Reflections on Bangkok
29 April 2008 in General | Comments enabled
Over the past few days I have been in Bangkok attending a training event hosted by Microsoft about Windows Live Services. It’s been an interesting event not just for the content but because this is my first visit to Thailand. I thought I’d take a moment and share some of the things I found there.
- The service is fantastic – almost to the point of being scary. For example, I’ve called for a lift, it has arrived, and a staff member is inside so they get out of the lift and wait for me to depart to the floor I want to go to before calling the lift for themselves again. Initially I thought I just looked scary or was smelly but this level of service appeared everywhere
- The contrast is amazing – One minute you are in a modern wealthy city where school children are doing their homework at Starbucks on their Mac Book Pro’s, the next minute you’re trying to squeeze past street stalls where it is smelly, polluted and dogs are wandering around freely on the road.
- The cost of every day items is very very cheap. It’s effectively 25 Baht for every $1 NZ dollar and one article stated that a female construction worker started on a salary of 150 Baht per day, roughly $6 NZ.
- Transport systems are both fantastic (the subway, sky train etc) and absolutely dysfunctional (using any roads). It appears that most traffic lights and zebra crossings are more “suggestions” than law.
- At no point did I ever feel threatened or like I couldn’t get help/directions when needed. I generally felt pretty safe which is always good when you’re traveling
- One comment on the smog from the US based presenter – “At least it’s not brown smog like in the states”
It was also interesting traveling with Kai – he’s the local Adobe Guru in Wellington and was very enjoyable to travel with. His keen eye helped avert disaster before we left NZ (My flights had been reserved in the incorrect order, different to what the itinerary stated). If you need any Flash/Flex/Air work done I’d strongly suggest you contact him.
I met a couple of Australian gents – Hugh and Darren. I’d met Hugh before and it was nice meeting Darren – both are super friendly guys who I’m sure I’ll run into again.
I also tried a “Traditional Thai Massage” which seemed to be popular with everyone in the group. The key is to state you want it to be “Traditional” or they think you mean sex. The massage was excellent and I’d strongly recommend one to anyone visiting. It cost about 20 NZ dollars for an hour long massage.
It was bloody hot in Bangkok! People who know me are already aware that I’m usually the guy in shorts + t-shirt in the middle of winter so 35 degrees and very high humidity meant I tried to spend as little time as possible outside while in Bangkok. Thankfully most stores and shops have air conditioning which must cost the country huge amounts in electricity usage.
Speaking English did not present much of a challenge – most people seem to know enough for you to get by without problems.
I loved this picture of the phone/power lines:
The photo, to me, is somewhat of a metaphor of Bangkok itself – it can be a bit messy and really hard to follow but it works, everyone just gets on with what they need to do (albeit quite slowly as our 1 hour drive around the block highlighted!)
I’ll post more in the coming days about some of the Live services that were covered as part of the training.