Category Archives: A Life Upcountry

HM King Chulalongkorn’s 1897 Journey to Europe

Top 10 Gadgets for Expats

When I first came to Thailand there wasn’t much when it came to English language media or entertainment. This was before Internet and cable television. Movies at my local cinema were always dubbed into Thai  though if I took a two hour bus ride to Bangkok I could find a cinema showing the movie with the original soundtrack. While there I would visit one of the few branches of Asia Books to browse their selection of overpriced English language books. On Khao San Road the price of a second-hand novel was almost as much as a new one back home. I rented a VHS video sometimes but only if I could find one that had original soundtrack. Most were dubbed. Communicating with the folks back home meantexpensive phone calls on birthdays and Christmas Day. Letters sent via the post office was the norm though we had to wait a couple of weeks for a reply.

Now, of course everything has changed so much. The Internet and then emails certainly made a big difference to us for communication. Then along came satellite TV with first IBC and then finally TrueVisions. Also, more of the terrestrial Thai tv channels started to programmes and movies with soundtrack if you have an appropriate TV set. New shopping malls started to be built in the suburbs and upcountry. With them came multiplex cinemas with more choice of foreign movies. The new malls also meant more branches of Asia Books. When DVDs came along, it meant that most movies being sold now had both Thai and original soundtracks as well as subtitles.

Visiting a Tea Factory in Mae Salong

Revisiting Bangkok through Google Earth Street View

Wandee Building from Street View

Wandee Building Snapped in 2002

wandee 1a
You imagine something in mind, and then Google comes up with it. I took a snap of the Wandee Building in Chaengwattana-Pakkred Street 33, way back in 2002. When I wanted to see the building through Google Earth Street View, within seconds, I could navigate to it and could identify the similarities and the changes. In 1989, Wandee used to have a small, cute,  mini mall. In 2002, it had a Tyre Shop. Now perhaps something else is there. But yes, this is how there is a temporal dimension given to the spatial address. What is important is that this is a smaller street in the Nonthaburi province and Google has succeeded in capturing the images of streets seamlessly. Every street, every building is important, and for a nostalgic me, this technology is an windfall.

Caroline Wozniacki Goes to Thailand

Caroline Wozniacki, the world’s number one female tennis player, was back in Thailand recently to take part in the World Tennis Invitation Hua Hin 2012. This was her second time to take part in this exhibition match in the seaside resort of Hua Hin (see my report from last year). Caroline has really fallen in love with the country and the people. She didn’t just come over for the tennis match as she came here early with her parents to celebrate the new year. Her boyfriend, world No.2 golfer Rory McIlroy, arrived a few days later.

I thought that this was only her second time in Thailand as last year she was telling everyone that she had never been before. However, at the press conference she revealed that she has been back quite a few times. She told reporters, “I’ve been to Thailand six or seven times. I’m basically half Thai”. Caroline went on to say that she loves the people and the culture. During this trip she was able to ride horses on the beach at Hua Hin, play with elephants, cook some Thai food and enjoy a spa at the InterContinental which she described as “unbelievable”.

At the exhibition match, Caroline played against Victoria Azarenka, on the left of this picture, who is the world’s number three player. The event took place at the InterContinental Hotel’s Centennial Park in Hua Hin on New Year’s Day.  Both Victoria and Caroline entertained the crowd with their skills and also off-court humour. At one point they got together to do a little dance. Victoria won the match in straight sets 6-2, 7-5. After the match she told the crowd,  “Thank you so much for having me in Thailand. You know, it was the first time and I enjoyed my time I hope everybody enjoyed our match and I hope to be back soon”.

Also playing at the exhibition match was world number 18 John Isner from America and former world number 9 Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand. Paradorn has been retired for a few years now and although he looked lean and fit, he was sweating and was visibly tired. However, he played a good game against the American and surprised everyone by winning 6-4, 7-5. At the end of the match, John told the crowd, “I really had a good time here. I will stay in Thailand for a few more days and then go to Sydney to play in a warm-up tournament before the Australian Open.”

At the start of the World Tennis Charity Invitation Hua Hin, each of the players, and golfer Rory Mcllroy donated 100,000 Baht to help flood victims. In fact the whole event this year was in aid of charities helping with flood relief. You can view more of my pictures from this charity match on my Facebook Page. Later this week I will be writing about some of the places that I visited in Hua Hin on this trip. So, keep an eye on and