Sunday, December 19, 2004

Krung Thep

Hi, I'm blogging from an inn in Bangkok. Attended the annual forum of EADN -- a child organization of the GDN. We were discussing the current development issues and challenges in the East Asian region. The forum ended on Friday, but I extend my stay until tomorrow morning. A friend has been very generous to let me stay in his place yesterday. But today he has to go to Myanmar, so here I am updating you from this bed-and-breakfast place: yes, it is in that kind, but ironically, this is where I can get good internet connection (even in the hotel the forum was held, the connection sucks!). And, it's inexpensive. I pay only 550 bahts (that's 12 bucks) for one night plus another 100 bahts for a whole-day access to wifi-hotspot. Cool! (By the way, this place is recommended by Lonely Planet).

OK, what was it I wanted to write you again? Right, the EADN forum. But... I guess I change my mind. I'm more excited to talk about Bangkok, the Oriental City. I was expecting a city similar to Jakarta: busy, crowded, traffic jam every where. Well, it turned out very close to it, except that, Bangkok now has a very nice subway system that started to operate just recently. It is integrated with the older skyway train. This of course is a very big improvement to the city's problem of congested traffic everyday. However, to my surprise, not many people use that subway! A Thai friend of mine explained that people have not adjusted well with the new facility. In addition, for now it only serves limited routes. People still prefer the traditional road traffic. And that explains why the road is still chaotic. A stranger like me is probably one of the few people who can enjoy the nice subway. It's very clean and ... well, new. You don't even find posters or ads down there. Never mind stores or ... hobos. But maybe my friend is right: it takes time. I was wondering: in the next annual forum, I will probably see a very different subway... (if the subway were in Jakarta, you know exactly what I mean)

Another difference I notice between Bangkok and Jakarta is prices. To say it directly, it's cheaper here. I went to the famous weekend market, Chatuchak yesterday. It was awesome. You can find almost everything very cheap. Not only that, they imitate branded products massively. I saw an American female tourist bargaining over a fake Rolex watch. She got it for ... less than 50 dollars! (It might break after two weeks, but who cares?)

See it yourself. And don't you forget to try this.

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