August 20-28, 2001
My shoes finally hit the pavement of Bangkok some time after midnight (Monday night), which means that I had been traveling just over 24+ hours. You see, I would go to any lengths to see my friends. If it weren't for the mass quantities of nature's Kava (right) and those other au natural herbs that help one relax for such an ordeal, it would have been a horrific flight. It was quite full, people to your left, people to your right. Everytime I got up to go the bathroom, I would try and sneak a peak at those much-hated individuals who hogged the front of the plane. They had those iron curtains hammered shut so securely that you couldn't even catch a glimpse of what the "blessed" ones were doing. Probably sleeping, but more comfortable than I and certainly less drug hazed. I did my best to worm my way up there, but unfortunately my wit and charm had absolutely no bearing on the Thai officials. Jealousy has reared its ugly head and, I feel so ashamed of myself!!!
I got to my room around 1:30 and to my surprise it was even more beautiful than I remembered. The Oriental Hotel is truly one of the most beautiful. Being the anal type, I had to put away every last thing and set myself up. Before I did this however, I took a moment to take in my surroundings. The flower arrangements were magnificent, the chilled bottle of Tattingers for two with a beautiful long stem red rose. Alas, on my bed was a beautifully wrapped gift from Watcharie. Bless her little heart, she got me an array of typical Thai knickknacks – beautiful boxes, silver picture frames, gorgeous chop sticks and holders to boot. She was so thoughtful and sweet to think of me, it just about made my night complete; that is, until my weary butt hit that down-filled bed – now that was first class.
I got myself out of bed around 10'sh still feeling a bit tired, but I had some things to take care of. I went to the local apothecary for my friend Cindy. I had my hair trimmed, had a "jet lag" massage, which if you have never had one is almost worth the trip over here to get one. (Not really – but those Thai are expert in the art of massage therapy).
Alf gave me a brief tour of his suite. I don't see any remnants of Gore Vidal there. In fact, it is pure Alf. At any rate, I had to deliver his much promised contraband: four boxes of highfiber oat cereal, a digital food scale, a DVD of "Brokedown Palace", a book - can't remember the name, and a book on calorie counting.
Tonight I hear we are off across the river to one of the best authentic Thai restaurants. For now, however, that big fluffy bed is calling me. Be back soon.
At 7 pm, I phoned Alf and told him I was just too tired to go out. He persuaded me join him and I am so glad. We had a lovely dinner across the river at the Sala Rim Naam Terrace (part of the Oriental) where we all ended up with some version of prepared Sea Bass – grilled, steamed, and grilled with chili peppers. All were excellent. From there, Alf took us to the what might be (until now) Bangkok's best kept secret and if Frommer knew about it, it would definitely be on his list of "take ins". For over one hour, someone did foot reflexology (rubbing my feet) while another rubbed my neck, head, and shoulders. I believe this massage package was about $5.00. All I kept thinking of was my mother from Boston and how she would have traded in her husband, my father, for this one-hour of bliss. Feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, Alf went home to his computer and Watcharie and I set off on a pocketbook mission. I wanted a particular Louis Vuitton bag that I spotted some girl with last week. Well, success, thanks to Watcharie's fantastic command of two languages and her keen salesmanship.
I am now getting ready to hit that mound of down and fluff but thought I'd catch up on the day. One final thought: I must confess that I am a bit nosy – I read Alf's breakfast order outside his room door and I couldn't help but notice that he ordered prune juice. Oh well, I guess it is really nutrient packed among other things.
This morning has started off with a real bang. I know that the Oriental prides itself on cleanliness and staff availability. Well, I got to experience both first hand this morning. At 6:30 am, my bell rang and I was asked if I wanted my room made up. I guess the look on my "you've got to be kidding me" face and my disheveled hair gave away the answer. Now, staff being trained in the art of extreme efficiency and overall guest happiness, perhaps thought I had changed my mind and again called on me at 7:45 to ask if I would like my room made up. I politely said no, not now, not before, and not until I hang a sign outside the door indicating that I want my room cleaned. Efficiency can be a real pain in the ass!!! I was planning on retiring back to my bed but the drone of the hammering below prevented me from getting any additional beauty sleep.
Left the hotel and dropped off a pair of pants to be made at the tailor's. They will be ready on Friday and will cost a mere $26. I then went on to the pharmacy and got a few items. It was so hot that I decided I would come back to the hotel, grab some lunch, read a book, and act like a vacationer is supposed to act. Much to my delight, the most beautiful flower arrangement was waiting for me, courtesy of the executive housekeeper. How come complaining at home doesn't reap these benefits?
After coming upstairs from the pool, I decided I'd plunge into the oversized tub and relax and guess what? I just discovered that I am an idiot. There are several buttons to press on the wall indicating the dimness of the light you want, which lights you want on, if you don't want to be disturbed, if you want to hear stereo, etc. There was one particular button that I thought was really state of the art – the button called "the make up room". I may have mentioned that the bathroom is just the greatest with a wide expanse of mirror, plenty of great lighting, a lovely vanity chair to perch on – just perfect for putting on your makeup. Well, I kept pressing "makeup room" thinking it was going to help me achieve the au natural makeup look I so desired. Well, guess again, I was alerting the ever-efficient staff that I wanted my room to be made up. What a ditz! No comments please.
I have just been moved from Room 1419 to Room 1503. I may have mentioned the noise factor from last evening that kept me awake – well, I tried napping after the pool and the banging began again. Now, believe me, I'm not really one to complain; I am easily satisfied and normally just go with the flow – but this just pushed me to my limits. Needless to say, I had to repack my things and move. I can't say that I am particularly overjoyed at this moment, but I know that it will pass. Before I go out for dinner, I'm going to ask them to give me my old mattress back. This one could be described as back breaking firm. Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Alf has suggested I take something to calm my nerves; perhaps I will.
Alf and I had a lovely buffet dinner at the Oriental outside on the river. The selection was confusing there were so many wonderful things to choose from. Watcharie was not feeling well and didn't join us. I got back into my new room early and was actually quite glad as I haven't slept much the last few days.
So far today has been a very lazy day; I have yet to leave my room. I had breakfast delivered to my room about 10 am and about 2 pm I had a celery mint drink delivered. It was very healthy and different tasting. The rest of the afternoon I alternated between HBO and Natural Geographic. At first I felt terribly guilty, but Alf assured me that I work very hard and deserve it. I'm sure he's right.
Finally went into the shower at 5 pm and went across the street to buy Henny a souvenir of some sort. Well, I noticed a very unusual piece of artwork that I just had to have. The justification was simple, "it's my birthday present to me". I'm afraid that line is getting old as I have been using it all year.
Had dinner at a lovely restaurant in the Muslin Quarter called Harmonique. It was a Thai restaurant and Watcharie ordered for both Alf and me and did a fantastic job. The ambiance of the place was really something; they played great American music from the 40's, which apparently I was the only one who noticed. From there we walked to the fantastic place I spoke of last night where they massage your feet, arms, neck, and shoulders. It is the perfect way to end the evening.
I think because I slept so long today I am not tired as of yet. It is probably close to 2:00 am and I think I will get comfortable and watch some National Geographic. It is officially my birthday – Happy 42 Birthday Susan!!!! Before I forget, I ordered some ice cream this evening and happened to mention to the man who delivered it that it was my birthday. He came back about 3 am with a cake and a lit candle. I made a wish and now I am off to bed. The staff who work here are the absolute nicest people in the world. The last time I looked at the clock it was 6 am. I guess it's true, the older you get, the less sleep you need. My "fondest" wishes have come true. More time awake to enjoy the beauty of this thing we call "life" and besides, who needs beauty sleep.
It is now 9:30 am and I am totally alert (for now); we'll see what happens later. I have a list of things that I would like to take care of today in the way of errands. I know that Watcharie has a doctor's appointment, but I also know that Alf will find something to do even if he has to invent it. Boys will be boys. They all despise shopping and errands of any sort – unless it is going to some nerdy bookstore like "The Economist" which I doubt they have here. I would like to treat myself to a pedicure after my errands, if I can secure an appointment. I will probably call the beauty shop; they are less busy and less pricey.
I just had a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit and lemon grass tea delivered to my room. The staff also brought me two birthday cakes; one for now (I won't be eating it) and a larger one for later to share with my friends (which I shall do). Henny has been extra sweet this birthday; he sent me an email birthday card the other day and today I had one dozen long stemmed beautiful red roses delivered to my room with a lovely note signed "from Henny". (This is a private joke between Henny and me so you probably don't see any humor in it at all. At any rate, they are beautiful to look at and it makes me feel particularly special on this day that he as so thoughtful of me. He really can be all right most of the times. Well, I'm off the shower.
Went and did errands; picked up pants I had made at Ah Song, went to the apothecary again, broke a sandal and had a boy on the side of the road fix if for 50 cents. I am now back at my room updating my journal and ready to crash. Not feeling all that spiffy today; perhaps it's the first signs of old age creeping its ugly head.
AN INTERRUPTION OF OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED JOURNAL
A Note from Alf
[We pray that her suffering1 will be short. Our current journalist, Susan Cassone from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, has been attacked by something from Thai cuisine. Something she ate ... something she drank ... we just don't know. But, whatever it was sent her flying to the toilet. This last photograph of her2 speaks for itself.]
[In the mean time, please allow me a brief plug for Thailand's first ELEPHANT POLO TOURNAMENT. It will be held September 15th and 16th in Hua Hin, just a two hour drive from Bangkok. Watcharee and myself will represent the Screwy Tuskers. There is a slight chance that Annie Erickson will also be there. Of course, the event will be fully covered in these pages.]
1 And, your inconvenience as a reader.
2 Taken last night at The Oriental's China House restaurant. This is particularly odd as her meal was Chinese.
[Due to the ongoing 'confinement' of our correspondent, Susan Cassone, we can only bring you some negative images.]
I gave my birthday cake to Alf and Watcharee because I can't think of two more wonderful people than them to share by birthday with. Stomach is a bit queasy today; watching the movie Hannibal this morning and will then take a shower and hit the Business Center.
Heard from Henny today; he wanted to be sure we got the cake he sent for us last evening. Once again, I am very touched by his thoughtfulness. Being thoughtful of another person rates very high in my book. He was in a very "jovial" mood that could account for his undue friendliness. Unfortunately, the staff never reiterated to us that the lovely vanilla cake was from my "friend who is a boy". Didn't buy anything today but am so pleased with purchases I have accumulated thus far.
Didn't go out this evening; not feeling so great. Just slept and obviously it was much needed.
I think I'll head to River City today and do some more shopping. I seem to enjoy that very much!!!! Bought myself an absolutely beautiful nude women supposedly made of fish bone; she is very elegant and sexy. There were two accompanying pieces I wanted to go with it, but I should remember the word budget. Also, got asked out on a date this evening from a rug salesman, but declined his offer. Now it is going on 4:30 and it is definitely siesta time.
I have exhausted myself at River City. Tonight we are off to the fabulous China House across the way from the Oriental. I have just reread my journal thus far and parts of it don't seem to make much sense. Hope you can follow it all right. After dinner Alf and Watcharee went to their nightly ritual of the foot massage. I declined the offer as I am still not feeling quite up to par.
It is now 6 am and I am wide awake. I think I'll read the paper and then head back to sleep for a while and get up when I feel like it; that is the absolute beauty of vacation. I just hope I can readapt to the maddening schedule I held before I left for holiday. You know, I'm not even sure what today is – is it Tuesday or Wednesday? I kept thinking it was Wednesday, my last full day here so I got my packing in order. How anal can one get?
I just looked outside and it is raining; I just love it; it suits my mood rather nicely. Makes me feel less guilty for staying in my room and being a blob. This is normally not my modus operandi, but I think it is good for everyone once in a while. We are always so busy rushing everywhere – but to go where???? I don't really know. I do wish I felt better though; I would have loved to meet Watcharee's grandmother. Alf insisted in my present condition, it would not be the best thing. (Speaking of which, I will be taking a break now.) No details are needed here. I would like to say that I feel very honored that she wanted me to meet her family. I feel very honored.
It is now 4 am; my sleeping is really screwed up. I would just like to say thank you so much to both Alf and Watcharee for showing me such a wonderful time – in spite of my precarious situation. When they come to Fort Lauderdale in October, I have promised Watcharee that I will take her under my wing and do all the "girl" things that we spoiled Americans are known for: French manicures, French pedicures, trips to the Chanel makeup department; the list goes on. It will be so much fun. Alf will probably hate my guts. I promise not to corrupt her very badly. But, what are friends for. All kidding aside, I hope to reciprocate in the way they have to me. They have both been kind and loving and this I what friends are made for. They have both gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable (and I have been).
I'm afraid this is my last day (believe it or not). I know I have a 7:30 am flight out of Bangkok tomorrow. I'll finish later, I think it is now time for some shut eye.
Up next: Bangkok By Ourselves