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Friday, December 15, 2006


S E Asia again

Strictly speaking, I have already gotten out, though only temporarily.

It's been observed that one of the problems with being unemployed is that you start work as soon as you wake up. Another problem is that you don't get paid vacations. I haven't been off the Island of Lost Souls in twenty hellish months. The first thing I did, when I locked in my current long-term contract, was to book a little time off.

I thought of Cape Town again. (Not Rio, much though I love it. I'll save it for when I'm based in New York, when it will be much easier to destinations in the Americas than in Asia or Africa.) Then it occurred to me that I had never seen Angkor and that, since it is literally on the other side of the world from New York, this was pretty much my last chance. So this post is coming from the city of the angels, Bangkok, from where I shall be jetting to Cambodia tomorrow.

I came in on Qatar Airways, a first-rate long-distance carrier that I thoroughly recommend, with a blink-and-you-missed-it layover in Doha. What little I saw of Doha impressed me. It seemed like an efficient and well-organized airport - granted, I had flown out of Gatwick so pretty much anything short of a prison riot would have impressed me well-organized at this point.) Doha is either dry, or the bar is well-hidden; I suspect the latter based on something al-Hamedi once said. (Sorry, can't find the reference. ISTR he described Qatar as "the end of the pier"; the place Saudis go so to women can walk around without wearing tents and people can have the occasional drink.) The other thing I noticed about Doha is that they use English style plugs, with their three huge prongs. Why, I wonder?

As for Bangkok, the new international terminal is a disappointment. They really need a separate immigration counter for people who were polite enough to fill out their immigration cards beforehand (which excludes pretty much all the tourists.) The coup does not appear to have affected life much. In fact the whole city is much as I remember it, although the shrines to the king are bigger than ever before; this is apparently his diamond jubilee.

Re your Brief History of exico at TW's, thanks, I thought it'd be something like this, I just couldn't be bothered to find out.
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