Change of time in Thailand


Talking with friends from Europe who do also live in Thailand about 10 years or longer you suddenly realise that a lot of things have changed in Thailand for the better (and some things for the worse but that is another story). When I came to live here mobile phones were expensive and only for sale at AIS (thanks to that a family clan in Chiang Mai became unusual wealthy but again that is another story). To think of it I think that AIS was the only mobile service provider. Now mobile phones have competitive prices and you can choose of at least 3 mobile service providers.

I lived my first 2 years in Bangkok and when I wanted to make an telephone call to my home country I would go to General Post Office at Charoen road, where was also an Telecommunication Office. There were telephones to make international calls. Now I make daily telephone calls with Skype all over the world.

In the first years I did not use internet at all, later I started to use a bit of internet at Internet shops. My first private internet connection was when living in Pattaya, a dial-up modem internet connection. Slow and with many dis-connections. Now I have a fast ADSL connection, without much dis-connections and I find it normal to watch live TV and make Skype calls all over the world.

In my first 5 years in Thailand I travelled a lot by bus all over Thailand. Although the roads were reasonable, even the main highways could be in bad condition. And actually a lot of highways that you take for granted now, were there not all yet. Yes, some of this beautiful new highways in the north destroyed Forrest and villages. Now it is possible to ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or Nong Khai in a straight trip in less as 10 hrs, all over good & divided highways.

When I started to come to Bangkok they were bulldozing down all blocks of houses and I though "They really have the stupid idea to build highways here?". They did and it works very well. Too bad that also the number of cars tripled. There was not yet an Skytrain (BTS), and when opened the first 3 years it was not much in use. There was not yet a Subway (MRT) but by the time it was the people were used to having public transport like that. Remember BTS and MRT are actually expensive. Yes, I think the infrastructure of transport has improved a lot (although it would be nice if the different types of transport would connect to each other).

When I started to come to Thailand, there were super rich, very poor people and a very small middle-class. Now there are super super super rich people, poor people and a fast growing middle-class. And especially the latter matters for a society. And with that it seems that education & knowledge is growing  among the middle-class.

Then of course food .... it used to be Thai food only even in Bangkok (at least for me). When living in Pattaya I was happy to find good bakery's and Italian restaurants. And now living upcountry I can enjoy good wine, Belgium beers, Belgium chocolates, good bakery's,  Italian food and some other good Western food. And were Villa Market and later Tops the only place to buy western food, now BigC and Lotus have nation-wide sale of western food. And even in Doi Mae Salong is now an 7/11!

Motorbikes .... scooters and very expensive import motorbikes were the norm in Thailand. Now there are some good made-in-Thailand Honda & Kawasaki motorbikes for sale nation wide.

Smoking cigarettes .... Thailand used to be and actually still is full of cigarettes junks smoking everywhere. And I am very happy that now smoking is prohibited in bars & restaurants (although some seem not to care about it). But also there seems to be a change of attitude in Thai society. When at a private party people who want to smoke will politely have their nicotine shot somewhere where they do not bother other people. Even at open air-restaurants, people seem to realise it is not appreciated anymore to smoke at the dinning table.

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