July in Bangkok, Part II

After Part I

July 6-13, 2005

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Today my daughter, Christy, and her husband, Bernie, arrived in Bangkok for a nine day visit. They are staying at the Shangri-La hotel. Normally we would have put them up at The Oriental but because The Oriental is undergoing some major renovations (with lots of noise) we have formed a temporary allegiance to our closest hotel neighbor.

On the 18th floor of the Shangri-La they have a spectacular view of Bangkok. I am envious!

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Is this "7/7"?

(CNN) -- Below is a minute-by-minute timeline of the multiple explosions rocking London. All times are British Summer Time.

4:32 Transport authorities say Docklands Light Railway services in east London and national rail services have resumed. Buses in central London are also returning to service.

4:25 Police have issued the following casualty hotline number for people concerned about friends and relatives: +44 (0)870 1566 344.

3:57 Paddick says it is not clear that a claim of responsibility by Al Qaeda is genuine. He says police are keeping an open mind over who carried out the attacks.

3:44 Paddick says no arrests have been made in connection with the four attacks and says it is unclear whether suicide bombers were involved.

3:41 Assistant chief ambulance officer Russell Smith says the service has treated 45 patients with serious or critical injuries. A further 300 patients have been treated for minor injuries.

3:28 London deputy police chief Brian Paddick says there are seven confirmed fatalities following an explosion near Aldgate underground station at 8:51 am; 21 dead at King's Cross station following an explosion at 8:56 am; and five dead following an explosion at Edgware Road at 9:17 am.

More people died following an explosion on a bus at Upper Woburn Place near Tavistock Square at 9:47 am, but numbers are still unknown.

He says the police had no warning of the attacks and have not received any claims of responsibility.

3:26 Police say at least 33 people have died in three explosions on the London underground and confirm further fatalities following a fourth explosion on a bus.

2:38 U.S. law enforcement sources say the British government has said that at least 40 people have been killed and London hospitals report at least 300 wounded, the AP reports.

1:22 Police say a bomb on a train at Edgware Road underground exploded as a second train was passing and hit both trains.

12:53 Britain's Home Secretary Charles Clarke tells the House of Commons there were four explosions in central London and the underground system will be closed all day. They would decide later in day whether to resume bus services. Earlier six attacks were reported.

12:51 Emergency services personnel tells CNN writer William Chamberlain that all survivors had been evacuated from Kings Cross station, leaving the dead below ground "in the double digits."

12:35 Scotland Yard revises the number of blasts down to four, three in the underground system and one on a bus. These are: Russell Square and Kings Cross Underground, Moorgate, Aldgate and Liverpool Street Underground, Edgware Road station and Tavistock Square where there was an explosion on a bus.

12:27 Police and hospital officials tell Reuters that a total of 185 people are wounded across London, 10 of them seriously and seven critically.

12:15 A previously unknown group calling itself the Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organization in Europe lays claim to the blasts, posting a statement on an Islamist web site. The claim cannot be independently verified.

12:00 pm British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the "barbaric" London blasts are terrorist attacks and were designed to coincide with the G8 summit in Scotland. He will return to London.

11:35 London police chief tells Reuters news agency there are "indications of explosives" at one of the blast sites.

11:15 Police say there were at least six explosions in London.

11:15 European Union commissioner for justice and security affairs Franco Frattini tells reporters in Rome that the blasts in London are terrorist attacks.

11:10 Police say they have reports of two deaths and nine injuries at Aldgate East subway station.

11:07 All bus services have been suspended in London, news agencies report.

10:47 Home Secretary Charles Clarke says multiple London blasts cause "terrible injuries."

10:46 Police report serious casualties in London explosions, but no deaths confirmed, The Associated Press reports.

10:46 Witness to Britain's Sky News says second blast heard in Russell Square.

10:45 Police sources say a bomb is suspected in London bus explosion, AP reports.

10:33 Police confirm at least three explosions on buses in central London, according to AP.

10:25 Police confirm explosion on bus in central London in the area around Russell Square.

10:24 Scotland Yard says "multiple explosions" rock London.

10:14 News agencies report a bus has exploded in central London.

10:02 Scotland Yard says it is dealing with a "major incident."

9:53 Metronet says the entire London subway network has been shut down, news agencies report.

Police says incidents are reported at the Aldgate station near the Liverpool Street railway terminal, Edgware Road and King's Cross in north London, Old Street in the financial district and Russell Square in central London, near the British Museum.

9:41 London Underground reports a second explosion at a subway station in northwest London.

9:33 Witnesses say London Underground told them services are suspended after "power surge."

9:27 Metronet, the subway maintenance company, says power surge has caused explosion in London tube station.

9:25 Police say "there are walking wounded" in London's financial district.

9:15 am British Transport Police tell news agencies an explosion has struck London's financial district in the area near Liverpool railway station.

Friday, July 8, 2005

Damn, I left this roll of film off at the drugstore almost 2 years ago! (*)

(*) Only joking ... my friend, Alan, from the Emirates just mailed them to me. By the way, THOCBDC is banned in the Emirates.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Two of the London bombs exploded next to my Alma Mater.

Here are some large maps of the main campus and the surrounding area.

To UCL alumni

UCL - Getting back to normal

I am writing to all UCL alumni to thank you for the messages of concern that have been flooding in from around the world in response to yesterday's terrorist outrages in London. I am relieved to be able to reassure you that, although these events have inevitably caused distress amongst the UCL community, we have not suffered any direct damage - though we are aware of one member of staff who was seriously injured.

It has been an exceptionally difficult 24 hours for everyone at UCL, but we have managed to keep things running: the true spirit of UCL has prevailed, and I know that you will share my enormous pride in this quality that is so powerful amongst our community of staff and students.

Although it is quiet on the Bloomsbury campus today, things are already getting back to normal, and we expect to be fully operational again next Monday, 11 July.

Please be assured that we are in good shape. We have been fortunate not to have suffered any direct damage. We are not unaffected by this tragedy, but we are now restoring normality and getting on with our daily tasks. We look forward to moving from strength to strength, undented by these barbaric acts.

Thank you again for your thoughts, for your prayers, and for your support.

Malcolm Grant
President and Provost of UCL

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Yesterday Bernie and Christy visited the Dusit Zoo. It can be a dangerous place.

Monday, July 11, 2005 (Stephani's Birthday)

The "night market" (actually, the Suan Lum night bazaar) across from Lumpini Park is a 'must' for any visitor to Bangkok. Christy and Bernie spent two evenings there ... we went, too. You may remember that we usually take our out of town guests there to hone their bargaining skills (*) for even bigger purchases. It is also the best place in Bangkok to see bizarre mannequins.

The stalls (shops) near Lumpini change frequently so I do not mind tagging along as the resident driver and court photographer. For starters, I am going to splash up a few pictures of the shoppers in action; then I'll drift into some random controlled 'snaps'. This process may bleed into tomorrow.

(*) In Thailand bargaining on price is next to zero on big ticket items like cars and houses. But, it is totally expected on such things as a taxi trip or a T-shirt.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 (pre-journal)

Sydney ranked world's best city

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 Posted: 0546 GMT (1346 HKT)

The Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge are two of the city's best-known landmarks.

SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Australia's biggest city, Sydney, has again been named the world's best city by readers of the U.S. magazine Travel and Leisure.

It is the eighth time in 10 years that Sydney, known for its iconic opera house, harbor bridge and stunning beaches, has topped the list.

It was followed by the Thai capital Bangkok in second place, with Italy's Rome and Florence in third and fourth places respectively. The northern Thai city of Chiang Mai made its first appearance in the top 10, placing fifth.

New York ranked sixth, followed by Istanbul in Turkey, Cape Town in South Africa, Oaxaca in Mexico and San Francisco.

Travel and Leisure magazine announced the 2005 results in a variety of categories in New York on Monday. The scores are indexed averages of responses by readers to a questionnaire that asks them to rate destinations, properties and companies relevant to their recent travel.

Bali again won the award for the world's best island, with the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan being voted by readers as the world's best hotel.

The magazine's editor-in-chief, Nancy Novogrod, said there had been significant changes in readers' taste since the survey was launched 10 years ago.

She said smaller, independent hotels now held more appeal than larger ones, and interest in off-the-beaten-track locations continued to grow.

Crystal Cruises was named world's best large-ship cruise line and Singapore Airlines took the title of world's best international airline.

Novogrod said low-cost and regional airlines had become favorites among U.S. domestic airlines, with Midwest Airlines ranking No. 1.

In the top islands ranking, Bali was followed by Santorini, Maui, Kauai, Great Barrier Reef Islands (Australia), Vancouver Island, Cyclades (Greece - Santorini was rated separately), Sicily, Hawaii, and Mount Desert Island, Maine.

Among the best hotels, Singita Private Reserve at Sabi Sand, South Africa ranked second, followed by the Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur, India.

Eight hotels have ranked on the list of top 100 hotels worldwide every year since 1996. They are the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay; the Oriental, Bangkok; the Halekulani, Hawaii; the Peninsula, Hong Kong; Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea; Ritz-Carlton Cancun; Ritz-Carlton, Chicago; and the Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, California.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Here are some (more?) out-takes from our trip the other evening to the 'night market' near Lumpini Park.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

It's a long way from 78 rpm vinyl!

When Bernie and Christy arrived in Bangkok they brought us two iPods: the green one for Watcharee and the blue for me. These are fantastic little machines!

"Alf, are you just discovering this?"

Yes, the last time I bought a music machine was when the Sony Walkman came out ... at about the same time that microwave ovens were first found on store shelves.

But, let me get back to my point. Not only do these half-cigarette size hard drive packages hold a 4 full days of nonstop music ... that's 5,760 minutes of stereo (*) ... they also can broadcast their contents 'live' to your car FM radio (actually, to any FM radio). You just have to choose an FM frequency that lies between the frequencies used by your local stations. In our case here in Bangkok 88.2 was the perfect choice.

I predict that this device will make automobile CD changers totally obsolete.

Another wonderful twist: these iPods with the iTrip (broadcast) feature allows my 'listening power' to go far beyond my own car. Tested in River Garden's garage its rays even penetrated foot thick concrete walls.

My next step is to have a Thai language bumper strip attached to both of our cars that reads "Tune your FM radio to 88.2". In Bangkok's notorious traffic jams my iPod will rule.

(*) "That really 'dates' you, too, Alf. When was the last time you heard anything in mono ... except when you used your rotary dial phone?"

Next: Part III

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