Arriving BKK and finding my way to Pattaya
04.08.2011 - 06.08.2011
Fortunate to consult in remote places both last year and for the remainder of 2011, I will be enjoying a wonderful adventure in Asia for the next two weeks. After traveling to Shanghai and Incheon, S. Korea, last December followed by Melbourne, Australia, in January, I wondered if my international assignments might have ended. Good news arrived a few weeks ago with the request to consult in Rayong, Thailand.
I arrived in Bangkok last night connecting through S. Korea. After an easy layover in Incheon I enjoyed flying down the Korean Peninsula, turning south and looking down on southeastern China. As the flight approached Hong Kong a great electrical storm was brewing on the port side of the aircraft (SE), Later today Gordon reported that a typhoon was moving into the eastern coast of China. Gratefully, my flight was eventless as were immigration and customs operations.
After traveling 24 hours the Bangkok airport hotel was a welcome sight. Convenient and beautiful, the Novotel has lush gardens surrounding the swimming pool. Upon checking in I showered and climbed in bed in an attempt to shift my jet-lagged brain into the Thai timezone. This morning I awoke, toured the lovely hotel grounds and took a quick swim.
Traveling in Asia this past year has made me aware of the dated infrastructure of airports and transportation in the US. The airports in Shanghai, Incheon/Seoul and Bangkok are very new, green, hi-tech and blessed with inexpensive and exciting public transportation -- mag-lev, trains, subways, AC buses running on natural gas. And, all are cheap!
This morning I turned down a private car in order to drive down the coast to Pattaya in a 200 Baht (7.00 USD), first-class, air-conditioned bus for the 100-minute drive. Pattaya is a seaside resort city in Rayong, Thailand. The bus trip was fun, efficient, luxurious and helped assuage my guilt regarding the carbon-footprint I am accumulating with long-distance air travel. There is so much to see along the roadside, I particularly liked the model homes on stilts ready for installation in your nearest river or rice field.
Although Rayong hosts an immense industrial area of Thailand with large logistics and supply chain organizations running freight from the Rayong port to large manufacturing facilities inland, the city where I will be lodging, Pattaya, is hardly industrial. Pattaya is located on Thailand's eastern seaboard. Its beaches on the Bay of Bangkok (Gulf of Thailand) are brimming with resorts, family vacationers, sex trade operators and Thai massages specialists. Amazing contrasts!
In Thailand no matter what the business may be -- fancy resort, international airport or a longan juice stand on the side of the expressway -- all have Buddhist shrines of one sort or another. I photographed one sited in the front garden of my hotel as you pass the security house at the entrance. Notice the strange votives.
In fact, no Gideon Bibles in the night stand of the hotels here! But you will find "The Tales of Buddha", instead.
Tomorrow (Sunday) will be a day to explore before beginning work on Monday. I'll explain a songthaew (baht bus) after I experience it for the first time.