Well, it's good to be back.
I did like the days in Amsterdam a bit, but I prefer being home, to be honest. The roses and those Tudor style houses along the canals actually reminded me of England.
I liked looking out the windows from the Okura room at the people whizzing by on bikes and the badly dressed oldies (this isn't, I must say, a fashion sort of city) walking their fluffy dogs.
The pollen was flying in the Japanese garden where I had some very early, and very delicious Japanese dinners; I was the only one wearing a sweater and jeans amidst a sea of business-suited, sleek haired businessmen.
I have to say I prefer the Okura than the creaky, winding up and down boutique Pulitzer, which is in many ways, just a really big bed and breakfast. Its heavy gloom was not enlivened by the chatter I can hear from two rooms down, nor the constant slamming of heavy doors or the clatter of guests clumping all over the place.
I read rather a lot during the week(magazines and papers), and I'd especially recommend the novel Landfalls by Tim Mackintosh-Smith, about a Moroccan traveller of the early Renaissance. This is a heavily researched book lightened by jaunty prose. It does dwell enlighteningly on Islam, which one learns is more complex and less dogmatic and not completely abstract.One learns as one goes along, doesn't one?
On the other hand, my first trip up to Bangkok in four years was spent hectically catching up with friends I'd lost contact with for a while. I didn't manage to see everyone of them, but I managed at least to collect their numbers, so next time.I also made some new friends, as I was travelling with a young group I'd never travelled with before. The meals and traffic jams were made hilarious by the constant patter of rubbish from one young man called DH. This trip will always remind me of him, and his obsession with vintage jeans, sunglasses and watches. An afternoon spent giggling with DH in the back of a sedan isn't at all dreadful, I must say, even if it was pouring in sheets outside. Also the Greek-American model, 20 year old Christian, made quite an impression, and I only wished I had more time with him under the chandeliers of the gilt and mural Edwardian ballroom of the Oriental.
I love the Oriental Hotel, don't you? The rooms are so comfy, and the service civilised. Of course the food's really great. I ate quite a lot, I'm afraid.
The traffic jams are as horrific as ever, and the city is steadily, unstoppably transforming into one gigantic, dust-coloured mall. One morning, very bored, I bought on a beauty binge:1. Olay Professional and Pro-X products, including the age-defying day moisturiser (SPF 30), wrinkle smoothing cream and a deep wrinkle complex (don't ask).
2. Boots No 7 Protect & Perfect Serum.
3. Laura Mercier Creme Brulee Honey Bath.
4. Kyoku For Men Lava Masque which has mineral-rich mud, black sand and ash from Mount Fuji (don't ask, and let's not go there).
5. Tengan exfoliator which has shirasu volcanic ash, sourced from Japan's southern island of Kyushu (is it radioactive? Let's not go there). I do, in fact, have a thing for volcanoes.
But just to tell you that I'm not all vanity, my hair is all grown out of shape, and the grey is showing, but I can't be bothered to spend three hours at the salon.
Go figure, and have a lovely week ahead.