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Monday, August 17, 2015


Earlier today a bomb exploded at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, killing 20 and injuring at least 140.  Reportedly, there were two more devices which did not detonate and there is concern other bombs were placed elsewhere.

I've many times stayed at the Grand Hyatt Erawan located adjacent to this shrine.  That is the Hyatt to the left and shrine to the right, before the explosion.  

Is Thailand safe?  Not really, but the world is generally unsafe, including where you live.  Does this mean I should cancel my Grand Around the World Adventure (I'm testing acronyms, and this one is GAWA)?  Likewise, should you just stay home to avoid being hit by a car in a crosswalk?  Within reason, you just can't let your life be determined by terrorists.

Thailand, in particular, has been messy, as the military still runs the country, and the international airport has seen a major lockdown in the past.  You've got to be careful what color you wear, for there are major red-yellow confrontations at shopping areas.  Red shirt means you support the deposed Shinawatra siblings, while yellow shirts are now comfortable with the resultant opposition leadership. Reds represent rural and students, while yellows are the urbanites and traditional business sector.

Then there is that horrible explosion in Tianjin, China, where 200 are either dead or missing.  Why they were storing so much sodium cyanade right next to a residential area is, perhaps, symptomatic of the problems facing the country.  However, my only China encounter this time will be Hong Kong, which is 1200 miles away.  The advantage of HK is that you don't need to bother with a visa.  It cost $140 for Americans and $30 for others.  Why?  We charge $158 for a person from China to visit the USA.

Then there is MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), which has killed 36 in South Korea.  Again, good news.  The MERS outbreak was officially declared over at the end of last month.  MERS is a cousin of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed several hundred in Asia a dozen years ago.  It's hard to get too excited by this minuscule numbers because around 150,000 die worldwide every day.

The around the world fare is such that any change of destination costs $120, except that you can make any number of adjustments for that price with the same phone call.  So, Seoul appears okay, Hong Kong for sure and Bangkok is Bangkok.  The rest of the world appears fine, so on with my GAWA.

Typhoon Goni is at 135 MPH, and could weaken into a Category 3 before striking Taiwan:

It's not clear if the eye will make landfall or just slide north towards Okinawa.

Typhoon Atsani is at 110MPH, but should reach Category 4.  The current path seems to be over Ogasawara, then to Japan:

All signs point to some weakening before striking Japan.


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