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The new airport railway to Suvarnabhumi Airport

Life Size Paper Board Cut out!! :)My last trip in Thailand gave me a chance to test out the new airport rail link to the city in BKK.  My flight back to Singapore was late at night and I had 5 hours to wait for my tranist.  So bored I am I decided to just try out this new rail link to see how fast it was.

The entrance to the station is actually at the basement level of the airport.  Its actually was there for quite some time.  Actually I should say its there since the airport was opened but the railway tracks were not finished yet.  (Remember the coup and everything??)  The delays were massive and only recently they managed to complete it.

I was a bit lost at first because the sation is actually has 2 platforms and 2 different entrances for 2 different services.  One is the normal train and the other is actually an Express train.

I took the wrong turn and end up at the normal service.  Which stops at every station in between the air port and Makkasan station.  So blur blur I bought the ticket... 15B !!! Wa... bloody cheap!!! I thought I heard wrongly so I gave a 100B note.. the change was 75B...

So off I go and hit the platform to wait for my train...


Suvarnabhumi has very confusing signboardsThe platform is actually quite short.. Definitely has less carriages then SingaporeThe train was preparing to leave when I went down the platform and the security stopped me from boarding the train.  The waiting time is about 7 to 8 minutes for the next train.  Its actually a bit crowded for the normal service as it stops at every stops.  Total of 4 stations in between the next interchange Makkasan(for MRT) and 2 more at Phaya Tai (for BTS).  So basically if you stay near Nana and MBK.. you can take this train all the way to Phaya Thai and changed to the BTS light rail. 

Inside the standard normal train carriage.Outside the window of the train... The expressway that links the airport to the cityBy the 3rd Stop the train was packed like Sardines. It was about 4pm and people seems to be knocking off. Took this lady without her noticing me.. She's engrossed in her messages. By the time I reached Makkasan.  Its actually over 40minutes of travelling time.  Pretty slow compared to the Taxi but at this price.. no complains.  And its actually quite a good way to enjoy the atmosphere of the locals on how they commute.  It's a really good experience if you enjoy people watching :)

I got out of the Makkasan station as I was a bit afraid I could get delayed and I saw on the board that the express service starts from this station.  I want to try the express service so naturally I got out here.

The station is very new and looks too sterile for my liking...

The roof of the station is pretty well desinged internally... Not sure how it looks on the outside though

Ticket counter for the Express train,I followed the directions and got to the ticket counter and entrance of the Express service.  Its 100Baht per pax!! Hahaha.. almost 6x more than the Normal service.  I paid and went into the empty platform.  At first I felt a bit stupid like Kena con liao.  Until the train arrives.....

Interior of the express train... kind of explain the price differenceThe train was fully carpeted and there are places for you to store your luggages.  The seats were also nicer of course.  REALLY very big difference so kind of justify the huge price difference.  The express train departs every 15mins or so and it takes only less than 20 mins to hit Suvarnabhumi.  So for those in a rush, its quite worth it.

I'm already planning that if I could actually take this express service and drop off at Makkasan then changed to a taxi.. It should be cheaper and you should be able to avoid some jams.. A metered taxi with toll normally costs aroun 200B to 350B (depending on your locations and traffic) so I guess this is actually quite a good alternative way to get into the city :)

And finally, just for the record, here's the route and the stations in this line.


My new Rangefinder - Konica Hexar RF

I was hunting for a better RF (short for rangefinder) ever since my Bessa R3M's shutter got stuck one fine day.  Its normal now but I kind of want to have another spare body just in case I need to send the Bessa for service.

I also wanted a RF with AE mode rather than full manual.  The reason is that if I mount a wide angle lens onto it (like 21mm), it could function as a Point n shoot film camera too (like the GR21).  Of course there are contax G series RF which even have AF but that means I need to invest in new lenses which will not be affordable to me.  So I want to stick to M mount as I already have a collection of M lensesSo my choices were quite limited. 

Minolta CLE (small and affordable but not very well built, so it might not last that long)

Leica M7 (too expensive! and I hate the film loading mechanism of Leica)

Zeiss Ikon by Cosina (also expensive, more than 2k SGD brand new so its not really within my budget.  I don't want to spend more than 1k SGD on a film RF body which I mainly used for fun, hoobyist shoot)

Another Bessa R2 or R3 (a bit bored with Bessa and as mentioned, I'm a bit concerned with the reliablity of the camera too.)

And finally the Konica Hexar RF.  Which itself is a very well built cam.  

I was looking around on e[vil]bay and when the $US was so low since last week,  I took action and got one used from ebay at a very attractive price of $800++ plus shipping.  

Back Alley. Self portraitI got it since last friday and I have to say the initial impression on the cam was WOW.  Heavy like a brick and feels like handling a Leica :P hehe.  But there are lot of technologies in this camera that is not found on a Leica M6.  Such as motorized film advancer and winder.  LED batt indicator and frame counter.  Centre weighted metering with AE and AEL mode.  Shutter speed indicator in the viewfinder, exposure compensation dial in 1/3 steps up to +/-2.  And of course, burst mode and self timer mode.   These are features seen often in DSLR but if you are into RF, you would know its quite rare to see all these features in a small, dense packed body like an RF.  (Even the latest Zeiss Ikon does not have a motorized film advancer and winder and it cost a bloody 2k SGD!!)

At Suntec City. Focused at the first Hello Kitty. Shot at f/2So everything is perfect until I checked the focusing patch and found it to be misaligned vertically.  Hard to explain this to layperson.  Just simply; there is a problem with getting accurate focus when using this cam.  At first I thought it was just vertical misalign (which would not affect the accuracy, just a nuisance).  Until I mounted a lens and found its also horizontally mis-align... jialat..

Shot of my friend "Dog" wide open at 1.1So on the same night I received my camera.  I popped off the top part of the cam and performed surgery on the used Hexar. Re-aligning the focusing patch of an RF is a very tedious job as I need to measure the distance of 1m to the film plane and move 2 little screws in the camera to align them correctly.  After that, I still need to shoot a roll of film to confirm everything is alright.

Infinity Test. Seems ok on the scan. Still need to examine under a loupe to confirm.I loaded an Ilford XP2 400 as a test roll.  I chose this film because its sharp and I mounted my VC 50mm f1.1 so I could have a very shallow DOF to check if my alignments were correct.  Finished the roll yesterday and sent it for developing and scanning today and was glad its spot on accurate :D.

Its been a while since I'm so ever happy with a purchase.  The last serious camera I am very happy with was the Hasselblad 500CM and the last digital camera was my Sony a900 (I found out I actually didn't wrote about my a900!).

My colleague and friend. Mr Mok 少posing for meBuying the Hexar also means I would give the Fuji X100 a pass.  I still prefer my M lenses and I prefer film over digital anytime.  And I already have the Nex-3.. so I just can't justify why I would need the X100... Damn Fuji!! why they never announce it sooner!!!  :P

*Photos posted on this entry are some of the shots from my XP2 test roll.  You can see more here.  The Nokton is really a very sharp lens!! :P

Nex-3 - A month later.

I wrote an initial review about this camera here.  And after a month of intensive usage in Thailand.  I have more thoughts on this little camera.

My Dog Cindy

Truthfully, its an impulsive purchase out of curiousity and fun.  As I was really interested in dabbling in video and the sensor size (1.5 crop of 35mm) is a big plus point for me to get it.  And the ability to mount serveral old lenses makes me jump straight into it.  A month later using this camera, I find it to be very capable and good but there are still some essentials things that are missing which makes this camera not really good enough for my needs.  I think I should have waited a bit longer for the next generation of Nex.

Ah Boy Having Lunch

Firstly, no view finder.  I am just so used to using a camera with a Viewfinder.  Even its a little optical window it will be great asset for me.  I think I'm just too used to peering into a small window while taking pictures :P  The Nex does have a 16mm optical viewfinder accessories but it kinds of look wierd when attached on top of it.  Moreover, once you attached it, you loose the flash!

Panoramic Mode! Sea of Green.

Secondly is the flash.  Its just too puny and how I wish they use the Standard ISO hotshoe or even the Minolta hotshoe would be great.  If not, a PC sync port will be great.   They just have to come up with a proprietary connector which kinds of spoils the fun by not allowing other 3rd party flash accesories to be used on it. Dear SONY, you allow other lenses to be mounted on the cam, why not the accessories too??

Thirdly is some interface issues I encountered.  (which is solved recently with the new firmware) I have updated it but during the month long period of shooting with the old interface is really a bugger sometimes.  I have not tested the new interface extensively, so hopefully its better now.

Colour gel fun..Girl and her friends posing.

Fourth, I find it a bit too small :P  (small oso complain. hehe) This is just personal but I find the ideal small compact size camera is my Bessa R3M.  Its just the right size in my hands and its not too big in my hand.  How I wish Cosina would build an affordable Digital RF (Epson RD-1 is a joke)

And lastly, its APS-C sensor leaves me a bit wanting.  Why why why not 35mm FF :P  ahaha.  Going back to APS-C is a pain in the ass for me.  I'm so used to the working distance of 35mm that I often missed shots on this little camera due to forgetting its cropped.  I need to reprogram myself that 35mm on this camerea is no longer 35mm but 52mm..

So I was thinking should I keep the camera or sell it?? Its a hard decision but I decided to keep it for the time being.. Although it won't be a camera I would use often.  I would used it to test my M lenses in digital and maybe occasional video shoot of my kids with the kit lens.  But I seriously think I would not bring it with me for overseas expeditions or serious photography... That would leave it to my Bessa and upcoming Hexar RF :P  If its digital, most probably my trusty A900 (without the grip) with my 35/2 or 24-70 Zeiss. 

You can view more photos taken by this camera here.  Most of them are straight out of cam jpegs with some slightly enhanced in Lightroom.  Wonderful colours and the kit lens is surprisingly good :)


Things half-done again...

I am flying back to Singapore today and will start my shift work on Firday.  The kids and my wife left early this morning to Keng Tung to my mother-in-law place to have a short break and annual ancestral worship.  Our Meh Ban (house keeper) tagged along too to help out.  So now I'm alone in my house in Thailand.. A bit too quiet for my liking.. hehe

Sad to say but we could not complete the Marriage Certificate ontime.  The Nai Amphue is still in overseas and although the Pa Lat kindly wrote a note for us yesterday to go Chiang Rai to register.  I declined as its a 2 hours drive back and forth.. A bit too rushed and since the children and wife is going off today.  I decided to postphone it till my next trip.  The Pa Lat was a kind gentleman and he apologised to me for the screws up even though I know its not his fault at all.  Hard to come by a good government official here in Thailand but there are a lot of good and helpful people in such smaller district in Thailand (not BKK of course)

Anyway, suppose to announce I'm married today on this blog but I guess its postphoned till Dec when I'm back again.  Now, just relax and maybe take a nap before I go off around 2pm to catch my flight back to BKK. 

Burn more money again!!!

If you are not sure about my new found hobby ever I came to Maesai... here's some recap

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Hahaha.. Every year around this period sure "burn" money again on fireworks..  This year got some more new versions of crackers and toys for me to play.

The black box shiok.. Its actually those rocket fireworks but 25 shots in a box!! Really like missiles shooting out from a container.  The red UFO next to it is an upgraded Spinner which emits cracking sounds and spud more sparks then the usual one.  The bottle like (blue top) is actually illegally sold to me by the vendor.... BLOODY LOUD bang.. I think it has way too many firepower in it.. REALLY REALLY loud.. hehe

The one behind it are cold sparklers in tube forms.. nothing much but its much safer.  And finally the last one is another crackling bomb which emits different colours of sparks.  Nice name given to it too.. 金玉滿堂.  Which means rich and pospoerous for all..

100baht for this lot... hehe which is about SGD$4.50.  Nice cheap fun... Early Loy Krathong fun and its getting cold in the morning!!! WHoo hoo!!!

The 2 baby rockers!



Wife took this while I was away and I burst out laughing when I saw this.  The original video does not have any music in it so I just added a short clip of "Salvation" by the Cranberries.  Enjoy!! :P

More Waiting Games.

Its always like this... whenever I want to do something in Thailand..  I kena the worst situations.  Just on Monday, my wife and I went down to the local Amphur Maesai to register our marriage.  Everything was done except a signature from the Nai Amphure (Head and Judge of the local district).  He was busy with some other issues and this is actually gahment related...

What happened there were some gahment movements of the officials in the North.. Where a lot of high ranking officers at the district office was asked to move away from their current post and be transferred to Bangkok.  Naturally these officials are more "red" then yellow so they are not bulking and did not leave on the intended date.  So the central gahment actually stopped their payment of the entire salary of the local district office.  This is so in Mae Fa Luang as my wife and I made some friends with some of the employees there when we were up there contantly. 

So the distict officers are contantly not in their office and the situation is getting a bit out of hand (from what we had heard is that a lot of these officers are refusing to bulk at all and are currently entering a negotiations with people from the central gahment)

Thus, a 1 to 2 day thingie was dragged till today and the Nai Amphue is still not back in office.  The Pa Lat informed us that he should be back next week on Tues... And I'm flying off on Wed!!  Stressed up now...

Tiger Airways sucks...

This was in my draft for quite sometime.  Its actually written before the previous post but I took sometime to refine it a bit before publishing this.  I want to write this down as take it as a record and reminder to never fly this airline again.

To get a better picture of what happened.  Do see these links and understand that I was one of the affected traveller in this saga.

I was much "luckier" as I received an SMS informing my flight was cancelled 12 hrs before my departure time!  A joker also called me to inform me that the flight was cancelled.  I tried to asked for more details and he just rudely said I called to inform.  You have 7 days to amend your flight.  I asked to speak to his supervisor or manager and he said there is no supervisor or manager.. (duh.. I work in a call centre too and this is a lame excuse man!!) Asked for this rude joker name and he just cut me off...

Fuming, I tried to call their hotline and guess what??  Kept me on hold for bloody 2 hours until it cut off at 10pm automatically... WTF..

So I booked another flight with Airasia and tried to call their toll free hotline in Thailand for 7 consecutive days before I got through.  Refunded my flight but need to wait 4 to 6 weeks to process... Duh...

Anyway, the person on the line who took my call was at least courteous and polite... But the whole situation could be handled much much much better.

For example.  The person who called to inform should gave options.  Like do you want a refund or maybe a reschedule of the flight.  Not just ask the customer to call back the service hotline??  You're already speaking to a frustrated customer and this would only just aggravate him or her furthur.

Provide information and be truthful about it.  I strongly suspect 2 grounded planes would affect more than 40 flights being cancelled.  There must be more to it and I suspect their pilots or crew were leeched by other carriers.  Since there was recently news about Pilot shortages in Asia.

And finally, please!  If there is a crisis like this.  The hotline should be 24hrs instead.  Get proactive and call the customer.  Yes, it may cut your profits even furthur and maybe incur more losses but at least you save your bloody IMAGE!!  Now you have a bunch of disappointed customer (including me of course) who would be throwing all the negative points of your service to other potential customer!

Yes there will be customers and you will still earn money because you are cheap,  but you won't have loyal customers like Airasia (and they are really improving!) You would forever be stuck serving the worst customers (those cheapo ones and complaint the most!)  Good luck Tiger... I think you really need the teeth to continue after this fiasco..


Surrounded by red tape again...

I'm currently back in Thailand and its almost a week since I'm here. There was a screw up with Tiger Airways as they canceled my flight less then 12 hours of my flight time.  I willl post that in a later post...

I stopped over in Bangkok to settle some documents for getting married in Thailand and again encountered some interesting red tapes with our dear Singapore Gahment agancies again.  This time none other then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore stationed at the Singapore Embassy in Thailand. 

I have collected all the neccessary documents for the affidavit that need to be notarized by the embassy before translating it to Thai and officiate it.  This is what happened.  After going through the checkpoint of our fugly embassy (It's like a bloody fottress!!) I rang a little electric door bell and was greeted by a young thai lady.  She speaks quite fluent English and I stated my business here. She said my wife needs to be with me... WTF no1. I easily countered why that time I came it was not stated?  And how come their letter of instructions did not mentioned my wife needs to be with me?  I also explained we have tow kids and my boy is only a year and a half and you want them to fly over here just to see her in person????  She was a bit baffled and got struck by my no nonsense explanations.  She said she checked with her superior and they agreed to do it for me for my kids sake.  Round 1 I won :P

So I handed the stuff to her and she came back 5 mins later asking me why my wife is not a "Miss" but "Mrs" on her Thai national ID.  OK .. Need to explain this portion.  For Thai people, the title is important as it kinds of indicates that if you are a Mrs that means you had married before.  So I explained to her that on her Si Kio Kok Daeng (her old IC) her title is already Mrs as the army personal who registered her in writing put it wrongly.  She was never married before.  We have a document from her district Amphur that states that was a mistake.  But I did not have a copy with me.  So I asked if I could fax to to them now.  She's ok with it and I called my wife to fax the document over... Round 2 is a tie..

Recieved the fax and then another lady who I clearly believe she is a Singaporean (I think the former Thai lady knows I am difficult to handle so passed the baton to her :P), came over and told me the document only says she did not get married but did not specifically say her title is wrong so cannot accept the letter.  WTF!  So I spoke to her nicely and explained my wife's WAS stateless and the whole story.  So I countered.  Why don't you help me write me a letter SPECIFICALLY tell me what you need so I can pass this letter to the district Amphur to produce a specific letter of what you need before you need to proceed.  She was a bit shocked by my insistance of having this letter as I explained that we had no issue with this letter when we did the children and my wife's passport at the Thai MFA. So why MFA of Singapore want to play punk and did not want to accept this letter.  She said she checked with her superior and get back to me. 

10mins later she came back and said they will do it for me as they are more concerned about my marriage status rather than my wife.  Whoo hoo!  Round 3 I win again..  So I asked them why they have so much regulations if that is the case in the first place.  Give me a lame excuse say that they want to PROTECT me as they scared my wife was married .  Sincerely, I nearly want to burst laughing on the spot.... Anyway, I say thanks for your concern but I am not worried on that part..  She went on explaining that the local amphuer might gave us trouble but I thanked her and sacartiscally replied no trouble is bigger then what I encountered here today... hehehehe. 

I send the letter to be translated just at the building next to the embassy.  While waiting,  I can't help it but laughed to myself on how Singaporeans and these Bangkokians are so clueless on the current state of the world.  They think that everyone in this world has an identity and a state.  Unaware that just up North in Thailand,  there are hundreds and thousands of people having the same state as my wife used to be.  Its a sad joke if they do not understand their plight and why these people loved Thaksin in the North.

Anyway, took a victory photo (by myself) using my instax camera... hehehehe


Boy.. I look so fat in this picture... :P