Bangkok is known as the Venice of the East and its Thai name translates as City of the Angels

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Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday afternoon at the track

After brunch this morning, a bunch of us took off to the Royal Turf Club to place a few bets on the ponies. Local knowledge definitely won out, the horses the locals seemed to be in favor of nearly always weren't the ones that we thought looked best on paper. In the last race I put 100 baht on #12 for John (who didn't make it out but wanted to get in on the action), and 100 on #7 for myself in one last ditch shot for victory. Coming into the stretch #12 had a decent lead but somehow by the finish line my horse managed to pass him up for the win. I got a big 220 baht, turned out he was the heavy favorite though when I bet on him the odds were substantially larger. Somebody got wise at the end. At least I walked out with a win!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Quick trip to Khao Yai

Dung and I took a road trip up to Khao Yai close by the National Park for a quick weekend. Monday's a holiday so we went up Sunday night as the place we stayed at was a little too pricey for two nights... We stayed at Kirimaya which is right on the fringes of the Park and a great hotel in the middle of the jungle. We got in and immediately got on our bikes (first time we actually loaded them on the car) and wandered around rural Thailand for a couple hours. The great thing about Thailand is the countryside is beautiful and the roads are first-rate, we got in some fabulous scenery and had a good two hours out. Followed that up with a big fish at a local restaurant (plus four other dishes), then next day a little practice chipping and putting on the practice green at the resort's golf club, some time at the pool then back out for another hour ride around some of the vineyards in the area. We packed a lot into the weekend, but could have done even more. Probably the last time we'll be through that way, however.....

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Pillows

We stopped by a cute store the other day and saw these pillow cases. They didn't fit our pillows so we had to buy some new pillows, too, really big ones. We'd had some pillows like these in our hotel in Hua Hin a few weeks ago so were pretty happy to get the pillows. But we really just wanted the pillow cases!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Songkran in Pranburi

Songkran is Thai New Year and we got three days off from work this week for the holiday. The official new year is January 1 like pretty much everybody else, but the holiday is still Thailand's biggest for the year. For the last two years we've taken the opportunity to travel and get outside the country, the first time to Beijing and Tokyo, and last year we headed home for a couple weeks. This time I wanted to see what it was like in Thailand so we stuck around, though at the last minute decided to head to Pranburi, a few hours SW of Bangkok on the beach. Great place and not too bad a price for the place considering the big holiday and booking it just two days before we took off on the biggest travel weekend of the year. We had a great pool and spent a lot of time hanging out there.

The best day was on Monday when we rented a motorbike and drove around. We got out into the countryside and drove around, including driving through some pretty immense mango plantations. The area is known for pineapples, too, and we saw a lot driving in but none while on the bike. Later we drove along the beach and promptly got drenched by everyone throwing water and shooting massive squirt guns. Songkran is a water festival, which started as a means of respect, pouring water over the hands of elders and so on. But somehow in recent years it's just turned into a nationwide water fight. Everybody's got either a pail of water or a super soaker. We stopped by a roadside stand, bought our own big gun and filled it up with water, then went cruising up and down the beach on our motorbike hitting everybody along the way. Everybody wanted to hit the farang, but were usually pretty surprised when they got hit back. Getting wet's good luck so it's all in good fun, people are happy to get soaked and happy to soak you, too. No pictures of that, however, couldn't risk the camera!

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Little Red Dot

It's official, this summer we'll be moving down to Singapore for a three-year stint with the US Embassy there. I got my official orders today so now begins all the other hullabaloo and paperwork to get us out of here in June, back to the U.S. for home leave and training, then back to Singapore by mid-July. I'll be heading up the econ unit there which is actually pretty small considering that Singapore is one of our top trading partners. But the Sings are so on top of their game that few problems come up to deal with. Singapore gets slighted as being "Asia-lite" or "Asia for beginners" but we always loved the place. Not just because the place works and is nice, but it's also culturally diverse with great food and all sorts of history. We're more than happy to spend a few years there!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A requiem for Mr. Black

Mr. Black, aka Mono, died this evening. Over the past month or so he'd almost stopped eating and had dropped from six kilos down to about three. He was otherwise normal, just lost interest in eating. I took him to the vet about five times and they couldn't figure it out, the last time they thought it was probably renal failure, something with the kidneys, I guess. I dropped him off at the vet on Monday morning to have the cat dentist take a look at him, we thought it might be some problems with his teeth or jaw that was keeping him from eating. They held on to him for a couple nights to watch him, and he went downhill. I'll always feel sad that he died in the vet all alone.

He was a good cat. He meowed way too loud and non-stop. He could never get enough attention. Anyone willing to stop for a minute and pet him was a friend for life. He was almost twelve years old, which is old, but not necessarily past his prime. I got him in Mexico City where he'd been abandoned with two of his brothers as a kitten. He lived there, then in Ho Chi Minh City, Washington, DC and Virginia, and finally in Bangkok. He liked Virginia the best where he could go outside whenever he wanted and root around in bushes and chase birds and squirrels. During the summer he practically lived outside. He was an outdoor cat at heart who had to live inside most of his life, and I'm glad he got that chance to be a real cat at least for a few years.

Mr. White's still around and looking as good as ever. He eats mostly wet cat food now and has put on some weight. I'm not sure if he realizes Mr. Black's gone for good.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Shooting pool with a world champ

So David Greenberg and I were off shooting pool Friday night and David quietly points out that the guy in a red T-shirt and cargo shorts at the table next to us, looking like any other pool-shooting slacker, is none other than Ronnie Alcanto, 2006 world champ in nine-ball and 2007 champ in eight-ball. World champion. Just hanging out shooting pool in Bangkok. As an extra bonus, when we were trying to figure out how to set up a rack for a game called Rotation, he came over and showed us how to do it. So we got a world pool champion to rack the table for us.