Tuesday, March 06, 2007

here, there and everywhere

Living in Thailand, working for a German client with American customers is always going to involve travel and for the last year or more i have been back and forth to the US nearly every other week. Since the New Year i have finished one job in LA and have followed the rollout to Colorado. This is my first time to any of the Rocky Mountain states and at the end of winter it is pretty spectacular here. I arrived after a stop over in LAX and went straight into the office, however yesterday i drove up to Estes Park, quite lovely sceanary and i enjoyed the drive and a walk around the lake. The weather for someone now used to +35 deg C heat and very high humidity is far too cold and dry!

It is funny that just over a week ago i was sweating just eatting in an outside canteen in Singapore and yesterday as i walked arround this lake i seriously thought about breaking into a jog to keep warm! I was hoping that i would see some Elk up near the national park and as i parked my car i realised that there were two large ones right next to my bonnet.

After my short walk i drove back down route 36 to Lyons and stopped in a pretty cool bar called Oskar Blues. Apparently it is a chain owned by a famous baseball player but as chains go it had decent food, music and some heavy looking beer for sale from the onsite micro-brewery, if you get the chance to go there the prime rib cajun style went down a treat!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Years boom

Sitting drinking bubbly yards away from an explosion that tore off a tourists legs was not the way i had imagined to spend the countdown. Just the day before i came back from a visit to Pattaya and was looking forward to walking down the street into the crowds and bringing in the New Year with a can of Singha and countless thousands in an atmosphere that is usually so typical friendly and enjoyable. Early afternoon as the news of eight bombings came in i walked down towards the Rajprasong junction against a mass of people all trudging back after hearing that the events had all been cancelled- a move that later looked well judged as a later bomb ripped apart some phone boxes and injured several badly right on the corner of the intersection close to midnight. I was sat at the time outside the Four Seasons hotel and had planned on walking down there, luckily i ended up watching a movie and heading to a Jazz bar much later after things had calmed down. Or so i thought, as today news of another bomb this time in the Chinatown area bring back the thoughts of feeling that bit less safe in a city where you so often forget any notion of being threatened. Who organised it is unconfirmed but i would not be surprised that elements of the last government performed it to look like the work of Southern seperatists. In my opinion the seperatists would claim responsibility to broaden their international awareness and would probably have done a better job as they are setting off devices daily in the Southern provinces.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Ventura highway, in the sunshine"

A few posts ago i wrote about the atmosphere of Don Muang airport at Bangkok. Well i am currently back in the States having left for Los Angeles from the glistening Suvanabhumi airport to the East of the city centre. I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of getting there, although almost the whole journey i was passing miles of stationary traffic going the other direction on the Bangna-Trat highway, and when i arrived it was pretty easy going to pass through the terminal and into the lounge area. The design of the airport is spacious and being Thailand of course there are airport staff everywhere to take care and generally smile and make people feel less stressed about any teething delays and troubles that might occur.

Completly unrelated, but the pic above is of a poster for my favorite band in BKK, T-Bone. They play Ska and if you have the chance to catch them then make sure you do!

So i left for the US after a full days working Monday in the office only to travel for 15 hours and then arrive on the same Monday evening on the West coast. The drive up Ventura highway to Thousand Oaks took me to a part of LA that i have never been to before and after 6 hours sleep i was up and ready to start work. The first mornings' dawn was lovely and i suddenly realised how close the hills and countryside are when you are in LA, in winter the West coast scenery is quite special and the following weekend i enjoyed driving through canyons and along the Pacific Coast Highway and trying not to start speaking like a surfer, dude!

One more week here then i will travel back over the ocean to Thailand and catch up on the latest on the coup, that is of course if they let me in as i will have to point out to the immigration officer exactly how he can squeeze yet one more arrival stamp into my passport..

Friday, September 22, 2006

Day 3.. more rumours..

Just now i have been told from 2 different sides that something is going on very close to here in the centre of Bangkok, something like a demonstration or disturbance but nothing verified at all. This is in keeping with the general sense of nothing having changed but underneath some very real fears that problems may arise quite suddenly. Best thing to do is to stay in touch with the news but dont let every piece of information affect you until your really know what is going on. As for a typical Friday evening in Bangkok, well for me the usual choice would be to head to a bar near my home and relax and unless something major happens then i will still do just that! But always better to be safe than sorry right.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Coup Day 2

Everything back to normal? well on the surface yes, but rumours still abound in Bangkok that there could be some reaction to Tuesday nights coup. The junta today have started to clamp down on some democratic freedoms including the right to form a political party and the martial law stops public gathering with more than 5 people. Outside of stopping football games i dont see this causing much issue just at the moment but it could be that if any pro-Taksin elements exist in the army then they will rise up sooner rather than later. Very little has been covered in the media about activities outside of Bangkok and here is where Taksin's party have always had their support, Bangkok is Bangkok, the rest of Thailand has a totally different political makeup.

Perhaps the feeling of back-to-business today is a sign that the interim period until new elections are put in place will be peaceful, but it could also be a false sense of security masking the fact that having a army in place at the helm could soon start to cause tensions that are also dealt with in a show of force. I trust in the people's love of the king and that any rocks in the path ahead can be smoothed with a simple word from his Royal Highness. Hopefully that will not even have to happen as influential Thai's get together, bash out a new constitution and take the opportunity to rebuild the democracy on a solid and fair basis..

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

20th September - Thai Coup Day 1

Well it has been 6 months since i first really saw the writing on the wall for the PM Taksin but last night he was ousted in a coup held by the commander of the army Sondhi. Quite sureal to see it unfold in front of your eyes here in Bangkok and this morning it seems that no-one is quite sure what is really going on. There are rumours of violence in the Rattanakosin area of the city, although from here in Chidlom in the shopping district the only sign something is amiss are the troops stationed on intersections and an abulance which left heading in that direction with its sirens blaring.. it might well have come from the military hospital just further down the road.

Today has been announced as a public holiday but currently i am in the office at 6:00am waiting to do a remote training session for some guys in the US, another amazing thing about working with the timezones is that by the clock over there this has not even happened yet, lets wait and see what everyone knows by the time the rest of the world wakes up on Wednesday 20th September.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The longest flight from old Don

Since i last posted i seem to have been everywhere, and nowhere at all! The major achievement during the last 2 months for me has been to take a brief 2-stage holiday in Thailand, first down on Ko Lanta with an old friend of mine from University and then over to Ko Chang for a really relaxing time playing around in the waves all day at lonely beach.. I can't say that i did a great deal during my time off, but that is exactly what i set out to do! before that i was back in Germany, the US and China working pretty hard so to spend time concentrating my mind only on playing cards and working out what to order from a menu for a week and a half felt like a medicine missing since last Christmas when my family came out for their hols!

The end of my vacation has somewhat predictably coincided with yet another trip to America. In my last post i said that New York is a long way East or West from Thailand, but this time i took Thai airways' flight TG970 direct to JFK and this makes it in just under 17hrs! The route heads due North from Bangkok over Laos, China and Mongolia and then across Russia to loop around the North Pole and down to the US over Canada. I can definitely now recommend this as the preferred way to get to the East Coast from SE Asia as i have done it via many different connections and this is certainly the easiest to handle. I left after having a couple of beers with some friends in Bangkok on Friday evening and now i have just finished lunch in Rhode Island on Saturday! The jet lag seems to be much more slight than usual as you go to sleep at midnight Bangkok time and have one very long nights rest before waking up at first light, ready to arrive into the US. -this of course if you can sleep on planes, so i can also recommend that you book using Premium Economy or Royal Silk class if possible!

So this trip is going to be (maybe counting my chickens to early here) my last in and out of Don Muang airport which on the 28th will be officially be replaced by Suvanabhumi as Bangkok's main airport. I have seen countless photos of the new airport and i flew over it very recently and actually i think it is quite an exciting prospect to go there soon and really have a good look at the place. One thing that perhaps will be missing will be the atmosphere that Don Muang has, it is probably undesirable to replicate the slighty peeling, musty and humid ambience of the old airport but there is no denying that Don Muang has a definite character to it! During my holiday i flew down to Krabi on Thai air, and being ushered through an indistinct door and the VIP domestic departure lounge, sitting amongst politicians and others before walking through almost covert corridors direct to the metal detectors had a 70's spy-era feel to it at Don Muang! i am not sure that the glitzy new terminal building will provide an equal experience now the modern and high tech has replaced the old guard but it will be a fantastic new airport for the region.