Ex-PM Thaksin Roams the Streets of London Solo

Ex-PM Thaksin Roams the London Streets Alone

How the mighty have fallen.

The Nation newspaper ran some photos yesterday of Thailand’s ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra strolling about London all by his lonesome. (He’s currently in exile there after being deposed in the military coup.)

The images seems to convey that Thaksin feels bummed, like, “I’m so lonely here in the UK and I feel so left out.” Also, don’t miss the taunting prose that the Nation ran along with the pics.

(As an aside: I don’t mean to compare Thaksin to Lil’Kim, but I can’t help but draw a parallel between these stark photos and the latter’s famous “I’m so ronery” ballad…)


Two More Korea Stories from Rolf Potts

Travel writer Rolf Potts has concluded his Busan, Korea homecoming with two more excellent dispatches over at Slate: “Fishing Indoors With a Former Member of the Korean Army” and “A Quest for the Musical Russian Triplets of Texas Street.”

Previously: Three Korea Stories of Note.


Three Korea Stories of Note

Sunset Over Seoul

Two of my pals have recently published excellent stories about Korea. Rolf Potts has got two articles on Slate — one’s about the Busan International Film Festival and an upcoming action comedy film called “Expats,” and the other’s about returning to the city after having spent two years teaching English there in the late 90s.

Elsewhere, Busan resident Aaron Tassano’s got a great article about the PIFF over at Trip Master Monkey. (Lil’ Kim? Lil’ Kim!)

(The image above is from my trip to Seoul to visit my brother last January.)

(Rolf Potts stories via.)

North Korean Counterfeiting

Snip from a long New York Times Magazine story about North Korean counterfeiting efforts:

Though there is some dispute on the timing, the first counterfeit big-head supernotes might have arrived on the market as early as 1998. Like the earlier generation of supernotes, the big-head imitations show an ever-growing attention to detail. “They would certainly fool me,” said Glaser, who points out that the “defects” of the supernote are arguably improvements. He recalled looking at the back of a $100 supernote under a magnifying glass and noticing that the hands on the clock tower of Independence Hall were sharper on the counterfeit than on the genuine.

From all accounts, superb quality is a feature of much North Korean contraband: methamphetamine of extraordinarily high purity; counterfeit Viagra rumored to exceed the bona fide product in its potency; supernotes. It’s an impressive product line for a regime that can barely feed its people. When I discussed this with Asher, he let out a sigh. “I always say that if North Korea only produced conventional goods for export to the degree of quality and precision that they produce counterfeit United States currency, they would be a powerhouse like South Korea, not an industrial basket case.”

[Image: xmasons]

NK: Gassin’ up a Taep’o-dong 2

License to Il

With the North Koreans preparing to test launch a ballistic missile (the Taep’o-dong 2), I thought this would be a good time to re-visit the bizarre NK images I linked to a few days back — see them again for the first time with English captions.

Also, I came across the following image. If you ever wanted a stark visual representation that illustrates the fact that totalitarianism/centrally-planned economics doesn’t work and democracy/free-market capitalism does, check this out — South Korea is lit up like a Christmas tree at night while their crazy cousins to the north are completely blacked out. Perhaps the North Korean government — which I heard someone refer to recently as less a nation than a cult — is saving up for rocket fuel by cutting back on electricity? Let’s hope not.

North Korea at Night

Oh, and one more thing: to you optimists who think this preparing-a-rocket-to-launch is just the North Koreans grandstanding to gain attention, I’d like to point out that it’s extremely difficult to remove fuel from rockets once they’ve been gassed up. Just a little something to ponder.

Man, North Korea. Would someone please convince the Halliburton muckety-mucks that they could practically print money if they snapped up some sweet no-bid contracts to rebuid the country if we would only just invade already? (No pun intended.)

Photos of North Korea

Kim Jong-Il

Here’re some incredible photos of North Korea taken by a Russian guy. Set one, two, and three. (Via.)

By the way, if you’re interested in North Korea, you’ve gotta read Guy Delisle’s graphic novel, “Pyongyang.” Delisle’s a French guy who lived in NK for a while. It’s the most illuminating thing I’ve ever read about the secretive state.

UPDATE: A recommends the book “North Korea: Another Country,” and Frans v. points out that if you’ve got 5200 bones to drop on an 11-day sojourn to North Korea, you should check this out.


Greetings from the Land of Smiles

I’m writing this from Bangkok. Arrived here yesterday on a direct flight from Kaohsiung. I’m staying near Siam Square. My belly is full of red curry with pork. I can taste Singha beer on my lips. The high was 92 degrees today. I can smell exhaust fumes from the tuk-tuks buzzing by outside. The air is dense and thick and sticky.

I absolutely love Thailand.

Anyway, I’m long overdue on some updates.

First: the conclusion of my Korea trip.


The photo above should explain the madness of my last evening on the town in Seoul. Went out to a bar in the Shinchon area with my brother and his friend John. And, among other things, the guy above was dancing with his head stuck in a lampshade. Other photos from the night can be seen at the end of my Korea photoset.

Best small world moment of my trip so far: Yesterday I received an email from a woman named Aly — she teaches English in Seoul and I met her that evening. Turns out she read a post Rolf Potts made in which he pointed to my blog; she checked out my site and hey, turns out she recognized me. She, too, knows Rolf and was inspired by his travel manifesto “Vagabonding,” and reads his site. And, interestingly enough, I’d seen and bookmarked her blog after Rolf linked to it last month. So I sat there that evening not knowing that I’d read her site before; she sat there and then ended up reading mine later inadvertantly after seeing it’s on Rolf’s blog. It’s enough to make your head spin, I tell ya.

Anyway, I’m pressed for time, so in my next post I’ll relate some tales from my splendid week in Taiwan. Bye for now.


Korean French Fry-Encrusted Corn Dog Linklove

Quick note: I just discovered that the (now infamous) Korean french fry-encrusted corn dogs have been featured on SupersizedMeals.com and CityRag.

In other news, a couple folks have emailed to see if I’m okay after the landslide in the Philippines. Not to worry. I’m still here in Taiwan.

More photos soon. I promise.


A Visit to Namhansanseong Park


Yesterday I spent a couple of hours hiking around the snowy trails in Namhansanseong Park, which is close to my brother’s neighborhood. The place is quite isolated, even though it’s fairly close to Seoul, and it boasts some interesting temples.

Despite (or perhaps because of) my poor choice of footwear, I only fell down (as is my tendency* here) once.

[*In case you missed it in the comments, Mike W. claims my recent spills have to do with my biorhythms.]


Korean TV

Korean TV

There’s some interesting stuff on TV here. Sure, you’ve got your math equations (above), but you’ve also got Chinese checkers, wrestling, and my personal favorite: not one, but two channels devoted to video games. Best I can tell, guest players show off their moves and share tips.