Bangkok Postings

file:///F:/Shamsuddin%20files/SEAMEO%20paper/Bangkok%20musings.doc

Bangkok musings
I am writing from the lobby of the Grand Mercure Park Avenue Bangkok, waiting for the SEAMEO van to send me to the airport for my flight back. A rather posh hotel to my Government’s establishments, or at best Capitol Bukit Bintang’ s standard. Well I must say the SEAMEO Bangkok is paying (which is basically means the government is paying for my 3-day stay in Bangkok. I have not been oversea for almost six years. Anyway , the last time I was in Bangkok was 30 over years ago, in the days when it took us two hours to reach the city centre from the airport. We were students then, my friend persuaded me to take the Thai Airways way, with stopover in Bangkok for 12 hours, so that he can sample the Thai Wat Po massage which he later described as kunci guling (whatever that meant). I was never brave enough to try such a thing. So me and Kamardin (the other friend, they were three of us, decided to take the guided tour to the crocodile farm) instead. Today the Suvarnabhumi airport is definitely more impressive than our KLIA. It is huge. I am yet to explore as I was quickly whisked away by the SEAMEO  rep as soon as I got out of the baggage collection centre. Despite arriving at the peak hours, I was at the hotel lobby in less than an hour. And the roads to and from the airport are littered with toll plazas, which make me feel more like home! 

Bangkok jams are much like KL but they have gaily coloured taxis to look at.

But, according to Dato’ Dr. Ahamad Sipon, the current SEAMEO Director, other parts of Thailand do not have tolled roads. I am also having a hard time looking for the genuine fake football jerseys that I promised my sons that were quite ubiquitous years ago. Now they sell really original stuffs (so they claimed) or really fake stuffs. If I can afford the ori ones I might as well buy them in  KL or the original fake in those uptowns. After all,  the price are comparable. So, sorry sons, no Real Madrid or AC Milan jerseys for you two. I am also impressed with the LRT system in Bangkok – they called BTS Skytrain. It is quite high above actually. On busy areas, the line has two layers. One level for the pedestrians while the other level is for the trains – not unlike our Smart tunnels layers. The trains are of bigger size too. The fare is comparable to our LRT but the ride is definitely more pleasant – maybe because it is new. Then there is the underground called the MRT and whenever you have to change stations or trains to get to your destinations you do not have to really get out of the stations like our KL Sentral, Bukit Nanas or Tun

Perak stations. I cannot comment much about the city

The two tired BTS on Sukhumvit area

Since most of the time we were cooped in our meeting rooms until early evening. We can only venture out at nights. By then we were tired. But last I night the organizer took us to the night bazaar (forgotten its name) and managed to look around. I was hoping to find a really wide choice of goods like our uptowns, but it was quite disappointing. Mostly because I cannot find genuine fake jerseys, as I expected. But honestly mostly due to the stuffs are so commercialized, almost all the stalls are selling similar stuffs, the huge size of the market notwithstanding. And the prices are not that cheap anymore. Maybe that was the price that you have to pay for having this impression that Thailand only sells cheap stuffs. But I found the colour of the taxi a tad too loud. I reckon it is surely for strong reasons that the colour of taxi in Bangkok are in shades orange, green and yellow, shiny pink, shiny red , blue, red etc. The only thing that I found quite amazingly cheap, are the price of suits. One coat, two trousers, two shirts and two ties costs only USD200 (1USD=RM3.56). Even more amazing they can get it done within12 hours and most amazingly, most of the shop owners are from the Indian subcontinent. In fact I saw more Indians than any other foreigners in Bangkok. They were everywhere, not as menial workers like in our country, but running their business or as tourists. Unfortunately, a pair of suits – now that I can wear my MoE’s shirt for the CCEM 17th exhibition – was not in my lists of things to acquire. Anyway, the Bangkok jam is still around. It rained on the second day and it took us more than one hour to travel 5km.  I’ll try to write on lessons that we could learn from our regional partners as far as integrating ICT in education is concerned, in my next piece.
Part II
The driver just took me to the airport, in the SEAMEO’s  humongous Merc 230 Estate. He can even parked the Merc at a special parking space because of the diplomatic status enjoyed by the SEAMEO. The last time I was driven around in a huge Merc like that was in Lucerne, six years back – a taxi. I had a chance to have a gook look around the Svarnabhumi airport – much like KLIA – big airport but small number of people. Despite the unique architecture, it has more shops than people, I think. On the other, it definitely serviced more airlines than KLIA. I even saw one Air Israel air plane.  And Malaysia airlines gate is right at the very end of the gates – a definite strain on my already weak calf. Maybe I should have contacted my old friend beforehand so that I can determine earlier whether the Wat Po Thai massage is really a useful component to the itinerary in Bangkok, considering the size of the Svarnabhumi airport.

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