Bangkok Staycation

Through some great bit of good fortune, this year both Thailand and the United States have a three-day weekend at the end of May.  This doesn’t happen often as the Thai holiday is a Buddhist one, which moves around based on the lunar calendar.  We’re going to take advantage of our long weekend to get away, but not very far away.  In fact, we’re just going across the river to Bangkok’s Right Bank, Thonburi.

One of the positive side effects of all this political turmoil (which has been going on pretty much since right after I moved here in 2005 – coincidence?) is that tourism has been down.  This means that the local hospitality industry is desperate to attract business, turning to locals with some amazing deals.  Now, this usually happens during the low season, which coincides with the rainy season here and summer elsewhere in the northern hemisphere.  But these deals are turning out to be a regular feature of Thailand life.  Not offered to tourists, though.  Only Thais and foreigners residing here for work or retirement are eligible.

Originally, we were going to drive three or four hours south to Hua Hin or Cha-Am.  But that’s what all the Bangkok residents will be doing this weekend, so prices at those hotels we’re nearly as nice.  We originally wanted to stay somewhere for about 2000 baht a night, about US$60.  But the options we found, while nice, weren’t super nice and would require the expenditure of gas money and time.

When I saw a newspaper ad on Wednesday from the Peninsula Hotel, Tawn and I decided to explore the offer.  The Peninsula consistently ranks as one of the top hotels in Asia and we’ve visited it many times when guests have stayed there.  Their standard rooms often go for at least US$300 a night, and usually for much more than that.


Their rate for this promotion?  Only 3000 baht (US$91) a night, inclusive of breakfast for two and a choice of either a set dinner for two or 50 minute massage for two.  The promotion also provides full use of facilities and a 25% discount on other food and beverage.  Drinks at the river bar, anyone?

It seems that if you calculate the cost of fuel and time, driving all the way down to Hua Hin doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Instead, we’re going to hunker down at the Peninsula, not leave for two days, and enjoy the luxury.  I’m also going to leave my computer at home.  No Xanga for 48 hours…

Here’s to hoping we have a fun weekend away. 

 

Life in Bangkok Gets Busy

Life in Bangkok gets busy very quickly.  The handyman actually showed up on Sunday and spent several hours installing pipe through the empty space above our ceiling, connecting the bathroom water supply with the balcony outside our bedroom.  He’s to return this morning and finish the job so (and I think I’ve written this before) with any luck we’ll have the ability to wash our own clothes by dinnertime.

Tawn left yesterday afternoon for an overnight business trip to Singapore.  One of his clients, HP, is holding a press conference announcing some new development in the world of technology, and he is chaperoning some Thai and Malaysian journalists to the event.  He asked if I wanted to go along, but it was such a short trip with no down time for him, so there wasn’t much of a point. 

 

Fortunately, I did have an opportunity to have dinner with Masakazu and his partner, Mitsu.  Mitsu is now pretty much fluent with Thai, Masa is learning, and I’m still a beginner.  An early beginner, at that!  We had dinner at a really nice Laotian/Issan (Northeast Thai) style reastaurant in the Silom area called Cafe du Laos.

The restaurant is in a lovely colonial-style 2-story house that is surrounded by skyscrapers.  Service was attentive and the food was really nice.  We had a version of somtum (green papaya salad) made with pomelo, a grapefruit-like fruit.  Mmm… tasty.  Also a beer-marirnated pork with spicy chili sauce.

Speaking of skyscrapers, there are many condominium developments occurring here in the City of Angels.  In the debate of whether or not to purchase a condo in the near future, I’m inclined to wait a bit because I see a lot more housing stock coming on the market in the next 2-3 years, which I would imagine should either drive down prices or at least hold them steady.  The above picture is for a development that is just two blocks down the street from us called Millennium Sukhumvit.  It will be about 500 feet from the Metro station, so the location is spectacular.

There’s another development happening adjacent to our building, but to the north.  The land has been graded and there are occasional bouts of activity, but true construction has yet to begin.  Maybe they’re waiting for more phone lines to be installed!

Well, only two days to go before Thai language classes start at Union Language School.  Mitsu tells me that he has friends who have gone there and that it is quite reputable, but they actually assign homework and give exams, unlike American University Alumni Association, which he attended and Masa currently attends.