The green lights again…
You may remember in my previous Random Twitterings [click here to read] I was talking about the green lights in the Bay of Bangkok. Well, my old friend Wiwat in Bangkok kindly alerted me to this image taken from the International Space Station. (No, Wiwat’s not old – in fact he’s waaaaaaay younger than me – but I’ve known him a long time.)
Anyhoo, the white lights at the top of the image are Bangkok and banlieues, and the green lights are on the fishing boats in the bay. Incredible. They do this night after night, so you’d have to worry that over-fishing will soon reduce the fish stocks, but from the abundant supply I see in the local markets – which is a tiny fraction of the catch, with the rest being exported – that isn’t going to happen any time soon.
On a recent trip down south to Malaysia, I was going through security control at Surat Thani Airport when, while having my hand baggage scanned, I realized something had sent the security people into a mild frenzy. Who has done what I wondered. And then realized it was me who had done something!
There was lots of pointing at my regulation-sized under-maximum-weight carry-on suitcase. It was obvious there was something in there that had set off the alarm bells, and that the security people wanted to me to open the case and remove something. But, not having any idea what might be causing the problem, I really didn’t know where to start. And the more time I took, the more agitated they became.
Eventually by rescanning they narrowed it down to a certain area in the case, and I’m sure from the photo on the right, you’ve realized what was causing the commotion. Yes, a small portable corkscrew that I’ve carried with me everywhere for at least forty years. Doesn’t everyone?
I had to Google to find this image, and in the process discovered it’s a fairly regular occurrence to have one’s portable corkscrew confiscated, thus probably ruining a lot of evenings. Luckily though, these days it’s easy to find wine bottles with a screw cap, and so losing my corkscrew didn’t seem like a particularly big deal.
But what happened next I still find utterly bizarre. I don’t think these particular security people had ever seen anything like it. It was inspected, assembled into it’s useable format, and then the screw part neatly hidden back inside the metal tube.
So, having decided I could use it to screw a hole into someone’s artery, or to gouge out an eye, they allowed me to put it back in my baggage and to carry it on-board!
Which might leave you wondering why I had to Google the image. Because a few weeks after this incident, while travelling through Krabi Airport, we went through the same performance, but with a different ending.
This lady’s not human!
The photograph (reproduced here without the kind permission of Wikipedia) is of Simona di Silvestro. She is slated to become the first F1 driver of the female sex for more than twenty years.
And before you tell me not to say “sex” I believe it’s the correct word, rather than the now popular family-friendly “gender.” In many languages words have gender. So you see, French words have gender, French people have sex. Oh stop tittering, you know what I mean 🙂
So why is she not human?
Well I was reading recently that in 2011, while participating in an official practice session for the Indianapolis 500, her car suffered a mechanical failure at over 200mph which caused it to flip several times, ultimately hitting a barrier and stopping upside down trapping Simona in the wreckage, when – as bad luck would have it – it burst into flames.
Eventually she managed to partly drag herself out of the car before being rescued, but not before she had suffered second-degree burns to her right hand, and lesser burns to her left. With qualifying being only two days away, everyone assumed that was the end of her attempt to compete in that year’s Indy 500.
But no. She had every intention of qualifying. Two days after the crash, and with backup car ready to go, she had the blisters removed from her hands so that she could wear her racing gloves (presumably not the same ones!) and with virtually no skin on her right hand, she qualified 24th at an average speed of more than 224mph. On top of that, she refused to take any painkillers in case she failed a random drug test.
Seriously, how could any human endure that?
And then it rained…
When I first arrived in Sichon a few months ago I was told it hadn’t rained in five months. Looking at the brown, parched grass and foliage I could believe it. Until this past week, it hasn’t rained much since. Which is why I’ve had to buy tanker-loads of water in order to take my much needed two or more daily showers.
But last week I had to drive to Surat Thani Airport to renew my long-term rental of the Honda Shitty née City. Actually, I shouldn’t have bothered because just moments ago I had a phone call to tell me the Ford Ranger I ordered and was promised for “the first half of October” has now arrived! Maybe it’s related to the Delorean and has travelled back in time.
Anyhoo, while I was in the area, I drove into Surat Thani city to do some shopping, eventually deciding to head for home at about 6pm. As I left, the skies darkened. And then, as I hit highway 44 – which runs northeastwards, even though I wanted to go southeastwards, but the mountains get in the way – heavy rain started. I didn’t think this would be much of a problem as the road carries very little traffic, is built North American style with the other carriageway off in the distance somewhere, and is almost dead straight.
But then the rain became heavier, and then much heavier. I’ve lived in this part of the world for 26 years, so I’m no stranger to heavy rain, but this was something I’ve never experienced. The rain was hitting the road so hard it either bounced back half a meter, or as hit the hot roadway it instantly turned into steam. As a result, the road became invisible.
It was dark by this point, so about all I could do was try to spot one of the not-too-frequent reflective markers at the side of the road sticking up out of the fog, head straight for it, and hope that as I got close I could figure which side of the road it was on! Either that or spot some tail lights in the distance, and hope there were no bends between me and them.
Keeping the car on the black stuff was not helped by the habit of a few Thai drivers who think it’s quite normal to drive the wrong way down the road in the emergency lane. So a few times I found something with white lights heading towards me, causing me momentarily to think I’d somehow crossed onto the other carriageway.
For an hour the world was just a blur of rain and steam, punctuated by brilliant flashes of lightning. My eyes were popping out of my head straining to see the road markings, or anything that would tell me I was still on the road and sort-of heading in the right direction. It was so bad a couple of times I had to drop below 100kph 🙂
Then, as though someone had turned off the tap, it stopped. In an instant the roads were completely dry. And here’s the strange thing… having almost become used to the blurred scenery, the dry road looked like it had just been laid, and all the road markings and signs freshly painted. It was quite surreal and it took me several minutes to adjust. Definitely a new experience, and a trip to be added to a long list of epic road journeys.
Anyone who knows me, knows I’ve been in and around motorsport for more than fifty years. So, whenever discussing promising new drivers, and because motorsport seems to run in families, I often find myself saying “Ah yes, I knew his father.”
But recently, when watching F1 on the box, and becoming steadily more impressed with young Jules Bianchi, it occurred to me that “Ah yes, I knew his GRANDfather!” Arggh.