Kade kneels next to a stream formed by the San Francisco Glacier, about two hours outside Santiago, Chile.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sky Dining in Bangkok


On our fist day getting out and seeing the city again, Kade and I went over to Siam Discovery, one of the giant malls on Sukhumvit Rd.  We went upstairs to the 7th floor and found some restaurants.  It was an unusual time of day, which explains why there were no customers.  It still was a big surprise, since Bangkok, and especially its malls, is usually overcrowded.  We got a seat near a window and I did video of the skyline looking back towards Pratunam.  One of the towers over to the left of the tallest skyscraper is the condominium where Kade and I lived after getting married in 2003. Food in the restaurant was quite delicious, and we enjoyed having the space all to ourselves.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Caffeine Fix


This was a nice little discovery in Bangkok.  It was a fairly close walk to where Kade and I used to live in the Thonglor area.  Bangkok has a great cafe culture - and I mean coffee shops.  They have the international brands (Starbucks, for example) and regional chains (Black Canyon. Coffee World, etc.), and a lot of small, independent coffee houses.  If you get the idea that you can't have your quality caffeine fix in Thailand, you would be very mistaken.  Could even be better than back home!  Since  our visit here, this place has a revised name.  It's now Cafe Symphony Coffee-Bike at Thonglor.  I do recall seeing bicycles for sale, or an area where they could be parked or serviced.  And I pretty sure this shop has a Japanese-backing to it.  There are lots of Japanese expats living in Thonglor.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Major & Buddha



The King Power Duty Free Complex on Soi Rangnam has a glass atrium museum.  The day we visited, the exhibit was Journey of The Buddha.  If we had stayed longer, Kade would have accidentally knocked over one of the statuettes.   The video above is evidence enough!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thailand Cultural Center - Bangkok

The video above is one I found on YouTube.  The guy does a very good explaining the area.  When Kade I visited the Thai Cultural Center in 2013, it was really my idea.  It was a very hot day.  I remember once we got to the area, we went inside an office tower and had a meal in the food court.  There were hundreds of workers on their lunch break, sitting with their friends and colleagues.  I am such a people-watcher, a trip to a food court can be rewarding.  When Kade and I got done, we made our way to the Cultural Center (video two), and did a very brief look.  We strolled the gardens, then went inside a history museum.  After that, we jumped into a taxi and went home.  When you're in Thailand, the heat can really get to you.  This was one of those days.  Always best to stay very hydrated and wear a lot of sunblock.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I'll Get You, My Pretty (Wizard of Oz)


I was still wearing my mask then - not because of pollution, but due to the fact I was recovering from the flu.  The doctor gave me the "green light" to walk around time.


Pretty girls (Pretties) are used to promote products in Thailand - often luxury products.  These pretties are sometimes born pretty (good genes); other times, they are created through elaborate and detailed surgical procedures.  Being beautiful in Thailand, much like anywhere, is in itself a luxury, and people (mostly women) go to great lengths to preserve and attain it!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Terminal 21 - Bangkok

Terminal 21 is a mega-mall with an airport/travel destination theme.  Each floor represents a world-class city:  Tokyo, London, San Francisco, Istanbul, Rome, Paris, etc..  One day Kade and I looked around around (video one).   Another day, I returned with a friend.  Tons of great restaurants, and a pretty amazing food court.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

J-lo & Bee


J-lo


w/ Bee.  
We had just gone inside Bangkok's main Hindu temple, Sri Maha Mariamman.

A couple of weeks later, we all went to the State Tower for drinks at the Sky Bar.  I will add a video later.



Friday, May 11, 2018

Shout-Outs

That's me at the bottom of the video.  We were inside Siam Center (mall).  I managed to mention a few people and places of interest!



Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Valentine's Day in Bangkok

Kade and I walked around the newly remodeled Siam Center (mega mall) in Bangkok.  As always, so much to see and do.  The energy is pretty incredible.  I wore my Farrah Fawcett t-shirt!



Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Rose & Pao

Kade and I stopped by to visit  couple of friends at the All Seasons office tower in Bangkok.








Monday, May 7, 2018

The Standard


I learned who Paul Theroux was when I was in Thailand.  He was an established, very successful travel writer for years, but had no idea who he was.  An Australian friend/colleague mentioned some of his works, and one day at one of the nice bookstores in Bangkok I bought this particular book.  As I read, I dog-eared pages and highlighted passages that resonated with me.  I then put these excerpts into a WORD doc.  

Nothing is truly forgotten – there is no forgetting – Freud said; there is only repression.  He wrote how ‘in mental life nothing which has been formed can perish…everything is somehow preserved, and in suitable circumstances it can once more be brought to life.’  

Our lives in many respects were utterly different, but on closer examination I saw how much we had in common, and how these people shared many of my hopes and fears.  

There was dissatisfaction among Africans, a hankering for something better in their lives.  That yearning, and that confusion, were familiar to me.  

My need for external stimuli inspired in me a desire to travel.  Nothing induces concentration and stimulates memory like an alien landscape or a foreign culture.  

I suspect that we are much more deeply conservative and threatened by novelty than we (Americans) can possibly imagine; generally speaking we don’t want to believe that we are, and we cling to a mostly mythical notion of ourselves as tolerant and liberal-minded.  I think our tolerance is mostly posturing.  It is unpleasant to contemplate, but this swift impulse to harass the jogger or to swamp the small-boater seems like a specifically American trait, one of our worst, arising from the pack mentality of our competitiveness, our vocal masculinity, our contempt for eccentricity, and our self-justifying humor in which the butt of the joke is always the weak victim.

I wonder whether it possible to widen the argument and make it political.  So much in American foreign policy is related to implied threat or the wish to control.  I think our irrational reaction to any number of countries which have chosen an unconventional path to political or economic fulfillment is an example of this envious bullying.  We are always talking about freedom as though we valued it.  If we truly valued it and practiced it, we would probably talk about it less often instead of treating it like a mantra in the hope of overcoming our basic instincts.  

Most people who hand out advice are incapable of putting themselves in your shoes:  they fear for their safety, and they impose this fear on you.  

China takes knowledge seriously, unlike the West.  So they feel it has to be controlled.  Hong Kong history will have to be rewritten in terms of a national history.  But all national history is skewed.  I didn’t know about Indian massacres.  China will put their spin on Hong Kong history.  

Travel also vindicated Simpson’s fair-mindedness.  He believed he held ‘exceptional’ views on the subject of national character:  in a word, he was not a racist, and he felt very strongly that it was politicians who whipped up feelings of nationalism and xenophobia.  He said that as a child he was always told of the ‘superiority of the Scotch.”  But it was all prejudice and humbug.  He was not taken in:  ‘I saw that each country remembered its own virtues, and saw mainly the vices of its neighbors and, by contrasting the good features of its own character with the bad of the others, reached what was to it a satisfactory conclusion.’  He was clear-sighted.  He traveled around the world without any preconceived notions of who or what he would find; and this absence of cant and bigotry in his nature made him a brilliant observer.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Livestock


This was a funny picture from the streets of Colombo, Sri Lanka.  I am holding up my Dad's cap:  M&M FARMS, LIMOUSIN CATTLE, HEADLAND, ALABAMA.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

In Good Hands

I contracted the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu) on my trip to Thailand in 2013.  It could have been at an airport en route, on a flight or even back in the USA just before I left.  There had been some cases in the Northeastern USA not long before departure.  Who knows?  All I can say is that on my third or forth day in Bangkok, I developed a pretty serious fever.  Kade was with me, and we were both alert to this.  Not even two hours passed before we went to a local hospital (Phaya Thai 2), where I was evaluated and diagnosed.  I was placed on some anti-viral meds and antibiotics.  I was told to wear a mask and stay away from the general public until the major symptoms disappeared.  For at least a week, I was in the bed.  Luckily, I had the best nurse - Kade!  She brought warm comfort foods and plenty of fruits.  I slept a lot, and watched some cable TV.  I could tell fairly early that the anti-virals were kicking in; I was feeling better.  After two weeks, I felt like venturing out.  But when I went out on the town, I always wore my mask.  In the 13 or so years of both living in Thailand or taking trips over there, it was the only time I had been seriously sick. The care I got over there was excellent.  And when I returned to the USA and saw my family doctor, I shared the report the Bangkok hospital gave me, and put out all the prescription meds to show.  My doctor said I got highest standard of care (at Phyathai 2 International Hospital), and was given the same medication and treatment that I would have received in the USA.   





On a single day, Kade brought in all these fruits:  guava, rose apple, pineapple, pomelo, papaya and mangosteen.  Sometimes it pays to be sick!!

Once I got the green-light to do normal activities, a former student-turned friend of mine came by to visit.  In fact, she is a bonafide nurse.  She brought along some higher quality masks and some over-the-counter treatments.  Really meant a lot.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Digitizing Photos

 


I have really been working hard the past few months to finish scanning a lot of my travel photos - mostly ones taken before digital cameras.  My goal is to back up all of them on a portable hard drive.  The best file images I will continue to post on this blog, with hopefully some good descriptions.  As for the original photos (the hard copies), only the best ones I will keep.  The rest will be thrown away.  I plan to get rid of bulky photo albums, scrapbooks and boxes of loose pictures, yet preserve them digitally.  All of the photo albums above were ones I bought in Thailand.  The small floral one (bottom middle, top photo) was one I had given my mother, and it she kept some postcards I had mailed her, and some photos I snail mailed to her from Thailand.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Shades




Trying out some new shades for an upcoming trip.  I tend to go with stylish, inexpensive pairs.  Considering that I have lost my fair share of sunglasses in the past, it only makes sense not to invest too much in them.  Steinmart and especially Target have a good selection.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Florida Hotel - Bangkok


Although I took this photo in 2011, I actually associate the Florida Hotel with my time in Bangkok in late summer of 2000.  I had completed my Asian travels, and had already met Kade.  I had returned home briefly to visit family and make arrangements to move to Bangkok, where I ended up teaching English for a few years.  Once I returned, Kade had lined up this hotel (semi-budget) for me.  I stayed here for at least a week.  The name caught me by surprise.  I don't recall seeing anything inside that explained how it got this name.  And not long before that, I had stayed in the Atlanta Hotel, off of Sukhunmvit Rd.  Bangkok is funny and very eclectic, in this way.  At some point, you stop shaking your head and asking questions.  One thing I do remember about the Florida Hotel was the restaurant.  On occasion I would eat breakfast there.  Other times, I would eat dinner.  I clearly recall seeing the cook in the kitchen slicing up a papaya.  It was the sweetest papaya ever.  And although I had already eaten papaya quite a bit in Thailand, in my mind, this was the best.  For a nice-sized plate of papaya, it was about 25 baht (60 cent usa).  There was a slice of lime, too, which was to squeeze over the papaya.  I never did that.  I just like the papaya, straight up.  It was that sweet.  And as I ate it, I felt like had discovered the most magnificent joy.  I had traveled already quite a bit, but there was a special love for Thailand.  Of course, I was also in love with the girl that would later become my wife.  It was a double high.


Long before there were selfies, we could just use timers to take photos of ourselves.  Believe it or not, I actually took this one of me while in my room at the Florida Hotel.  I was so happy and excited, and this captures it.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Sweat

I am not big on selfies, and certainly mirror selfies.  However, in this case, I had to show how much I sweated when I took about a 15 minute stroll in Bangkok.  It was that humid.  When I lived in Thailand, I was a good 20-25 pounds lighter, and it was a consistent weight.  I actually exercise more today, in the USA, and my diet is good.  Probably, though, portion sizes are significantly larger.  But I think as much has to do with the weather differences, and the everyday walking I did in Bangkok.  You're sweating, and you're on the move.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Out with friends in Bangkok

Former students of mine (AUA - Rajdamri) met me.  We went to a British pub on Sukhumvit Road, then met up with my wife and her some of her friends at a restaurant.  After that, it was noodles near Chulalongkorn University.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Bangkok Perks



I had this brunch once in Bangkok.  I was meeting a German lady I had befriended years before, and she treated me.  The JW Marriott is on the same soi (small lane) as The Atlanta Hotel, where I stayed several nights in 2000.  When I stayed there, I would often walk down to the Marriott, and hang out on a comfy sofa or chair in their lobby.  I would order a fruit shake - often, coconut or cantaloupe - and a snack mix.  I would always grab their free New York Times, and then read as much as could.  But the greatest treat was flirting with the female staff, who were dressed impeccably, spoke pretty good English and seemed very happy to wait on me.  I would stay usually for an hour at least.  I discovered, when I was an expat living in Bangkok, the savviest expats were those who knew which hotel lobbies were best for resting during a long lull between classes (if you were an ESL teacher), or ideal for kicking back and reading a newspaper or talking politics with a friend, or simply walking in to use a super clean, very plush restroom without having to be a guest.  I very quickly became savvy - let's put it that way.  Probably helps to be a white male (or somebody who clearly looks like a tourist).  It also is a plus to walk with confidence, and with a purpose.  What's worse case scenario?  "Are you guest?"  "No, but I just want to use the lobby restroom."  "Sorry, it's only for guests."  "Okay. No problem."  How many times do you think that happened?  Zero.  And I have been in the lobbies of most of the big name hotels in Bangkok!


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Bowling Night in Bangkok




Kade and I met up with one of her very good friends: Rose.  We were going bowling in Bangkok.  It's very popular there, and has been as long as I remember.  I went bowling a few times back in 2000, with Kade and her friends.  Now, the guy on the right is one of my former students.  I invited him to come bowl with us.  Fun night!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Reminders of Home

If you are from the USA, see if any products in a typical Thailand convenience store remind you of home.









Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thai Tea

A refreshing drink in Thailand is Cha Yen Sai Nom (Iced Tea w/ Milk).  You can get it at street kiosks, in malls, at restaurants, as a fountain drink in convenience stores.  It's everywhere - as are numerous other tea and coffee products, cold and hot.