Tub wan solves all world problems

Everyone needs to know — you need to know — that the answer to all of the world’s problems is tub waan (ตับหวาน). I learned this after wide-ranging discussions in Bangkok with ’Pong’s friends. And about six bottles of whisky. So it must be true.

Send the wife in first, eh Thaksin?

Perhaps my Prediction number 6 for 2008 won’t come true. The wife of former Thai president Thaksin Shinawatra, returned to Bangkok yesterday and was immediately taken to the Supreme Court to face corruption charges. Pojaman Shinawatra, 51, was charged with using her husband’s influence to buy real estate at one-third its value. She was released on bail of 5 million baht ($171,400) and ordered not to leave the country.

Predictions for 2008

OK, I’m meant to be clever, so here are my predictions for 2008. The Snarky Platypus didn’t help me with these, as we decided we had better things to do on New Year’s Eve (gin and tonic, for example). So blame me alone.

  1. The Joy of Chairman Rudd’s Iced VoVo Revolution will be dulled by the end of January when they take some stupid actions which demonstrate that they are, after all, politicians like all others. Actually, this has already happened with the announcement of mandatory Internet filtering by ISPs. I’ll write more about that soon.
  2. At least one member of the (former) Howard cabinet will be charged with a criminal offence over something they did in office. I’d like it to be Brendan Nelson, because that deal to buy $6 billion worth of Super Hornet fighter aircraft stinks — mostly because the air force doesn’t want them and the process was, erm, rushed to say the least. However I suspect it might be something to do with the AWB scandal.
  3. Channel 7 will continue to win the Australian TV ratings. Channel 9 will fail to reinvent itself now that its owned by an investment vehicle and not a media proprietor.
  4. Telstra will be forced to separate its wholesale and retail businesses. Meanwhile the Sol Trujillo-led management team will continue to play nasty with the government, causing them to be increasingly sidelined — especially over the Rudd government’s new broadband rollout.
  5. Barack Obama will win the US Presidential election. I know Hillary Clinton is currently the favourite, but I have the gut feeling that the Oprah factor will be important, and that Hillary’s dirty washing will be aired.
  6. When former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra returns from self-imposed exile on 14 February the new government, which is a coalition led by a Thaksin-supporting party, will somehow drop the corruption charges against him. Another military coup will follow.
  7. At least one Australian company will suffer a major leak of its customers’ private data, prompting new laws on dealing with such things (like they already have in California).
  8. We’ll finally figure out what the Storm Botnet, the world’s largest network of hacked computers, is for. My guess: whatever the hell the designer’s paying clients want it to be for.

You might also like to read the interesting predictions from The Australian (not really predictions, but obvious events following on from their news calendar), advertising agency JWT, Peter Black and Rachel Polanskis, and predictions about toy names for 2008.

What are your predictions for 2008? And how do you think mine rate?

Unreliable Bangkok 9: Train

Photograph of girls playing on the railway in Bangkok, with the slum in the background

’Pong’s movie Bangkok Express slices through the city at the height of the motorway. Yes, you can see urban decay, but it’s abstract, in the distance. The train slices the city differently: just above human eye level.

The photos I took from the train in Bangkok reminded me that a sign at Ashfield Station in Sydney has got it all wrong. That sign tells us that railway stations are for catching trains — and if I’m not catching a train right at that moment then I’m not welcome. I might be a terrorist. Move on, nothing to see here.


Continue reading “Unreliable Bangkok 9: Train”

Unreliable Bangkok 8: Henge

Photograph of abandoned railway structures in Bangkok

When the Thai economy was booming in the early 1990s, construction started on a 60km high-speed elevated train and motorway link from central Bangkok to the international airport at Don Mueang. However when the currency collapsed in 1997-98, work was abandoned.

These stained concrete fragments (pictured) are all that remains of the Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System (BERTS) or Hopewell project. They line the old diesel-fuelled railway through northern Bangkok like a modernist Stonehenge.

Continue reading “Unreliable Bangkok 8: Henge”

Unreliable Bangkok 7: East

Photograph of the beach near Rayong, Thailand

For just one day in Thailand, we got out of the 10-million-person wonder that is Bangkok and headed East to Rayong. We had lunch with ’Pong’s parents. Over a mountain of ultra-fresh seafood and a bottle of rum, we watched this view. Need I say more?

This post is part of my series “Unreliable Bangkok”. Why not explore the others?