More Shite Music Played Loud

A few years back I made this observation:

The volume of the music being played by a neighbour is inversely proportional to the quality of the music.

I went on to say:

I am convinced that those who play music stupidly loud in apartments or houses are those who fail to get positive attention by the normal method of not being a complete prick.

Little has occurred in the time since I wrote these words to give me cause to change my mind.

I am currently sitting on my balcony in Thailand having to put up with blaring music from the block opposite.  The occupants of the apartment appear to be two men in their late 50s, lily-white, unfit, bald, and sporting recent tattoos and some swarthy chap with hair down to his arse who looks to be in his 40s but thinks he’s still in his 20s.  I’m not sure what nationality these twats are, but I’d put a strong bet on their being American or British.  Each has a Thai hooker girlfriend in tow, and it is probably for their benefit that the music is being played.  And sure enough, the music is utter shite: commercial house from about 15 years ago.  Stuff like Encore Une Fois and a remix of The Key, the Secret.  We were all listening to this stuff during my second year in university, and we knew it was naff then but at least it was current.  Now we have blokes old enough to be my dad – who would have been past 40 when it was fresh – playing it off balconies in Thailand.  I mean, don’t they have any Rolling Stones CDs?

Like I said, I’m sure this is all done for the benefit of  the women they have lolling about the apartment, who regularly get blind drunk and scream the place down.  It smacks of a desperate attempt to appear young, or at least cool, to girls who really couldn’t give a shit who or what you are so long as you’re dispensing ready cash.

I’ve quoted Stephen Leather’s Private Dancer in a previous post, and I could have quoted a lot more:

I’ve never yet met a sex tourist who I’ve found the least bit entertaining or interesting…sex tourists in the main are men who would find it difficult to get a half decent girl back in their home towns.  You think that just because you’ve sat in the economy section of a long-haul flight for a day that you’ve suddenly become a fascinating person? Think again.

Words which would be lost on these dickheads living opposite me, I’m sure.

A View of Life in Phuket

Living in a place like Phuket is similar to living in a place like Dubai.  Phuket, like Dubai, is primarily a holiday resort and holiday resorts are not normal places.  If you come here on holiday you will have a whale of a time, and you’ll visit the excellent but cheap restaurants, lie on the beach enjoying almost perfect weather, enjoy the numerous bars and the, erm, ever so friendly staff, and really kick back and enjoy the laid-back lifestyle which tourists assume is the same for everybody.  Seriously, it is a great place for a holiday.

But living here?  Well, that’s pretty damned good too.  If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have bought a place here.  But when tourists tell me how lucky I am and how great it must be to live here, I do offer a word of caution: it isn’t half as good as it would first appear, and if you do live here you have to keep your feet on the ground.

So what do I mean by that?  Well, same as I did when I realised it in Dubai.  Most people who you see out in Patong, the town where I live and the main tourist area of Phuket, are indeed tourists.  They are extremely positive, very happy, carefree, outgoing, and very sociable.  Of course they are, they’re tourists, and that is exactly how they should be.  In fact, it is pretty good fun meeting a small group of tourists and joining  them on a night out, because they are genuinely out to have fun.  More than a few times I’ve hooked up with a bunch of Australians in a bar while watching rugby or cricket and joined them on a tour of the bars once the match has finished.  But the tourists leave, and more arrive.  You can quite happily maintain a lifestyle of drinking and partying and a positive outlook on everything you see for 1-2 weeks of a holiday, and as Dubai showed me, you can keep it up for about 6-12 months if you live in such a place.

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No Escape

There isn’t!  I swear, there is no escape.  It’s like the mafia, once you’re in there is no leaving.

I’m talking about Russia, of course.

A young Russian from St. Petersburg is renting the aparment opposite ours, where he was staying with his wife and baby before he packed them off back to the Motherland a few weeks ago.  He often has visitors in the form of two other young Russians, with the result that most times I am in the communal pool I end up speaking more in Russian than I do English, none of them being able to speak the latter.  There is also another Russian family living in the condominium, and there is an American chap living here with a Russian wife.

My wife has discovered that gay Russian men like to live in Phuket to practice the homosexuality which is so frowned upon in Russia, meaning that whenever we are out together we inevitably meet one or two or three Russian men she knows, and a conversation ensues in Russian.

Last week a Russian friend of ours from Sakhalin called us up to say he’s in town, and so I dutifully joined him on a tour of several bars and clubs during which no more than two words of English were spoken all night; it was all Russian, along with a couple of pitchers of margarita and countless gin and tonics.  A few nights ago he showed up around our apartment with a large bottle of whisky and a six pack of Singha beer, which we put a good dent in, and – as anybody knows – helped me to understand most of the conversation.  Then last night I went out with him and his two mates, with me being the only English speaker in the group, and spent four hours discussing everything from the state of the various ports around Sakhalin to being a pioneer in the USSR.

I love it.  There is something liberating – especially when you’re a Brit tourist in a place like Phuket – about being able to converse with a group of people for several hours without using your native language.

And of course, I love hanging out with Russians.  You’d strangle them in an instant when you have to deal with them in a bank or governmental authority or company HR department, but meeting a Russian socially is always going to be a hoot, especially one they learn you’ve lived in Russia and can speak a bit of the language.

I worried when I left Sakhalin that I’d start to forget my Russian and I’d have to (horror!) speak it with my wife.  Not a chance.  I’ve spoken more Russian here than I did in any two weeks of my last year in Sakhalin, and the way this condominium is slowly being populated, it looks as though I’ll be required to speak an awful lot more!

There’s no escape.