February in Bangkok

After January

February 2005

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Another disaster strikes Thailand!

First it was the deadly A(H5N1) strain of bird flu ... it running parallel with the ongoing terrorism in the south which has taken hundreds to the grave ... then the great Tsunami on Boxing Day which washed away thousands ... after that the Bangkok subway train crash which came barely more than a fortnight later ... most recently the crumpled train cars were followed by the speedboat disaster of just a few days ago, a sea snatch that snuffed out the lives of 14 party-goers.

Today it was the horrific crash of a flying bamboo-ribbed billboard. And, this disaster took place less than a half kilometer from our home. Had the winds been less benign our apartment might have been the scene of the unspeakable carnage; instead it was the docks of the good ship "Grand Pearl" that took the devastating blow.


Bangkok authorities are at a loss to explain from where this giant billboard missile came. Only the rear of the billboard can be seen by the public; its 'message' lies face-down. The powers in control have kept the lettering side of the 'weapon' a secret.

THOCBDC has exclusive BEFORE and AFTER shots.


PS: Plus ...


Wednesday, February 2, 2005

While transferring things from "C" to "D" I found these. Do you remember why I posted them to begin with?


Thursday, February 3, 2005 (St. Blaise's Day [*] and the Second Day of the Festival of the Purification of the Virgin)

NEWNES:

Today I accidentally stumbled across the Hall of Railway Heritage: a Bangkok train museum where steam engines, train models and miniature trains are exhibited along with the story of Thailand's railway system. We were driving out near the Weekend Market on Kamphaeng Phet Road ... near Sirikit Park and Chatuchak Park ... and there it was. Unfortunately, it is open only on Sundays from 5 in the morning until noon.


These 'indoor' pictures were snapped through some very dirty window panes.


In one of the outside photos navigator Golf [***] can be seen trying her hand on a piece of old rolling stock.


Closer to home ... about ten blocks from here ... there is a museum of ashtrays and cigarette labels. I am serious! I only discovered its existence while I was GOOGLEing for the opening hours of the rail museum.


[*] Blaise is the patron of those who have throat-diseases1 and of woolcombers.

[**] His admonition: "Go west, young man, go west!" contributed to the flood of suicidal leaps from the Golden Gate Bridge. It became a popular jumping off point, so to speak. The theory was that the ‘young man’ had gone as far west as he could literally go ... and he had still not found happiness, so he jumped from the bridge that divides San Francisco Bay from the Pacific ocean. His final 'step' was over the water ... there was no more hope-giving land to cross.

[***] Golf is a living GPS.


1 See January 28, 2005 for the medical slant.


February 4, 2005

Just Thai soi food for today:


OK, tomorrow something different: maybe the Bangkok ashtray museum?


Saturday, February 5, 2005

Sorry, I did not go to the ashtray museum today. It was closed.

But, how about some more shots of the Siam complex? It has grown like a zillion bean sprouts since you last looked at it. Perhaps Paul can link you back to its earlier days ... even to its embryonic construction moments.

Long ago this was the site of the old InterContinental Hotel. But, that is going back decades. Hmmmm ... maybe not, I think that when I moved to Bangkok about five years ago the place was still the InterConti, though it was a bit 'long of tooth' for a multi-star hotel. But, it was decades ago that the hotel first opened its doors ... I remember it from 1981, though I never stayed there: it was too far from the action.

These photos were taken from the Siam interchange station: this station links the two main Skytrain routes in Bangkok.


Sunday, February 6, 2005 (Election Day in Thailand)

Exit polls give Thai PM big win

Exit polls from Thailand's general election suggest that the party of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has won a landslide victory.

BANGKOK: -- Mr Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party had won 399 seats in the 500-seat parliament, the polls said. Mr Thaksin, who has been prime minister since 2001, has vowed to eradicate poverty if he is re-elected.

The opposition have accused him of being authoritarian, saying the country risks becoming a one-party state.

Some critics - including the Human Rights Watch - have also expressed concerns over a crackdown in the Muslim dominated southern provinces.

Thaksin confident

Polls opened across Thailand at 0800 local time (0100 GMT) and closed at 1500 (0800 GMT).

Some 44 million people are eligible to vote, with unofficial results expected as early as Sunday.

The electoral commission has banned voters from taking mobile phones into polling booths in an attempt to stop vote-buying. It suspects that people will use phones with cameras to photograph their ballot papers, to prove that they voted for the party offering to buy their vote.

Smiling confidently, Mr Thaksin spent Friday and Saturday campaigning in and around Bangkok.

"Please vote to give Thai Rak Thai a sweeping victory, then I can work for you," the billionaire tycoon said.

"The economic solutions are bearing fruit, but this government needs stability to make decisions quickly."

'Step backwards'

The Democrat Party appeared to be reduced to campaigning for enough votes to provide an effective opposition, correspondents say.

"We have clearly taken a step backwards over the past four years in terms of checks and balances," Democrat deputy leader Abhisit Vejjajiva told Reuters news agency.

The Democrats have asked the voters to give them 201 seats in the House of Representatives - the minimum required to be able to call no-confidence motions against the government.

--BBC 2005-02-06


PS: The Thailand Expat Forum conducted a poll on how its members would have voted if they could have voted. So far only 68 have punched the 'chad' clean through.

If you could, which party would you vote for?
 
1: Chart Thai [ 8 ] ** [11.76%]
2: Social Action Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
3: Pattana Chart Thai Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
4: Democrat [ 38 ] ** [55.88%]
5: Thai People Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
6: Khonkhoprodnee Party [ 2 ] ** [2.94%]
7: Thai Nature party [ 2 ] ** [2.94%]
8: Thai Ground party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
9: Thai Rak Thai [ 11 ] ** [16.18%]
10: New Aspiration Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
11: Mahachon [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
12: Thai Citizen Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
13: Thai Chuay Thai Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
14: Labour Party [ 1 ] ** [1.47%]
15: National Democratic party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
16: Kasikorn Thai Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
17: Thai Alternative party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
18: The Green Party of Thailand [ 4 ] ** [5.88%]
19: The farmer Force Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
20: People Power Party [ 2 ] ** [2.94%]
Total Votes: 68

PPS: With 73 votes in:

If you could, which party would you vote for?
 
1: Chart Thai [ 8 ] ** [10.96%]
2: Social Action Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
3: Pattana Chart Thai Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
4: Democrat [ 40 ] ** [54.79%]
5: Thai People Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
6: Khonkhoprodnee Party [ 2 ] ** [2.74%]
7: Thai Nature party [ 3 ] ** [4.11%]
8: Thai Ground party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
9: Thai Rak Thai [ 13 ] ** [17.81%]
10: New Aspiration Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
11: Mahachon [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
12: Thai Citizen Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
13: Thai Chuay Thai Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
14: Labour Party [ 1 ] ** [1.37%]
15: National Democratic party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
16: Kasikorn Thai Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
17: Thai Alternative party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
18: The Green Party of Thailand [ 4 ] ** [5.48%]
19: The farmer Force Party [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
20: People Power Party [ 2 ] ** [2.74%]
Total Votes: 73

PPPS:

From CNN:

Exit polls give Thaksin a big win

Thaksin's ruling Thai Rak Thai party may win 399 of the 500 seats in parliament.

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Exit polls show Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is heading for a massive election victory, according to The Associated Press.

An easy win for Thaksin had been widely expected in Sunday's national election.


Thaksin's ruling Thai Rak Thai party may win 399 of the 500 seats in parliament.

Soon after voting finished Sunday afternoon, a Thai television exit poll said Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party was likely to win 329 out of 400 constituencies across the country.

It would also pick up 70 out of 100 "party list" seats available, giving it a total of 399 seats out of the 500 in the election, the exit poll said.

That is well above the 350 seats most observers expected would go to Thaksin's party.

If the official result is along the same lines, it would mean a second landslide victory for Thaksin, a former police officer and billionaire businessman-turned-politician who made his fortune in telecommunications.

The exit poll was jointly conducted by six television channels and a Bangkok university.

Thaksin has rejected complaints a big win would turn him into a dictator. He draws support from rural voters and has been helped by a strong economy.

"Where in the world is a single-party government called a dictatorship? What's wrong with it when people have faith in me?" Thaksin told a central Bangkok rally late on Friday night.

Thaksin came to power in 2001 on a populist political platform of free health care and rural handouts.

Despite the bird flu crisis and violence in the Muslim-dominated south, Thaksin in January became the first prime minister to lead an elected government through a full four-year term.

"Thailand stands at a crossroads," the Nation newspaper said in an election eve editorial urging voters not to give Thaksin a "blank cheque" for another four years.

"Thai society has grown accustomed to turning a blind eye to Thaksin's total disregard and contempt for the rule of law, civil liberties and good governance, just as long as Thaksin keeps delivering the goods," it said.

About 2,500 people died in Thaksin's 2003 "war on drugs," and scores of people have died in the past 12 months in the South, including 78 Muslim protesters who died in army custody last October.

Sunday, February 6, 2005 Posted: 3:42 AM EST (0842 GMT)

Next: Part II

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