April 20-30, 2006
Hua Hin's Miss April 20:
Another near record day on the road: 90 minutes to drive 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) at an average speed of 10 kph (6.2 mph) with a gas consumption of 21.1 liters per 100 kilometers (11.4 mpg).
When it is cropped it doesn't look all that good.
But, when properly presented it makes you hungry.
Yes, I am obsessing about food. Last night we ate at the Thai restaurant at the Shangri-La hotel; the one overlooking the Chao Phraya river.
But, for tomorrow I promise you something different. On Sunday one of Watcharee's kin will become a monk (*) and this signing-in ceremony will take place in Watcharee's home town: Ayuthaya. So, THOCBDC will offer complete coverage of this event. Paul's friend and former classmate at Carleton, Julie, will come with us to watch this colorful ceremony.
(*) The 'monking' of a son has one really great benefit for the monk's mother: she gets to go to the head of the queue when her time is up on this earth.
This morning we drove Julie up to Sena to witness the 'swearing-in' ceremony for a new monk. He is the son of one of Watcharee's uncles. Julie blended in very well with the leading dance troupe.
On the way back into Bangkok I noticed that the city's tallest skyscraper (at 83 stories) now sports a four sided 18 story 'billboard' exhorting people not to drink and drive. The message was paid for by Johnny Walker Black Label.
Another rush hour in Bangkok gave me Hummer-like 'performance' from our SLK200. It took me 1 hour and 54 minutes to go 19 kilometers (11.8 miles). With an average speed 10 kph (6.2 mph) it burned petrol at the rate of 21.3 litres per 100 kilometers (11.4 mpg).
The outside temperature was 36 Celsius (96.8 F). Though I had the roof down (*) the A/C kept the car comfortable. I guess since I was traveling so slow my car behaved like one of those lie-flat freezers that you see in the market; what with the cool air not rising out of the container.
(*) This gave me the chance to check out what was above. Some bits are more attractive than others. The building with the gold dome is the State Tower.
PS: The Julie who was featured in yesterday's journal is not a stranger to these pages. Do you remember her earlier visits?
I didn't use my camera today. However, I found some photographs that were taken by Bernie (Christy's husband) when they visited us last July. This afternoon I'll post a few of them that he took while on a trip through the canals of Bangkok.
Bernie's lens continues with some scenes of Bangkok's Dusit Zoo.
PS: Stare at this: One of the classics. No, it's not an animated gif.
PPS: Find all 9 Faces:
This afternoon I drove to Pantip Plaza to pick up the Garmin Street Pilot 2720 that I ordered yesterday. Though it is loaded with all the maps of Thailand I primarily wanted it to navigate through Bangkok. OK, it has only been out of the box for less that three hours but all the features that I have so far touched have been great. The default language is English (written and spoken). [*] Though there is a Thai language option.
It comes with a cigar lighter plug which is coupled to a voice box, a really clever dashboard mounting pad (rather like a wide and flat weighted bean bag) that keeps the monitor securely on my dashboard, a mains plug-in unit, a battery powered remote and a USB cable for connecting to a computer.
After driving it home (or, it driving me home) I played with most of its features on my porch (our car's garage is under many meters of concrete).
One feature that I particularly like is the ability to drag the arrow over to any point on the map of Bangkok and a little pop-up will tell me where it is. I can then click on it and it will route me there.
However, the estimated driving times were apparently calculated on making the trip at 3 am on a holiday Sunday.
Yes, I like it!
[*] One minor fault: Throughout the written directions the machine spells 'left' as 'list'. Like "List onto Sukhamvit Road in 100 meters".
Police are warning all men who frequent clubs, parties & local pubs to be alert and stay cautious when offered a drink from any woman. Many females use a date rape drug on the market called "Beer."
The drug is found in liquid form and is available anywhere. It comes in bottles, cans, or from taps and in large "kegs". Beer is used by female sexual predators at parties and bars to persuade their male victims to go home and sleep with them.
A woman needs only to get a guy to consume a few units of Beer and then simply ask him home for no strings attached sex. Men are rendered helpless against this approach. After several beers, men will often succumb to the desires to sleep with horrific looking women whom they would never normally be attracted.
After drinking beer, men often awaken with only hazy memories of exactly what happened to them the night before, often with just a vague feeling that "something bad" occurred. At other times these unfortunate men are swindled out of their life's savings, in a familiar scam known as "a relationship."
In extreme cases, the female may even be shrewd enough to entrap the unsuspecting male into a longer term form of servitude and punishment referred to as "marriage." Men are much more susceptible to this scam after beer is administered and sex is offered by the predatory females.
Please! Forward this warning to every male you know.
If you fall victim to this "Beer" scam and the women administering it, there are male support groups where you can discuss the details of your shocking encounter with similarly victimized men. For the support group nearest you, just look up "Golf Courses" in the phone book.
I am very impressed with this Garmin Street Pilot. Around our apartment there are a number of tall buildings, narrow sois and overhanging trees. Within just a few minutes of leaving my garage the gadget's GPS had captured a sufficient number of satellites to give me my position. I then drove about two kilometers all the while making various turns onto different streets. The Garmin never once lost contact with the satellites. I then asked it to take me "Home". It calculated the course in a half dozen seconds. Twice I intentionally made a detour; both times the machine recalculated the new course. It took me right to my driveway.
All the while the bright color screen was showing where I was and where I was going. In print the screen told me when to turn and onto what street and how far away I was from that turn. A feminine voice (British) echoed what was written and diagramed on the screen.
So far I am very pleased with its (her?) performance.
Tomorrow, when the traffic is not so hellish I'll give it a longer drive. One of the most challenging tests will be how it handles roundabouts and motorway entrances and exits.
The Garmin comes with 3 ways to mount it on your dash. The one I use looks something like a square beanbag. It is filled with what feels like lead pellets and its bottom is clingy. In short, it will not slide around at all. Also, if you want to hide it after you have parked all you have to do is pick it up. The other two mounting thingys are sticky plates. One of them uses a very powerful glue ... so you have to be careful when you position it. The other works with a reusable sticky disk. The Garmin itself can be removed from any of these mounts with just a click of a switch.
The remote is extremely handy especially if your passenger is doing the work. Since most of the commands are made on the touch screen I have found that the eraser end of a pencil does the work more safely if you are driving the car. You can keep your eyes on the road and poke the commands at the same time (but, in practice, you rarely have to do anything to the Garmin while you are driving.
Reader L. K. from Billings, Montana writes: "Enough already! Bring on the food."
Today I spent about four hours testing the Street Pilot. I have to give it a grade of 'A'. It would have received an 'A+' but for one error. (I first thought it was a goof but now I am not so sure). The Gallery restaurant is on Soi 30 Charoen Krung. I have always thought of it as a one-way street heading west because I have never seen any traffic going east. When leaving the parking lot of the Gallery the Garmin told me to turn east. I refused. Later in the day I visually checked the street to see if there were any road signs that indicated the street was for one-way traffic only. There were none. Perhaps it is defacto one-way but not so dejure.
Tomorrow I am going to test its skills on the motorways. Maybe I'll drive out to the site of the new Bangkok airport (about a 35 minute hike on several different motorways) and then push the "HOME" button.
Anyway, now it is time for dinner.
Suvarnabhumi. It is a lot harder to get there than it is to remember its spelling or how to pronounce it. Suvarnabhumi is Bangkok's new (still under construction) international airport. As of now the roads leading to this airport don't give you too many clues as to where you are supposed to go. Using a paper map we headed in the direction of Pattaya. About 25 kilometers from home Golf noticed a small blue sign that told us that our target was off the motorway. Anyway, after about 90 minutes of driving and some 70 kilometers we arrived at the terminal. Five kilometers before that my Garmin Street Pilot showed no map: only the message "You are driving north."
The airport is truly spectacular. It is much bigger than the pictures suggest. Since it was the Sunday of a long holiday weekend there were no other vehicles on the terminal access road. At the terminal itself only a few workers were about.
OK, now it's time to put the Garmin to a tough test: find us the way "HOME" via the web of minor roads and motorways that got us here. First we had to retrace our steps back to the point where the Garmin gave up. At that point I pushed "HOME" and we hoped for the best. Damn, if the thing didn't do a perfect job of getting us back into downtown Bangkok. And that is saying a lot. Bangkok's motorways are not like most of those in the US. Rather, the system resembles a plate of mixed size noodles. There are so many forks, loops, ramps and really strange entrances that ... well ... it can nearly drive you to drink-and-drive.
Today the SLK burned an average of 7.6 liters per 100 kilometers (31 mpg). An enviable personal record.