August 12-14, 2001
Today Thailand celebrates the 69th birthday of HM Queen Sirikit, and the newspapers are filled with tributes from various corporations. There is a wide variety in their selection of photos and drawings representing the Queen; these were apparently pulled from various events over a long span of years.
This afternoon I took one of the Chao Phraya ferries up the river. Leaving from the Oriental Pier, we criss-crossed the river on our upstream route. It was a very scenic trip, both for the special places like Wat Arun and the Royal Palace and for the various scenes of life along the river. We made about 12 to fifteen stops during the course of an hour or so. I deboated a couple stops before the end of the run, explored for a little bit, and then I got on a downstream boat. Eventually, we were back at the Oriental.
This trip, which took me through much of Bangkok, had a fare each way of eight baht. The whole round trip afternoon adventure therefore cost about 35 cents. Not bad for a couple hours' worth of great sightseeing!
Thailand's constitutional crisis appears to be winding down a bit for now. This is good, since I'd hate to abandon the country when it's in a state of turmoil. Of course, it is the weekend, and Mother's Day to boot, so perhaps that's why things have quieted somewhat. But Prime Minister Thaksin is declaring the episode over and moving on. He encourages everyone else to do the same. In fact, he now seems to have become the Constitution Court's biggest fan.1
Tonight we had dinner across the river at the Peninsula terrace buffet. Once again (you guessed it), sushi! The buffet features a barbeque, where you pick the raw stuff you want and the chefs promptly grill it up on the spot. As we have done in the past, however, Alf and I concentrated on "first courses," going back for fishy refills. We then skipped straight to dessert. We left it to Watcharee to have at least a little bit of the Peninsula's main course offerings.
Elsewhere in Bangkok tonight, the private premiere of a new big-budget Thai movie takes place. It is called Suriyothai, and it tells the story of a sixteenth century Thai queen who died saving her husband (and her nation) in battle. Watch for it when it comes to the United States!
1 You might recall that his initial post-ruling comments questioned the authority of the court even to consider whether or not he had done anything wrong, given his popular mandate.
It's Monday morning in Bangkok, and I have gotten out of my Oriental Hotel bed for the last time. The next time I slip between comfortable sheets will be more than 48 hours from now, at home.
I still have a full Bangkok day remaining, though, with my super hosts Alf and Watcharee. We're having lunch at the China House, then a private city tour. There are definitely many hours left to go before the Bangkok portion of this adventure reaches its close.
And then, there are many adventurous hours that will follow, in transit back home. Late tonight I will go to the airport; my flight to Seoul leaves at 01:20. I arrive in Seoul a bit before 09:00 on Tuesday, and then I hang around the airport for six hours. At 15:00 I take off for Los Angeles, arriving at about 10:30 ... Tuesday morning again, through the magic of the International Date Line. Then I transfer to a Seattle flight (arrive 15:00), then I get on the airport shuttle home. I should arrive home around 18:00 or so.
As a news junkie, perhaps this is a good time to leave. CNN keeps showing us threats that it might be disappearing soon.
Well, it was a great day, but now I'm off to the airport. This has been a wonderful adventure for me, and I hope that everything goes well, after I leave, for Prime Minister Thaksin, the Constitution Court, our dismembered acquaintances, and all the other stories that I'm leaving behind in Bangkok. Most special best wishes, of course, to Alf and Watcharee, who showed me such a wonderful time. It's all been more incredible than you can imagine; my words cannot do this trip (or them) justice.
I had successful flights home, Bangkok to Seoul to Los Angeles to Seattle. I'll add the details and some photos soon. For now, however, I'm sure you're all curious about the leftover Mexican food that sat in my car's trunk for 17 days:
I now turn the journal back over to Alf. (Come back to these pages, too, because I have a few additional photos to add!)
So long, dear readers!
Next: Back to Alf!