big instagrammable places. Okay.

I did think about it though. And the side street became much much more to me that day and the other days in Hanoi.

Its a Happy Thursday!

Its morning here in Bangkok. About 10am and listening to the news. I went to the delightful local coffee place where the very nice Thai woman now knows what I want each morning. Her Latte is always the best! I also stopped at 7/11 to get some pastries for cheaper. I think by 11am I will be leaving for the BTS to ride to MBK Center so I can catch the bus tour for the day. I have a few stops I want to do today. There are two museums and a temple to see and maybe more. I will still have one more day to see things on the tour which I could do tomorrow or Saturday.

Turns out one I sign up on the tour, I have to do the second tour the next day. So tomorrow I am off again on the tour. Today I did the heritage tour part of the way. I went to the Siam Discovery Museum which was kinda cool and then did the National Museum was was f’ing awesome! Its in a number of buildings the cost is pretty reasonable. You get artifacts from the prehistoric periods through Khmer times and up to the present day in a beautiful set of displays and information. I spent about 2 or 3 hours wandering the museum today.

I could not find where the bus tour would pick me up so I hopped a tuk tuk and as usual they want to start at about $10 USD. These guys are one of the reasons i dislike Bangkok. There is no real reason to charge me that much for a few mile drive. In Phnom Penh, I would be unhappy to pay over $1.00 for a ride to the riverfront area on Grab. Its just a ripoff and they know it. The first guy started at 300 baht. I said 200 baht. He said 250 baht. I said 200 baht. He would not waver. Lets just be honest here. 200 baht is about $7 USD. That is not cheap for a few KM ride but its what I paid to get back to MBK Mall and then catch the BTS home. I bet Thai people don’t pay like that. Its just one of the many things that piss me off with Thailand and why I’m glad to be leaving. Some folks think we are just giant dollar signs with legs. Others would prefer to ignore a person even when they are in an establishment to eat or buy something. Perhaps they are looking for the markup in cost. Somewhere along the line Thailand lost its soul with how to manage the tourism industry and I hate it. Tuk tuks are just one piece of it. Small and large businesses are the other. If you take all of that and magnify it you have what Bangkok is. A city with no soul, character, mood. Just a big city with lights and skyscrapers and malls. KL has it all over Bangkok for heaven’s sake. In the end, I leave in a few days and I am glad. There is no country of smiles here. If there is one sign I will always remember about Thailand its,

MASSAGE

And that’s it. Genuinely and honestly, that is about it for Bangkok.