Thailand - Bangkok
Europe - Germany, Belgium, and France
Nepal - Around Manaslu
Australia - Driving around Southern Australia
Australia - Olympics
Australia - Great Barrier Reef
Thailand - Bangkok
Vietnam - Central and South
Vietnam - North
Egypt - Along the Nile
Egypt - Touring and diving
Israel and Jordan
Brief return to the USA
Ecuador - Quito and surroundings
Ecuador - Galapagos Islands
Ecuador - Quito and the jungle
Peru - Machu Picchu and Lima
Peru - Cusco and the Sacred Valley
Zimbabwe and South Africa - Vic Falls and Blyde River Canyon
South Africa - Motorcycle trip
Argentina - Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls
Argentina - Bariloche and San Martin de los Andes
Chile - Exploring the Lake Region
Chile - Pucon and the Bio Bio
Argentina - El Calafate and El Chalten
Chile - Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine
Argentina - Rio Gallegos and Ushuaia
Chile - Santiago and Punta Arenas
Guatemala and Honduras - Rio Dulce and Copan
Guatemala - Coban and Spanish school
Guatemala - Tikal and Spanish school
Guatemala - Antigua and Spanish school
Our rumbling stomachs drew us out of bed at a reasonable hour. The newspaper light flashed and we collected the paper from its box - no need to open the door at The Peninsula. We went down to breakfast, and while selecting cereal Louisa met a fellow GSB graduate ('94).
We lounged in the room for the morning while watching the US Open. The concierge directed us to a local restaurant, Cream, which was recommended to us by fellow travellers in China. Conveniently it was only a few steps away and the meal was good.
The concierge provided us with lots of answers and information in response to our questions.
We headed across the river on The Peninsula's complimentary boat which delivered us to the steps of the Skytrain. We scouted through the entire 8 floor World Trade Center for a GPS but had no luck. Asia books, a popular English book store, provided us with many new titles and Tom found a new book of guitar songs.
After a snack at McDonalds we headed across the canal to find the computer hopping center. Tom's face lit up when we walked in to Pantip Center. It was a maze of computer related shops most blaring the latest VCD or DVD. Quickly we learned that GPS' are not imported into Thailand, which did not bode well for us. We did find a few other small items before leaving. The black sky was ominous, and we hurried to the skytrain. By the time that we arrived at the Taksin station the rain had started. We wandered the area to find Tongue Thai which we enjoyed so much last month. We were surprised to discover that we were the only ones in the restaurant. The meal was delicious, and the waiter was quite helpful with places to go in Bangkok.
Back at the hotel, we headed into the fitness center. The level of excellence continued as we donned headphones to listen to our individual TV's. We declined to jump into the side-by-side jacuzzis.
In fact, as the day winds down we bemoan the two major weaknesses about the hotel - the lack of loofah in the bathroom and no chocolate mints on the pillow. Tough life!
After breakfst we hopped on the skytrain to Deloitte Consulting's office in Bangkok. IT services lent us a laptop and dialed us in to the internet. Our plans were dashed by the lack of any reasonable connection in the office. We plugged along at 24.4 and succeeded in saving our pictures, reprogramming the psion and fixing the MP3 player.
Phil Strause was in the office from Hong Kong and said hello. Two westerners in the office definitely stood out. We met a Bangkok partner, Ray Owen, as well. Victoria, Ray Owen's assistant, was incredibly helpful and served up a number of restaurant recommendations.
We taxied the short way to Anna's Cafe for a delicious and pleasant late lunch. Then we headed to an internet cafe. The place was almost empty when we showed up and we relished the fast connection and large monitors. Then it filled with schoolboys loudly playing computer games. We lasted for more than 3.5 hours working on the website, researching Indonesia and many other items.
Nancy Chandler's colorful and helpful map had a restaurant recommendation just off of the skytrain and close to the pier to the hotel. We dined at Ben Chaing's. It was good, but the restaurant was filled with twenty-something travellers. so we presume that the restaurant must have a good write up in The Book.
We rested momentarily in the lovely appointed waiting room before heading across the river. We had visions of dessert, some of the chocolate chip cookies from the shop in the hotel. We walked up and the shop was closed. However, the hostess in the restaurant came to our rescue. In the Peninsula way, she made a friendly request to the shop owner who smiling unlocked the door for us. We bought a few cookies which we enjoyed in our room while watching the US Open.
After a leisurely morning, we headed to the gym. Todd Martin was battling out in the quarterfinals of the US Open with Carlos Moya. We tuned into the match on the tv's on the treadmills to watch the outcome. The level of tennis was amazing. The intensity was contagious and it was not until the end of the match, 45 minutes later that we finally climbed off the treadmills.
Exhausted, we rested our sore muscles in the whirlpool and steam bath before leaving the gym. We joked that it was our personal fitness center as we were the only ones there.
For lunch we ended up at our old standby, Tongue Thai. We wandered through narrow pathways between houses to find Harmonique. While the restaurant eluded us, getting a glimpse into the lives of Bangkok residents was interesting.
After lunch we stopped in the internet cafe on the corner and researched diving in Bali and Australia. We had seen one tailor shop that focused on men's clothing and had attractive fabrics. They wanted $30/shirt, but we bargained them down to $20 and ordered a few for Tom which will be ready on Friday.
We relaxed at the hotel for awhile before heading across the river to the Shangri-La for dinner. The Pub served hamburgers which is what we wanted. Each table top has its own game, we selected Scrabble, ordered dinner and started to play. The food was fair, at best, but playing Scrabble was great fun.
Tom had a conference call and we had lost track of time so we rushed back to the hotel via the ferry just in time. As usual, we ended the night with live action from the US Open.
Mom and Mom-Tom woke us up just before 8:00. Waking up to the voices of family is definitely the way to start the day. We had a leisurely morning of tennis-watching and lazing around.
Eventually we headed out for a long skytrain ride across town. Tom had researched a fast internet cafe and that was our destination. The connection was fast, so we sat down for a long session. While Tom worked on code, Louisa researched new activities for December since we had crossed Fiji off of the list. She found one that seemed to good to resist - kayaking off of Antartica. It means a return to Ushuaia, Argentina, and travelling there from Kathmandu, Nepal, but we were still determined to figure it out.
A recommended restaurant, Cabbages and Condoms, was just around the corner. We enjoyed a fantastic late lunch there while discussing whether we were crazy to attempt Antartica. We decided that we might be crazy, but we also need to kayak Antartica and headed back to the internet cafe to send out the necessary inquiry emails. The flight time between Kathmandu and Ushuaia is a mere 21 hours on planes but even that did not put a damper on the concept.
The afternoon rain fell, but only for a few minutes. We checked out the courts at the hotel which were virtually dry and went out to play for an hour. We were terrible in the beginning, but improved to bearable. Many of the hotel's staff watched and were amused at our on-court antics.
Back in the room, we watched the Davenport vs. Serena Williams match in the US Open quarterfinals that had been headlines news all day. Afterwords, we found a movie, Enemy of the State, on the movie channel and decided to order room service for dinner. The movie had us pretty keyed up, since it was a two hour adrenalin-pumping chase scene. So, we read and coded to relax and finally went to sleep.
The phone rang at 6:30am. JD's cheerful voice rang out on the other end of the line, just like old times in San Mateo. However, we had no problem returning to sleep for another couple of hours before declaring the start of the day.
We decided to add an element to our day by takng a picture every hour on the hour and document how we lived this year. We forgot the camera at breakfast, so started as we left the hotel.
The few simple errands that we planned ended up taking the entire day, but we saw a lot more of the city. We started on the Chao Praya Express boat along the river and travelled almost to the end of the line. We found a place to do our laundry and checked email at an internet cafe. We had not received responses that we had hoped to have which slowed our progress.
We hailed a tuk-tuk that tried to charge us $5 for what should have been a $1 ride. Finally he agreed to our price, drove a block and pulled over. We were suspect, and should have been. A man who spoke good English came up and tried to convince us of an elaborate scheme that involved free gas for the driver, a cheap fare for us ($.10) and a stop at one shop. We declined three times before the tuk-tuk driver pulled away. He did not relent however, he continued to say 'one stop, one stop' which is popular with tuk-tuk drivers. They take the toursits to a shop where they receive a commission. With the hard sell, we offered to get out and he pulled over.
The taxi delievered us to a travel agency that issued our tickets to Fiji that we no longer want. Again, we did not finish the refund and will have to return tomorrow. Hunger called, and we enjoyed a non-Asian lunch of pizza and ice cream. Sufficiently fueled up we decided to walk to our next destination. Two problems followed - it was farther than we thought, and the concierge had told us the wrong location. So we arrived at the designated building only to learn that it has a similar name, but was not the one we needed.
The woman at the information counter pointed sent us to another spot, but again we could not find the building. This left us quite near to a good internet cafe so we stopped in for Tom to code and Louisa to surf. On the way to the Skytrain for the trip home we passed techie-heaven, 5 stories of hardware, software and gadgets. With the excuse of needing more clik disks, we entered and wandered around for a little while. The skytrain ride was uneventful, and as we refunded our used-up extended use tickets, we remembered Tom's shirts. The tailor's shop was just a few blocks away.
The shirts look terrific. Very satisfied, we boarded the boat and crossed the river to the hotel. The sun was particularly beautiful tonight and lit up the hotel well.
We motivated for a late workout. The men's quarterfinal match in the US Open entertained us while we ran. Louisa enjoyed the sauna and whirlpool while Tom retired to a cool shower and to order room service. The dinner was delicious and was the perfect accompaniment to watching the end of the tennis match. We coded and journalled waiting for the DHL courier to pick up our package.
The courier did not arrive, we called and they assured us it would be soon. We called again at midnight and rescheduled for the morning. Then, we went to bed.
We could not believe that our final day in Bangkok had arrived, it seemed as if we had just arrived. After breakfast we called DHL again since they had not arrived for the third time. They had forgotten us yet again. Somehow they got a driver to the hotel quickly and we started to fill out the paper work. Though, they had not brought a box, so we rescheduled again for 7pm. This turned out to be quite beneficial for us.
The ferry delivered us to the other side of the river and we took the Chao Praya Express boat upriver to the backpackers district. We picked up our clean laundry, exchanged money, sold some of our books, had lunch and stopped at a fast internet cafe. The latter also had an economical deal with DHL for up to 25 kilos. We snagged one of their boxes and headed across town.
Tom had left a diskette at the superfast and modern internet cafe, so we went there. Tom wrote code to enable the sound on the digital pictures along with some other improvements to the site. Louisa made reservations for our week in Bali, confirmed travel arrangements in Australia and researched ideas for our anniversary in India.
The skytrain passed right outside the internet cafe, so we got on for our last ride. As we walked into our room the phone rang. It was DHL confirming our package - amazing. We packed up the 'jumbo box' with things to be sent home. We could not believe that sending this package that allowed up to 25 kilos was cheaper than sending 5 kilos. One of those strange deals, that we were quite happy about!
Louisa dove into a hot bubble bath while Tom filled out the paperwork with the DHL driver.
When the phone rang again, Tom predicted that it would be Louisa's Mom, and he was right. Tom joined in on the call and we chatted for quite awhile which was fun.
We decided on dinner at one of the hotel's restaurants, Jesters. It was completely booked, but she said a table would be free in 45 minutes. We returned to the room to watch some of the US Open. With the great service at the Peninsula, the hostess called us less than 30 minutes later to inform us our table was ready.
Jesters has a very contemporary design and features. The fusion cuisine was excellent and the service outstanding. One of the waiters chatted with us for awhile and encouraged us to return to Bangkok for a festival on December 11 when the Thais fill the river with candles and have firework shows. It sounds fantastic, perhaps some other year!
It was almost midnight when we returned to the room and fell to sleep quite happy.
Revised: Wed Feb 13 11:37:55 2008 on