‘Ki ki ki.. ma ma ma..’

To paraphrase Tiny Tim, ‘A Happy Friday the 13th one and all’!

Sentimental.. oh stop.  I’m blushing!

I’ve always enjoyed a good horror-related movie.  Not the low-budget, ‘gotcha’ type nonsense.  When the plot is too involved it then becomes a ‘Thriller’ and those are fine.  When I wish to watch a thriller.

If you’re silly like me and find an excuse to watch a good, edgy movie check these out if you hadn’t yet:

Let the Right One In (the Swede original is fantastic though the English, ‘Let Me In’ remake is excellent as well), The Haunting (original, the retreads are HORRIBLE) and Dracula (1931 original.  I was a Bahaus fan when younger and still enjoy their song, ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’).

For campy though not completely dopey gore:

Dawn of the Dead (’78 version.  The original ‘Night..’ is good though this has far more hijinks, comedy/levity), Suspiria (an Italian horror flick which uses now considered dated though oh-so appropriate lighting, set & camera angles.  It’s violent at times though the gore is modest if compared with today’s cinema) & The Ring (Japanese version.  Sure the English version is decent but seems overacted, JMO).

As for classics:

The Exorcist (Stands the test of time), JAWS (Being a fan of the water this is 1 of my favorites, still.  Opening scene doesn’t get old), The Shining (Nicholson OWNS this role.  The best Stephen King movie adaptation), Bride of Frankenstein (quite possibly the greatest horror flick ever made.. still), The Thing (1980 – John Carpenter directed with Kurt Russell in a bolero hat – awesome!  Never mind the nonsensical clothing worn in a supposed Antarctic winter.. great flick).

By all means share your faves.

Here’s 3 of my favorite Friday the 13th songs:

Dead Kennedys – The Prey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJXxMqbjJYA

Metallica – Creeping Death – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UO_84C3fpuI

Misfits – Hybrid Moments – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MDOKVSN_YM

Have a great 13th and keep an eye open for the closet & under the bed monster.

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Changing gear, I pull you tighter to me! I’m your Turbo..

We don’t drive on holiday.  It’s never enjoyable feeling ‘lost’ the first few days, driving aimlessly, being the a-hole slowing down in flowing traffic trying to take in a sight for ~nanosecond.

Besides you ever try to parallel park on amazingly narrow streets with well deserved, applicable insults from effected drivers hurled your way?  I was successful but it was the last time in Sevilla, Spain   It ain’t fun.

Is that Toonces the Driving Cat?

Driving a standard vehicle with the stick on the opposite side one’s used to and having to fold in the rear view mirrors to not scrape the walls.. never again.

My Euro-friends, go ahead and laugh it up.  Many Euro vehicles are smaller versions than their American counterpart.  Though urban Europe has much older, smaller streets.

A Euro ‘Range Rover’ or BMW SUV is ~the same length of a USA sedan or compact car.

Someone lose their Hot Wheels?

Someone lose their Hot Wheels?

An aside: I was driving a Toyota Prius (alright alright get it out of your system.  It’s an ideal ‘kind of a car’ for low elevation areas) through Virginia Beach, Virginia USA following a decent night’s snow fall.  The next morning I was passing, PASSING trucks, 4X4’s, a city snow plow (!) and other macho-on-the-outside vehicles while driving safely.  Manhood thus regained!

Living in Washington D.C. you get behind your fair share of these folks.  Wait you get behind these folks when WALKING in D.C. !

On holiday we prefer close proximity to the train/bus/ water taxi locations.  Though far enough away from their expected noise(s), squeaks.

In this regard leaving no rock/possibility unturned.  Which results in discovering, eating at near impossible to find yet delicious restaurants.  Off the beaten path sights no local nor tourism book discloses and other worthwhile hole-in-the-walls.  Like this:

'Priest Priest Priest Priest'

Yes, a Czech Judas Priest cover band!  It was awesome.  No, the lead singer was not an intimidating bald, gay man but wow could he belt out, ‘Better by You Better than Me’!  I’m not usually a ‘cover’ fan but Judas Priest and this cover band does the ditty justice.

Oddly Renae sat this one out.

Some locals may see you more often while you’re walking and be more forthcoming/apt to give you deals on merchandise, food stalls to avoid altogether or frequent etc., (or lure you in, kidnap and dole you out for nefarious purposes.  Though WE are the gambling type so.. win-win).

To remain fueled for our tramping it’s essential we locate/scout out grocery stores, mini-marts in/near our hotel location when we arrive.

Pick up water, fruits, snacks, cheeses, prosciutto, an earthy bread and bottle of vino for our hotel fridge and provisions for the next day’s journey.  Or resting our dogs and enjoy a late start or day off.

In our experience it’s not worked out well using a GPS system for getting around most destinations.

GPS Fail

As many know a business spoken highly of a week prior to one’s trip may be gone, moved, changed ownership and business or its owner on holiday for a few months the very next week.

Many hotels have excellent free maps (fodors has fantastic, weatherproofed folding maps for many destinations at your local bookstore as I’m sure so do other travel books) and if you’re lucky a travel desk liaison nearby/ in the vicinity.  Grab 3-4 complimentary fold-up maps.  You’ll need ’em.

Me.. a Germaphobe? Nooo. Rubbing alcohol scented hands is natural, right?

‘Morpheus’?

Before leaving be sure to have a few mini hand sanitizer bottles, mini-Kleenex tissues and chapstick.  I haven’t seen though read of the 2011 movie, ‘Contagion’ but am sure Renae and I live a post-contagion life so to speak already.  The movie would only confirm how awesomely ‘forward thinking’ we are.

What has 2 thumbs and turns down complete strangers offering a handshake while asking, ‘Where are you from’?  This guy!

Time to go..

Being on the OCD spectrum regarding germs, our caution/’MOPP 4′ is put to the test when entering ANY type of public (private in those rare instances as well) restroom and risking skin contact with door/stall/flusher/stall/sink/door-again.  The preparation, outcome is always successful.

The misnomer of, ‘1 in 3 men don’t wash their hands after using the restroom’ – that’s an urban legend.  The unwashed masses is higher!  Scary stuff.

I believe our germ fighting survival kit/ ‘skills’ is reason enough why Renae and I avoid being sick to/from holiday destinations.  Or could just be considered our, ‘Placebo’.

If the latter, I gotta tell you – it’s fantastic.  ‘The Blue pill’ IS our drug of choice!

You’re not.. You’re not good

The ‘bohemian holiday snobs’ moniker is primarily due to Renae and I having our own ‘relaxed’ niche and like comfortable accommodation when on holiday.  Without the ‘backpacker’ ‘hostel’ ‘shared bathroom/room’ ‘nightclub on ground floor’ appended to hotel details.

Were not saying the on-the-cheap/fly hotels are less enjoyable.  Though being married, in our 30’s and adamantly enjoy our quiet, privacy and anonymity – the economic savers are less appealing for us.

We visit these amazing places to see, absorb and take-in its rich history, unique architecture and culture.  Okay okay were primarily there for the food!

When on vacation I liken us to, ‘Jake & Elwood Blues’ crashing the Chez-Paul Restaurant..

..except the bread tossing and wanting to buy children aspect.  My throwing is subpar nowadays and usually we have but 1 bed – no way is there room for a child let alone children.

We don’t stay at or avoid skyscraper-type behemoth hotels.  There’s too many floors, too many shared walls, always seeming too expensive and sterile-like qualities.

These establishments also have ~ 3 – 1 ratio of the pinky finger out when drinking types and/or guys in v-necks (what the h ell is with these wide scoop v-necks?  The ONLY man who can pull off the man-bear coat is Welsh singer Tom Jones & perhaps America’s own Neil Diamond.. jmo.) talking too loud about their booze cruise, women with the mousey-type voice who overemphasize the letter ‘s’ when speaking etc.,   You know, we (as I’m sure you do as well) see their boyfriend’s all the time.

Uhm.. yeah

..and their empty vessel

..and their empty vessel

It’s no stereotype and we don’t claim to be their betters.  We only wish THEIR lives were more personal, less conspicuous and well.. theirs and theirs alone!

There are PLENTY of 4-5 star hotels whose floor plan is spread out, less boxy and far more spacious with 1-3 floors, tops.  Their outdoor patios overlook a harbor, rooftop seating with downtown square a few moments walk etc.,

These hotels have some or all of the following amenities: a pool, gym and sauna/spa facilities if possible.

We’ve found these especially important when on an Austral-Asian holiday.

Weather systems are more prevalent to many Asian destinations due to close proximity of the equator.  As well as Australia & New Zealand, their far South locations in the Southern Hemisphere, respectively.

Taking advantage of the pool, sauna or spa is ideal on a rain day or a lazy day.

‘Excuse me while I whip this out’

Cleavon Little, Blazing Saddles

Sheriff Bart (the late Cleavon Little), Blazing Saddles

Shortcuts, idiosyncrasies you may find funny are methods we’ve employed to have a less-hassle (hassle-free is fiction), more enjoyable holiday.  As well as avoiding catching a cold when getting back home.

There are conditions where locals shake their heads in befuddlement and we find ourselves chuckling, ‘It’s no big deal’.. (*when clicking a hyperlink – such as the link below this message, highlight the link, right-click ‘Open Link in New Window’ or highlight the link and type ‘W’)

It’s tough to gauge a hotel from customer reviews.  One review speaks of a ‘honeymoon destination’ and you see another scathing review during the same period!  This is the overwhelming reason why we want to share our ventures away from home.

We’ve given the apropos ‘jog-off’ to Expedia, tripadvisor  and other like-minded review sites (though we do enjoy virtualtourist).

The vacationers who complain, post pictures of a scrape on the wall, a tad bit of caulk flaking off in a bathroom corner, complaining their hotel’s front desk didn’t speak their native tongue/English well, didn’t kiss their a ss enough at meals, didn’t respond like some type of serf to their myriad of questions, expecting the hotel to contact them (?) regarding nearby and/or construction work for THEIR upcoming stay etc.,

FYI: YOU’RE on holiday.  You may be going to a place in the world where a checklist of expected niceties/ common courtesies are common in your area though alien and not practiced elsewhere.

There are details, customs and possibilities YOU should have researched, double-triple checked before booking/leaving/arriving to EVERY holiday destination.

Nearly ALL hotels, whether booking via expedia-like agencies or through the hotel itself has a 100% refund BEFORE checking-in.

The ‘I wasn’t told/emailed/contacted for..’ faux grievances – here’s some crocodile tears for you and your accompanied ineptness.

Some hotels BOAST of their ‘inadequacies’ – like Amsterdam’s, ‘Hans Brinker’

Admittedly I want to see the place.  Can it really be ‘that bad’?

We do our homework.

Padidd.. err ‘Kijang’!

Happy New Years.  And to those recognizing the upcoming ‘Year of the Dragon’ Happy New Years to you as well.

We in Brunei live amongst a large Chinese population whose New Years is January 23rd.

Slow boat to Brunei

2 New Years celebrations in a matter of weeks, suhweet situation you may say.  Ehhh.

Brunei is near the equator.  Beautiful, wild and much of it pristine.  Not to mention an alcohol-free destination (I know what you’re thinking.  Paul, when you get the shakes/tremors drink some mouthwash.  Drink vanilla extract.  ‘Something brother’!  Ahh but those items are alcohol-free as well.  Brunei’s REALLY covered its bases.. hahaha).

So counting down the ball drop in a peacoat and flask/thermos of Irish coffee or champagne flute in freezing hand(s) is but a memory.

Though 1 of Malaysia’s borders is ~40 minute drive and our friend Dave makes ‘beer runs’ accordingly.

We had a good time on New Years.  Poker, board games at a friend’s house.  Nothing embarrassing.  And you thought I couldn’t/wouldn’t grow up.  Though yes I had my camera.  You know me!

And ‘Yes’ I WILL share any awkward or extremely embarrassing pictures in the future.  Including immediate family and friends in uncomfortable situations.If that person(s) should be mad for my splashing/exploiting/blackmailing etc., their out-of-character image, I quote ‘Animal House’s’ Otter, ‘You fukced up.  You trusted us!  Make the best of it’.

Alright, o.k. on to the subject of this message.

Do you remember/ play the game, ‘Padiddle’?  Of course you do.  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=padiddle

It’s an ageless game.  Fun had by all.  Unless those losing ‘their shirt’ in Padiddle is an obese woman or man/hairy man, one with horrible body odor etc.,.  In a sweat-box like Brunei we’ve all fallen victim to the B O monster..

We play a version of Padiddle in Brunei.  We call ours, ‘Kijang’.

Toyota makes the ‘Kijang’.  Apparently in Greek it means, ‘Dependable yet extremely uncomfortable mode of transport’.  No..I’m s hitting ya!

It’s a box-type, 4-door van with double doors on the back.  Lovingly referred to by most Western folk alike as a, ‘S hitbox’, ‘S hit can’ ‘My piece of s hit’ or a woman’s name.  At most times the name of a woman who wouldn’t give us men the time of day but again I’m digressing.

I liken ‘Kijang’ to the horrible sound a missed basketball shot makes when hitting the front, not the top of a basketball rim.

I bet the Kijang would’ve given my Mom’s ’77 Volkswagen Westfalia a run for its money for the, ‘Whose car shakes the most when at/near 50 mph’? competition.

The Kijang doesn’t have the wall-to-wall crushed velvet interior or kidney shaped side windows adorning the classic Chevy ‘Stabbin’ Cabin’ van.

The Stabbin' Cabin.. Right this way ladies

Nope, the Kijang screams ‘Simple’ or ‘Modest’ means.  Usually has a ladder(s) side mounted and 6-8 hungry for work though emaciated and disgruntled looking passengers.  Boredom, starving are apparently strong motivators for work in Brunei too!

My other car..

My other car..

A rare find.. an empty Kijang.  Crikey!

Imagine the # of Camry’s or the Chrysler, faux wood paneled vans circa 1987 dotting the country and you’ll grasp the # of ‘Kijang’s’ and accompanied slaps to the ceiling when spotting ’em first.

Neon green, acid trip Purple, Rusty Red.. there are MANY colors represented on our Kijangs.

Some colors look ‘Custom’, lovingly painted themselves with a hand roller!Hey I’m not poking fun.

I know exactly how it is to have a Kijang-caliber vehicle.

Levity is a rarity in this mortal deity – Donald Blum

During your next round of Padiddle think about your pals in Brunei and raise that roadie on high and proclaim, ‘Kijang’.