September, 2008

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Somchai Wongsawat

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

I’m glad to see new leadership in Bangkok, even as some would suggest it’s just more of the same old same old. Fact is, politicians will be politicians, the citizenry needs to constantly hold them accountable. Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has an uphill battle to fight and that’s as it should be.

I think some will not like him no matter what is actually done. Some will support regardless of what is done. And some smart folks will wait and see if he can indeed bring some stability and sensibility to the government. Despite the apparent handicap of being closely tied to Thaksin, he has a real opportunity now to make things happen for himself and the nation, and deserves the benefit of the doubt, so please suspend judgement until he has a chance to establish his leadership. As Robin Williams said in a movie, “Politicians are like dirty diapers – change them often… and for the same reason.”

Thai traveling

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Traveling in Bangkok is great. Not if you’re driving a big vehicle of course, but if you need to get around the city you have a world-class infrastructure to take advantage of. The tickets for BTS (elevated “skytrain”) and MRT (subway system) are relatively cheap, and the service is reliable and convenient. The upcoming new lines represent the city’s ongoing commitment to providing mass transit to the population, and shows a deep understanding of the importance of choosing and executing great public works projects.

Traveling to Thailand from the United States is another matter altogether. Tickets are currently ranging from about $1500 – $2000 US. And there are less choices available for flights, as airlines cut back on every possible flight that’s not sufficiently oversold. The direct flight from New York to Bangkok that I was looking forward to taking has been discontinued too. It’s not a situation conducive to tourism.