Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A return to normality?

Thailand's problems are by no means over, but there is a certain reassurance in seeing thousands of Bangkok residents getting together yesterday, in a spirit of mutual cooperation, to clean up the parts of Bangkok affected by the recent strife. Many gathered, some with their own brooms, to sweep the streets of the debris left in the aftermath of the chaos. Others wiped off, or painted over, graffiti left on brickwork. A few western faces were spotted assisting with the cleanup.

Further to my post of yesterday the  Bangkok Skytrain has announced it will return to normal operating hours as of May 25. I had thought the curfew had been extended for a few more days, so I am not sure if that can be right. The situation seems to be fluid at the moment.

In more good news, Siam Paragon announced its reopening on May 25. I must admit it is an impressive shopping mall and I have enjoyed the food court of Siam Paragon on a few occasions, and, occasionally made use of the internet center on the ground floor. I also got excellent service from the Kasikorn bank branch located on the ground floor, which is where I opened my first Thai bank account a couple of years ago. The staff there could not have been more polite or helpful. That said, I don't think I have ever bought anything other than food there, being more of a Chatuchak market person myself. Nonetheless, it is an important social center and meeting place for many Bangkokians and its reopening will be an important signal that life is returning to a semblance of  normality in the City of Angels.

Thai Connoisseur

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Bangkok Skytrain

Good news for all Bangkok residents and tourists. Both the BTS Skytrain and the MRT Subway have resumed service.

The BTS Skytrain runs today from 08:00 to 21:00.  On Monday May 24, 2010, the hours will be 06:00 to 21:00. Both Sukhumvit and Silom lines are running. Rajdamri station remains closed.


The MRT subway has the same hours. All stations appear to be open.


It really is a good reminder just how much Bangkok has come to rely on its two fast, efficient modes of transport over the last 10 years. I never knew Bangkok in the pre-Skytrain years, but can only imagine how much more difficult travel around the city must have been.

Thai Connoisseur

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sad Day for Bangkok

This is not a political blog in any way, shape or form. However it is likely that the events of yesterday, Wednesday May 19, 2010, will be burnt into the psyche of Thais for many years to come. It was an undeniably sad day. People were killed and injured, and many buildings were ravaged and burnt, including the gigantic Central World Mall, the second largest mall in Asia. Palls of smoke hang over Bangkok, soldiers and shadowy militiamen fight gun battles on the street. Many ordinary Bangkok residents have lost their jobs due to the  ongoing strife, with shops, banks and other businesses completely closed down. Many people are hurting: financially, physically and mentally.      

Hang in there Bangkok and Thailand.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In a Bangkok Taxi

I decide I want to see Bangkok at night from up on high. I pick up my friend Tuk and tell her we are going to the Baiyoke Tower, the tallest building in Bangkok and somewhat of a landmark in the great Metropolis of Bangkok.

We jump into a taxi. 'The Baiyoke Tower please' I say to the driver. He looks at me in the rearview mirror, clearly uncomprehending. I repeat the destination and then add, for good measure, it is where the Sky Baiyoke Hotel is. Pause. 'What street?' he asks.

Ummmm.....I have no idea what street it is on, all I know is it is the tallest building in Bangkok!

So, I say: 'sorry I do not know which street it is on'.

Long pause..... distant stars exploded and new galaxies were born....this was a really long pause...


Driver: 'You have map?'
Me: 'No sorry, I have no map'.
Tuk: 'why you no have map honey?'
Me: 'Well honey', I say with a fixed smile over my by now gritted teeth, 'I thought a taxi driver in Bangkok would know where the Baiyoke Tower is, after all it is the tallest building in Bangkok.'

A light bulb magically appears above my head! Maybe that is the solution I think to myself. Instead of saying the Sky Baiyoke I should say 'I would like to go to the tallest building in Bangkok please' and that is precisely what I do.

More distant stars die and new galaxies form as this information is digested.........

There then follows a bit of back and forth in Thai between Tuk and the driver. Tuk again turns to me and says: 'Honey, where is it near?'.

Now Tuk, a dusky beauty from Issan, is a Bangkok resident of at least three years standing, and had professed to having been to that very same building once before and it was not unreasonable of me to think that between the two of them they could have figured out where it was I wanted to go, bearing in mind it is not only the tallest building in Bangkok, but the tallest building anywhere in the whole Kingdom!  But never mind, this is Thailand, and this is all part of the rich tapestry that makes Thailand such an exciting place. So, I needed to be a bit more creative. Where was it near? Well, the day before I remember walking past the Big C department store and observing that the 'tallest building in Bangkok' was very close by.

So, I said: 'Its near Big C'.
Driver: 'You want to go Big C?
Me: Yes, yes I do, thanks.
Driver: 'Big C closed now'.
Me: Ok, but can we drive past it anyway?

Ok, so off we go. A minute or two later I remembered reading in a guide book that the Pratunam market was right by the 'tallest building in Bangkok', so I say to the driver 'Pratunam market!'. Tuk turns to me and says 'you want go Pratunam market?' 'Yes, honey I do!' A minute later and I can see the 'tallest building in Bangkok'. 'Look T', I exclaim loudly and excitedly, 'see that big building? That is the tallest building in all of Thailand. That is where we are going'. She looks at me: 'I know, I go there before, but I thought we go market?'

Thailand, you gotta love it. 

Baiyoke Tower II

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Beginning

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

I have loved Thailand, its people, culture, food, architecture and scenery for some years now. After much procrastination I think it is time for me to get some of my memories, observations and thoughts about Thailand and the people I meet or places I visit, written down.

This will not be a daily blog but I hope you will become a regular visitor over time.

Thai Connoisseur.