Hit East One-way ticket to somewhere…

Thailand – a developed country without omnipresent Internet access!?

May 19, 2012 / by zygis

We’re traveling around Thailand for over a month now. Why then, I hear you ask, our blog hasn’t had a single new post? The answer is very simple – in the 5 weeks this is only the second hotel with free wifi.

Lets rewind a little then start from the beginning of the Thai adventure.

Having left Cambodia behind and entered Thailand on foot, we were expecting to be greeted by scamers. Everyone knows Thai-Cambodian border is infested with fake immigration officers in random uniforms, (they even have “official” immigration offices), demanding ridiculous visa fees and offering “mandatory” health insurance etc. Well, they must have been out for lunch, for we were through after a brief queue for a stamp in the passport and set of looking for the bus that’s supposed to take us to Bangkok. There a brief dispute arose with the driver, who insisted he takes our ticket and gives us a small blue square sticker instead – the plain sticker somehow just didn’t feel substantial enough, so we questioned this policy. We had to give-in in the end – “This is Thailand”, we thought, “maybe blue square stickers are really valuable”, or something… A moment later we’re off in a small mini-bus towards Bangkok, (we hope), speeding smoothly down an even two-lane (and later three-lane) highway – what a relief from the constant shaking and bumping on the Cambodian and Vietnamese roads!

Silom district - Bangkok's financial center

Silom district - Bangkok's financial center

We reach Bangkok after sunset and our eyes graze across the brilliant skyline with awe – dozens of skyscrapers, shiny billboards; the view made more impressive from our position on the top-tier of a three-level highway (and we’re still speeding..). This reminds us a little of riding a DLR train in London, but this is much, much cooler. We pass endless numbers of omnipresent 7 Eleven convenience stores, Esso petrol stations and even Boots pharmacies. We’ve not seen Asia like this before.

Bangkok traffic

Bangkok traffic

We were also amazed, in a negative way, with the hotel prices. They seem to be more in the ranges one would expect in European destinations. The difference here is that many hotels are quite run-down and well overdue for a repair. Many are also built like student halls – narrow corridors with doors on both sides leading into tiny rooms, with inadequate and hygienically revolting shared bathroom facilities.. And many receptionists seem surprised that we even ask if they have wifi – of course not! As we soon learn, even the nicer, newer, more expensive hotels have no wifi and usually run a small Internet cafe on-site, charging incredible $1-2 per hour. Even trendy looking coffee shops and restaurants have limits on how long you can be online for and then demand you spend $5 or whatever. This is insane, where are we again? Zygis theorised that Bangkok (and entire Thailand too) have had their growth boom about 10-20 years ago, and has hardly progressed since. For comparison, Cambodia is still on the rise and even the most remote parts of the country we visited (like Ban Lung, capital of the Ratanakiri province), have Internet access delivered via fiber optic cables and its always free and unlimited. Thailand, sort it out!

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