Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Err... yeah.

Suffice to say I do not get my exercise badge this week.

And I haven't eaten anything naturally occurring on this Earth in a week.

And I have 28387634134 queued up blog posts to read on google reader because when things go wrong I don't just avoid my own blog, I avoid all the others too.

Don't worry, I'll get it back, I'll get it back.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Healthy You Check In 4 100.8kg

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Down 1 kilo (2.2 pounds). Less than I would have liked for two weeks, but it's a loss, and I'd be the first to admit that my eating has been quite hit and miss this week. Even so, I was on plan with exercise, and the loss pushed me over the line for a 5lb lost badge, so all is good with the world. I like being able to fiddle with all the things on my blog, keeping them all updated. I have started putting mini-badges under the big 'healthy you' link on the right so I can keep track of my weeks on plan without using huge amounts of sidebar space with the full size ones (Scale Junkie I hope that's okay!), it will feel good to see them build up.

I got paid yesterday so I also sent a chunk of money home, which means I got to move my debt ticker at the bottom of the page down. That felt really, really good. I've decided that if my school re-contract me (I find out Feb 14th) then I am going to do the distance learning course I was thinking about, but it means I really have to keep an eye on finances as my tuition is going to cost me quite a bit. I had originally planned to continue sending money home every month and have my card paid off by the end of March so that I could start saving. However, with me having to send two payments of 150,000 yen to the university, the money is going to have to stay with me. If I keep to the budget I made though I should be able to send home 200,000 yen when I get paid in June, which should finish it off.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Stomach says: *grumble*

When will I learn to make my lunch the night before? I never want to because it gets cold in my kitchen, and once I've warmed up I don't want to leave my heated living room. I always think 'I'll do it in the morning' and then I never do because I'm running late and need to leave. This morning I didn't have time to make my tuna salad so I grabbed the fresh pineapple from the fridge and loped off some slices into a Tupperware container (side note: I bought a fresh pineapple because it was cheaper than buying a bag of four apples - madness I say!). I have the container squeezed into the fridge here, so I've just got that until I get home (in about 6 and a half hours, sigh). I'm trying to avoid going to the convenience store because it invariably leads to me consuming things best left unconsumed, but given that the milk had gone off I also didn't get breakfast so my stomach is just reminding me of my duties.

I did end up doing two lots of exercise on Saturday, and then one yesterday, so I'm back on track for the week. However, I woke up Sunday morning and my body was displeased by my decision to go six miles the night before, especially when it had already made it's objections known about the three mile I had been forcing it through. And made no bones of telling me about it.

Check out Roni’s new contest! I can win a Nutritional Smart Scale from Eat Smart and so can you! Click here for details!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

'Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise'

Excuse the temporary break if you please, I was busy the last couple of days with extra evening lessons. Unfortunately they've also mean that I didn't get my exercise the last couple of days. My goal was to exercise 5 days a week, which is now impossible as the most I would be able to manage would be 4.

If I were to exercise five times this week, rather than five days, do you think I could still count that as meeting my exercise goals for the week? Or should I be strict with myself and only give myself a badge when I stay with my plans to the letter, and just be happy with the fact that I got a decent amount of workouts in? Thoughts from the interwebs please.

I'm going to do my first workout for the day, and then I'll get back to checking your blogs I promise. I have been reading them, but I need to go back over and comment.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

No the best night I've ever had

Went grocery shopping last night for supplies, but came home with a bag load of junk along with the healthy stuff and just went completely off the rails. I was fine when I left the house (or so I thought), had a bowl of cereal so I wouldn't be hungry going around the store, and then just went nuts. I'd love to blame this on my period, but looking back on it today I think I know what caused it (though I had a few self-pitying 'why am I doing this' moments last night). The source won't be gone until after tomorrow night, but (mentally) I'm feeling ok today.

OMG I went to bed feel sick though. And woke up with the worst. food. hangover. ever.

It occurred to me when I was trying to run out the door that in my sugar haze I forgot to make lunch today. I was going to go the konbini but I have a feeling that I'll just cave again and I don't want to make it worse. Besides, I still have that faintly nauseated feeling in the pit of my stomach and am uncertain whether food will make it better or worse. I'm not overly eager to find out just in case the answer is worse.

I am totally not stepping on the scale until I do at least another three workouts. Viva la Resistance!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sweet like Chocolate

I saw a trailer for this movie when I went to the cinema in Bangkok and it looks awesome. As soon as it comes out on dvd it will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine. I just hope the dvd has English subtitles. Until then I'm going to keep my ear to the interwebs and see if any groups out there are going to fansub it.

If it 'aint broke, don't fix it

I've just ordered the WATP 4 mile DVD from eBay. I was looking for something to do after my 3 mile gets too comfortable and figured that if I'm liking her, then why not just stick with it. I'm doing her older routines (I think she has a 'walk for life' set or something similar out now) so I can buy them quite cheaply, which is good because I'm trying to pay down my credit card. All of her workouts are based around the same moves anyway, so there didn't seem much point in spending more for the newer versions.

Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself (*turns around three times and spits*) but the yen-pound exchange rate is awesome for me right now! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way for when I get to the bank next Tuesday (payday is the 21st) so that I can do a transfer back home.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Healthy You Check in 1

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This week I did my Walk Away the Pounds DVD every day, totalling 16 miles.

I had a couple of difficult days eating because of being out of usual routine and not having my own food available, but other than that I did fine. I haven't got an official weigh in because of TOM, but unofficially I was down a kilo this morning even though it was my first day of his visit. I like being able to fill in charts and lists so I'm looking forward to seeing next weeks progress so I can see properly how my increased exercise is helping me.

This plateau's ass is grass.

An old friend

Good news and bad news at casa de Cakehole. The bad (well, not exactly bad, more like 'meh') news is that there will be no official weigh in tomorrow owing to TOM's timely visit this morning. The good news is that despite the arrival I was a kilo down (on my heaviest day!) when I stepped on the scale this morning, which (if I can keep it together this week) bodes very well for my weigh in next time. Here's hoping.

I went to the supermarket during lunch today to grab some more raisins for my cereal, and came across a pack of dried cranberries. I've never eaten them before so I thought I'd give it a try. They had banana chips too but bleurgh, not my thing, I like my bananas fresh but they go brown too quickly here. Also, I am jealous of the Max Value supermarket that we drive to from school. It is way better than the smaller one I get my groceries from. I have market-envy.

Edit: I got home and TurboJam was in an envelope on my mat. I was very excited and put in straight in my laptop. Now, I may need to give it a little more time, but I think I hate it. It makes me feel very stupid. I got to about move five of the learn segment and barely restrained the urge to physically throw my laptop across the room. It's unfortunate. I fast forwarded to the actual workout (I tend to do better when I learn by 'doing' rather than trying to remember what she said for each part, which is why I should give myself more time to get used to it, but I don't want to put it back on) and things didn't improve. I'm very disappointed.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I just did a load of laundry and forgot to check the pockets of my trousers. After a little post-wash cycle drum archeology, I found the pieces of a watch I bought in Bangkok. Don't worry, it was just a cheap thing I picked up in one of the markets to offset the frustration of not having my phone so I could check the clock, and there was a 50-50 chance the rash on my wrist wasn't from the heat, but from the buckle on the leather cuff making my nickel allergy flare up, so it's not a huge loss.

It was a bit sad picking out the pieces though. The washer wins another round, it is yet to be seen who will win the war...

From dailyplate

10 consecutive days logging fitness!

If I just got 10 days logging fitness, why don't I have my 10 days logging food?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

There is no secret


Anon (who are you? leave me a web addy in the comments!) asked me in the comments of my last post What is your secret for not being bored out of your gourd when you do Walk Away the Pounds? I have the DVD and it's so boring to me... I just can't bring myself to do it

The truth is I like the simplicity of it. I've bought dance and jazz DVDs before because the routines look so cool, only to become frustrated with my inability to pick it up. I would love to be one of those people that can learn routines effortlessly, but I'm just terrible, and then I end up feeling bad because I can't master the moves quickly so the DVD gets stuffed onto a shelf somewhere never to see the light of day again.

If it is boring you, a good thing to do is to become familiar enough with the routines to not need the audio track, and then just put your own music on to make it more interesting. I personally recommend The Fratellis album 'Costello Music', I literally can't listen to their songs without needing to get up and dance.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Late to the Party

I've been seeing buttons for Scale Junkie's Healthy You 2008 Challenge everywhere, but was putting off joining. The last challenge I tried was last year, and the weekly weigh in everyone posted had me focusing on numbers (already an inclination of mine) way too hard. There was nothing wrong with the challenge, it was meant as a support network, but it put me in a position where I was either riding high or dying because of the scale reading, and was just too much pressure to compare my loss with everyone else.

I'm redefining my goals for this challenge.

Since I started adding intentional exercise into my daily routine and realised that the world in fact didn't end, I would like to keep it up. To that end, my goal for this challenge is to do deliberate exercise 5 days a week. By 'deliberate' I mean taking time to do one of the programs on my exercise DVD (currently Walk Away The Pounds, but I will be adding Turbo Jam into the mix when it arrives, assuming I like it as much as I hope I'm going to), my walk to and from school cannot be counted towards this goal. It can be as little as the one mile program but it has to be done.

I have my own personal goals with my food and water consumption, but I'm going to keep those separate for now and just have the challenge for this one thing, that way if I don't eat perfectly one week I won't make myself worse or say 'to hell with it' and have a Food Freak-out because the week is blown.

Three day Weekend

The conference is over and I can get back into my regular routine, I'm very happy about it. Having to eat at the buffet lunch was having a domino effect on my choices at dinner and I didn't like the pattern. Fortunately once I had logged all the food I didn't go over calories as bad as I thought I had, thanks to the exercise wiggle room, but it really wasn't nutritionally balanced at all, and there was a lot of salt and not a lot of water. Thankfully it was just two days and I'm back to making my own meals again now.

I bought some octopus (tako) at the supermarket last night. I never though I'd type that. Octopus conjures up images of slimy, rubbery tentacles in my head, but the reality of the harmless looking Styrofoam container in the fresh fish section made me feel much less squeamish. That I like to eat it has been on of my biggest food surprises since I've been here, but I've never actually cooked it myself because ordering it chopped up and cooked in a restaurant and buying the raw uncut tentacles are two very different things. They sell them cleaned and chopped though so it's not so bad. The heads are just pink-ish rings (like you'd buy squid) so all I have to deal with is the little stump of tentacles left whole at the bottom. I'm not sure what to cook with it yet though as I don't fancy tako-rice.

I've just done the three mile workout (instead of my usual two) as penance for the last two days. Monday is a public holiday here so I'm going to try and do the three mile every day for the long weekend and see if I can still manage a loss come Wednesday.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Schemes agley

Remember yesterday when I was talking about how sensible and careful I was going to try to be today? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, didn't happen. As my dinner of an ham and cheese pastry, two doughnuts, and a hot chocolate can attest to.

I actually started out really well, managed to get a skinny latte (me: "non-fat-o"), but from lunch it just went downhill. Actually no, lunch was okay, the rest of my day would have been manageable after lunch, my trip to Mr Dounuts after the seminar to wait for the train with my friends, that was my true downfall.

Still, never mind. What's done is done. I've logged it all and will do the one mile WATP tonight at some point. I was surprised actually, once I put it all into my food list I wasn't as madly over my calories as I thought. I'm glad I checked it, because if I hadn't then when I get hungry later I would have just gone 'well, eat whatever and then I'll start fresh tomorrow' which never leads anywhere excepts north to Binge-Land. I'm not feeling too bad about it now. I think I'll probably want food later because the stuff I had was carby and probably won't keep me full, but if so I'll just have something healthy and try to be better when I go back tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


I decided to delete my short whiny post and replace it with a more verbose whiny post - hurrah!

I have a two day meeting in a nearby city starting from tomorrow. I'll get the train back so I won't be staying overnight, but I'm worried about what will be available to eat for lunch. Japanese food has a way of looking like it would be fine but actually having a gazillion calories, it's tricksy that way. I'm hoping there will be something I can eat, or that the menu with have calories on it (family restaurants do it all over here) so at least I'll know the damage.

My friend is giving me a lift and we're stopping by Starbucks on the way (she's coffee obssessed). Usually that wouldn't be an issue for me at all, but I recently tried their iced chai tea latte and it was amaz-er-ing. Seriously. I'm going to get a tall, it's quite a few calories (compared to, er, water) but I don't go there very often at all, and I will have the calories due to my exercise. I don't usually eat my exercise calories, is that a good or a bad thing do you think?

I got a new badge on dailyplate, five day consecutive logging of exercise, nicey-nice.

Weigh-In 101.8kg

Okay, so the final result was 101.8kg, which is 224lbs, so I've lost 2.2kg/4.8lbs this week. I'm happy with that, the loss was bigger than I expected. Now we'll see if I can keep this up and exercise my way through this blasted holding pattern I've been in for the last 6 months.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Afterglow

I have about 5-10 minutes after I finish a workout in which the cold in my apartment cannot touch me. Rosy cheeked, I need not fear the opening of my living room door into the chilled depths of my kitchen beyond.

I've got quite a good routine going at the moment. It's too cold to do anything in the morning except layer up your clothes and whisper a small prayer before you go make breakfast, so I'm doing everything after school now. It seems the trick is to not let myself settle into doing anything first, else once I'm sat down I'll never get up again. I walk home, dump my bag and grab whatever meat/fish I'm going to use out the freezer to thaw. Then I unpack my laptop, do whichever distance I feel like that day and use the left over warmth to propel myself into the shower afterwards. When I get out my meat/fish has usually defrosted (or can be finished with a couple of minutes in the microwave), and warmed from the shower I can make a quick meal. I take it into the living room and shut the door, my own little island of heat for the night ahead.

The only slight fly in the ointment is the fact that all the water I've been drinking has me practically doing laps to the bathroom, and believe me the cold makes you pee fast. It's a skill I'm learning from school actually, as they only heat the staff rooms (the students have to go around with their lap blankets and hang warmer baggies) so everywhere else is mad cold. The bathrooms are positively frozen as the window has to be left open so it doesn't smell, it's not fun but it makes you fast.

In other news, I'm greatly enjoying, it seems to have all the benefits of fitday but without the user interface that makes you want to stab things. You get funky badges too!

Weigh-in tomorrow. I know that technically it won't have been a full week, but I like the alliteration too much to change the day.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Feed me, Seymour!

Google Reader, where have you been all my life? I'm now hooked up to this nifty little program and have all my regular reads set up. It will rob me of the need to compulsively refresh pages while doing nothing at work, but I suppose these are the sacrifices we make for progress.

I did end up doing my workout when I got back in, but I really, really didn't want to. I was planning on having salmon and veggies for dinner, but I had a bowl of cereal after I'd finished because I was really hungry, and now I'm so sleepy I think I may just leave it and have an early night. I'll see if I feel like it later, I have loads of calories left so if the hunger pangs kick in than I'll eat.


My attempt to get up to do my DVD this morning was laughable. It consisted of me waking up at 5:30, knocking over the glass of water trying to hit my alarm clock, cursing when I remembered that my alarm clock was a cellphone so I couldn't hit it to make it shut up, begrudgingly cracking open an eyelid to reset it for later, rolling over and going back to sleep.

I foresaw this being a problem. Methinks I will have to just admit that morning is not going to be workout time, especially during winter. Speaking of, it was so cold in my apartment the night before last that last night I moved on to a futon in the only heated room in my house. It made waking up in the morning slightly less obscene. I can't tell you how many times I've been a few minutes late to school since the weather turned, not because I'm not awake, but because I physically can't bring myself to let go of the scant warmth of my blanket. Summer seems like a good morning workout time. Once you wake up you just can't stay in bed, it's far too hot.

Bleurgh, I didn't get enough sleep last night, I may be forced to nap at my desk. I'm sure if I just draw eyes on my eyelids no one would ever notice.

A cunning plan.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Feeling the burn

I did the 3 mile WATP routine a few hours ago and it sort of kicked my ass. Yesterday I also did 3 miles, but I did the 1 mile and then the two mile later, so it wasn't so bad. I figured that if I could do 3 miles total and not feel terrible, why not just do it together so that I don't have to scrounge up the motivation to do two workouts a day, after all, same difference right?

Not right.

It didn't kill me, which I suppose I should count as a plus, but once I got to 1.5 miles every check in point they did after it (each 0.5 miles) I was trying to convince myself that it was enough and I could stop, I'd only planned on doing the 2 mile so it was ok, my waist/hip was protesting after being forced to move yesterday so it would really be better for me to not go on. I would just go back to doing the littler workouts a couple of times a day but I know myself well enough to be sure that after a couple of days I would be down to one small one.

Leslie Sansone has that kind of mom quality to her, it plays psychological tricks on me. She's very encouraging on the DVDs (without having that over-peppy hyper feel that makes me want to throw things at the TV) but when she's assuring me (us, the audience at large) that 'this move is so good for you, but if you feel like you've had enough or it's too difficult, just go back to a march' I get flashbacks to me being 12 or 13 and my mum saying 'it would be nice if you helped, but you don't have to ' which inevitably left going 'nooooo, I'll help...' *shuffle shuffle*, because really inside you knew you could and just didn't want to, and being given a choice would leave you feeling guilty if you didn't.

But maybe I'm reading to much into it.

I just finished cutting up the chicken and salmon I bought yesterday into individual portions so that they can be frozen. I am determined to start taking lunches to school, the convenience store is one of my big downfalls, there's just too much junk I like in there. Tomorrow will be chicken salad with a spoon of sesame dressing (I just finished cooking the chicken so I'll chop the salad later), some fruit, and possibly a boiled egg if I end up boiling them tonight.

I'm a little concerned about fitting in my working out around a working day. It's all very well to be gung-ho about it when I've got nothing else to do, but it's going to be a lot more effort to convince myself to get up in the cold, cold morning to do it before work, or to tell myself to get moving after I've walked back home from the school.

Good Morning (well, in my part of the world)

I woke up with a feeling around my waist. I say 'feeling' because it's not a soreness or pain, but I'm not used to feeling my muscles when I twist. It's not exactly my waist, but the area between my waist and hip. Apparently the workout(s) yesterday did their job. This is also apparent in my scale reading this morning which showed a 1.2kg loss! Sign from God that this is what my routine has been missing? Possibly. Of course, it could just be a fluke. I'll do a few more this week and see what the final results say.

Every now and again I feel the need for new blood in my links list, not that I'm bored with you dear contributors, but I just want something new in my daily reads. It more often than not leads me to start wading through the links in the 'Simply Losing' section of The Fatfighters Directory. Looking through it last night I was sad to see all the abandoned blogs. Some were relics of resolutions past, dropping off after a few posts in January, some made it up 'til mid-year, most left with the same message 'I've got to take a break as I'm too busy, but don't worry - I'll be back!', never to be seen again.

It made me wonder where all those people are now, if any of them managed to reach their goals. I was also surprised by the fact that their are no pages in the 'new links' section, January is usually prime time for blog fodder. Maybe the web mistress just hasn't updated yet?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I Hate Exercise

No, seriously, I hate exercise.

The thing is though, it's kind of important.

Edit: Will wonders never cease? I was dancing around my living room to my iTunes music and thought 'if I want to move so much, why not just try the two mile? so I did! Don't expect these two workout days to come fast and thick here at the Chez Cakehole, but knowing how easily I lose my motivation for such activities I though it best to grab it while I could.

The vast majority of people I read that are successfully losing weight are doing so through food and exercise. I'm not even going to attempt to link them all here because they're such an overwhelming majority, and in the face of such statistics you'd think I would have given up the goat on this particular issue many a moon ago. But no. I don't do absolutely nothing, I walk to school and back, but it's more a forced endeavour because I have to be there. rather than regular exercise. It's also the absolute bare minimum that you could consider exercise, and my body is pretty much used to it so it makes me no real progress.

'Take more some exercise' has always been on my secret internal resolution list, the one that you know you should do but you don't say out loud because then you'd actually have to do it.

I am officially biting the bullet. I need to start actually taking time and doing exercise, rather than counting any sort of forced movement from my computer chair as a valid substitute. I know the key is to find something you enjoy, but in all honesty I don't enjoy any of it, so I'm downgrading that to 'find something that doesn't make you want to stab yourself to avoid it'. I made a 3am impulse buy of the Turbo Jam 5 DVDs from ebay last night (heh, my other resolution was to stop the 3am ebay impulse buys, but I consider this one to be for the greater good. Luckily it was cheap enough that I can justify using some of my Christmas money for it rather than sending it all to my credit card) because someone (Minx? I think? Yes) mentioned how fun it was, and the TV has been playing the Japanese dub of the infomercial here non-stop. I was tempted to wait until it arrived to start The Big Exercise Plan, but I'm always saying how you should just start now with eating regardless of what you've just swallowed so why was I willing to wait with exercise? I dug out my old WATP DVD that I had from my last Great Weight Endeavour and did the one mile. It was only one mile but better that then come here and explain that I was planning to exercise only to not feel like it when the stuff came. And I'll tell you a secret (sshhh! come close)...

It wasn't so bad.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Edited to add pictures

My mother sent me some stock cubes with my Christmas present, the closest thing I'd been able to find here were cubes to make soup and frankly that didn't wash with me. I never thought I'd be so excited to get a package full of bras, underwear, and stock cubes in all my life. It's funny how that changes, when you're a kid the presents that feel like cloth are disappointing (well, until my family got all crafty and started wrapping clothes in boxes, which really isn't all that much better when you're eight, but they seemed to enjoy it). Now, unable to buy anything in my size here and with a washing machine that likes to ruin clothes, they're right at the top of my wish list. But back to my stock cubes.

I just put a casserole in the oven and pretty soon my apartment is going to smell like my childhood, Granddad's house after school. When I was in primary school my mum used to drop my sister and I to his house every day. Now I look back it's amazing how much we enjoyed ourselves in a pensioners apartment, but we loved it. We would listen to the stories he wrote for us and check the crockery hen sitting on the sideboard to see if it had laid a kinder egg along with the regular ones for us. He always had something on the stove or in the oven, and to this day some of my best memories are my my sister and I sitting either side of him on the counter top, watching him mixing cake ingredients in his old heavy crock bowl, with a stew simmering on the stove behind him. His cooking is very much of it's time, traditional fare like stews, shepards pie, roast meat (with dripping sanwiches while it cooked), and casseroles the next day made from the leftovers of the joint. It doesn't matter how old I get, there is always going to be something about that slow roasting smell of meat, onions, carrots, of boiling potatoes and the memory of playing kitchen with one of the tiny saucepan sets he kept for me to pretend with, that will always scream home to me.

I've made a few adjustments to this one. I've used 100g of lean pork instead of the leftover fat and meat of a lamb or beef roast, and I'm eating it with a side of broccoli instead of my Granddad's home made mashed potatoes and peas, but as the smell fills my apartment that feeling, that feeling of 'you're home, you're home' is still there, one I can carry with me wherever I go.

I've just tracked it on my Daily Plate and was amazed to find that the massive bowl was only actually 227 cals, I'll have to take a picture and edit this entry once it's cooked to show you the size but I'm in complete shock. I suppose I shouldn't be, once you've taken steps to control the amount of fat then it's just veg and gravy, but still I was surprised. Expect a picture once I get it out of the oven. At home you'd but it in a wide shallow dish and leave it to roast slowly all day, but with my not having a proper oven, I'm having to amend it to fit in my convection oven.

This whole thing was only 227 cals! (well I added an extra stock cube, so I suppose techinically 260, but still!)

Mmmm, dinner...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Bangkok is a city of contradictions. The ultra-modern lines of the mega malls rise above the cities, attached by the sky train the people are enclosed away from the dirty, broken streets below, protected from the noise and pollution of the never ending expressways. It's easy to play Eloi in these monuments to modern architecture. The levels are all encompassing, rising from the aquarium of the basement floor through the dedicated levels of food courts, designer goods, electronics, household, books, cars (cars! inside the mall!), beauty, all topped with a multiplex cinema.

We descended from these castles in the sky to the Morlocks below. Their territory is hot and dusty and so loud. People line the streets hawking their wares, chopping great baskets of fruit, shouting for you to come to see, to buy, very cheap, very good. The con men line the streets in taxis and tuk-tuks, stopping us every few feet to see if we want a ride, but we know their game and keep making our way over the cracked pave stones, keeping an eye and a hand to our bags as we go. It's not as nice as the clean, air-conditioned shopping centres, but the street markets are more real and more interesting than their new counterparts, and stumbling upon the tiny patches of startling beauty the city still holds is all the more breathtaking for it's unpolished surroundings.

You get the feeling that things age quickly, but there are still beauty marks on the face of Bangkok. The Grand Palace is a great jeweled eye, drawing people in from afar. Between the relentless march of stores lining the roads are littered brilliant yellow shrines, laid with garlands of fresh golden flowers, at odds with the corrugated grey and brown surroundings. People teem from every pore, an uncontainable mass. This is not a city for a leisurely walk, there is nowhere for you to stand dumb in your amazement, and with the haze of pollution hanging low one does not go to 'breath the air' of this place in any sense.

Good bye Bangkok. For better or worse I shall not forget you.