February 11-17, 2007
A week from now we'll be halfway between BKK and FLL.
Today THOCBDC is 4000 days old.
PS: The '96 Club ... we are in good company!
Wayback with THOCBDC!
Kung is shown here, with her husband, N, and their two children (Fai, the girl and Tak, the boy). Also pictured is S. Kung, S and Watcharee were in high school together 17 years ago.
PS: 1410 can be seen from our porch.
Happy Valentines (*) Day!
(*) Always wondered whether it was plural or possessive.
Life returns to normal.
PS: Sometimes the usual life takes an unusual turn.
GALLE, Sri Lanka (Reuters) -- Eighteen-year-old Abey is unpredictable, has a temper and let his side down badly on Thursday when he lost focus on his polo game in southern Sri Lanka and hospitalized two of his teammates.
The four-tonne elephant threw off his mahout and American rider as the island's sixth annual elephant polo tournament got under way, rampaging off the pitch and crushing the Spanish team's minibus with his head.
Sri Lankan polo-playing elephants are chosen from the island's 110 domesticated animals.
"It's not quite what we were expecting," said boutique hotelier Geoffrey Dobbs, who organized the annual Ceylon Elephant Polo Association Bowl to help boost upmarket tourism and elephant conservation, as trainers tried to calm the animal.
"I've been playing for seven years and it has never happened before," he added. "He got confused. Elephants are quite short-sighted, and if there are sudden movements in front of them, they can sometimes be unpredictable."
Spectators rushed out of the enclosure next to the ramparts of a historic 17th Century Dutch Fort in the southern port town of Galle as Abey repeatedly butted the minibus, breaking its windows and wrecking its bodywork.
A vet clutched a tranquilizer dart rifle nearby as trainers tried to control him with sharp sticks and stones.
"I'm not playing again. It's not safe," said visiting American player Courtney Zenz after watching her teammate thrown from the back of the 2.8 meter male elephant and dangling in the air, her leg stuck in a stirrup.
Elephants are revered in Sri Lanka and used at Buddhist religious ceremonies and local festivals -- the main day job for most of the polo-playing elephants chosen from among 110 domesticated animals across the island.
The rest of Sri Lanka's 3,500-4,000 elephants are wild, roaming in scrub jungle and wildlife parks, and officials are striving to tackle a human-elephant conflict in rural areas, where farmers shoot dead elephants to protect their crops.
In 2006 around 150 elephants were killed and 50 humans were trampled or slammed to death as the animals strayed into villages scavenging for food, Sri Lanka's Wildlife Department says.
Visiting Thai elephant conservation expert Prasop Tipprasert says putting the animals to work can help educate the civilian population and pay for costly upkeep, but is not convinced polo is the answer.
"There are many, many ways to conserve elephants," Tipprasert said. "If you want to do this kind of thing, they must know each other very, very well. You really have to do a long, long preparation."
Not all players were deterred by Abey's rampage.
Spanish horseback polo player and horse breeder Inigo de Arteaga, the Marquis de Tavara from north of Madrid, is used to injuries.
"You can fall any time, it can be an elephant, pony, a horse. Last year I broke my wrist. Two years ago I broke two ribs," he said, looking at the remains of his minibus, as the tournament beside the Indian Ocean was temporarily called off.
"Doing any sport is always a risk. Let's go surfing."
For Hyla Matthews fans here is another 'tape'. This one is political.
Tomorrow we are going to fly to Miami; well, actually, tomorrow night we are going to the new Bangkok airport to catch a flight to London's Heathrow Airport ... and, if that leg is successful (*) we'll attempt the 2nd leg to Miami the following day.
Anyway, in anticipation of the journey, I bagged our two cars for their six-week hibernation. In addition I stationed about a dozen water bottles close to their tires.
Here in Thailand, and in many parts of Asia, car owners protect their tires by placing full plastic bottles of water next to their tires. Why do you think we do it?
Of course, I only protect our S and SLK this way when we are going away on a trip in which we will leave our cars behind. Some people do it every time they park their cars overnight.
There is a very good reason for this. Can you guess why?
(*) Bangkok's new airport has been having so many problems that anything can happen there.
Many dogs in Asia roam free. And, here in Bangkok you rarely see them on a leash. But, of course, they are not expected to pee in the house so they are turned to the streets (or, in the case of condos they wander into the garage) to do their work.
It is well known that in Thailand a male dog's favorite latrine is a car tire (we have so few trees here). So how, short of standing armed guards next to your car, do you keep male dogs from using your tires as a toilet?
Easy, you place a clear plastic water bottle next to each tire.
"And, how does that keep the dog away?", you might well ask.
Ahh ... male dogs are like male humans: they are protective of their 'privates'. When a dog approaches the protected tire he sees some reflective movement in the clear bottle. And, he is therefore very reluctant to lift his leg over this unknown danger ... so he moves on.
In a few hours we'll catch flights for London and Miami. The airport to airport journey takes about 25 hours. Add a couple of hours for the initial check-in and two more for the land bits and it is just shy of 30 hours for the door to door transfer.
Next: Back to Florida!