Archive for February, 2015

BBC News: Singapore at 50: From swamp to skyscrapers

February 28, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog apologises. I suggested that you click the link for the Singapore story but my computer decided it would be better to just delete it and make me look stupid. Not the first time this has happened! Please click the link below!


Singapore at 50: From swamp to skyscrapers

February 28, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog spent a year in Singapore (1970). My sister was born there. It was an interesting time. American warriors on R&R from Vietnam were rowdy and I remember watching some of them sticking newspapers in their butts and setting fire to them. My mother tried to steer me away from that sort of sight.

Wouldn’t happen now, of course.

The first house we checked looked really nice. My mother managed three minutes, nearly vomited and fled. Never went back. She said it was full of ghosts. Later we learned that the Japanese Kempeitai (their vile military police) had used it as an interrogation centre and among other horrors Chinese nurses had been strung up from the trees and left to dangle like decorations.

Our next house was a happier spot. It had a banana tree! That was seriously exciting. The bananas were small, green, tasted sharp and the only thing to do with them was leave them well alone. My brother, Charles, and I organized ant farms and drove my mother barmy by laying trails of sugar to see if they’d follow. The kitchen was never short of ants! We had a charmed life and next door there was a kampong. You’ll see what that looks like in the attached story. I liked it. Smelly. Busy. They ate our dog, Perky, which was a bit of a shame. And they shouldn’t have.

My brother and I were briefly kidnapped. There was some peculiar stuff going on in 1970. Poison poured into soft drink bottles left for random children to pick up. And kidnappings. Our kidnapper lost his nerve – he was a twitchy looking chap, took us to a camera shop, drove around and then brought us back. Not to the house. That would have been dumb. But to the street.

A lot of memories from my Singapore childhood days. All still vivid. I didn’t know that the country was shrugging off the Brits, in the process of complete reinvention. I was only six going on seven years old.

I’ve been back to Singapore many times since then. It has changed, keeps changing. But it has strange patches here and there that haven’t changed at all. It’s haunted by both good and bad. Mummy saw ghosts in that house or felt them. I was in the Raffles Hotel Long Bar. I thought I saw a tiger. There was one once, it snuck in from Malaya and took up temporary residence under the billiards table. My tiger was a trick of the light. But Singapore’s light can sometimes play tricks like that.

Lee, the founding father of Singapore, is currently on his death bed. Tomorrow might be his last. I If not tomorrow, the day after.

The story, that I hope you will read and enjoy, isn’t like mine own. It’s more interesting! An Indian adventure, new lives, a history of Singapore from an immigrant’s perspective. I found it entrancing, evocative, and clever. Apart from the title. Swamp! Give me a break! Singapore wasn’t a swamp. That will be an editor messing with perfection. Editors have mauled many of my stories with their headlines. One of the worst was “From Sea Turtles to Encaustic Tourists.” My friends asked me if I was feeling OK and what encaustic meant. I really couldn’t tell them. Still not sure actually. I’ll check my dictionary tomorrow!

I digress!

Click on the link and enjoy a very good story. Photos aren’t that shabby either!

Wild Open Eye : New post The best camera is the one you have with you. The latest review of the Sony RX100 MkIII by Andy Luck. Is this the compact camera to rival a DSLR?

February 28, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is forwarding the latest from wildlife photographer and film maker, Andy Luck. Of interest to anybody who likes cameras! Not for the selfie crowds, and the selfie crowds in Bangkok come in epic proportions! When did this plague begin? But it’s a thoughtful review for people who take meaningful photos.

Cheers from Bangkok!


From: Wild Open Eye – Natural Vision, News from Wild Open Eye []
Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2015 6:49 PM
Subject: [New post] The best camera is the one you have with you. The latest review of the Sony RX100 MkIII by Andy Luck. Is this the compact camera to rival a DSLR?

wildopeneye posted: "SonyRX100MkIIIforOP"

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The best camera is the one you have with you. The latest review of the Sony RX100 MkIII by Andy Luck. Is this the compact camera to rival a DSLR?

by wildopeneye


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China Suspends Carved African Elephant Ivory Imports

February 27, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is delighted to hear that the ivory trade has received another well-deserved kick in the cobblers. Thailand is joining in. With the military in charge we are likely to see some results. End of April, anybody not registering their ivory will face jail terms and fines. Bangkok’s jails are harsh, ghastly.

Why trade five years of your life in hell because you wanted some money and a long way down the line an elephant was killed?

It bemuses me. Really does.

If China gets serious then this is important. It might even offer hope!


From: Raul Arce-Contreras []
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2015 4:12 AM
Subject: China Suspends Carved African Elephant Ivory Imports



China Suspends Carved African Elephant Ivory Imports

Decision applauded by Humane Society International, which encourages China to implement a permanent ban

(Feb. 26, 2015)—In response to the Chinese government’s announcement that it will suspend the importation of carved African elephant ivory effective until Feb. 26, 2016, Iris Ho, director of wildlife for Humane Society International, issued the following statement:

“This announcement is an encouraging signal that the Chinese government is ratcheting down the import of African elephant ivory into the country. We are hopeful that more meaningful actions are being considered by the leadership and relevant government agencies of China that will further strengthen the country’s efforts on combating the elephant poaching and ivory trafficking crisis. We also encourage China and other countries to permanently ban domestic ivory trade and destroy all confiscated ivory stockpiles.”


Media contact:

Iris Ho is available for interview and comment by contacting:

Raul Arce-Contreras, rcontreras +1 240.620.3263

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at


If you would rather not receive future communications from Humane Society International, let us know by clicking here.
Humane Society International, 2100 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037 United States

Andre Again! : Drink

February 26, 2015

From: Andre Gast []
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2015 5:15 PM
To: Brigitte Alpers; Hayley Allen; Hugh Paxton
Subject: Drink

Kind regards

Andre Gast

PO Box 9665 | 6 Trift Street
Windhoek | Namibia
Tel | +264 61 236 716
Cell | +264 (0)81 251 6339
Fax2Email | 088 643 723
Fax | +264 237 252
Email | imagine1

Festival of India in Thailand

February 26, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog suggests if you like Indian antics and lively jollifications give this lot a go.

I have to hand it to the India Cultural Centre – they really make an effort and no visit is time wasted. Exciting actually!

The British, by sad contrast, haven’t invited me to anything. Ever. Because, despite having an embassy bigger than anything else in Bangkok apart from Lumpini Park, they really don’t want to be bothered by people. British, anybody. I’ve a friend in the Foreign Office. He said that he wished British people didn’t travel. “They shouldn’t go. They get into trouble and it causes no end of problems and snags.”

Probably does.

But a British cultural evening might be nice!

Until then the Indians have it!

India: One

Great Britain: Nil



From: Indian Cultural Centre Bangkok []
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2015 3:24 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Festival of India in Thailand

Dear friends,

Please find attached posters for FESTIVAL OF INDIA IN THAILAND

All events are free.

Please RSVP for DAKSHA SETH DANCE performance on 13th March as there are limited seats. This will enable us to keep a seat/seats for you.

S. No Date Time Event Venue
1 10th MARCH (Tuesday) 6:30 p.m. RAGHU DIXIT – World Music Concert Open Air Concert

Central World Mall

2 13th MARCH


6:30 p.m. DAKSHA SETH – Dance Performance Aksra Theatre
3 22nd MARCH


3:00 p.m. RAJASTHAN JOSH & FUN FAIR Thammassat University

Embassy of India,


Tel: 02-2580300/05 (Extn. 159/112)

RSVP: rsvp2015

A must for teachers and students interested in human welfare and the environment: ParkTalk Series — Protected Areas and Development just released

February 25, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog suggests this lot is well worth watching. Free, to the point, informative and each talk is short and makes sense. I think this series should be used by teachers world wide to bring experts and opinions into the classroom. Without the bother and expense of inviting them.

From: Midori Paxton []

ParkTalk series is launched!

Subject: Launching ParkTalk Series — Protected Areas and Development
Importance: High

Dear Colleagues,

Like me, you must often watch TED Talks –perhaps covering your work areas or on other topics of personal interest.

Now UNDP is proud to launch the ParkTalk Series – a collection of 71 professionally filmed and edited videos from selected sessions at the 4th World Parks Congress (WPC) held in Sydney in November 2014, available on YouTube.

We have 43 presentations and 6 plenary videos in the line-up by prominent presenters from a large number of different organisations around the world, telling us their stories. We also have 22 interview videos with eminent individuals.

Each video is short on average 9 minutes, allowing us and people all over the world to get new ideas and learn about global efforts for making protected area work for people and nature.

The playlist view will allow you to see the videos under different themes.

I strongly suggest watching them in your own time. I assure you that a 10-minute investment in this will have a payoff.

Warm regards,

Nik Sekhran

Nik Sekhran

Director/ Chief of Profession -Sustainable Development

Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

United Nations Development Programme

304 East 45th Street

Room FF-982

New York, USA, NY 10017

email: nik.sekhran

Phone: + 1 212 906 5020

Cell Phone: + 1 6462473726 Follow us:

Andre’s Bit: Morality Test

February 25, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog found this one a bit of a poser. Give it a go!

From: Andre Gast []


Read to the end before making a judgement.

This test only has one question, but it’s a very important one.

By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally.

The test features an unlikely fictional situation, in which you will have to make a decision.

Remember that your answer needs to be honest and spontaneous.

Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line.


You are in London. There is chaos all around you, caused by a storm with severe flooding. This is a flood of biblical proportions.

You are a photo-journalist working for a major newspaper, and you’re caught in the middle of this epic disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless.

You’re trying to shoot career-making photos. There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing into the water. Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury.


Suddenly, you see a man in the water. He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris.

You move closer. Somehow, the man looks familiar.

You suddenly realise who it is.

It’s the Muslim Cleric, Abu Hamza, the one-eyed, hook handed bastard who hates non-Muslims and wants the UK to become an Islamic state.

You notice that the raging waters are about to take him under forever.

You have TWO options:

You can save the life of Abu


You can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the country’s most despised, evil and powerful men.



Would you select high contrast colour film, high density full colour digital or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?

My lunch and Why I think Vietnamese should eat my dog

February 25, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has a beagle. Its name is Buggly.

They say a dog is not for Christmas. It’s for life.

What they don’t say is that everybody who loves the dog is at school and is too tired to walk it when they come back and are grumpy, or they are at work or in Bhutan and the poor bastard who has to live with the dog and is working at home is stuck with it.

Here is what happened to my lunch. I won’t bother you with the wanton canine destruction that has mutilated all my furniture and chewed even my most treasured possessions into splinters and ruin.

My lunch!

A carefully prepared lunch consisting of crisp, perfect toast – I mean PERFECT toast! – topped with just a kiss of butter then a virile application of very expensive German liver pate (chunky in places, soft and melting in others and very well- seasoned) topped with watercress, fresh tomato delicately sliced, a pinch of mixed herbs, and some Sichuan black pepper (buy it if you see it, it’s got fizz!) and a squeeze of lemon juice, just a tiny encounter with dry Martini. And on a bed of fresh greens enlivened by frisky capers with that lovely vinegar tang and moody but memorable pitted black olives and, to add that, an romantic touch of distant South American wave battered shores, an anchovy.

What does the beagle do? It waits until some git rings the doorbell and the questing hound quietly enters the house and gulps the whole lot down in one. Then it breaks the plate looking for more.

In Vietnam they know what to do with dogs. Apparently it’s very healthy. But only at the end of the month. Eat dogs prematurely it is just plain bad luck.

There has just been a crash, again, and it’s there, my brunch. On the floor. And it has been worried at and slaughtered and there the dog is – looking eager, tongue out, ears flicking, love me, love me! Feed me! Feed me!

Why do people like dogs? Because they are more responsive than gold fish, wives, lovers, husbands or orchids? Because they are friends?

I don’t want to make friends with a bloody beagle! More of this behavior and Buggly’s looking at a bus for Hanoi!

In a box. With three hundred fellow howlers for company. And four broken legs.

Happens all the time. All the time.

Hugh from Bangkok


Love to you all from us all in Bangkok!

From: Jane [mailto:beechtree1]
Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 5:01 AM
To: Hugh Paxton; Charles Paxton
Subject: GERALD

Terrific story
..we re-read it and the boys were howling for chapter 4 but they will get that tomorrow! I encouraged Farve across for it and he enjoyed it too.
We have had sickness and a tricky few.days but recovering.
I would like to write a story for Annabel when I get some time…I will try and get started tomorrow, even if it’s just a paragraph!Love Jane xxxx

Charlie’s Brighton Biogasser blog is back …! And Colombian drug cartels and William.C.Rempel of the LA Times. And hippos.

February 25, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is very glad to see Charlie Clarke back in the blogging business! He’s what I would call a good sort, ethical, gentlemanly, thoughtful and he left me with half a ton of books when he decided that life in England might be more suitable for his family than life in Bangkok. He urged me to read all the books and I have failed him in that regard. There are still one or two left to go.

But I’ll get there.

I’m currently reading “At the Devil’s Table” by William C. Rempel, an LA Times reporter. It’s a rather vivid, fiercely honest look into to the Cali and Escobar cartels. Colombia. Drugs. Huge amounts of money, wild plans, manic behavior, careful planning, silly bombs, air crashes, assassinations, paranoia, British mercenaries wrecking hotel bedrooms and fighting each other and FARC communist terrs, corruption, hatred, sentimentality, blood lust and affection. Also hippos.

Escobar’s hippos escaped from his private zoo after he was done and dusted by his opponents. Apparently they are breeding well and there is some debate about what to with them. They are an invasive species.

My daughter thinks hippos will add interest to Colombia and are unlikely to multiply beyond the occasional pond or creek or major river. She also thinks putting them in a zoo would stifle their style.

I think she’s right. We can become a bit unworldly when it comes to invasive species. Should all America’s horses be returned to their rightful place of origin? And taking the idea a step further should people be shipped back to their homelands. I can’t think of a more destructive invasive alien species than humans.

But I digress! The point of this blog is to re-introduce Charlie Clarke to the blogging world!

Here he is! And very modest!

Dear friends, family and blog-followers old and new!

Some of you may know – even remember – that I used to write blogs. One or two of you even have read them, and my Uncle Peter actually used to really enjoyed them … apparently (though he is ever such a polite person so I can’t be totally sure…!)

Anyway, after a rather protracted absence from the blogosphere, I’m staging a comeback. Why? For therapeutic purposes more than anything, really. And because it’s one of my new year’s resolutions…

So … here’s is a link to a new post which is on the Brighton Biogasser blog site : Birthday cards and the end of the letterbox? If you’ve nothing better to do, have a read and (hopefully) enjoy … !

I plan to send out the occasional email with any new blogs via this email, but don’t worry, they will only be occasional, and this email only replies to me (it’s not a circular!). But if you don’t want them you can always unsubscribe below, or drop me a line … I really won’t be offended!

All the best!


charlie clarke


email: charlie.clarke


twitter: @biogasser

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