Twenty-Seven Hours of Travel

Twenty-seven hours of travel… all times Central Daylight Savings Time

Sunday 5:50 pm – arrive at Bangkok airport after having slept only 5 hours because of an evening arrival from Singapore.  Almost miss my 6:45 flight and am the last to check in.  Flight is smooth and comfortable.

Monday 12:20 am – arrive at Narita airport in Tokyo.  Take shower at Red Carpet Club and make an easy connection to LAX.

Monday 12:50 pm – arrive at LAX and recheck my bags for remainder of trip.  Sunny day and pleasant in LA.

Monday 5:00 pm – in San Francisco with a two-hour layover.  Eat lunch, a roast beef sandwich on Boudin sourdough bread.

Monday 8:45 pm – arrive in Denver to discover that they have had snow and my flight to Kansas City is cancelled.  I am booked on the 10:30 flight tomorrow morning, meaning I’ll miss my 8:30 am flight to Atlanta.

We’ll see what the adventure has in store for me.  And who said that getting there is half the fun?

Tawn and I just returned home from a weekend in Singapore, visiting our friends Otto Fong and Han Lai.  They have been together for 8 years and I met Otto originally through another Singaporean friend, Yuen Ping Low, back in SF ten years ago.


I’ll provide more details in the next few days, but here are some pictures.  The first is of the Thai Air Asia plane we took down to Singapore. TAA is a low-cost carrier much in the style of Southwest.  No assigned seats, no inflight entertainment.  You even pay for the drinks and snacks.  But they are friendly and the prices are low.  We paid $80 each for a round trip ticket for a 850-mile flight.


The next picture is of the four of us (from left to right: Han, Otto, Tawn and myself) in front of the central business district of Singapore.  We’re standing outside the Esplanade, a new arts center that was recently built. 


The roof of the Esplanade looks like two giant durian fruit, with spikey shades that are angeled to allow in only indirect light and keep the equatorial heat to a minimum.


The third picture is at the same spot but taken at dusk.  There was an outdoor free concert happening, some rock band.  We ate dinner with another four people at the “No Signboard Restaurant”, eating the White Pepper Crab and the Chili Crab for which Singapore is famous.  Very very tasty.  Also had some Oatmeal Friend Prawns, scallops, and clams.  Yummy.


More later.

The staff at the Starbucks located in the lobby of the GMM Grammy building (just a 3-minute walk up the street from the apartment) now recognize me.  They think it is funny that I speak Thai nit-noi (a little bit).  For example:


Chris’ Thai: Sawasdee khrap – kor gran-day iced lah-tay neung foh he-ah, khrap.


Translation: Hello – I’ll have one grande iced latte for here, please. 


Yesterday morning we had another breakthrough moment: I made coffee at home in the morning.  Stovetop espresso maker plus milk (from little individual hermetically sealed self-stable packages) heated in the mircowave and frothed using my Bonour Tubro Frother.  It is beginning to feel a lot like home.  Also, I bought Quaker Oats at the Big C supermarket and made oatmeal.  A South Asian expat sought out my opinion about the different brands of oats, so I recommended the regular rolled oats from  Quaker, although somehow I ended up buying quick oats.  I don’t care for quick oats because the consistency fo the oatmeal is like paste.  Oh, well.  The container is smaller than the huge barrel of oats you can buy in the US so I’ll buy the regular oats next time.


Also yesterday, Tawn was not available to meet for lunch so I had to fend for myself for the first time.  Dodging several thunderstorms, I went to Cafe de Tu – a small Thai place across from the Interncontinental Hotel that also makes good cakes.  The prices are quite reasonable – about 80 baht for one dish.  With bottled water and a slice of cake, only about 200 baht.


The afternoon storms continued yesterday and while the rain was light – no torrential flooding as had been predicted – the breezes and cloud cover helped cool things down to a much more manageable 27 degrees celsius. 


For dinner, Tawn and I picked up his mother, Khun Nui, and took her out.  We were going to eat vegetarian food as it is the middle of the vegetarian period (Chinese festival) but the famous veggie restaurant was closed.  Talk about the wrong time to be closed!  So we ended up at a Thai restaurant in the RCA district (Royal City Avenue – an entertainment area) that looked like a Thai-Chinese version of a Chili’s – lots of antiques on the walls.  The food was actually really good, but pretty spicy. 


We had a green pork curry, a chicken and ginger dish, stir-friend watercress in oyster sauce, and a fried egg salad.  Yummy.


It was fun visiting with Tawn’s mother.  She’s very nice, and we spent our time picking on Tawn.  I’m sure I enjoyed it more than he did.


Update: my trip report for SFO-LAX-NRT-BKK has been posted.

Okay, some of the panic has subsided.  Pieces of the puzzle are falling into place and the apartment will soon begin to look like a home.


Here’s some “pre-furnishing” views of the apartment.  At 700 square feet (70 square meters) it is quite large for a one bedroom.  Larger than Tehlin and Chris had in Hong Kong for their first apartment.


This is a view from just inside the front door, looking toward the living area and the bedroom.  The bathroom is immediately to the right past a small kitchen area.  A storage room (about 50 square feet) is immediately to the left.


Looking back toward the kitchen and front door from the living room windows.  Tawn had the walls painted a light yellow-tan color that is quite nice.  The pictures have a very peach tone to them because the peach color curtains are filtering the afternoon light.  The entire apartment has tile floors. 


The view from the bedroom looking back toward the kitchen/front door area.  The bedroom came with a bed frame, new matress, and the closet piece.  The living room had only the TV stand and the TV.


The complex is about 35 stories high.  It is a condominium complex and has some nice amenities including a pool (shown here), small gym, and steam and sauna facilities.  They also have a company that picks up dry cleaning and laundry for a pretty reasonable price.  Turn around is 3 days.  The view from our balconies is quite nice – several other condos and a view south toward Sukhumvit Road. 


 


Our multiple trips to the Bang Po district and the Jatujak Weekend Market on Sunday resulted in purchases of a modest but nice teak hardwood dining table and four chairs.  We also bought two bedside stands.  These will turn out really nice and will be delivered Friday morning after the shop finishes them.  In the afternoon, I stopped an ice cream vendor to have an Asian-style ice cream sandwich, served in a sweet bread roll. 


Monday evening at 6:00 pm the delivery people from Index Living Mall arrived to assemble our dresser and a bookshelf.  These are IKEA-type pieces, but there were three men with power tools who had everything expertly assembled in 20 minutes.  They had moving rugs to cover and protect the floor, and tested all the drawers before leaving.  Very impressive service.  Made me feel better about the 13,000 baht it cost to buy the pieces.


Later in the evening we went shopping at Big C (kind of like a huge Wal-Mart with a grocery store and food court in a 4-story building).  By the time we left, it was pouring rain and very windy.  The streets were flooding with several inches of standing water.  As we drove down our street, Soi Asoke, there were more than 6 inches of water and as we neared our complex, we could hear the water lapping on the underside of our car.  Very scary.  The lightning was spectacular though and I watched from the balcony.  


Oh, other big news: we discovered that the apartment has hot water after all.  The water heater is kind of hiden under the bathroom sink.  I’m glad I spent some time in the bathroom poking around before we went out and bought a hot water heater! 


Well, just a few more days before we fly to Singapore for the weekend to visit friends.  I need to do quite a few more things to get the apartment organized and also want to contact a law firm to arrange for my 1-year visa.  Busy, busy, busy.