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Thursday, October 8, 2015

GAWA Day #23A: My Day in Bangkok

Bangkok is one of my very favorite cities. I've stayed at the Oriental (now run by Mandarin and costs around $750/night), the St. Regis and the Hyatt Erawan (left, where the recent terrorist bomb incident occurred), but now almost always choose the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit because:
  • It's relatively cheap at $138.
  • They upgrade me to a luxury suite, which you can get for $200.
  • Two major shopping complexes are in close covered walking distance, and the street stalls are here.
  • Lots of nightlife, but, at my age...
  • Many tens of tailor shops.
  • Both the BTS (Skytrain) and MRT, or underground railway, stations are here.  They don't cooperate with each other, but are really cheap.
  • They have three bars for free evening cocktails.
  • Rossini's (scroll down to next posting).
  • The free breakfast buffet is dangerously enticing. 
For lunch I brought back to my room some Kentucky Fried Chicken, a large Singha Thai beer, and as the Japanese Daiso (upgraded 100 Yen) store was right there, I picked up a walking cane.

The whole meal with beer, plus the cane, cost me less than $10.  Why a cane?  the streets of Bangkok are not smooth and safe.  That third leg makes a huge difference.  And less than $3!  Plus, it makes crossing the street a lot safer, for cars are afraid of you.  Can't disregard the potential defense option for attacking dogs and muggers.  Also, I noticed that when I'm on any mass transit train, younger people more readily offer me their seat.  Finally, the cane serves as a device to let the elevator know that I am entering.  How important is this?  Read my posting of last year, where an elevator door in Kyoto sent me to the emergency room.

The hotel made a reservation for me tonight at Sirocco, so what else did I do other than eat?  There are many lists, but here is one top ten of what to do:
  • Grand Palace (Pearl's ashes are located at the right close tower)
  • Wat Arun
  • Floating Market
  • Chinatown
  • Wat Pho
  • Chaya Phraya River
  • Chatuchak Weekend Market (worth your while, with 8000 stalls, but my two full days do not include a weekend day)
  • Khao San Road
  • Soi Cowboy (right, located close by my hotel, a safer version of Patpong and Nana Plaza)
  • Jim Thompson's House (I bought a $150 Thai silk tie once and smeared some oil on it the first time I wore it--things at this store are too expensive).  An American businessman who re-vitalized the Thai silk industry, he disappeared almost half a century ago, and has never been found.
One touchy subject is massage.  You can scan the internet, as, for example, Bangkok Tonight, and Inside Flyer reports that a typical Thai massage for one hour costs 300 Baht (around $8), but just outside of downtown, the cost drops to 100 Baht.  They provide robes and shower facilities.  Then there is the more famous kind, and the cost is much less than $100, including the massage.  In my hotel, a one hour aroma therapy massage with a half hour facial, normally $153, is reduced to less than $100.

The problem about what to do is that I've been here more than 25 times and been there, done that.  So, then, what?  Well, it was thunder storming outside, so I went to a movie:  Sicario.  Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave the film a 93% rating, audiences, 91%.  Grim, tense and captivating mash of what you suspect, but can't quite accept, as the reality of the drug war at our border with Mexico.  Emily Blunt plays an idealistic FBI agent, Benito Del Toro, an assassin with a purpose, and Josh Brolin as the professional and generally pleasant Department of Defense agent, but with a warped sense of morals.  However, consider who he is contending against.

I then visited Jackie the tailor, a short walk from my hotel.  I had brought with me the previous day an example of a third generation safari shirt I designed over the decades I've been coming here.  24  hours later, for $27 (I ordered several different colors):

My vest has only two zippered pockets.  This shirt has four, and I'll test the black one out for travel to Dubai, but I love the blue green color.

My dinner at Sirocco was fabulous, and will be reviewed tomorrow.  Here I am with Chef de Cuisine Gonzalo Ruiz, from Spain, now the gastronomical capital of the world:

If I look like I gained some weight, it is mostly the contour of the shirt, but...yes.

Hurricane Oho has missed Hawaii, but it is interesting to note that it will weaken, then regain hurricane strength off Vancouver Island:


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