Monday, October 16, 2006

Twists in Bengkok...

...I mean Bangkok. :D

The four-day EYHCAPACSS (SS in short) was held in Bangkok this year. 17-20 Sept 2006. :)

During SS, we learn/relearn presentation skills, time management, client relationship skills etc and have technical knowledge sharing with our counterparts from other countries.

The Partners who conducted the sessions were GREAT! I admire them a lot for their absolute professionalism - they are technically competent (definitely!); they presented the sessions in toastmasters-champion-like perfection; and most importantly they have great people skills which are so true from within themselves. They praise generously and appropriately; they criticise in a very nice manner thoroughly but constructively and positively. Four days is definitely not long enough to learn enough from them. If ALL my bosses here were like them, workplace would be heavenly mann! Having said that, I must admit that most of my bosses are not bad. :)

SS was an experience money can never buy.... It was so much like those camps I had with my kalyana mitras (spiritual friends) - only difference is that it's business related. After the four-day SS, I was supposed to extend my stay for another two days to visit temples, go shopping, jalan-jalan etc. Unfortunately, I had to come back to Malaysia immediately after my training cuz of the military coup. :-/

I had a pulsating "adventure" in Bangkok on the evening of 19 Sept - the night the coup began. My colleagues and I only knew about the coup after midnight - i.e. after we returned from our "adventure".

It all started like this: Immediately after the training ended for the day, most of us took a cab to MBK, a shopping mall. We spent 2 hours at MBK. :) As MBK closes at 9.30pm, we decided to continue exploring Bangkok. So, we went on a tuk tuk ride to a night market which opens from 9pm to 6am. :)

We reached the night market just before 10pm. Around 10.30pm, it looked like it was going to rain. Most stall owners were pulling huge plastic sheets over their stalls and some just closed their stalls. We tourists thought it was merely because of expected rain, but actually the stall owners already knew about the coup and emergency. At that time, my friends and I were still completely ignorant about the coup. Since it was going to rain, we decided to go back anyway. We tried catching a taxi back to our hotel... but none of the taxi drivers agreed to fetch us back to our hotel. We thought perhaps our hotel was too far away; so we decided to get a taxi to send us just to MBK instead. From MBK, perhaps we could catch another taxi back to hotel.

When we (there were three of us) reached MBK, we tried to get another taxi to send us back to the hotel but unsuccessful. We didn't know why. Without wasting more time, we quickly walked to the nearby skytrain station to catch a train back instead.

As we were walking pass a restaurant, a lady who was pulling down the roller shutters of her shop asked us, "Hey girls, where are you going?".

We told her that we were heading to the skytrain station. She quickly said, "Better be quick. There's curfew and the train station might close soon."

Hearing that, we didn't know whether or not to believe her. Giving her the benefit of doubt, and moreover since it was already drizzling, we walked even faster towards the skytrain station.

When we reached the skytrain station we knew something was not right. :-/ Soldiers were lined up along the staircase towards the station. Soldiers were on our left & right as we were walking up the stairs. Soldiers were stationed at many spots around the train platform. Every soldier was armed with an arm-length rifle! (M16?!) Total quietness. I was shocked. I was worried but wasn't panic because it was peaceful. Peaceful as in no violence, no chaos; just perfect silence. I had scary thoughts of "What If's". What if a soldier opens fire since we were 3 blur foreigners? What if there's no train and we could not go back to hotel? What if we were taken hostage?! What if this, what if that... Oh no Oh no Oh no! My only wish then was to be back to the hotel safely. Yeah, just that. :)

No one else were at the train station besides the 3 of us and another 3 local students. Thank goodness one ticket counter was still open. Thank goodness the soldiers were just there; stationary. Thank goodness the train arrived 10 minutes after that. Thank goodness we had a safe 15 mins walk back to the hotel from the train station nearest to the hotel. Thank goodness we were safe back in hotel at midnight! By the way, train stations close at midnight! Thank goodness everyone was safe. Thank goodness! ^_^

The moment we stepped into our hotel room, we switched on CNN. That was when we found out about the coup. We saw statements like:

  • "Coup has taken over the Thai prime minister's office"
  • "14 tanks surrounding the Thai prime minister's office"
  • "Thai Deputy PM hopes democracy will prevail"
  • "Thaksin has declared emergency in Bangkok"
  • "No violence reported so far"

After seeing all that, we understood why taxis refused to fetch us back to our hotel which is in the middle of the city. After that, we were extremely thankful for having safely returned to the hotel!

The hotel receptionist reassured us that there is nothing to be afraid or worry about because there will be no violence at all and basically, the coup just wanted Thaksin to step down. She said there is nothing to fear because it is far from a war. She added that it is the best time to be in Bangkok because it is by far safest with so many soldiers and police around the city. I agree with the receptionist that it is still safe to be in Bangkok at that time but I didn't dare to take the risk & feared there might be flight disruptions (baseless fear? well, maybe).

There and then, I arranged to bring forward my flight home because I'd better not let my dear people at home have sleepless nights because I'm in Bangkok, no matter how safe I think it is. Well, no matter how safe it is, there is no way that I can convince my parents that it is really that safe.

I am still confident that Bangkok is a safe place to visit and will definitely go there again when opportunity comes by. Thinking back (realistically!), it was indeed very safe in Bangkok because there was no violence and the soldiers and tanks were just there, harmless; seriously. Kinda surprising. Well, luckily!! :)


Blogger Songie said...

really like your title!!hahahahahah!!! this is my second time to ur site to read this entry..and only now I noticed that. How blur of me**

21/10/06 5:02 PM  
Blogger Hanxue said...

I am glad you made it safe and sound back to Malaysia. Then again, this kind of coup is of almost no danger, even though it is military in nature.

Shall spare you the boredom of my explanation..... how I wish I could be there to experience the history moment!!

23/10/06 1:51 AM  
Blogger cmeel said...

Hi Songie...hehe...thanks. :)

Actually Bengkok is what my bro calls Bangkok when I was there. I just added twists to it. :D

PS: For non-Malay speaking people, "bengkok" means "crooked" in Malay.

Hi Xue... true true. :) Thanks for explaining Bangkok coup to me while i was watching CNN in Bangkok. That was enlightening. :)

23/10/06 2:09 AM  
Blogger Baby Angel said...

This adventure of yours is really interesting...made my heart beat faster...seriously... thank goodness u r back, sound n safe :)

27/10/06 2:12 PM  
Blogger cmeel said...

Thanks, San. :) I was lucky. :) Still, you were luckier cuz u came back before the coup started and that was after u had great time holiday-ing there. :) Glad for you! :)

I had to bring forward my flight home by two days; i.e. immediately after my training ended. So, I didn't get to see much of Bangkok. Anyway, that'll be an excuse for me to go there again someday. hehe... :)

28/10/06 3:24 PM  
Anonymous laurenc said...

Hi ML,

great day today, isn't it? Hehee...I really do think so, considering where I am writing this from! Just wanted to say you did a great job (trying to think of another word other than "job" but I just cant think very clearly now) on this Bengkok post of yours - very well illustrated and you managed to convey the feeling of almost-panic-but-not-quite. Well done ML :-)

11/11/06 8:02 AM  
Blogger cmeel said...

Thanks, Lauren!! :)

Hey, where r u writing this from? Tell me (here or thru email). :)

I plan to share this Bengkok experience in TM - if it can fit into one of the given scope. :D

13/11/06 12:02 AM  

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