Sunday, January 25, 2009

Suwadee From Thailand
After seventeen hours of flight time, a stopover at Tokyo's Narita Airport, and transition through who-knows-how-many time zones, we've arrived in Bangkok. We had a great flight - you gotta love Northwest's video-on-demand system. With all those movies at our fingertips we didn't even have to waste time being jealous of the comfort-pod-travellers up in Business Class. Traveling with me is Dr. Karen Goodrowe Beck, Point Defiance Zoo's General Curator. Karen has been a huge supporter of both the CLP and my conservation efforts at the Zoo so I am thrilled she is able to attend and help facilitate the Felid Summit.

Caution: Product Placement Ahead... Please bear with me a minute as this blog takes a brief promotional break. My wonderful husband gave me an Amazon Kindle for my birthday recently. If you aren't familiar with this little gem, it is incredible! It is an electronic book reading device that holds hundreds of titles in a machine that is smaller than most paperbacks. As someone who becomes very fretty with the prospect of running out of reading material on international trips, this is a lifesaver as well as a backsaver. No longer do I tote 87 pounds of books. Instead, I just download them wirelessly from Amazon and carry them with me in my purse! This was my first long trip with the Kindle and boy, am I sold! It is easy to use, and getting use to it compared to a real book is a breeze. I HIGHLY recommend it for avid readers. (Amazon, I think the CLP deserves a donation for that little plug!)

We spent the day following our arrival (at 2am) acclimating and doing a bit of sightseeing. This is my fourth visit to Bangkok, but Karen's first so we did a few required stops to the Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha, and a boat ride on the Chao Praya River. So far the weather here is great - just warm instead of roasting - with even a coolish breeze. It's a very pleasant surprise for me as I tend to melt in the tropics.

Today we met with our hosts at Kasetsart University, Dr. Naris and Nat, to touch base about plans for the Summit and visit the meeting spaces. We are very impressed with the preparations they have made to welcome the participants and organize things for us. Their efforts will make this a very well-orchestrated event. Tomorrow we are meeting with the Director of the Zoological Parks Organization. This is the association of Thai zoos, similar to North America's Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The ZPO is a sponsor of the meeting and is host to the clouded leopard breeding project at Khao Kheow Open Zoo. We'll be visiting the zoo at the end of the trip.

Tonight the mission is to find some noodles for dinner. I've not wasted any time locating my favorite Thai food. I've already had sticky rice twice, coconut ice cream, banana shake, and yummy grilled pork from a street vendor. I love Thailand!


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