Posts Tagged ‘Flint Michigan’

My One Night in Bangkok (Okay, Actually Five Nights!)

I’m done!!!

I don’t plan on making any more international trips with flights of more than ten hours!

My recent trip to Bangkok, Thailand involved three flights:  Duluth, Minnesota to Chicago (less than two hours), Chicago to Tokyo, Japan (over thirteen hours), and then Tokyo to Bangkok (over seven hours).

From my door to the hotel room, with early arrival at the airport and sit time between each flight, it was 33 hours!  Once you add in a 12-hour time change, it was 45 hours — early Tuesday morning Duluth time when I left and early Thursday morning Bangkok time when I arrived.

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As soon as I got the hotel room, I showered and relished in the fact that I’d get to stretch out in a comfortable bed and sleep. Minutes turned into hours…

Finally, five hours later, I couldn’t fall asleep and started thinking of all the world’s problems!  That, along with Facebook not working (which would be my only way to have instant communication with my sister), I had a minor melt down.

At that point, the sun was up and I decided to forego trying to fall sleep.  I showered, ate breakfast, and walked around Bangkok in the heat and humidity.

When I left Duluth, it was in the 20s with more than two feet of snow on the ground.  In Bangkok, highs were in the mid-90s with a heat index of 105°!

Once out of the hotel room, even without sleep, all was good in my world again and I was ready to see Bangkok!

In a city of 8.5 million, a New York in Thailand, there’s so much to see and with limited time, you have to pick and choose.

My first evening, I took a sightseeing dinner tour on the muddy Chao Phraya River.

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Bangkok was absolutely stunning all aglow in lights!

The top left photo above is “Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan” (try saying that!), also known as the “Temple of Dawn”, and in the bottom left is Iconsiam, a $1.5 billion mixed-use complex including a high end shopping mall, hotels and residences.

The food on the cruise was amazing and I think I held up rather well being awake for two days!

After the cruise, I was confident I’d fall asleep after the exhaustive trip and a full day of sightseeing!  No way!  I dozed off and thirty minutes later, wide awake again!

On my second full day in Bangkok, I visited three temples — Wat Traimit (“Golden Buddha”), Wat Pho (“Reclining Buddha”), and Wat Benchamabophit (“Marble Temple”).

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The “Golden Buddha” (top left) is a 10-foot tall, 12,000 pound statue.  In 1955, while being moved, it was chipped.  That’s when they discovered that it was made of solid gold and worth $250 million!!!

“Wat Pho” was my favorite temple that I saw.  It’s the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok and is probably the most famous in all of Thailand.  The “Reclining Buddha” is almost 151 feet long and stands 49 feet high!!!

As you know, I love koi and I miss my fish pond back in Illinois.  I hit the jackpot at Wat Pho and this is my favorite picture I took in Bangkok!

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On my second night in town, I attended the Siam Niramit Show, a 90-minute production covering Thailand’s 700 years of captivating culture, customs and traditions.  The show features about 100 performers, lavish costumes and stunning set designs!

While the first act was historical, the second act was very dark!  It was more like a horror show acting out the punishments for drinking alcohol (!), committing adultery and talking back to your parents!

I’m not sure if it God or the devil working, but after that bleak act, there was a technical glitch and the show was delayed.  During the interruption, many left and those that stayed saw a cheery, happy final act.  Blah!

Overall, the highlight of the evening was the scary second act of the production, the great dinner buffet,

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and this beautiful sweetheart!

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That night, I got a little bit more sleep and walked around the next day.

While I saw expensive high rises and condos and the economic center of Bangkok (and Thailand), I also got to see how many people actually lived.

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Clearly, the building codes are more relaxed there!

Houses 1

Those don’t even look safe!  But, it’s home for many.

On my third night in town, I attended the Calypso Cabaret, Bangkok’s famous “lady boy” show.  (Yes, boys entertaining as ladies!)

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My favorite dishes in Bangkok were definitely the curry ones!

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Thailand and Bangkok have made tremendous strides in reducing poverty over the past few decades and it’s easy to see how hard people have to work to survive.

I know Thai people (well, in Bangkok, where I was) are used to the heat and humidity, but it really made me think when I saw elderly women manning shops and food carts all afternoon.  I really hope when I’m elderly, I’ll work by choice and not necessity.  And, maybe they are?

On the next to last day of my trip, I developed an intestinal virus.  While I still explored the city, it slowed me down and prevented me from trying deep-fried insects, which I was so looking forward to!

By the way, these are the deep-fried insects that I didn’t get to sample and not a look at the intestinal virus. 🙂

Silkworms

Maybe on another international excursion!!!

Also, that night, I was very close to trying the famous street food of Bangkok.  Some of it appeared sketchy, yet much of it looked incredible!

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I walked through a popular, busy alley (many food vendors just sit up in alleys, sidewalks, and storefronts and you choose the ones that locals are eating at) and finally made the decision on where to have Pad Thai.

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As I was ready to hand the menu over and say “one” for a makeshift table, a friendly rat casually walked by my feet on its way past the food vendor!

I know that the food would have been great (and safe), but since I wasn’t feeling 100% anyways, I passed and ate the snacks I had in my room! 🙂

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While I don’t know what caused my intestinal virus, I’d venture to say that it was from the water.  While I drank bottled water, you have to consider that food is prepped and cooked with water that may be potable, then there’s shower water getting in your ears and brushing your teeth, etc.

In America, we’re pretty much guaranteed safe drinking water (sorry Flint that Michigan and the U.S. government failed you) and it’s very easy to take for granted.

However, outside of the U.S., Canada, Greenland, western Europe, and Australia, many countries and continents don’t have safe drinking water.

This includes all of Africa, much of Asia (including Thailand and China), eastern Europe, Russia, Mexico, and all of South America!

Asia Water.JPG

Another Bangkok observation, I’ll never complain about Chicago (or for that matter, Los Angeles or New York City) traffic ever again!

Thai drivers have to the best drivers in the world!

BangkokTrafficJam

The traffic was insane, bumper to bumper, with countless motor scooters zipping in and out between cars with very little breathing room.  I’m so shocked I didn’t see any accidents!

Where most Americans drive, take public transportation, Lyft, Uber, or taxis, in Bangkok, people just jump of the back of motor scooters (with and without helmets).  I’d never do that, especially after I saw the traffic!

On my last day in Bangkok, I had to check out of the hotel at noon.  But, my flight wasn’t until eleven hours later.

So, I visited a “Snake Farm”, which was a 30-minute walk from the hotel.

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And, with that slithery visit, I very well could have been saving lives there and across Thailand!  The facility, operated by the Thai Red Cross, extracts venom from cobras and other poisonous snakes to make anti-venom serums!

In the presentation, I learned that poisonous snakes are found throughout all of Thailand (including in the city of Bangkok).  And, we got to be see just how large poisonous snakes are caught by hand!

Snake Charmer

FYI — snakes have poor eyesight and they don’t have ears, so they can’t hear you.  If you encounter one, let it crawl on by — or slowly move away and once you’re out of striking distance, run!  That’s not my advice.  That’s what we were told to do!

At the show’s conclusion, not only did we get to see an Albino Burmese Python, which is white with patterns in butterscotch yellow or burnt orange (most are dark colored), we also got to channel pop princess Britney Spears!

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Okay, Britney wore it better at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards!  And, no I didn’t start lip-syncing “I’m A Slave 4 U”! 🙂

On a humorous side note, we were told not to worry about the snake being hungry since “it had a small child yesterday”! 🙂

So, that’s my trip to Bangkok!  For those that read the blog and looked at all of the pictures, thank you for taking the trip with me!

And, yes, Murray Head, I may not be “a tourist whose every move’s among the purest”, but I did “get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine” on this trip — even though there were many Thai boys offering their services (I mean, company)!

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — January 12, 2018

It’s a new year and I’m posting my first official “Random Friday Thoughts” of 2018.

2018 RFT

I hope you had a happy holiday season and are looking forward to great things over the next twelve months.

GLAD “WINTER BREAK” IS OVER

It’s not because 24-hour Christmas music is no longer being played or that people are taking down their trees and decorations.  I miss that!

I’m glad “winter break” is over so my favorite television shows return.

I want my “How To Get Away With Murder”, “Madam Secretary”, “The Good Doctor”, and “The Brave”.

On, “Murder”, I’m ready to see how the bloody elevator scene turns out!

911

When “The Walking Dead” returns in February for the final eight episodes of this season, I’m excited for another reason.

While I want to see the original character revealed to have been bitten by a walker die…

FTWD Christmas

… the real reason is that I want this dreadful season to end so “Fear The Walking Dead” will return for its fourth season!

“MADAM SECRETARY”

I got a pleasant surprise on the latest episode of “Madam Secretary” with Jayne Atkinson playing Vice President Teresa Hurst!

Needless to say, there’s tension between her and Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni).

Jayne

If Atkinson looks familiar, she was Secretary of State Catherine Durant under President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) on “House of Cards”!

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When we last saw her, she was hospitalized after being pushed down the stairs by Underwood! *

It’s unknown whether she’ll return for the final season this year.

*He’s still an incredible actor!  Creep!

FLINT WATER CRISIS

One of my goals in 2018 is to drink more water.

While there are many parts of the world that lack clean water or have water shortages, it’s a given here in the United States that we should have a safe water supply.

In China, even the people that live there will not drink the water without boiling it, which should be a crime in itself — that a country can’t or doesn’t provide clean water!

However, I’m venting today about the Flint, Michigan water crisis that started in 2014.

I just read a couple of extensive (old) articles in “Time” and “Rolling Stone” and it still infuriates me now as it did almost four years ago.

To think city government officials (not elected officials, but ones appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder) approved a plan to change the water supply to save $19 million over eight years.

That might have been a logical choice had they not chosen to get the water from the Flint River, which was basically a dumping ground for the auto industry for decades.

The short story is that a month after the source of the city’s water changed, people started reporting funny smelling water coming out of the faucets brown or yellow.

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Yet, city officials said it was safe!

Kids started getting sores on their bodies from bathing and people’s hair started falling out.

It wasn’t until early 2016 that Governor Snyder admitted failure and vowed to make things right.

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Film maker Michael Moore stated “The people of my hometown, Flint, Michigan, are being poisoned.  Let’s not mince words:  This is a racial crime.  If it were happening in another country, we’d call it an ethnic cleansing.”

Senator Bernie Sanders called for Snyder to resign.

And, in Charleston, South Carolina, in January 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “We’ve had a city in the United States of America where the population, which is poor in many ways and majority African American, has been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water, I’ll tell you what — if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would’ve been action!”

I think Flint city officials, Governor Snyder, and even those at the Environmental Protection Agency that knew about this and dropped the ball should be jailed for their incompetence!

To this day, we still don’t know how the lead poisoning that the kids got from the contaminated water will affect them in the long run.

The bottom line is that this is a disgrace and, I agree, racism is and was the catalyst!

SO, WHAT NOW?

In March 2016, “Time” reported that the state legislature appropriated $37 million to help treat kids with high lead levels and pay residents’unpaid utility bills.

Governor Snyder proposed $195 million for aid and infrastructure improvements (potentially replacing about 5,000 lead pipes) and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is proposing $55 million to replace corroded plumbing.

Remember, this was to save $19 million over eight years!!!!!

MICHELE BACHMANN, GOD TALKED TO ME!

Former Minnesota Congresswoman and presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann is considering a run for Al Franken’s U.S. Senate seat.

Bachmann

She says she’s asking God if it should be her!

Well, Michele, I had enough your insanity in 2012 and God came to me in a vision and said, “Tell Michele thanks, but no thanks!”

“THE X-FILES”

In television, we’ve learned to “never say never” or believe the words “series finale”.  Also, being killed off doesn’t mean you’re really dead!

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I’m excited that “The X-Files” is back for ten episodes for its eleventh season, but I’m bummed to hear that Gillian Anderson, who plays FBI agent Dana Scully, says she won’t return for another season.

And, creator Chris Carter and Fox says without her, there will be no more “The X-Files”!

Gillian David The X-Files

Many of you gave up on the series before it ended with its ninth season in 2002.  The six-episode reboot last year started off strong and lost much of its audience.

It’s back for ten episodes on Fox this winter and the first episode was a major shocker to “The X-Files” fans.

The first few minutes were just okay, but once it got going, it was a crazy ride!

Now, about that major shocker.  Let’s just say that fans are irate and Carter is defending his decision.  The shocking scene was a “wow” — that turned to creepy and then disgusting!

This season focuses again on the extinction of the human race, aliens, and Scully’s teenage son, William, who has alien DNA.  He’s also been in hiding from the government (the bad guys) since birth.

I can’t wait to see how this “ends”!

“THE CROWN”

I finally got on board and binge-watched this Netflix original now in its second season.

Claire Foy and Matt Smith star as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

It’s interesting how Elizabeth II became the Queen and watch all the obstacles she faced.  Also, it’s great to see the “young” Queen because I grew up with and only know the “older” Queen.

In the first season, Foy won both the Golden Globe Award and the Screen Actors Guild Award and the series also won the Golden Globe for Best Series – Drama.

John Lithgow was amazing as Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  He also won the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Emmy.

While the cast of seasons one and two were incredible, Foy, Lithgow, and Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret) were my favorites.

When the show returns for seasons three and four, there will be an all new cast and we’ll see a time jump from the early-1960s.

By the way, my favorite episode was S2, E9 with President John F. Kennedy & Jackie visiting Buckingham Palace.  It was also also Foy’s favorite episode of the second season.

GRADE: A

“DETROIT”

This was my fourth favorite movie of 2017.  Sadly, it was ignored in theaters, so watch it on DVD.

It’s from Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) and is about the race riots in Detroit in the late-1960s.

The scenes between racist white police officers and the violence they subject to a mostly black group at a hotel is appalling and gripping.

GRADE: A

“GIRLS TRIP”

If you think you need a group of men acting badly (“The Hangover”) to have a great time, get with the times.

A group of long-time friends get together in New Orleans and let it all hang out in this smash comedy ($139 million at the box office) starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, and newcomer Tiffany Haddish.

We all need a friend like Haddish’s Dina!

The movie is hilarious and it easily earns its hard “R” rating — for raunchy. 🙂

You’ll also want to Google Kofi Siriboe afterwards!

kofi-feat

GRADE: A-

REMEMBERING DAVID BOWIE

It’s hard to think that it’s been two years now this week since David Bowie left us.

To remember him, here’s my favorite Bowie song.

While “Modern Love” hit #2 in the Canada, Israel, and the U.K., it only hit #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 here in the U.S.

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony