Happy New Year from Sandbag City
The floods of Biblical proportions are now just a memory except for the sandbags that still litter the streets of Bangkok. While we did not see a drop of water in the city (except on TV), it was a very stressful event for everyone here and platform high-heels became instantly fashionable again. We literally packed up most of our office and move to higher ground. In his blog, Douglas gives yet one more reason to kill your TV: www.purpledrag.com/blog.htm
If you did not receive our Year of the Dragon e-greeting card, you can get your own copy HERE.Myanmar Madness
It is no longer a sin to visit Myanmar.
The new civilian government has released Aung San Suu Ky from House arrest and she could be Prime Minister some day. Hillary recently paid a visit to Yangon, as did the Foreign Ministers of the UK and Germany. The European Union is ratcheting down their embargo. And Michelle Yeoh's film The Lady is stimulating unbelievable interest in the place we used to call Burma.
Now everyone wants to go there.
In November we began to have trouble finding hotels for February and March, and in December it became nearly impossible. The floodgates are now open, which is welcome news to the Burmese. As long time sinners, we have always believed that tourism brings about social and political change, and that the money it brings, ends up in the pockets of the masses. Over the past ten years we have seen idiotic boycotts, typhoons and social unrest in Myanmar. All have impacted tourism badly, and many there have suffered as a result.
Long sealed in a sort of time capsule, Myanmar is one of the last truly authentic places in Southeast Asia. No KFC, Starbucks or Golden Arches. Few mobile phones and very little internet access. All of this will change, of course, which is why Myanmar is high on our list of places to visit sooner rather than later. Purple Dragon has worked for more than a decade in Myanmar and is ready to give you the experience of a lifetime, even though gay life there is very elusive. Our best advice is to reserve as far in advance as you can in order to avoid disappointment. Unfortunately, we had to turn away about half of the people who asked us to help them with trips there during February because empty hotel rooms all but vanished. Visit Myanmar
Jeff & Mark Loved Southern Laos
By Jeffrey Wood and Mark Abate
Countries are often described in terms of their governments, geography, history, religions and the culture of their people. Laos is a complex and wonderful country which has been shaped by all of these things. It awaits the savvy traveler with a rich and unique glimpse into a part of the region often overlooked in the shadow of it's more highly touted neighbors.
Laos is distinct from its neighbors. While it has shared in Southeast Asia's history of competing kingdoms, religious transitions, colonization, warfare and emergence Read the whole story >
Bangkok Shaken by Wave of Terrorism Alerts
Recently US and Israeli "intelligence" sources warned Thailand to be on alert for possible terrorism threats. Twenty-one countries have warned their citizens to be cautious when visiting Bangkok.
Although this story has been splashed across the front pages of newspapers in the Kingdom for the past month, no terrorist ring has been uncovered and nothing immediately threatening has apparently been found. One foreigner was arrested on the outskirts of the city with materials that could have been used to make a bomb (or fertilize a lot of vegetables), and another who was on an international watch list was arrested as he tried to leave Bangkok. However, no there is no apparent connection between the two men. Those of us living here are completely unconcerned, and the only explosions heard were Lunar New Year firecrackers. China lifted its warning 20 January, and Bangkok's hotels were recently full of Chinese visitors during the New Year holiday.
Meanwhile, the Thai Foreign Ministry has issued a warning for Thai citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami, Buenos Aires, Rio, Paris and Madrid because soaring crime rates pose a significant risk to Thais. Just kidding, of course, but not unreasonable considering the way these government warnings are so easily floated "just to be on the safe side."
Post Script - 14 February. An Iranian national today threw a hand grenade at a taxi that refused to stop for him. He threw another at police, which bounced off a passing truck blew off both of his own legs. Earlier, two other "foreign nationals" fled a nearby house following an explosion. One, who was identified by police as an Iranian citizen, was arrested at Suvarnabhyumi airport as he attempted to flee to Malaysia. The incident happened in a side street off Sukhumvit soi 71, which is about five miles from the center of the city. Five bystanders were injured but there were no deaths. Terrorist schools are not what they used to be.
In our last newsletter we invited you to share your personal "bucket list" with us just for fun. (In case you are wondering, a "bucket list" is your inventory of all the experiences you want to have before you "kick the bucket.")
John Lennon said, "Life is what happens while you are making other plans." If you are over fifty you probably keep a mental wish list of things they want to do while time and health are still on their side. If so, we would love to share your "bucket list" with our readers. Send your list by email to: email@example.com and dazzle us with your creativity and dreams. We have no intention of using your list for marketing purposes. It's strictly for fun.
Douglas submitted this:
Allan M shared his own list:
Philip R. has the most ambitious bucket list we have seen so far:
Our "green" (cooler and slightly rainy) season will be upon us faster than you can devour a fresh durian. And why is it special? Because many hotels and other travel suppliers in our part of the world offer dazzling special prices to entice you to visit.To tell you the truth, Thailand's high season was a train wreck again this year. Flooding here last October and November frightened many visitors away. The previous year it was the red shirts. Before that the yellow shirts, and before that tsunamis, coups, SARS, H1N1 and SLOPS. And if you believe the History Channel we won't even have a high season this year because the world will come to an end on December 22nd. So we are all motivated to roll out bargains like free hotel nights and lower prices.
So there will be no better time to visit us than April through September. We will start posting special deals on the Club Sanook website around the end of February. We hope to see you all here before doomsday.
Been There, Done That
This regular feature is part of our quest to show those who have "already done everything in Bangkok" something new. This month, we offer three ways to enhance your appearance in a one day or less for very little money.
Say Goodbye to Extra Baggage. Are those bag under (or above) your eyes over the 20kg limit for checked luggage? You can have an upper or lower "blepharoplasty" (eye lift) in just a couple of hours with no general anesthetic, no hospital stay, minimal swelling, and a price tag you will love. One hospital we work with has twelve full time plastic surgeons. You can get evaluated in the morning, have your procedure in the afternoon, and be back to your hotel before cocktail hour. Nobody will notice if you wear your fashionable Raybans. The cost: 18,000 baht (about $600). You can add an nose augmentation for about another $600. What would this cost at home?
Get Your Botox Fix. A very fashionable clinic we work with is offering a 50% "Botox Promotion" through March. You can get a quick fix for a wrinkled forehead, crows feet, or frown lines for 4,000 to 6,000 baht ($130 to $195).
Are Your Pearly Whites Pearly White? If your smile is looking a bit dim you can spend two hours having a thorough dental cleaning followed by laser whitening, which can get your teeth very, very white. The cost is about $250. If you have more time (and money), consider either veneers or replacement of all of the teeth in the front of your mouth with porcelain crowns. (This takes a couple of visits and an extra zero to the price tag.}
If you plan to visit Bangkok and are curious about any of these quick procedures, we will be happy to set up an evaluation appointment for you. We charge a small fee for people who want to shop for major repairs that require hospitalization. But we do not charge to assist you with any of the above. Just email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pot Pouri: New Luxury Heavy Hitters
We are constantly looking for something better for Purple Dragon's customers. We also listen carefully when our guests tell us what they like and do not like. We "retire" three or four hotels a year because they no longer live up to our standards in one way or another. At the same time we add new partners that are happy to serve our guests and understand that we work in a business built on relationships. We are happy to tell you that we have added three new companies that will help to enrich the quality of what we offer you.