September 12-16, 2001
Right now we are in a van on the way to Hua Hin. The driver is driving; the girl is sleeping. Stay tuned for much excitement.
The Anantara Resort and Spa in Hua Hin is located on the ocean about a two-hour drive from Bangkok. For the next few days (actually, starting tomorrow and running through Sunday) it will be the host hotel for the very first King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament.
NEWNESless and without Wescott ... and with no International Herald Tribune about ... nor the Bangkok Daily News to look at ... well, I don't know what to say. The Bangkok Post is here but, understandably, its coverage is pretty much devoted to the events in New York and Washington. The Post does have a full-page advertisement announcing the completion of the renovation work at The Oriental.1
1 The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is worried about the impact that the terrorism attacks will have on tourism. TAT governor, Pradech Payakvichien, said, "Apart from 500,000 Americans who visit the country each year, people in other major markets could be deterred from flying." Chanin Donavanik, president of the Thai Hotel Association, said his industry would suffer: "But we have to see how far this will go. I'm sure the US will retaliate. During the Gulf War in 1990, there were almost no guests."
PS The sleeping girl is now awake.
Today is the day that we1 were scheduled to leave for the Middle East: ballooning in Turkey and boating in Egypt. Though Watcharee and I would have had a relatively easy 'bank-shot' from here to Istanbul, the American based travelers would have faced some awful delays in even getting out of their country.
London's The Guardian reported yesterday that only one of the two towers of New York's World Trade Center was insured. When the policies were being negotiated, experts from the Port Authority of New York believed the chances of the two towers collapsing at the same time were too remote to warrant coverage for both.
This morning's Bangkok Post gives some strange reassurance to Dow watchers: Five years after the following tragedies the Dow was 'up' by this much:
Yesterday we2 did little except lie around and play cards, read and eat. You see, this elephant polo thing does not properly start until tomorrow. Sure, there is a "grand opening" cocktail reception tonight, but the games don't go to turf until Saturday afternoon.
The Motoring Section of the Bangkok Post looks enviously at drivers in neighboring Burma.3 Where vehicle density of 2:1 haunts America and Japan; where even here in Thailand a 14:1 ratio makes our roads clogged ... well, over in 'green' Burma there is an "idyllic" 125 people for each vehicle. In Rangoon permits to own cars are in the hands of "the powers-that-be, made up of powerful army generals and elite Chinese merchants".
1 Annie, Paul, Susan, Mike, Stephani, Robin, Cindy, Alf and Watcharee.
2 Watcharee's cousins (on her father's side), Tik (girl) and Tong (boy), are with us. This is their very first stay in a hotel.
3 Your journalist (in his creeping old-age) refuses to recognize new-fangled names for old places.
Perhaps right now, somewhere south of Omaha, Nebraska, technicians are tapping in the arming codes. This required alphanumeric sequence is auto-programmed to change every 72 seconds. The 24 keystroke arming sequence must be 'correct' the first time around, or else the bomb goes 'to sleep' until other technicians separate the fissionable core from its nestling wedge-shaped compression charges. But, once armed, the trigger needs only one more string of numbers before it's ready to turn its responsibility into a ball of white heat six kilometers in diameter: just three sets of 12 digit numbers (geographic coordinates) which tell the bomb when it is within 4 meters of its target.
Twelve time zones away, the world's elephant polo elite rub shoulders, drink fruity drinks and talk of great goals.
In the afternoon, there was elephant polo ...
And in the evening ... post-polo partying!
A writer in this morning's Bangkok Post looks even deeper into what has become known as McDonald's Universal Equation of Life and Everything We Need to Care About It. Government economists, corporate bean-counters and student back-packers have long used the "'Big Mac' Cost of Living Index" as the most reliable indicator of how much it costs to be somewhere where they aren't.1
Thomas Friedman in his book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, shows us how the thinking of the little man who gave us fast burgers can be employed to bring ... not only price stabilization ... but also, peace to the world. He calls it "The Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention":
"When a country reached the level of economic development where it had a middle class big enough to support a McDonald's network, it became a McDonald's country. And people in McDonald's countries don't like to fight wars anymore, they preferred to wait in line for burgers." In continuance of that thought, "an economy sophisticated enough to support a McDonald's network is presumably plugged securely into the global economy. Thus, going to war against a fellow McDonald's country is like going to war against yourself."
On another page, the Post carries this powerful picture of e-poloists at play.
This afternoon, the final match of the tournament was held.
1 Costs where they are can be readily ascertained by just looking out the window.