Bangkok, January 2007
Part III

After Part II

January 23-31, 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 (Pre-journal)

This was the original clubhouse for the Mercedes Benz Club of Thailand.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

On Monday Watcharee met with two of her former high school classmates whom she has not seen in almost 15 years. They are "S" and "Goong". Goong's daughter is named "Fai". They all live here in Bangkok.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

While I was getting my car washed this afternoon a schoolbus made a sudden stop in front of the driveway to the filling station. Within seconds a half dozen policeman arrived on the scene. They boarded the bus and forced the students to get off, After searching the students the police confiscated 15 to 20 long knives.

In your mind how did you immediately picture these students? Be honest!

OK, to be fair, Thailand has a dress code for students: dark pants or dark skirt, white shirt, regulation hair length, etc.

By the way, all the students in this incident were boys.


Friday, January 26, 2007

My filling stattion / car wash is becoming an interesting spot. After Thursday's 'day of the long knives' I thought the place would return to the roles that it did best: pumping gas and soaping cars.

Then in came Yves Chaloin, a round the world biker who has been riding this hybrid bike for the last 22 months on a trip that has taken him from France to the USA to Central America, to South America to Australia to Malaysia and now to Bangkok. With his girl friend working a front set of pedals on this unusual machine they hope to be back in France in another two months.

This is his second round-the-world bike trip. The first one, a few years ago, was a solo adventure in which he also biked across China, Mongolia and Russia.

He has an interesting web site at http://www.apacheta4746.com/.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

From 1981 until July 2006 I have been using Don Muang airport whenever I have come to or left from Bangkok. In October of last year we first used Bangkok's new airport, Suvarnabhumi; and, aside from the really long walk from the arrival gate to the luggage carousel it was an uneventful event. Of course, we plan to use Suvarnabhumi again next month ... or, at least we thought.

But, I am getting ahead of the news.

Anyway, a couple of days ago I was feeling nostalgic for Don Muang Airport so I took a drive out there to see what was left of the place.

The expressway to the airport was understandably uncluttered with traffic. And most of the billboards beside the highway had lost their tenants leaving them as just large rectangular faces of white. The 'ghostiness' of the journey repeated itself at the location: empty runways, vacant buildings and carless roads.


But, now it looks like the old place might get a new lease on life.

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Aviation authorities have refused to extend an international safety certificate for Bangkok's new international airport, a senior official said Saturday, dealing another blow to the problem-plagued facility.

With runway and tarmac repairs at Suvarnabhumi airport still under way, the Department of Civil Aviation decided Friday not to renew its interim safety certificate, which expired a day earlier. The airport can, however, continue to operate without the license.

Somchai Sawasdeepon, the airport's general manager, said the airport also has yet to set up a safety committee as required by the International Civil Aviation Organization because authorities are "busy resolving others problems."

The issue will be discussed at the next board meeting, Somchai said, adding that he was confident the certificate will be renewed after the safety committee has been established.

Local newspapers have reported that some foreign pilots raised concerns about safety issues at the Suvarnabhumi, but Somchai said such fears were not voiced at a meeting of airline representatives on Friday.

The International Civil Aviation Organization has made it a requirement for international airports to hold an Aerodrome Certificate -- aimed at standardizing global airport operations. Suvarnabhumi can nonetheless continue to operate without the certificate because it has yet to incorporate that requirement into law.

The airport was enmeshed in one corruption scandal after another during its construction, and since its opening last September problems have surfaced ranging from an inadequate number of toilets to cracks on taxiways leading to the runway. Probes are being carried out into a number of corrupt deals related to the facility.

On Thursday, several incoming flights were diverted to another airport about 200 kilometers (125 miles) away after debris was found on a runway.

The discovery of taxiway cracks, which began appearing about two weeks after the airport opened, was made public last week by lawmakers inspecting the airport.

Cracks at 25 separate locations made it impossible to use 11 out of 51 air bridges for boarding aircraft, causing inconvenience to passengers who had to take buses to and from their planes, Transport Minister Thira Hao-Charoen said Thursday after an inspection visit.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Last night, Watcharee and I returned to the Intercontinental Hotel on Sukhumvit (formerly The President hotel) for a buffet dinner at Expresso. This place, located on the mezzanine floor, offers a buffet that is both wide (*) and deep"(**). And the serving stations are positioned around the food area in such a way as to lessen the chance of too many people being clustered in one area in search of different things.


(*) Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, Indian, etc.

(**) For example you can have your starter mussels either raw or steamed.


Monday, January, 29, 2007

My very first cellphone's body was the size of a large loaf of bread and it was very heavy; it was designed for use in a car. Its attached handset was little different from those found in landline home phones during the '70s. A telescoping antennae was required because cellphone towers were far and few back then. The machine could only talk to other phones; yes, that's all. And, its receiving-call capability was limited as all its wiring and other hard parts consumed a lot of battery life so most users left the thing off when not actually initiating calls.

My second cellphone was much smaller ... about the size of a builder's brick. It could be carried with comfort if the user bought a special holster; otherwise it was happiest in a briefcase. It, too, was used for talking to other people. But, it had the advantage of staying on when you thought you might receive a call.

Since then I have gone through half a dozen other cellphones whose evolutionary benefits were mostly size shrinkage.

Last year I bought a Samsung. Yes, it allows me to call people...and I can receive calls (still the main purpose?). And, of course, it has the camera, the video, the organizer and an address book ... all of which have been incrementally added to these devices over the years. But, it also now has a web browser with GOOGLE as its search engine. Hey, I only discovered this feature today! OK, so I am a slow learner ... but, long ago I WAS an early adapter (adopter?).


Shifting gears:

My friend Dan, from Shanghai and Taipei, sent me these wonderfully outrageous 'crash' photos. These are much more exciting than my nostalgia and amazement with cellphones.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007 (Pre-journal)

I can't believe it! Amy's pizza is now available in Bangkok.



Tuesday, January 30, 2007

After those frozen-pizza carbs we just had to go to 30b for some real protein with the 'primes'.


PS: Later we decided to stay a few days at our favorite 'spot' (2601) in the Millennium Hilton.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007 (Pre-Journal)

Ana began January 2006 on the beach at Hua Hin. She finished January 2007 in the same place, in the same swimsuit, with the same pose.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Some random views from the 31st floor.

Next: February

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