Saturday at Friendship Beach
Monday at work
Back from two weeks away from the desk. Worked the EARCOS conference and took a week's actual vacation with the LWW, touring Bangkok and doing a little pool side R&R in Phuket. Some random thoughts...
I deliberately spent as little time on the computer as my conscience would allow for the past two weeks. I estimate I spent an average of only 1/2 hour per day answering critical e-mail. One "task" I chose not to undertake was reading my RSS aggregator, and therefore, no blogs.
I skimmed over all my feeds last evening. Maybe skim is overstating it. Since I have been gone Kathy Sierra has been threatened online; (anti-) CyberBulling Day has come and gone; and Web Compliment day has passed. People are using things called Twitter and Ning- and they sound frightful. Netflix released over 200 new movie titles. The folks at LM_Net are fomenting rebellion against ALA. So it goes.
Over the past two weeks I read just for pleasure Lee Child's Without Fail, Stephen Hunter's Point of Impact, Stephen King's The Cell, and Larry McMurtry's Comanche Moon. All told, over 2500 pages of great junk. Now that's a vacation!
On the long, long trip home, the LWW and I ran into the world's crabbiest man. We first met him at about 4AM in the business lounge at the Bangkok airport, he sat beside me on the flight from Bangkok to Tokyo, we saw him again in the business lounge at Narita airport, and he sat just in front of me on the flight from Japan to Minneapolis. About 22 hours in his company. For the entire time, I did not hear him do anything but complain - about Thailand, about the airlines, about the food at the World Club, about the flight attendants (to whom he was surly).
When I become that negative about the world, I hope somebody just up and shoots me, putting me out of my misery. What is it that makes some people chronically unhappy?
Phuket Island in southern Thailand has changed dramatically since I was last there in 2000. It now boasts huge shopping malls, Starbucks (of course), and a new Vegas/Disney style show called Fanta-Sea. I can't say the change is for the better for those of us who like going places because they are different. But I am sure that for the folks living there and the typical cruise ship daytripper, the place is much improved.
Last year I found the same situation - rapid commercial development - in Chili, Beijing, Ireland and Bangkok. Everyplace but Peru (but I saw little of Lima.) The experts claim there are not the resources to support a first world lifestyle world-wide. To me, it looks like we will be testing the theory. Ear buds, cell phones and pizza commercials were ubiquitous on the Bangkok Skytrain as it moved us from Saphan Taksin station to Mo Chit and back.
On a happy note, the Friendship Beach Resort on Phuket is just small enough and isolated enough to make it charming. Run by Starr, an expat American, the place runs on what he calls "Thai time." Great food, comfortable rooms, and a laid back ambiance were everything we wanted - and needed.
No vacation is complete without doing something rather, well, stupid. We got our chance while exploring some sea caves in Phrang Nga Bay. (This was the setting for the last bits of the James Bond movie, Man with the Golden Gun.) We were off our larger boat and headed directly toward what seemed to be a large cliff. As the tide slowly fell, a very, very small opening appeared at the base of the cliff. Our kayak led, diving into the cave. In 15 minutes, we travelled about 100 yards, flat on our backs as the sea swell drove us to the sharp ceiling of the cave, the guide continuously shouting 'Keep low." "Keep your arms in the boat." 'Don't touch anything." and some untranslatable Thai phrases. About half way through, the guide decided he needed to let some additional air out of the little boat - much like letting air from the tires of a truck stuck under an overpass. Not exactly a claustrophobe's heaven, especially when the fading flashlight died.
The small grotto in the center of the island was magical. The trip back out less suspenseful since the tide had fallen enough to keep the roof of the cave some feet, rather than inches away. An adventure worth trying if you get the chance.
The other adventure was to the Simon Cabaret - slogan, "She's more of a man than you will ever be." The LWW insists that some of the entertainers actually were women. I could not think of a polite way of verifying her belief.
Back to fighting jet lag, answering phone messages, and getting caught up at work. And writing about technology and education and such.
I wonder if Starr needs an assistant resort manager? I'd work for peanut (sauce).