News Stories from Thailand and South East Asia

CNN : Thu, 02 Jul 2015 09:22:52 EDT
Dozens are reported dead after a boat carrying 189 people capsizes in the central Philippines.

The Nation : Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:00:00 GMT
MORE rain-making operations have been ordered to tackle the severe drought in the North with water in major dams at some of the lowest levels in many years. A Tak-based rain-making operation's mission to refill water to Bhumipol Dam was expected to commence in August.

The Nation : Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:00:00 GMT
THE NAVY has proposed the purchase of three submarines from China through a government-to-government contract worth Bt36 billion, Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Kraisorn Chansuwanich said yesterday.

PhuketWan : Fri, 03 Jul 2015 00:15:57 +0700

Bangkok Post : Thu, 02 Jul 2015 03:29:00 +0700
The beach resort of Hua Hin is one of my favourite destinations for mountain biking. And that's for two good reasons. One, Khao Hin Lek Fai, the hill that stands to the west of the downtown area, is home to several awesome downhill tracks; and two, the local bikers are very friendly and always happy to guide visiting riders around the trails they've built.

Bangkok Post : Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:57:00 +0700
Traffic has returned to normal on Bangkok’s Phetkasem Road where a giant sinkhole closed the street for hours Thursday night.

Reuters.World : Fri, 26 Jun 2015 00:15:52 GMT
SEOUL (Reuters) - Two more patients with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus have died, South Korea's health ministry said on Friday bringing the total fatality to 31.

The Nation : Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:34:00 GMT
Thai Airways International announced that flights to European destinations would continue as usual.

Bangkok Post : Fri, 26 Jun 2015 03:29:00 +0700
Thai-registered airlines have been spared from a ban on operating in European Union (EU) airspace as the European Commission (EC) did not impose any new curbs on airlines in its latest EU Air Safety List released Thursday.

Bangkok Post : Fri, 26 Jun 2015 03:29:00 +0700
The navy has picked Chinese submarines costing 12 billion baht each to be commissioned in the force, a source on the procurement committee says.

Reuters.World : Wed, 24 Jun 2015 23:15:57 GMT
BRUSSELS/VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria threatened to reimpose controls on its Hungarian border and Britain considered adding security around the French port of Calais on Wednesday as divided EU leaders prepared to debate how to stem a flood of desperate migrants.

Bangkok Post : Thu, 25 Jun 2015 03:29:00 +0700
People in and around Bangkok should brace for salt water intrusion due to a critical water shortage in dams and prepare to save fresh water for consumption.

Bangkok Post : Thu, 25 Jun 2015 03:29:00 +0700
From July 3-5, the "Days Of Fruits And Prized Products Of Thong Pha Phum District Fair" will be held from 9am-9pm around the helipad of Vajiralongkorn Dam, Kanchanaburi province. The aim is to promote famous fruits and tourism in Thong Pha Phum district.

The Nation : Thu, 25 Jun 2015 18:00:00 GMT
Sommai says spending power will be hit if govt measures aren't strong enough

Bangkok Post.. : Wed, 24 Jun 2015 06:10:00 +0700

Bangkok Post : Tue, 23 Jun 2015 19:55:00 +0700

Bangkok Smile Bike No More

Posted: 20 September 2011

Alas No More
Sadly, the Bangkok Smile Bike scheme seems to have ended. On a recent visit to Banglamphu, I saw that the bike stand and kiosk by the Phra Pinklao bridge were empty.

The stand near City Hall was also empty. Hopefully the bikes will return next holiday season - will keep you posted. I did however notice a bike parked on Onnuj Road that, though sprayed a different color, looked remarkably like one of the missing bikes, but I could be wrong.

Bangkok Smile Bike

Posted: 16 June 2011

Cycles for Free Hire

Under the Phra Pinkhlao bridge, where the old city moat rejoins the river, is a stand of bicycles for (free) hire, distinctively sprayed green and white, with "Bangkok Smile Bike" and vehicle number printed on the rear mudguard.
To hire one of the bikes you need your passport so that it can be photocopied and that is all. There is no hire charge.

The aforesaid bikes are part of the Rattanokosin by bike project. In many parts of old central Bangkok (Rattanakosin Island) bike paths are clearly marked in the center of the footpath, and sometimes on the road itself.

Pedal Cycles Only

I have to say that I have not seen many bikes using these tracks, though the odd motorcycle seems to find them handy, ignoring the fact that the bikes pictured on the path clearly do not have engines! Also, last time I was on Phra Athit Road (near Khao San Road), the cycle track, on the road this time, was blocked by parked cars.

no bikes (or motorbikes) on the cycle path but lots of vendors!

The bikes come equipped with maps of central Bangkok with cycle paths clearly marked. The route passes many of the famous landmarks in Bangkok: Democracy Monument (official start of the route), Loha Prasad, Mahagan Fort, The Ministry of Defence, Wat Pho, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo, Sanam Luang, Phra Sumen Fort and Wat Bovorniwet.

There are five cycle stations:
    1 Near Wat Phra Kaeo
    2 Under Pinkhlao Bridge
    3 Near Phra Sumen Fort
    4 Near Bangkok City Hall
    5 Opposite Wat Ratchbophit

Bikes picked up from one station can be left at any other (before 6 p.m.).

My Most Exciting Train Journey, by Euan McDougall

Posted: 30 October 2010

Ewan MacDougall is a student in his last year at university. He recounts his first train journey in Thailand, the problems of the language, and the difficulties of a foreigner travelling alone in what is still a very "foreign" country. Photos from Thailand by Train archives.

Once I'd got my ticket I went to join the other passengers waiting on the platform. It had not been an easy journey to the train station. This was 2006 and I had only recently started my year as a volunteer English teacher. It was one of my first trips away from Mae Chan, a small village in the far North of Thailand where I was working. I was on my way to the central region of Thailand, another small village, Tharua just outside Ayutthaya an ancient Thai capital.

I'd got as far as the train station by over night bus; the bus had arrived extremely early, 5AM, and left me not in the city, but on the side of a highway somewhere on the outskirts of Ayutthaya. At 5Am there was a surprisingly large amount of traffic, but no sign of any travel links. I'd never really travelled alone before this, my Thai at that point was near non existent (it's not much better now): this was certainly a challenge.

I walked a little way then got lucky: a motorcycle taxi dropped someone off a little way ahead of me, and with a little bit of a run, I managed to catch the driver before he left and negotiate a journey to the train station.

Ayutthaya Station, Early Morning
The train lines don't run to the far north off Thailand where I was living, so this was my first Thai train station experience. On the platform, everyone was sprawled out and half asleep wherever they could find an empty spot. Despite its crowdedness the platform was eerily quiet and sleepy. The majority of people wore yellow polo shirts in respect for the king, the common uniform for most professionals; it seemed odd to see this bright and vibrant yellow not connoting smiley energetic people but instead being the garb of unenthusiastic workers lost in the dim and hazy twilight of what must have been just after 6AM.

Trying to explain where I wanted to buy a ticket to had created quite a scene, I'd imagine my pronunciation "Thaurua" the name of the village I wanted to visit can't have been great, and they didn't seem to believe that any Farang would want to go there. I got the ticket eventually though with time to spare before my train pulled in. A friendly woman, who spoke English, had overheard the confusion with my destination and tapped me on the shoulder to make sure I got on.

The platform had been crowded but the train itself wasn't too hectic and I didn't have trouble finding a window seat opposite an elderly man who, even in the Thai heat, was wearing a full suit - the uniform of the west. It was slightly too big for him and completed with large gold cuff links. His thinning hair had been slicked over his bald patch; he didn't quite seem to fit naturally in the scene. I tried to imagine who he might be: his face was distinguished with lines and wrinkles that gave the impression he'd lived a life time farming the paddy fields that the train was now trundling past.

Paddy Fields in Central Thailand

That morning, however he was on a train, his eyes darting around - I couldn't help but wonder if this train journey was just as new and exciting to him as it was to me. We travelled though the farms and country side of central Thailand, The sun was rising as we passed, the paddy fields had all flooded far worse than usual that year and the reds and golds all reflected back at me in the water. It was beautiful. I don't think any train journey could ever again stay In my memory the way this one will.

I arrived in Tharua far earlier than expected, feeling pleased with my self for getting this far. I decided to see if I could find my way to the school I was visiting, unaided, and surprise both the friends I was visiting, and maybe my self.

Ewan MacDougall.

Visit his blogsite at:

Rail Link to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

I noticed that on a recent SRT Southern Timetable (valid from 1st April 2010), that the 953 train from Had Yai now terminates at Kuala Lumpur rather than Butterworth.

The trip takes around 17 hours overnight, and I am not sure yet what accomodation is available.

Makha Bucha Day 2010

February 28th 2010 was a public holiday in Thailand for the Buddhist Festival of Makha Bucha Day which falls on the full moon day of the third lunar month. As the event falls on a Sunday this year, many shops, businesses and Government Departments will close on the Monday to compensate.

The Makha Bucha festival commemorates a day of the full moon, 9 months after the Buddha's enlightenment when 1250 disciples arrived unexpectedly, all of them "arahants" (enlightened ones) who had been ordained by the Buddha himself.

In the evening of the full moon day, candle-light processions are held in temples throughout Thailand, where monks and laity walk three times around the Ordination Hall (Ubosot) to celebrate the "Triple Gem" of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teaching) and the Sangha (the community of Buddhist monks).

Many Thais choose this day to visit their local temple to make merit. Alcohol will not be on sale in bars, restaurants or supermarkets.

The festival is also celebrated in the neighboring Buddhist countries of Laos and Cambodia.

First Rail Link Thailand to Laos

The rail link between Nong Khai and Thanaleng (Lao PDR) opened on March 5th 2009. The cost is around 80 Baht air-con, 20 Baht non-aircon.

For years, travellers have noticed that the Thai North Eastern line continued beyond Nong Khai Station, but only as far as the Mekhong River. The new stretch of track, which crosses the Friendship Bridge, is the first ever railway in the Lao PDR and the first section of a line that is planned to connect Nong Khai with Viantiane the Lao Capital, some 20km to the North West.

Posted March 12th 2009

Escape from Bangkok!

I flew out from Utapao airport on 4th December. Check-in was at Bitek in East Bangkok at 7 a.m. and we boarded our bus at 11 a.m. The bus then waited 90 minutes while a convoy of around 10 buses formed. During this waiting time there was no information about the cause of the delay, no refreshments and no toilet facilities on the bus. Eventually a mobile loo pulled in just around the corner, though no-one told us what it was.

We drove to Utapao airport under police escort in about two hours, and eventually turned into a military base to get to the aircraft. The bus pulled up right by the plane and we boarded without ever entering the terminal building, or meeting the group of Navy medical staff who were waiting to greet us - presumably in case any foreign tourist had been overcome by lack of alcohol on the journey from Bangkok.

Generally the evacuation was well executed except for lack of information at Bitek, and lack of refreshments. I went from 6 a.m. to around 4.30 p.m. without so much as a glass of water. The young guy sitting next to me on the plane must have had a similar experience - he went so far as to ask (unsuccessfully) for another lunch! I have never seen so many empty plates after an in-flight meal.

Posted by Matt M., December 6th 2008
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