A Week in Thailand

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I was fortunate to have traveled to Thailand courtesy of the Philippine Government sometime this January. The trip was scheduled for 7 seven days primarily for learning purposes but it was fun and exciting. I mean, the learning. The irony is that we are going to learn what they have learned from us in the 60’s especially in agriculture.

One of the first things I observed was the streets in Bangkok.  It is not crowded with people. There are way too less people walking in the sidewalks than in any city in the Philippines. And if there are, they are tourists. My assumption is that more Thais are busy employed somewhere that they do not have to go walking around. True enough, the head of the Thailand Productivity Institute (FTPI) mentioned in his lecture about a very low unemployment rate. FTPI invests a lot of its resources on training of the labor force to become more productive. This is in consonance with the King’s concept of “cultivating the mind more than cultivating the land”.

Secondly, I noticed that the vehicles do not emit smoke or smelly fumes like that those we experience in our country. These means, no accumulated dark soot inside your nose. The streets are cleaner than ours. I was not able to smell engine exhaust from the vehicles while walking along the sidewalk. I wonder why, even the buses that looked old do not release air pollutants that assaults the nasal senses. No trash scattered about and no street kids loitering around.

Third, I immediately saw how disciplined the Thais are. At least, in my one week stay there. They don’t honk their cars to people passing in front of them. They maintain a safe distance in traffic to the car in front and as much as possible, they avoid cutting in front of another vehicle. They observe traffic rules that is why you do not see any traffic enforcer in the streets. I learned from the Department of Land Transportation that they don’t teach people to drive, they teach them traffic rules. I assume they are more concerned with traffic rules and their safety than their driving. In the Philippines, never mind the rules, just drive.

Fourth, I noticed also that all infrastructures and projects are designed for the convenience and safety not only of their people but also tourists. Car owners don’t have to go out of their vehicles to register them. They have drive thru booths for the annual registration of cars. Strolling along the main thoroughfares near our hotel, they built long elevated walkways that connect almost every building in the area. If you are a pedestrian, you do not have to cross the street to go to the other side. A massive modernized train station is being built when were there.

Fifth, Bangkok is a flat land crisscrossed by several rivers but I guess flooding is not a serious problem in Thailand. There are wide open canals that could serve as a catch basin during rainy season. What aroused my interest however, was the absence of garbage floating in the river or in the canal even if it is in the heart of the city. These bodies of water don’t smell either.

Reflecting on all these, Thailand indeed is amazing just like what they advertised. Going home, I keep asking myself, if it is more fun in the Philippines then why do we receive a mere 7 million tourists per year at an average while they have 7 to 10 times more than that? I am not putting down my own country. I am writing this to awaken every reader to do something for our beloved Philippines so we can catch up with the Thais.

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