Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bangkok Favorites

I'm getting ready to go to Bangkok and just had an e-mail from a friend who is also Thai bound. So, I'm reminding myself of the wonderful aspects and locations of Bangkok I must revisit:

Four Seasons Hotel: This is an absolute oasis set in the middle of hazy, hot Bangkok. Walking in the front doors just takes a huge burden off of me and I am still in awe of the night I spent there, when they updated me to a deluxe executive suite!

Weekend Market: I love its kitsch, its crowds, its randomness and its bargains! Can't wait to hit it again for goodness knows what.

Nancy Chandler Maps: And or course if I'm going to hit the weekend market, I'll have my Nancy Chandler map in hand. It's like a secret source code to the stalls of the weekend market.

Rasi Sayam: I love this store located at 32 Sukhumvit Soi 23 -- it's a treasure trove of Thai products from throughout the country. I've shipped things back from here unscathed....and the staff is wonderful.

Jim Thompson House: Another oasis of tranquility. Must go there for lunch and tea.

River boats: One of my fondest memories of Bangkok is renting a long boat (and driver of course) and cruising the canals around dinner time. People bath, brush their teeth, fish and LIVE on these canals and it's a fascinating insight to life in the Venice of the East.

Tailors: I was referred to Queen Thai silk at 199 Sukhumvit Road (in the Ruamchitt Plaza) by some previous Embassy employees last time I was in Bangkok. I had a beautiful suit made and a great skirt...time to go back. They will even come to your hotel for final alterations.

Amantee House of Oriental and Tibetan Antiques and Art: Probably saved the best for last; one of my favorite Thai memories is having an exquisitely prepared simple lunch with the owner at this architectural wonder after salivating over antique benches, scrolls and wedding beds. From the moment you walk through the wooden gate, you know you are in a special place. Did I mention the owner grew up in Chechnya...and married a man with Thai connections?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Perfect This, the Perfect that

I'm always in search of the perfect travel bag. Travel alarm. Travel mask. Travel shampoo bottle. Travel map. And, of course, travel books. I keep lists here and there, jotted in journals and pull articles out of magazines every time I see something that I think could occupy me on a plane or a beach and whisk me off to another culture or another era. Now I've come across the so-called "86 Greatest Travel Books of all Time" at a website called What shall it be? The Arabian desert or the last decade of the Shah of Iran?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tablet Hotels

One of my first Internet stops when planning a trip is this site, Tablet Hotels. Its picks the small, luxury hotels worldwide and publishes beautifully-designed books that make me lust to be a travel writer, just so I could stay in all the hotels featured in just one edition. Travel awaits in 2008...Bangkok, Santo Domingo, France....and hopefully so do some of these hotels as well.

Monday, January 14, 2008

L'Amour, L'Amour Sarkozy Style

Well, you do have to admit that she is beautiful. The kind of beautiful that requires no makeup and mimimal hair fussing. The kind of woman it's hard not to hate. So photogenic. Press accounts seem to indicate there is also a sizable bit of intelligence behind that face. I'm intrigued. With polling numbers splashed across U.S. papers declaring that the Republican primary is still wide open and Clinton and Obama exchanging racial accusations, it's much more amusing to watch this amorous French political drama unfold. Where else can a sitting President take his main squeeze on an official vacation without a huge outcry? Granted Sarkozy's polling numbers are on the decline, but really....the French seem only to be most upset because he's out in the open about his mistress.