Life's vagaries explained through football, food, travel and canines.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Railei: Four Times in Four Years

Railei kind of makes you feel like you have been holding your breath your whole life and only now do you think to exhale.

I don't think I will ever get used to seeing the bay cradled by towering karsts at each end, especially at night, when there is something truly magical about those dark columns. I'm certainly not the only one who feels this way, but there is something about the place that encourages a sense of intimacy.

I had first been there in 2004 after the J and S wedding and was shocked and stunned by the beauty. All the New Yorkers were--call it Thai sensory overload. We just sat on the porch at Baan Deborah with mouths open. I dropped my city girl thing (a jacket at least at all times!) and even boarded a plane all gritty with sand and a bikini underneath my clothes. The Jedi mind trick was complete. I was moving to Thailand.

Next time around, S, the rock-climbing rocket scientist and I had the best time I have ever had, with anyone, anyplace, anyhow. This time we perched at Baan Wolfgang and made friends and influenced people. She came off the plane in the middle of the night from India and I apologized for making her get right back on a plane, but promised that I was taking her to the best place in the world. We saw some debris left at that time--mostly broken pieces of longtail boat from the tsunami the year before. Thanks to B and C who sent us off from Bangkok with necessary provisions.

Rainy season, 2006, N and I go there and arrive at night--the longtail slips silently into the Andaman and no boatman in sight. We are confident that we could drive a boat if we had to when he swings aboard. So frightening and romantic in equal measure! Shack up in Baan Solly and read and listen to music and swim in fits of spontaneous happiness. Wake up in the middle of the night to watch Italy win the World Cup. A brilliant trip.

2007--a bleak year with no Railei.

2008--Our travel group needed to have one last trip before dear friends moved from Bangkok, but thankfully only to Singapore. Railei Beach Club was a no brainer. This trip included a solo swim for me where small schools of golden minnows arched out of the water in the trail of a receding wave washing me with a spontaneous wave of joy. Not something I experience every day, but commonplace in Railei.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

From Your Correspondent

Well, well, what political upheaval we have here. The Prime Minister dissolved Parliament here on Friday and there are tens of thousands of people who are protesting his call for a snap election--which his party will win, natch.

All I can say is that it's really wreaking havoc on my social life, but then, that's the height of self-absorption, isn't it?

Anyway, it has been quite a day. I have been writing news for an hourly broadcast for the past twelve hours. I think there should be someone here to relieve me shortly.

But the exciting bit is that I got to do a couple of phoners for Channel News Asia. Their regular correspondent is doing a documentary on southern violence. I think the phoners went well and it was all very exciting.

Among the questions:
What's the mood in Bangkok?
Is there violence expected at the rally?
What impact will the opposition party's boycott have on the upcoming snap elections?

You know, yer usual shizznit.

They used the above picture, which gives my Thai friends the giggles, cause it is so unlike me. It is the SERIOUS me. The TERRFIED SERIOUS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT. Go ahead, laugh away. That's what it's there for. And there is one that is even worse!!

Whaddya Gonna Do?

Reading the in New York Times about the next season of the Sopranos and I am not sure what to do. This is my favorite show--I can't think of anything worse than HEARING about it--imagine having the best show in tv spoiled just because you decided to move.

It's not as if we don't have HBO here, we do, and Skinimax. It's just that it's not like our HBO--mostly movies and sometimes they aren't all that good. And if they are showing new episodes of original series, I haven't heard about it.

So if anyone can figure out how I can get a hold of the new season of the Sopranos, I will be eternally grateful. I will kiss your ring. I will give you the DVD set pirated but good quality from MBK.

Ask my mom about MBK. Kid, may I introduce you to candy store?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Is It Possible To Love Them Even More?

Calm down, everyone, I'm not talking about my lengthy list of boyfriends. (Joking, joking. Mai mee fairn kha.) I'm talking about Franz Ferdinand, the band from Glasgow with the lyrics and the voice and the-- *swoon*. You see, no one comes to Bangkok. Well, Michael Bolton came and a Gibb brother, one that isn't dead. So we were excited, very very excited. And they delivered. In spades. Neck still sore from shaking around.

Above: Me talking rubbish to Corey at a pre-concert party. This is what my hair does in the tropics when there is no nice lady to fix it.

For Aunties: Yes, I have lost weight. It's the tropics. it all goes right through you. Yes, I have gotten darker. No, I still think someone eligible will marry me. No, I don't know when I am coming home.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Life Is Hard: 7 Courses of Champagne and Oysters

Yesterday I was invited to one of Bangkok's nicest hotels, the Shangri-La, for a special preview of their Oysters and Champagne promotion. La vie est belle, mes enfants.

It was hard being so pampered. One of the courses featured three different kinds of oysters topped with Beluga caviar. Talk about gilding the lily! It was one of the best things I have ever eaten. A vino standout was the Banfi-- half Chardonnay and half Pinot Grigio--like all products of mixed races, this wine was a stunner.

I thought I was going to write about it, but it turns out that I did a little box on it for today. My first byline! I got a little giddy. Oysters have that effect on me. Come to think of it, so does champagne.

Oh and I apparently learned that in order to shuck an oyster, you must find its "G Spot."

Monday, February 13, 2006

Raining In Thailand

Yesterday it rained just I was walking back to the train from the enormous and wonderful weekend market. It was not my strongest showing there--I bought some incense from Karmakamet and looked at a 10,000 dollar arrowana--which is a fierce fishie from South America. It just just a few drops but by the time I got to Chitlom, it was a full-blown monsoon torrential downpour. And it's not rainy season! Anyway I got a tuk-tuk home and only got slightly damp, napped (what is it about the rain that just knocks you out?) and then went and saw Match Point at KV's. It was brilliant, even with the shitty pirated copy we had.

Today dawned more Glasgow than anything, with an overcast sky and soft rain. The Thais like their AC icy and we are all freezing in office. I am wearing a suit jacket, sneakers and SOCKS. It took me five minutes to find the socks, since I never wear them here. It must seem a bit rich, especially if you are a east coast blizzard victim, but we are freezing here in the tropics. The girls are wearing sweaters and the boys all have these fleece vests on. Ski caps are being threatened. I may bust out the cashmere.

Tomorrow is Valentine's, but more importantly, it's Liverpool v Arsenal.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Two Sets of Relativity

Having your relatives come and visit you in Thailand is a very good deal all around. I miss my family very badly and had forgotten what good friends they really are to me. This is easy when your communication is mostly through worried phone calls or emails with lots of things to do listed in them. Not to be a materialistic beyotch, but they pay for everything cause it's cheap to them--you just need to handle the money, cause it's easier. Of course, the real reason to love having la famiglia in Krung Thep is because you miss them as part of your life.
My parents were here in January and Hurricane Pishi just blew through here last week.

We had an absolutely wonderful time with my folks who were the gamest people in the whole world--they had Thai massages, ate street food, and rode on motorcycle taxis. I was really proud of them for thoroughly enjoying their experience. I certainly threw them in at the deep end. Most favorite moments:

-Dad's face when I jumped on a motorcycle taxi sidesaddle in a skirt with an enormous bag of laundry balancing on my lap as I sped down the soi.

-"What do Thais eat for breakfast?"
"Umm, rice porridge, like, um, congee?"
"Oh no. Dia, are you saying you have no toast?"
"Well, we don't eat that here, see..."

-Dad telling the tour guide at Wat Po--"The Buddha was a Hindu prince--no WAY was he born under a tree." HM the King and the Buddha, Dad. JUST.DON'T.SAY.IT.

-Mom and Dad talking to each other getting side by side Thai massages and then snoozeville zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

-Dinner at the Isaan parking lot restaurant of friend Pi Thuy with my friends Benjamin, Craig, Yona, Kimberly, Amy and Dean. I wished I could have bottled my happiness that night.

-Mom to Ben: "Oh she's not Indian." Referring to me, natch.
Mom to Kim: "But you don't looklike you're from Philadelphia."

-"My name is Arun, so I really want to go to Wat Arun."

-The Floating Market. Mom saying it was the most "awesome" lunch she'd ever had. Dad buying a grilled fish stuffed with herbs and eating it out of a plastic bag sitting on the pier.

Mom asked if I was thinking of coming home. I said today I rode on a motorcycle, a song taew, a taxi, a sky train, a long tail boat and I could have ridden on an elephant had I wanted to, so no, I am not coming home. Of course, in a moment of Bangkok magic, just then an elephant lumbered in front of us on Soi 38.