November 15-22, 2005
Last night we took Watcharee's aunt and her two children (Beem and Bo) to the Japanese restaurant in the Shangri-La hotel.
Today Watcharee chauffeured me to the dentist. I always have to be heavily sedated before going to the tooth doctor.
Reader Brian found these photographs of the Nana Bible Thumpers: yep, those uptight souls you first read about in these pages just a few days ago. And, from these pictures they sure look like first class friends of the big book.
Real PS: Tomorrow THOCBDC will celebrate Loy Kratong with some photos that are just one day old. Most of the time our house lags the real clock by about 24 hours ... either because we are having too much fun on the real day or, more likely, our writers and editors are lazy or feeling dumb. (*)
(*) We try to look smart on our dumb days by stealing a pix or two and pretending they are ours.
Like this one1:
Or, better, that one:
1 JC in this painting looks satisfied.
A camera at the right place and the right time proves that even Thais can pack too many people into a truck.
Last night was Loy Krathong.
Though not an official bank holiday it seems to be more popular than even New Years or Songkran. The Loy Krathong festival is always held on the night of the first full moon in the 11th lunar month. During it tiny boats (krathongs) are set adrift as an offering to the water spirits who live in the rivers and waterways of Thailand. These little boats are largely composed of banana leaves folded to resemble open lotus blossoms. They are usually decorated with flowers, incense sticks and lighted candles. When released into the water they are accompanied by a wish from the hopeful launcher that the next year will bring continued good health and wealth.
So what did we do?
In the early evening Apple and her aunt assembled our flotilla of krathongs for the night's offerings to the water spirits. Shunning those with more sea-worthy styrofoam bases she chose to keep them orthodox ... sure, they will sink faster but at least they won't pollute the river.
While Apple was gathering up the boats Pom pulled together all our Thai take-away foods from Harmonique ... one of our favorite neighborhood Bangkok dining spots. OK, the food came packaged in styrofoam boxes ... but that was the shipper's decision, not ours. [Lame, Alf, lame!]
Anyway, this year we invited about 25 people for dinner at our place: they all are mutual friends and/or close blood-relatives of Watcharee. We had a 100% RSVP rate this year because our apartment which overlooks the Chao Phrya River is a prime place from which to view the festival's fireworks and watch the busy attracted river traffic.
After the fireworks Apple celebrated her 19th birthday with a cake. It's amazing how young these Thai girls look!
The only thing left was the washing up. Did I help? No.
PS: I am starting to miss him:
It has been at least five years since I have been on Kao Sarn Road. It's time again.
This street has always been very popular with backpackers due to its very down-market room rates, knock off street-stall stuff and its bizarre range of footpath concierge services. Located on the far side of Chinatown it is a destination in itself ... best made a couple of times a decade (if you are within driving distance). When the sun is out the place can be sunny.
PS: Why does Putin look smart ... and why does Bush look dumb? Perhaps because Putin rose through the ranks of the former KGB while W sat watching silly sports events from a Texas sky box. Also W's suit looks more wrinkled.
Reader Norman Pantheist from Winona, Minnesota in the USA asks: "Who chose the flowers?"
Answer: The former KGB, of course ... the blooms are siding with Putin.
Today I bought another set of German cars for our Bangkok use: a Mercedes SLK 230 and a Mercedes SL 500.
In the November 14 issue of The New Yorker John Kenney provides readers with this series of notes from Harriet Miers to George Bush. If only they were real.
Sunday is always a good day to visit the place! Why? Parking is easier.
Anyway, construction on the Athenee Residence continues on a 18/7 basis. As you can see, there is now some substantial above-ground movement. For the first nine or ten months of the project most of the real work was below the line of sight. Once the core base has been implanted the above ground layers are quicker to flop into place. But, since there are more than 40 of them it'll still take a while.
A Disturbing PS:
On our first trip to North Korea almost a decade ago ... (when Jean Marks and I were traveling on our own ... and, when no other private American tourists were allowed into North Korea) ... we were probably almost kidnapped by the North Koreans ... to teach American English to their foreign affairs staff. I think that our North Korean guide, Kim (*) , was involved in 'recruiting' foreigners to teach their local espionage people foreign language skills. Thank God we spoke, in their ears, terrible English.
(*) His organization was involved in the disappearance of a Thai woman from Macau1. She subsequently appeared in North Korea as a teacher of Thai.
1 Jean and I had to go to a Pyongyang owned travel agency in Macau to get the North Korean OK's for our visas. It was the only place in Asia that had the power to issue travel documents to North Korea.
Reader Cecil Camens from Liverpool, England, writes: "Feeling a bit paranoid?"
Sunset over the river:
This morning I half jokingly wrote to Paul that it shows how far Bush has fallen at home when he has to fly to Outer Mongolia to find some genuine applause. In the same muse I said that the first time I went to Mongolia my guide showed me what was, then, one of the last remaining standing statues of Josef Stalin anywhere in the world. Continuing, I speculated on what a delicious photo-op it would be to catch W looking up at Uncle Joe, perhaps not even aware of what he was looking at (W is not big on history ... other than batting averages and yards gained). Perhaps W, spontaneously, would place his little lapel flag at the foot of the big man thinking that this guy with a big mustache must be some local hero.
Wondering if Uncle Joe was still standing in Ulan Bator I GOOGLED "Stalin statue Mongolia".
Unfortunately, the little scenario that I let play out in my head is no longer possible.
News from the National Library of Mongolia
A New Monument is Set Up
Once Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia was famous for its name as a felt city. It was true at least until 1940s. Modern time buildings had started their life since late 1940s. One of few buildings that have some kind of architectural features is a main building of National Library of Mongolia.
Surprisingly, Japanese soldiers-prisoners of war greatly contributed to building a main corpus of National Library of Mongolia. The building was opened in 1951 and named after I.Stalin, may be because of great love of Mongolian people to I.Stalin, communist dictator, or may be because of the time coincidence (Stalin died in this year). So, the monumental statue to Stalin stood safely well over 40 years. Then the communist regime fell down and as a result, a historic monument to Stalin had been removed away in a cold autumn evening of October, 1992. And the space for the Stalin statue is being missed someone for over 10 years. Mongolias long lasting transition period was guilty for all wrong doings. However, the time passed away and finally, a new monument to B. Rinchen, outstanding scholar is set up in front of the main building of National Library of Mongolia. The life is ironic in some time. Academician Rinchen was put into the prison during the Choibalsan reign, who was Stalins counterpart in Mongolia in 1930s and he was likely to be executed for his smart mind. That was a time that really didn't like intellectual minds. Nevertheless, the time is a judge for every thing. And a new monument to B. Rinchen, outstanding scholar of the 20th century Mongolia is standing in front of the National Library of Mongolia, as a symbol of a new time.
PS: R. I. P.
Next: Part IV