April 13-20, 2010
More of the same:
April 12, 2010
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Thailand that the Royal Thai Government, under the order of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, has declared a State of Emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas following demonstrations by protestors from the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (aka UDD or "red-shirts"). The State of Emergency grants special powers to the Royal Thai Police and Army. U.S. citizens should expect to see an increase in the presence of security personnel on the streets of Bangkok and should adhere to any and all instructions from such personnel. This replaces the Travel Alert dated April 9, 2010, to include additional information about clashes between the UDD and Royal Thai Government security forces. This Travel Alert will expire on May 14, 2010.
On Saturday, April 10, UDD and Royal Thai Government security forces clashed in the Phanfa Bridge area, resulting in 21 deaths and at least 858 wounded. The UDD continues to demonstrate around the Ratchaphrasong intersection adjacent to Central World, Rajadamri Road and Soi Lang Suan, as well as the Phanfa Bridge area in old Bangkok. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to and lodging in these areas, as well as Khao San Road, a popular tourist street near the Phanfa Bridge area.
U.S. citizens are reminded that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence with little or no warning. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the areas that may be targeted for demonstrations and to exercise caution in their movements around Bangkok.
Political demonstrations by the UDD are expected to continue in Bangkok throughout the Songkran holidays (April 13-16). As a result, traffic congestion and difficulty of movement is possible throughout Bangkok. There have been numerous incidents of explosive attacks, including several isolated grenade attacks, in and around Bangkok and Chiang Mai, over the past two months. Additional explosive devices have been discovered before detonation. Some of these incidents occurred at or near areas frequented by U.S. citizens. These incidents appear to be motivated by domestic politics and do not appear to be acts of international terrorism. Travel to Thailand remains generally safe. However, the possibility of more such attacks cannot be ruled out. U.S. citizens are reminded to exercise caution and vigilance at all times. Immediately report to law enforcement or security personnel any unattended packages or bags or suspicious objects in public areas.
The Department also alerts U.S. citizens that if demonstrations in Bangkok are forcibly dispersed, the UDD demonstrators may move to other provinces, as occurred April 9 and 10. Possible demonstration sites include provincial halls and military and police installations. Therefore, U.S. citizens should monitor public sources of information to stay abreast of the latest information concerning demonstrations and areas to avoid.
U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website http://www.travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found. The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review "A Safe Trip Abroad", which includes valuable security information for those both living and traveling abroad. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.
U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Thailand are encouraged to register with the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy. The American Citizen Services section of the U.S. Embassy Bangkok is located at 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy can be reached by calling 66-2-205-4049 and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The emergency after-hours telephone number is 66-2-205-4000.
Last night Robin, Stephani, Watcharee and I had dinner at a new seafood restaurant in the Galleria Mall: Trueluck's. IMHO this is the best restaurant in Fort Lauderdale for all things fishy and beefy.
PPS: This is from Susan.
A guy and a girl meet at a bar.
They get along so well that they decide to go to the girl's place.
A few drinks later, the guy takes off his shirt and then washes his hands.
He then takes off his trousers and again washes his hands.
The girl has been watching him and says, "You must be a dentist."
Surprised, the guy says, "Yes ... how did you figure that out?"
"Easy," she replies. "You keep washing your hands."
One thing leads to another and they end up making love.
After it's over the girl says, "You must be a good dentist."
The guy, now with an inflated ego says, "Sure, I'm a good dentist, but how did you figure that out?"
"Because," the girl replies, "I didn't feel a thing."
PPPS: My friend Dan sent these photos from Macau.
I'm on a Russian slide again after I found a couple of old magazines in a closet sweep. The first magazine was a November 1991 issue of "Soviet Life"; the second was a November 1998 issue of "Russian Life". In 1946 the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. agreed to allow each other the right to distribute a monthly magazine in the other's country. The very first Soviet one was named "The U.S.S.R" * while the first American one was called "Amerika".
During the late 1980s and until the early 1990s I was involved with a Russian girl who lived in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). During that time I had a subscription to "Soviet Life" and "Russian Life" ... it was delivered to me by mail and it could be purchased by anyone at big city news stands in the U.S.
However, when I was in the U.S.S.R. (and later, Russia) "Amerika" was only available at the American Embassy or the American Consulate. And, there were precious few Russians who would approach the Consulate for a copy. So, whenever I was in Leningrad I would make a visit to my Consulate and pick up several copies for my girl friend and her family and friends.
* "The U.S.S.R." later morphed sequentially into these other two 'softer' titles. Of course, it was when the Soviet Union fell apart that the magazine took on its Russian name.
PS: Watcharee's Thai friend sent this photo from Norway where she lives with her Norwegian husband. Can you tell the Thai kids from the Norse kids?
PPS: My parents share some land with some 'funny' folks.
More about Crazy Gregg
A strike by British Airways cabin crew? Likely. A seizure of Bangkok's international airport by Red Shirts? Possible. An air traffic controller work-to-rule? Maybe.
Those were the things that mildly haunted my mind just hours before we were scheduled to leave for Bangkok on British Airways via London.
A volcanic eruption under a glacier located on a small island nation near the Arctic? Laughable!
Well, CNN turned laughs into tears* this morning.
As the afternoon wore on CNN was reporting that this was the greatest interruption of air travel since 9/11. And, before that ... since World War II.
* I exaggerate. Having to spend an extra week in South Florida is not like doing time in a hard place.
A new twist to living out of a suitcase*.
* Packed and no way to go.
This little commercial section next to the beach in Fort Lauderdale does not attract the Spring Break crowd; the tourists from up north largely ignore it and most residents generally avoid it. But, what makes this place rather unique is its history. It has, through the decades, changed very very little. The abundance of tattoo parlours, the number of history driven bars, those non 7-Eleven food shops, the teeny weeny upstairs bikini shops and those fun ethnic restaurants make this spot worthy of a few drinks and a racy tattoo on your girl friend's bikini exposed cheek.
What with a constant down pouring of rain, packed suitcases lying opened on the floor and no flights leaving for London there was nothing else to do but read. I have 258 books on my Kindle plus some magazines, blogs and newspapers.
So, let's see what the New York Times has to say about our prospects in getting out of here and into Bangkok in the next few days.The Kindle e-reader allows the reader to adjust the type size to fit his eyes; it even allows the reader to read the book right side up or sideways or even upside down.
Having said that and read that ... (middle size, right side up) ... it looks like we'll be here at least for a few more days.
Thank you, Kindle.
The other day I snooped around a 'period' neighborhood near the beach in Fort Lauderdale. It was and still is a funky little place that caters to those out of the mainstream.
Today I want to show you the very first shopping mall in Fort Lauderdale: Gateway. When it was built in the 1950s it was very upscale. Now it is packed with niche fun shops and restaurants ... OK, there is a Subway there, too. But, check out the 'record' store ... it still sells just 78s. Can you find it?
Gateway houses our favorite Sushi shop. Also, our favorite Thai take-out. See them?
Next: Part IV