December 1-10, 2005
A bit of a potpourri today:
The monk's quarters at our neighborhood temple (Wat Suan Phlu ... the one with the regenerative tree limbs) are getting a fresh coat of paint.
What is this? (hint: Sandra makes soup out of it)
And, any guesses as to this?
Watcharee's niece (Bo) and nephew (Beem) took these pictures with their cell phones using available light. The setting was the Shangri-La, where we took them and their mother for dinner to celebrate Bo's 23rd birthday.
PS: Is this one of my misplaced Fort Lauderdale beach bunnies?
The New Yorker is my favorite magazine. Fortunately, I can get it here in Bangkok only a few days after it hits the streets of New York; you see, The Oriental's news kiosk keeps a standing air-shipment order for it.
Whatever, the November 28th issue contains this wonderful dual page cartoon spread by Gregory. In it the cartoonist creates a welcoming cocktail reception for Death, Inc.; a group that has obviously chosen a hotel for its AGM.
Photo Shop 8.0 has allowed me to break the party up into smaller conversational groups. So, go eavesdrop. (*)
I particularly like the one where Death says: "Who knew things in Iraq would run this smoothly?"
(*) But, with all this cropping have I exposed myself to yet another half dozen violations of the Copyright Act? Hey, but this is Thailand: anything goes. Moreover this is THOCBDC! So, there!
Yesterday I was left behind to wander around by myself.
Watcharee and Golf ... (along with Watcharee's friend, Rung, and her daughter, Nane) ... went shopping for clothes. They left our place in the late morning and got back at supper time.
But, they returned with more than just clothes: lots of very 'soi' (*) food came with them. Some of these dishes are 'rougher' than others on farang stomachs. I don't mind the fiery spices but I sometimes do worry about what part of the anatomy the meat dish came from. See why?
The after-dinner extreme ironing contest was won by Golf.
(*) 'Soi' loosely means 'street'. This is the food that most working Bangkokians eat. Bought on the footpath it is either eaten on the spot (usually) or taken home in small thin plastic bags tied at the neck with tiny red rubber bands.
Father's Day ... and Mother's Day ... are movable holidays here in Thailand as they always fall on the birthdays of the current King and the current Queen. Today is His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's (*) 78th birthday. And, on June 6, 2006 the King will celebrate 60 years on the throne. So, for the past 59 years Thailand has had its Father's Day on December 5th. But whatever that record, it also means that the King of Thailand is now the world's longest reigning monarch.
The King was born in Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts in 1927 while his father was a student at the Harvard Medical School. His first home was at 63 Longwood Avenue in Boston (click here for a GOOGLE map view).
(*) His formal title is Prabath Somdej Phra Paramindara Maha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitarathibej Ramathibodi Chakrinaruebej Sayammindhrathiraj Boromnartborpit.
"Ol' man river, he just keeps rollin' along ...."
In America the Friday after Thanksgiving seems to be the 'on' switch for Christmas advertising. In Thailand the day after the King's Birthday (December 5) is when it's OK to put up a Christmas tree.
Though the River Garden lobby tree went up smack on time it looks short on the underlying gifts.
Meanwhile the tree on the far side of the Chao Phraya River seems to have lost most of its greenery.
Is this about the year that was OR is it a harbinger of the year that will be?
PS: And, River Garden's tenants seem to have a more sophisticated sense of floral display than do the people in the building topped with the warring arboreals. Are we a more optimistic bunch?
It's gaining some height.
In the December 2005 issue of SEATTLE magazine daughters Annie and Lisa made the "THE BEST OF 2005" list. I am proud of you girls.
Over the past two years THOCBDC has documented the construction of the Siam Paragon shopping complex. (*)
Today the Siam Paragon had its Grand Opening. Of course it was timed to coordinate with the start of the Christmas shopping thing. Since Thais are largely non-Christian it matters not a hoot whether they call the totem tree (**) a Christian one or a Holiday one. But, since 'Christian' sounds the more farang of the two, most savvy Thai merchants go for that. In fact, people here probably think this guy 'Christian' was a clever fat medieval shop owner who dressed in red and always went "Ho .. Ho .. Ho" when ushering people into his store. (Hey, that's just as credible as believing 'Christian' was spawned by a holy ghost, then conveniently lost his pre-teen years, teens, and his twenties, and only came onto us as a super cult idol in his early thirties ... and nicely died before being tested by the rigors of inter vivos interrogation.)
THOCBDC congratulates the store's promoters in their choice of the grand prize. After the winning number is drawn I am tempted to drive around town with a big red satin bow on my car.
(*) See our February 5, 2005 coverage, which includes links to earlier reports. All of these photos ... those shot today and the historical ones ... were taken from the Siam Skytrain station.
(**) They are still putting the finishing touches on this all metal one.
PS: We need to give this girl (2.5mb WMV) another showing.
The 'radio' (*) in my car here in Bangkok allows me to play DVDs even if I am in motion (**) (***). And, since first run movies are available in Thailand on pirate DVDs within days after their big screen release in America or in Europe ... well, it's like having a Cineplex in my car. And here the pirate DVDs are not zoned, so they will play on any machine in the world. And, they are incredibly inexpensive: less than a senior citizen discount ticket for a midweek matinee.
(*) A quaint term. But what do you call something that captures sound from the air, plays music from discs and tapes, shows you movies, tells you how to go from A to B and also operates as a telephone ... and for a little extra money will summon the medics if your air bags go pop in the middle of a drive?
(**) 'Motion' here is relative. At rush hour some of BKK's red lights would permit me to watch a full episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm before they turned green.
(***) In George Bush's America this is totally forbidden. I can't operate the DVD function even if the car's transmission is in P and the hand break is on.
Next: Part II