Sunday, January 21, 2007

Too Crude for the Steakhouse

The hostess at the New York Steakhouse in the Marriott Hotel looked me up and down when I asked for a table last night. "I'm sorry," she said, "but we have a dress code. Would you like me to make a reservation for you at another restaurant?" I thought I looked pretty good in my Chaco sandals and Hawaii shirt, but apparently I was too crude for the restaurant. And I had my heart set on a rib eye steak. Actually, I'd arrived over an hour earlier, my taste buds a-tingle, only to be told the restaurant opened at six. Nothing about a dress code. So I whiled away the hour taking a Skytrain to Siam Paragon, the luxury mall, to watch the wealthy at play. You can buy a Ferrari or a Lambourgini on the third floor, and a perfume called Philosophy on the 2nd. On the fifth is an Imax theater showing some American animated film that would bore me on a small screen. After returning to the Marriott and getting turned down for my looks, I went right next door to Bully's Pub and got what I wanted, along with friend calimari rings.

This is being written on a free internet in the Bangkok Airways lounge at the new airport as I wait for my flight to Paradise (Ko Samui). They really know how to treat their passengers. There is also free coffee and food (sticky rice and dried fish). I got another look at this gigantic new airport from the taxi. It's supposed to be the biggest in Asia, but Jerry told me that they're already having problems with overcrowding and may reopen the old airport for domestic flights. It seems pretty empty to me, or at least not overcrowded like Chennai and even Heathrow in London. As I sweat in the not quite cool enough lounge I recall reading this morning about huge winds and cold weather that killed people in Europe, and also the unseasonal frosts in California that have destroyed the citrus crop. And all I can think of is the two weeks ahead of me on a beach in beautiful Ko Samui.

This morning I had my usual American breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon at the Majestic Suites Hotel a couple of blocks from my guest house. I discovered it on my first visit here and now indulge myself. Earlier I'd returned to Cabbages and Condoms for a cappuccino and discovered that they had a "Condoms and Computers" room with free useage. The computer is a sales lead in Thailand.

It's wonderful not to have news about George Bush crammed down my throat. The guest house TV gets BBC but most of the news is about Asia. I've read the International Herald Tribune a couple of times so I know that Bush has ordered MORE troops to Iraq rather than a pullback. There was a column by Henry Kissinger (is that man going to live forever?) who called Bush's decision a "bold move." This from one of the architects of the debacle in Vietnam. Will they never learn? (from Seeger's "Where Have all the Flowers Gone?")

It rained last night. I noticed that the cars were covered with drops but the pavement of Soi 8 had already dried by the time I went out at 7. Even without rain, the humidity is probably at 90 percent. The neighborhood, however, was refreshing from the wash and relatively quiet in the absence of morning traffic. I guess it doesn't really get going until after 9. I found myself talking broken English to the taxi driver, mimicking his basic sentences, and then realized how ridiculous this might sound. Must work on that.

I've mentioned that the owner/manager of the P.S. Guest House likes "deep thoughts." Framed in my room is the aphorism "To make your dreams come true -- wake up." In the elevator is a framed version of this: "Don't walk in front of me -- I may not follow. Don't walk behind me -- I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend." It's signed, Albert Camus. Not bloody likely. The existentialist who wrote "L'etranger" would not exactly support those thoughts.

The ride to the airport through Bangkok gives no clue to how this huge city is laid out. There seems to be no real center from which everything else radiates. The high-rises and skyscrapers are spread out, rather than clustered. And much of the buildings consist of mildewed cement. No color, just gray. That's the dominant color of buildings in Asia, I'm afraid. The mildew must eat away all color.

I learned that my email problems were caused by too much storage. I was at 109 per cent of my limit, and so incoming email was blocked. I think I've cleared the problem up.

I was supposed to only be on this computer for 10 minutes, so I'd better for wait for my plane to board. Next stop, Ko Samui.

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