Holed Up In Haad Rin

Last Tuesday was the night of the Full Moon Party here in Haad Rin. We wandered along late at night to see what this world-famous event was like. I must admit that we both feared it was going to be lots of really dodgy trance music, but we were pleasantly surprised.

People had been arriving on the island in droves for the past couple of days, and more arrived by speedboat from Samui on the night of the party.

The whole of Sunrise beach was packed with thousands of people; many dancing, some just walking about or sitting on the sand talking and taking in the atmosphere. The scene was lit by lights from the bars and the bright light of the full moon.

A number of the bars and bungalow operations were providing the music which varied from the trance we expected through to hip-hop, drum’n’bass and even some rock. Everyone seemed really relaxed and happy and we didn’t see any of the drunken aggression usually associated with large events.

We sat on the beach for a while watching people having fun and did a tour of the beach to check out the music. As we were both knackered we didn’t go dancing but both agreed that if we make it back to KPN at some point we’d like to make more of the party.

The reason that we were so tired was that we’ve been going to the gym; the Jungle Gym to be precise. We started on the 18th and have been everyday apart from two (the first Sunday because we could hardly move for aching muscles, and the day after the Full Moon Party when the gym is closed).

The first session we had instruction from Mel, one of the gym staff, and the shock of doing exercise made me sick. Been fine since then though, and we’re both getting fitter. The gym doesn’t have that horrible competitiveness that you find in a lot of gyms at home; it’s much more friendly and relaxed with a variety of cats and dogs wandering about the equipment. They do Muay Thai (Thai boxing) training there too but we’re happy to watch that rather than participating.

Last Friday, after an early gym session we caught the boat over to Samui for the day. We had some shopping to do and fancied a day away from Koh Phangan. Vic bought herself a French course. We restocked on magazines (found the June edition of MacWorld and spent so much money in Boots that they gave us a free T-shirt!

We had to get the boat back at 6:30 and by then the sky was looking rather ominous with big black clouds heading our way. The boat wasn’t the usual Haad Rin Queen, but another one with, thankfully, a larger covered seating area. Not many people of the boat as we set off with the wind picking up. As we left the cover of Big Buddha beach the boat started to pitch and roll. This became more violent as the journey progressed and several people went outside to be sick. Watching the horizon through the doorway, there were a few times when the boat pitched so alarmingly that the sky disappeared altogether. Vic and I hung on grimly and were very relieved when we reached the safety of Haad Rin pier.

Apart from that it’s the endless tedium of “Get Up, Have Breakfast, Lounge About, Have Swim, Have Snack, Go To Gym, Have Dinner, More Lounging, Go To Bed”. Still, it’s life of a kind :)

Same Same But Different

Finally getting things sorted with the new blog software I switched for two main reasons:

  • MovableType version 3 had increased licensing restrictions so that the free version would only support one blog (pretty much)
  • The comment spam problem had caused me to close off all comments on the blog and there were a couple of good Captcha-based plugins for WordPress

I started off by exporting the stuff from my MovableType blog, and then set up a local copy of WordPress on my Powerbook. With that in place I could import the MovableType export. That worked well with a slight problem related to the Textile 2 post formatting plugin for WP which didn’t use the same syntax for images as the version for MT. WP and its plugins are written in PHP whereas MT is written in Perl. With a bit of fiddling I managed to make Textile 2 for WP handle the images in my old blog posts.

After that it was just a case of getting the templates and style-sheets right and installing one of the Captcha comment plugins.

It was easy to get the style-sheets working nicely with Firefox and Safari as both are pretty close to the standards regarding CSS, but Internet Explorer proves to be more of a challenge. It has a problem with the Box Model of layout that CSS uses and plays fast and loose with positioning and margins. Even better than that, the Mac implementation of IE (version 5) reacts very differently to way Windows IE 6 treats the same code.

Offline I only have a Mac to test stuff on, but have Virtual PC with Windows XP running inside that. VPC has an issue with OS X Tiger so that it won’t run in Virtual Switched Network mode, only shared network mode, so I can’t reach the web server running on the Mac from the virtual PC also running on the Mac. Instead to test the layout I have to save a copy of the page tothe shared directory using Firefox on the Mac, then open it using IE on the PC. All a bit tedious. I also don’t have access to all the info on the IE bugs which are available online.

I do have a spidered copy of most of the WP documentation which has proved very useful. Having all the documentation online is great for making sure that its all current etc, but does cause a problem if, like me, you have to pay for internet time. Maybe an automated daily package could be compiled for people who want to read the docs offline?

I’ve used some Apache rewrite rules to redirect links to my old MT pages to the equivalent WP entries so that Google etc should still find them.

I had the devil’s own trouble getting either of the two Captcha comment plugins to work. One required PHP to be compiled with GDlib and FreeType, the other needed ImageMagick with FreeType. Neither the PHP I had built nor the ImageMagick were suitable. I rebuilt PHP with the required modules but still didn’t get AuthImage to work, so have now (I hope) built ImageMagick as required by SecureImage instead. I left the compilation going on yesterday when I left the Internet cafe so we’ll see how it is when I get back there to upload this blog entry.
Update: It didn’t work, but a bit of tweaking means that comments are now working. Woohoo!

Some pros and cons for WordPress vs MovableType…


  • Built-in link handling
  • Fully Open Source
  • Easily extendable
  • Well documented and commented code.


  • Every page generated dynamically so slower than the static pages used by MT.
  • Some built-in tags are a bit restrictive.
  • Documentation only online

Sorry if you’re using IE

I’m testing out WordPress to run my blog and haven’t had time to fix the mess that IE makes of the page formats.

They display fine if you’re using Safari or Firefox.

Managed to import all my old blog postings though…

Still a few bits that don’t work (like comments!), but I’ll work on those.

(The comment page asks you for a code from the image, but there isn’t a code… yet).

Back once again to Koh Phangan

Well, we thought we’d be able to find somewhere sensible to stay in Chaweng on Samui, but after a couple of days we decided that we weren’t keen that keen on the town so went to Koh Phangan for a look round.

View from our bungalow

We found the very nice Sarikantang which has a swimming pool, decent restaurant and did a discount as we’re staying for quite a while.

Uploaded the pictures from Penang and Langkawi in Malaysia , and some from Koh Phangan

Musings from Malaysia

We’re now in Langkawi, having spent a week on Penang.

In Penang we stayed in Georgetown for a few days at the Hotel Malaysia, which was okay, the air-con was on full blast all the time and the hotel seemed to have a mosquito problem, but it was well positioned for the town. Did a bit of software and DVD shopping in the Prangin Mall by the Komtar tower (the 4th floor can provide most recent films on DVD for RM8, just over a quid).

We also visited Fort Cornwallis and a few other local sights as well as enjoying some local food in the many restaurants nearthe hotel.

We spent a few days at Ali’s Guesthouse on Batu Ferringhi. Not very impressed with Batu F., full of high-rise hotels, thin strip of beach, poor shopping etc. Stayed at the Hotel Continental (next door to the Malaysia) on the way back to Georgetown before heading for Langkawi.

We came to Langkawi by ferry (2.5 hours, RM40 each) last Thursday and we’re staying at Melati Tenjung, in a simple hut with air-con (RM75/night).

We’ve been up to Kuah, the main town on the island, and yesterday visited the cable car (RM15 each) and Underwater World (RM38 each) (pictures to follow).

I’ve been trying to keep up with things in the tech world. Apple have announced they’re switching to Intel CPUs over the next two years. A bit annoying given that I just bought a new Powerbook, but I suspect they’ll be supporting the old CPUs for a while yet. What did surprise me a little was how ready they are for the switch, having already released developer tools which produce dual binaries, PowerPC-emulation software for Intel, and OS X 10.4.1 and iApps ready to run.

Some people probably hoped they’d be able to run OS X on their own PC hardware but Apple seem to think that won’t be happening:-

‘However, [Apple Senior Vice President Phil] Schiller said the company does not plan to let people run Mac OS X on other computer makers’ hardware. “We will not allow running Mac OS X on anything other than an Apple Mac.” ‘

I’d guess that means that the new Intel-based Macs will be OpenBoot firmware rather than PC BIOS. Maybe Microsoft will develope Windows for Intel Mac? Not likely though… they didn’t sustain Windows for non-Intel architecture CPUs for very long.

New Xcode to download to develop software for the Mac… 760MB. In an internet cafe… oh joy!

Tomorrow we’re getting a ferry and bus (and another ferry) and going back to Samui where we’re thinking of holing up for a month. Tickets already booked for flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching in Sarawak (Borneo), and KL to Bali.