A Trip to Phuket

28 March 2007
Friday, March 23rd, 2007
The plane took off from Suvanaphumi Airport at 8 o’clock in the morning and that started our journey to Phuket, an island province in the southern part of Thailand whose nick name is "the pearl of Andaman sea." It took approximately an hour on board and we arrived safe and sound at Phuket International Airport. In this trip, we traveled in a group of 5 people – 2 adults and 3 youngsters, thus it’s advisable to rent a car and drive freely around the island by ourselves. We ended up getting a compact black Honda Jazz for our trip and I was a driver. Even though I didn’t know the way around, I could easily take everyone to the hotel with the help of a map and good navigator. We stayed at Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa on Karon Beach in the west-southern part of the island in the Suit with a fantastic panoramic view of a sea and the area around the resort. After taking some rest, we decided to have a lunch around Patong area which was 20 minutes by a car. As it seemed that all parking spaces by the sea were always occupied, we ended up getting ourselves to the newly open department store called "Jungceylon" and ironically having "Burger King" as our late afternoon meal with Starbuck coffee. We did some shopping for snacks and drinks as the hotel’s minibar price-list was usually crazily high. As the night fell, we headed out to see friend of our trip organizer at his restaurant by the sea called "Kan Eang 2." The sea-food here was freshly delicious with excellent quality. We went back to the hotel not too late as tomorrow would be a big day for full-day excursion to Phi Phi island area

Saturday, March 24th, 2007
We woke up and prepared ourselves for a day-trip to Phi Phi island. We got on the van that took us to Chalong Bay on the south-eastern side of Phuket to board a speed-boat with some other 50 passengers – mostly foreigners. Just an hour off shore, we got to our first and most beautiful destinations of the day – Maya Beach. This is the place where Leonardo DiCaprio could get a hold of himself in the controversial movie "the Beach." Even though it was said that the movie set destroyed all natural beauties of the place, after Tsunami two years ago, the mother nature had cleaned the beach and Maya was getting more beautiful. The grains of sand is smooth like a baby-powder and the sea water is crystal clear. After admired the beauty of the beach, we went snorkeling nearly and then had our lunch on Phi Phi island. In the afternoon, we went to Kai island. Some took a nap, some played beach valley-ball while I swam and walked around this small island. This ended up our day-trip under the clear blue sky. At night after relaxing in the hotel for some times, we went back to Patong for dinner at Savouy restaurant. The night was young but it’s impossible to take a detour to one of those pubs and bars in Patong because we traveled with teen-agers. In the end, we came back to our hotel and watched the movie from the cable inside our room instead.

Sunday, March 25th, 2007
It’s raining all day long and we decided to stay inside the hotel. There were plenty of activities to do including visiting the Game room where you could relax and enjoy variety of classical board games or even played the PS2 console. Those who prefers in-door sports would be pleased to be able to play table-tennis and squash or even go to the fitness-center for working out. In the afternoon, we visited the hotel’s pool equipped with a spring-board. The rain stopped in the evening so we decided to have our dinner at the restaurant by the sea called "Danung" – no, it’s not Vietnamese Danung. This restaurant is in the same league as the place where we had our dinner on the first day when arriving Phuket. We should go to bed early as our plane would leave early on Monday morning.

Monday, March 26th, 2007
We woke up around 5 o’clock in the mooring and packed everything ready to go back home. The check out process of the hotel caused a tiny problem but we couldn’t  lose any minutes as we might miss the plane. Finally, I drove without looking at the speedometer and arrived at the airport just in time for boarding. With more hate, a youngster in our group forgot a PSP hand-held game-console in the rent car. Fortunately, the plane was delayed so I could retrieve what is lost thanks to the kindness of the stewards and ground-officers as well as security officers at Phuket International airport. The plane arrived at Suvanaphumi Airport around 9 o’clock in the morning and suddenly the members of our team (of 5) realized that one of big bag was missing. Fortunately, the bag was at Lost & Found counter in the Phuket airport  which could be retrieved by someone in Phuket. Hopefully, the bag was in the same condition.
This summarized the trip to Phuket. It’s exhausting yet enjoyable week-end trip. See you again, Phuket!

“Fadd” a.k.a. “Alone”

27 March 2007
After their first critically acclaimed horror feature "Shutter," here comes the second clever plot and character-driven hair-rising movie from the directorial duo Banjong Pisanthanakul and Pakpoom Wongpoom called "Alone" or "Fadd" which is a Thai word meaning twin. This time it’s a story about a Siamese twin. The twin girls with conjoined abdomen decide to get separated and one died while the other survived. After some exile abroad, the survivor came home only to realized that her dead twin wouldn’t let her to be alone…

The hype around the movie has started since the announcement of the production. It even sold before the shooting was completed. The main character starred by one of Thailand’s superstar – Masha Vadanapanich. After years of absence from the silver screen, she really makes a remarkable come back in the leading role in this film. Just watching a her intense facial expression in one of the teasers of the movie and you’ll probably agree with me and once you have watched the movie, you would definitely couldn’t agree more that Masha delivered a superb performance. I am certain that we would often hear her name again at the end of this year when the movie awards season begins again – not only from the nominations but also as a winner.

The story-line is original, at least for the movie of this genre. Even though some might argue that they have heard a horror story featuring a twin, there has never been a horror movie that centered around Siamese twin. The plot of this movie is well written. The scriptwriters did research the facts and crafted the story perfectly. There are spooky moments here and there and in the climax of the movie is a simple yet wonderful surprise that you might think to yourself why you think that way. The cinematography in the movie is fantastic and make the atmosphere in the film even more mysterious and suspicious. In fact, everything in the movie is fine for me except a grotesque look of a ghost – yeah there is ghost in the movie appearing in different forms but they all seem unreal to me.

All in all, the movie doesn’t fail my expectation. The duo directors as well as other cast and crews did their marvelous jobs. I will definitely list this film as one of the best movies of the year for me.

5 stars out of 5 – recommend to those horror movie fans out there. You won’t be disappointed.

Charlotte’s Web

18 March 2007
Based on a children’s book published in 1952 with the same name, written by an acclaimed American writer E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web tells a story of a remarkable cross-species friendship between a wise and gentle female barn spider named Charlotte and a small yet cheerful pig named Wilbur. It’s a popular book for both children and adult alike.

The movie doesn’t fail to capture the heart and soul of the lives of animals in the farms which somehow reflects human society. The unlikely friendship and promises kept by Charlotte and Wilbur are touching and serves well as a good lesson for children as well as grown-ups. Even though some might feel that reading a book could give them more imagination, the film and computer graphics could make the imagination comes to life. Memorable quotes from the book are kept and present themselves well in the movie, especially those of Charlotte’s. Also notable is Dakota Fanning’s role as Fern "the Pig Saver" Arable, a farm girl who saved Wilbur when he was born from being killed.

All in all, this is a perfect family movie adapted well from one of the greatest children’s books. Even though bringing a small child to the theater is not recommended, a younger viewer who could concentrate in the theater without bothering the crown deserves to watch the film. Morals of the story and lessons of life are enough for the reasons for them to enjoy the film.

5 Stars out of 5 – recommend to all, especially family to enjoy valuable time together.


10 March 2007

This movie is based on Frank Miller’s famous graphic novel, written in 1988, about 300 finest men of Spartan soldiers, led by the great King Leonidas, who sacrificed themselves for protecting their country against the force of the evil Persian empire.

The film is well directed, full of raw and fantastic action-packed battle scenes. Most of the shots in the movie are composed of superb computer graphics – making them looked somehow artistic yet realistic in a way that you could even feel the blood all across the screen, literally. Violence is a strong element in the movie and it drives the movie towards effectively. Those with fainted heart might have to cover their eyes with fear of blood and filthy creatures. Also remarkable is Gerard Butler’s portray of King Leonidas, which is wonderfully powerful as I still could recall his voice of "… tonight we dine in Hell!"

All in all, this is an epic wars movie full of notable violence. With straight-forward story-line and skillful editing, you would definitely enjoy the movie if you don’t mind a lot of blood and killing.

5 Stars out of 5 – recommend to those who feel that need to release the beast inside themselves. Please don’t bring a small children with you as it is too offensive for the younger viewers.

The Pursuit of Happyness

9 March 2007
Everyone might notice that the spelling of "happyness" in the title of this movie is wrong and I wondered why. After watching this film, you’ll understand and ask no more question. It wouldn’t bother me anymore. In fact, no matter how you spell the word, as long as the meaning is clear, you’ll get the message across.

This movie is inspired by a true story of Chris Gardner a millionaire who once had no money and no home and had to take care of his beloved 5 years old son. In the toughest moment of his life, he still struggle for a better change.

The film is truly inspirational. Will Smith did a marvelous job portraying a father who cares most for his son (both in real life and in the movie.) It’s no doubt why he got a nomination for Best Actor in the Leading Role at the 79th Annual Academy Awards. Even though the movie has a typical predictable Hollywood-style script with some dramatic and comedic moments mixing together, the movie will remain in someone’s heart with a reflection of the phrase "Never Give Up." Like an old saying goes: where there is a will, there is a way. There has always been a way for everyone to seek his own "happyness."

4 Stars out of 5 – recommend to everyone, especially those who lose their faith in life and work. Rekindle your spirit with this film.

บอดี้การ์ดหน้าเหลี่ยม 2 a.k.a. The Bodyguard 2

8 March 2007
No, this is not the sequel to Kevin Costner & Whitney Houston’s 1992 movie "The Bodyguard." Even though it bears the same English name, this is the prequel to Petchtai "Mum Jok-Mok" Wongkamlao’s 2005 smash-hit action-comedy "The Bodyguard." Yeah, that square-face bodyguard.

This time, we were taking back to what happened before we saw "Mum JokMok" running naked around the Victory Monument. It was when he served as a special agent at his homeland, the neighboring country to Thailand.

With this kind of movie, you shouldn’t expect too much about the plot and story-line. There is virtually none. All you could get is a few good laughs of (dirty) jokes and unbearable violence – gun-fires at will and dead villains one after another and bombing of cars and everything around.

Watch out for the cameo of "Tony Jaa" the sensation of Thai’s action movie star with his trademark phrase from Tom-Yum-Goong (The Protector) – "Where is my elephant?" I particularly like that scene and gags related to other Thai movies. The end credit is superb, you have to watch it by yourself to see what I meant. This is one of a few movies that the audience would definitely sit till the end credit rolled up.

1 Stars out of 5, recommend just for the laugh and nothing else. Don’t bring the children with you as there are too many violent and impolite scenes.

Music and Lyrics

5 March 2007
I walked into the theater without expecting much from this movie. It’s advertised as a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant as a washed up singer from the 80s and Drew Barrymore as a (not-so-young) woman who came out of nowhere to help him writing lyrics for his new song. As a matter of fact, the movie is indeed a romantic comedy with music and songs sound like the 80s added up with some up-to-date tunes. The plot is easily predictable and somehow unreasonable, but who cares! In the middle of typical Hollywood-style script, I found myself enjoying the movie with all funny elements and the songs and music that featured in the movie. It’s good for me not to think too much of the story-line and enjoy the weird but unbelievably good chemistry between Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. I am also amazed to learn that Hugh Grant could really sing and do it well as he performed all of his featured songs in the movie by himself. The duet of "Way Back to Love" is beautiful and as the name of the movie stated both Music and Lyrics should be in good combination otherwise a song wouldn’t turn out to be a song.

Watch carefully for the "pop-up" in the music video at the end credit. It’s really enjoyable.

4 stars out of 5 – recommend to everyone who loves music and enjoy a romantic-comedy movie. It’s worth a ticket just to listen to the music.
Way Back Into Love

I’ve been living with a shadow overhead
I’ve been sleeping with a cloud above my bed
I’ve been lonely for so long
Trapped in the past, I just can’t seem to move on
I’ve been hiding all my hopes and dreams away
Just in case I ever need em again someday
I’ve been setting aside time
To clear a little space in the corners of my mind
All I want to do is find a way back into love
I can’t make it through without a way back into love
Oh oh oh
I’ve been watching but the stars refuse to shine
I’ve been searching but I just don’t see the signs
I know that it’s out there
There’s got to be something for my soul somewhere
I’ve been looking for someone to shed some light
Not just somebody just to get me throught the night
I could use some direction
And I’m open to your suggestions
All I want to do is find a way back into love
I can’t make it through without a way back into love
And if I open my heart again
I guess I’m hoping you’ll be there for me in the end
There are moments when I don’t know if it’s real
Or if anybody feels the way I feel
I need inspiration
Not just another negotiation
All I want to do is find a way back into love
I can’t make it through without a way back into love
And if I open my heart to you
I’m hoping you’ll show me what to do
And if you help me to start again
You know that I’ll be there for you in the end