I don't know when the transaction went down, but it appears to have been recent.
I stopped in last night. The vibe was different. There were Arab-style front porch girls out front, doing the "Hello welcome!" thing. The waitresses were HEAVILY hustling for lady drinks.
An old friend of mine was not working. A couple of people told me she went to Bar 10 or 10 Bar. I received other intel (source not identified for good reason).
I left, and went to her new digs. She was there. We talked. She didn't say, at first, who the new owner was, but, when I said something about it looked and felt like the Arab bars, she nodded. I said "Please tell me you're kidding." She confirmed it, point-blank. The Arab now owns Suzie Wong.
I told her that, if I had not already made the decision never to go back into Suzie Wong, just based on the vibe (which decision I had already in fact made), that information would have been enough to do it.
The good news, such as it is, is that, when she left Suzie Wong, 15 of the dancers followed her. (She also mentioned that one went to Tilac Bar.) Apparently, the Arab is not universally popular...
I hate to see it. I have many good memories from Suzie Wong, including, among others, the sweetheart several years ago who came closer than any other girl on the planet, before or since, to making an honest man out of me. No more...
I landed at Swampypoom on 23 Dec, flew out on 4 Jan.
During that time, I did the usual rounds.
I also did something different.
I logged 8 hours on a Boeing 737NG Advanced Aviation Training Device. This is a high-fidelity flight simulator, without a motion base.
I originally heard about the company a few years ago, when we thew the Sunday afternoon get-together in the bar&grill on Convent Road. They'd since moved to Ekkamai Gateway mall. I was in there in September, flew a 1/2 hour and 1 hour casual session then.
This time, when I went back, it was with the specific intention of learning to fly the 737. Seriously. They asked what I wanted to do, I said "stick-and-rudder flying, to master the airplane". They smiled and said "We can do that."
I flew an hour a day every day for four days, and then I flew two hours a day for two days. You can't help but learn things on this schedule, and some of them will be things you never expected to learn. Things about leadership, and teamwork, and how you respond under pressure.
I did things I never dreamed I would do. I learned things I never expected to learn, I made memories, with their help, that will last a lifetime, and then some. And I had more fun than I ever dreamed possible.
At one point, taking off from Hong Kong, for a night hop to Macau with the company chief pilot, I was mildly surprised to realize that the takeoff procedure had become both familiar and comfortable. Once we were at cruise altitude and speed, sitting back, I realized just how incredibly beautiful a night flight in that part of the world could be.
At another point, flying in the San Francisco area, still with the company chief pilot, he had me working harder than I'd ever worked in my life. I never would have believed I could handle that workload, and I would REALLY never would have believed I would be having the time of my life doing it. That man is destined to be one of the great flight instructors of this century. He has a gift, for knowing EXACTLY how hard and how far a student can be pushed.
And that's another thing. Flying with him never felt like instructor and student. It felt like team, like very senior captain and very junior first officer, and part of the captain's job is to make the first officer a better pilot. And he did.
The 737 is a beautiful airplane. She is demanding. She teaches you very quickly that you have to pay attention to her, learn to feel what she is feeling. She is also incredibly responsive and incredibly rewarding, and, within the above, both easier and more fun to fly than a Cessna 172.
In Huntsville, AL, we have good news, GOOD news, and REALLY! good news.
The good news: A new Thai restaurant has opened in town.
The GOOD news: The waitresses are all Thai.
The REALLY! good news: It appears that the kitchen is, too!
Best shrimp pad Thai I've had outside of Thailand. Second best overall: First Place still goes to the food cart and picnic tables on the covered patio on the corner of Suk and Suk Soi 3/1 ("Soi Arab").
Talking with one of the waitresses last night: She mentioned that one of her favorite Thai restaurants in Krung Thep was on Suk Soi 23. I think I surprised her when I named "Love Scene" instantly. She confirmed it.