As ruuduu naw (cold season) continues, there has been a whole lot of nothing going on. Errands, mostly. Seeing friends a bit. Watching the Iowa caucus results and reading the pundits. So I’ll just address some odds and ends this morning:
Regarding the bookshelves/china cabinets (left – see entry here), thank you to those of you who offered your opinions. Tawn was amused at the responses.
Ble, our designer, stopped by Friday with the original plans for the cabinets. Sure enough, they were built too large: 10 cm too tall, 5 cm too deep (both the upper and lower sections), and 15 cms too wide.
Additionally, the pattern on the glass was not done correctly. It was supposed to be etched with thin lines that made a diamond pattern, rather than being etched with diamonds themselves. The difference would be in the opacity of the windows. The idea is that we should still be able to readily see the contents of the shelves.
No explanation how the cabinet makers managed to mess these details up, but they did. Ble will work with them to either fix the current cabinet or, more likely, build new ones at no cost to us.
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Markus’ brother and sister-in-law are sister-in-lawthree weeks along with their two children, from Aptos, California. In addition to picking them up from the airport, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with them.
One of these opportunities was a trip to the Ancient City, a park to the southeast of Khrungthep and not far from the new airport, that has recreated at half scale over 100 of the most important historical structures in Thailand. Built about twenty years ago, many of the structures now are surrounded by lush flora that more closely resemble the actual settings where these sites are located.
Additionally, some of the structures are built to show what they would have looked like at their glory. For example, some of the palace buildings that were destroyed when the Burmese sacked Ayutthaya is 1767 A.D. have been rebuilt (half scale) to their ancient splendor.
The pavillion I capturpavilion right isn’t the prettiest thing on the grounds, especially given that the workers were in the midst of repainting it. But I liked that it isn’t so typically Thai. Also, the purple color was unusual.
You can travel the grounds either by rented golf cart or on bicycle. With the weather sunny but not too hot, the bicycle proved a good way to go even though the bicycles were almost as ancient as the structures depicted in the park!
The only drawback was ruin and wat burnout. Had we purchased the guide book before touring the site, we would have been much better informed about the significance of the sites. After a while it began to feel like “yet another palace” and yet another temple”. I have a guide book now, which you’re welcome to borrow if you ever go to the Ancient City.
On the way home in our comfy Toyota tour van, we were stopped at a light in Khlong Toei and a friendly teenager on the back of a motorbike was smiling at us, so I took a picture, left.
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Roka had an interview at a language school on Thong Lor, so afterwards Tawn and I met her for lunch at J Avenue. I love J Avenue. The J stands for “Japanese”, and ostensibly this outdoor, upscale strip mall is aimed at the local Japanese expat population. True enough, there are several Japanese restaurants in it and there is a Villa Market, the grand-daddy of all expat supermarkets. But then there is a bowling alley, a Greyhound Cafe, an Au Bon Pain, and a bunch of other places that don’t have any obvious Japanese connection.
The center’s design is very good and if makes use of two huge old trees that were preserved right in the middle of things. They have used misters and good landscaping to create a cool (temperature-wise) central court that is very pleasant to sit in even on a sunny day. Best of all, it is within walking distance to our house.
Greyhound Cafe at J Avenue is much better than the Siam Centre location, because the service is organized and more attentive. For examples, orders don’t go missing. Here’s a selection of our dishes:
From Left to Right: Asparagus soup, lasagna salad, and Thai-style spaghetti.
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We also ran some errands to the Ratchaprop and Siam areas, parking the car at Gaysorn to avoid geting any more into the messy traffic. Here aregetting streets all within a three-minute walk of each other, to give you an idea of what traffic this weekend looked like:
Thankfully, we were walking on the pedestrian skyway so we could see the traffic rather than be a part of it.
Speaking of Gaysorn, this high end but nearly always desserted mall often features nice sculptural works indesertedntral courtyard area. A few months ago it was a giant splash (further below) and now it is this interesting grouping of lanterns.
In a country where public art is sorely lacking, it is nice that this mall makes the effort to support local artists in this way.
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On Facebook, I’ve started a group called Adrian Wilcox High School – Alums of the 80s. If you graduated in the late 1980s from this venerable Santa Clara, California institution of secondary education, feel free to join!
As of this morning there are already ten people signed up as members. Some of these are the high school friends I’ve long stayed in touch with. Others are people I do not know or barely remember. Would you believe my 20 year reunion is coming up this summer? Aiee – so old!
Regarding the results of the Iowa caucuses, while I try to maintain a fairly politically neutral stance in this blog since that isn’t really what I want to write about, let me say this: I’m happy that Barack Obama (right) did as well as he did. Along with a lot of other Americans, I’m ready for a change in the tenor of our political debate.
I’m convinced that the “red state – blue state” depiction of the United States is an artificial one, designed by news organizations, politicos, and pundits to play up the drama of divisiveness. I believe that on most issues, the large majority of Americans can agree on many points, and do. We are desperately in need of leadership, both in the domestic arena as well as on the world stage, that can start from the large common ground and build outwards, rather than starting from one extreme and demonizing the other.
Have a good week!