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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 8, 2010

Bangkok has left us behind

WE JUST CAME from Bangkok. It’s our third visit to Thailand. The first time we visited, our money and theirs have the same value. But now, their economy has left us behind, just like Kuala Lumpur, and we can’t help but feel sorry for our country. On our way to the elephant and crocodile farm an hour away from the city, we saw the factories where they now make patis and bagoong, Philippine products that they now export to the U.S., along with mangoes and lanzones! Our guide, Preeda Charaporn, told us: “We learned about rice farming from IRRI in Los Banos in the 60s. Now, you’re importing rice from us.”

But their biggest industry is tourism. Inspite of the protest riots early this year, they still expect to get 14 million tourists this year. Our country gets only 3 million visitors a year when our beaches are even better than Thailand’s. The key is in their infrastructure. Their airport is so huge and modern it can accommodate all day-all night air traffic. And they have a dizzying road network that connects Thailand from one end to the other. In Bangkok alone, they have amazing skyways all over designed to combat heavy city traffic. We can do all the inviting to tourists to visit us, but without the infrastructure, they’ll never come.

We got to watch "Siam Niramit", a show about the history of Thailand with great costumes, special effects and flying scenes like Cirque du Soleil, only more fabulous with cannon explosion scenes and thunder and lightning scenes. In one sequence, a river sprung on stage and an actor dove into it for a short swim. We don't know how they did but it's really amazing. We went to the floating market in Radchaburi, the Samphran Elephant and Crocodile show, then the underwater world in the basement of Siam Paragon, a classy mall right in the heart of the city. Really amazing. We also took the temple tour at the Reclining Buddha temple, the tallest Buddha temple, and passed by the palaces where members of Thai royalty live. If you want a good guide in Bangkok, contact Preeda Charaporn in Facebook.