July 11th, 2012

BKK Gargoyle

Did My Plan

Today's plan was to take the river taxi to the Peace Corps reunion hotel. It took about 3 hours. Skytrain from the middle of one line to nearly the end of another, walk to the ferry dock (combined, that only took about an hour) and boarded the boat. The hotel is the last stop on the opposite bank, and they go most of the way on the Bangkok side before making a crossing. I missed my stop because the geniuses who built the hotel made the big sign on top only viewable after the boat has left the dock, and pulled halfway across the river. I also missed the first landing on the other side, hoping they would turn around soon and get back to my stop. But finally one of the boat workers said I needed to get off at the next stop and walk a few yards to the other side of the dock for the return trip. I needed water by that time, and while I was getting a bottle opened, the return boat had left. Half an hour till the next one.

The hotel was a 3-block walk from the dock, and it was way humid and 92 degrees and I was stumbling by the time I reached to hotel. Getting to the lobby from the front entrance was non-intuitive and involved lots of stair steps. I hung around the lobby for an hour, drying off and catching my breath, then went downstairs and had a soda water and coconut ice cream. when I was finally feeling human, I went back to the lobby and waited, but nobody Peace Corps-ish came by.

So I walked down the block and looked into two massage places, but they were those group rooms, four or five tables. I'm not too keen on that format.  Walked a few more feet to a nice little open air restaurant, had a diet coke, and phoned the meeting organizer. She and her guy were in their room, they invited me up. I chatted with him while she did some last minute org work. Two more people showed up, and we walked back to the place I'd had the coke, and had dinner. Excellent food.

The other two guys were not just Peace Corps volunteers. One was the Chiang Mai regional director and went on to be country director in Korea, and he also started up most of the new programs in Eastern Europe which I hated because they were so political, and the volunteers were doing work which normally is done by USAID at hazard pay salaries.  The other fellow has been working in Laos, his latest project is organizing an English language school.

After dinner I took a taxi back to the hotel, only 100 Baht (the ride from the airport was 500) and would have been less if we hadn't hit  major traffic. Security guards from one of the nearby hospitals were messing up traffic more by trying to direct it.

After parking my camera, I found a place which gave private room massages, and had a very good one. Many muscles no longer hurt. Then I checked out one of the girlie bars, this one turned out to be topless go-go dancing. Some very pretty women. Age range, they said was 18-45. Some of the 40-ish looked in better shape than some of the teenagers. I bailed after one drink (club soda) and a lot o flirting.

Hotel coffee shop, I was having a low blood sugar episode, so I ordered a regular Coke to help me while they made a banana split. That got me back on track.

Finally back to the room and logged on.

Plans for tomorrow:
Find a photo shop and replace the skylight filter for the zoom, which Bangkok melted. Somehow the filter melted on the inside. I'm guessing it is made of 2 or 3 layers of material.
Buy a new watch band. The one i have has cracked along the hole i use the most. That was starting to happen in the States
Pick up the suit, pants & shirts, and maybe buy a tie.
Take a taxi to the reunion hotel for the first official dinner. They expect 150 people.
How Elephant


The morning started with the usual breakfast buffet. They don't always have all the same items, which is generally a good thing except for cauliflower.  I had two missions:
1. Go to Central World and buy a replacement UV filter for the zoom lens
2. Replace the almost broken watchband
I was curious, because not long ago the Red Shirt rebels burned down Central, but Google Thailand maps was saying there was a photo department there. On arrival, it was clear that one building was badly burned, it is all wrapped in something which looks a lot like duct tape. But the tower across the street is still alive and well.

I needed the restroom first, and it was an adventure finding it. The way they have the signs set up, you can only see the signs if you are coming from the restrooms. Welcome to Thailand. Once there, though, they are beautiful, modern and clean.

Same problem finding the photo department, exacerbated by the remodeling which has all the down escalators out of service, which meant very crowded elevators. Found the watch department first - actually six watch departments, each brand was separate. Nobody knew who sold watch bands. Finally one guy gave me the card of his watch wholesaler, which was a bit of a walk. And bad advice.

Photo department did not have anyone working, and it took 5 minutes to hunt someone up. But she was a total win. She found the filter I needed, and when I told her I wanted to wear it home, she cleaned my lens very thoroughly, carefully screwed on the filter, and gave me the filter case. Excellent.

Back to Skytrain, and along the walkway was a watch repair place with a gazillion watchbands for sale. They set me up with a nice one, which was a challenge because I have huge wrists even for  white guy. Excellent service, and one wonders why none of the 8 or 9 watch department people in the store mentioned this place.

Back to the Nana neighborhood, found a starbucks and had a frap and a piece of chocolate cake which was delicious and fresh, unlike the crap they serve in th US.

Back to the hotel, processed a bunch of photos, including fixing the time stamps because I had forgotten to change time zones on the camera in Taiwan & Bangkok.

Downstairs, tried on the suit. The pants needed to be shortened about 2 inches, and the suit is a little tight across the back, but not enough to complain about. The shirt fit perfectly. I'll pick up the finished product tomorrow morning. They just need to cut & hem the pants. At first she said they were too long for the shoes I'm wearing, but I'm wearing tennis shoe which are the same height as dress shoes.

I really like the look of the raw Thai silk. went across the street & down the block where I had seen some cute ties with an elephant motif which were in a color combo perfect for the suit. Bought two.

Back to the room to cool off and load some photos on to Flickr, update FB and write this. Half an hour and I need to grab a taxi to the reunion. Buffet dinner with 150 other Peace Corps types.