on going out of the country for the first time



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. Hahaha.
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 them.

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. Hahaha.

Right beside the buried Buddha. 
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.

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.

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 :)
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. :)))

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.


2 comments:

  1. wahahahha... yun oh nakapagpost na!!! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hahahahaha! Oo! Kulang pa yan. Chaaaar! :))) ipost mo na kase yung Korea mo! :) si RJ meron din nung sa BKK namen. :)

    ReplyDelete

 

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