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Follow Douglas Through Bhutan
Curious about Bhutan? Our Douglas is just back from ten days in Bhutan and he is still glassy-eyed and oozing Gross National Happiness. He wants you to know why.
Bhutan has been at the top of his "bucket list" for as long as he has kept one. We are not expecting him to expire any time soon, but he will be 65 in July and wants to finish his list before he is 102, the predicted age of his demise, according to an app he saw on Facebook. If you want to follow him from Thimpu to Paro, to Ganteay, Punakha, Trongsa, and Bumthang you can read his blog, which includes some splendid photos. You can find it here: www.purpledrag.com/blog/feb15.htm
"What Happened to Miss Fu?"
I have been told that several people in the office received emails expressing concern about my whereabouts since late last year. Thanks for your concern, but I have not disappeared. I spent the holidays with my family in Connecticut and enjoyed my mother's cooking so much that I stayed around a bit. It had been a long time since I had seen snow, and I enjoyed that until January, when I'd had quite enough of it. So I am back in the happy Kingdom and enjoying the balmy weather and spicy food. If you became a new member during December or January, you have not yet received a welcome letter because nobody but me knew the secret of extracting new member data from Purple Dragon's web server. Oops!
Thailand is "in recovery" since the political landscape here became littered last year with demonstrators, corpses, prime ministers, and disappearing rice. Things are better now. While martial law is still in effect, it is, for the most part, just a technicality. A Constitutional Drafting committee is hard at work, and the national leaders are trying to convince us all that reconciliation can be created by legislation. Tourism and hospitality businesses here have truly suffered over the last twelve months as the public chose to go somewhere else. Unlike the post-Red Shirt tourism crash, the government seems to have limited interest in helping any but those who need little help.
Purple Dragon's business has been off by nearly 50%, which is par for the course. Hotels and nightlife venues have been taking it on the chin to the same degree. But there are glimmers of hope on the horizon. Purple Dragon took its first Christmas booking for 2o15 at the beginning of February and there is ongoing interest in China, Myanmar, India and Cambodia. If you have been putting off a visit to the Land of Smiles, this is a good time to return. Prices have stayed low. If you pay in U.S. dollars or Swiss Francs, costs will be lower for you now than they have been for quite a while. If you pay in Euros, have a word with Angela.
You Are Invited: Our April Fools
Purple Dragon is offering small group shore excursion for passengers on Atlantis Events' 2015 gay Asia cruise, that has a long overnight stop in Bangkok on 01 April. In addition to two days of touring, we are offering an optional dinner cruise aboard the Loy Nava, a beautifully-restored teak rice barge, and we have set aside half of the seating for members of the local community. Loy Nava has donated the boat and the dinner and all proceeds will benefit Purple Dragon's community initiatives in Cambodia. Departure time is 8:00 pm from the pier next to Bangkok's Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel. A welcome glass of bubbly precedes a lavish dinner (traditional Thai, Thai vegetarian or Thai seafood), live entertainment, and a drawing for a free Purple Dragon Angkor Wat tour. Cost is US$62/THB 2,100 per person. Won't you join us? To accept our invitation just click here. If you have not yet taken a dinner cruise on the Chao Praya, you will enjoy the spectacular views and an up-close look at Wat Arun, which is spectacularly-lit at night, the Grand Palace, and a city that looks even more grand after dark. This is NOT one of those noisy party boats filled with Chinese tour groups. If you will not be in Bangkok on April 1st Purple Dragon will be happy to arrange for a dinner cruise aboard Loy Nava any other night.
And The Winner (Maybe) Is....
You may recall that in May of last year our newsletter "Footprint" was a contest to guess which country in our part of the world would be the first to legalize gay marriage. In thenewsletter that followed we announced the surprising results. More than 40% who participated in the poll guessed that (surprise, surprise) Cambodia would be the winner! Vietnam ran a close in second, and Thailand a distant third. Under ordinary circumstance Thailand would have been the winner, but the country no longer has an elected government or legislative body, which has caused John Kerry to lose sleep.
While none of the countries in the running have officially reached the finish line yet, Vietnam is outrunning the rest. While they have not yet implemented a framework for legal same sex marriage yet, the government there abolished the legal ban on gay weddings on 01 January. Marriages since the ban was lifted are not yet recognized legally by the government, but happy couples who tie the knot won't spend their honeymoons in behavioral correction centers.
So the race is not yet over but there appears to be a clear winner. When Vietnam (or another country) officially recognizes same sex unions and affords couples the same legal rights as their parents had, we will finally hold a drawing and give one lucky Member a $100 Purple Dragon gift card.
I am still waiting for a marriage proposal. Boo hoo.
And Speaking of Gift Certificates:
Purple Dragon has a clever benefit for Club Sanook Members who want to save money but have not yet made up their minds about future travel. If you have decided you want to make a trip to our part of the world some time in the next 18 months but have not chosen a destination or firmed up dates, you can buy a Gift Certificate and give it to yourself!
For the fifth year in a row we are offering Club Sanook Members an easy way to save on future travel, even if they are not sure where or when they will travel. You can buy gift certificates in denominations of $1,000 to $10,000 at a discount. You can use them during two different pariods: April through September 2015 and October 2015 through March 2016. You do not have to use Purple Dragon's gift certificates as gifts--you can use them yourself to take up to 16% off (or 18% if you pay by bank transfer) anything Purple Dragon offers except for airfares, India, Bhutan or Nepal. You can begin making your plans whenever you like, as far in advance as you like. You can even pay for a portion of the cost by redeeming points you have already earned. To learn more see our Member Specials page.Shinta Mani Rocks!
From time to time we have published brief stories about the two Shinta Mani hotels in Siem Reap--mostly because we consider it one of the top three or four hotels we use. Recently we learned that CNN and Tripadvisor agree with us. They have jointly declared Shinta Mani the best hotel in Asia, and the third best in the world. Christian, the tireless GM deserves some of the credit, as do their incredible staff. So does the brilliant owner/designer/architect Bill Bensley. (Douglas also gives some credit to the home made jam and bottles of Champagne on the breakfast buffet.)If you have not stayed with Shinta Mani before, we hope you will in the future, and enjoy one of the most wonderful hotel experiences of your life.
Share This Newsletter With a Friend
No "footprint" this month. But if you enjoy reading this newsletter and have friends who might enjoy it as well, please share. We have made it easy by semi-automating the process. Justclick here to send an email. (We will not receive a copy.)
Douglas at the Circusclick here to send an email. (We will not receive a copy.)
Last November we told you about Douglas "running away with the circus" and the cover story he wrote for Out in Thailand magazine. If you fly Air Asia during March, reach into the seat pocket in front of you for your very own copy of 3Sixty, the airline's inflight magazine. Douglas' 2,400 word (more or less) story about Phare, the Cambodian Circus. This is not the story he is writing for the New York Times. That one is still lodged somewhere in his brain, waiting to be rewritten in the shower. (He admits to having an unusual process.) This story is very entertaining the photos are are almost as spectacular as the shows themselves. If you don't plan to be an Air Asia passenger in March you will still be able to read the story or download a copy of the magazine online at: http://www.airasia.com/travel3sixty/. Look for the graphic of the magazine's cover in the right-hand column and click on either "View" or "Download."
The Demise of Points
Purple Dragon and Club Sanook have offered a Purple Points loyalty program for the last several years. It is a huge amount of work yet nobody is very interested in it. Effective 30 June 2015 we will no longer keep track of points. For Basic members, any unexpired points will vanish on 20 September. For Diamond Members who have paid for their membership, points will be available to use through 2016 unless extended. If your membership has expired, you are already outa luck unless you upgrade to Diamond.
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