Today's the big day! President Obama is coming to Thailand and we're all pretty damned excited about it!
Unfortunately, he'll only be here for one day, which is not nearly enough time to see everything this wonderful and whacky little country has to offer. But the U.S. embassy here has come up with a funny way to maximize Mr Obama's exposure by posing a cardboard cutout of the president in front of various famous Thai landmarks and posting the pictures on its Facebook page, as noted by Rachel Maddow on Friday in her "Best New Thing in the World Today" segment:
I suppose that's pretty good as far as it goes, but the embassy hasn't really managed to convey the full flavor of the many-faceted Thailand experience. So, with my own Obama cutout in tow, I've tried to flesh things out a bit more by adding in a few more aspects of life in the Land of Smiles that the embassy neglected to include.
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The rainy season is nearly over and things are drying up, but had Mr Obama come at this time last year, he could have had a preview of what coastal cities in the U.S. might look like before long if we don't get our act together on climate change.
Even without flooded streets, Bangkok's traffic can be a challenge. The president won't likely experience this because the police will shut down entire streets so that his motorcade can zip along at full speed, as they regularly do for Thai royalty. For the rest of us though, the fastest way to get from point A to point B is sometimes just to hoof it. Here's Faux-bama catching a bit of fresh air on a pedestrian footbridge:
Thai culture of course is famous for its rich diversity, and there is something for everybody. Thais love fashion shows, and every year the seaside resort town of Pattaya (for some this might be a last resort) hosts the Miss Tiffany's Universe pageant. The president missed this event by a month. The 'women' participating in this pageant miss every month, if you catch my drift.
One of the things that makes Bangkok a major tourist destination is its cosmopolitan character and exciting nightlife. Again, there's something for everyone, and there are many charming establishments with talented entertainers and helpful staff who are very eager to please. A vast array of tasty dishes is readily available and whatever you have a taste for is likely to be on the menu. It's a shame the president won't have time to sample some of these spicy delights.
Life in a thriving Asian mega-city can be hectic and very stressful, but luckily the Thais have long recognized the importance of maintaining good health by reducing stress, and over the years have developed and refined the traditional art of Thai massage. That's why so many people try to set aside an hour or so a few times a week for a relaxing session with an experienced masseuse (some of whom are more 'experienced' than others). The good news for the president is that even if he hasn't got time to seek out an establishment like the one pictured below, many of the hotels provide in-house massage services.
Finally, medical care is always an issue for people when they travel abroad. No doubt, someone as important as the President of the United States has his own people to provide, um, Obamacare, should it become necessary. But even if he didn't have his own practitioners on hand, he wouldn't have to worry: Bangkok in recent years has become a hub of 'medical tourism' with a wide selection of hospitals and clinics dedicated to providing care to foreigners. Pictured below is just one of the many facilities that can offer expert treatment when the need arises.