Guest Post by Nisakiman — 25 Comments

    • How the hell would I know?  There are quite a few Ladygirls around that I can vouch for though…..

      • Oh the biting sarcasm of juxtaposing the word ‘lady’ with the ‘Colleens’. Don’t get me wrong, Irish girls are magnificent (what’s not to like about a girl who can drink you under the table whilst peeling enough potatoes for the hangover cure fry up the next morning, who was taught to box by her brothers…all 17 of them and who knows every word to every Travis Tritt song?). But ‘Lady’?…no…not quite seeing it.

  1. Thanks for that Nisakiman. Nice to know a little about a foreign land. Unlike you I have no desire to go anywhere in Asia though I am interested in their cultures and lifestyle in the “Peeping Tom,” sense of the word interested. However, I would be fascinated to hear more about life in modern day Greece if that old cranky-head Grandad allows it.

    • I second that motion! Infact I’m wondering if Grandad might like to start a distinct sub-blog, a ‘The Smoker’s Guide to The Foreign’. His commentators seem wide spread (ie overweight), widely traveled and judging by the standard of English of their comments, quite well lettered. 

    • I’ve always been drawn to SE Asia, John. My father was in the army, and my awakening years in the early 50s were spent in Singapore, so that was really my first understanding of the world around me. So when I return to that environment, it’s with a feeling of familiarity. I don’t find it alien in any way. It’s like slipping on an old and treasured jacket, and enjoying the comfort of it.

      With regards Greece, as I mentioned to Grandad in an email, I did actually do a guest post some years ago on Frank D’s blog about smoking bans and how they impacted in Greece, which I just searched out:

      Blimey, it was six years ago! Don’t time fly?

      Much water has flowed under the bridge since then, and my circumstances have changed in that time, so yes, if Grandad permits, I may well send another missive from Greece some time in the not too distant future.

  2. ” As did buying 10 x 50g packs of Golden Virginia for about €4.50 a pack in duty free “


    Oh just fuck off and die  will you, you septuagenarian lady-boy worrier,  please! I have today just bought my first 50g pouch of Drum at UK Duty Splayed prices….after many a year or not having to. A tad over £20 !! So I am not feeling in anyway charitable towards any one, no matter how good a writer, who has access to non-eyebleed priced tobacco.

    I’m joking of course, I love you Dude…in a very manly chest punching way (I swore off the Ladyboys, after Dill, long ago).

    As to the article itself, what can I say? I had been hoping you’d write one and you didn’t disappoint. Reading it, and as I do when i read your emails too,I get the distinct feeling this wasn’t your first attempt at writing for audience. No doubt you stumbled drunkenly into an Adult Creative Writing Evening Class at your local polytechnic whilst looking for the ‘Uncle Fester Appreciation Society’ or you worked TEFL for too long as an Engineering Student.

    I have learnt something today about a country and a people I knew next to nothing about.


    • Twenty quid? You woz robbed, my boy! Don’t you have a friendly white van man in your area? I’m buggered if I’d pay that kind of money for my smokes. I thought it was getting bad here when Golden Virginia went up to €7.50 for 30g.(hastily grabs calculator) which equates to €12.50 for 50g.

      The only audience I ever write for are the recipients of my emails and those who choose to read comments I make on blogs and articles. As I have a habit of commenting against the consensus on newspaper articles, particularly if they concern smoking, I more often than not generate an avalanche of opprobrium. Which I must admit, I fully anticipate, and rather enjoy. I like to shake people out of their comfort zone and perhaps make them think a bit more deeply about their prejudices.

      And since I left school at 16, my only further education has been in the university of life. Which has, I must admit, been most enlightening.

      • Trust me, I spend a large chunk of my time and energy trying to source a supply. Unfortunately the days of the WVM are long past, they couldn’t compete with the counterfeit gangs or the Big Boys of smuggling (I’m talking the sort of smugglers who would send several lorries a week from cheaper parts). Nearly all the stuff sold round here on the black market is fake. In general the standard of fake tobacco has gotten really good but it’s inconsistent. To make matters worse, the counterfeiters tend to fake such abominations as Cutters Crap and Amber Leaves…your lungs aching for something that actually has nicotine. I’d rather suck the nicotine stains on my fingers than smoke even genuine CC. Sometimes you can get GV, which I detest but can just about smoke…it’s just so weak I go through twice the amount a day of it. So I am limited to ‘hobby runners’ and at the moment all my ‘contacts’ are waiting on fresh supplies. End of the month I may have to spend 12 hours sitting in a non smoking coach on a baccy run to Belgium….and I LOATH coach travel, always have, even back when one could smoke on the things.

        Oh well, maybe tomorrow one of my kids’ contacts will come through…hope springs eternal.


  3. nisakiman,
    Nice one!
    The other thing I never got used to over there is the fact that if you ask a question they will answer it. I wasn’t aware, before going out there, how the answer to a question over here can be so complicated and cover just about every eventuality.
    This sort of sums it up. A buddy of mine drove out to look at a temple and saw what was obviously the pay booth. He stopped at the booth, wound down the window and asked where you parked to see the temple. He was told to drive a further 400 meters to the car park. Having done this and walked back to the booth he asked for 2 tickets to see the temple. The reply was, “Temple closed today.”
    But you see he didn’t ask if the temple was open or not, he asked where you park your car if you want to see the temple and got an answer. Now over here he would have got the whole lot in one go plus a whole bunch more.

  4. Nisaki, you’ll laugh but in that strangely, almost uncanny, way my life seems to work (if ‘work’ is here an appropriate choice of words to describe anything about my life) a backpacking friend returned yesterday from foreign parts, from parts Asiatic. He has just brought me round some souvenirs, a few little gifts, because he knows of my interest in ‘street market’ tobacco and fast disappearing brands of tobacco, especially ‘artisan’, world wide.

    Apparently the unnamed tobacco is from a market in Laos, the branded stuff Thai.


    Unfortunately (my life ‘working’ again) I’m up to my dwarf beard writing something for The Landlady, otherwise I’d get right on to rehydrating and testing his very generous gifts (at £20+ per 50g, even ‘test’ amounts of tobacco are generous and gratefully received).

    • I’m in moderation AGAIN Grandad??!?!? Surely ‘Herself’ didn’t take offence at my comments yesterday about Irish Womanhood?

      Oh and the photo got eaten.

      • So you are now blaming Herself for your own misspelling of your own name?  You wouldn’t last long in this house!

    • Well my oh my, what a coincidence! He didn’t get busted on the way in for having illicit tobacco in his backpack, then?

      • Nope, he seems to have made his way here totally molestation-free and in remarkable good condition. Bit low on fluids he was saying but nothing serious.

  5. I heard recently that Thailand authorities are trying to make it more expensive for backpacker travellers to purchase visas. Business and long term visas can be bought by putting a minimum sum of foreign currency in a Thai bank. Is that true?

    • The visa system is quite complex, but in short, if you are prepared to pay for an ‘Elite Card’, which will cost you 1,000,000 Baht (€28,500 – non refundable), you can get a 20 year visa. However, you still have to report to immigration every 90 days if you are there permanently. If you are married to a Thai (as I am), you can get a yearly ‘marriage visa’, but you have to have 400,000 Baht (€11,400) on deposit at your bank at all times, meaning it is dead money. You can get a retirement visa, which is similar to a marriage visa in that it has to be renewed annually, but for that, you must have 800,000 Baht (€22,800) permanently on deposit in the bank.

      Visitors from many countries can enter Thailand without a visa (visa exemption) for 30 days. That can be extended at immigration for another 30 days for 1900 Baht (€55). Alternatively, one can do what’s known as a ‘visa run’ as I did (I was there for 6 weeks) and cross into a neighbouring country. On your return you will be given another 30 day visa exemption. But you can only do that twice in a year if you use a land crossing. I believe if you fly out and in, you can do it unlimited times.

      There are workarounds to most of these, but you need to know the system to use them.

      I’ve just skimmed the surface there – it is, as I say, a complex subject. However, backpackers can still come in for 30 days without any visa costs, although the Thai authorities do seem to be moving towards trying to attract a wealthier type of tourist.

      • I note the concluding clause of your clarification: ” the Thai authorities do seem to be moving towards trying to attract a wealthier type of tourist.” Yup, they’re going upmarket and trying to discourage backpackers.

  6. trying to discourage backpackers. -Ger

    Perhaps somewhat shortsightedly ? A whole generation of Caring-sharing Snowflake Erasmus students have been raised ,and bank rolled, by their ‘festival Dads’ (Daddy met Mommy on Bondai after having just ‘done’ Malaysia while high on dope and Top Loader )just itching to go on the modern equivalent of The Grand Tour ie designer backpacking and Air BnBing around other people’s misery. Have Snapchat account and will travel (whilst keeping a wary concerned eye on their carbon footprints). A generation has been raised to garner the street food markets of the world looking for culinary gems with coriander. Ok ya? 

    I’m sure the Thai government could entice the ‘right’ sort of backpackers by offering voluntary interns working to save, like, the ring tailed Thai red monkey rat…the fate of whom , with the destruction of it’s habitat by GREEDY corporations (some of which don’t even have a LGBT favoured hiring policy!) and GLOBAL WARMING, must be of great concern to all . Surely one of the Hill Tribes still practice female GM? Go East Young Person Of No Specified Gender….do good and remember it looks real good on that CV.

    • I think Thailand did attract a lot of dope-smoking hippy fantasists in past decades. An aspect of this was portrayed in a movie made in 2000 called The Beach, starring Leonard Di Caprio.

      Another dubious reputation Thailand acquired was as a sex holiday destination.

      • Well I guess that when I was there in ’71, you could have called me one of those dope smoking hippy fantasists, although not so much of the fantasist really,as I seem to have inherited a good deal of my father’s pragmatism.

        In fact in those days, dope was everywhere. It seemed that all the Thai people I got to know would invite me to share a bong (waterpipe) of the most excellent Thai grass, popularly known as Thai, (or Buddha) sticks (it came wrapped around a sliver of bamboo, about the thickness of your finger and six inches or so long). Even a very HiSo guy I got to know (it’s complicated, but he was a sort of prince in the southern state of Songkhla) used to smoke. It was normal. I’d go to his house where he had banks of tropical fish tanks (it was his hobby), and we’d sit there talking, drinking Mekong whisky, smoking dope and watching the fish. It was great. He also extracted me from a difficult visa situation, because he had influence. But that’s another story.

        However, the government, in its wisdom, cracked down on the dope, and just about wiped it out. So now all the kids are taking methamphetamine, and going out robbing and killing. Great improvement, eh?

        As for the sex destination, yes, that’s true. Sex tourism is very much a part of the fabric. I never went to Thailand for that, but I have to admit to availing myself of some of the tastier offerings on occasion. It would be rude not to….


        • Ahhh Buddha sticks, that takes me back. Havn’t seen one since the early ’80s. Used to be plenty of them in Sydney back in the day. Shame to hear the government has just about wiped pot out over there. As you say it’s all methamphetamine madness these days. The war on drugs has really worked out well. Not. 

  7. Great improvement, eh? -Nisaki

    Yep, cos at least Crystal contains no nicotine. Those meth head kids will go to the gallows (I assume the Thais  are still horribly backwards in the area of ‘rehabilitian of Criminals’) with virgin lungs that have never known nicotine. Better NO teeth than brown ones. People do recover from Meth addiction, no one ever recovers from tobacco addiction. Fact!


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