January 1-7, 2004
Last night we went to The Oriental Hotel for dinner and the fireworks display. We started our evening in our apartment and went from there. The pictures will tell the story. Though it will be boring for you ... it was fun for us.
Early this evening I was walking on Sukhumvit ... about halfway between the Nana and the Phoen Chit Sky Train stations ... when I ran into my friend Charlie. He is a writer and he was on his way to book a room at the Atlanta Hotel (on Soi 2). I asked if I could walk with him as I had never seen the place, though I had heard a great deal about it.
A couple of years ago (I think when the Atlanta was celebrating its 50th birthday) The Bangkok Post (maybe it was The Nation) ran a full page spread about the place and its eccentric owner. And I am pretty sure that THOCBDC picked up the story as well [maybe Paul can find it].
The place has some unusual rules ... as you'll see if you read my photographs.
By the way, a long time ago the current King of Thailand, George Bush (the father), Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman all stayed here at the same time ... an ancient camera caught them all (save for George) on Tri-X in the middle of a musical set.
Margaret Thatcher slept here, too.
Rooms go for about 200 baht (@$5.00) a night if you can suffer with just a ceiling fan. Air conditioning adds another 300 baht to the night.
But, do read the house rules ... and the big sign by the front door.
The following was stolen by me from the Atlanta's home page:
The oldest unaltered foyer in Thailand is at The Atlanta Hotel.
It is frequently used as a filmset.
The Atlanta Hotel
Bangkok's only bastion of wholesome and culturally sensitive tourism
SEX TOURISTS NOT WELCOME
Le patron mange ici
78 Soi 2 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: (+ 66-2) 252 6069 or 252 1650 Fax: (+ 66-2) 656 8123
The Atlanta is an old-fashioned place of charm and character in downtown Bangkok with the secluded and secure atmosphere of a private club and the facilities of a small resort for sleaze-free and wholesome tourism.
The Atlanta is untouched by pop culture and post-modern vulgarity.
The Atlanta is popular with writers, academics, artists, cinema & theatre and other professional people, dreamers and innocuous eccentrics who can afford to stay at more expensive places but choose to stay at The Atlanta.
The Atlanta particularly welcomes respectable couples and families for whom there are attractive small (one bedroom) and large (two bedrooms) family suites.
The Atlanta is against sex tourism. Sex tourism is exploitative, socially damaging and culturally demeaning: those who want to buy sex should do so in their own country.
The Atlanta has a 'zero tolerance' policy with regard to trouble-makers and all illegal activities, including the use or possession of drugs. Such miscreants are reported to the police without advance warning, without hesitation and without apology. Those who object to this policy, and those who wish to spend their time in Thailand indulging in alcohol abuse, prostitutes, drugs or other illegal activities should stay elsewhere.
Tourism is not about going on a rampage through other people's country: those who cannot go abroad without behaving badly should stay home.
The Atlanta's Distinctive Features
1/ The oldest unaltered hotel foyer in Thailand, designed by Berliner Dr Max Henn (1906 - 2002) and his wife in the 1950s and influenced by central European theatre and set designs and architecture of the 1920s and 1930s.
2/ The most photographed and filmed hotel foyer in Thailand.
3/ The first hotel swimming pool in Thailand.
4/ The first children's swimming pool in Thailand.
5/ One of the oldest travel agencies in Thailand.
6/ Attractive guests' writing room with art deco roll-top desks.
7/ Large art deco light table for viewing photographic slides and negatives.
8/ Among the best swimming pool water quality in Thailand.
9/ Hammocks, deck chairs and sun-bathing beds by the swimming pools.
10/ Luxuriant tropical garden.
11/ The world's first menu with serious and learned annotations.
12/ The world's largest selection of Thai vegetarian dishes.
13/ Starred quality Thai food recommended by major guidebooks.
14/ The largest selection of literary, scientific and news magazines of any budget hotel (perhaps of any hotel) in Thailand.
15/ The largest selection of video films relating to good food of any hotel or restaurant in Thailand.
16/ The largest selection of western-made films relating to or filmed in East Asia.
17/ The only budget hotel in Thailand to offer the use of a gym on the premises.
18/ Probably the only budget hotel in Thailand to have strongboxes in all bedrooms: one per occupant, and 10- to 13-cubic-foot large strongboxes in suites.
19/ Incomparable character, charm, style and atmosphere.
20/ Regular performances of the highest quality Thai classial dance, Thai classical chamber music and other Thai classical performing arts, presented with learned commentaries free for room guests (outsiders not admitted not at any price) with the compliments of Dr C Henn who is a patron of the arts.
21/ Recommended by all major guidebooks.
PS: PCC wannabes in Brazil.
Today THOCBDC offers you 14 'marching' photographs of Soi Ruam Rudi. The series starts at the top of the Soi where it meets Phoen Chit and it ends about .6 of a kilometer later at the 7 Eleven.
Also presented is a panorama [Canon Photo StitchTM] of Soi Ruam Rudi taken at about half way down the lane.
Very few people will know why I have done this.
The Bangkok dailies return to the real news after the obligatory soppy-Santa week.
Yesterday was the quietest that I have ever seen it at this Sky Train station.
And ... on a totally unrelated matter ... it appears that the new branch of Mr. Ben's law office has added "fortune telling" to his expanding list of services.
PS: This from the Landover Baptist Church:
Yes, it's Tuesday ... that means it is time the Bangkok Post's "Learning Post". This is a weekly supplement that does a damn decent job of teaching Thai people some of the subtleties of English. This week the paper used my favorite cartoon, BIZARRO, to make its points. Two of the BIZARRO cartoons were not actually in the 'learning' section ... rather they were in the comics and political sections. It is pretty obvious which are which.
PS: My minder is always looking after my best interests ... today the worry is about our neighbor to the east:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
January 5, 2004
This Public Announcement is being issued to advise U.S. citizens of increased security concerns in Laos. This Public Announcement supersedes the August 28, 2003, version and expires on July 8, 2004.
In Laos, there have been attacks on public markets, transportation facilities, and all forms of ground transportation. Between March 2000 and January 2001 and, more recently, between February and November 2003, Vientiane and several other towns throughout Laos experienced a series of bombings, generally in public places, including markets and transportation facilities frequented by foreign tourists and U.S. citizens. In September 2003, two bombs detonated outside a market in Vientiane and in Savannakhet province. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Laos are advised to exercise extreme caution in public places and to be alert to their surroundings, since the locations of future incidents is unpredictable.
There have been sporadic attacks by heavily armed groups at selected points along the Lao-Thai border and in a number of northern provinces. More attacks could occur. Provinces that are most prominent in reports of attacks are Xieng Khouang; Luang Prabang; Houaphan; Sayaboury; Saysomboun Special Zone and north of Vang Vieng in Vientiane Province (not to be confused with the separate municipality of Vientiane).
In light of the Vang Vieng - Kasi area attacks, especially along Route 13, the Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid road travel between Vang Vieng and Luang Phrabang and on Route 7 from the Route 13 junction to Phonsavan town. The Lao government has characterized these attacks as "banditry," but given the extreme violence of the attacks, political motives are likely. Due to these security concerns, U.S. Embassy personnel are not permitted to travel overland in this area.
U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for Laos, and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, located at http://travel.state.gov. For further information, U.S. citizens may also contact the Department of State toll-free at 1-888-407-4747, or, if calling from overseas, 317-472-2328.
The U.S. Embassy is located at 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand (Nearest BTS Skytrain station: Phloen Chit)
American Citizen Services Unit Window Hours:
Monday - Friday, 8 - 11 AM and 1 - 3 PM
PPS: Somewhat related to the warning from my embassy I paid a hasty visit to Mr. Ben's law office for a quick fortune read. He was not in the shop but his paralegal (seen here) assured me that there was no danger lurking for us in Taiwan. We plan to go there for the Chinese New Year.
PPPS: The spirt houses in our back yard have been 'polished' for the New Year. The Peninsula looms in the background.
Trouble in the south of Thailand; some say criminals were responsible ... others say it was the work of Islamic terrorists.
Next: Part II