General Pickett's Buffet, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

It has been six years since I have been to General Pickett's Buffet in Gettysburg, Pa. We do not get to Gettysburg very often anymore. We were there and there was no doubt where we would be dining. We went on a Wednesday night and while there was not a large crowd in the restaurant there were people coming in the whole time we were having dinner including close to closing time. This buffet closes

Interstellar sucks. Sure, but why?

The experience of watching a Nolan movie can be summarized by this picture below.



She is a beautiful young and fashionable girl, right?
Now slowly shift your gaze down to the black line in the neck.

Focus.
Are you watching closely?

Do you see now a different image now?
Aha!


That Aha! moment is the core of a Nolan movie. Everything in a Nolan's movie is directed towards amplifying that Aha! moment. He makes the Aha! moment significantly rewarding by following some great techniques.

1. Keeps the surface level idea (the young girl in the above image) simple for people to grasp.
2. keeps the underlying idea well hidden (but litters the movie with clues, minor Ahas! when we watch the movie again)
3. Reveals the underlying idea (old woman in the above image) in a sudden climax
4. Connects the two ideas in a profound philosophical manner
(Young girl and old woman in the same image above is a philosophical goldmine.)

In his movie Prestige, at surface level, two magicians try to outdo each other with disastrous results. In the climax, it is revealed that the greatest magic is ... the magician. A powerful Aha! moment, because the movie lingers as you think about the what artists pay for perfection, et al..

But what is the surface level idea in Interstellar? A father leaves behind his family in dying earth and goes to space to find alternatives. Okay, this is a trite idea. But we go because, it is Christopher Nolan movie! He is going to take surface level scientific ideas like slowing of time and gravity that doesn't allow even light to escape, turn them on their head and reveal something profound to us, right?

No! He is going to tell that love (and gravity) travels across dimension and time and a father will keep his promise to his daughter, even from beyond black hole. Pleeeeasse...

In Nolan movies, we have come to expect a reveal in the end. A reveal that is mind boggling. But in interstellar, there was no reveal in the end. There is just relief.
Plain relief.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2014

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Ciejay and Malcolm, wish all our friends and family a very , very ,Happy Thanksgiving Day ,  remember to save me a wish bone, and remember the Bible say's "Be Ye Thankful.                             2014




                    We love you all

Uber Taxi App Now Available in Thailand

I figure this is worth a mention, although from reading around the internet it seems that Uber and other app-based taxi services like GrabTaxi have their fans and haters too! These apps have been around a while - Uber started in the USA in 2011 and already started in Bangkok in 2014. I know that in Europe there have been protests from established taxi services who claim these apps to be illegal, I am not sure 100% how they work in different countries, but in Phuket which has had all kinds of taxi problems for years, I would say anything that adds a new option has to be good, even if the prices don't go down yet. Phuket taxi fares tend to be quite high, especially for shorter trips. Doesn't really look like Uber is cheaper, but it's the way it works that might be useful for some people especially if you have used it before in other places.

Taxi choices for most visitors to Phuket currently extend to tuk tuks and normal taxis. There has been plenty of work done in the last year to take illegal taxis off the streets (like a car parked outside your hotel with a cardboard "taxi" sign on the roof). There was a big drive to make sure all local taxi drivers are registered and insured and have the proper licence. Official taxis should also have the drivers name on the door. There are also some meter taxis, mostly doing airport runs, but very few around the beach areas where "taxi mafia" groups have long controlled certain areas. Again earlier this year using military authority there was a big crackdown on the taxi gangs with quite a few arrests being made. The arrival of something like Uber seems good to me.

Uber is an app you can download to your phone/iPad or PC, but it needs to be able to read your location, as the app connects you do the taxi, so the driver knows exactly where you are and you can see where the driver is, plus you can check your location as you are driving, very useful in a new place! You can sign up online here (the link is https://get.uber.com/invite/uberjamiesphuket), which includes a special promo code for a discount on your first ride. If you download the app, enter the promo code uberjamiesphuket. I have checked out the app, but have no particular need to use it here in Phuket since I live here and have my own transport. Need a holiday now to another location where Uber is online so I can try it!

Here's a screenshot from my phone (below), what you see when you are using Uber. You can choose a pickup location and see where Uber registered vehicles are located. I have selected a location on the beach road in Patong and can see 3 different cars available.



You then set the pick up location and tells you the estimated time for pick up and you can get a fare estimate for where you want to get to or enter a promo code. Then you hit the Request Uber button (See below).



Seems very simple. When you sign up for Uber you select a payment option - credit card or Paypal are options. I chose PayPal. No cash needed. Apparently cash is not an option. Some people like that, some people still like cash! No need to tip either, although I guess that depends on you. If you check the Uber Phuket page, it says (in the small print) "No need to tip". There's a flat rate 950 Baht to the airport from anywhere which is cheaper than local taxis charge in Karon or Kata, so a tip might be OK!

Oh, so how does it work? I wondered that too, so I met Warren, the Uber representative for Phuket and had lunch and a chat. So it's not just any old taxis or "some guy with a car". Uber does not employ drivers. It's local taxi drivers who sign up for the app themselves to be drivers. Not all are accepted. Uber wants nice, friendly, well dressed divers with nice cars like a Toyota Camry or Fortuna or Honda Civic. They started with a few limo drivers and it seems word of mouth helps spread the word among the drivers. So you can be sure all drivers are legal. Uber is not their job, just another way for them to get customers, not just hanging around on a street corner or outside a hotel shouting "taxi!" at anyone passing by. I'm not quite clear how Uber makes much money out of this arrangement though! Surely the lions share of the fare goes to the driver?

Anyway, I hope I have a chance to try Uber myself sometime. There is one other important point - after taking a ride with an Uber taxi you can leave feedback and a rating for the driver. Warren told me that if drivers get a few bad ratings, they get removed from the app. That should ensure that only the nice polite drivers are available on Uber. Of course many Phuket taxi drivers are very nice. We have a nice guy outside our dive shop most days called Mr Teep. But people's experiences with taxis and tuk tuks in Phuket are mixed - I wrote about this earlier this year - see Phuket Taxis and Tuk Tuks - Your Opinions. I reckon Uber might well be used here by people who already use it and maybe if you have not tried it, give it a go! Just to repeat - you can sign up online here or if you download the app, enter the promo code uberjamiesphuket. Either way gets a discount on the first ride. Good luck to Uber. Something new is needed in Phuket. Ideally I'd like to see more buses, especially I'd like to see bus services between the beaches (there are not any right now), but anything that challenges the status quo will do!

Update November 2015 - Looks like Uber is no longer operating in Phuket. They are still in Bangkok.

Dutch-Way Family Restaurant, Myerstown, PA Once More

I want to start right off saying that this article is about the Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Myerstown, PA which is NOT the Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, PA which I have written so complimentary about many times now. Myerstown is not in Lancaster County. It is north of Lancaster County nearer to I-78. We are in this area once a year and for the past three years we have gone to this

New Viewpoint at Khao Rang Hill

Something new and rather good has happened at Rang Hill on the north side of Phuket Town. A new viewpoint has been built! Maybe not a huge deal, since Rang Hill has always had a decent view, but it's been done very nicely and with a platform extending out to the south of the hill beyond the tree cover, so the view is now much better and you can see pretty much all of Phuket Town, plus all the way across to Chalong Bay and the hills to the west including the Big Buddha. We've been up Rang Hill countless times and it's been blogged several times, most recently in 2013 (see Rang Hill in Phuket Town). Not much had changed up there for many years. A twisty road heading up from town (actually several twisty roads from different directions) and the well known Tunk Ka Cafe which has been there for .. well, it's been there longer than I've been in Phuket. A new restaurant called Khao Rang Breeze was completed a few years ago (we've not eaten here) and now there are more monkeys than there used to be.

And now .. this new viewpoint is complete :

New Viewpoint at Rang Hill in Phuket Town

Nice! You walk under a white pavilion to reach this open area. When we saw the building going on we thought the pavilion would be like a view tower, but there's no steps to take you up to the upper levels, although it does have a balcony and looks totally like something to be ascended. Someone mix up the building plans somewhere?

Tower / Pavilion at the Rang Hill Viewpoint

(above) Tower / Pavilion at the Rang Hill Viewpoint. Photo by Dawn in Phuket.

Rang Hill is not exactly a tourist attraction. But it's easy to find and with the nice views and places to eat, worth a look if you are exploring around Phuket Town. We stopped at the weekend to check out the new viewpoint and it was all local people up there. And as my daughter noticed, most of them were taking selfies. It's well built and certainly adds to Rang Hill. We did not stop for food on this particular day. We have eaten at Tunk Ka Cafe many times and we also mean to try the Rang Hill View restaurant which is half way up the hill. The Breeze restaurant is a little pricier.

Previously, the view from Rang Hill was more limited looking southwest towards Chalong and the Big Buddha. There were snatches of views to the south from Tunk Ka, looking through the trees, but now with this viewing platform you get a view spanning more than 180 degrees and I think it looks great.

View from Rang Hill, Phuket Town

(above) View from Rang Hill. You can see a full size version here. It was just about possible to see Phi Phi in the distance (nearly 50km away to the southeast). Most of Phuket Town is visible, you can see south to Cape Panwa, southwest to Chalong and (visible on the right side of the top photo of the viewpoint) west to the hills including the Big Buddha and Radar Hill.

Now I need to visit again around sunset time! I think this viewpoint has been done really well. Good job, Phuket municipality! We were just in Hua Hin last month and they have built several viewpoints on top of the hill (Khao Hin Lek Fai) to the west of the town. This viewpoint at Rang Hill certainly rivals Hua Hin. I'll try to get up again soon for a sunset.

More Phuket Viewpoints

Khao Kad Viewpoint
The "3 Beaches" Viewpoint
Phromthep Cape

Little Know Fact about the railroad that runs thru our little village

A STORY OF INTEREST FOR THE TOURIST TO WANG PHO
RAILCAR # 2512

THE RAILCAR OF DEATH

OUR TRAIN STATION AT WHANG PHO



There has been lots of BOOKS and articles written about the famous Bridge on the River Kwai and the Thai-Burma Railway built by POWs and a lot of Asian slave labor , during the Japanese occupation of Thailand during WW II , or as the books and the tourist call it the Death Railroad .After the war the Thai government assigned the officials of the Thai railways to explore the possibility of using what was left of the Thai -Burma railroad for use during peacetime as a means of transportation for the Thai people. One of the little know facts is that it was a death railroad in war and in peace, as some of the inspectors were killed in a tragic accident while inspecting one of the viaducts, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves . I hope you remember these folks too ,when you think of the railroad or when you take a ride or visit the site. Just a little know fact your information . Malcolm