Phuket:  last weekend; food and music; human progress; Slocum 43

October 1st, 2022

Life continues in Phuket, uneventful.  Today we have a sunny day, but it is an aberration; most days have brought rain.  We have spent less time at the beach and more time at the house, working or reading.  It is our last weekend.  This coming Thursday, early in the morning, we start our trip back to Bangkok.  Woland and I would rather stay, but we don’t have the choice.  We are cutting the trip in half.  We’ll drive some 6.5 hours Chumphon, a beach town north east from here to where we plan to stay for two nights before continuing north to the capital.  

Last weekend we celebrated Natalia’s arrival to this world.  Early in the morning came a bouquet of red, white, and orange roses.  We had coffee, read newspapers and by mid-morning went for brunch at the Pine, a nice restaurant at Surine beach managed by the Inter-Continental. We overconsumed champagne and back at the house we had to take a nap to recover. But by 5pm we were walking at the beach with Woland and met some friends and their dog. At seven  we drove to a restaurant called Nitan for a special dinner.  The founders are Pang Keds, an architect who is behind the decoration, and Shir Ng, a communications specialist who manages the business side.  The restaurant offers a fix-menu with 5 or 7 courses created by Chef Pom, who specializes in Thai cuisine. Not the well-known, traditional, Thai food.  Although each dish is based on traditional, old, recipes from different regions, he has reinterpreted them – not by increasing their complexity, on contrary, by bringing clarity, adding tonalities, accentuating a few flavors while bringing others under a shadow.  I speculate that the creative process he goes through has much in common with that of Max Ritcher when re-writing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which he claims is “like seeing a sculpture from a different angle.”  Most dishes involve seafood and all use only local ingredients. And no need to choose the wine; that choice is also made by Chef Pom for each of his dishes. The two I enjoyed the most were the: PHUKET PINEAPPLE (Minced pork / Thai basil / grilled paprika / peanut caramel) and the WILD BETEL LEAF (Andaman fish / pork skins / roasted rice & coconut flakes / pickled shallot / planaem mousse).

This weekend I finished reading Slouching Towards Utopia by economist Brad Delong from Berkeley University.  It is a book about global economic history covering, mainly, the period 1870-2010.  It argues that after 2010 the global economic system collapsed and crossed a point of no return.  The financial times just published a, not so good, review of the book and W. Chiles, who also read it recently, shares some of his impressions in one of his latest posts.  I enjoyed parts of the book; Delong is best when describing historic events and personalities.  But the story line that brings them together is chafed in places, and I disagree with his conclusion. Humanity faces many problems including fascists leaders, one of them behind a non-sense war that could escalate; poverty and inequality; climate change; and an economic recession around the corner. Countries do not always have good governments and good governments do not always do the right thing.  Sometimes change is difficult and moving to a better place involves disruption.  But I continue to believe in humanism and enlightenment, and our ability to weather storms, most recently COVID19. A very good book about this is Steven Pinker’s Enlightment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress which I read in early 2019 when things seemed to be going well for Homo Sapiens. 

I signed the purchase agreement for the Slocum 43 and transferred 10% of the negotiated price to the broker.  It took a while to coordinate the survey but it seems it will, finally, take place tomorrow Monday October 3rd.  I do not expect surprises.  It is a good blue water boat that has been well maintained and, as I had mentioned, was ready to cross the Pacific before COVID19 hit. I have asked the surveyor to look carefully at the hull, rigging, and the teak that covers de deck.  I also hope that all the upgrades (radar and nav. equipment) and things I value like the wind vane are operational. Others like the water maker or diesel generator I don’t care much about.      Most likely the purchase will be completed this week. With that in mind, I reserved a slip in Marina Club de Pesca in Cartagena which seems like a very nice Marina – and is dog friendly.  I am also shopping for boat insurance, although last time it didn’t make me any good.  I hope to travel to Cartagena in late November or early December.    

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