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Friday, May 12, 2017

PAT'S GLOBAL ADVENTURE 2017

It took me all day  to complete just the PaGA Japan summary.  That was a period of only 16 days.  Today, 28.  I'll try to be more efficient so this posting doesn't approach epic status.  Of course, to read the daily details, you can go to my BLOG ARCHIVES in the right column and click on any of those 44 days.

So I start PaGA Day 17 with the view I had from my Tokyo Westin hotel room when I woke up:


On the Thai Air flight I sat next to a remarkable person.  I thought she was a college student.


I learned that the pilot flying this plane was her son.  Wait a minute, that makes her at least 55, if not older.  But even more extraordinary, he was born at Kapiolani Hospital in Honolulu.  I did not pry into why Hawaii.

As in most of better hotels in the Orient, the breakfasts are free (for Platinum status--otherwise, up to $35) and overwhelming, with stations for fruits, noodles, eggs and meats.  The Sheraton Grand Sukhumvit is typical:


On the other side of the palm tree is a Bangkok Sky Train station.

As Marriott has taken over Starwood, I decided to hop around and stay in a few Marriott's.  I kept my large suitcase at the Sheraton, and hoped to catch the mass transit system to these hotels.  However, as taxis are so cheap here, the temperatures in the mid-90's and something called the Songkran Festival in full swing, I rode a cab.  In short, I came during the Thai New Year, when water is tossed to anyone, anywhere.  People walk around with water rifles and no one in his right mind dresses up.


If I had the windows open I would have been soaked by this girl.  There is entertainment, as in the Terminal 21 Mall:


At the Marriott Marquis my view was of Queen's Park.  So I walked down and took this photo:


No, nothing to do with Queen Sirikit, who is now Queen Dowager.

I went to the Executive Club and took these sunset photos:


Certainly looked like a spaceship.  The Marriott Marquis is the largest hotel in Thailand with 1360 rooms.  But in comparison, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has double the rooms.

I took a lot of baths:



I must have bath salts with half a dozen colors.  I should comment, though, that every bathroom I stayed in was faulty in safety bars.  This danger was equivalent to crossing busy streets.  Of course, I am prejudiced, for if I bothered to apply, Guinness would award me a place in their list as the most safety barred small bathroom in the world:


My current tailor is Jackie:


There was a time a few decades ago when I had my suits made in Bangkok.  Now, I'm up to my 9th generation of safari shirts.  I added long sleeve a couple of years ago, and this time a vest, with inside pockets.

The epicurean highlight of this trick was dining at two of Robuchon's restaurants, L'Atelier in Bangkok and Hong Kong.  In the former, the location is in the tallest building in Bangkok, MahaNakhon, 77 floors.


I chatted with the chef, Olivier Limousin:


Both L'Atelier's were worthy, with, perhaps, Hong Kong's a tad better.  I was able to get a seat for lunch at the latter only because the Bangkok staff called them to make a reservation.  Interesting that in Hong Kong, the oldest other person eating was half my age.  Here, the HK manager Anthony Fung giving me a copy of the HK Michelin Guide, which lists their establishment as a 3-Star restaurant:


Note the basket of breads, for it all came home for my hotel room dinner, to which L'Atelier added blue cheese, nuts, and apricots, with the hotel providing a free bottle of red wine and fruits:



Sunset from the Marriott SkyCity at the Hong Kong International Airport:


Then on to Seoul, where I had my usual sumptuous breakfast, here at the Sheraton D-Cube City, the epitome of a next generation hotel:


As you have figured out by now, my weight gain on these trips comes from these breakfasts, which are free.

Why next generation?  The hotel rooms are on the upper floors, with business offices below, and a large mall at street level, with Subway lines #1 and #2 crossing in the basement.  On one floor is a movie theater complex, and on another a broadway show theater, where I saw Oh! Carol, in Korean:


I don't ever remember a Neil Sedaka broadway show.  It's possible this is where it got started, which has now expanded into London.  I did not realize that Sedaka has written something like 800 songs, and only his best made it into this show.  It was truly wonderful, even in Korean.

This is the only place in the world where I can find those really comfortable long sleeve golf shirts which feel like wearing nothing and dry after washing in, literally, minutes.  Just two subway stops away, I usually in the past went to the Mario Outlets (in background), but this time into the Lotte Outlet:


Ten years ago the first version sold for $200.  These shirts are now down to $30.

A dozen years ago Seoul completed a billion dollar urban redevelopment project, Cheonggyecheon, a 6.8 mile recreation space on the site of a stream wending through the city.


This is where my Blue Bar Pigeon appeared.  The walk through the markets is also an experience:


Professor Kiryun Choi bought me lunch at a kalbi restaurant located in my building complex:


He still teaches energy economics at Ajou University.  Choi and I created Green Enertopia while he was head of renewable energy programs for the government.  He mentioned that his daughter has an office each in three countries with Google and his son is a doctor.  This the best way to learn about what is happening in the country.  Talk to people.

Wow, I'm only on day 26, with 18 more to go.  I'll stop here and complete Munich, DC and San Francisco tomorrow.

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