3 more days before my departure and I can’t wait to finally get a well-deserved vacation. Although lugging one pre-schooler and one toddler to a foreign country may not constitute as a break. Oh well, at least it is a different kind of stress. One where you are the boss and not the subservient employee, much as I like to imagine.
Here’s a checklist of things to do before imminent day of departure.
1. Finish up projects that have been pending forever. It seems I am rather the tardy person when it comes to time management. When I don’t have a critical cut off to think about, it can take me forever to complete tasks. Now that I know I will be away for the week, I am clearing my task list in a super-sonic speed and in the process, bombing my supervisor’s mailbox. Who cares?
2. Confirm my flight and accommodation details. About two weeks ago, I received a notification from Tiger Airways that my flight had been rescheduled. In the email, they explained that all airlines do that. What crap? Turned out that they were experiencing a pilot shortage coupled with maintenance of two aircraft. Thankfully I ended up being able to extend my trip and my hotel booking at minimal additional cost.
When I informed Railay Bay Resort about my change in details, they offered to house my family for the extra night at an additional charge of only 200 baht, which is less than $10! Turned out they have a promotion – stay 3 to 5 nights, get one free. Stay more than 6 nights, get 2 free. Ok whatever. I can only smile at the good fortune.
3. Get myself a good digital camera. In my earlier post, I mentioned placing an order for the Panasonic Lumix TZ8 at an unbelievable price! Well guess what – you pay for what you get I suppose.
DD Electronics is clearly understaffed for the kind of order volumes they are getting and till now my camera is stuck somewhere in US or the Pacific Ocean. Cross my fingers that I can get it in time for the trip or I may just spend a little more and get it off the retailers.
4. Change SGD to THB. Made a trip down to The Arcade at Raffles Place today to get the best exchange rates. I guess I got a good enough rate at 1SGD for 23THB. Considering that the SingDollar is appreciating against the US dollar, I had assumed that I would be able to get a better deal. Seems like the Thai economy isn’t too bothered about the USD exchange rates.
5. Read up history of Thailand. Most of the juicy history bits actually took place in the northern part of Thailand in Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Bangkok and Ayutthaya. The southern peninsula saw more Hindu influence from the Srivijaya empire from as early as AD 500.
It was only when the Srivijaya empire started to decline in the 10th century onwards that the first Thai kingdom Sukhothai established control further south to the Andaman coast. Thereafter they were overtaken by a rival state and the next Thai kingdom Ayutthaya.
In the 15th century, Ayutthaya concentrated their efforts southwards towards the Malay Peninsula to curb the growing power of Malacca. By the time they gained control of the peninsula, much of the population had been converted to Islam by Muslim traders.
Some more interesting tidbits about Thai history.
1. Thailand is the only South East Asian country that had never been colonised due to a very open-door policy administered to visiting European powers in the 16th century. Even during World War II, they were spared Japanese occupation by acceding to their request for passage rights southwards.
2. The Chakri Dynasty is probably one of the longest still existent monarchy in the world. The first king Rama I ascended the throne in 1782 and it is succeeded by a much loved King Bhumibol, 6 generations later. Incidentally he is also currently the longest reigning monarch in the world of more than 6 decades.
3. In a period of four years, Thailand has seen the prime minister position change hands five times. Even now civil unrest protesting the removal of current PM Abhisit Vejjajiva is still prevalent. It seems to suggest that while the Thais love their king, they can’t decide who should be their political leader.
Stay tuned for more tidbits about Thailand.