Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

Posted in SharonSpeak on October 23rd, 2012 by Sharon Feinstein

The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is more than just one of the world’s most splendid hotels, it’s almost a piece of history. Evelyn Waugh sat on the terrace writing Mad Dogs and Englishmen, John Le Carre sipped cocktails while he finished off The Honourable Schoolboy, and Somerset Maugham recovered from raging malaria in one of the grand, airy bedrooms.

Writers have kept coming here to feel the magic, sit on the banks of the Chao Praya and watch the play of light on the moody river.The secret,leafy corners beside the swimming pool, or shadowy Bamboo Bar where they belt out jazz, nurture the romance of this stately hotel, which has lured royalty, heads of state, artists and travellers for 136 years now. Even though Bangkok calls, you can get lost in the world within The Oriental and struggle to leave.

Breakfast unfolds with dazzling variety and slick, long-serving staff key in to exactly how you like things done. Quaint wooden shuttle boats take you across river to the utterly relaxing, luxurious Spa. Lie under the palms beside the gold mosaic pool for a long lunch, and float into the Authors Lounge for the genteel, best-in-Bangkok afternoon tea. Up for a shower to the most comfortable, stylish room with a view, butler on hand, and everywhere the endlessly helpful and warm-hearted staff. My dinner of choice is the Riverside Terrace where the river twinkles with lights and the buffet is really fresh, or the Shanghai style China House for something more exotic. Even the foyer has a breathtaking allure,with massive flower arrangements hanging from the ceiling and a classy quartet playing Bach to raise ones spirits even higher. Need I go on? Indeed, there is more. Who says leavingThe Oriental is ever going to be easy. The only comfort I offer myself is the enduring hope of going back to the only hotel ( and this comes from a world traveller) that makes me want to leave home and move in for life.

Beware the Nazis are back, casting a shadow across an ancient land

Posted in SharonSpeak on October 3rd, 2012 by Sharon Feinstein

Even the name has that totem-like, mythical feel about it, designed to inspire mindless allegiance.
The Golden Dawn, the latest fascist group to be born out of the ashes of economic discontent and the culture of Blame .
As Greece flails about and Athens finds itself in a shocking new world of hardship and unemployment, The Golden Dawn steps in.
After all, what is history but the repetition of mistakes and terrible lessons left unlearned.
The Nazis are back wearing black T-shirts, crashing into make-shift fruit and vegetable stalls, preying on those inevitable fears that its the immigrants who must be behind all the economic hardships.
They’re even distributing potatoes in poorer regions of Greece just as the Nazis gave out food parcels in Germany.
Woe is me. The tactics of terror. Another dark shadow is cast across this ancient land that has witnessed more turmoil and bloodshed than any other European nation over the last century.
Civil war, Communists, the terrible Generals, and now this.
Rising discontent is the breeding ground for groups like the Golden Dawn.
Wake up to the patterns of history, the tactics of dictatorships, discontented people grasping at so-called saviours.
60 million people died in World War 2 which started exactly like this!