Young Americans and Republicans “Eat what they sowed” December 8, 2013Posted by hslu in China.
Tags: Pelosi, Reid, Democracy, White House, Obama, Latinos, Democrats, ObamaCare, Republican Party, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 自食其果
add a comment
You already knew what’s going on with Obamacare, the software.
It’s a mess.
You already knew what’s going on with Obamacare, the policy.
The worst is yet to come.
You already knew how Obamacare makes people losing their full time jobs.
You already knew that Obamacare drags down the US economy.
And, finally you already knew that Obama was forced to admit that he had lied.
Yet, Obama is still in the White House and Obamacare is still the law of the land.
If you voted for the liar and have to pay for your mistakes by way of higher insurance premium and fewer work hours, you have no one but yourselves to blame.
We call this: “自食其果.” “Eat what they sowed.”
The others got the shaft because of a failed political system: Democracy. Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Democrats worked hard for their party. They were supposed to look after the benefits of the majority of the American people. They didn’t when they have the White House, the Senate and the House.
They blatantly abused their power to benefit their own party.
This is wrong and this is the inherent flaw of this failing political system.
Republicans have no one else to blame but themselves too. Chief Justice Roberts defected to the Democrat Party. As a result, the Republican Party lost everything. With overwhelming majority of Latinos voting for Democrats, the Republican Party will be marginalized for years if not decades.
We call this “自食其果” for the Republican Party as well.
Democracy, like human nature, is fundamentally flawed and the flaws are showing up in many democratic countries in the world.
In the long run, democracy equals socialism and is doomed to fail.
Lobsters are cheap these days December 6, 2013Posted by hslu in Food, Life, Death and Yuanfen, Restaurants.
Tags: "苦海无边 回头是岸, 自求多福, lobster, 清官难断家务事
add a comment
A couple came from Taiwan to see us and we invited another couple to join us for a dinner。We call this “洗尘” or washing off dust from their cloth due to traveling, so to speak.
Nowadays, people drive or fly instead of walk or ride a horse. There isn’t much dust anymore.
One of the dishes we ordered was a pair of lobsters for only $30. I call that cheap, don’t you? A lical Chinese newspaper coupon saved me 10% too. Not a bad deal.
The Cantonese restaurant used to be owned by a different family but business was very slow during the “Great Recession” and food quality came down. Finally the previous owner had to sell it because they were losing a lot of money. The new owners came in a few months ago, remodeled the dining room and the restrooms and hired new chef to take charge of the kitchen. It wasn’t busy when we were there but the owner told us that she saw some picking up in check totals meaning people are willing to order more food when they come to eat. A positive sign.
The couple from Taiwan used to live about 20 miles away but for multiple reasons went back to Taiwan for almost 2 years now.
They seem okay now because I didn’t see the emotion scare they used to carry on their faces. But I sensed thst the issues are still there. Unfortunately I couldn’t help them much when they were here. Chines say that “清官难断家务事” for good reasons.
Probably he was able to see the entire experence from a different prospective. This is what we call “苦海无边, 回头是岸.”
I wish them well but they have to overcome it themselves: We call it: “自求多福是也.”
Some wise guy said that life is like a drama playing out on a stage. But, I prefer this better:
“There is no rehearsal in life. Every day is a live show.”
And we have to make the best out of everyday ourselves.
A Dungeon Crab for my daughter December 5, 2013Posted by hslu in China.
add a comment
My daughter and her husband came home for Thanksgiving and that was one of the dishes I ordered for her at a local Cantonese restaurant in Bailey’s Crossroad, Virginia.
I don’t like crabs. My son-in-law don’t like it. He can’t eat shell fish. My son don’t even want to touch it. But my daughter has the patient to reach to the last piece of crab meat no matter what it takes. My wife ate some too.
U.S. standing in the world is falling fast December 5, 2013Posted by hslu in China, Economics, Global Affair, Islam, Military, Muslim, Obama, Politics.
Tags: Arab, Bashar al-Assad, 百足之虫，死而不僵, Great Recession, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Middle East, Obama, United States, 挂羊头卖狗肉, 了无羞耻也
add a comment
The survey said it all (chart below from Pew Research.) It is sad to watch but it was inevitable. The US empire is heading into sunset with Obama leading the charge. The process will be slow and Chinese has a saying for it too: ”百足之虫，死而不僵.“
For almost seven decades since the end of WWII, the US has used two powerful weapons very effectively to bring other countries in line: US dollar and its military. it is still true but they have been less effective to say the least.
Don’t get me wrong, the United States still has a lot of money not because the US is the largest creditor in the world but because the US dollar is world’s reserve currency. Here the landscape is slowly changing and the US isn’t doing anything about it, yet: the US owes a lot of money to other countries and is running a trillion dollar or so deficit every year. Its $17 trillion dollar federal debt, unfunded liabilities and other government debts will break American tax payers’ back soon. In short, the US is broke and is fast running out of money to give it away.
The bigger problem is that the US dollar’s reserve currency status has been challenged by IMF and many other countries who don’t want to hold a currency with declining value. The push to move away from the US dollar as the world reserve currency is accelerating with IMF readies its Special Drawing Right (SDR) or some other form of currency to take place of the US dollar. Something will happen within the next decade and when it happens, the glory days of the US empire are numbered. it will be ugly. And whoever had assests in US dollar better be prepared for its demise.
America still has the most powerful and advanced weapons in the world. No other countries has any hope of over taking US’s leadership position any time soon. However, the lead is shrinking with Al Qaeda and related organizations regrouping in many parts of the world and China slowly building up its navy and air force in recent years. Many other countries, India, Pakistan, North Korea, etc. have their own nuclear arsenals too. Besides, where will the US going to come up with money to keep its lead in the never ending arm race? With more debt of course. But it can’t be sustained in the long run. Remember, America is broke.
America’s foreign policy is a mess.
Hillary didn’t do a lot other than taking expensive trips all over the world making speeches. Nothing of any significant consequence got done under her.
Obama drew a “red line” in the sand and warned Syria of grave consequence if it dared to cross it. Well, for a couple of years, Bashar al-Assad did it time and time again. Obama kept warning Assad but did nothing to stop him. Finally, Putin, among all foreign country leaders, came to the rescue and gave Obama a black eye for all Arab countries to see. Obama messed up on Arab Spring and didn’t know whom to back in Egypt and couldn’t even decide whether overthrowing its first elected president, president Morsi, by the military was a coup or not. Yet, foreign aid in the form of fighter jets and other weapons continued to flow to Egyptian military as we speak. The whole episode was simply comical.
Obama also projected an image of profound weakness in Benghazi where four Americans, including American Ambassador to Libya, were killed on September 11, 2012. There was talk of a video, justice for the dead, retaliation and finally a cover-up by the Obama administration, but nothing has happened either. It was all speeches and no action.
Then there was Snowden, the hijack and grounding of Bolivia president’s private airplane, the uproar against America throughout Latin America, Snowden’s one-year asylum in Russia thanks to Putin and the fall out from NSA’s monitoring of American citizens, world leaders and many other’s emails, social media activities and phone conversations. The worst of them all was the self-appointed human rights’ guardian, America, was totally exposed for its brazen disregard of other’s people’s privacy and human dignity. China has something for this too: 挂羊头卖狗肉。It is also called: 了无羞耻。The world now knows what America really is: a hypocrite. But it was a hypocrite with all kinds of weapons in its hands.
Of course, we can’t ignore Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. So many American soldiers died for Iraq but the US was chased out of Iraq. Iraqis simply didn’t want America in their country. Obama nonetheless learned his lesson from the failure in Iraq and is trying to keep some US soldiers in Afghanistan enticed with more US foreign aids. The decision was to come at the end of the year but Harmid Karzai wanted to delay it.
Then there was Iran.
Kerry got Iran to talk and agree to curb its atomic activities in exchange for less sanctions. Yet, not much has changed because Iran insisted on continuing its uranium enrichment operation. Well, Iran certainly bought more time to work on a nuclear weapon and at the same time got the sanction monkey off its back. Kerry and Obama did well too: they took credit for contribute to peace in Middle East until one day Iran shows up with a nuclear weapon just like North Korea did under Clinton with the help of the worst American president in recent history: Carter. History probably will repeat itself and a war may be in the works. Well, what’s ironic with this whole thing was that many Democrats in Obama’s own party oppose the deal with Iran. We’ll just have to wait and see here.
And let’s not forget Israel since we are talking about Iran here. Contrary to all previous US presidents who have backed Israel in the past, Obama chose to isolate and humiliate Israel; I guessed, as a goodwill gesture to Arabs and Middle East countries. He definitely succeed in putting Israel in a precarious position and has truly demonstrated that he desperately wanted to be treated as a Muslim by other Arabs.
It appears that the US has very fewer friend in the world. Arabs don’t like the US other than its money and weapons. NSA has monitored Merkel’s cell phone for many years and Obama lied when he told her that he knew nothing about it. I don’t think Germans believed anything Obama said.Many European countries hate America because the Great Recession engineered by US Federal Reserve Bank, Wall Street, large US banks and many other financial institutions. The United States is solely responsible for the miseries many Europeans are facing now: 25% unemployment rate, five years recession in some countries, huge reduction is people’s living standards and massive destruction of people’s wealth, just to name a few.
Well, then there is Japan.
Japan is on the top of the list because the US is spending billions and billions of our tax dollars to defend the island country. Japan has to listen to the US because it has few military options. All Japanese leaders can do is to visit the Yasukuni Shrine which honors Japan’s war dead, including convicted war criminals and mass murderers from World War II. The US has to spend its own money to defend Japan because America bombed Japan with two atomic bombs during WWII. After achieving phenomenon economic growth in the 1980′s, Japan is currently in such a sorry state (The Lost decade,) primarily because of Plaza Accord engineered by America. Ever since that historical and unprecedented event in NYC, Japan took 20 years to sink its country into a debt hole so deep that it has no way to dig itself out of. For that, a generation of Japanese people have no one but America to thank for. What puzzles me was that Japan still call America a friend. Having a friend like this who was responsible for its demise for the past 20+ years, Japan doesn’t need an enemy at all.
Tension has been high in Eastern Pacific recently. The big question is this: Will US send its soldiers to fight for Japan over a few islands in the Pacific Ocean? Japan certainly likes that idea but I don’t think Americans are ready for another war after Iraq and Afghanistan. Besides, the US has almost ran out of money and time until the world decides to dump US dollar and go for something else.
If that happens, anyone who holds American dollar will become poorer probably overnight and the once mighty empire will forever lose its glory.
Even though the show has just started, we already knew what the ending will look like.
History will repeat itself and we all knew it too well: Rome, Portugal, Spain, France and Great Britain.
The next one will be the United States.
Huang Shan; 黄山游记 – Part II 黄山日出 November 27, 2013Posted by hslu in China, Travel.
Tags: 黄山日出, 黄山游记, Huangshan, Sunrise
add a comment
We woke up at 4:30 and left the hotel at 5 AM. It was pretty cold and we had to use the heavy coat provided by the hotel to keep us warm. The climb was much harder and steeper than we had anticipated and there were a lot of people who had already got up there. My wife couldn’t catch up with me and I had to leave her behind because there wasn’t too much time left before sunrise. We should have left the hotel at least 15 minutes earlier. I made it to the top and there were at least 100 people there already. My wife made it to the middle of the ridge and was albe to get a peek of the sunrise too.
Here are the pictures of Huang Shan Sunrise; 黄山日出. There was no cloud in the sky and the sunrise was breath taking. We were actually the lucky ones because more than half of the tour groups didn’t get to watch sunrise because of clouds in the sky.
川沙的长沙臭豆腐 November 27, 2013Posted by hslu in China, Chinese Food, Travel.
Tags: 罗家臭豆腐, 臭豆腐, 长沙一绝, Mao Zedong, Shanghai, Shanghai Disney Resort, Shanghai Metro Line 2, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Stinky Dou Fu
add a comment
川沙 is a bustling blue collar community midway between Pudong International Airport and 张江高科工业园区 on Shanghai Metro Line 2. The new Shanghai Disney Resort which will open its door in 2015 is not far from 川沙. Many people who lived in 川沙 came from poor villages as far away as Sichuan Province who, along with less educated young men and women from neighboring provinces, took up the roles of cheap labors for the city of Shanghai.
We had visited this place twice and found many bargains not far from the subway station: shoes, clothes, belts, socks, pants and sneakers.
We also liked to explore its wide selections of street food and found this very interesting:
The deep-fired stinky dou fu was quite unique because they were crispy on the outside and very soft and juicy on the inside. And they sure packed a pungent smell that’s undeniably stinky. Its sauce was very spicy, tongue numbing with a hint of of sugar. Above all, they came in black in color. You might want to call them ”stinky dou fu in black.”
One thing I could attest to was that they didn’t hide the stinky smell because I could smell stinky dou fu’s pungency even though I couldn’t see the roadside stall around the corner.
Uniquely Hunan and worth trying.
Huang Shan; 黄山游记 – Part I November 26, 2013Posted by hslu in China, Travel.
Tags: China, 黄山, 黄山西海大饭店, 黄山旅游, Huang Shan, Mid-Autumn Festival, Shanghai, Tang Dynasty, 中秋节
add a comment
Huang Shan; 黄山, literally “Yellow Mountain,” got its name in the Tang Dynasty not because yellow is its predominant color but because, according to ancient books and Chinese historians, one of China‘s three legendary Sovereigns; Huang Di, 黃帝 (reigned from 2698 to 2598 BC,) has meditated here. It was said that he later changed into a deity and ascended to heaven. One of Tang’s emperors, 唐玄宗, being a dedicated follower of Taoism, changed the name of the mountain to 黄山.
We wanted to visit Huang Shan because we haven’t been there before and it is not too far from Shanghai. Besides, we wanted to see Huang Shan’s picturesque scenery, legendary pine trees, striking rocks, beautiful sunrise and mysterious sea of clouds with our own eyes. We wanted to see why Huang Shan has been named “The most rugged mountain in the world “天下第一奇山”.
Now, let’s get back to the topic on hand.
We had walked passed by this small travel agent located at an exit of People’s Square subway station a block west of 南京路步行街 in Puxi, Shanghai many times. The signs out front showed many tour packages to famous tourist destinations in China. They looked interesting and they were super cheap too.
For various reasons we didn’t sign up for a tour until a day before we flew to Taiwan in early September, 2013. We had to decide a few things on the spot: the date tour starts; the price level and the duration of the tour. It turned out that every decision we made was critical and everything worked out well in the end.
The date of our tour: we had three days to choose from: Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Tuesday was kind of rush because we were scheduled to fly back to Shanghai from Taiwan on Monday. Wednesday would be ideal. Thursday was kind of late since we’d fly back to the US early next week. I decided on Tuesday anyway because I wanted to get this over with sooner rather than later.
The price level: there were three price levels to choose from: ￥668 (标准等,) ￥1048 (豪华等） and￥1168 （贵宾等.） We picked $1168 without checking the details of the offering.
The duration of the tour: we could choose to come back on the same day, stay for one night in the city or stay for two nights in the mountain. Well, this was an easy one: two nights in the mountain because it would give us more time to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Well, Tuesday turned out to be the ideal day to go because had we chosen the Wednesday or Thursday departure, we would compete with thousands and thousands of tourists on Friday and Saturday because Friday was a holiday: the Mid-Autumn Festival; 中秋节。Sure enough, we saw first hand on Friday that Huang Shan was invaded by thousands of tourists started as early as eight o’clock in the morning. I could not image how we could navigate the narrow walkways and thousands of stairs in Huang Shan if we had to walk with so many tourists around us. This was called “误打误撞” and I was relieved Friday when we started our three and half hour descend in the morning.
Well, as the saying goes that the devil is in the detail even though I went through the descriptions of the tour package carefully.
When I sighed up for the most expensive package, I thought we would get a bigger or a fancier room or something like that. What I didn’t know was that the least expensive package required us to spend our nights with strangers in a room big enough to sleep eight people of the same sex. Bathroom and shower were provided but they were down the hall and we had to share with the others too. No toiletries were provided. We had to bring our own towels, soap, shampoo and slippers. The ￥1095 package got us in separate rooms but they were smaller in size; four or six to a room, and they had bathroom and shower inside. Towels and soap were on us too. For us, we got our own room and everything was provided just like any other hotels we’d been to in China. We even got a heavy jacket in case morning got too cold. However, the rooms were old and it showed.
The duration of the tour: We chose the three day (2 nights up in the mountain) tour without giving it any more thoughts. More time in the mountain would give us more time to enjoy our stay, right?
Our tour package required us to walk from the back of the mountain to the front of the mountain. No other person would help us with our luggage. What we bought with us we had to carry it all the way by ourselves. Our tour guide told us in the bus on the way to Huang Shan that if we couldn’t make it to the next hotel, we would have no place to stay for the night and we would have no place to eat either. We simply didn’t know what we got us into over those three days.
It was the most demanding three days we had ever gone through in a very long, long time.
Over those three days, we walked thousands of stairs up and down the mountain; many o f them on a steep slope that required us to hold on to rails when there was one. At times, we may have to use our hands to climb up the slope because it was so tiring to bring our own weight and a backpack on our backs. I also carried our laptop which added 12 more pounds. Any missteps may end up in the valley thousands of feet below and we certainly didn’t want that. We had never walked for so long in any day of our lives and we were so tired at the end of the day all we could do was getting a shower, rushed to the dining room, got something to eat and went to bed. In fact, we had to arrive at our hotel before sun went down in late afternoon. Once sun set after five thirty or so, we wouldn’t able to see our way in the mountain because there was no light at all.
It was that grueling! But, we proudly declared that we walked from the back of the Huang Shan to the front and we did it with flying colors too. We were what you called “老当益壮.”
On the day of our tour, we had to get up around 4:30 in the morning so that we could catch the first subway to Puxi at 5:30. After we got out of the Exit 2 of the 人民广场 subway station, it would take another 10 minutes to walk to where the bus was. The owner warned us that the bus would leave for Huang Shan at 6:30 AM if we didn’t show up on time. Well, we got there with five minutes to spare but the bus didn’t leave until 6:40 AM.
When our bus started in Shanghai, we had two tour guides because there were two groups of about 15 each: one would stayed for one night in the mountain and our group had the three day package.
After a good three and half hour of mountain climbing and some beer, it was time to sleep. There was nothing to see outside because it was pitch-dark out there. It was pretty cold too.
Besides, we had to get up at around 4:30 in the morning tomorrow because sunrise was around 5:30 or so. Our tour guide told us to leave at least half hour before sunrise because it would take at least that long to climb to the ridge to catch a glimpse of the rising sun.
The Scam, Bangkok style November 3, 2013Posted by hslu in Travel.
Tags: Bangkok, Bangkok scam, Big Buddha, Grand Palace, Royal cemetery bangkok, Royal Lapidary Bangkok, Thailand, 曼谷, 曼谷 辉煌珠宝, 泰国
add a comment
“You have to watch out because there are many pickpockets here.”
That’s how the conversation got started. It was also the beginning of the scam, Bangkok style.
Here is my advice to you: Read this post before you visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
We just got off from a water taxi and were on our way to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. We actually didn’t know where the entrance of the Palace was but someone had pointed to the right hand side at the end of the open market and that was where we were headed to.
The sky was very cloudy; a light shower was coming down but it wasn’t too bad. We heard that the Grand Palace is the most beautiful palace in Bangkok. We were excited.
I turned my head to the voice and saw a middle-aged guy walking a couple of steps behind me. I didn’t notice where he came from but I subconsciously touched my wallet in my pants’ back pocket.
Yeah, it was still there.
This guy was nice, I thought, to remind me. Maybe I should put my wallet in my pants’ front pocket because the Grand Palace was a very busy tourist spot in Bangkok.
The guy looked like a business man: well dressed in a tan-colored uniform of some sort. He was well groomed compared to many other Thai people. His skin color wasn’t very dark and I knew he was part Chinese and part Thai.
I turned to my wife and wanted to walk away from him. He took out a small decal and said he worked for the police department: He was a tourist police. He then showed me a badge in his wallet which looked like a police badge.
I kind of let my guard down somewhat because he didn’t look like a crook.
He then said: “Are you going to the Grand Palace?”
I said: “Yes. But we don’t know exactly where the entrance is.”
Of course, we were actually heading in the wrong direction but we didn’t know that.
He then said that the Grand Palace was closed now and it won’t open until 2:30 this afternoon. He explained that some dignitaries were visiting the Palace so that it would not open to the public now.
It was a lie but we believed him. That was our second mistake.
The first mistake was that we thought he worked for the police department and he was trying to help us.
Hmmm.., what should we do?
It was about 12:30 PM and we’d have about two hours to kill. Maybe we could get something to eat first, I thought.
He then suggested that we could get a taxi for 50 Baht to see the Big Buddha that’s covered in gold. He said the taxi driver could then take us to the Royal Cemetery. Although the cemetery was only for the royal family, it was open to the public today: only one day every year and today was the day. He said that we were lucky.
Well, since the Grand Palace was closed now and there were two hours to kill, we could take his advice, see the Big Buddha, tour the Royal Cemetery and come back later to visit the Palace. 50 Baht was just $1.50 US. $1.50 US to see two more places sounded like a good deal.
We agreed to his offer and he got us a tricycle taxi. He then reminded us that only gave him 50 Baht after we arrived at the cemetery. He’d wait for us at the Big Buddha.
That was our third mistake.
Off we went to the Big Buddha which was about 10 minutes away.
Light rain continued but it didn’t bother us too much. We had an umbrella if the rain got heavier.
I actually didn’t know how tall or how big the Buddha was but I decided that: let’s go and take a look. The worst of the deal was it was a small and unimpressive Buddha. 既来之则安之。大不了，菩萨不大可总是个菩萨吧！看看无妨！
Sure enough, the Buddha was a big one and it was covered in gold. Impressive but the Buddha wasn’t a nice looking one; I said to myself.
Well, we finished our tour in less than 10 minutes and our taxi driver was waiting for us.
The Royal Cemetery was another 10 minutes away. When we got there, we asked the driver to wait for us so he could take us back to the Grand Palace. He said he couldn’t park his taxi here. He had to leave.
We gave him 50 Baht and walked into the Cemetery.
It was a quiet and secluded place. It housed the tombs of past kings and other royal family members.
A few people were there sweeping the ground to clean the falling leaves.
We walked around and saw a sign which explained to us what we were seeing here.
A person walked toward us and said that this place was usually closed to the public. Very few tourists knew this place. How did we got here?
I told him about the tourist police, the temporary closing of the Grand Palace and our taxi ride to see the Big Buddha. I said that this was our second stop.
He then said that a prince was actually visiting the Grand Palace this morning and the Palace would re-open at 2:30 this afternoon.
He then said that he was responsible for the upkeep of the Cemetery. He said that he worked for the Royal family and has been at this position for ten years.
He said that he had 10 workers working for him and all the guys we saw here worked for him. They swept the ground once every hour, maintained all the buildings in the cemetery and there were enough work to keep them busy for ten years. He said that the main temple was closed right now because several monks were still chanting inside but they should finish in 10 to 15 minutes.
Initially I didn’t feel comfortable with talking to him but after he talked about his believe in Chinese culture and how he grew up being part Chinese and part Thai in Thailand; his Mom is Chinese and his Dad is Thai, I slowly let my guard down because he seemed sincere and personal.
That was our fourth mistake.
He gave us a personal tour of the cemetery and the main temple and showed us the tomb for King Mongkut, the king profiled in the movie “The King and I.” Our conversation later went back to growing up being a Chinese in Thailand. He said that many Chinese people in Thailand worked very hard all their lives and saved as much as they could. His Mom also saved a lot of money and used that money to buy jewelries such as ruby and emerald because these precious stones appreciated in value over time. He showed us his huge ruby ring which was given to him by his grandfather.
As he showed us around, he continued to emphasize that his ruby ring has gone up in value many times and his wife wanted to do the same but he won’t let her buy jewelries from Chinatown because he could buy it from a wholesale dealer at 30% less.
In fact, she went to this wholesale jewelry store this morning and got a ruby ring and a matching earrings because this place, usually closed to the public, was open today. His wife was happy and he was happy because she got them at a wonderful price.
He suggested that we shouldn’t miss this once in a life time opportunity. The place would not open to the tourists tomorrow.
My wife was excited and wanted to check the place out and the guy got us a taxi and we were on our way to the wholesale jewelry store.
That was our fifth mistake.
When we arrived at the store, Royal Lapidary on Sawankhalok Road, the place was open and was busy with many tourists. A Chinese-speaking lady walked up to us and greeted us warmly. She said that she could take us to see what they have in the store.
That was our sixth mistake.
She compared several rings and decided on one which had a large ruby stone with bright and shinning diamonds around it. I asked for a magnifying glass but couldn’t tell whether it was worth the price she quoted to my wife: 127,000 Baht. The original list price was 137,500 Baht; a 7% discount.
The ruby diamond ring looked very beautiful and my wife loved it. Our sales lady said that the company is a reputable company and the ring comes with certificate and guarantee.
We paid for the ring with our credit card and walked out of the jewelry store. The sales lady also offered us a ride on company van to the place we wanted to go. Since it was too late to go back to the Grand Palace, we decided to go to Central World.
Shortly after we walked out of the store, my wife felt unease because everything came together so smoothly: Grand Palace closed for 2 hours, the guy at the Royal Cemetery, the rise of ruby’s value, the usually closed jewelry store, the Chinese speaking sales lady and the 127,000 Baht purchase.
I kept saying to my wife that there was no way they were all in it to scam us. I might not believe the tourist police but I trusted the guy at the cemetery. He was so much into the Chinese culture that he won’t cheat us. We went to Central World, had dinner and went back to the hotel.
Once we got back to our room, my wife googled Lapidary Bangkok. Sure enough, someone wrote a story that sounded just like what we just went through. The person in the story ended us losing some money because she already came back to the US after the purchase.
For the entire evening, my wife couldn’t sleep and regretted her impulse purchase. Early next morning we had our breakfast at the hotel and went to the front desk for help.
The guy at the front desk said that we had three options: 1) negotiate a new price, 2) return the merchandise and pay a penalty, usually around 20%, or 3) exchange for something different. My wife didn’t like any of the options and said that she wanted a full refund. The guy explained our situation to the hotel manager and the manager agreed to help us. The hotel manager called the company and asked to talk to the owner of Royal Lapidary. The owner promised to give our money back and offered to send company’s van to pick us up.
At that point, I decided to hold off my phone call to Visa and see what we could get from the jewel store. We got all our documents ready and went to the store. Our Chinese speaking lady was waiting for us. She apologized for the hassle we had to go through and took us to a conference room upstairs and credited the full amount of the purchase back to our credit card.
She gave us another set of documents which spelled out that Royal Lapidary has agreed to return the full amount back to us. There was even a signed letter and a credit card refund receipt.
She repeatedly apologized to us and said that the owner of the company kept reminding those people not to lure customers to their stores.
She then offered to take us to where we wanted to go using the company van. We decided to go to a subway station because we wanted to visit the Grand Palace.
Once we got off the water taxi, we traced the same route we took yesterday because I wanted to see if I could catch that tourist police in action again.
Lo and behold, I saw that guy again. He recognized me immediately and started walking away from me. I did get a glimpse of him.
We then found the entrance to the Grand Palace and the first thing we saw was the sign that says” OPEN EVERYDAY.”
Wow, what an experience in Bangkok. Fortunately for us, we got all our money back. Although we were disguised by the scam, we liked the way Lapidary handled the entire situation.
Here is the moral of the story: Don’t talk to strangers in Bangkok unless you initiate the conversation.
Shabushi, Bangkok November 2, 2013Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants, Travel.
Tags: Broth, Buffet, CentralWorld, hotpot, Shabu Shabu, Shabushi Bangkok, Sushi, 曼谷, 曼谷中央百货购物中心, 泰国
add a comment
Shabu shabu was a Japanese style food where we could choose thinly sliced meat, vegetables, noodles, seafood (selections were limited and they came less often,) fish balls and fish cakes to cook in your own hot pot. They came to customers via a conveyor belt and we picked whatever we like and someone would take the empty plates away. Three types of broths were offered at Shabushi: a clear broth (shabu shabu,) a milky broth called miniku and a spicy and sour broth. It also had sushi and deep fried chicken fingers and some kind of fish. But they were just ordinary and not very appealing to us. Fruit and ice cream were available too. Buffet cost 355 Baht per person: about $12 but you only have an hour and 15 minutes to eat. Additional time would cost 20 Baht per every 10 minutes.
We were in there exactly an hour and 15 minutes.
Tapas Y Vino, Bangkok, Thailand November 1, 2013Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants, Travel.
Tags: 2006, Bangkok, black Iberian pig, Cinco Jotas (5J), 西班牙菜, Grand Millennium Hotel Bangkok, Iberian Bellota ham, Promesa Reserva, Spanish Tapas, Sukhumvit Road, Tapas Y Vino, Thailand, 曼谷, 泰国
add a comment
We had planned to have a quick lunch near our hotel before heading out to the airport on the day we flew out of Bangkok. Since we didn’t stay too long at the weekend market, we had almost 2 hours for lunch.
We decided to try a tapas place just off the Sukhumvit subway station about 10 minutes walk from our hotel. The restaurant was located on the second floor of the Grand Millennium Hotel.
It was Saturday morning around 11:30 when we got there. We were the only two customers the entire time and we felt relaxed and took time to enjoy our meal.
We ordered the set lunch at 400 Baht per person so that we could have a variety of dishes to try. We each had a glass of Spain’s red wine: 2006 Promesa Reserva at 470 Baht which were great with the food we had. I just wished we had a full glass instead of just a quarter or so.
Our waitress was a good looking Thai girl and our chef was a young man who was in his early 30′s at most. The open kitchen was just on the other side of the narrow and long dinning room. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a picture of him and his kitchen because the camera was lost.
It took us almost 2 hours to finish six tapas. We didn’t order Gazpacho because we just fought tour way through a down pour and wanted some thing not cold.
The garlic shrimp was great! Perfectly done! It looked good and every one of them was tender and juicy. There wasn’t too much butter either. Just a great dish.
We also order a plate of Cinco Jotas (5J) Spanish Acorn-fed Iberian Bellota ham (black Iberian pig) at 650 Baht per 20 grams. It was not cheap but it was worth the price. Great with the wine we ordered. I should have ordered some cheese as well but we simply had too much to eat. By the time we got to the last tapas , chicken wings, we simply couldn’t eat anymore. Well, we actually didn’t like chicken wing that much anyway.
Dessert was Santiago almond cake. Great finish.