Archive for November 2008

News on Thailand

November 29, 2008

So I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails and questions about what is going on in Bangkok.  For starters, I’m in no danger.   All the trouble is at the airport.  Despite what you see on the news, its business as usual in the city except in areas where the protesters are. The airport has been closed since Tuesday and the government has moved its headquarters to the northern city of Chiang Mai.

No one has been able to get out and about 100,000 people have been stuck.  The airport was going to open today but it most likely will stay closed until the kings birthday on the 5th.  Both sides won’t do anything because they won’t disrespect the king.  (The Thais love the king.)

The army has moved in around the protesters but so far nothing has been done. It’s been a quiet few days.  There was talk of a coup a few days ago but, while those rumors are still around, it seems it will be a few days before a coup, if there is one.

It’s all pretty silly and the PAD (the yellow shirt protesters) have totally screwed Thailand.  The high tourist season is just starting and because the airport has been shut down and will continue to be so, it most likely means that tourism for the time being is not going to happen. I suspect most tourist will cancel their vacations. Backpackers will stay because they do all of southeast asia and will just enter from a different city but families aren’t going to come, business execs won’t come.  All in all, the high season is over before it even begun.  Hotels were already suffering because of the unrest and the bad economy- this will be the nail in the coffin.

On the bright side, it means that prices will be cheap when I go to the islands for the holidays. Already hotels are offering steep discounts.

This will cause irreparable harm to Thailand’s image. It’s one thing to protest at the government house away from everything, it’s another thing to take over two airports.  No one is going to want to come here now.  I hope this doesn’t sink the Baht too much, otherwise I will be forced to leave for greener economic pastures.

The PAD claims they just want the corrupt politicians out but they are just as bad. Everyone here in this country is corrupt.  What they really want is power back in the hands of a small elite group of Bangkokians. The current party has given a lot of power to the rural people and the upper class Thais don’t like it.  It’s all about power and because deomocracy took theirs away, they want to return to a military dictatorship or appointed government.  None of which will fly.

The long term outlook for this country is pretty bleak. They are already behind the curve on a number of things, this is a nail in the coffin.  If there is a coup, it probably won’t go down well with a lot of the populace.

We’ll just have to wait and see.  For now though, business continues and we are all just going on about our day.

Though since I work at the airport, my days are pretty empty now. No work for the time being.

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A Weekend in Singapore

November 25, 2008

This past weekend I was in Singapore. I needed to head there to renew my visa for Thailand and instead of making a day trip to Cambodia, I figured I might as well make a vacation out of it. Plus, my friends Sean and Dawn from Wanderingwhy were making their way there too so I figured it would be good to meet up with them again. (We spent a lot of time in Thailand together in September. They wouldn’t leave me alone.)

I had always heard Singapore was expensive but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It’s a cheaper version of the states and pretty affordable though not in relation to the rest of Southeast Asia.  I ended up spending more than I wanted though because our accommodation wasn’t as cheap as I thought. LP nailed it on the head with their summary but neglected to go into detail about the tiny rooms and huge dorm.

Also, I was surprised at how unclean it was. I expected a city so clean I could eat off the streets but there was trash around! and people chewing gum!!! and no police!!! I guess the fear of the police is enough to keep people in line.  I wanted a bit more of a regimented city but it was still leap years better than the chaos of the rest of Southeast Asia.

Singapore  was a big change from the crowded, dirty, and polluted streets of Bangkok.  The streets are wide, the city clean, everyone moves in a more orderly fashion. It was a little unnerving at first.  I’m used to being crowded and cramped. It took me some good food to relax.  The beauty of traveling with Sean is that he always wants to eat so we went on a mini food tour of the city.

My goals for the trip were simple: See the Zoo and eat lots of food.  After all, I was only there for a weekend.  Oh yeah and get a photo of the Raffles Statue.  I accomplished them all.

The Zoo was amazing. You don’t often travel to see a zoo but the Singapore Zoo is so famous it has to be seen, even if it is a giant money suck.  I loved it. The animals run all over the place and i thought a few monkeys were going to jump towards me. The night Safari was equally as cool and you got to see some cool nocturnal creatures, including dumb tourists who don’t turn their flash off.  The food was super expensive and this whole day cost me more than the other days combined.

Little India rocked. The food was amazing, especially because we got to eat with our hands.  See photo in previous post.  Chinatown had some good food too.  I really wanted to get some Dim Sum but didn’t get a chance while I was there.  Next time.

Singapore has amazing food. Little India, Little Arabia, Chinatown, great high class food- I am going to go back there just to eat. Man! MMMMM and all that ethnic food is cheap too. Singapore is now a foodie favorite of mine.

Last day there, I got to eat delicious Indian food again (though not as good as the first time), photo the raffles statue and the lion statue on the wharf. All and all it was a relaxing weekend.

I’ll post some travel tips and advice on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.

I’ll also post some photos here next time. I took a lot for only a 2 1/2 day trip.

Singapore

November 23, 2008

Eating in Singapore

Eating like the locals in Little India with Wandering Sean

A Little VIP Treatment

November 21, 2008

As part of my “consulting” job (because working in Thailand is prohibited on my visa), I help the sales staff at the airport learn English. Every Tuesday and Thursday I spend too much of my day at the airport teaching Thais how to sell products in a language they can’t really grasp. Obviously, it doesn’t work out great most of the time but occasionally you get some good students.

This week I got to leave the training center and head right into the airport to give some tests. This meant getting an official ID and going “behind the scenes.” Security is much quicker with an ID! I got to breeze past the metal detectors, head past immigration (good thing they didn’t want to see the passport), and head through the airport through the service corridors to give my test.

I was pretty excited about it. Sure, I was just giving a test but how often do you get to be a bit of a VIP at an airport and ignore all the security and controls? Probably not often. So it was a pretty cool experience. Sadly, the pass was only good for one day so when I return to the airport this weekend to head to Singapore, I’ll have to go through security like everybody else. No VIP treatment.

But they did let me keep the security pass as a souvenir.

The 21st Century President

November 15, 2008

I was reading on the huffington post about how Obama is going to use weekly Youtube videos to stay in touch with voters. It’s the 21st century version of the fireside chat.

I think it’s great!

Have you seen his website- Change.gov?  It’s an excellent use of new media and the Internet.

Obama is a truly 21st century politician. He uses the Internet to really keep people connected to his administration and he isn’t even in office yet!  He’s really living up to his commitment to be a transparent president and keep people informed and government clean.

Between the videos, the blogs, twitter, facebook, and myspace, Obama administration is going to be able to have direct access to voters and be able to give people the information they want.

Political genius. He bypasses everyone and gets his message right to the people. He can get voters to hound politicians and go out and get support for his initiatives.

Political genius…..

I’m looking forward to all the change that Obama will bring and the new found techy in me is especially excited to see Obama use the internet and online media so well. I wish other companies followed his example- they could learn a few things.

Speaking of the huffington post, check out this travel article for a familiar name: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-mance/does-travel-really-matter_b_142271.html

James Bond

November 11, 2008

I saw the new James Bond movie, Quantam of Solace, last night.  I can’t say it is that good. The action was good and the Bond girls beautiful- there’s even a throw back to goldfinger but the rest of the movie lacked….everything.

I had high hopes for the movie after I found out Paul Haggis, writer of that amazing movie Crash, was on board. Plus, the last movie was pretty good.  However, they have turned bond into a brute- one well played by Daniel Craig but lacking the charm and depth of previous Bonds.  It is as though they want to capitalize on Jason Bourne and make Bond into that.  But Bond isn’t Bourne nor should he be! He’s swave where Bourne is brutish.

The plot is weak too.  There’s a big secret organization out there that you learn nothing about.  Do they want oil? Do they want water? who knows?  Because in the 1 hr 40 min run time, they never tell you!

Overall, I give this movie a C and that is only because the action was great. Had I paid 10 dollars to see this in the US, I’d be pissed. But since it only cost me 2 dollars in Thailand, I can’t say I have much to complain about. The movie is well worth 2 dollars!!!

I’d wait until video.  It’s a decent action movie because like all action movies, it has no plot!

Speaking of no plot, I saw Babylon A.D.  That WASN’T worth the two dollars I paid for it. Can I get a refund?  So bad. So So So So BAD. But it has Vin Diesel in it so I guess I should have seen it coming….

I’m Back!

November 8, 2008

After a long hiatus, I am back with a redesigned blog. I added a few features (don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS) and will continue to add new some other features. I’ll also be posting here more often. I’m going to cover a range of things not just a few bullet points of my life.

Since my last post, OBAMA was elected president. I watched it on TV and I was so happy. I’ll forever be sad I wasn’t in the US to experience this historic occasion. I wish I could see his election but alas, I’ll have to settle for watching that on TV.

The really great job? Feel through. Such things happen the world of ESL.  Off to look for another job. I’m saving some money but not enough for my travels next year so I think after the new year I will move to either China or Taiwan and bank some dough. I want to get to Eastern Europe next year, especially while the dollar is strong and those countries are cheap.

I’m going to Singapore in a few weeks for a little vacation and a visa run. Singapore has a great Little India and I’m really looking forward to some great Indian food.   Now, I just need to figure out my New Year’s Plans.