March 2005 Archives

Firefox Spell Checker

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I'm very excited to report that I just found and installed a spell-checker for Firefox, my web browser. If you use Firefox, you can have spell check as well. Just go to the SpellBound page at SourceForge and follow the instructions.

One caveat though, it took me several times to try to install the extension before if finally worked. So, if you try it and it doesn't work, try again.

So now, as long as I run the spell checker, I shouldn't have any spelling errors, rihgt?

Tsunami Warning

Interestingly enough, when I checked my email this morning I had one from the U.S. Embassy in Thailand with the subject "WARDEN MESSAGE - EARTHQUAKE OFF SUMATRA". I don't know what a Warden Message is, but I thought it was interesting that the embassy sent me an email to tell me that there was an earthquake in Indonesia last night and that a tsunami might be on the way to Thailand.

Luckily, there was no tsunami this time. But what a difference 3 months makes. Apparently the warnings were spread very quickly through nearby countries like Thailand and Sri Lanka. Even though it was a false alarm (and even though it made some people panic), it's nice to see that the warnings are taken seriously now.

Underwater World Pattaya

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On Saturday I just couldn't take it any more; I just had to get out of Bangkok. So I packed my backpack and hopped on a motorcycle taxi to the nearby Ekkamai bus station, where I caught a bus to Pattaya.

Now, as I have said many times, Pattaya is not my favorite place in the world. On the other hand, it's not Bangkok, and sometimes a change in the air (or actually just breathable air) is all I need.

As soon as I arrived, I rented a motorbike from my favorite shop with the well-chosen name of Mai Pang ("Not expensive"). The 24 hour rental only set me back 200 baht (about US$5).

I then checked into a guest house (500 baht = US$12.75) and rode the bike around town a bit. Even though there was a bit of traffic on the roads, the ride was surprisingly relaxing.

On Sunday I drove around some more and did some shopping. For some strange reason, though, clothes seem more expensive there than in Bangkok. Perhaps it's because there are so many tourists? In any case, the driving around earned me two sunburned lower arms.

The highlight of the whole trip, however, was a visit to Underwater World, Pattaya's Aquarium. My expectations were low, but it actually turned out to be pretty cool. Basically it is a 100 meter long, walk-through aquarium with a decent collection of fish, sharks, turtles, coral, eels, starfish, stingray, etc. It was well-worth the 180 baht (US$4.50) entrance fee.

Actually, the 180 baht fee was written in Thai language and was only for Thai people. The fee written in English was 360 baht. But this time, instead of being annoyed, I put on my best Thai smile, flashed my university ID, said Pom bpen ajarn ("I am a teacher") and handed the girl 200 baht. Amazingly enough, it worked and she gave me my 20 baht change and a kon Thai (Thai person) ticket.

Speaking of kon Thai, the place was packed full of them. Initially I was dreading fighting the crowds, but actually it made things even better because it forced me to slow down or even stop for minutes at a time and just relax and watch the fish swimming beside, around, and above me.

As I was watching the fish swim a few inches from my face, we would occasionally see eye-to-eye. And what were they telling me over and over? "Fish are friends, not food!"

(Since I didn't have my camera with me, someone else's excellent pictures (and description in Norwegian(?)) will have to do.)


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This post was selected as one of the "Favorite Posts of 2005". To read more "Favorites", then visit Favorite Posts of 2005.

Russian Embassy

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My working life continues, as I have been working about 10 days straight since I returned from the US. But, it's all good; a lot of my work has been in preparation for a business trip to Australia coming up soon.

I'll talk about that trip later, but for now, I wanted to make a quick link to some very cool pictures found on the always excellent 2bangkok.com. They visited what used to be the Russian Embassy on Sathorn Road. Over the next couple of years, this historic site will be turned into Bangkok's most expensive apartments and shopping center. For now, the building is a great example of Thai turn-of-the-last-century architecture.

So go take a look at 2Bangkok.com visits the Luang Sathorn Mansion/Russian Embassy. As the 2bangkok site says, "The vacant and mysterious Luang Sathorn Mansion and former Russian Embassy. See soundproof and metal-lined rooms, a labyrinth of windowless chambers, and rooms with no apparent way in..."

Exciting stuff!

Favorite SF Restaurants

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Last week, my good friend Jimmy left a comment on this website asking about my favorite restaurants in San Francisco. It's been almost three years since I lived there, but I could still remember a few of my regular hangouts.

So, since I don't have anything interesting to share about my life in Thailand (I've been working a lot, and that doesn't make for very interesting reading) I thought I'd talk about my favorite restaurants in San Francisco.

As I wrote in reply to Jimmy: A walk down Mission or Valencia streets will find a huge number or cheap and delicious taquerias. My favorite Mexican place is La Rondala on Valencia and... 20th? My favorite Italian is a small place called Jackson and Fillmore. It is located (beleive it or not) on the corner of Jackson and Fillmore. For Vietnamese, I liked the Slanted Door. It used to be in the Mission, but I think that it has a new location in the Ferry Building now.

At least those are my resonably priced favorites, as I remember them from three years ago. Of course there is a lot of good restaurants at the top-end of the market, but I don't know which ones are the best these days.

Assuming my friends from San Francisco still read this website and would be willing to respond, I'm curious to hear what restaurants make everyone else's "favorite" list.

Travelling is fun, but...

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Just a very short entry to say that I am back home in Bangkok now. As with every trip, I am overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to do once I get back. So I will try to post some thoughts about my trip later this week...

California Driving

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It's 5:42 AM and I haven't slept a wink all night. Every night, I always fall asleep very quickly, so when I laid down around 2 AM and was still awake 30 minutes later, I had to get out of bed and do something else. Now it is almost four hours later and I still haven't slept. In fact, I'm not even remotely tired. I guess I drank too much coffee on the drive down from LA earlier this evening.

(And yes, I gave up drinking coffee, for the most part, a few months ago. But thanks to the jet lag I was quite tired on the drive down from LA, and falling asleep at the wheel is not a good idea. But it looks like maybe I should have had a small cup instead of a large one! In any case, here I sit recording my trip to the US instead of sleeping.)

Hanging out with Giam and some of his friends in LA yesterday was fun. I stopped by the Apple Store in the Grove Center to check out the new iMac Mini. I really want one and I just might be able to find room in my suitcase for one on the way back. After shopping, we headed to the beach for a while. It was still fairly chilly, so we just walked around and enjoyed the scenery.

On the drive to the beach, I felt a little homesick for California. But then I realized that I wasn't so much homesick for working in California, I just missed the weekends. One of my favorite things to do on the weekends was to ride down the Pacific Coast Highway with the windows down and the radio on. It always felt like I was in one of those fancy car ads that are filmed along the winding cliffs overlooking the Pacific. So much fun!

Freezing Southern California

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I have arrived in LA safely, rented a convertable (hey, it IS Southern California, after all!) and found my friend Giam's house, where I will stay tonight. My first impression of LA on this trip consisted of kicking myself for not bringing a jacket. After living in Thailand for two years, my blood is very thin, and a 65 F day with a cool ocean breeze feels like a blizzard to me.

Tomorrow night I will drive down to San Diego for my business meetings over the weekend. This is going to be a very short trip, but it is good to be back in the States for a while.

Now, where can I find a burrito?

Taipei Airport

A year after my first visit, I am back in Taipei, Taiwan again. But this time, unfortunately, I'm just here for a 90 minute layover on the way from Bangkok to Los Angeles.

Nothing seems to have changed, however. I had a bowl of spicy beef noodles and a "Taiwan Beer" at the same shop as last year. The weather was exactly the same as well, very overcast with a slight drizzle, just like last year. I hope that they have better weather in the months outside of March.

Honeymoon in Bangkok

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Now that I have fallen out of the habit of updating this site on a regular basis, I totally forgot to mention one of the highlights of the last month: A visit from my good friend Brennan and his new wife. They decided to go to Bangkok for their Honeymoon, and I was lucky enough to get to spend some quality time with them while they were here.

(You might remember the long thread of recommended honeymoon places in Thailand. As much as I tried to convince them to stay in Thailand, they instead ended up choosing Bali. They said they had a wonderful time there, so it's all good.)

They seemed to have a good time in Bangkok as well. They went shopping, did river tours, did more shopping, relaxed by the pool at the Sukothai Hotel, went shopping, had massages, went shopping, ate a lot of good food, and fianlly, did some more shopping.

I was lucky enough to join along with some of the above. Brennan's dad had some connections who hooked us up with dinner one night and lunch the next morning at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. Everytime I take the BTS between Silom and Siam, I look down on the immaculately manicured golf course and horse racing track at the RBSC, and I wonder what it looks like on the inside. I figured I would never know, since it is one of Bangkok's most exclusive clubs (even if you meet the membership requirements, there is still a 30 year waiting list). Well, thanks to friends of friends of friends, now I know!

Other events that week included lunch at Central Chitlom's Food Loft, sunset drinks at Vertigo at the 62nd floor of the Banyon Tree hotel, dinner at Anna's Cafe, another dinner at the Suan Lum Night Bazzar, and amazingly good foot massages at Healthland on Satorn. There was also a bit of relaxing by the pool at the Sukothai. By the way, if you can afford the outrageously high room rates, the Sukothai is a great little hotel. It has over-the-top service, nice rooms, and a pool area that seems to be miles away from the chaos of Bangkok (even though the hotel has a very convenient location near the corner of Sathorn and Rama 4).

So, needless to say, I felt very lucky that Brennan and Deb allowed me to take part in their Honeymoon. For a few days there, it was almost as if I was on vacation too.

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This post was selected as one of the "Favorite Posts of 2005". To read more "Favorites", then visit Favorite Posts of 2005.

The weather has been unbelievably cool yesterday and today. (The little weather sticker on my front page says that is is 67 F right now. Amazing!) If the weather was like this all year, I would never leave.

We took advantage of the unseasonable weather yesterday by driving to Nakorn Pathom with Khun Vivek, the man who sold the condo to me. Rupert, Piyawat, Vivek and his driver and I all piled into Vikek's car and drove for an hour out into the countryside. We visited the big chedi in Nakorn Pathom (Thailand's biggest Buddhist monument) and then went to Vivek's home by the river, where we had a delicious lunch of big river prawns, pork leg, and apple pie.

Home Owner

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It has been weeks since I have posted anything here. The eye infection is gone now, although my eyes still seem a bit itchy now and then. Maybe it's just because I am afraid of getting poked in the eye with a needle again!

So what else have I been up to? Midterm exams were last week, and they went off without a hitch. Unfortuantely, exam time means that there is little time to do anything else.

But, after much wrangling with various banks on both sides of the Pacific, I was finally able to get all of my money into my Bangkok account on Wednesday which means that all of the papers to buy the condo were able to be signed on Thursday. That's right, I'm now a home owner in Bangkok.

It's a bit scary, when I think about it. My little "travel a bit in Asia" idea has turned into working for two years and buying a condo. What is in store for me next?

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2005 is the previous archive.

April 2005 is the next archive.

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