Archive for September, 2005

Suvarnabhumi – What’s The Big Deal?

I read the papers today with relief, finding that I am not the only one scratching their head wondering why yesterdays ‘test’ flight is being treated like such an important event. Do people not realise that planes have already been landing there to test it out? Do they really think Thaksin wants to be the test?

When asked by a journalist from BBC News why he had to organise a test flight since the airport wasn’t even open until mid next year (many people expect that date to slip even further), Thaksin got a little upset, as he is wont to do when anyone dares question his logic, and gave one of his long-winded responses that didn’t really say anything other than that it was all a publicity stunt.

I hope it wasn’t at the tax-payers expense.

The Nation has a list of 7 reasons why the new airport should make it into the Guiness Book of Records:

  1. At 45 years, it’s the worlds longest running project of it’s kind
  2. It has the worlds tallest control tower. I’ve been up both of Sydney Airport’s control towers and thought they were pretty high, but the new one at Suvarnabhumi airport is absolutely monolithic!
  3. They have four (4, count ’em) of the largest runways in the world
  4. (this was a silly one about Thaksin)
  5. etc…

There were more but the point is that the new airport is something to be proud of and Thai people are right to feel that way. Now if it would just open…

taste it all @ ratchaprason

first annual international food & street entertainment festical ‘taste is all@ ratchaprason’ is taking place this friday (sept 30).

it’s a joint event, and will be held in the promenage areas of gaysorn, intercontinental bangkok and the erawan.

there’ll be 30 different restaurants on offer.

restaurant listing:

Amarin Plaza Erawan Bangkok Promenade

Erawan Tea Room, Spasso, The Chinese Restaurant, Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao
Long Bao, House of Gurame, Kitchen Paradiso, Nara, Super Bean, Tour de
France, Genki Sushi, Tong-Hua

Gaysorn InterContinental Bangkok Promenade

Bar Italia, Mistral, Senses, Charm Thai, The Lobby Bar, Fireplace Grill,
Summer Palace, Beijing 9, FOGO VIVO, Haveli Indian Restaurant, Shin
Daikoku, Sawasdee

Neilson Hays Library

During lunch today I went wandering up Surawong Rd to a new 7-11 that had opened up to get my green tea and continued up the street a little more only to stumble upon something completely unexpected – a library!

The Neilson Hays Library is held in a beautiful Victorian style building with mostly western books (I didn’t see anything in Thai actually) and, while it’s not large by any sense of the word, it is definitely beautiful to look at – for me anyway. They happened to have some paintings of flowers on display as well, which were so nice that I even considered buying one and sending it off to my mum (until I came back to the reality where I have no money).

The website is at www.neilsonhayslibrary.com and I would recommend any and all to visit it.

Bangkok – (insert choice) Capital

I’ve found it interesting to note, in my time here, that many Thai people don’t read. It’s not such an uncommon thing since all countries have a large portion of the population that either don’t like to read or simply cannot. Back home it was normal to see many people catching the train reading, something that I’ve not seen much of here.

It was with much surprise then, that I read an article in the Bangkok Post saying that Bangkok want’s to be the book capital of the world in 2008. Luckily for them they have some time before the decision of the UNESCO is made, but I can’t see how this time will be sufficient to change the attitude of the many Bangkokians who refuse to or cannot read. It will take a dramatic change of attitudes to achieve what they are hoping for.

I’m curious though, should attempts succeed and Bangkok be named book capital of the world 2008, what exactly would the benefits of this be? ‘Bangkok – book capital of the world’ definitely doesn’t hold as much prestige as ‘fashion capital of south east asia’ and at least that title lasts longer than a year (I would hope).

Taxi Magazine

My daily taxi provides me with many things to write about it seems. Today there was volume 1 of a magazine called ‘By The Way’ hanging behind the front seat that had a nice picture of the use-to-be-white fort near Khao San road at night. I didn’t pick up the magazine or show too much interest in it because I didn’t know how the taxi driver might react and it was in Thai, but it’s a good idea – beats twiddling your thumbs in traffic!

It Never Stops

The weather is about as horrible as it can get without a hurricane right now, which is bad for Bangkok. It started raining heavily last night and didn’t stop until about an hour ago, causing floods all over Bangkok and the resulting bad traffic.

Coming into the office today, instead of taking the 15 minutes it normally would, took an hour – and I live close by. Other people arrived even later with their exclamations of how terrible the traffic is.

I extend my condolences to any who may have to venture outdoors today.

Scheduled Precipitation

I swear there must be a conspiracy against me and the millions of other people in Bangkok who leave the office at 5:30pm, because yet again it is pouring rain to the point that buildings close by are obscured.

What is it about this time of day???

You Animals

As far as I know, Bangkok doesn’t have a system to deal with animals. Some programs, such as Soi Dog Rescue, are around but don’t have the staff or funding to really do much.

Last night, I was sitting on a motorbike waiting for the owner of my apartment to come back. Our parking lot is actually pretty large with about 30 spaces, but full at night. An older American man drove his Toyota right up to my knees, and made the turn into a sorta-kinda-not-a-real-parking-spot. Because he had to take the turn very slowly, he saw the dog in his new spot. I saw it too. Like most drivers in BKK might do, this guy tried to get real close and scare the dog into napping somewhere else.

Well… this guy kept going and parked his right tire on the knee of the blind, black lab, that just fathered puppies. I ran up and slamed on the back window telling the guy to move, I don’t think he had noticed. The dog tried to yelp but was just kinda whimpering and licking itself. The guy paced around for about 15 minutes and insisting that I translate his long appologies to the owner of the dog (and apartment), then went up to his girlfriend’s room.

This dog had previous problems. The last year it, like many dogs, had taken up te habbit of chewing it’s own fur and skin off. I’m pretty sure it is deaf, and know it is blind, but now it can’t even limp. Today it just sat at the entry pissing on itself and occationally draging both back legs when it wanted to crawl to the puppy cage.

So is there anything I can do? Well… not really. Vets (do we have those?) must be pretty damn expensive, and I can’t think of anyone who would pay for a mixed-breed animal to go there. There certainly won’t be any drugs for the dog arriving on their own. What happens when it dies?

Alcohol Prices Up

A story in the Bangkok Post today talks about taxes on alcohol increasing, in some cases by quite a bit.

Type Old Tax New Tax
Whiskies (eg. Spey Royal, Johnny Walker) 45% or 240 Baht/bottle 50% or 400 Baht/bottle
Brandies 35% or 240 Baht/bottle 40% or 400 Baht/bottle
Mixed Spirits (eg. Mehkong Rum) 50% or 240 Baht/bottle 50% or 400 Baht/bottle

Rates are based upon 100% alcohol content and are either a percentage or set value (whichever is higher)

The article said the alcohol that falls into the above categories will probably increase in price by 30-40% which is interesting considering the increases are nowhere near that amount. It should also be noted that these increases are effective not sometime in the future, but right now. Goverments around the world never have problems increasing taxes right away, but lower them – that’s different, because it takes time.

The government say they have implemented the increased taxes to decrease alcohol consumption, even though we all know that is complete bullshit. They’re only saying that to make their desire for more money seem honorable! Increasing the cost of alcohol won’t decrease consumption, it’ll just mean people have less money for everything else!

I expect some friends of mine will be bothered by the increased cost, but in the end they’ll buy what they always have nonetheless.

Mini Mass Transit

Last night on Newsline, Khun Natakorn gave a brief spiel about the current state of the mass transit network, namely the skytrain and undergournd networks. The main thrust of the segment was to point the finger at the Ministry of Transport and let everyone know that the only reason development on the extensions isn’t happening (and hasn’t been up to this point) is because of them.

I’m fascinated by the saga that is the skytrain and underground network and have found a lot of useful information on it at 2bangkok.com. With the recent cancellation of the purple and orange underground lines, things have taken a turn for the worse though.

I had believed up to this point that the skytrain extensions were being stonewalled because the government had chosen to extend the underground instead, but if they’ve now cancelled the extensions to that I have absolutely no idea what they’re thinking. Bangkokians are up in arms about the sudden change in the plans for the underground and I don’t blame anyone for feeling that way since the extensions were one of the political promises that won the Prime Ministership for Thaksin.

My confusion with both of these networks is, are they on or off? I’ve seen conflicting reports on the news and in the papers for them and 2bangkok.com says that they are off, with buses to replace the planned lines for the underground (I’d thought the idea was to reduce traffic, not increase it – but oh well!).

Does anyone know what is really happening with either of these?

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