Saturday, 16 May 2009

Cheap Cheap

All Together Now - Bangkok

Singaporeans enjoy travelling to Thailand. It is not simply the close proximity of this country that attracts them. Mainly it is the shopping, ease of travel and cheap accommodation.

On this business visit I once again stayed at the Pathumwan Princess hotel. In terms of overall value, cleanliness and service this hotel has few peers and I thoroughly recommend it.

It has another big advantage in that it is attached to the MBK Shopping Centre which has several floors and more than 2,000 shops.

Not that I was looking to buy anything but I did note that men's shoes were about 50% cheaper and even supermarket basics were 20%+ cheaper than Singapore. Many products are produced in Thailand so this is to be expected.

When I first visit Bangkok the trip from the airport to the central district used to up to two hours through traffic snarl ups and choking pollution. On the Sunday I arrived we breezed down the expressway at 150 kilometres per hour and arrived at the hotel in under half an hour.

What impressed me most when I first visited Thailand in the early 1980's and what impresses me still is the courtesy of the people.

Unfortunately the Thai hotel and tourism industry has been badly hit by the triple whammy of the economic recession, H1N1 flu and the political unrest in the country. The local press was reporting that many of the top flight hotels have been put up for sale by their owners.

My business trip did not start well with a traffic accident blocking access to Changi airport as I sped towards departure.

Then there was the ignominy of having one's carry-on case emptied and personal shaving gel and mouthwash removed - even though I has carried these same items on two previous trips with no problems. The presence of a large Pakistani tour group returning to their home country could possibly explain this heightened vigilance.

The next little drama was a mildly poisoned finger which I managed to deal with - such are the joys of business travel that no plastic airline food can placate.

Next week I am spending several days in Jakarta so it will be interesting to note the comparison with Bangkok.

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