July in Bangkok, Part III

After Part II

July 14-16, 2005

Thursday, July 14, 2005 (Annie's Birthday)

Last night we took Bernie and Christy to the highest restaurant in Bangkok: Mezzaluna. It is located in The Dome of the State Tower building. Sixty five floors up it provides a panoramic view of Bangkok. OK, last night it was a bit hazy so the view was not all that deep.

As the State Tower is located just a five minute walk from our apartment some of my frequent readers may quickly recognize a couple of the buildings in these pictures. The readily identifiable places are The Peninsula hotel and one of the 1997 Zombies (*). My camera angles were vaguely pointed east, west and south ... with a bit of overlap. But, only 'religious' followers will be able to point out Centre Point. Though everyone can find the defunct Coke sign. Can anyone spot anything else?

This ancient file contains a snap of The Dome before it was called that (**). I think I have some better photographs of the State Tower lying about ... but, I can't find them as my Desktop Google died when my Sony VAIO crashed. Paul? (***)

(*) Concrete hulks: buildings that were under construction when the 1997 Asian crisis hit Thailand.

(**) State Tower along with its "The Dome" were also caught in the '97 crisis but because of its choice location it managed to get a transfusion.

(***) Could it be this building, captured in some ancient snaps shot from the deck of the doomed Oriental Queen in August 2001?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Though the second set of photographs on yesterday's page showed a building with a similar 'dome' to the that on the State Tower, that particular building is a half dozen kilometers up stream from the real McCoy (*). It, too, is a condominium; but a far more successful one as its developer has managed to sell off all of the units. The condominium units in the State Tower appear to remain largely unsold (**) ... unless most of its occupants shun the use of electricity at night.

Last night we took Christy and Bernie to see the show at Mambo. Readers are reminded to visit past entries. (***)

Over the years the show's theme has kept up with the times: now it is in its ABBA phase. (****)

The place is always very popular with the Japanese. I am not sure why.

(*) According to the online Dictionary: "[Alteration of earlier McKay, probably from Scots, good unadulterated whiskey.]"

(**) IMHO I think people are reluctant to call State Tower their home because its exit ramp ... (the path from its bank of garage floors) ... immediately dumps cars into a road constantly governed by one of the sternest traffic lights in Bangkok. If that wasn't punishment enough the sheer volume of traffic at this masochistic/sadistic road junction guarantees DELAYS.

(***) Readers can click to see past performances not only at the Mambo (August 2001, October 2001, August 2003, and February 2004 ... but also at its 'sister' the Calypso (March 2000 and July 2000).

(****) Alf, do you have a 45 of Johnny Ray's "Cry"? That came out just before "Rock Around the Clock" ... with Bill Halley and the Comets.

Saturday, July 16, 2005 (pre-journal)

Emergency declared in Thailand

BANGKOK: -- Declaring "a time of national crisis" and appealing for unity, the Thai government took emergency action to cope with escalating violence in the mainly Muslim south after an assault by suspected insurgents on the provincial capital of Yala shocked authorities and residents alike.

The attack on Thursday night, in which two policemen were reported killed and 22 people injured, will revive critical scrutiny of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's handling of southern violence, which has claimed more than 800 lives since the start of 2004 and made Thailand a point of focus in the Muslim world.

As Thaksin and his ministers held an emergency cabinet meeting and the army commander flew south to the scene of the attack on Friday, another small bomb exploded near Yala's hospital, injuring four people, and two teachers were killed in neighboring Narathiwat Province.

"This is a time of national crisis. I would appeal to all Thai people to be united and to join hands to fight against the people who have bad intentions toward the country," Interior Minister Chidchai Wannasathit said Friday.

The government also adopted emergency powers Friday that allowed it to monitor telephones, halt distribution of newspapers or magazines considered threatening to national security and to detain suspects without charge. "The last straw that prompted us to impose this law was what happened at 7 p.m. in Yala," said Wissanu Krea-Ngam, the deputy prime minister.

In their attack Thursday, insurgents on motorcycles struck eight targets with bombs or Molotov cocktails. They started by knocking out a power station and plunging the city into darkness before using firebombs and shooting at targets, and scattering metal spikes behind them to slow security forces.

The targets included a hotel, two 7-Eleven convenience stores and locations close to a restaurant and a railway line, said the army commander in southern Thailand, Lieutenant General Kwanchart Kraham. These were usually crowded with civilians, "so we can say the troublemakers targeted innocent people," he said.

Several thousand students and residents marched through Yala on Friday in a protest reportedly organized by town authorities. Marchers carried placards condemning the violence and calling for peace.

"This is one of the worst attacks," said S.P. Harish at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore. The careful planning and coordination behind the attack showed that "whoever did this knew exactly what they were doing and what they wanted to achieve."

The same cannot be said for the government, Harish added. "It's almost as if they have no clue as to what's happening," Harish said.

Thaksin has offered political and military initiatives in response to criticism at home and abroad that the harsh tactics he favored were only worsening the problem and threatening to turn a local conflict into an international problem.

The Yala attack, however, reinforced warnings from influential public figures that not enough was being done to contain or end the violence.

"If the government cannot halt daily atrocities in the region within a short time, it will be the government's failure," said Anand Panyarachun, a former prime minister appointed by Thaksin to lead a National Reconciliation Commission charged with formulating strategies for defusing the conflict.

--International Herald Tribune 2005-07-16

Saturday, July 16, 2005

For Bernie's and Christy's final dinner in Bangkok we returned last night to the 65th floor 'dome' of the State Tower building. Instead of rebooting to Mezzaluna we ate at Distil ... it has a more cocktail lounge flavor to the furnishings though the food is definitely worthy of a five star dining room.

After dinner we repaired to the Sky Bar for a view of the city; as it is a totally open sky place everything folds up if it rains. Tonight it was darker when I took these pictures ... well ... actually, we just ate later in the evening.

Next: Part IV

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