14-26 May June 2016
Hello again from Bangkok
Back from a brief exploration of Goa India, my over night flight arrived at the Don Muang Airport to the north of the city. Sleepy and disoriented I'd forgotten this wasn't the main international Suvarnabhumi Airport and puzzled over the unfamiliar immigration procedures in place at this secondary airport, which in fact are much simpler and at this early dawn hour less crowded than at the main international airport would have been. The immigration-customs formalities took only minutes, but finding the city bus outside the arrival terminal proved a challenge.
Eventually, maneuvering through a three dimensional maze of stairs, halls and catwalks I did managed to relocate it and grabbed the next bus down to the closest BTS station at Mo Chit. Still groggy and tired, I opted to use one of the handicap elevator access services rather than climb the three flights of stairs as I could see no BTS escalator near the bus stop. The security guard opened the elevator for me and took me up to the BTS level where an escalator provided lift to the train level all without passing through any entry turnstile.
When I got off the stop closest to the Furama Hotel I realized my prepaid BTS card had not recorded entry into the system and knew that would cause problems on exit. So, I explained my dilemma to the drowsy ticket agent who charged me the minimum 15 Baht ride fee, smiled and let me out of the system.
The Furama Hotel is only a ten minute walk from the BTS station so at 07:30AM I arrived way too early for check-in. The receptionist noted no room would be available until 10:00 or later and I explained that would give me plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the hotel's dining room. There, they seated me in the Executive Club section and I noted how much more desirable than the main dining hall it was and inquired about "joining" the club.
That's when I learned the privilege could be had by upgrading my "Superior" room choice for an additional nightly fee of about $23 from the el cheapo, great bargain $40 room I'd selected from the Agoda offers. That made my Executive room charge still just $63 per night, a bargain from my perspective: the room on a higher 19th floor with enhanced security, pampering in a private dining room with better air conditioning and street view windows.
The Furama-Silom bargain rates listed by Agoda make it a better value than most other houses I've tried in Bangkok. Housekeeping is consistently perfect, breakfast offers a great variety of choices and service in the Executive Club dining room is 5 star. The hotel is only a short walk from a BTS station. The detractors include occasionally slow Internet connectivity with periodic outages and FOX News providing the only US source of information about world developments! To be fair, Euro News and Aljazeera offer some balance, but the FOX dominated news definitely distorts one's impression of world developments!
World news available in the hotel has been dominated by the US elections and the crash of an Egypt Air flight 804 from Paris to Cairo with 66 people killed. Naturally, terrorism has been widely speculated, but not yet established at this date.
After breakfast Monday morning I dashed over to the Bumrungrad Hospital where my ophthalmologist is located and within an hour had an appointment for the full examination... and I mean full. The quick attention gave me little time to admire all the beautiful artwork hanging on the walls of the 18th floor - see my photos. Following the preliminary battery of tests I met with Dr. Orathai who noted the test results indicated no further progression of the macular degeneration... hooray! But, she did emphasize the need to continue the daily Amsler Grid tests and to seek medical attention ASAP should I note any changes, something potentially problematic given the kind of traveling I do. Total costs for tests and consultation: $210... total time from walking into the hospital: 2 hours. Demand for medical services must be dramatically lower than in the U.S. for the available medical staff to provide this kind of always urgent attention.
Aging definitely has its challenges. In my case, diminished eyesight joins failing hearing and diminished pressure sensitivity in my feet which makes being truly surefooted a thing of the past. Someone asked me on my birthday a few weeks ago if I had received any birthday presents. "Yes!" I replied, "Every new day is a gift and the one on that day no less or more so!"
For most of my adult life I have been on quest to discover the nature of ultimate reality. That search has taken me through studies of most major world religions, a wide array of philosophical ideas and deep into theoretical and experimental physics which my formal undergraduate studies at the University of California and elsewhere made possible later in life. Alan Wallace asserts that we are all Choosing Reality! His provocative books are difficult to read, but so enlightening they are worth the effort.
My Las Vegas information gate keeper, Andy shared his discovery of "Evolutionary Argument Against Reality" and it has opened up an entirely new portal for the intellectual exploration of consciousness. Based on the work of Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California-Irvine, humanity's understanding of the nature of ultimate reality has taken a giant leap forward. My own puny philosophical speculations over the past thirty years about the emergence of reality has never gotten far from the traditional scientific perspective.
Of course what we "see" is not what is "actually" there. Physics teaches us that, but still fails to reveal much about what "ultimate reality" might actually be. The question must have been pondered by human beings before the dawn of symbolic thinking, ultimately leading to all of the bizarre anthropological religious formulations. Buddhist physics may have deduced ideas closer to truth... and certainly is worth pondering. Whether humanity will ever discover the truth about ultimate reality remains an open question in my mind, but I feel certain the quest will never end.
One cannot help but notice all the Chinese tourists wandering the world these days; both their numbers and their boisterous behavior make it impossible. Every conversation, even on the phone is a shouting match! I will be curious to see if ordinary people in China exhibit the same obnoxious mannerisms. Is it just the newly acquired wealth of the travelling middle and lower classes or is there something more fundamental in the way families are raising their kids these days? I leave for Xian on the 26th where I'll study travel possibilities toward Lhasa, in addition to seeing if shouting is only a peculiarity of international travelers from China. Until the next episode,
Fred L Bellomy
Bangkok 2016: Art hanging on the 18th floor wall of the Bumrungrad Hospital out patient building. Many other works by the same artist grace other walls on that floor.