Sunday, 21 December 2014

Fwd: Christmas cheer

----- Original Message -----
To: "2XS - Peter & Marguerite" <margueriteharmsen@yahoo.com>
Cc: marguerite.harmsen@gmail.com
Subject: Christmas cheer
Date: 22 Dec 2014 03:20:10 -0000
From: zmq5985

To all our friends and family,
It's that time of year again when we dispense goodwill, love and cheer to all. Just a pity that politicians don't appear to be able to do the same!
Anyway, we hope that wherever you are you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, which as the year unfolds, brings you everything that you would wish for.
Jean's hips continue to strengthen and make progress and she is into a gym and swimming regime now. We are both looking forward to seeing our respective families early in 2015 - Jean in Miami, Florida and Jim back in little old NZ!!
And to finish another Irish joke - you can put it in your Christmas crackers!!
A travelling circus came for the first time to Connemara in Ireland. While in town one day an elephant escaped. Mrs. O'Reilly was looking out her kitchen window and she saw this strange looking animal in her backyard. She'd never seen the like; she nearly fainted. She called out to her husband, "Paddy, Paddy come quick. There's a strange lookin' animal in the backyard and he's digging up the potatoes with his tail". Paddy said, "what's he doing with them?" She replied, "if I told you that, you'd never believe me!"
Cheers again and Merry Christmas.....
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Yacht Haven Marina
Phuket
Thailand.
www.tiaretaporo3.blogspot.com
----- End of Original Message -----

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Fwd: Three little irish jokes!!

----- Original Message -----
To: "2XS - Peter & Marguerite" <margueriteharmsen@yahoo.com>
Cc: marguerite.harmsen@gmail.com
Subject: Three little irish jokes!!
Date: 13 Dec 2014 11:16:01 -0000
From: zmq5985

We are not racially biased!!!!!
- The priest was asking a class in religious studies and asked who was the greatest man that ever lived.
Answers varied - one said it was Michaelangelo, another said it was Alexander Graham Bell. "Very good answers" said the priest, "but not quite what I was looking for". Then a little Jewish boy stood up and said "please Father, the greatest man who ever lived was St. Patrick". "A very good answer", said the priest, and the Jewish boy won the class prize. Afterwards the priest asked him, "strange that a Jewish boy should come up with the answer that you gave", and the Jewish boy replied "well, in my heart I know that it was Moses, but business is business!"
- The captain of a ship received news that the passenger in cabin 36 had died and so he despatched his 1st. mate to the cabin to have the occupant buried at sea. The 1st. mate duly reported back to the captain and announced that he had proceeded to cabin 26 and had had the occupant buried at sea. "My God", said the captain, "I asked you to go to cabin 36. Was the occupant of cabin 26 dead?" The mate said, "well, there was a person named Shaunessy from Kerry there and he said that he was not dead, but you know what terrible liars these Kerrymen are!"
Murphy had come into a substantial sum of money - 500,000 pounds - and decided to visit his brother in Boston. On the way home the plane ran into trouble and the captain announced that they would probably have to ditch. "My God" said Murphy, "here I am and just come into all this money and I'm going to be killed". So he said to God, "if we get safely home I'll give you half my fortune". Well, the plane eventually landed safely and a priest who had overheard Murphy's heartfelt prayer and promise suggested that Murphy might like to sraightaway start giving to God. "Not on your life", said Murphy, "after we landed I made a new pact with God and I told Him that if I ever went up in a plane again, He could have the lot!"
Cheers from us........
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Yacht Haven Marina
Phuket
www.tiaretaporo3.blogspot.com
----- End of Original Message -----

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Friday, 5 December 2014

Photos

1) Jean in the revolving restaurant KL
2) Jean and Garn at the Galley Bar and Restaurant Krabi Boat Lagoon
3) Island formations on the way to Yacht Haven Phuket
4) More crazy drunken islands!
5) The restaurant Koh Yao Yai

Photos

1) temple outside royal palace Bangkok before we went to India
2) palace building
3) palace guard
4) Petronas twin towers Kuala Lumpur
5) KL from the revolving restaurant - a la Sky Tower 

Yacht Haven Koh Phuket Lat. 8 degrees 10.2' N Long. 98 degrees 20.4' E

Yesterday it was the Thai King's Birthday (Dec. 5th.) and probably the most revered day in the Thai calendar.
We arrived here at Yacht Haven on the 1st. after a pleasant passage from Krabi. Very sad to leave all our friends at Popeye and Garn at the Galley restaurant. We managed to finish the bottle of Chivas Regal 12 yr old which we had given to Capt. Des Kearns to mark his 70th. birthday some months previously - sitting in Des's office looking out over the marina where "Tiare Taporo III" was moored. We hasten to assure you dear readers that we didn't drink the whole bottle then - it had taken some direct hits on previous occasions!
It was a total of 52 miles via the southern end of Koh Yao Yai which is a large island smack in the way! We anchored first at Koh Dam Khwan (only 10 miles from Krabi Boat Lagoon) - a very pretty anchorage with the usual precipitous and dramatic scenery typical of this part of the world. At around 2000 there was a fairly violent electrical storm, again typical of this area at this time of the year. We are always concerned that with our mast sticking straight up into the air, we are vulnerable to these nasty bolts of electricity, which could fry all our electrics with a direct hit. We didn't receive a direct hit but Jean was holding onto the stainless steel frame which supports our companionway dodger and was zapped as one bolt came uncomfortably close. Her arm remained sore for about 24 hours after that. Maybe it was the titanium in her hips that attracted the energy - hope it hasn't melted them!! The boat appeared to be OK with all our instruments still functioning but with lightning one always worries about "latent effect" - we'll just have to wait and see.
The next day dawned fine and clear and we headed out on a SW course towards the southern tip of Koh Yao Yai. Soon after raising the anchor, we passed through the small group of Koh Yawasam with very dramatic formations. There will be some photos posted here just after this blog. The tide was low and you could see part of the submarine formation which appeared riddled with small holes and caves - like a Swiss cheese. They must have been standing there for quite a long time, but somehow there was an uncomfortable feeling if getting too close! We rounded Yao Yai and continued north along its western side until we spied a resort on a good swimming beach which all looked good from the point of view of essential sustenance! We anchored off the beach and over the next 3 days we cleaned the hull of the yacht from the dinghy and went ashore for swimming and eating - and drinking! We know that's what you all think - that this cruising life is a continuous round of hedonism, but of course that isn't the case - the difficulty is in convincing you lot. Hardly worth the effort really!! The resort's restaurant was quite inexpensive and right on the beach so was an idyllic setting. About 100 metres away from the beach we found a coffee bar which had excellent coffee where Jean could get her fixes.
Then on the morning of Dec. 1st. we weighed anchor again and headed in a NW direction the last 20 miles to Yacht Haven Marina. We had no wind to speak of the whole trip so it's been a case of using the iron sail. Yacht Haven is situated right on the northern end of Phuket in the channel that separates Phuket from the mainland to the north so is very sheltered, although being in the channel, it does receive a cool breeze which is welcome in the tropical heat. Phuket International Airport is very close - only 20 minutes away by car. Here it is very quiet away from the madding crowds who flock to the western side beaches and try to kill each other on jetskis. There aren't any safety regulations regarding the use of these things, or if there are they aren't enforced. A tourist was killed the other day on a jetski and 3 more in a speedboat which hit a fishing boat at right angles in good visibility in daylight! Then there are the lack of lights at night as we've mentioned before and on top of all that the Thai authorities are now insisting on all foreign flagged yachts being fitted with AIS transponders. The real reason for this is to keep track of foreign boats - not for any safety considerations. We have an AIS receiver but not a transmitter and we're damned if we are going to be forced to fit one - at a rough cost of NZD1500! Some years ago an American yacht took the NZ Govt. to court concerning jurisdiction over foreign flagged vessels and their equipment- and won. Maybe it's getting time to do the same thing here.
On our approach to Yacht Haven it's necessary to stay in the channel and when approaching any marina or anchorage for the first time there's an element of anxiety as to the correct way to go. We were talking to YH on the radio and they said we should "head for the green buoy" and there await a dinghy which would guide us in to our berth. We did this and promptly went aground - twice!! We weren't best pleased thinking of our new antifouling which has no doubt been compromised although hopefully just on the lead keel and the sacrificial wormshoe (which is Amazonian Green Heart timber - hard as iron and impervious to the dreaded Teredo Worm). Then on the way in we had been told on the radio that we would be tying up port side to and had all the fenders and mooring lines deployed accordingly. However, the guy in the dinghy then said it was starboard side which necessitated changing everything and that's no small job. Then he changed his mind and said it was port side after all. Just as well the crutches were well stowed otherwise they would definitely have been flying. The guy doesn't know how lucky he was!!
However, after that poor start we find that the marina is very pleasant with a choice of 4 restaurants ashore and a gym and pool which actually belong to a condominium complex just up the hill from the marina.
Fingers crossed, but we think our refrigeration problems have been finally solved, although it didn't help that the technician who came to work on the system virtually spoke no English. We also had David Samuelson, an expert rigger based at Boat Lagoon, on board to give our rig the once over. Fortunately he didn't find any issues and was so impressed with the mast fittings that Noel had designed and fitted in Whangarei, that he took photos of them!! David it turns out had had dinner on board the "Taporo" - a steel motor ship that we sold in 1971 when the Tahiti business was sold - when he passed through the Marquesas Islands on his yacht in 1974. We've noticed that the deck mounted foot operated switch for our windlass has cracked on its surface so will have to try and source another. The new lifeline starboard side hasn't been swaged properly so we're taking that down to Boat Lagoon on Monday for that to be done. And we need a new radiator cap for our heat exchanger as the old original one is leaking - so no rest for the wicked. There is always something on a boat! And dental maintenance for us as well - Jean needs repairs to a bridge (or a new one) and Jim is having a long overdue checkup and clean. Far far cheaper than NZ where you need to take out a 2nd. mortgage to pay the extortionate fees.
We are hiring a car on Monday for the aforementioned jobs as well as some provisioning. The Phuket traffic is legendary so it will be exciting as we make our way around.
Still not entirely sure of our immediate movements but we're likely to be here for Christmas and leaving just after for Langkawi. The boat temporary import permit and our personal visas expire around mid January so that's the imperative. Then back to Krabi in March before Jean flies out to the States and Jim to NZ. As always we'll let you know.
Cheers and love from us......
Jim and Jean
P.S. Don't forget to look for our recent pics which will be posted to the website in the next couple of days - very inexpertly as usual!!
To close - another Irish joke - Murphy wasn't feeling well so he decided to go to the doctor. After examining him the doctor said that he couldn't find anything wrong and so he'd have to "put it down to the drink". Murphy said "that's all right, doctor. I'll come back another time when you're sober!".

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Impressions of Kuala Lumpur

We decided it was necessary to do a visa run to KL as our latest Thai visas were expiring on the 12th. and 13th. of November. We had some alternatives - we could just leave the country and then get another 30 days on re-entry, or we could go somewhere where there was a Thai diplomatic mission and get 60 + 30 days. Penang or KL would have both answered the latter so, as we hadn't yet been to KL, we opted to go there. It means that now we will be staying in Thai waters for Christmas and beyond and then sailing down to Langkawi after that. However, we will sail for Phuket to get some work done to our awnings for sun protection and then explore the islands.
We flew with Air Asia from Krabi direct to KL on the 12th. and had booked on the internet into the Zon All Suites Residences Hotel. This sounds way grander than it is, but it did have the attribute of offering accommodation at a 50% discount! It's an older hotel but is centrally situated near the KL City Centre and also not too far from the Thai Embassy. We had a separate bedroom and sitting room which, although smallish, meant that the living was comfortable. Free breakfast was thrown in too but the restaurant was well below standard and, although we availed ourselves of the free breakfast, we only ever ate one other meal there.
KL has been entertaining to look around as neither of us had ever been there before, but really it's just another city with not a lot to set it apart. It does have the Petronas Twin Towers which are spectacular to look at but they only allow you about half way up to a skybridge between the two. Then they want 90 Ringitts (NZD34) each for the privilege!! So, we didn't go up there, but did go up the Menara KL Tower to the revolving restaurant which is 280 metres above some high ground on which it is built and at least 100 metres higher than the Twin Towers skybridge. It does a complete revolution every hour and you get the best view (bar a helicopter) possible of KL. The lunch was good too and all for 88 Ringitts each plus 31 Ringitts for a litre bottle of water!! Still, probably much better value than the Twin Towers.
Apart from that and two visits to the Thai Embassy, we have been doing some shopping and a lot of window shopping! And eating out a lot which isn't cheap. An average price for the two of us at an average restaurant is around 175 Ringitts (NZD66). We are not used to such prices after Thailand! But we did find an absolutely superb Italian Restaurant called Porto Romano on the ground floor of the Intermark Building on Jalan Tun Razak. Highly recommended. The last meal we had there was NZ lamb shanks in a red wine sauce and they were wunderbar! Made us very nostalgic!! First lamb shanks since leaving NZ 3 and a half years ago. NZD20 each!! Such extravagance!! We even had a glass of Italian red wine each and after dinner 2 Grappas which were great. For those who don't know, Grappa is mainly distilled in Italy from the leftovers of wine grape pressings. That includes the skins, seeds and some leaves and twigs together with some pressed grape flesh. Doesn't sound very appetising, but is surprisingly and uniquely delicious and the perfect antidote to an Italian meal. On our last night they gave us two Grappas free.
The KLCC shopping mall is nearby and so full of designer names like Louis Vuitton, Armani, Prada, Gucci, Burberry, etc. that it is eye watering. We were there on the weekend and the mall was thronged, but no-one in any of the shops. All staffed to the hilt and looking bored out of their brains. How they stay in business is a mystery to us.
KL is vibrant with new building going on but we were told that there is a large oversupply of commercial space. So just what the outcome of that will be remains to be seen, but we hope that buildings are not simply abandoned as they are all over Malaysia in satellite commercial areas.
The overt preferences given to the Bhumiputra (Moslem Malays) are unsettling and an Indian taxi driver confirmed that. We felt very sorry for him and all non Malays because they are openly discriminated against in all sorts of areas (even preferential duty rates when buying vehicles) and have very little hope of ever getting out from under.
Another matter reported in the local paper (The Star) was particularly horrifying. Apparently there is a very strong move to strengthen Shariah (Islamic) Law in Kelantan State which is in a remote area south of the Thai border on the east coast. They have been dispassionately discussing the best ways in which to amputate hands or limbs as punishment for certain crimes such as robbery. The main stipulation was that, whether machete, sword or mini guillotine was used, the blade should be sharp. And the "offender" should be conscious while the sentence was being carried out so that proper "remorse" could be shown.
A doctor was also required to be present, presumably so that the amputee didn't die from blood loss. There wouldn't be any remorse then!! There was an issue raised concerning the Hippocratic Oath under which a doctor is required to save life, but we suppose that as long as he/she didn't actually cause the amputation, then the oath is complied with.
We find this extreme example of Islamic faith/law to be appalling. It does seem to be slowly gaining influence in Malaysia (particularly on the east coast) and would certainly be a major influence in any decision we might make concerning settling in Malaysia in the future.
Unfortunately there is a certain amount of unrest in the most southerly of Thailand's provinces which adjoins Kelantan. Three women were shot dead there in the last 2-3 days. This province is predominantly Moslem as is much of southern Thailand including Krabi, although there Moslems and Buddhists seem to exist in a great deal of harmony. We hope that this Islamic extremism is contained and does not spread further north, for Thailand's sake.
Jean's hips are continuing to slowly improve, but it's now going to be a slow process compared with the earlier rate of healing. It's now day 64 since the 2nd. hip replacement and, while there was some persistent swelling which was giving rise to some concern, that is abating. Probably at least partially as a result of being back in air con. conditions for a while. However, there is general improvement overall and we are sure that once we get sailing again with swimming etc. the improvement will continue. Jim's knees are not improving however and have been an impediment to walking too far in KL. Hopefully he will not need surgery, but we will see. It's fun getting old and unfortunately will ultimately force us to adopt an alternative lifestyle - maybe sooner rather than later.
Now back on the boat at Krabi Boat Lagoon. We flew back yesterday (18/11) and all is well. Nice to be back and some good Thai food from Garn at the Galley Restaurant. Unfortunately our freezer is still only partially working so we haven't any food in it yet. It is going to necessitate a trip to Phuket to get it sorted - hopefully!! But there's an issue with available marina berths so we might not be able to go for 2 weeks or so. If we can't get a berth in the next 4 days we'll go out and anchor in various places before continuing on to Phuket. One way or another it will get done.
Cheers from us for now and best wishes and love to everyone.
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Krabi Boat lagoon
Krabi
Thailand

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Saturday, 1 November 2014

More photos!!!

1) Mahatma Ghandi (Ghandiji) on the waterfront at Pondicherry
2) A view of Chennai Port

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Photos correction!!

The last photo we said was our room at Villa Shanti Pondicherry is in fact part of the apartment we had overnight at a golf resort near Bangkok International Airport

Photos

1) Pondicherry street scene
2 & 3) Chaotic scenes in shopping mall Pondicherry just before Diwali
4) Pondi again
5) Jean getting out of a Tuktuk in Pondi
6) Understated entrance to La Villa Shanti, Pondicherry
7 - 12) Examples of French architecture Pondicherry
13) Jean outside our room La Villa Shanti
14 & 15) Restaurant courtyard La Villa Shanti
16) Our room La Villa Shanti
 

Photos

1) Our hospital beds - 2nd. op.
2) Kitchen in our sitting room
3) On the mend
4) The new Deltamotion hips - bionic woman!
5) Our room at Quality Inn Chennai
6) Jean with Boomi - our waiter at Quality Inn
7 & 8) Colonial era buildings Georgetown, Chennai
9) Us outside a museum we didn't have time to visit 

Photos

1) Nurses with Jean after 1st. op.
2) Street scene beside our hotel with Jean and convenience store and pharmacy/stationery shop to right downstairs. This was between ops. walking with crutches!
3 & 4) Street scenes in Chennai where we were able to walk due to a little less traffic. But only about 1km there and back!
5) MRT construction site from our hospital window. Workers washed in open concrete tanks with filthy brown water!
6) Jean with night nurses just after 2nd. op.

Photos

1) Depiction of Allied POW's working on Death Railway Thailand/Burma WWII - note the emaciated bodies.
2) The infamous Bridge over the River Kwai
3) Jean and Bailey ("Galatea") in Bangkok just before we left for India
4) Jean in our room at The Asian Joint Reconstruction Institute, Vadapalani, Chennai, India just before the 1st. op. on her left hip. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

1st. op. day 59 2nd. op. day 38

Hi to all,
We hope this finds you well.
We are now back at Krabi Boat Lagoon, having arrived a week ago.
On the 14th. October we left Pondicherry by car at 6pm. for the 3 hour drive north to Chennai International Airport where we caught Thai Airways TG338 which left Chennai at 0055 on the 15th. So unsociable!! We arrived at Bangkok at 0555 absolutely knackered although we had 4 empty seats each so were able to lie down and get about an hour's sleep on the flight.
But to regress - Jean continues to make good progress, although stating that one hip seems longer than the other! However, that's just a waiting game as the 2nd one settles down. Jim did say to the surgeon when we had our final appointment that we thought he'd got it wrong and made one longer than the other - we all had a good laugh! Dr. Bose said he was delighted with Jean's progress and was sure that when all had properly settled down everything would be fine. There is still some discomfort when she is tired (which is often as she's always overdoing things) and some numbness but when you consider the scale of the operations and the necessity for severed muscles, tendons and nerves to knit back together, it's not surprising that it takes a little time for everything to get back to where it was. And the swelling which was expected and which she experienced has now all but gone, except when she overdoes things.
Towards the end of our stay in Chennai we took a taxi to Georgetown which is what is left of "old" Madras and is near the port. Still quite a few attractive old buildings dating from the height of the British Raj in the late 1800's and which are now showing signs of restoration. But the usual chaotic scenes which we westerners find so incomprehensible. We saw the port which is the usual container port one sees all over the world. But its origins are all artificial and certainly no place for yachts! In the old days the port was regularly destroyed whenever a Bay of Bengal cyclone came through but now it is much more substantial with big seawalls and all they do is order all ships to sea. Just as happened in the last few days when a very large cyclone hit the coast a few hundred miles north of here and the local port up there was cleared. Must have been a rough ride for those vessels!
We spent our days eating too much at the Quality Inn and having walks for a bit of exercise. Although Chennai is not walker friendly, especially on one or two crutches!! Footpaths are patchy at best which necessitates walking on the road - a hazardous exercise anywhere in India. Quite often we would both walk up 3 flights to our room for at least some exercise. There was a small supermarket opposite and we could buy snack items and there was also a pharmacy down quite a flight of stairs which Jean negotiated quite successfully. Boomi, the head waiter looked after us very well - probably too well in fact (!) - and indeed all the staff got to know us and were all wonderful. We showed the Head Housekeeper the gory photos of the ops. and the x-rays showing the new joints and she was very impressed!!
Then there is still the fallout from the scandal surrounding the former Chief Minister who stole over Rs.66 core during the time of her office. She applied for bail and it seemed that most people thought (and inexplicably hoped) that she would be released but the judge said NO and she remained in jail - for the moment. When you think what that amount of money (over 13 million NZD) would have done for the poor people and even just basic infrastructure the attitude is incomprehensible, but this is India!!!
We eventually left Chennai on the 8th. amid much valedictory excitement. Jean even shed a tear or two! We had a very comfortable trip down to Pondy with the same driver who took us around Georgetown a few days before. He was very good and, although his English was limited, he made valiant efforts to show us things of interest and mostly we could understand him. We duly arrived at La Villa Shanti after asking directions once we were in Pondy. It's hilarious asking directions in India. It reminds us forcibly of the Irish direction jokes. Often they don't actually know, although living here you'd think they should. But they'll tell you what they think you want to hear so you take it all with a grain of salt - if indeed they can speak English and one can penetrate the accent. If you ask how far, they'll usually state something far less than it actually is!
The hotel (La Villa Shanti) is an 18th. century house in French style which has been restored and converted into the hotel. There is a new matching wing at the rear and a courtyard where the restaurant is in the centre which was no doubt part of the original garden. When it rains the restaurant also has a substantial undercover area. The whole effect was delightful and it was always very pleasant having a meal in the garden. We had a ground floor room as there are no lifts and the hips aren't quite yet up to constant stairs. The food was excellent and not too spicy as they cater to foreigners predominantly and our room was very comfortable. We were very sorry to say goodbye to everyone at La Villa Shanti.
During our stay we walked and travelled around the old quarter in Pondi and were favourably impressed with the architecture, the shopping and the the ambience generally. Given its French history it's unique in India and in our opinion a highly desirable place to incorporate in any Indian itinerary. We also walked on the beachfront promenade where there is a giant staue of Mahatma Ghandi (Ghandiji). This was generally disappointing as the colour of the waves breaking on the coast was a dark grey/black! All caused by massive pollution and very sad to see. And no harbour of any description so definitely not yacht friendly.
One day we visited Auroville ("City of Dawn") which is on the outskirts of Pondi. It is a small town/village which was established in 1968 by Sri Aurobindo in collaboration with a French lady called Mirra Alfassa. The philosophy behind it is "that it would contribute significantly in the progress of humanity towards its splendid future by bringing together people of goodwill and aspiration for a better world". It has been endorsed by UNESCO 4 times in the past 40 years. There is an Ashram there as well as many community buildings and separate individually owned dwellings all set in a rural atmosphere and surrounded by much lush bush. You cannot simply decide to go and live there; you have to be invited after a trial period over months of living with the community.
We had previously met an Italian lady (an ex boatie many years ago) who lives there with her Japanese husband who makes Japanese style furniture. We went to her house and had a very interesting conversation. It is fascinating to see how other people live and while initially appealing, we don't really think we could eventually retire there. We are always thinking about where we might one day finish up living when our sailing days are over!
India is like this - it always conjours up very diverse feelings. On the one hand you can't wait to leave the pollution and the noise and overcrowding and on the other one always remembers the people one meets and the kindness and friendliness that they show.
Our feelings after this visit were no different although the primary purpose of the visit was of course Jean's surgery and subsequent rehabilitation.
A final example of the irritations that can be experienced in India came at Chennai Airport when we arrived there from Pondicherry. We arrived 4 hours before our flight because we didn't know how much congestion there would be on the road. Some people said it would take only 2 hours; in the event it took us 3. But because we were early they wouldn't let us into the terminal building due to "terrorist concerns". Jean urgently needed to get to a toilet and only after we had threatened that she would "go" right there on the airport forecourt and amid much shouting and yelling that they finally produced a passenger manifest with our names on it and let us in! Then sometime later Jim was a bit hungry and all that was available was a chicken burger. Not his usual fare at all. However, when this gastronomic delight was requested they said "sorry we are on a half hour dinner break"!! Can you believe it - at an international airport. Again after much shouting it was eventually produced but definitely wasn't worth the effort. Such a pity that our final hours in India were blighted in this way.
We were completely exhausted when we finally arrived at Bangkok at 6 the next morning local time. We had booked on the internet into the Summit Windmill Golf Residence which is a golf oriented resort. For us the attraction was a very good discounted price although we had to pay an extra 2000 THB for early check-in. We had breakfast and then crashed. Woke around early afternoon feeling not so wonderful but then had a walk on the golf course before dinner. we had an enormous one bedroom apartment with full kitchen, sitting room, terrace, bedroom and very large bathroom. It was absolute luxury but somewhat wasted on us and our fatigue which was at least partially caused by "coming down" after all the pressures and worries surrounding our time in India. Notwithstanding that the result has been absolutely wonderful as far as Jean's ongoing prognosis is concerned.
We left the next morning for the one hour taxi ride to the domestic airport and then a one hour uneventful flight to Krabi with Air Asia where we picked up a car at the airport. It took us about 4 days to finally come right and Jim had a persistent stomach bug which had been acquired in Pondi. Thought he'd avoided the Delhi Belly, but it was not to be. The boat was wonderful and Des and Popeye have done another fabulous job in raising our cockpit sole and other work while we were gone. Still a few minor loose ends to sort out but whenever is a boat completely finished?!!! Jean stayed with Garn who owns the Galley Restaurant at the marina for about 5 days so that she could be confident of getting on and off and around the boat before finally living on board. It's all gone according to plan and she is now on board and climbing the companionway ladder with aplomb, albeit slowly!
Anyway, it's good to be back and Jim is threatening to show Des and anyone else who's interested the gory holiday snaps of Jean's op.!! We obtained an extension of the boat's import licence until early December but we feel reasonably confident that we should be able to sail down to Langkawi in Malaysia before then. It's only 100 miles and should be an easy sail as there are many good anchorages between here and there.
So, now just reprovisioning and finishing off minor boat jobs and then we'll be away. It will be good to be sailing again. However, we will certainly be back up here early next year to further our Thai experiences and to see all our friends at Krabi Boat Lagoon. In between all that we will be visiting our far flung families, probably in Feb./Mar. 2015. Jean is due to become a grandmother for the second time in March so she will be in Miami, Florida for that happy event, particularly as she missed Carter's arrival last year due to the fact that at the time we were in the South China Sea heading to Singapore! Jim will no doubt be in Christchurch and Auckland visiting his children and grandchildren.
That's about it for now from us - there will be some photos of India on our website very soon now.
Lotsaluv from us...........
Jean and Jim

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Continuation........... 1st. op. day 39 2nd. op. day 18.

Hi again,
This will be short. The earlier blog was inadvertantly sent before it was finished!
This seems to be full of political comment but we can't finish without mentioning the Indian PM's visit to Washington. Narendra Modi is determined to rapidly increase the pace of India's modernisation and has been wooing US big business as well as establishing the most cordial relations India has ever had with the US. This is no doubt a good thing because the main threats to all of us in the world these days is firstly China with its expansionist policies and secondly militant Islam or Jihadism.
India is beset on both sides - in the north east by China and in the west by Pakistan. The latter has a long history of nurturing extreme Islamist factions like Al Qaeda and indeed was complicit in the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008 when 164 people were killed and over 300 wounded, some seriously. There was a long period when Pakistan obstructed any information concerning the attacks from coming out of Pakistan, but in the end they were forced to reveal some very damaging and startling facts. Amongst those were the admission that Pakistani Army officers were involved in training the terrorists. All of this was referred to again by PM Modi in his address to the UN and the Pakistanis have taken umbrage in a big way. We saw a TV "debate" between Indian and Pakistani politicians and it was a shouting match trading insults from start to finish. And of course there's also the issue of Kashmir where there are conflicting claims for territory and indeed sovereignty. It's hard to see any accommodation between India and Pakistan in the foreseeable future.
Then there's the China issue which we've referred to before. During the recent visit to India by the Chinese President, he was assuring the Indian PM that China was pulling its troops back from disputed border positions and yet all the while the Chinese were advancing into NON DISPUTED Indian territory in Sikkim and building access roads into the bargain. The Indians have since demolished these roads. NZ might consider itself remote from these matters but in reality they could translate into something far more serious and closer to home. And in any case we are apparently considering sending troops to Iraq to fight ISIS and Iraq is even further away than India!
Just had a knock on the door from the housekeeping staff to announce "cleaning after coming". The language is a bit of an issue and one has to listen very carefully to elicit the correct meaning. Then one has to speak very slowly and simply to get one's meaning across. For instance one does not say "hot" when referring to food spiciness. One needs to say "not spicy" or "NO spices!". "Cleaning after coming" means that the room will be cleaned soon! But then we do not speak Tamil so cannot criticise too much.
The weather here is invariably warm but temperatures not as hot as Thailand before we left - mostly in the high 20's. There has been a shift in wind direction from constant SW to SE so possibly that means the change in the monsoon from SW to NE is imminent. Hope so because it will make our sail down to Langkawi much more pleasant - as long as we get any wind at all!
Well, that's it from us for now. The next blog will be from Pondicherry.
Cheers and lotsaluv......
Jim and Jean
Quality Inn Sabari,
Chennai
Tamil Nadu
INDIA

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1st. op. day 38 2nd. op. day 17

Hi again to all,
We hope that life is treating you kindly and that you enjoy this blog. It's all of 7 days since the last one - so high time!!
To begin - another Irish joke (hope no-one accuses us of being racist!):
There was a knock on the door and there was a collector for the Home for Alcoholics. He asked whether the lady of the house had anything she could give him and she said "No, not at the moment. I'm sorry, but if you come back at 5 me husband will be home then and you can have him!".
Life goes on apace here in Chennai. It's really just a waiting game for us now with Jean's recovery paramount. She continues to make good progress (sounds like a school report!!) and is now walking about a kilometre up and down the road next to the hotel. So, it's all good but we are getting thoroughly bored and can't wait to get back to the boat in Thailand. In the meantime we are going down to the ex French settlement of Pondicherry next Wednesday and will stay there in the Villa Shanti until we fly out on the 14th.
Pondicherry should be a welcome change from the mundaneness of Chennai as the historic old French quarter where we are staying is compact and can be walked around easily apparently. And some people there still speak French! A brief history -
The earliest known mention of Pondicherry was in the 1st. century AD when it was a Roman trading destination. Then over the next 500 years or so various dynasties held sway as their fortunes in southern India ebbed and flowed until the French arrived in 1674. They then ruled Pondicherry along with other possessions of French India until 1956 when all the former French possessions became Union Territories of India. The Union Territories are special areas with tax concessions - among them duty free booze!!!
The French occupation was marked by various skirmishes with the British and the Dutch who occasionally kicked the French out but somehow they always came back! The major incident was the Seige of Pondicherry by the British in 1761 which culminated in British victory during which they raised Pondicherry to the ground. The French then came back in 1765 and rebuilt Pondicherry. There were a number of peace treaties with Britain after that and of course the Napoleonic Wars but in 1816 the French were back for good - or at least until 1956 just after they suffered their biggest defeat in Indo China at Dien Bien Phu in what became Vietnam and the anti colonial thing was in full swing. The Indians no doubt gave them an ultimatum!
The biggest news here in recent days is the shock conviction of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on charges of corruption involving Rs.66.6 core (just over 13.5 million NZD!). They establish this figure by comparing known assets with known levels of income. Any disparity is known as a "disproportionate asset case". Simple but compelling no doubt. The case had been going on for 18 years and reached its culmination last Saturday in Bangalore when she was sentenced to 4 years jail and fined Rs.100 core. There is now some doubt whether the sentence is legal because apparently it is illegal for a court to convict and sentence in the same hearing. Not surprisingly an appeal has been filed.
Unbelievably there is a huge groundswell of support for the former CM from the very impoverished people she stole from. This support manifested itself in an ugly way on Monday night. It is worthwhile reproducing verbatim the newspaper report in this morning's Times of India -
Headline: "MOB TRIES TO BURN ALIVE BIHAR MINISTER". "An angry mob tried to set ablaze Bihar art and culture Minister Vinay Bihari at a cultural programme in Sasaram in Rohtas District on Monday night. The attack took place at Tarachandi Temple in the presence of district officials, including the district magistrate and the Rohtas SP. The cultural programme was organised by the administration as part of Navaratra celebrations. Bihari, also a folk singer, inaugurated the programme and sang religious songs. A couple of other well known folk singers were also scheduled to perform at the function. But angry at the poor sound and seating arrangements, some people in the gathering started hurling chairs towards the dais. After a chair hit SP Chandan Kumar Kushwaha, the police started caning people. This further infuriated the mob, which then threw bricks and stones at the police and the dais. At least 100 people were injured in the brick batting. The Minister and other officials scurried for cover.
'Had I not hidden myself under the dais for over two hours, I would have been roasted alive' said Bihari, his head and chin swathed in bandages. The mob torched the Minister's official vehicle. Bihari said he overheard a few people who were carrying petrol cans and looking for him. 'I applied my mind and preferred braving stones to being burnt by coming out of hiding and running away', Bihari said. He later saw the dais go up in flames.
Bihari demanded an inquiry and held the local administration responsible for the attack. Kushwaha said the police had lodged an FIR against 500 people and arrested 6. A bottle of petrol was recovered from one of them." Only in India!!!
Emotions seem to be running close to the surface here and we have been warned not to go out at night - not that we were about to! However, we haven't seen anything untoward at all. The Indians are very fiery ( a bit like the Thais) and while all very polite, if you seriously upset them it all changes in a flash. But then Europeans are a bit like that as well! It's all fascinating to be here and watching the events play out - much more exciting than the NZ elections - tame by comparison.
Having said all that, the staff in the restaurant are very solicitous of Jean's dietary needs and are always rushing to assist. Jean is very appreciative. The waiters are all dressed in dark suits and ties and Boumi, the head waiter knows now that Jean likes Watermelon and Papaya for breakfast. So, she gets that delivered while Jim has to fend for himself at the fruit salad bar! We have finally educated the chef at the grill to produce eggs the way we like - for Jean scrambled with Coriander or Chives and for Jim fried and turned over and done to a crisp!
We have noticed the Indian women who, when here to dine or attending conferences, wear the most gorgeous saris. Beautiful colours edged in gold and all sparkly with glass beads. Very striking. However, the other thing we've noticed is that almost all are obese with a few notable exceptions. The notion of exercise doesn't seem to exist and the men are also overweight in the main. Sugarcane originated in India thousands of years ago long before sugar was brought to Europe and so the use of excessive amounts of sugar is endemic. There are constant articles in the paper about Diabetes.
We shouldn't talk as we've both put on weight but at least we exercise and are conscious of the issue, whereas the majority of Indians appear oblivious. And with the inefficiency we see constantly, we wonder how they'd fare against a Chinese invasion across the Tibet/Indo border which will certainly take place some day - unless demographics catch up with China as they inevitably will. The danger is that China undoubtedly knows this too, and might launch a pre-emptive strike before it's too late. China has a rapidly aging population whereas India has a huge proportion under 25.
China is quite frankly a worry and for NZ and Australia too. They have a growing and sophisticated naval presence in the Indian Ocean with submarine launched ballistic missile capability and they are stealing vast swathes of the South China Sea from Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines. They are establishing military bases on hitherto uninhabited islands and conducting oil drilling exploration. Their motives are expansionist, whether by military aggression or economic means and they have an intergenerational time frame.

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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Continuation........... 1st. op. day 39 2nd. op. day 18.

Hi again,
This will be short. The earlier blog was inadvertantly sent before it was finished!
This seems to be full of political comment but we can't finish without mentioning the Indian PM's visit to Washington. Narendra Modi is determined to rapidly increase the pace of India's modernisation and has been wooing US big business as well as establishing the most cordial relations India has ever had with the US. This is no doubt a good thing because the main threats to all of us in the world these days is firstly China with its expansionist policies and secondly militant Islam or Jihadism.
India is beset on both sides - in the north east by China and in the west by Pakistan. The latter has a long history of nurturing extreme Islamist factions like Al Qaeda and indeed was complicit in the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008 when 164 people were killed and over 300 wounded, some seriously. There was a long period when Pakistan obstructed any information concerning the attacks from coming out of Pakistan, but in the end they were forced to reveal some very damaging and startling facts. Amongst those were the admission that Pakistani Army officers were involved in training the terrorists. All of this was referred to again by PM Modi in his address to the UN and the Pakistanis have taken umbrage in a big way. We saw a TV "debate" between Indian and Pakistani politicians and it was a shouting match trading insults from start to finish. And of course there's also the issue of Kashmir where there are conflicting claims for territory and indeed sovereignty. It's hard to see any accommodation between India and Pakistan in the foreseeable future.
Then there's the China issue which we've referred to before. During the recent visit to India by the Chinese President, he was assuring the Indian PM that China was pulling its troops back from disputed border positions and yet all the while the Chinese were advancing into NON DISPUTED Indian territory in Sikkim and building access roads into the bargain. The Indians have since demolished these roads. NZ might consider itself remote from these matters but in reality they could translate into something far more serious and closer to home. And in any case we are apparently considering sending troops to Iraq to fight ISIS and Iraq is even further away than India!
Just had a knock on the door from the housekeeping staff to announce "cleaning after coming". The language is a bit of an issue and one has to listen very carefully to elicit the correct meaning. Then one has to speak very slowly and simply to get one's meaning across. For instance one does not say "hot" when referring to food spiciness. One needs to say "not spicy" or "NO spices!". "Cleaning after coming" means that the room will be cleaned soon! But then we do not speak Tamil so cannot criticise too much.
The weather here is invariably warm but temperatures not as hot as Thailand before we left - mostly in the high 20's. There has been a shift in wind direction from constant SW to SE so possibly that means the change in the monsoon from SW to NE is imminent. Hope so because it will make our sail down to Langkawi much more pleasant - as long as we get any wind at all!
Well, that's it from us for now. The next blog will be from Pondicherry.
Cheers and lotsaluv......
Jim and Jean
Quality Inn Sabari,
Chennai
Tamil Nadu
INDIA

----------
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1st. op. day 38 2nd. op. day 17

Hi again to all,
We hope that life is treating you kindly and that you enjoy this blog. It's all of 7 days since the last one - so high time!!
To begin - another Irish joke (hope no-one accuses us of being racist!):
There was a knock on the door and there was a collector for the Home for Alcoholics. He asked whether the lady of the house had anything she could give him and she said "No, not at the moment. I'm sorry, but if you come back at 5 me husband will be home then and you can have him!".
Life goes on apace here in Chennai. It's really just a waiting game for us now with Jean's recovery paramount. She continues to make good progress (sounds like a school report!!) and is now walking about a kilometre up and down the road next to the hotel. So, it's all good but we are getting thoroughly bored and can't wait to get back to the boat in Thailand. In the meantime we are going down to the ex French settlement of Pondicherry next Wednesday and will stay there in the Villa Shanti until we fly out on the 14th.
Pondicherry should be a welcome change from the mundaneness of Chennai as the historic old French quarter where we are staying is compact and can be walked around easily apparently. And some people there still speak French! A brief history -
The earliest known mention of Pondicherry was in the 1st. century AD when it was a Roman trading destination. Then over the next 500 years or so various dynasties held sway as their fortunes in southern India ebbed and flowed until the French arrived in 1674. They then ruled Pondicherry along with other possessions of French India until 1956 when all the former French possessions became Union Territories of India. The Union Territories are special areas with tax concessions - among them duty free booze!!!
The French occupation was marked by various skirmishes with the British and the Dutch who occasionally kicked the French out but somehow they always came back! The major incident was the Seige of Pondicherry by the British in 1761 which culminated in British victory during which they raised Pondicherry to the ground. The French then came back in 1765 and rebuilt Pondicherry. There were a number of peace treaties with Britain after that and of course the Napoleonic Wars but in 1816 the French were back for good - or at least until 1956 just after they suffered their biggest defeat in Indo China at Dien Bien Phu in what became Vietnam and the anti colonial thing was in full swing. The Indians no doubt gave them an ultimatum!
The biggest news here in recent days is the shock conviction of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on charges of corruption involving Rs.66.6 core (just over 13.5 million NZD!). They establish this figure by comparing known assets with known levels of income. Any disparity is known as a "disproportionate asset case". Simple but compelling no doubt. The case had been going on for 18 years and reached its culmination last Saturday in Bangalore when she was sentenced to 4 years jail and fined Rs.100 core. There is now some doubt whether the sentence is legal because apparently it is illegal for a court to convict and sentence in the same hearing. Not surprisingly an appeal has been filed.
Unbelievably there is a huge groundswell of support for the former CM from the very impoverished people she stole from. This support manifested itself in an ugly way on Monday night. It is worthwhile reproducing verbatim the newspaper report in this morning's Times of India -
Headline: "MOB TRIES TO BURN ALIVE BIHAR MINISTER". "An angry mob tried to set ablaze Bihar art and culture Minister Vinay Bihari at a cultural programme in Sasaram in Rohtas District on Monday night. The attack took place at Tarachandi Temple in the presence of district officials, including the district magistrate and the Rohtas SP. The cultural programme was organised by the administration as part of Navaratra celebrations. Bihari, also a folk singer, inaugurated the programme and sang religious songs. A couple of other well known folk singers were also scheduled to perform at the function. But angry at the poor sound and seating arrangements, some people in the gathering started hurling chairs towards the dais. After a chair hit SP Chandan Kumar Kushwaha, the police started caning people. This further infuriated the mob, which then threw bricks and stones at the police and the dais. At least 100 people were injured in the brick batting. The Minister and other officials scurried for cover.
'Had I not hidden myself under the dais for over two hours, I would have been roasted alive' said Bihari, his head and chin swathed in bandages. The mob torched the Minister's official vehicle. Bihari said he overheard a few people who were carrying petrol cans and looking for him. 'I applied my mind and preferred braving stones to being burnt by coming out of hiding and running away', Bihari said. He later saw the dais go up in flames.
Bihari demanded an inquiry and held the local administration responsible for the attack. Kushwaha said the police had lodged an FIR against 500 people and arrested 6. A bottle of petrol was recovered from one of them." Only in India!!!
Emotions seem to be running close to the surface here and we have been warned not to go out at night - not that we were about to! However, we haven't seen anything untoward at all. The Indians are very fiery ( a bit like the Thais) and while all very polite, if you seriously upset them it all changes in a flash. But then Europeans are a bit like that as well! It's all fascinating to be here and watching the events play out - much more exciting than the NZ elections - tame by comparison.
Having said all that, the staff in the restaurant are very solicitous of Jean's dietary needs and are always rushing to assist. Jean is very appreciative. The waiters are all dressed in dark suits and ties and Boumi, the head waiter knows now that Jean likes Watermelon and Papaya for breakfast. So, she gets that delivered while Jim has to fend for himself at the fruit salad bar! We have finally educated the chef at the grill to produce eggs the way we like - for Jean scrambled with Coriander or Chives and for Jim fried and turned over and done to a crisp!
We have noticed the Indian women who, when here to dine or attending conferences, wear the most gorgeous saris. Beautiful colours edged in gold and all sparkly with glass beads. Very striking. However, the other thing we've noticed is that almost all are obese with a few notable exceptions. The notion of exercise doesn't seem to exist and the men are also overweight in the main. Sugarcane originated in India thousands of years ago long before sugar was brought to Europe and so the use of excessive amounts of sugar is endemic. There are constant articles in the paper about Diabetes.
We shouldn't talk as we've both put on weight but at least we exercise and are conscious of the issue, whereas the majority of Indians appear oblivious. And with the inefficiency we see constantly, we wonder how they'd fare against a Chinese invasion across the Tibet/Indo border which will certainly take place some day - unless demographics catch up with China as they inevitably will. The danger is that China undoubtedly knows this too, and might launch a pre-emptive strike before it's too late. China has a rapidly aging population whereas India has a huge proportion under 25.
China is quite frankly a worry and for NZ and Australia too. They have a growing and sophisticated naval presence in the Indian Ocean with submarine launched ballistic missile capability and they are stealing vast swathes of the South China Sea from Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines. They are establishing military bases on hitherto uninhabited islands and conducting oil drilling exploration. Their motives are expansionist, whether by military aggression or economic means and they have an intergenerational time frame.

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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

1st. op. day 31 2nd. op. day 10

To begin, another Irish joke -
Flanagan met the parish priest in the street. The priest didn't have much time for Flanagan, being as he was a hedonist and non church goer. Flanagan thought that as the priest was no doubt a man of wisdom and knowledge, he would ask what Lumbago was. The priest decided to give it to him with both barrels. He said, "Lumbago is what you get from loose living, fast women and too much of the drink. Why do you ask?" Flanagan said that he was concerned as he'd heard that the Bishop had it!
Jean continues to progress but a little more slowly than last time, although that's not surprising or unexpected. We are taking all our meals in our room as it is too difficult for her going to the restaurant but she's hoping that she'll be there for breakfast tomorrow. She is doing extremely well. We are hoping to go down to the old French settlement of Pondicherry 150 kms south of here on Oct. 10th. and then we'll fly back to Bangkok on the 14th. All still subject to change but looks doable at this stage.
Thought you might like to hear some of the items in the Times of India today.
- A rare white tiger killed a youth who fell into his enclosure at the Delhi Zoo. It was 10 minutes before the tiger attacked but in that time no-one helped the guy. Then the tiger dragged his lifeless body around before losing interest. Can't have been too hungry!
- The unemployment rate among working age Indians between 15 and 60 years of age is 15%. This amounts to 110,000,000 people. Not a healthy figure. The total population is 1.2 billion.
- There has been a money laundering and corruption scam involving the 2010 contract for purchase of Augusta-Westland helicopters for India's Ministry of Defence. Some 21 million Euros involved in kickbacks. India has now cancelled the contract with AW and various people have been arrested.
- The Indian sharemarket (Sensex) down yesterday by 1.5% on bad global economic news.
- In Tamil Nadu State (Chennai is the state capital) 20% of power was cut to the industrial sector. This is because a key power station is out for repairs. Every now and again there are blackouts of usually only a few seconds but it must play havoc with high tech industry, hospitals etc. Still, there is much being done throughout India to upgrade the whole power supply system. But, like the roads, there is a long way to go with millions still without any power whatsoever and India will never reach its full potential until these infrastuctural problems are fixed. It's a mammoth task.
- Narendra Modi, the Indian PM, is off to the USA for a 5 day visit this week and always gives a gift to his opposite number. Apparently he gave Tony Abbott a book on Yoga!! He still hasn't found anything for Obama. The Chinese President received a Khadi Jacket.
- Petrol prices are down to 71.5 Rs. (NZD1.53) per litre but local auto rickshaw drivers haven't reduced their fares. In fact fares have gone up and there's a big stink!! Much like anywhere really.
- India is getting tougher with drink driving laws but there is still a long way to go with apparently 380 deaths on the nation's roads every day. A lot of it is in the attitude to driving too. If even a small gap opens up the first instinct is to open the throttle and the brake is very much a last resort. No thought of any potential consequences.
- There are 2 desalination plants due to be built near Chennai at a total cost of Rs.5.441 crore. If you've got a big enough calculator you can work it out - 1 core = 10,000,000 and 49.2 Rs. = 1NZD!
- a bus driver was stoned to death when stones were thrown at the bus and he died at the wheel while the bus was still moving! One of the passengers managed to stop the bus. This happened at Uthankarai, some distance from here.
- Trucks are being hijacked and the drivers murdered in Andhra Pradesh State. The trucks are carrying copper plates and the latest incident was # 14 in 6 years. Not surprisingly owners and drivers are refusing to drive that particular stretch of the highway! The Police say they are increasing patrols!!
- By now it will be known whether the Indian space mission to Mars has been successful. India will be the 4th. country to have entered the "Mars Club".
- Apparently the reason for the present Chinese aggression on the Sino/Indo border is that China wants to bully India into not becoming too friendly with Japan. Modi, the Indian PM has just been to Japan and apparently has a good personal rapport with the Japanese PM, Abe. China of course doesn't want a newly militarised Japan on their eastern side together with India on the west. But the bully boy tactics are unlikely to work. India has said that the outcome will depend on who blinks first. Not very propitious for peaceful relations. Just remember all this when thinking how great it is that we are selling all our milk powder to China!! China's sole aim is TAKEOVER, whether it be by military means or by financial stealth and they have an intergenerational time frame.
- 11 people died when a 5kg LPG cylinder exploded on a bus. It was being carried illegally. 60 more are badly burned and are "battling for their lives" (apparently some with 80% burns) in hospitals near Delhi. It took emergency services several hours to reach the scene and then another 4 hours to hospitals in Delhi through evening rush hour traffic. Just imagine how the burn injuries fared over that time frame.
Well, that might give you some idea of life in India. Not, we hasten to add, that our lives are being directly affected, but it shows how diverse in a totally bizarre way life is here. We have state of the art hospitals, an advanced IT industry, Martian space missions, potential war with China, horrific crimes and daily loss of life on the roads, to mention just a few things which happen all the time.
Hope you enjoy the read and that all is well.
Cheers and love from us........
Jim and Jean
Chennai

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Friday, 19 September 2014

Fwd: Day 5 2nd.hip post op.

----- Original Message -----
To: "2XS - Peter & Marguerite" <margueriteharmsen@yahoo.com>
Subject: Day 5 2nd.hip post op.
Date: 20 Sep 2014 06:02:29 -0000
From: zmq5985

Hi again to all,
Jean is continuing to make good progress although it has been bedevilled by a stomach upset (no vomiting though) which has inhibited her with her food intake. That is one thing we must say. The food here, while reasonable, is very limited and we constantly have to keep saying NO SPICES for Jean as her stomach won't cope at present. So, the food has been somewhat frustrating.
Anyway, we are leaving the hospital tomorrow and then will be back at the Quality Inn. We'll stay there for 2-3 weeks before returning to Thailand, depending on her rate of progress. At least the food there is much better and Jean is very diligent about exercise.
She's been through a lot in the last 4 weeks. It's been a huge assault on her body but we are very pleased with all the surgery and medical aspects. Dr. Bose showed us an x-ray taken 24 hours ago which clearly shows the new hip joints and his comment is that they are "perfect". So, now it's just a matter of time. Everest will have to wait just a little bit longer - maybe another week or so!!
To end, a little humour might not go amiss:
A Scottish joke - he was in Dublin on his honeymoon and when he came down to breakfast at the hotel they asked where his new wife was. He replied "oh, she's not here - she's been to Dublin before"!!
And another (Irish this time) - a man was lost while driving and saw a farmer on the side of the road. He stopped and said, "am I on the right road for Clanakiltie?" The farmer said, "Ye are, but you're going the wrong way!" He said, "well, what do I do now?" The farmer replied "well, if I were you I wouldn't start from here at all".
And a parting thought - Winston for PM!!!
Cheers and love from us..................
Jean and Jim
Chennai
INDIA
----- End of Original Message -----

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

After 1st hip replacement day 23 - after 2nd. hip op. day 2

Hi to all,
Well, as you know we are back in hospital in Chennai at the SRM Institutes for Medical Science (Asian Joint Reconstruction Institute). Jean had her operation to replace her right hip on Monday and the surgeon Dr. Vijay Bose said it was a perfect result - just like the 1st. one. So, that is reassuring. And he also said that this hip was quite a bit worse than the 1st one with complete cartilage loss and severe pitting of the bone surfaces and bone on bone. No wonder it was painful. Anyway they had her walking down in Recovery before she came back upstairs. However, the first 24-36 hour period is always the worst and she had an uncomfortable night with a certain amount of pain and lack of sleep. Then today (Tues.) the Physio was here and again she was out of bed and the pain was worse, but he assured us that the pain would subside faster with exercise, even if the exercise itself was somewhat excruciating. Seems like being cruel to be kind but hard to go through with at the time. Still, it does help, having been through it before and knowing what to expect. As always the nurses are very kind and competent and always do their best to make Jean comfortable. They were pleased to see Jean again, even if she might be the patient from hell!! She's not very patient! There is one thing that Dr. Bose has assured us of and that is that they operation itself cannot be damaged. The ceramic prostheses are virtually indestructible and even the muscle and ligament re-attachments are foolproof. Good to remember this when enduring pain in the recovery phase.
We are in the Raffles Suite on the 5th, floor where we were before, although this time we have a much larger corner room with views in 2 directions. However, the views are hardly salubrious - a commercial building roof in one direction and the building site construction camp that we overlooked before in the other.
When we left the Quality Inn, we said we'd be back in a week or so and they've offered to upgrade us to a bigger room at no extra cost. One of the staff in the restaurant said they'd all be praying for Jean. On the one hand it's a nice thought but on the other sounds like they think there's a real chance they might not see her again!
On this visit we've only seen a very small part of India compared to Jean's first visit here 13 years ago when she spent 5 months backpacking in the north. Then she visited Mumbai, Pune, Rishikesh, Dharamsala, Delhi, as well as a few other places Jim can't at the moment recall. By contrast Jim has only been to Delhi for 3 weeks which included a quick visit to Agra and the Taj Mahal. All unforgettable experiences.
Chennai is mostly an unremarkable city of 6 million people. The terrain is overwhelmingly flat and the buildings mostly nondescript. Some strikingly large and impressive ones though and some pleasantly leafy avenues. Some attractive Indian style 2 story houses which one could fantasise about living in, but then one thinks of the practicalities of living with little local knowledge in Chennai! There are many large housing developments going on all the time - some very upmarket apartments in complexes with swimming pools and tennis courts. The traffic is chaotic, although nowhere near what Jim remembered of Delhi 9 years ago. On that note we read a horrifying statistic in the local paper a few days ago - apparently 380 people are killed EVERY DAY on India's roads. That's a planeload of people every day! Not sure whether that's believable but that's what the paper said. God knows how many are injured. The human cost and suffering to say nothing of the financial cost can only be imagined. They talk of improvements to the roading infrastucture, enforcement and licensing but nothing moves quickly in India!!
At least Chennai is clean - no knee deep paper rubbish as you see in Delhi. Chennai is definitely not pedestrian friendly and being a pedestrian, much less a partially disabled one as Jean is at present, is fraught with difficulty. In Asia generally footpaths are to put it mildly, not of a high standard, but India takes the cake. In many places there is no footpath at all and you are in there with the motorbikes which show no mercy. In other places the footpaths are about 12" (30 cms) above the road and narrow and obstructed with - you name it. Broken manhole covers, piles of earth and stones and street hawkers all add to the mix.
However, in spite of all that, one does get a strong feeling of intense commercial energy which will propel India way beyond her earlier conventional limits. There are ads for new cars all over the place including well known luxury brands. Just seen an ad for a new Volkswagen beetle for Rs. 21.32 lakh. One lakh = 100,000 so the price is Rs. 2,132,000 which is NZD42,984 - probably not much different from NZ. Another unit of numerical measurement is the crore. One crore (pronounced "karor") = 10,000,000. Guess you have to have these units of measurement when one rupee is worth so little. But, although labour rates in India remain comparatively low, India still does suffer from high inefficiency levels. A lot of this inefficiency is due to the black market which is still huge and which makes the collection of meaningful data very difficult. And the entrenched class system is still there with nurses for example refusing to touch more menial tasks which are passed down to "nurse helpers". However, compared to China it has a demographic advantage in that it has a big proportion of its population under 35, whereas China has a rapidly ageing population. Anecdotally we heard of a female Indian patient in this hospital whose sheet had slipped off her. A cleaner who happened to be in the room at the time pulled the sheet back into place, but the patient ordered her out and demanded that the sheet be replaced because it had been "contaminated"!!
On the subject of China, the Chinese President is due here tomorrow (Wed.). Don't know how cordial the visit will be but if China thinks they can indulge in a bit of browbeating the way they did recently with Vietnam over disputed territory in the South China Sea, they'd better think again. India has just signed a cooperation agreement with Vietnam to counter Chinese aggression in Vietnam's and other countries' waters in the S. China Sea. This agreement includes the supply of naval vessels.
The Indians are very distrustful of China and with good reason. India is expanding its military forces at a great rate to keep up with China's expansion which is all very worrying. China's overall policy is AGGRESSION, both military and financial, and anyone in NZ who lives in a fanatsy cloud cuckoo land believing anything to the contrary needs to get out more.
And something else on the subject of politics - that of NZ's. We have been bemused and horrified at the continuing tales of underhand sleazy politics just about every day in the NZ Herald and the continuing efforts of that noble organ of journalistic probity to continue to undermine legitimate criticism of the current government. While there may be legitimate argument on both sides, we believe that there has been sufficient exposure of corrupt behaviour to say "there's no smoke without fire". And there is no real democracy when those tactics are indulged in by any government. To that end we cannot bear the thought of another 3 years of a right wing National/ACT coalition and so we are channeling our votes (already cast) in another direction - NZ First. They are a centrist party and hold out the only hope of an effective brake on right wing covert spying and financially destructive policies which will see the complete selloff of NZ completed in their next term. We are keeping our fingers crossed for NZ's sake that a balanced government is the outcome of Saturday's general election.
Well, that's enough ranting for one day - we'll keep you up to date as to Jean's progress and when we can finally return to Thailand.
Hope all is well with everyone out there.........
Lots of love from us,
Jean and Jim
Chennai
INDIA.

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Monday, 15 September 2014

Fwd: Jean

----- Original Message -----
To: "2XS - Peter & Marguerite" <margueriteharmsen@yahoo.com>
Cc: marguerite.harmsen@gmail.com
Subject: Jean
Date: 15 Sep 2014 12:19:48 -0000
From: zmq5985

Hi to all,
Very pleased to report that Jean underwent surgery for her 2nd hip replacement (right side) 12 hours ago and all was well. Jim saw her in Recovery afterwards and she was in good spirits. Her BP was a bit low(normal for her) but was being monitored and not serious. Our tentative plans now are to stay in hospital - the Asian Joint Reconstruction Institute here in Chennai - until Sunday and then have 2 weeks back in the hotel before flying out back to Krabi 3 weeks from now. Before the 2nd. op. she had been walking up 3 flights of stairs and walking about 1 km per day down the street. The main hazard here is the traffic which like most of India is horrendous. We have very good accommodation here with a cot bed for Jim in one corner and a sitting room with some kitchen facilities plus our own bathroom. There are 2 TV's!!
There will be a detailed blog in a day or so.
Cheers and love from us......
Jim and Jean
Chennai
INDIA.
----- End of Original Message -----

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Thursday, 4 September 2014

Blog yesterday

Hi again,
Very pleased and relieved to report that Jean's rash is not Shingles, but some other easily treated dermatological problem. If it had been Shingles then that would probably have precluded surgery in a week's time so all sorts of potential repercussions from that.
Anyway, apart from that you can tune into www.tiaretaporo3.blogspot.com for all our latest news.
Cheers again and love from us......
Jim and Jean

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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Day 9 post op.

Well, such a lot has happened since our last blog on day 2 after Jean's 1st. operation on her left hip.
First, we must thank all of you who have sent messages of support either by email or through Jean's Facebook page. You, and those we have rung on Skype will have had some more up to date news.
The hospital (Asian Joint Reconstruction Institute) and the Surgeon, Dr. Vijay Bose have been great. Jean has made excellent progress and the improvement day by day is absolutely amazing. Just before we left the hospital on Monday (day 7) she had even been climbing stairs. There were constant visits from the Physiotherapist and a very hunky young assistant Orthopaedic Surgeon. Jean always enjoyed his visits!! And the nurses who we have got to know quite well, have been very attentive. They are mostly local Tamils, although one is from further west towards Kerala. Tamils are startlingly dark when we are used to our pale skins (!) and very beautiful. The nurses all hold themselves well with great posture.
Our room was very comfortable with a daybed for Jim near Jean's bed, a modern well equipped bathroom and a sitting room with couch and chairs and a bench where one could prepare snacks and make tea. Also a fridge and 2 flat screen TV's. Meals were delivered 3 times a day and were always good and nutritious. And marble floors! The only other comment there was that they had a definite sameness and so became somewhat boring. Jim has eaten so much chicken that he might start flapping his wings anytime soon. Jean was very happy with the food generally - very nutritious for her post op.
We were very sad to be leaving on Monday and said fond farewells to the nurses but with the proviso that we were coming back in a few days. We were picked up by the hospital car with Jean propped up across the backseat to keep her leg elevated as there has been some swelling. We are assured that this will abate fairly soon. We drove south along the Coromandel Coast after which NZ's Coromandel was named. No idea why because you couldn't imagine anything so different. The coast here is flat and relatively uninteresting with canals, waterways and lagoons just inland. On the other hand everyone knows the rugged nature of NZ's Coromandel; doesn't matter whether you've seen it by land or by water as we did last time we were there. We went to Te Kouma and then up the west coast to Great Barrier Is. on Tiare - but that's all in the past now!!
Anyway, we carried on south feeling quite unimpressed for about 50 kms. Firstly, getting out of Chennai in the mad Indian traffic. Many dingy dilapidated buildings although every so often you would see either an old classical well maintained one along with some very impressive large modern commercial buildings. You see so many hair raising traffic violations that in the end it doesn't worry you. In fact you just have an inward and slightly nervous chuckle! We carried on south gradually getting into the countryside and then turned off the main road towards the Golden Bay Resort. We had been expecting a pleasant place where Jean in particular could relax and convalesce but, although the buildings were of a good modern standard, that's where the compliments stop. What a disappointment. The place had a generally unkempt appearance and the swimming pool which had figured highly in our reasons for booking here was murky and green. It transpired that we were the only guests and consequently the restaurant had very little food on hand, and so there were very few menu items actually available. Jean needed good nourishing food - lots of green vegetables. There was none of that although they kept saying that they could get them. They also kept ringing our room to find out when we'd be in the restaurant because they didn't want to keep it open for the advertised hours, seeing as how we were the only guests! It's quite depressing eating in a restaurant when you're the only guests. The power kept going off every hour or so - sometimes only for a few seconds but sometimes for up to 5 minutes. Pitch black in the meantime of course and we didn't have any torches. We didn't think we'd need them in what was supposed to be an upmarket resort (NZD110 per day!!). The property wasn't even on the coast; it only overlooked one of the inland lagoons which was brackish looking, shallow and totally uninteresting. The only thing of note that Jim observed was a fish which jumped completely similarly to the mullet in NZ. It jumped out and stayed flat then re-entered the water in a belly buster landing - just like the NZ version. A moment of nostalgia remembering the mullet Jim used to catch at Paroa Bay in the Bay of Islands.
However, none of this was relaxing for Jean - or indeed for Jim. We were both getting more and more frustrated and fairly cranky!!
So, we decided that we had to leave. The immediate problem was that we had paid (through Expedia NZ) in advance for 8 days. So there was a flurry of emails and acrimonious discussion with the manager and we finally got agreement to refund us the unused portion of our stay. We have had to take this on trust as it apparently takes 5-15 working days to process refunds. However, we have now received an email from Expedia which confirmed that the refund would arrive in due course. On that note, we have now been refunded by ASB Bank for the fraud which had been perpetrated when our ATM cards were copied. It seems that there is very little they can do to apprehend the thieves. Travelling these days sometimes is far from simple.
The next day early afternoon a vehicle arrived to transport us back to Chennai. The hospital had told us that the cost should be 2500 Rupees (NZD50) but the resort insisted on 3800 Rs - later reduced to 3500 Rs after Jean roundly abused them. Rogues pure and simple but we were in no position to argue. Jean had her feet up again - just like the wife of the pukkha sahib in the back!! And she's not even me wife!!!!! The hospital meanwhile had organised a booking at the Quality Inn back in Chennai for 4,000 Rs per night (NZD80). A bargain here because Chennai is a bustling city with so much commercial activity. The Quality Inn is mainly a corporate hotel with 5 conferences in-house observed so far today. We arrived around 1530 yesterday and soon settled in. Such a different feel from where we had been. Another small thing, but the laundry comes back on the same day and the shirts all nicely ironed with cardboard inserts - just like bought ones!! The food in the restaurant is excellent (cream of spinach soup to die for) and the room is very comfortable with a large king size bed which is an asset with Jean's need to keep her leg elevated to alleviate the swelling which is actually now starting to decrease. Jim is getting used to this nursing lark with lifting her leg into place and helping with removing and putting on of clothes. No (!), we are not 40 years younger any more!! She now also has another problem with a suspected rash of Shingles appearing on her back. It's not too bad so far but is a worry, particularly with surgery for the other hip scheduled for 7 day's time. We have an appointment tomorrow back at the hospital for 1030 and they are sending a car to pick us up. Hopefully it can be dealt with satisfactorily.
Des back at Popeye in Krabi Boat Lagoon has been suggesting that Jean may well be climbing Mt. Everest soon with 2 Deltamotion hips providing bionic power. Jim has replied that she may well go up for the day to admire the view but there's no way he's going up with his knees. He has a nasty feeling that with this new found mobility he may well be cut off at the knees - just keeping his head down at the moment to avoid flying crutches and dreaming of being back on Tiare and Captain once more! Actually the crutches haven't started flying yet, but the manager at the resort is lucky they weren't bent around his neck! She won't need the crutches for much longer although after the 2nd. hip op. it will be back to the walker for a few days then crutches again. But all in a good cause.
Well, that's it again for a while. Tomorrow we plan to go walking in the street - avoiding potholes and other Indian footpath paraphernalia should be fun on crutches!!
More to come as always..........
Lotsaluv from us
Jim and Jean
Quality Inn Sabari Hotel
29 Thirumalai Road,
T. Nagar,
Chennai 600 017
INDIA.

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