Friday, September 30, 2016

Meet Vanessa

Meet Vanessa

As you can imagine, I've been busy with my new toy for the last couple of days.  My Honda Ridgeline has finally gotten her name and she will henceforth be called "Vanessa".  I was trying to figure a Kalifornia inspired name and Vanessa just popped up and it sounded a bit plastic, phony, and snobbish - a bit of a micro-aggressive sexist view in this politically sensitive area of the planet - so it was perfect

Came with dealer installed running board, mud flaps, and bed extender

But Vanessa, just like Vanna, is after all just a work truck.  Its not racy, sexy, nor something to brag about except that its new.  The big change for me is having a truck here as an everyday vehicle.  Its a lot bigger than my CRV and somehow it just feels funny to take such a big vehicle around town where every other car is either a Prius or hybrid. Maybe a bit of guilt of such a big vehicle when a smaller one will do - but mileage wise, the difference is not that much greater because of the Ridgeline's fuel efficiency.  I'm sure that feeling will pass with time - until the gas prices rise again in the future.


Lengthwise, Vanessa is about the same as Vanna (Isuzu MU-7), but she is a lot more nimble and has a tighter turning radius. Vanna is powered by a diesel engine and gets over 33 miles per gallon so she does have some advantages over Vanessa. I have no problem with driving Vanna around in the horrible Bangkok traffic and I think Vanessa would be no different here in the bay area.  Its on the highway and when hauling stuff where having a truck really excels.  Since I meet a lot with contractors and tenants, having a truck for my kind of business is common.  Vanessa will be just fine. 

This is the bed extender in the storage position - normally goes on tailgate

In the meantime, I'm shopping for accessories on the internet, but the vehicle is still so new that many aftermarket companies have not had a chance to make parts for it yet.  So, it will be a few months before its equipped exactly the way I want it to be.  I did buy some bungee and tie down cords from Amazon.  Also investigating and will likely order a product called VCMuzzle 2 to disable the VCM feature of the engine.  Lots of discussion on the forums and internet about how this device will increase engine life and performance

I got word tonight that the resort is an island surrounded by flood waters.  The new market pad is OK, but the bamboo plantation is underwater.  Looks like we underestimated the height of the water and we may lose some of the plants.  They are supposed to be drought and flood resistant, but I think that is only after they have been established.    Worse case scenario, we lose our plants - not really a significant financial loss ( less than $15K baht), but its the work we expended to plant the bamboo that is the disappointment.  Should have waited until after the flooding season to plant.  B is sending me some pictures which I will post later.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Finally pulled the trigger

The internet is a great tool when you are shopping for a car, especially one that is hard to get. Anyway after a bit of searching, I found the vehicle I wanted and negotiated with the sales manager over the internet and got a great deal.  $1000 USD off the MSRP on a vehicle that is in high demand and limited in supply.  Agreed to pay cash for the vehicle and close the deal in 24 hours - which I did. So this morning, I drove up to the dealership and did a test drive, performed a walk around inspection, signed all the papers, and wrote them a check.  I lived up to my end, and they had to live up to their price.

Not the actual car, mine is still a virgin in regard to off-roading

So now, I am the new owner of a 2017 Ridgeline RTL-E in white.  I chose white because to me, its like Vanna's counterpart here in Kalifornia.  The truck is due to be delivered tomorrow morning so now I am faced with the task of giving her a name.  My 560SL is already named Velda so a name starting with a 'V' seems logical right?  A 'V' name with a Kalifornia theme...have to think about it a little bit.



My old CRV is going to a relative friend in my Godmother's family.  I will fix the aircon first, but I know she will put it to good use and finally retire it in peace when it finally dies.

The Bay Area is experiencing a heat wave the last couple of days.  Today, it was supposed to be 98F in San Francisco and it was fairly close.  Our kite team met this evening out at Ocean Beach where it is typically in the 50s with a brisk wind.  Today it was totally calm with no fog and around 90F.  That meant no kite team practice - cancelled due to lack of wind.  

Lastly, because of the practice, I missed all but about 10 minutes of the debate.  Its likely going to be replayed sometime later - I hope. Nothing but the spin masters out there right now trying to influence opinion on who won.  But in a way I'm glad I missed it as I am so tired of hearing nothing but politics on TV and radio since I arrived.  Lets get on with the voting and I can't wait to the end of next month so I can get the heck out of here and back to the land of smiles.

I got better things to do, like reading up on all the features of my new truck......




Saturday, September 24, 2016

Had some Soul Food Yesterday........

While I was at Larry's the other day, I saw that they had some Black Eye Peas for sale.  Around these parts, BEPs are not a common item.  I know about BEPs because when I was younger, I use to work every day at my father's grocery store.  The store was our family business where everyone had to work and I was around seven years old when I first started working there.  We were located in one of the Black neighborhoods in the City called the Fillmore.  We were also across the street from the Islamic temple where Mohammed Ali would sometimes come to give talks. In the 50s and 60s, the Fiillmore was a large thriving Black neighborhood which eventually got destroyed through 'redevelopment'.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Busy Days......

Yep, busy days and lots of stuff taken care of.

Had a chance to do three major tasks today.  First was a visit to a local dealer to check out the new 2017 Ridgeline truck from Honda.  At the present time, I believe this truck is only offered in the USA and is built in Alabama. (***Updated:  Vehicle is also available in Canada - FYI for our Canadian Readers).  Its called the generation 2 (G2) Ridgeline by some because its a successor to the models with the same name, which stopped production a couple of years ago. After some internal reflection and reading various reviews, I decided that the Ridgeline was going to me my next vehicle to replace my 16 year old CRV.  After 230,000 miles (370,000 kilometers),  the CRV's aircon unit died and its long overdue for an expensive timing chain replacement.  Both of those repairs cost more than the vehicle is worth so its time to retire the CRV for something a bit newer.

I decided on this vehicle because its really an exotic mix between a SUV with is car like ride and having a truck bed for light duty work, and hauling stuff around.  Its a perfect match for my lifestyle. But, I'm just feeling out the market and doing research now.  Not even sure I am going to buy anything on this trip back, but the thought of having to quickly buy a car because my CRV just died on the street is not good thing to have on your mind.  So, more on this topic as the research continues. Here is a review of the truck from YouTube.  I'm hoping for the white color instead of the Black Edition shown in the video and in the RTL-E trim.  


Despite the relatively high cost for this really nice truck here in Kalifornia, its relatively comparable to a normal mid range truck in the land of smiles.  The cost of a vehicle in Thailand is much higher than here in Kalifornia.  An imported Honda CRV, for example, can cost $40K USD after all the taxes and duties. How most of the local Thais manage to own their expensive cars is a mystery to me. Certain trucks and SUV that meet special requirements for performance, size, and being assembled in Thailand make diesel trucks one of the cheapest vehicles to buy and own,  but these too easily approach $40K USD as well.  

The other parts of my day included visiting the JV project and Larry's produce.  Both were in the same area so it was a very logical choice to do both at once.  

Not too bad for a Thursday afternoon...busy but not overly so
The JV project is for most part completed.  What remains are some subleases and tenant issues that are no longer my responsibility.  We had a major national tenant back out of one of the units because they are in financial trouble and have no money to build out any more new stores. However, they continue to pay their rent until they can find someone who can take their place. The other tenants are all open and doing very well, so after almost three and a half years, this project going to finally generate income again.

The front of their once humble shack still remains


The visit to Larry's Produce is always a lot of fun.  The cost of produce is very expensive in the bay area. There are venues like Chinatown or some farmer's markets where produce can be bought cheap, but I like to find the farm stands that offer both local and imported produce.  Larry's has been around for decades as I used to pass them every time we went up to the Lake in the 90s.  They started with only local fruits and produce back then being sold out of a small shack.  Now, its a big operation with a huge parking lot and a sprawling complex of wood structures.  The prices are still great but more and more of the produce that is being sold is imported from Mexico and Latin America.  In a way its as sad and disappointing as picking up a souvenir in Italy, only to find that it was made in China.........

Cantaloupes, Asian pears, and local pears 

But I did pick up a lot of produce cause it was soooo cheap.  

Have some 'soul food' on the stove due to my visit to Larry's.  More about that tomorrow as my stomach calls.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Free or Low Cost VPN service

If you live in the land of smiles and use the internet a lot, one of the things you will notice is that the ICT (the government agency that regulates the internet) blocks certain sites due to national policy or political reasons.  Also, there are some sites on the internet itself that require specific regional IPs in order to access them.  For many, that means using a VPN.  I am not advocating using a VPN to circumvent Thai government rules, that would be illegal.  But if you have a requirement to have a presence to be in the USA for example, a free VPN service can be of great help.  

What are some of the circumstances that you might need a local VPN?  Some banks do not allow foreign IP addresses to access their banking services for obvious reasons.  Other services like Breitbart News or Gunbroker.com don't like non USA IPs.  Some other websites have regional restrictions like sports channel websites or movie streaming services ( i.e. Netflix) and require a local regional IP as well.  

There are also circumstances where you might want some privacy regarding your location and IP address (which gives your location and lots of other info).  Hackers can trap and intercept normal traffic on the internet that is not encrypted and thus all your transactions are not always fully secure. Sometimes, for whatever your reason, you just don't want people to know where you are.

A while back, a new website called BetterNet.co became available which offered a free VPN service. Normally, the cost of a VPN service runs from around $49 to $150 USD per year depending on the level of security, the protocols supported, and the number of countries supported.   I previously posted about this service about a year ago and have used it exclusively since then and has it saved me some money and has worked great.  But if you want something other than just a basic VPN that covers  a primarily IP originating from the USA, then BetterNet alone might be the answer for you.




The reason I am posting about this again is that they have come out with another product that might be of interest.  Using the crowd funding site, Kickstarter, they have announced a new router called BetterSpot.  Instead of being limited to software running on your device, this router can serve as a type of gateway for all your devices at the same time and it can also travel the world with you.  What is neat is that there are some special offers to early backers of this project.  If the project succeeds, then you get the product first at a discount.  Kickstarter is where I got my bulletproof baseball cap two years ago after it was crowd funded for development.  It was neat to see it go through development and finally production using money provided by the early backers of the project.

So if this is something of interest to you, here is your chance.  Otherwise, just knowing you can get a free VPN service for a special need is a bargain. Nothing cheaper than FREE.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Still Jetlagged

Still a bit jet lagged even after a week in Kalifornia.  Suffering from weird sleeping hours and sleepiness during the day.  Some interesting info on how to combat jet lag in the video below:


To combat the sleepiness, I did go out to the archery range yesterday around 3PM and stayed for a couple of hours.  It didn't help much as my sleep last night was still not good and I was up again around 4:00 am.  

To make matters harder, we are having a bit of a heat wave (finally) in the bay area.  It was in the low 90s (34C) in the Oakland hills and at the archery range yesterday.  Because my condo faces the sun in the afternoon, it makes my unit very hot and the heat is retained throughout the evening.  That is great in the winter time and the rest of the year as I never have to use my heater.  But if the temperature gets above 90F, the unit gets a bit hot. My aircon is not working really well and I've done nothing to fix it for the just the few days of the year when we need it, I normally just leave the patio door open, but the noise from the busy road below is pretty loud.  Makes it harder to sleep and to overcome the jet lag with the extra noise of the cars and trucks traveling on that road.  But it will be OK.  One less day on this end and one day closer to going home...

Plan to go into SF today for a meeting and then a visit to the JV project midweek.  Also have to schedule an appointment for another heart exam and test with my cardiologist.  They want to do a TEE heart scan, which requires me to be sedated during the testing - hate having to go under, but I guess its something that will help in determining if further treatment is required for my Mitral valve problem.  Anyway, a busy week ahead and hopefully a week where I can get an upper hand on this crazy jet lag thing.

Lastly, news from home in the mango...had lots of flooding today in many of the streets.  Looks like the rainy season has finally come to the land of smiles.




Saturday, September 17, 2016

Les Deplorables


Some great campaign people over on the Trump Camp, taking advantage of the 50% deplorables comment by Shillary.  All is fair I guess Since they crucified  Romney for his 47% remark during the last election.


But it did inspire me to watch the Les Mis movie clip again to see one of the best scenes ever filmed in a musical.


Here it is again for your enjoyment.


Have a nice weekend everyone.  I'm going to enjoy my first one here in a long time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Slowly getting over the jet lag


I'm getting over the jet lag, but very slowly.  How else can you explain sleeping through an earthquake the other night?  It was a 3.5 earthquake right next door in Oakland and I didn't feel a thing, as I was in bed sound asleep (or somewhere in between being awake and asleep).  Here in the bay area, any earthquake below 4.0 usually results in residents rolling over and falling back asleep, but this quake was supposed to be within 15 miles of me.  In fact, more info indicates that its next to the archery range that I go to in the Oakland hills.

Anyway, no harm and no foul as I went about my business yesterday visiting Costco for some supplies and going through three months of mail.  Can't believe how much of the mail is junk even after requesting companies not send me any direct mail advertising, etc.  Had some dinner with friends last night and plan on visiting the joint venture project late this week.  Also have to make a visit to the firearms dealer to start the paperwork on my rifle.

The challenge is dealing with the weird hours of sleep as I can't seem to get more than 2-3 hours of continuous sleep before waking up and after working for 2-3 hours I am feeling sleepy again.  Some publications claim it takes one day per time zone to get adjusted so that means it will take me two weeks - hope not because it will be almost time to plan on getting back by then...555

Staying in touch with the girls via LINE.  The video conferencing calls work pretty good and if I have to use the LINE OUT feature which is more like a VOIP land line, the cost is very cheap.  Miss them all a lot already and I just want to get my stuff done and back home to the mango asap.

Sparse posting the next few weeks as I take care of business here in a very boring Kalifornia.



Monday, September 12, 2016

Checked in and settled in Hotel Kalifornia

After experiencing a 1 1/2 hour delay in Taipei for the inbound flight, I arrived safely in the Bay Area on a quiet Sunday night.  Its the second time I've traveled on September 11th, and as predicted, security at all the airports were a bit tighter than normal.

Now, after about 5 hours of sleep, I am wide awake at 2:30 am suffering from jet lag.  So its a great time to post on my blog and surf the net a while until I get sleepy again.  No use fighting the jet lag, go with it until you have the energy to change it and expect it to take some time.  Not having to work and report to the office in the morning is a great help, but I used to do that too in my younger days on the trips over to the land of smiles.  But those were younger days and different times that only bring a big smile to this old body nowadays...555


Was expecting warmer weather as this is the usual 'Indian Summer' window for the Bay Area. Instead, its in the perfect 50s and 60s (14C- 22C)  bay area fog pattern and expected to stay that way for the next week or so.  Sleeping inside the condo with no air con or heater running...the joys of perfect weather is why so many choose to live here.

Shrillary was scheduled to visit SoCal and the Bay Area this week, but another incident with her passing out due to her perfect health cancelled that visit.  In fact, if you look at the video below, she is definitely not even able to move her feet as they drag her into the limo.  And then a strange piece of metal falls out from her pants leg in the process.  Many believe that its a piece of her catheter or a leg brace.  In what ever case, she is totally out as they drag her into the limo...just look at the position of her legs.


If anyone deserves the agony, its might be her, but she should consider how this is going to impact the country should she get elected.  Imagine a crisis like this during a war or emergency...and She says Trump in unfit for the job?  The only reason for this fiasco to continue is for her misguided desired to be elected the 'First Female US President' and to stack the US Supreme Court to change the country for decades.  She wants a legacy other than what she has now and to rewrite history to cover all of her evil doings in that legacy.  

This health issue will be harder to cover up as ever.  Stay home Shillary...the Bay Area is crazy enough without your visit.  


Sunday, September 11, 2016

In Taipei

In the EVA lounge with my first post using the Galaxy Tab S2.

Still a bug in the Blogger app that only allows one photo per post.  No changes here except the food is a bit disappointing today.  That's OK cause I'm outta here in less than a hour.  Its nice to be using such a small unit.

More when I get to Kalifornia.

Gotta catch my ride now

Shrillary and Trump have their planes...well old Sevenwinds has a plane too. 

Gave her a name too...EVA.

See ya on the other bookend.

Last night in the Mango...for a bit anyway

Tis the last night in the mango for a bit.  Tomorrow morning its off to the airport and then Amerika for six wonderful weeks.  Is the timing perfect or what?

Baby Ella is a bit sick from the hepatitis B shot she got from the doctors today.  She is going to get some some of her vaccinations but I won't be allowing her to take her MMR shot.  I just don't trust the big Pharma companies enough on that series yet.  Mumps, and Measles I had as a child and it didn't bother me too much.  Why risk the chance of autism for your child in the off chance that she might get exposed and contract measles or mumps.  You can recover from MMR, but autism is forever.  Not worth the risk to me and since vaccinations are not mandatory here, she won't be getting her MMR shot.  

Anyway, with Ella not feeling that well, we decided not to go out to Fish Head tonight.  Instead, she is in bed already and asleep.  She did have a great checkup and is growing very fast.  Gained almost 5 centimeters and is over 3.2 Kilos already.  Going to be bigger than Marina for sure.

With all that as a backdrop, you can see my concern about being away.  However, this is an optimal time because Ella is still easy to care for.  She's not mobile yet and her needs are basic.  In another year, that will be a totally different story.


Bought a new Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 yesterday to help me on my trip.  It will replace my 5 year old Ipad 2 and save me a bunch of weight - its very light (less than 8 ounces) and thin (less than 1/4 inch).  I spent the evening loading up the apps and files I will need to keep myself busy on the flight over.  The display on the S2 is outstanding and it also has the 4:3 aspect ration unlike many other tablets.  The higher price is hopefully justified in the product's quality and durability - only time will tell I guess. The less expensive versions in the Tab A and Tab E offer lower quality displays and build quality, but they are a bit cheaper as well.  I guess its a matter of what your needs are and your budget.

Made it to the weekend market this morning as well.  Found some gifts and bought them and got out before noon.  One comment is that the market is changing and expanding RAPIDLY!  It looks like a couple of major malls surrounding the original market are under construction.  The feel is starting to change and I suspect its going to lose its unique flavor in a few years so go out and spend some time while its still there.

Time for some sleep.  Gotta get up early and finish packing.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Just two days to go..


Just two days to go.  Actually, just one full day left as I get on that big silver bird back to Kalifornia on Sunday Morning. 
Spent the day shopping and then going to the Friday night free buffet.  Met up with Bangkok Buddy, Barnaby, and Buddha. There were no seats when we got to the lobby, so we opted for coffee at the coffee shop until some became available.  Said my goodbyes to the gang and headed home early. Plan on going to the weekend market tomorrow morning to pick up some cheap gifts  and then have one big meal at Fish head before my trip.

Also need to wash and cover Vanna for the trip and do the actual packing for the trip.  Mostly empty bags going back and some silly Thai food stuffs that will keep me happy when I'm over the other side.  

Ella looking up at Big Sis Marina...Best Friends Forever...ha ha ha
I see these trips as long business trips because the land of smiles is my real home now.  How can it be any other way?  Ariella is exactly one month old today and its been a glorious month of having a new family member around.  I am truly blessed to have such wonderful kids and to be able to live here and watch them grow up in this beautiful country.

These trips are also therapeutic in a way as it deepens my appreciation of what I have and the contrast between the two bookends.  As I have posted before, its like a mouth-full of bland rice between spicy bites of Thai food.   You need to have a bit of both to appreciate how wonderful the meal really is.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Darwin was right....

On Darwin:


Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. More individuals are produced each generation that can survive. Phenotypic variation exists among individuals and the variation is heritable. Those individuals with heritable traits better suited to the environment will survive.

In other words, the Darwin theory says natural selection will take care of eliminating the weakest and dumbest of any species depending on the environmental conditions.

September 11th is around the corner.  Its also the dreaded day where I head off to Kalifornia for a few weeks.  But don't worry, people have very short memories.  Sometimes something as insignificant as the Sept 11th anniversary is a good place to see how many of our fellow citizens and humans will be left if something drastic was to happen again.



Proves people have very different priorities about life.  Especially young people in some place like liberal Kalifornia where the focus is on 'having a good time' and not being too serious about anything that might be too serious (pun intended).




Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Biggest Wave Pool in the World




That's what it said on the signs around the pool.  According to Guinness Book of Records, the wave pool at Siam Park City is the largest in the world with over 13,600 sq meters of space.  But whatever the size, the pool offered a great place for us to spend the day yesterday.

Here is a short YouTube video with some of the features of Siam City Park.


With my days running short on this side of the bookend for a while, we wanted someplace where we could take Ella and at the same time have something for Marina to entertain herself as well.  It was B's idea to go to Siam Park City since they were running a discount this month, being the rainy season and all.  Our day turned out perfect and we got in with the 50% discount Thai price to the water park and the kiddie ride sections.  There was extra cost for the thrill rides, but we didn't want to go on those. Marina was free because she was under the height limit.

Yes, Marina you are under the height limit....just pat down your bun
Ticket entrance to the park

Siam Park City is the newer name for Suan Siam, which is really the same except the later is all Thai and the former is all English.  Its been around for a long while and is a huge, or yuge, complex with lots of acreage.  It claims to be one of the largest waterpark/amusement parks in Asia, and one can see how that might be the case when walking through.  Lots of buildings, rides, and attractions for everyone but a few looked a bit dated and in need of updating.  I think at one point, the owners/developers wanted to build the equivalent of a Disneyland like park for the land of smiles - An ambitious undertaking which I think is still ongoing.  There is certainly the space for a large complex.

The Log ride 
We came on a Tuesday, and the park seemed quite empty.  A lot of that feeling came about because of the sheer size of the park and unless you had a crowd of 20,000 people, it will feel like you have the place to yourself.  NO lines for most attractions and very few people in the pools - which we liked a lot.

The water is clean and clear and cool...
The park is clean and deserves credit for decent maintenance considering the size, budget,  and age of the facility.  NO park in Asia or elsewhere can compete with the gold standard of Disney's parks in the States when it comes to maintenance - Disneylands all look brand new...everyday of the year.  

The water park section is well maintained and I'm surprised that more people don't come here from the reservation for some relaxation and fun. Even during the rainy season, it was very hot yesterday and the rain didn't start until the evening anyway.

Huge area for resting and hanging out

There were definitely tour buses parked outside and the park seemed to have lots of non Thais, but its really an underutilized asset.  There are some neat roller coaster rides, water raft rides, and big water slides.  They are not the newest, biggest, or scariest rides but great for local/regional folks who will never get to see or experience the stuff we see in the States.  Its also a lot cheaper now as amusement parks in the States are hedging into or pass the $100 USD range nowadays for all access passes.  Great for a budget family outing if you are a local.  We spent less than 1000 baht for the day, including food and snacks.  


Marina in her 'Frozen' swim outfit


Getting ready for the next wave

Mother and daughter time

Marina had a great time at the wave pool and beach.  Gentle 4-6 inch waves kept her entertained all day and provided a shallow and clean alternative to the beach.  Plus you don't have to clean out all the sand from her suit at the end of the day.  Had to pull her out because both she and I were getting a bit sunburned, even though it was overcast skies most of the day.

B taking an ice cream break while dad spends time with Marina in the water


Oh yes, the lady in white gives massages if you want
Siam City Park is not far from the Core of the city and is a great one day trip.  Its located just off of the outer ring highway (Highway 9) as you heads toward Suvanbhumi Airport.  My guess is that it would be around the same cost as for a taxi to the airport if you want to go.  Get a few friends or the family together for an afternoon and split the cost and you will have a lot of fun for a bargain price.

Website to the park is here:  http://www.siamparkcity.com/en/main.php


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bulk shopping in the Land of Smiles


When I am in Kalifornia, I love to shop at Costco.  But here in the land of smiles, we have something similar in a chain called Makro.  Its a warehouse type chain store that offers bulk quantities of major food brands at a discounted price.  Typical store sizes are 80,000 square feet up to around 100,000 square feet.  Stock is fairly extensive with package goods, drinks, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat and fish, bakery, and even a pharmacy.  The product mix is a lot different than the Costco stores in that the consumer products are generally of a lower price point and thus quality as well.  But you can still get decent prices on items like TVs, refrigerators, and office equipment.  You won't find too many top tier international brands, but what is offered is usually a locally made product or a decent quality imported brand.  

Its customers are primarily the small business owners in Thailand.  The businesses are usually started on limited capital investments and rely on daily turnover and smaller quantities of stock. Thus, Makro serves this need throughout the country.  In the country, you often see small shop owners in the villages make the trek to town in their pickup trucks to load up on inventory that they will sell locally. They make  money re-selling the goods locally to those who can't or won't make the trek into town.


The major difference is the customer mix.  Whereas Costco has almost entirely transformed from a business to business type of model to one where retail consumers make up 90+ percent of the business, Makro still has a significant share of B to B customers.  




Many small restaurants, food stalls, and other food related businesses buy what they need on a daily basis to keep inventories low and the ingredients fresh.  Thus the vaariety and depth of food related products in Makro are far superior to those at any Costco.

For others like myself, I like to buy in bulk to save money.  When I first discovered Makro many years ago, I was able to get a Makro Card though a business I had back then.  Now, there is no requirement to own a business and foreigners can get a daily pass or just apply for a membership card.  

Unlike the Costcos back in the States, Makro is strickly cash and carry.  You pay in cash and you do not get a bag or box.  That means you need to have your own bags and have a way to transport the goods back home.  For many short time tourists, this makes shopping there impractical, but for longer stay visitors, a trip to Makro can be quite a budget saver.

My haul from yesterday's trip to Makro


Anyway, I made my weekly and sometimes bi-week run to Makro yesterday to pick up some soy milk for Marina and some other provisions.  Prices are really good and about 1/3 the cost of Costco. Despite the lower prices, I do miss Costco for some of their higher end items and I especially miss their cheap lunches.  No hot dogs here for $1.50 and no big slices of pizza...but you can't have everything right?


Incidentally, the closest Makro to the reservation is the branch located in the Central Business District on Chong Nonsi Road, not far from the Chong Nonsi MRT station.  From the SkyTrain station there, you can take the BRT bus for a couple of stops and it will be on the right hand side of the street.



Thursday, September 1, 2016

A bit dehydrated tonight

Sitting next to the computer tonight with a big bottle of cold water trying to get re hydrated.  I was sweating like a pig today at the archery range for a while until it suddenly cooled down near the end of our two hour time slot.  Now I realize why as its almost 10PM now and the temperature is still 87F with a heat index of 100F.  Can't imagine what it was during the 1PM time slot this afternoon, but it was pretty hot.

Bangkok buddy and I shot arrows for two hours before heading over to Holly's Coffee for some coffee, their soft seats,  and their ice cold air conditioning.  Seems to be kind of our archery day routine now and its great except that the drive home for me is usually pretty bad.  Today was really bad because it was pouring cats and dogs during the drive back and the traffic was at a standstill on Sathorn Road.  Took me over an hour to get home, even using the tollway.

But I'm not complaining, its just the way of life here in the Mango and I've come to accept it.

Talking about the Mango way of life, or "City of Life" as they are promoting it, the new MahaNakorn building is finished, making it the new 'Tallest building in Bangkok' by 10 meters. You can't miss the building as it looks like chunks of the building are missing all around.  Even though its supposed to be finished, the tenants have yet to move in and its not really totally accessible for photos of the views.  Living down here in the CBD, and the way my condo view is oriented, I have a partially obstructed view of the building from my window.  Can't wait for it to be lighted at night (supposed to be some kind of laser system) and will have some pictures to post when they come online.

A little known fact is that there is a large Chinese cemetery located right next to the new building on Chongnosi Road, near the SkyTrain station. Its a remnant of the days when this part of town was considered the outskirts of the city and the major landmark was a large windmill (Silom means windmill).   The cemetery is hidden from view from the street and its current location would make it one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Bangkok except for the superstitious beliefs and fear of ghosts by the locals. Between 2000-2004 some of the cemetery was removed, but some still remain.  It would be a bit creepy to have a office tower or condo built on a old cemetery right?  Imaginations can run wild working at 3AM on a stormy night.....

Meantime, here is a YouTube Video of the project.


Tomorrow its some chores, a two hour massage, and the free buffet.  Lazy days ahead as I prepare for the weekend.  Its hard work to live here in the mango, but somebody's gotta do it right?