Honda LPGA 2006-Bangkok Thailand

My player this week is Kim Saiki

WEEK OFF

Tuesday: Planned to register my car yesterday but forgot it was Columbus Day. No work for government employees. Everything was taken care of this morning so I headed to South to Atlanta (my point of departure for Asia via Los Angeles).

  • It was bound to happen; After arriving back in Cleveland I noticed the firs ding on my new car (low on the driver’s door) but I had an ace in the hole and could put it to use as I headed out. A free ding repair from Dent Wizard was included with my car purchase and, since Columbus was on my way, dropped in and had it taken care of. It was a perfect repair and can’t be notice any longer.

  • That was a close one; Just after leaving the Dent Wizard I pulled onto I270 and within just a few miles almost bought the farm (or at least ruined my new wheels). Traveling in the middle of a three lane highway at 65mph with light traffic, the old beater down the road in front of me abruptly stopped dead. Jamming on the brakes, a quick move to the left would avoid a certain collision (or so I thought) but then he suddenly turned left also. Jerking the wheel back around, I missed him by inches. To my good fortune, the guy to my rear had an open lane to his right and missed us both. What was the reason for the imbecilic maneuver? A U-turn through the emergency vehicle access going the other way! Had to be drunk or just plain stupid. I have to give credit to the Sable’s anti-lock brakes and superior handling to help get me out of that one. Oh, forgot the Dale Earnheart Jr.-like response of yours truly.

Friday: The deal with Kim was if I get myself as far as Los Angeles she would take care of the rest. The entire ordeal would be the part that would test my mettle. 

As you know, my trip began back in Cleveland and almost ended in Columbus by that boneheaded driver. The rest of the way I was especially cautious and gave copious amounts of leeway to all other vehicles. Overnghted in Dry Ride KY then finished up in Atlanta.

The flight plan was to use my AAdvantage miles on American to get to L.A. then kill s few hours till I caught the midnight Cathay Pacific flight to Bangkok. Couldn’t leave too early or I’d spend most of the day waiting in LAX and a itinerary that was too tight of a connection might be a problem if delays arose. I chose 11:00 AM out of ATL through Chicago which eventually would get to the West coast around 4:30. Still loads of down time but that was the best I could do. As it turned out, a small delay on the first leg and a longer one due to high winds in Chicago got me in ninety minutes late but still had plenty of of nothin’ to do for hours.

Couldn’t help thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong to miss the flight to Asia which made it into a nail biter of a day. A group of around 10-15 passengers on our second leg were not as fortunate. Missing their connection to Hawaii. Another night on the mainland was an unexpected consequence.

As it turned out, I could have taken my time. The first class passengers started to board an hour prior to departure but were rebuffed shortly there after. We were told a mechanical problem would set us back a good three hours but an alternative was in the works. An extra 747 would be flown in (had to be close by) to sub for our ailing transport.

Maybe an hour or so elapsed when an announcement declared a gate change. Instead of gate 101 we would depart from 110. You would have thought $100 bills were to be given for the first arrivals as an exodus of passengers (resembling a Chinese fire drill) rushed for our new departure point. But wait! Along with the throng was a Cathay employee yelling that it was a mistake and gate 103 would be used which was just next door. But wait! A Korean Air jetliner was still at the gate and in the act of final boarding. Mixing our guys with theirs made an unruly integration and called for an admonishment for us to take a seat.

After clearing a path for the substitute Jumbo, its arrival was later than expected and we finally were in the air by 2:30AM. It was a packed house but a bulkhead seat gave me plenty of extra room. Had no trouble snoozing.

Had my first dabbling of Thai cuisine picking the pork gruel (they called it something else but I forget) for breakfast over the omelet. Should have passed on that one.

Sunday: Spent around 22 hours in the air since Atlanta but I finally made it. But again, one of my bags didn’t. That snafu in L.A. didn’t allow enough time for the transfer but did get it by 9 PM.

First impressions; Get me back home. The hustle and bustle of this metropolis just doesn’t suit me. Some folks like exploring the “street life” (already been propositioned twice) but not me. National Parks and monuments are more my style.

We’re going to spend one night in the host hotel, The Dusit Thani, only because of the security concerns, but nothing looks amiss so plans on moving down the street are in order for tomorrow. The rate is $180 a night here for a twin room versus $35 for a single at The Pinnacle Lumpinee. Both include breakfast but the dinner is thrown in at the Dusit. Speaking of which, there is a set menu at that price. Only two entree choices but soup, and dessert were included. They did charge for a bottle of water though. 

I opted for the seafood pizza over the chicken breast (starting to sprout feathers) and could only recognize the shrimp, scallops, and squid. The other little urchins were beyond my culinary cognition. It was preceded by a scrumptious minestrone and a tart topped with pistachio ice cream brought up the rear. Not a bad meal but meatloaf, mashed taters, cornbread and peach cobbler is more to my liking.

Typical of a five star establishment, they hit you for everything. The one thing I really wish for is a high speed internet connection but a daily fee on top of the buck eighty a night is laughable. Heard it’s free ounce we move. Just by chance, I’m picking up someone else’s signal right now. I can retrieve my email and update my site but can’t view any web pages.

Monday: Welcome to “sweat city” and we’re the guests of honor. Walked the course and there isn’t much to it. Wide fairways and reasonable greens which are in excellent condition for the most part.. The rainy season has left its mark as the course is saturated. “Ball in hand” is a definite possibility. The most unique feature is the true island green of the par three seventeenth. We have to take a boat to get there.

The Amata Spring clubhouse is a gem and we had use of the men’s locker room today but that may change. We do get to dine in The El Niño Restaurant, buffet style and on the cuff, along with the pros. Some interesting choices presented themselves and I had to give it a go. One selection was the curry fish ball soup which was too spicy for my taste and couldn’t figure if it was balls of fish or the other way around. They were a wee bit chewy.

Just needs spinner wheels; It’s a one hour shuttle ride to the course which by what can be best described as a totally “pimped out” motor coach Thai style. It’s a comphy trip complete with the flashing lights and siren of a police escort to expedite our journey. It also affords an opportune time to share travel stories, Thai exploits and general chop busting of fellow caderos.

Made the move; We now reside at The Pinnacle Lumpini Hotel and Spa and it was a wise choice. Have our own rooms for a fraction of the price of The Dusit.

Tuesday: After twenty-some hours in the air, Kim was tucked into bed at The Dusit in the wee hours of the morning which had us catching the last AM shuttle out to the course. With only nine holes on the agenda, it was up to me to choose which side to play. Seventeen and eighteen have the most character so the back nine won out.

As it turned out, nine was plenty as the brutal weather conditions just beat us up. The body’s defenses make every effort to dispel the accumulated heat and the hands are a direct avenue for release. Swollen and beet red, it was obvious they were working overtime.

Most unique; I’ve touched on the island green of the seventeenth and managed to snap a pic during today’s practice round.

No room for error here.

Oh, dry up; Kim does not wear a golf glove but this week may be an exception. With sweat dripping profusely from every pore, it may be the only way to keep them dry.

Two less; Sherri Steinhauer and Sung Ah Yim are the latest to withdraw. Don’t know the reason for Sherri buy Sung Ah had an emergency procedure to remove a cyst.

Just shocking!! Cadero Jason Hamilton thought he had a bargain after picking up a voltage converter (220v to 110v) for just about nothing, but he found out the hard way it wasn’t such a bargain after all. The plastic is so cheap that the prongs that insert into the wall protruded through the other side. Upon plunging it in, his fingers made contact and he got zapped! You would think that piece of trash was history, but our lot loves to live on the edge and he’s still using it! Just a bit more careful.

A reoccurring theme; More missing luggage woes once again. Sherri Turner has zip. No clothes and no clubs. The same for Kari Koch.

It’s war! North Korea just declared war on the rest of the world which may jeopardize next week’s event in Ulsan. First it’s a coup, now all out war. An invasion from Mars during the Japanese event would complete the trifecta!

Wednesday: Another inch of rain pelted the course overnight. We played nine soggy holes till the skies opened up again then called it a day. Good thing too, Kim hit the wall and needed more rest.

Even though we only saw half of what we planned, jocularity ruled the day. We accompanied Nancy Scranton and her looper Jeff Steffler with golf consistently punctuated with running laughter. Touched on about everything and everybody giving no quarter. The Thai sex trade turned out to be the most popular subject especially the “ping-pong” girls. I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

  • Wonders of Thailand; We all have heard of the technological marvels originating in the Far East. You can see it every where you look. An example of a super sophisticated power grid lay just outside our hotel 

Wonders? It’s a wonder it even works.

  • Hi there; The wai replaces hand shaking as a personal greeting in Thailand. Even the ubiquitous Ronald gives his respects.

Would you like fries with that?

Thursday: Hopped on the 5:30 shuttle to get in an E-9. Played with Sherri Turner and had the whole back side to ourselves and was the steamiest day so far. Not much practicing afterwards for the ones who made it into the pro-am, just survival.

The first return shuttle is not till 2 PM and we were finished by eleven. You can only eat so much for lunch. The rest of the time was spent lounging.

  • Foiled again; Pretty girls abound in Thailand and the caddie core at Amata Spring is no exception. Jeff Steffler was hoping his tip would involve one of them but it was not to be.

We love you long time Jeffrey!

Friday: A rollercoaster start settled down to a very respectable -4. One down, two to go.

  • Caddie woes; Tanya, Brandie Burton’s looper, has been fighting intestinal demons for a few days but managed to make all eighteen today. Not so for Lane Kjeldsen. He took ill on the bus out and could only go three holes. Marisa Baena had to take a local the rest of the way.

  • Who’s going to pay for this? A nice big red spot adorned the back of the shirt of almost every cadero after finishing play. The red lettering on the caddie bibs bled due to to the gobs of perspiration exuding from our overtaxed bodies.

  • Pick your poison; The traffic can be horrendous but many options are available, within the hodgepodge of transportation vehicles, to help fight the battle. Zillions of taxis, the sky train, the ultra charming tuk-tuk and for the truly adventurous, the back of a motor scooter. The scooter is a favorite among a few caderos and players alike. The Thai love to bargain so a little dickering over the fair is expected. I twice opened the door and threatened to get out on an over zealous cab driver who was asking too much. Just made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

You may use this,

to navigate through this.

Saturday: Kim seemed a bit tight today and never got it going. Shot even.

  • Best line so far? We played with Gloria Park yesterday, and after reaching the island seventeenth with a precarious tee ball, she cautioned her caddie Sean as he cleaned the ball. “No throwing” (got a good chuckle out of that one) was all she said. The inference was clear enough. If she flubbed the toss and it wound up in the drink, she would be penalized for a lost ball.

  • I’ll take two of those, a half dozen of these …We don’t need to venture far to experience the food and shopping of the Pathum Wan district of Bangkok. Across the street, and a block or two down, is the Suan Lum Night Bazaar. You name it , they have it (or can probably find it). When your tummy starts to growl, a huge variety of  local cuisine is at your fingertips or a slice of American style pizza if you prefer. Of course, plenty of brewskies to quench your thirst are at hand.

Plenty of shopping for the fake name brand merchandise going on (from Rolex to Prada) even though we all know it’s trash. Many just can’t pass up what they think is a bargain.

  • Sights, smells and tastes of the city; A few observations. Had to traverse too many open sewers on my walks to the Dusit/ Spotted a lady in a full squat taking a wiz under the steps of one of the pedestrian overpasses/ Plenty of stray dogs. You know you’re not in Korea/Some of the sidewalk cuisine makes you want to upchuck/Tried plenty of new foods, many of which I can’t pronounce. Most were OK but a few were definitely an acquired taste/The poverty is appalling. The places some people live in make you want to cry/Watch were you walk. Plenty of missing paving blocks waiting for an unfortunate ankle to take a nasty twist. With some sidewalks just inches wide and traffic traveling on the opposite side of the street, a wrong move could have you gracing the front end of a taxi.

  • Local custom? A late tee time had me eschew the daily taxi ride and opted to take the fifteen minute stroll to the host hotel. Avoiding the pile of dog crap next to the vomit splatter just outside our hotel, I headed down Rama Road IV towards the Dusit. I was just about there when one of the locals behavior threw me for a loop. Bare chested and dressed in just a pair of cargo shorts and running shoes, he halted his slow jog as he spotted something on the sidewalk. Sitting next to a parked scooter was a plastic cup with a protruding straw and about a quarter of its contents still intact. Squatting down as if to take a look, he continued onward and helped himself to a healthy slurp! He then stood as if to savor his find, spit a tad out and carried on his jaunt. Even the neighborhood vendors ogled this episode in disgust.

  • Oops! Il Mi Chung was first to hit on the par three eight yesterday and, being on the clock, wanted to pull the stick and let it fly without haste. What she didn’t realize was the tee was moved up forty yards along with all the signage. It looked as if it was the same location as the practice rounds but obviously was not. The yardage plate was a dead giveaway but when your being timed a tendency to rush is prevalent. Out came the five wood and over the green the ball went. Way over! Could have been disaster but she saved par with a chip-in. Just another story for her diary.

Heard there were at least two others that did the same thing.

  • Just had to happen; Heavy traffic in the evening had me walking back to the Pinnacle after the shuttle arrived. With a few short yards to go before hitting the 7-Eleven for a couple of icy Singhas, a crunch just to my left caught my attention. One of the scooters bit the pavement splaying the driver out next to his bike. Luckily, he wasn’t run over by the following onslaught and was helped by a pedestrian.

Sunday: Not a good day. Shot two over and finished in the middle of the pack.

  • WARNING! THE FOLLOWING CONTENT IS RATED XXX! I’ve saved this commentary for the end, as it may offend. If you have any misgivings reading about the Thai sex trade wait for next week’s Korea Caddie Corner. Here goes.

Marvelous tales of the female persuasion’s abilities at the sex shows circulated as soon as we arrived. If just to satisfy one’s curiosity or actually partake afterwards to fulfill a primal desire, many headed to the seedy part of town to confirm the stories. Here’s a synopsis.

One show opened with lesbian sex, followed by a vaginal Houdini act consisting of firing ping-pong balls, balloon breaking with darts through a tube, inserting a bottle of Coke, empting it, then filling up another bottle. The kicker was extricating a string of double-edged razor blades from those same nether regions! Lets not forget live intercourse by a well choreographed couple just a few feet away and you get the picture.

Another option is to take one of the girls home with you as was the case with a few caderos. Either after the show or hooking up following a sensual massage, a “happy ending” was sure to be.

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