Saturday, March 28, Day 53 - Bangkok
After our travel day yesterday and a two hour ride in from the airport (16 miles!), we both sleep in with Dick not getting up until 7AM. Carolyn drags herself out about 9:30 and we head for breakfast about 10AM.
On the list of things to solve today is a problem with one of our WD 2TB portable hard drives; the one we took to Burma. We have two and are backing up to both as we have lost pictures before. While in Myanmar, our primary drive was not recognized by the computer and that means no access to its contents.
Dick trouble shoots it this morning and determines that it is probably a cable problem. So, where to get a replacement cable? A young, hotel trainee by the name of Beer (Yes, Beer!) has been most kind and attentive to us and Dick asks him if he is a computer geek. He snickers at the word but does admit he knows something and recommends a place that should have the replacement cable we need. Dick has complemented his work to the wing manager, Mr. Chompoo and the three of us discuss how best to get to the suggested store. We decide on the Skytrain as it is near one of the main stations and Dick can pick it up just a short walk from the hotel.
After some discussion about Carolyn going, we decide Dick will test the system before Carolyn tires the Skytrain again.. About 1:30PM, Dick heads out on this mission. He walks to the station near the hotel, Saphin Taksin, and rides the escalator up to the station level. That is the last working escalator or elevator he will see while using the Skytrain. The Skytrain is definitely not friendly to the mobility impaired and don’t let anyone tell you different!
The ticket machines only take coins so Dick changes two 20 Baht notes and buys his 34 Baht ticket to Siam Station. The train arrives promptly and it only takes 15 minutes or so for the trip. The cars appear new and the AC is working to the point it is a little on the cold side! After getting off at Siam Station and after a little miscue on direction, Dick finds the Siam Paragon shopping center and proceeds to the 5th floor by escalator. He tried the elevators but they came and went full to overflowing. It is Saturday and everybody is at the mall. This mall makes Houston’s Galleria look dinky; got the picture!?
His objective is not on the 5th floor so he tries the 4th and, after some direction asking finds Data IT, his goal. A clerk checks if they have the cable and they do not, but, "I have a friend..........." He will be here in 30 minutes or so with two cables for 800 Baht or about $24US. Now to find 800 Bahts as this is a private, cash deal! Where is an ATM? Around the corner! Minimum withdrawal is 2,000 Bahts and it comes out as two 1,000 Baht notes. Where to get change? At the bank that provides the ATM. Walk into the lobby; three tellers. No line. Everybody sitting engrossed in their electronic devices. What to do? Dick, being the smart fellow he is, finally, after five minutes or so, figures out this is a take-a-number bank. Where to get a number? At the door he spies a small kiosk and, blessings be, it has instructions in English. Punch button and take ticket #133. That is not too bad; they are serving #129 now!
Number 133 finally comes up and Dick asks the teller for change for the 1,000 Baht note. Blank stare. No speaka de English! Dick, being quick witted, writes on the back of ticket #133: 1,000 = 100 x 10! The light behind the eyes comes on and she smiles and produces the requested change. Eureka!
Back to the IT store and a short wait for the guy with the cables. He comes in wearing the uniform of the store. The cables appear correct to the eye and money changes hands. Dick leaves the store promptly before security is called!
Backtrack to the train station and secure some more change to buy a ticket. Get in one of four lines to feed in the newly acquired coins. Naturally, the one Dick chooses goes down and will not work no matter how much the Brit it stiffed cusses at it. Dick moves to one of the remaining three lines and this time picks a good one as one of the other choices goes down also! These lines are 40-50 people long and it takes all of 30 minutes to buy a ticket for 34 Baht or $1.00US! Surely, they could automate this process!
Now, climb the stairs to the train platform and get on the right train; not a big deal for one who can read Thai (or English). The trains are crowded but everybody has their nose buried in their cell phone and the cars are quiet. Back at Saphin Taksin station Dick descends the endless stairs to the street and returns to the hotel with his tale to tell. By actual count, there were 184 unavoidable stair steps on this trip! Readers take note, despite what some say, the Skytrain system is not mobility friendly!
It is tea time plus some so we head to the lobby for "Tea." We are getting jaded as we do not eat all the crumpets they offer and Dick only has a bottle of water. Maybe cocktail time, at 5:30, will be better.
We have not been happy with the AC in our room this time and have repeatedly called for a fix. A man came this morning and fiddled with it but it is no better despite the repeated calls from some woman who wants to know if it is better. On our way to "Happy Hour" we spy the wing manager, Mr. Chompoo, and tell him of our plight. He is most apologetic and says he will look into it with engineering and meet us in the bar. He is true to his word and takes us to another room on the 11th floor but it is smaller and no cooler. Moving for nothing is not an option. We elect to stay in #1561.
We make a light supper out of the "Happy Hour" snacks and drinks and retire to our room as we are still very tired from our Burma jaunt. Dick has been coming down with something for several days and is in full blown, "I feel horrible!" mode. He helps get the computer set up so Carolyn can work on the blog and pictures and goes to bed about 8:30. Maybe a good night’s sleep will help.
About 9PM there is loud noise on the river. Carolyn goes out on the balcony to discover a fire works display. it last about 15 minutes. Dick joins her. We have no idea way it is happening . but we enjoy it especially with our birds eye view.