It's been three weeks since our four-day
visit to Bangkok and I guess I still have a bit of a hangover of everything
that happened there. Maybe because I was the last one to upload the photo
albums on Facebook and I'm only seeing my friends' pictures just now. Or maybe
because I miss the whole gang and everybody's eccentricities which I discovered
when we got there. Xavier wears sandos. Jhessa would not really return the
things she borrowed especially if she intends to "arbor" your purse.
Katrina is like a balikbayan when she goes travelling because everyone in their
family even her cousins and all would get pasalubong from her. Ate Chael cannot
stand a day without getting a bath and yes, she wears long sleeves even if the
weather's hot. RJ eats everything-- from those ~parboiled cockles we had at
Chinatown to the snacks up for free taste in Chatuchak. Lol.
Or maybe I just want to experience travelling
again. I miss the thrill, the challenge and the whole new perspective of
independence it gives you. That tourist-y feeling to try everything new to you.
Char. And then I go back to reality and see that promo flights from airline
companies are yet to come so I hold off my reins and get back again to work.
|Early morning walk to the bus station. On our way to Ayutthaya.|
Anyways, what did our trip to Bangkok (first
out of the country in my case) give us? I'd say a lot. But let me expound on
First, I had this realization that it's
really difficult to be in a place where hardly anyone understands half of what
you're saying or trying to tell them. This struck when we started asking for
directions from the locals. Everyone's real friendly but most of them are not
learned in English. You then have to rely with their hand gestures as they show
you which direction to walk and which bus number to take. Plus your watch. I've
noticed that aside from the directions given by locals, they also tell you how
many minutes or hours it would take for you to get from one destination to the
other. For example, getting to Ayutthaya by train would take one approximately
2 hours and 14 minutes. We timed our train ride and shoot, we really are there
on time. Cool. Sharpening your mental map and simple right and left orientation
would really save you from getting lost in Bangkok's maze. Also, because not
everyone of us were able to register our sim cards for roaming, we have to rely
on landmarks when assigning our meeting places. We are six in the team so most
of time, we have to split into twos or threes to cover more ground. We did this
when we went shopping at Pratunam District and Chatuchak Market. Fortunately,
we were able to manage getting through these shopping labyrinths and also
navigate our way through the city's ins and outs. We also take pride of the
fact that we ditched cab rides-- which most tourists take for convenience-- and
opted for buses and trains even if the probability of getting lost is higher.
Hahaha. Hey, we're back in Manila safe and sound so you might as well try it.
Second, I felt that Bangkok relies heavily on
their tourism industry. They're dubbed as one of Asia's shopping havens.
They're also famous for the many temples they were able to preserve and
restore-- competing with Cambodia's Angkor Wat. Why, the unique food and
culture experience they offer is also one-of-a-kind. And this is where Bangkok
funnels its income. The fact that their locals are given free entrance to most
of their tourist spots-- a good example is the Grand Palace Complex-- is
already proof that the industry is booming. They must be really getting a lot
from foreign tourists to make it free for their locals. This is really cool.
But what I admired most were their efforts to maintain, preserve and restore
these decades or centuries-old relics. It's both difficult and expensive and is
really a good investment for their country. I hope the Philippines learns from
this. We're proud to tell everyone that we've got a lot of history and that our
culture is very rich and unique but we never really take the cudgels of
preserving such heritage. Look at what happened to Puerto Princesa Underground
River and the Hundred Islands before their respective local government units
took over. Or just see Manila-- Intramuros, The Met, Fort Santiago-- to see
what I mean. I believe, there are already efforts to beautify these tourist
spots but there's a lot more to do after that. I hope the Philippine Government
and even local government units take this seriously. We've got a lot to offer
so we might as well capitalize on all of those.
|Right beside the buried Buddha. |
Third, it's a fairly walkable city. Or maybe
because we just walked a lot to save on fares. Hahaha. I'm categorically
attesting to that. But let me just draw a point on this lesson. I felt that
Bangkok or Pradiphat District in our case was fairly walkable. Of course, there
are a lot of food and merchandise stalls built by the sidewalk, but I would
like to believe that the designated bus stops on every street corner really
helped in making the sois (Thai for street/road) safe for leisurely walks.
There are no "stray" passengers on the sides of the streets because
they're all waiting for their bus, scooter or tuktuk rides by the waiting
sheds. On one of our trips, we were snobbed by the bus driver even if his bus
is barely full of passengers because we weren't there on the bus stop. Hahaha.
On our next trips, we made sure that we're standing by their sheds to get the
bus driver's attention. Oh and did I mention that their sheds are like mini-
vineyards? Instead of the usual concrete roof and benches we commonly see in
the Philippines, Bangkok uses steel sheds with "~crawling leaves" (I
dunno what they're called anyway) as roof. Greeeeeen! Hahaha. Walkability also
means lesser distractions and eye sores (read: posters of EPALiticians). In any
other place in the Philippines, we're often reminded that half of our taxes
fund an infrastructure project and the remaining half is used to print
<insert name of EPALitician here>'s face, complete name and his/her
~catchy tagline. Haaay! During our trip to BKK, we haven't seen any of that. Ok,
so we've seen the face of their royalties in every government office complete
with wreaths and ribbons but other than that, none. Nil. Nada. Another plus
point we have to at least adopt here, I think. But sans the ~royalty pictures.
As in wala nalang. A public servant should really do public service-- he
doesn't have to shove into our faces how much he did to improve our current
state. Either we know it or we haven't felt it at all.
Finally, Bangkok is just like the
Philippines. Except of course with the language or a bit on culture. But the
fact that we're both from Southeast Asia, we do have a lot in common. We both
love everything that is connected with food and eating. We find so much
interest in our respective pasts and do whatever we can to make this rich heritage
accessible to everyone else that seeks to know us better. We're hospitable and
warm. We never get tired of smiling. We even find it fun to help other people
and make them feel comfortable in anyway we can. We both have our bad sides
even worst ones-- crime, corruption, bad politics and tough-to-beat
flashfloods. But what we both take pride of, is that we can rise above all of
these and feel braver than before. Maybe Thailand made more efforts to aim for
something better and put themselves in the higher rungs of development. The
Philippines is exerting more effort now than before and I would like to believe
this is a good thing. We just have to push more and eventually we'll get there.
I think this is what travelling does to a
person. It makes us more idealistic and hopeful. The first time
I was able to hop from one Philippine island to another, I began to see things
in a new light. We have a lot to offer, we just have to capitalize on all of
these and voila, we're back on the track of development. And then, just last
month, I had the chance to go outside my country. I was able to experience a
new culture and got a chance to interact with a lot of locals. The experience I
had taught me a lot. And I mean to bring it back to our country, hence this
post! Hahaha. People in the web might be able to come across this entry so I'm
happily sharing these insights. :)))
|In front of our beautiful dorm. Kat's doing a Shakira. I'm Rihanna because of my umbrella. Jhessa's Beyonce while Ate Chael does a Pink (see the rock on hand sign? haha) RJ is Mon Confiado. Google him. Hahaha :)|
Photo credits: Everybody's cameras. :D
For more Bangkok photos, you may visit my
photoblog. Just click this link: www.kyemeruth.jux.com
This post was recently submitted as an entry to the Asian Air Program blog contest organized by Korean Air Southeast Asia. For more information, you may visit their Facebook fanpage or refer to the contest guidelines through this event link.
Labels: 21, bangkok, blessings, bucket list, feeling profound, Filipino pride, jetsetter feeler, jux, lessons learned, life, opinion, pauso, savings, stories, tourism, WoW PHL