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Letters from Thailand - #2

Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand
Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand
Welcome to my second ever newsletter! Last week, I sent out the letter to one person. That was me. During this week, just over a thousand people have signed up. (Hopefully, not too many of you will unsubscribe when you receive this!) To be honest, I am not sure which direction to take this, but I will go with the flow. My original idea was just to give a review of my week on social media. But I will also add some more details and background information about this past week. As well as some exclusive content and giveaways. So, please give me a chance. If you like what you see, please share with your friends. Thanks.

Is Thailand re-opening in October?
The Paknam Promenade, Samut Prakan.
The Paknam Promenade, Samut Prakan.
For a while, it seemed that the prime minister was determined to re-open the country to foreign tourists on 1st October. But recently there has been some back-pedaling. Partly due to vaccination levels still being low and the fact that the decline in new case numbers has stagnated a little. But will he ignore the critics and still go ahead at some point during next month? Yes, I think there will be some form of re-opening. After all, he keeps saying that we need to learn to live with Covid-19. This will probably mean that during October there will be more destinations where vaccinated international travelers can visit without having to do hotel quarantine. But whether any real tourists will actually come is another question altogether.
October could also see another change. A number of people have told me that their local Immigration office refused to extend their covid-stamp saying that it is time for them to go home. This isn’t a national policy and many people are still getting 60-day extension of stays. However, if I was a betting man, I would say that it is doubtful that the Immigration Bureau will extend the deadline after it expires on 27th September. Particularly if the prime minister really re-opens the country in October. So, what does this mean? Well, your 60-day extension this month will probably be the last one offered to you. When it expires at the end of November you will have to leave the country. Sorry about that. I’m just trying to give you a heads up.
Thai Street Food Challenge
I love eating Thai food. I often post pictures of Thai food on my dedicated Twitter account @enjoythaifood. You may not know, buy I also have a website for Thai street food (thaistreetfood.com) which I have started updating again. Last month I started a Thai Street Food Challenge to eat one hundred different dishes in a month. Unfortunately, I had to pause after only 34 dishes due to Covid restrictions. But, I started doing the challenge again this week. You can see a list and pictures of what I have eaten so far on the website linked to below:
Thai Street Food Challenge 2021 – Thai Street Food – สตรีทฟู้ดไทย
I am also producing flashcards for every dish that I eat (see above). Once finished, I will give you an exclusive link in a future newsletter of how to download all of the pictures. That way, you just need to save your favourites on your smartphone and show the food vendor what you want to eat. No need to remember the name. Hopefully you will also get some ideas of what else to eat. If you are like me, you probably only eat a rotation of 5-6 dishes. By the time I am finished, you will have 100 dishes to choose from.
Benjakitti Forest Park
Benjakitti Forest Park in Bangkok
Benjakitti Forest Park in Bangkok
This is the latest drone photo of the new Benjakitti Forest Park in Bangkok. It is still under construction but should be fully open by next year. It was posted by “Sarawuchy Bomb” on his Facebook page. (Click on the link to see more pictures and a video.) Benjakitti Park, which is the part around the lake, is now dwarfed by the forest park. Once finished, this will surely make it the biggest public park in central Bangkok. Though technically, it is two different parks.
The following photo of the new park was tweeted by Antonio Calderazzo (@Designbathware). It is not going to be your regular park with running tracks and green lawns. There will be ponds and lakes and also elevated walkways so that people don’t damage the fragile eco-system. Hopefully this will also mean a lot of wildlife. I am really looking forward to visiting it when it fully opens next year.
Top 10 Biggest Public Parks in Bangkok
Did you know, the largest park in Bangkok is Rama IX Park at 197.6 acres? In my blog post below, I have mapped the Top 10 biggest parks in Bangkok.
Map of the Top 10 Biggest Public Parks in Bangkok – Thailand Photo Map and Trip Planner
Gigantic Buddha Sculpture
The travel feature in Thursday’s edition of the Bangkok Post was about the giant Buddha sculpture at Wat Khao Tham Thiam in U Thong district of Suphanburi (Map: https://goo.gl/maps/LH9diWs1EMdh6DSDA). The impressive 84 meter high Seated Buddha is carved out of the cliff face. I last went there three years ago when it was still covered in scaffolding. So, I definitely need to go back for a return visit. I was last in Suphanburi for the annual Don Chedi Memorial and Red Cross Fair. You can view my live photo blog of that trip below including a link to the travel feature in the Bangkok Post.
Three Day Tour of Suphanburi Province – Thailand Photo Map and Trip Planner
More than meets the eye
European Heritage Week in Bangkok
The Portuguese Ambassador’s Residence in Bangkok
The Portuguese Ambassador’s Residence in Bangkok
The trend of constructing European style buildings in Bangkok started with King Rama IV who invited to Siam a number of European architects and designers. This continued until at least the reign of King Rama VI. Many of the remaining European buildings in Bangkok come from this period.
During September every year, a number of embassies in Bangkok take part in the European Heritage Week and open their doors to visitors. Unfortunately, this won’t be happening this year due to Covid-19 restrictions. But, you can still explore other sites by yourself using the maps that I have linked to below.
European Heritage Map of Bangkok
European Heritage Map of Bangkok
European Heritage Map of Bangkok
The European Heritage Map of Bangkok and Ayutthaya, highlights 65 sites in Bangkok and Ayutthaya that are of importance in the history of European-Thai relations. It maps palaces designed by Italian and German architects, churches established by the French and Portuguese, trading posts left by Danish and Dutch businessmen, bridges of Belgian and British make, and even military uniforms of Polish design. The research for the map was done by Luc Citrinot. You can download the map and the descriptions on the reverse side below. I have also done a Google Map version if you prefer:
COMPETITION: Would you prefer a paper version of this map? I have five copies of the map to give away to subscribers who live in Thailand. Just reply to this newsletter with these two sentences: “I would like to win a paper copy of the Bangkok European Heritage Map. I live in Thailand.”
A shared Thai-European past
Interactive Covid-19 Dashboard
Thai News Reports
🔴 UPDATE: 13,576 confirmed cases, 2,509 probable cases, and 117 deaths (1.04%). Out of 131,095 patients ⬆️, 45,044 are in hospital, 66,210 in ‘hospitel’ and 13,633 in home/community isolation. 3,646 in a serious condition (-55) with 768 on ventilators (+8) #Thailand #COVID19 https://t.co/sC2ihyrQWC
Every morning at 8:00am, I post this graphic on @ThaiNewsReports which shows the latest statistics for Covid-19 in Thailand. Quite a few people have asked me where I get this information from. So I thought I would share with you a few links that I monitor every day. But, please be aware, the information is all in Thai. In the graphic that I tweet in the morning, I have added my own English translations.
Question from a Reader
Wireless station in Bangkok
Wireless station in Bangkok
How did Wireless Road in Bangkok get its name?
Witthayu Road (ถนนวิทยุ), or Wireless Road in English, was built in 1920 to connect Rama IV Road with Phetchaburi and Ploenchit roads. At the southern end is Lumpini Park, the first public park in Thailand built during the reign of King Rama VI. In those days, the opposite side of Lumpini Park, on the corner of Witthayu and Rama IV Roads, used to be the location of the first radio station in Thailand. Therefore, this road was given the name “Wireless Road”. The area of the station, on the corner of Witthayu and Rama IV roads, later became the site of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School (1961–2000), then the Suan Lum Night Bazaar (2001–2010). The area is now being developed as a mixed-use megaproject called One Bangkok.0
You can send your questions by filling in this form and I will do my best to answer them: https://www.thailandqa.com
How I First Came to Thailand
At Sriwittayapaknam School in February 1994
At Sriwittayapaknam School in February 1994
I am a private person which is why I have long refused all requests to do interviews. However, I did once write a blog on how I came to Thailand 27 years again. As people still keep asking me about it, I thought I would share the story with you today in case you haven’t seen it. I’m still at the same school though I don’t teach any more.
Twenty Seven Years in a Thai School – Thai School Life by Richard Barrow
Thailand in the News
The following are some interesting news articles from the past week that you may have missed.
Carrying on the legacy
K-pop sensation Lisa thrills Thai fans with traditional headgear | Reuters
Govt to entice rich expats
‘The Rescue’ Tells the Inside Story of Thailand’s Daring Cave Rescue
‘Mr. Holland’s Opus’ Meets ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ in ‘The Maestro’ – The Hollywood Reporter
Taxi cab gardens emerge in Bangkok as drivers quit and debts grow - CNA
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading this far. Hopefully see you again next week!
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Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand
Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand @richardbarrow

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Samut Prakan, Thailand