Falling Numbers

January 18, 2015 – Day 476

The numbers they are a’falling.

For starters, we have the temperature. On this Sunday, when the sun rose, the mercury stood at a solid sixty-eight degrees. Here in Bangkok, that is sweater weather. Citizens of Chicago are perfectly free to roll their eyes and even sarcastically whisper That’s adorable as their thermometer showed thirty-seven on the morning of the 18th.

Another set of numbers that is dropping are those attached to gasoline prices. Just like in the United States, the price for automobile go-juice has been migrating southward. In America, according to the Lundberg Survey (news item here), a gallon of gasoline now sits at $2.20, the lowest level since 2009.

So how does this price compare to Thailand? Let’s find out.

Last April, I did a post talking about pump prices in Bangkok. Back then, I was paying the equivalent of $4.43 a gallon while the price in the States was $3.60.

Today, I filled up our car and paid 25.98 Thai baht per liter. Just like my post in April, when the price per liter was 38.08 Thai baht, it’s time to do some calculations and see where they take us.

On Sunday, it took 32.58 Thai baht to buy one US dollar.

One litre of gasoline is (still) equal to .264 gallons, so one gallon is actually 3.78 liters.

So, the amount I paid for one gallon of gas is 25.98 (my price per liter) multiplied by 3.78 (liters in a gallon) which comes out to 98.20 Thai baht.

That monetary amount is equivalent to $3.01 (98.20 divided by 32.58) and that is how much I shell out per gallon to fill up my vehicle.

That amount is eighty-one cents away from what I would pay, on average, in the States, but it sure is a great deal lower (a whole buck-forty-two) than what I paid in the fourth month of 2014.

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Plain Vanilla Title – Nothing To See Here

November 30, 2014 – Day 445

So what is it like living in a country that has certain red lines that cannot be crossed. By “red lines”, I mean that there are specific topics (such as this and this) that are off-limits to be discussed by news organizations or by people on social media networks?

Here’s an example.

An English-language newspaper in this country (let’s call it the Post) had this story as their lead about a family surname losing a desired status.

If you read the link, this story in the Post goes into detail about the three criminal suspects who all share the defrocked family name. The article goes on to state that…

The letter making the order, which has been widely circulated on social media, says the revocation applies to all people using the name [name redacted by blogger], not just the suspects.

Notice that the Post‘s story makes no other mention of who else might share this family name.

But this story from the BBC does.

I would say that phrase “burying the lead” applies to the Post, except they never mentioned the “lead” so there was no way the Post could bury it. They simply ignored it.

POSTSCRIPT: In advance, I apologize for any and all offense given by this post. I’m only trying to share observations with friends and family back home.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: The very fact that I felt the need to obscure certain names and topics so that this post doesn’t show up in certain search engine results should serve as a great example of what it is like to live in a country with red lines.

Mac Tonight

October 31, 2014 – Day 415

There is no other way to say except that Halloween is big here in Bangkok. Or at least, it’s huge in our semi-porous mesh trapezoid (SPMT) (because we don’t live in a bubble) north of the Thai capital.

What’s not to love about a holiday where you can walk up to a stranger’s door, make a threat, and receive free candy?

Tonight we saw a crush of kids (both Western and Thai) ring our doorbell and ask for sweets.

There was the usual collection of superheroes, fairies, witches, devils, skeletons, and even a ballerina.

However, there was only one costume that made me stop and grab my camera.

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I did a double take to make sure that I was indeed staring at a kid wearing a “Mac Tonight” mask. For those who do not recall, Mac Tonight was the character created by McDonald’s to promote their nighttime menu.

You can see a commercial touting the moon-headed piano player here.

I never was able to ask this kid where he obtained his mask or even if he knew who the character was. I’m sure he didn’t care as long as he received his free candy.

I do give the kid kudos, though, for the touch of adding the formal jacket…which had to add about twenty-five degrees to his temperature while walking around our SPMT.

The Nighttime Zoo

September 20, 2014 – Indonesia:Day003

In our mini-vacation to the island of Bali in the country of Indonesia, we took the opportunity to experience the local zoo at night.

An advantage to attending a zoo is the chance to see all sorts of animals that one (especially a city-dweller like myself) does not have the chance to see in everyday life. The downside to plunking down your money and buying a ticket to walk around a zoo during the day is that you are not able to see those animals that are mainly nocturnal. The nighttime zoo gives us the opportunity to see those creatures that are active from dusk until dawn.

The downside to attending a nighttime zoo is that it is at night. This makes taking pictures rather difficult since nighttime, ipso facto, means “dark” and my camera (a 16 megapixel Nikon Coolpix S1600) does not do well in dim light and creatures of the night tend to spook at flashes (which were prohibited during our journey).

Be that as it may, here is what we saw on our trip to the nighttime zoo at the Bali Safari and and Marine Park.

First – and trust me, it is there – a Komodo dragon.

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Here’s an elephant in real life…

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…and here’s an elephant in stone which is a representation of the Hindu deity, Ganesh.

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The highlight of the nighttime safari is when we were able to move through the animal enclosures. We were able to do this safely because we were loaded into the back of a pickup truck that was surrounded by a steel cage. This was sort of like being in a shark cage, except we were not in the water and we were going through the feline carnivore section, such as the lions…

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…and the tiger, which actually jumps onto the top of the cage (and again, trust me, it’s there).

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We also saw zebras.

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To finish up, nighttime safaris are a wonderful way to see animals you normally don’t get to see be active in a zoo during the day, but they are darn difficult to make a decent photo album out of.

Yes, We Have Young Bananas

October 7, 2014 – Day 391

Have you ever wondered what unripe bananas growing on their trees look like?

Neither have I.

Yet, right outside our house we have a banana tree and it is in the process of producing its fruit.

So here you go. A picture of a banana tree in bloom.

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That’s something you won’t find in your standard Bangkok guidebook.

Absenteeism Makes My Heart Grow Fonder

September 24, 2014 – Day 378

Since I turned eighteen, I have never missed an opportunity to vote in a federal election. Even when I was in Peru for the 2012 presidential election, I had registered online with my home state of Virginia to ensure that they would be able to send me an absentee ballot.

The 2014 mid-term elections are almost upon us and I am ever-so-grateful that I do not have to be bombarded with advertisements on the TV and radio telling me how Candidate ABC will unleash Hell’s minions unless I vote for Candidate XYZ.

After our family’s move to Thailand, I once again contacted the necessary authorities and alerted them to my new address. So, being the lover of elections that I am, I was beside myself with joy upon joy that my absentee ballot showed up in today’s mail.

Voting absentee is a wee bit different from touching the screen back home. First off, the actual ballot itself is in a sealed envelope. I can only open it in front of a witness and in the view of said witness, I must mark may ballot (although I can cover up who and what I vote for). When I have made all of my Xs on my choices, then I fold up my ballot and place it in another envelope and seal that one up. I sign and the witness sign and then I drop the envelope with my choices into a mailbox.

On my ballot this year, I have a United States Senator to vote for, a member of the House of Representatives, an amendment to the state constitution of Virginia, and three county bond requests.

I can’t wait to open up my ballot and savor the sweet smell of democracy.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

January 5, 2014 – Singapore:Day 002

The theme this week from WordPress regarding their Weekly Photo Challenge is signs.

Right about now, you are humming to yourself that song about signs, but depending on your age you are either reliving the version from the Five Man Electrical Band or Tesla.

Either way, my response to this week’s challenge takes us once again to Singapore during our family’s vacation to that small nation. One thing you need to know before viewing my photo is that there is a popular fruit in Southeast Asia that tastes divine but smells hellish.

Known as the durian, I have heard that dining on this custardy treat is akin to “eating a slice of heaven in an uncleaned public restroom.”

The taste may be wonderful, but it is quite obvious that the odor emanating from this spiky fruit is not a thing of beauty. How obvious is it that the durian’s stench is an experience to be avoided? My answer is this sign proscribing the things not to do while on the subway in Singapore.

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The durian ranks right up there with flammable goods.

I did notice that there is no monetary fine amount if you are indeed caught with durians on the Singaporean subway. I wonder why.