February 23-29, 2008
Here is a pop quiz to see how you are doing mid Lent (full disclosure: I found this test over on the Evil Bible forum and I even think that the person who posted it there found it somewhere else).
Annie had a great hair day! (*)
(*) Hey, it was a brilliant hair day!
For our penultimate dinner (the night of February 22) we took Annie and Jez to Angelini in the Shangri-La hotel. Pom and Golf came with us. Bear with us ... these are mostly food shots.
PS: Last night Annie and Jez came with us for dinner at Sirocco, an open air restaurant on the top of State Tower. But, more about that tomorrow.
For Annie and Jez's last night in Bangkok we took them to Sirocco which is located at the top of State Tower. The views of Bangkok at about sunset are spectacular ... as is the food. (*)
(*) Unfortunately, my food shots were less than spectacular as I neglected to flick on the near-focus button.
Here are my favorite reflexology girls.
I received this letter from Mike the day before yesterday. Corkscrew Balloon #4 looks like it is still in great shape. Hey, I want to go ballooning again!
Chateau d'Oex was alternately sunny, snowy, and snowless this year and the flying went quite well. When we returned to Laborde, it was so springlike that we decided to inflate the Chateau d'Oex balloons to dry them out rather than sending them to the freezer.
Anyway, since none of your balloons have been out of the bag in a couple of years, I thought it would be a good idea to inflate one to sample how they're doing. As I mentioned before, Buddy threw away about 30 envelopes that had mildewed after a few years of storage.
Corkscrew 4 was on the top of the stack so we inflated that one. You'll be pleased to hear that it seems still to be in mint condition. I'm attaching a few photos, in case you'd like to see for yourself.
Hope all's well on your side of the planet.
Send my best to Watcharee.
Yours from Paris,
My new neighbor:
Thailand's Thaksin returns home, ending exile
BANGKOK (AFP) – Ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra flew home Thursday to an ecstatic welcome from thousands of supporters, kissing the ground as he ended nearly one and a half years of self-imposed exile.
Immediately after landing in Bangkok, he was driven under police escort to court to face corruption charges filed by the military regime that deposed him in a bloodless September 2006 coup.
In brief separate hearings, the Supreme Court and the Attorney General's Office freed him on combined bail of nine million baht (281,000 dollars) and banned him from leaving Thailand without permission from the court's judges.
"He is also banned from doing anything which may damage or obstruct the legal process. Otherwise the bail will be revoked," the court statement said.
Both graft cases date back to 2003. He is accused of using his influence as premier to win a sweetheart property deal for his wife, and making fraudulent filings to securities regulators in the listing of a property company.
Thaksin — who is due to appear before the Supreme Court again on March 12 — and his wife Pojaman could each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all charges in both cases.
The charismatic tycoon had earlier emerged from the airport to cheering crowds, and fell to his knees to bow and kiss the ground of his home country.
Thaksin has spent most his time since the coup living in Britain.
More than 10,000 supporters, many carrying red roses and waving blue flags, gathered at Bangkok's international airport. Some arrived before dawn to get a prime spot to greet their ousted leader, who arrived here from Hong Kong.
The crowd sang songs praising Thaksin, filling the airport with a carnival atmosphere, while banners read "We love you" and "We miss you."
"Our land needs him. Nobody can push him out. He is a good guy. Thai people love him," said Malee, a 53-year-old businessman who did not want to give his last name.
Speaking to reporters, including AFP, on the Thai Airways flight from Hong Kong, Thaksin insisted the graft charges were politically-motivated.
"My reputation has been tarnished. I have done a lot for my country," said Thaksin, dressed for his homecoming in a smart black suit and white shirt.
"The allegations are made up. They are made to justify the coup."
His son was also on the flight, along with a number of businessmen and two footballers with the English Premiership football club Manchester City, which Thaksin bought last year.
A cheer rose from the travellers as the plane touched down.
Snipers were posted on high-rises and a team of 30 commandos escorted Thaksin from the plane to the airport VIP lounge.
Thaksin has booked himself for one month in Bangkok's lavish riverside Peninsula Hotel, reserving an entire floor for his family and entourage.
His return comes with a new civilian government in office in Bangkok under Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, a close ally who was handpicked by Thaksin to lead the People Power Party (PPP) to success in December elections.
Thaksin is also expected to visit the Grand Palace, to pay respects to the late sister of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in what would be an important display for a man accused by the military of lacking loyalty to the throne.
The coup was welcomed by Bangkok's middle classes, who led months of street protests against twice-elected Thaksin in early 2006, accusing him of abuse of power and corruption.
But the military government left many coup supporters disillusioned as the generals mishandled the economy and failed to win convictions on the charges against Thaksin.
Not everyone is pleased about his return however. The People's Alliance for Democracy, which spearheaded earlier anti-Thaksin protests, has vowed to take to the streets against any perceived interference with the courts.
"He's taking a gamble," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University, although "it's a much less risky gamble than before the election."
How about some 180 Fish Eyes from our Athenee Residence? ... OK, these are from the outside taken today. But, I promise more from the inside of our condo tomorrow. Are you really interested or would you rather have some nudes from Good Shit? (*)
My new neighbor has a head shot on all four of my dailies.
Today's Bangkok Post revealed that Thaksin and his entourage occupy the top three floors of The Peninsula hotel ... which include eleven suites. The price: 1,100,000 baht or about $35,000.00 per night. And, he booked them all for at least 30 days.
Hmmm ... at cocktail hour tonight there was an unusual amount of boat traffic on the man's 'backyard'. Hoping to catch a sighting? Or, maybe people were just interested in catching the sunset.
I wonder ... if I put up a big poster on my River Garden porch welcoming him home ... do you think I might get an invite?
[*] On the most recent February 29, in 2004, we compiled a list of THOCBDC's guest journals over its first eight years. At that time, THOCBDC comprised 5,554 web pages and 21,512 images. Now, four years later, those numbers have grown to 6,706 pages and 30,598 images.