Bangkok, August 2010
Part III

After Part II

August 16-24, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Mandarin Oriental (or, as we know it, The Oriental) is getting a partial lobby fix. The Reception, Concierge and the Cashier areas are being totally done over. For the next month or so these spots will be located in a smallish corner area of the lobby (in a niche located just before the stairs leading to the Author's Wing).

There are no immediate plans to do anything to the exterior of the hotel; and no tampering is planned for the Sala Rim Nam.

Our 1410, the Gore Vidal suite, still has a great view of the river.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The face lift at River City is almost complete. The replacement of some of its internal organs will take a little longer. But, when all is complete this should be a cool mall.

But, the adjacent Sala Thai massage parlor needs no improvements.

PS: Grand daughter Ellie is in this photo.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's that time of the year again.


Beloit, Wis. - Born when Ross Perot was warning about a giant sucking sound and Bill Clinton was apologizing for pain in his marriage, members of this fall's entering college class of 2014 have emerged as a post-email generation for whom the digital world is routine and technology is just too slow.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit's Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. The Mindset List website at, the Mediasite webcast and its Facebook page receive more than 400,000 hits annually.

The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Since "digital" has always been in the cultural DNA, they've never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who's that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat.

Nonetheless, they plan to enjoy college. The males among them are likely to be a minority. They will be armed with iPhones and BlackBerries, on which making a phone call will be only one of many, many functions they will perform. They will now be awash with a computerized technology that will not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their professors to help them. A generation accustomed to instant access will need to acquire the patience of scholarship. They will discover how to research information in books and journals and not just on-line. Their professors, who might be tempted to think that they are hip enough and therefore ready and relevant to teach the new generation, might remember that Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station. The college class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older.

The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014

Most students entering college for the first time this fall-the Class of 2014-were born in 1992.

For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.

  1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.
  2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.
  3. "Go West, Young College Grad" has always implied "and don't stop until you get to Asia ... and learn Chinese along the way."
  4. Al Gore has always been animated.
  5. Los Angelinos have always been trying to get along.
  6. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.
  7. "Caramel macchiato" and "venti half-caf vanilla latte" have always been street corner lingo.
  8. With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.
  9. Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus's folks on Parents' Weekend.
  10. A quarter of the class has at least one immigrant parent, and the immigration debate is not a big priority ... unless it involves "real" aliens from another planet.
  11. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.
  12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.
  13. Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.
  14. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.
  15. Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.
  16. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.
  17. Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.
  18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.
  19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.
  20. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.
  21. Woody Allen, whose heart has wanted what it wanted, has always been with Soon-Yi Previn.
  22. Cross-burning has always been deemed protected speech.
  23. Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.
  24. "Cop Killer" by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording.
  25. Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.
  26. Unless they found one in their grandparents' closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.
  27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.
  28. They've never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.
  29. Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.
  30. "Viewer Discretion" has always been an available warning on TV shows.
  31. The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.
  32. Czechoslovakia has never existed.
  33. Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.
  34. "Assisted Living" has always been replacing nursing homes, while Hospice has always been an alternative to hospitals.
  35. Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.
  36. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.
  37. Whatever their parents may have thought about the year they were born, Queen Elizabeth declared it an "Annus Horribilis."
  38. Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
  39. Pizza jockeys from Domino's have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.
  40. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.
  41. American companies have always done business in Vietnam.
  42. Potato has always ended in an "e" in New Jersey per vice presidential edict.
  43. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.
  44. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.
  45. They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college.
  46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.
  47. Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.
  48. Someone has always gotten married in space.
  49. While they were babbling in strollers, there was already a female Poet Laureate of the United States.
  50. Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.
  51. Food has always been irradiated.
  52. There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church.
  53. J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn't he?
  54. The historic bridge at Mostar in Bosnia has always been a copy.
  55. Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.
  56. They may have assumed that parents' complaints about Black Monday had to do with punk rockers from L.A., not Wall Street.
  57. A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.
  58. Beethoven has always been a dog.
  59. By the time their folks might have noticed Coca Cola's new Tab Clear, it was gone.
  60. Walmart has never sold handguns over the counter in the lower 48.
  61. Presidential appointees have always been required to be more precise about paying their nannies' withholding tax, or else.
  62. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
  63. Their parents' favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies.
  64. The U.S, Canada, and Mexico have always agreed to trade freely.
  65. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.
  66. Galileo is forgiven and welcome back into the Roman Catholic Church.
  67. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court.
  68. They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.
  69. The Post Office has always been going broke.
  70. The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping.
  71. The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.
  72. One way or another, "It's the economy, stupid" and always has been.
  73. Silicone-gel breast implants have always been regulated.
  74. They've always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi Channel.
  75. Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.

Copyright ©2010 Beloit College

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bangkok's weather for the next week or so is expected to be lousy: rain, thunder storms, wind and lightning. Tonight will probably be the last clear night until the end of the month. Today, I actually drove around town* with the top down (or, should I say, with the mechanical hard roof stored in the boot?).

* Town? A place with 12 million neighbors?

Friday, August 20, 2010

THE GARAGE is a fabulous burger joint in All Seasons, a shopping mall very near us. You can eat in-house or call for a delivery and expect one of their special bacon burgers at your door within 30 minutes. The salads are to kill for, too.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The predicted rains are here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

OK, Nana may look inviting at night...especially when its workers are in harness ... but, on a Sunday morning, even in the best of times, the place looks really awful. But, now that an ordered 'face lift' is in progress Nana has the appearance of being a disaster area.

Nana has facelift to stay young

Beer bars torn down to ensure hot spot doesn't go up in flames

One of Bangkok's most notorious nightspots, Nana Plaza on Sukhumvit Soi 4, is getting a facelift. Many of the mostly foreign customers who frequent Nana Plaza have been surprised to find that all the beer bars on the ground floor in the middle of the complex have been demolished.

The open area in the centre of the three-storey complex is now a construction site, and the hundreds of bar girls and ladyboys who work in Nana Plaza have to skirt around bags of cement and building material to get to the many go-go bars and other businesses that were set up there in the early 1990s.

IN THE HARSH LIGHT OF DAY: A view few customers see - NEP in daylight. The square, where construction work has been going on for a few weeks, is surrounded by three-storey buildings housing dozens of entertainment venues, including go-go and ladyboy bars.

A tall foreigner, who some of the bar girls called ''boss'', has been directing workers at the construction site.

He was reluctant to talk, as was a Thai manager of the construction firm doing the work.

But according to a source, the demolition of the beer bars at Nana Plaza was prompted by a visit by officials from the Klong Toey district office.

"After the Santika pub fire on New Year's Eve in 2008 that resulted in many deaths and injuries, officials came to the plaza to check safety issues such as fire exits.

"They want to prevent a similar accident happening here," said the source.

"They expressed concern about the fire hazard caused by those beer bars because they were blocking the way for fire trucks to reach any of the buildings behind them.

"If fire broke out at Nana Plaza it would cause another tragedy, so the officials ordered that those beer bars be torn down."

When the "boss" was asked if the reason for the facelift was due to safety concerns by local authorities, he simply answered: "Maybe. But there are also other reasons."

Ms Pen, a bartender at Nana Plaza who has worked there for many years, said the square in the centre of the complex was originally a car park, but someone decided to open a small bar and more were added later on.

"Many foreigners have complained for years that Nana Plaza is a fire trap, posing a danger to hundreds of customers and employees alike, because there is only one way to escape - and that is through the narrow entrance from Soi 4," she said.

The demolition of the beer bars and the reconstruction work started at the end of last month and should be finished within two months.

She said the new set-up will also feature live music and a dance floor.

"One construction worker told me that the new chairs, tables and other fittings are designed to be easily removed after closing time or during an emergency.

"The new beer bars being built there will be covered by a high roof, so that even a large fire truck will be able to drive under it."

However, few patrons are convinced the renovations will make the place any safer if fire breaks out.

"The beer bars which are under construction won't solve this problem," said a regular foreign customer who thought the whole thing was a gimmick.

He prefers to sit and drink close to the entrance to Nana Plaza instead of at outlets on the second or third floor because of concerns about a fire.

Several talkative bar girls said they were also concerned about the fire hazard issue.

"We have to wait and see how safer the new beer bars at the square are going to be than those previous ones," said one bar girl.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The River City face lift, though way behind schedule, is getting close to completion. Most of the delays were caused by difficulties encountered in refurbishing the core multi-floor inner lobby*.

* OK, so it's not part of a technical face lift it; it's more like a heart transplant.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This morning's Bangkok Post had cartoons for both cat lovers and cat haters; and, they appeared on the same page.

Next door, at the building site of the Novotel Hotel a worker spent his lunch hour (12 to 1) napping in a sky high hammock.

Yes, it has been an action filled day for THOCBDC.

Next: Part IV

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