No one could believe it! Two years had passed so quickly,
since the launching of the 30th edition of the “Bangkok Guide” in 2001;
no one, that is, except, perhaps, the hard working, diligent and erudite
volunteers of the Australian-New Zealand Women’s Group (ANZWG). In
preparing this new issue, they had laboured through every one of the 380
pages, mountains of photographs, illustrations and charts, checked every
reference and telephone number. They were present in full-force, as midwives
when the new baby was born recently at the Pan Pacific Hotel: the “Bangkok
Guide 2003-2004”, the 31st edition of the publication.
cover of the new Guide.
The launch of the 30th edition in 2001 was celebrated
with a 1960s theme party. This time, the clever organizers simply said:
“Dress: for a night out”. And that left a lot to the imagination,
ranging from tee-shirts, shorts and sneakers to extremely elegant formal
wear - dinner suits and evening gowns. It depended upon what one considered
a “night out” and with whom.
As a sailor, I am rather partial to ‘launchings’.
However, this one was exceptional. A splendid spread of delicacies, canapes
and hors d’oeuvres, a liberal flow of drinks and conversation and a very
professional presentation of the new Guide and the ladies who made it,
ensured the success of the evening.
the Clown and his “explosive squeeze-box”.
Australian Ambassador H.E. Miles Kupa, Their Excellencies
Alan Williams and Peter Rider, outgoing and incoming NZ Ambassadors,
respectively, accompanied by their spouses, added to the genial ambience
which always permeates a gathering of Antipodeans - anywhere, for whatever
Eckie the Clown was there in top form, with an
‘explosive’ unveiling of the Guide and ‘rocking’ on his mono-cycle
to the sounds of the 60s and 70s roaring off the stage.
“With each edition, the Bangkok Guide grows,” said
the project co-ordinator Karen Gray at the launch. “It increases in size,
in calibre, in the quality of the information it contains, and in its
sales.” It is so successful, she added, “because over the years it has
become so valuable to so many.”
bevy of beauties grace the evening.
The Guide is, above all, practical and purports to share
with its vast readership, the collective local knowledge, experience and
wisdom of the many Bangkok foreign residents who have contributed insights
on all aspects of living and working in the “City of Angels”.
“The 2003/2004 edition is different in every way to any
Guide we have produced before. The content is clearer, more diverse and will
appeal to a greater audience,” Karen added.
Ambassador H.E. Miles Kupa adds a ‘presence’ to the evening.
The group president, Christina Minamizawa noted that,
“This is another momentous occasion for our group. Thank you all for
coming together to celebrate the release of the best Bangkok Guide that we
have ever produced.”
When I first arrived in Bangkok some three decades ago,
the first “Guide” was issued: a bunch of A-3 size sheets of paper
stapled together and passed around at coffee mornings. Now, this
indispensable tome, weighing in at some 60 pages bigger than the last
edition, is packed with every possible piece of information that new
arrivals - and even seasoned expatriate warriors of the ways and wiles of
the metropolis - could ever need for daily living in Bangkok - and elsewhere
in the Kingdom.
happy group enjoying the show.
The Bangkok Guide is compiled by volunteers and the cost
of advertising pays for the production, thus releasing revenue from sales to
be distributed by ANZWG directly to charities benefiting Thai women and
Of course, especially interesting to the women-folk - and
not a few men, I might add - is the section on ‘Shopping’ which this
time includes factory outlets, fairs and sales, a list of open markets and
the new shopping centres and malls in Bangkok. It covers some safety issues
when buying toys and paraphernalia for infants.
It lists the best places to buy wine and ranks the IT
shopping areas such as Pantip Plaza and Fortune Town.
There is valuable information on leisure activities and
sports, education, health and medical care, restaurants, embassies,
airlines, local and foreign banks, real estate agents, relocation services
and domestic staff.
The Guide also includes a telephone and “Survival
Thai” directory of all the numbers which appear throughout the book.
Of course, it would not be replete without the 2003
edition of Nancy Chandler’s Map of Bangkok - markets and more.
Here are some random questions selected out which the
What are the emergency phone numbers for the major
hospitals and ambulance services, clinics and the blood transfusion service,
or police who speak English, French or German? Is there anywhere in Bangkok
to buy reasonably-priced maternity clothes? How difficult is it to obtain a
Thai driver’s licence? Would you need one? Where can they be obtained?
What happens if you forget to pay the electricity or phone bills? Who do you
contact for re-connection? Can an accompanying spouse, with no work permit,
open a local bank account? Ever been lost in Bangkok? What’s the number of
the Directory Assistance Service which provides location details and
directions in English? What should you be forewarned about when apartment
hunting in Bangkok? Where’s the best place to buy a mobile phone? Because
it is much faster to go around the city by the Skytrain (elevated railway) -
even with a stroller - the listings of hotels, restaurants and shops
indicate which station is nearest.
The new Guide has been eagerly anticipated by a large
cross-section of the community, both from the public and private sectors. It
is mandatory reading for new-comers who seek “The essential guide to
living in Bangkok”, longer term residents and, even, the street-wise
denizens of Bangkok’s wherefores.
It is superb value at just 795 baht, available now at all
Asia Books stores, Kinokuniya Books and Villa Markets. All proceeds from
sales will be donated to various charities dedicated to the welfare of
disadvantaged Thai women and children.
For any further information on the new Guide or the
Australian-New Zealand Women’s Group, contact the web-site:
www.bangkokguideonline.com or Kayyla Sheridan, e-mail: [email protected]
or tel. 02 662 1718.