Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A GREAT Cruise for me!!

I'll be flying to Singapore later this week to do an 8 day cruise contract sailing to Ho Chi Mihn City. It's a last minute booking and I'm thankful for the work.

Just got my Cruise Itinerary and had to laugh!

2/25/2010 Fly To Singapore and join ship
2/26/2010 Day at sea
2/27/2010 Koh Samui (Thailand) 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
2/28/2010 Bangkok (Laem Chebang) Arrive 10:00 AM
3/1/2010 Bangkok (Laem Chebang) Overnight
3/2/2010 Bangkok (Laem Chebang) Depart 6:00 PM
3/3/2010 Koh Samui (Thailand) 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
3/4/2010 Day At Sea
3/5/2010 Ho Chi Minh City Arrive & Fly to Bangkok Arrive 6:10 PM

I fly to Singapore and have one day at sea followed by 5 days in Thailand (2 days in Koh Samui and 3 days in Laem Chebang - the port is 20 minutes from my house so I can actually go home!)! One final day at sea and then I fly home!

Of course this all depends on what happens following the Supreme Court decision on Friday! If things go haywire, they may have to change the itinerary for passenger safety. I sincerely hope things stay calm.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Trying Times in Thailand

If you are an Ex-Pat living in Thailand, or the friend or relative of one, you may have read some alarming headlines lately regarding the ongoing turmoil in the Land of Smiles.

Foreign operators urged to switch tour groups to non-Bangkok destinations.

Thailand braces for explosive verdict.

Iraq, India And Colombia Top Maplecroft Terrorism List - Thailand Emerges As Extreme Risk Nation.

On February 26th, the Supreme Court of Thailand will render judgement on the currently frozen 2.2 billion USD bank accounts of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin supporters (known as Red Shirts), have have vowed to demonstrate after the verdict (widely expected to go against them).

Embassies have issued travel warnings and the government has deployed thousands of troops and assigned guards to Supreme Court judges due to fears of a violent backlash if the tycoon's funds are seized on Friday.

The Thai government has announced it will cede control of security to the army and even declare an emergency if necessary, but says it hopes to control the situation.

So, we wait....

No one knows for sure how the court will rule ..or how the affected parties will react.

On a personal level, I feel no direct concern for my safety. I will take the usual precautions one should during a contentious time in any country. I will avoid crowds (especially in the "hot spots" around Bangkok), I will make sure I have plenty of food, water, batteries, cash etc at home in the event some businesses close and I'll keep a close eye on the local Thai media for any signs of escalation.

Other than that, it's life as usual here in Jomtien Beach.

Unfortunately, Thailand is now in the top 10 of the Maplecroft Terrorism List (#9). The index measures not only the risks of an attack, but also the chances of mass casualties occurring.

The top listing is as follows...

Iraq (1) Afghanistan (2) Pakistan (3) Somalia (4)Lebanon (5) India (6) Algeria (7) Colombia (8) and Thailand (9).

The figures however, here are a little misleading. The majority of the unrest in Thailand occurs in the very southern region (hundreds of miles away from BKK) along the border with Malaysia and doesn't affect the the tourist destinations of Bangkok, Chiang Mai & Pattaya at all.

I've spent considerable time in India (5) and Columbia (8) and believe me, I feel 1000 times safer in Thailand than I ever did there and even safer than in the United States (46).

Thailand is a beautiful, welcoming country that deserves a much better reputation than it currently holds. This current crisis will pass, and hopefully without incident.

Thailand has been my home since 2006 and I have no desire to live anywhere else.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Saint's Go Marchin In!

It was a thing of beauty..


Initial reports it may have been the most watched Television program in American history. I watched here in Thailand at 6:30 am with friends.

Even up by 14 points and less than two minutes to play, I held my breath until it was over.

Like all New Orleanians (OK, I only lived there 21 years so it's honorary at best), I shed tears of joy for the city that has waited 42 years for this moment.

Especially after Hurricane Katrina.

I still remember my first return to the city following the disaster. Katrina struck August 29th, 2005 and we were first allowed back into the city (dusk curfew still in effect) on October 19th.

Driving into the city, the first thing you really see that feels like "home" was the Superdome. Of course, just six weeks earlier it had been the refuge of last resort for thousands of people trapped by the storm.

As you drove past it, you could see the ravages inflicted on the building by the storm and it's aftermath.

Those scars are now beginning to heal.....

Bless You Boys!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

To a Long, Long Life....

As you get older one tends to get interested in longevity. There's an Interesting website that tracks whether famous people are still alive or whether they have passed away called DEAD OR ALIVE.

Although it is always sad to see who has passed, to me more interesting is who is still among us. I'm pleased to say a couple of those on this list are friends of mine.

Dolores Hope - 100
Luise Rainer - 100
Gloria Stuart - 99
Mitch Miller - 98
Art Linkletter - 97
Tony Martin - 96
Kevin McCarthy - 95
Irwin Corey - 95
Jack LaLanne - 95
Norman Lloyd - 95
Norman Wisdom 95
Harry Morgan - 94
Frank Cady - 94
Eli Wallach - 94
Barbara Billingsley - 94
Olivia de Havilland - 93
June Havoc - 93
Sherwood Schwartz - 93
Ernest Borgnine - 93
Kirk Douglas - 92
Zsa Zsa Gabor - 92
Vera Lynn - 92
Celeste Holm - 92
George Gaynes - 92
Phyllis Diller - 92
Herbert Lom - 92
June Foray - 92
Joan Fontaine - 92
John Forsythe - 92
Don Pardo - 91
Marjorie Lord - 91
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. - 91
Betty Garrett - 90
Louis Jourdan - 90
Al Molinaro - 90
Dino De Laurentiis - 90
Sid Melton - 89
Maureen O'Hara - 89
Mickey Rooney - 89
Jayne Meadows - 89
Nanette Fabray - 89
Noel Neill - 89
Carol Channing - 89
Hugh Downs - 88
Abe Vigoda - 88
Barbara Hale - 88
Jane Russell - 88
Nancy Reagan - 88
Esther Williams - 88
Monty Hall - 88
Deanna Durbin - 88
Betty White - 88
Patrick Macnee - 87
Kathryn Grayson - 87
Carl Reiner - 87
Marty Allen - 87
Turhan Bey - 87
Michael Ansara - 87
Jack Klugman - 87
Bill Macy - 87
Eleanor Parker - 87
William Schallert - 87
Blake Edwards - 87
Norman Lear - 87
Sid Caesar - 87
Jackie Cooper - 87
Janis Paige - 87
Fyvush Finkel - 87
Larry Storch - 87
Jean Stapleton - 87
Conrad Bain - 87