The Amazing Alpine Golf Club, Bangkok – Thank You Starwood!

January 28, 2008

Wow!    Sometimes we are reminded why they say “Amazing Thailand!”

Today I was a guest of Starwood Hotels and Resorts  to play in a special Starwood golf event at the Alpine Golf and Sports Club just outside of Bangkok.   Thank you Starwood and the General Manager of the Royal Orchid Sheraton, Mr. Charles Jack, who was very kind to invite me as his guest.

This is one of the finest golf courses in Thailand (and Thailand has many fine golf courses!) 

The Starwood folks were fantastic!  Everyone was amazing.   Some holes had professional golfers offering tips to help my game.  Other holes had delicious Chinese and Thai food.  One hole had supurb freezing cold champagne waiting to refresh us from the hot Thai sun!!

The Alpine Golf Course was really challenging, so the champagne was needed as much as appreciated.   There was large water hazards on almost every hole; and some of the holes had so many large bunkers I thought I was on the beach!    You could not miss a shot, because it you did, it was either in the water, the sand, on rolling hills covered with green trees – and believe me, that is where I played most of the day!!

Everything was great, an amazing experience with a touch of class you can only find in Thailand, plus the added luxury of being the guest of Starwood, which is a also an unbelievable class act as well.

Being a loyal Starwood customer has great privileges, not to mention some of the finest hotel and resort properties in the world, so please, take my advice and become a Starwood member if you are not already.

By the way, I am currently staying at another exceptional Starwood property, the Plaza Athenee Le Meridian.   This is a fantastic property.  I highly recommend you stay at the Plaza Athenee Le Meridian if you are in Bangkok for business or leisure.

Also, when the current renovation is complete, the Royal Orchid Sheraton, where I often spends weeks at a time, is also highly recommended if you enjoy life on the busy Chao Phraya River.

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Field Notes from Xiamen, China

January 13, 2008

If you don’t travel to China, you don’t realize how important reading your favorite blogs can be.   In my last post, I mentioned how they charged us over 200 to 350% more than other nationals for a visa, but that was only the beginning of the Chinese shock-and-awe.

The Chinese government has blocked access to most all major blog sites, so while in China I could not read or access any blogs, including this one. 

In addition, Wikipedia is blocked.   You don’t realize how much you depend on Wikipedia until it is blocked!

Also, you can exchange US Dollars for Chinese Yuan (RMB or CNY) easily, but it is practically impossible to change back Chinese Yuan back to US Dollars.   In fact, the General Manager of our hotel told me it was illegal, under Chinese law, for hotels (and most places except the mostly closed Bank of China) to change Chinese Yuan to Dollars, but they can, by law, change USD to CNY.    The Chinese system is designed to take your money, so be careful!  

Making matters more bizarre, the exchange rate for USD to CNY was about 7.4 CNY to one USD; but in Bangkok, the banks only give around 3.5 Thai Baht for one Chinese Yuan, effectively giving you a greater than 20% haircut (should be around 4.5 Thai Baht per CNY as the current rate is about 33.2 Thai Baht per USD).

Needless to say, we were quite happy to return to Thailand, where foreigners are warmly welcomed, you can access the entire Internet and the government does not have a system to disgorge you of your money in foreign exchange.

So the bottom line of this field report is that China can be a quite a hostile place for foreigners.  Beware!


A Funny Thing Happened on the Road to Xiamen

January 10, 2008

We leave for a short business trip to Xiamen, China, tomorrow, staying at the Sheraton Xiamen Hotel.   

Here are the current prices for a short visa to China from the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok.

  •         Thai Nationals       1000 Baht
  •         Other Nationals     1500 Baht
  •         US Citizens            3450 Baht

This is the first time I have run into this type of visa pricing structure as long as I can remember.

What do you think will happen when we get off the plane?

Stay tuned…..


Happy New Year 2008!

December 31, 2007

 

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for all the support and kindness you have given me in 2007.     Your words of encouragement, support and readership are very much appreciated.

Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All People in 2008.

Yours Sincerely,

Tim Bass

www.thecepblog.com


See How Trees, Flowers and Grass Grow in Silence

December 23, 2007

In the mist of event processing debates, evaluations, meetings, complexity and evangelism, sometimes we should just pause and take a break.

See how the trees, flowers and grass grow in silence.

See the stars, the moon, and the sun move in silence.

Slow the world down with a simple kind of pleasure.

And so I did today, by visting Divana in Bangkok.  

After returning from a very pleasurable afternoon at Divana Nurture, I highly recommend this hidden gem in a very busy city to my guests here in the Kingdom of Thailand.

I welcome you to come visit us in Thailand in the New Year, take a break and enjoy a simple kind of pleasure.   

Hope to see you soon.