January 2006 in Bangkok, Part II

After Part I

January 2006

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Do you remember Ta? She is one of Watcharee's Thai friends from Florida. Anyway, she is here in Bangkok for a bit.

Last night we took her and Pom & Golf to the Shangri-La for dinner. First we stopped in the Shangri-La's lobby for refreshments.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

The particulates are down; so is the carbon monoxide. They both have green bulbs beside them. But the ozone is sending a mixed message. Is that an "11"; if so, why do the 1s start in the hundreds column? And, this ozone number is not paired with any glowing bulb. This is all so confusing. Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide again are no-shows. I guess that is good.

"Alf, what are you talking about?"

Sorry, I thought you were a regular. Last December I posted a photograph of a huge government machine that sniffs the air at the intersection of Rama IV and the point where Wireless Road becomes Sathorn Road....at the southwest corner of Lumpini Park. It is constantly breathing in and out for our benefit. If the air gets a little dirty it warns us with color coded lamps (sort of like Homeland Security does in the USA...green is OK...red is real bad...the colors in between tell us to be on guard). This machine also tells the really intelligent walkers-in-the-park or drivers-stuck-at-the-intersection something more nuanced than what is found in just four colors: "18 particulates ... 11 carbon dioxide ... 11 (or, is it 110?) ozone".

"Alf, 18 on the particulate scale, while technically green, is very close to yellow. That's why it's always best to footnote the sniffs with numbers."

But, you must admit that this is much better than December's "124" for the particulates: a strong orange at the time.

"Alf, get out and smell the air."


Friday, January 13, 2006

Somehow today is tied in with yesterday. I'm not sure how ... but there must be a connection.

Twenty-point-one liters per 100 kilometers; that's 11.7 miles per gallon. AND, with an average speed of 9 kilometers per hour; yes, just a little more than 5 miles per hour"(*). This needs some explaining.

OK, it was a Friday afternoon at about the time the schools let out"(**). But, I'm not driving a Hummer and my little engine has only four pistons and my car holds just two people. But, if I am pumping enough particulates, ozone and carbon monoxide into the air to shame a 1971 Cadillac ... well, that big sign we've been looking at has to be broken. That, or the Green People are wrong and we have nothing to fear from global warming.


(*) To put another twist on it: I covered 10k in one hour and eleven minutes. If I had been running by the time that I got to the finish line all the awards would have been passed out, the official clock would have been zeroed, the last sponsoring beers would have been drunk and almost everyone would have left the park.

(**) Thai mothers like to drive their kids to school1 ... and they usually insist on picking them up after school.


1 This is unlike America where almost all kids, if they can't yet drive, insist on being let off a block or two away from school (the ultimate humiliation for American teenagersA is to be seen with their parents).


A I sometimes passed myself off as an orphan. At other times both of my parents were doing time in the 'big house' for mafia related activities. Back then, in Chicago, there was a Frank Erickson who controlled a lot of illegal gambling and prostitution; I used to mumble something about "Uncle Frank".


Saturday, January 14, 2006

This small (slightly wider than an inch or about 3cm) wheel-like thing came packed in my SLK instruction booklet case. It is marked "WISI". Any ideas?

Reader S from Berkshire, UK writes:

"From memory it's a tool to take the aerial off with."

A reader from Lausanne, Switzerland confirms:

"Yup, what Sagey said. I also was like "where the f*** did this fall off from" when I got home with my car for the first time and went looking through all the nooks and crannies of the vehicle."

Reader R from northern Illinois goes into more detail:

"I got one (a WISI) in No. Illinois. My salesman had no idea what it was for. I saved it and finally figured it out one day. It does come in handy, especially when the antenna is over tightened. There is a little elastic strip in on the back of the center console storage area that can be used to store it safely."

Reader M from Herndon, VA feels cheated:

"I have looked in my car for that piece but couldn't find it. Where was it???"

[THOCBDC guarantees that the above are genuine unaltered replies from concerned readers]


I don't know if reader D. Bull has found any mysterious parts lying about his new Mercedes. Don?


Reader Samantha Gillroy from Oslo, Norway writes:

"I have always been amazed at the similarity between Norse and Thai cuisine ... that two cultures so divided by a great and unforgiving land mass could independently create dishes indistinguishable from one another's. Please publish some plates on your pages and let us guess which is which."

Our pleasure ...


Sunday, January 15, 2006 (Pre-journal)

THOCBDC is floored by the amount of mail it received in response to yesterday's posting of the WISI photograph. Rather than cut and paste the hundreds of reader requests ... well, here is a 'composite' (*).

Reader C from Anytown writes: "How does it work?"


(*) A now accepted journalistic practice.


January 15, 2006

Yesterday we published this request from Samantha Gillroy of Oslo, Norway:

"I have always been amazed at the similarity between Norse and Thai cuisine ... that two cultures so divided by a great and unforgiving land mass could independently create dishes indistinguishable from one another's. Please publish some plates on your pages and let us guess which is which."

Most reader-responders correctly identified all the dishes as Norse. But, credit was also given to those who ran with Iceland or the Baltic Republics. A Greenland guess was not close enough to score. Hungary was way out even though Finnish and Hungarian have the same language roots.

Today, their Thai equivalents (*) ... enjoy:


(*) The proof is in the waiter's 'order'.


PS: She is back!


Monday, January 16, 2006 (Pre-journal)

Reader L. F. J. from the greater Seattle, Washington area writes:

"I wonder if Ms. Gillroy knows of the Thai/Norse alliance from the 11th century, as it was unfolded to you back in December 1998?"



Monday, January 16, 2006

Reader Bull in response to my yesterday's muse of ...

"I don't know if reader D. Bull has found any mysterious parts lying about his new Mercedes. Don?"

... replied:

"Yes, I found this in the glove box."


[Reader William Safire of the NY Times writes: "That is a very weird way to build a sentence, Alf."]

Pedant! Stick to your own Op/Ed page, Bill!


Reader John from Maine helpfully writes (about the thing in Don's glove box):

"Top/sunroof wrench. Used in case of power/motor failure."


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Yesterday The Oriental hotel here in Bangkok celebrated its 130th anniversary. To lend some 'concrete' vintage to the event the hotel invited the Antique Automobile Club of Thailand to park some of its ancient machines in its car foyer. Perhaps arriving guests might think that they were arriving back in time.


THOCBDC busted the party and shattered the theme.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006 (Driving Miss Julie)

Last night we took Paul's long-time good friend (*), Julie, to one of our neighborhood diners: the Thai restaurant in the Shangri-La hotel. Tonight we'll probably go Chinese ... yes, in the same building.

Readers will remember that Julie first visited us in Bangkok almost two years ago.

After dinner we drove her back to her hotel.


(*) We like her, too.


PS: Hua Hin rules!


Thursday, January 19, 2006

The day after tomorrow we leave for America.

I have jury duty.

In the good old days they never called lawyers for jury duty. The defense lawyers hated them because they knew that they (lawyers on a jury) would never believe that their client didn't get this far into the system (opening statements) without being guilty. The prosecution hated them (us) because they (we) tended to complicate the deliberations by being really nit picky. The judge usually was not pleased to have lawyers on the panel-of-the-selected because we second-guessed their rulings and we ignored their admonitions to forget what the non-responsive witnesses said.

So, why are we now being called? I think our K Street people helped.

My theory is this: law schools are turning out so many lawyers that the unemployment rate among lawyers is so high that they (we) have to supplement our welfare checks with the $5 per day token that they give us to serve. Also, the lunch voucher helps. Plus a courthouse garage validation allows us free 'happy hour' parking. And, if we are sequestered, a hotel room with turn down service and a mint.

Enough bitter prattle; these three panorama photos were taken from the terrace of The Oriental. One up-river, one down-river and one slightly side-river.


Friday, January 20, 2006

We are busy with packing and stuff. So today's pictures are a bit redundant. They were shot on the same roll of film as were yesterday's. Yes, from the terrace at The Oriental.

One pair is of dueling hotels (Paris vs. Mimi).


The second pair is a northbound view of the Chao Phraya river. The canvas with the most pixels used a long glass; the cropped one...well, it was trimmed from something wider reaching.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

It's that time again ...


Sunday, Jan 22, 2006

After an 11 and a half hour flight we are in Frankfurt, Germany. This is the Lufthansa First Class Lounge on the B concourse in Terminal 2.


We have another 9 and a half hour flight before we reach Miami.

Next: Florida

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