Songkran Approaches, Part II

After Part I

April 8-11, 2004

Thursday, April 8, 2004 (pre-journal)


The real name of this very conspicuous personage it is impossible to ascertain: in his life-time he was known only by the significant appellation of Old Boots. He was, however, born about the year 1692, and for some length of time, filled the important office of boot-cleaner at an inn at Ripon in Yorkshire. He was a perfect lusus naturae; Dame Nature forming him in one of her freakish humours. He was blessed with such plenitude of nose and chin, and so tenderly endearing were they that they used to embrace each other; and by habit, he could hold a piece of money between them. Among the variety of human countenances, none perhaps ever excited more public curiosity than that of Old Boots. He invariably went into the rooms with a boot-jack and a pair of slippers; and the urbanity of his manners was always pleasing to the company, who frequently gave him money, on condition that he would hold it between his nose and chin; which request he always complied with, and bore off the treasure with great satisfaction. He was one of those fortunate beings who could daily accomplish that which thousands of persons are ineffectually striving all their lives to attain -- he could 'make both ends meet'! He died in 1762, at the age of seventy.

Ellie's Journal: Day 2

I slept only 3 hours! When I woke up, I was so tired; I had bacon, a waffle, and cornflakes. We walked around the hotel and found a lot of crab grass and two talking Mina birds. Later we went to see Alf and Watcharee. They showed us their huge apartment. When we came back we went swimming. After about 30 minutes we ordered a mango and strawberry smoothie. Then we went to the smaller pool so Flora could sit. When we came back to the room I had a bath. Then we went down stairs and got some postcards. I'm sending my friend Katie one that has a picture of a floating market. When we went to dinner with Alf and Watcharee, I had chicken and rice. I saw a small gecko at the table. It was a light green color. I was so tired at dinner, that I almost fell asleep in my chicken satay. When it was time to go, we took a tuk-tuk home. We had to ask the driver to go slowly. When we got to the room, I found a little flower on my pillow.

Thursday, April 8, 2004 (post-pre-journal)

Thanks to reader Don Bull (*), new tricks in ZOOM technology have made much of what was once done just plain obsolete. (**)


(**) What it took a dozen fixed lenses to do in the past can now be done with one 8mm to 2000mm zoom lens.

PS: Even though THOCBDC's recent use of the Easter Bunny to make a point on the practice of believing in the unbelievable, it appears that Our House has found an ally in The Landover Baptist Church.

Friday, April 9, 2004 (pre-journal)

So far this is the least weird of Steadman's collection:


There was a symmetry and elegance, as well as strength and agility, in the person of Jacob Hall, which was much admired by the ladies, who regarded him as a due composition of Hercules and Adonis. The open-hearted Duchess of Cleveland was said to have been in love with this rope-dancer, and Goodman, the player, at the same time. The former received a salary from Her Grace.

Pepys has given a short account of Hall in his diary:

'21st September, 1668, Thence to Jacob Hall's dancing on the ropes, where I saw such action as I never saw before, and mightily worth seeing; and here took acquaintance with a fellow that carried me to a tavern, whither came music of this booth, and by and by Jacob Hall himself, with whom I had a mind to speak, to hear whether he had ever any mischief by falls in his time. He told me, "Yes, many, but never to the breaking of a limb": he seems a mighty strong man.'

Ellie's Journal: Day 3

Today we are going to the buffet for breakfast. I had French toast, bacon, eggs and a croissant. Tonight went to the night market. I was looking for presents for my good friends: Hannah S, Griffin S, Ruby S, and Kate R. I got some sand animals for Hannah and Griffin. I got a Paul Frank T-shirt for Kate R and Ruby S. I bought a fun Tin-Tin pencil box for myself. Flora got a tuk-tuk shirt and really cool pink Chinese pajamas. It was soooo hot. It was fun looking at all the shops. I forgot to say that today we went on a long boat ride. At first we went under about three bridges. Then we got to a very unusual place where you can feed the wild cat fish. The fish were huge. We fed them a lot of bread and then kept going. We looked at all of the fun houses on the river and a bunch of children waved at us. It was a lot of fun.

Friday, April 9, 2004 (Major)

This morning we took one of the 'fishtail' boats for the customary circuit through the klongs of Thonburi ... which included, at the end, a traditional stretch along the Chao Phraya River with its view of Wat Arun. But, the highlight for the little girls was feeding the fish. As we approached The Oriental Hotel, Ellie circled their suite and 'arrowed' it with her crayon.

In the evening we took them to the Night Market next to Lumpini Park. They 'crashed' on the drive back to the hotel.

PS: Our minders fret about the south:

Office of the Spokesman

April 8, 2004

This Public Announcement is being issued to provide information to U.S. citizens on the need to exercise special caution in the far south of Thailand and to recommend avoiding nonessential travel in that area, particularly during the Songkhran water festival holidays the week of April 10-17. This Public Announcement expires on July 6, 2004.

The far south of Thailand has experienced incidents of criminally and politically motivated violence, including incidents attributed to armed local separatist or extremist groups. Since January 2004, a series of incidents in Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla, and Yala provinces has included arson attacks directed at schools and other buildings associated with the Thai government, the placement of bombs in public areas and near local government offices, killings of police and other officials, and the theft of weapons and explosives. Although these incidents have focused primarily on Thai government interests, some of the recent violence has been indiscriminate. In late March a motorcycle bomb exploded and injured many people near a group of bars frequented primarily by tourists. Thai authorities have on occasion instituted special security measures in the affected areas, such as curfews, military patrols, and random searches of train passengers.

In response to recent incidents of indiscriminate bomb attacks and thefts of explosives, senior Thai officials have warned of the increased threat of terrorist acts, particularly during the extended Songkhran holidays the week of April 10-17. In view of the heightened threat during this period, the Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid nonessential travel to the far south of Thailand, including Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, Satun, and Songkhla provinces, including the town of Hat Yai, and that they exercise special caution if they must travel in those areas during this period.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to register and update their contact information at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. Updated information on travel and security in Thailand may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States, or, from overseas, 1-317-472-2328. U.S. citizens should consult the Consular Information Sheet for Thailand and the latest Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at the Department's Internet site at

The U.S. Embassy is located at 95 Wireless Road,
Bangkok 10330, Thailand (Nearest BTS Skytrain station: Phloen Chit)

U.S. Embassy Bangkok American Citizen Services Unit:
Window Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 - 11 AM and 1 - 3 PM
Tel: +66-2-205-4049
U.S. Department of State travel website:
U.S. Embassy Bangkok website:

PPS: Phnom Penh is just 40 minutes away ... besides, water tossing during Song Khran is becoming too dangerous. So, how about this suggestion from The New Zealand Herald (with thanks to Derek for pointing THOCBDC in this direction):

How would you fancy the chance to fire a rocket-launcher at a cow? Or an anti-aircraft gun at a chicken? They are among the special attractions on offer to tourists in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

Tim Mitchelson discovered the Cambodian Army's jolly little foray into the entertainment industry when his taxi driver in Phnom Penh asked if he would like to try his hand at firing an assault rifle.

"Replying in the affirmative, I was driven to a nearby Army base, where I was met by a young soldier with a price list," he says.

"These guys had everything under the sun: pistols, grenades, machineguns, anti-aircraft guns, and - of course - rocket-launchers. Asked if I got to shoot at anything, they offered me a choice of a coconut, a chicken or a cow.

"Pressing them further on price, they announced their special combo was a cow and a rocket-launcher for US$400: US$200 for each. On the bright side, you got to keep your US$200 for the cow if you missed. I settled for the machinegun and the coconut."

Saturday, April 10, 2004 ... ['tween cross and cave day]* ... (pre-journal)


Of all the imperfect beings brought into the world, few can challenge, for mental and acquired endowments, anything like a comparison to vie with this extraordinary little man. Matthew Buchinger was a native of Nuremberg, in Germany, where he was born June 2nd, 1674, without hands, feet, legs or thighs; in short, he was little more than the trunk of a man, saving two exrescences growing from the shoulder-blades, more resembling fins of a fish than arms of a man. He was the last of nine children, by one father and mother, viz., eight sons and one daughter. After arriving at the age of maturity, from the singularity of his case, and the extraordinary abilities he possessed, he attracted the notice and attentions of all persons, of whatever rank in life, to whom he was occasionally introduced.

It does not appear, by any account extant, that his parents exhibited him at any time for the purpose of emolument, but that the whole of his time must have been employed in study and practice, to attain the wonderful perfection he arrived at in drawing, and his performance on various musical instruments; he played the flute, the bagpipe, dulcimer, and trumpet, not in the manner of general amateurs, but in the style of a finished master. He likewise possessed great mechanical powers, and conceived the design of constructing machines to play on all sort of musical instruments.

If nature played the niggard in one respect with him, she amply repaid the deficiency by endowments that those blessed with perfect limbs could seldom achieve. He greatly distinguished himself by beautiful writing, drawing coats of arms, sketches of portraits, history, landscapes, etc., most of which were executed in Indian ink, with a pen, emulating in perfection the finest and most finished engraving. He was well skilled in most games of chance, nor could the most experienced gamester or juggler obtain the least advantage at any tricks, or game, with cards or dice.

He used to perform before company, to whom he was exhibited, various tricks with cups and balls, corn, and living birds; and could play at skittles and nine-pins with great dexterity; shave himself with perfect ease and do many other things equally surprising in a person so deficient, and mutilated by nature. His writings and sketches of figures, landscapes, etc., were by no means uncommon, though curious; it being customary, with most persons who went to see him, to purchase something or other of his performance; and as he was always employed in writing or drawing, he carried on a successful trade, which, together with the money he obtained by exhibiting himself, enabled him to support himself and family in a very genteel manner. Mr. Herbert, of Cheshunt, editor of Ame's History of Printing, had many curious specimens of Buchinger's writing and drawing, the most extraordinary of which was his own portrait, exquisitely done on vellum, in which he most ingeniously contrived to insert, in the flowing curls of the wig, the 27th, 121st, 128th, 140th, 149th, and 150th Psalms, together with the Lord's Prayer, most beautifully and fairly written. Mr. Issac Herbert, son of the former, while carrying on the business of a bookseller in Pall Mall, cause this portrait to be engraved, for which he paid Mr. Harding fifty guineas. Buchinger was married four times, and had eleven children, viz., one by his first wife, three by his second, six by his third, and one by his last. One of his wives was in the habit of treating him extremely ill, frequently beating him and otherwise insulting him, which for a long time he very patiently put up with; but once his anger was so much roused, that he sprang upon her like a fury, got her down, and buffeted her with his stumps within an inch of her life; nor would he suffer her to rise until she promised amendment in the future, which it seems she prudently adopted, through fear of another thrashing.

Mr. Buchinger was but twenty-nine inches in height. He died in 1722.

(*) The Passion of The Christ tells us that he was nailed on Friday; on Sunday he rolled back the rock and flew away. What was happening in that cave on Saturday? Were there any witnesses inside the cave ... I'm not talking about people who might have been camping outside the place ... I mean was there someone who had his or her eyes on the body all day Saturday: the 'sandwich' day? In any case could anyone peek inside, like through a gap where the boulder might not have been flush with the lip of the cave? And, did anyone inspect the place after He left? Was anything left behind? Robes, bandages, bodily fluids, graffiti, food, alcohol, notes, herbs or medicines?

Ellie's Journal: Day 4

Today Watcharee watched us while my Mom was at the spa. Afterwards we went on a tuk-tuk through the steamy city streets. We stopped at a big department store. After that, we went on a boat ride across the river to the other side of The Oriental. We got to our parking spot and there was a big dinner boat blocking our way. It had a lot of twists and turns in the design on its wooden sides. The boat was rocky and tippy while we were waiting. That night we ate dinner as Ciao. It had Italian food. Plus very good pizza.

Saturday, April 10, 2004 (night)

Watcharee, Patty, Ellie and Flora went shopping at the night market at Patpong this evening. I was not allowed to tag along ... Patty remembers my bad influence a few years back when I introduced the then young Christopher to the non-shopping aspect of Patpong.

I was forced to stay on the far side of Silom Road ... next to McDonalds. I couldn't see or do very much.

Ellie's Journal: Day 5

Today went to see the reclining Buddha. The Buddha's eye was bigger than Flora! It was probably twice the size of our house, or bigger. Many people were praying to the Buddha. If you looked at the bottom of the Buddha's feet, you can see lots of little Buddhas. They're made out of mother of pearl. On our way home, the Taxi was sooo hot. The air conditioning must not have been working because it was a treacherous taxi! In the evening we went to a night market. It was very crowded. We all had to hold hands. I was on the look for a watch. I found a great blue one. When we got home I had chicken satay for dinner. When I was falling asleep I heard "boom, boom, boom". There were huge fireworks outside! They were green, red, pink and orange. Then I remembered that the next day was Easter.

Sunday, April 11, 2004 (Easter Bunny Day)

In deference to the Bunny's Flight THOCBDC will allow the day to pass without anything vile from Steadman's TALES OF THE WEIRD. His tales are too suggestive that the Bunny took perverse pleasure in building people with either too few or too many parts. (*)

Do you remember Green Shirts? Blue Shirts? White Shirts?

Now there is a Red Shirts in my neighborhood ... in fact, it is just next to the Shangri-La Hotel ... like a 25 second walk from my front door. The Grand Opening Under New Management was celebrated with a mega-tub from KFC.

(*) Though He seems to have done a good construction job with His own Kid ... at least according to the teenage girls who have seen the movie.

PS: The Sunday Funny:

Next: Part III

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