Bangkok to Beijing: "Royal Tailors"

Royal Tailors
Bangkok, Thailand

January 3, 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

From Boca Raton , in sunny South Florida , my generous friend and once-upon-a-time mother-in-law, Helga D. sent me this New Year’s message:

"Jan, while you are freezing your ass off in China I will do the same in Antarctica. I am leaving in the middle of January for a cruise on the Explorer II."

Thank you, Helga.

Is it cold in China at the moment?

Por supuesto! I anticipated that my sensitive, sub-tropical-acclimatized system would need some serious non-cotton protection from the sub-Arctic Siberian winter blasts. And good luck trying to find ready-to-wear woolen clothing in Southeast Asia . So, reluctantly, I trudged on over to Royal Tailors.

I say “reluctantly” because hibernating in my storage facility in Miami are the remnants of my sub-Arctic Boston wardrobe: woolen slacks and suits, woolen overcoat and parka, gloves, scarves, and socks. Lots of heavy-duty black woolen Gold Toe socks. And most sadly of all, packed in an ordinary brown carton, lies my Russian-style, honest-to-Buddha black Persian lamb, Dr. Zhivago Ushanka, with ear-flaps! All of those comforting articles are on the other side of the world and no help to me here.

So, reluctantly, I went to see my friend and neighbor, Narin Sachdev, Managing Director of Royal Tailors.

Narin asked me to give his shop a plug:

Royal Tailors 2-2/1 Sukhumvit Road Corner Soi Nananua-3 Bangkok, 10110 Thailand Mail orders accepted. Suits made ready in 24 hours

Narin fitted me with two pair of heavy woolen pants. And clever Narin, a Thai-born Indian, persuaded me to buy a ready-made full-length woolen overcoat. You ever tried to resist the importuning of an Indian salesman?

Next I hiked over to a local outdoor shop and left with a pair of high top boots.

By some miracle of forethought I did bring a pair of woolen gloves and an attractive silk scarf from Miami . For a hat I’ll have to wait for Beijing , or maybe Harbin .

As an inexpensive alternative, my friend LiLi in Beijing recommended Sri Lanka Airlines. So on Friday, 4 January I fly from Bangkok to Beijing , and on 9 January I fly to Harbin , the original motivation for my winter excursion to the frigid north: the Annual Harbin Ice Sculpture Festival.

I have been a fan of ice sculpture ever since my days at The Sheraton Hotel Corporation. At one international hotel conference in Boston, the chef-sculptors from the Latin America Division engaged a fork-lift truck to assemble the huge blocks of ice depicting the 40 meter iconic Christ the Redeemer statue that towers, arms spread apart, above Rio de Janeiro. I expect to see equally impressive snow and ice art in Harbin .

From Harbin , which by the way, lies north of the North Korea border and north of Vladivostok , I fly south to Xi'an to visit the terracotta warrios. Then I will work my way back to Beijing through Shanxi and Hebei provinces.

Reluctance was also what I was feeling as I began planning for this trip. Traveling alone in China seems challenging to say the least. But thanks to Royal Tailors and my detailed guide books and maps, I am more comfortable and confident now. It also helps to have friends in Beijing .

And even if I do freeze my ass off in China , I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year. Well, a cruise to visit the natural ice sculpture in the Antarctic is also an excellent choice.

Bon voyage Helga, and please keep warm and dry. And please don't feed the penguins.



Travel with Jan to China

02-20-11 - 656