After bringing my digital camera to the Fuji service center several weeks ago, they finally finished repairing it from the water damage. A new circuit board and new buttons, all for only 2600 baht, about $65. Much less expensive than buying a new camera.
Tod went with me to the service center after a quick lunch in the Soi Ari area at a pad thai shop. Right: Tod modeling for a test picture.
Saturday morning I was up early, working on my new computer (yeah!) and getting everything arranged and re-installed from the external hard drive. Around 8:00 Markus text messaged me to let me know that he was awake and ready to ride, so I loaded up my bicycle and headed over to his apartment.
From there we drove out to the new airport, Suvarnabhumi, about 35 km east of the city. Not having driven there before, it was a bit of a guessing game. But eventually we wound up on the right expressway. New security measures put into effect after the foiled London bombing plot have restricted access to the new terminal building, even though it isn’t even open for flights yet.
Fortunately, we found that we could park at the Public Transportation Centre, where all passengers who want to take buses or taxis once arriving at Bangkok will have to transit through. Certainly, that will be a mess as the only connection to the PTC is by a shuttle bus from the main terminal some 5-10 km away! Maybe if they put a people mover system in, that would work better.
A security guard came over to see what we were doing as we unloaded the bicycles, but when I asked if it was okay to ride around he said it was.
We set off to the east, following a very nice, wide paved road around the airport’s perimeter. The shoulder is wide enough for two bicycles to ride next to each other with plenty of room to swerve to avoid obstacles. Heading into the wind, our progress was slow. But we made it to the south side of the airport in about thirty minutes. This was where the way became less clear. Above: Runway approach lights are working, burning away during the middle of the day.
We deviated from the main paved road because it followed a bridge toward another expressway, and we didn’t want to end up on an expressway. The maps I had read indicated that the perimeter road continued to the west, but the further we went the more the road degraded into just a construction track.
After a bit of exploring in the area between the runways where a lot of construction work is still underway, we found a large hole in the security fence near the end of the East runway. The construction workers let us know when I had gone a bit too far.
So we rode back and tried the next road, which looked like it would continue around the property. In a few minutes we were riding along a very wide (60 meters) patch of packed gravel that stretched for several kilometers. Every 10 meters or so there were pipes sticking up through the gravel, like conduit pipe.
“What is this?” we wondered. At first we speculated that it was a remote parking lot, the pipes being the locations of eventual light poles. But as we gained a bit of perspective, it became apparent that this was the graded land for a third runway and the parallel taxiway. It was kind of like standing in a large crater and suddenly realizing that it is actually a giant dinosaur footprint!
We rode the entire length of this future runway only to discover that it didn’t lead to a path that continued around the airport. Turning around a second time, we rode back into the wind, back to the intersection of construction roads on the south end of the airport.
Trying a third road, we seemed to be making good progress around the West side of the airport. The more we rode, the more degraded the road became. Finally, we reached a checkpoint with two security guards, who told us that we couldn’t continue around that way. I tried to explain that we had already ridden the other side of the airport. Finally, the guard relented, saying we could ride on around but only this one time.
The further around we went, the less and less the road looked like a road. Eventually it was just a dirt track. But sure enough, it ended up back at the north end of the airport, although we had to ride through the construction site for the Airport Express train (right).
In the end, we had logged 41 km, at least 10 of which was the result of back-tracking. But it is a good place to ride and it was fun to see the airport before it opens.
Saturday evening Markus had secured some tickets for a local performance piece titled “Linger.” A Thai-language short play, it was performed by three students from nearby Thammasat University at a 20-seat art space above the Bali Bar on Thanon Pra Athit. The whole scene reminded me of LaVal’s Subterranean Pizza Parlour and Theatre in Berkeley, CA.
The story is about three young ladies, each of whom is carrying a difficult situation in her life that she has not disclosed to her friends. During the course of the play, which is meant to feel like friends talking in a cafe, they share their stories with each other.
While following the narrative was difficult because of my level of language comprehension, the acting was very powerful. It was very hard not to believe that these were in fact three friends who were sitting in the cafe (given that the performance space is the second floor of a bar/cafe) and I was just eavesdropping on their conversation.
An interesting touch was the use of an overhead projector, with an illustrator who drew the images that the woman were speaking of, as they spoke. The drawings were projected above the woman, as if they were their thoughts and dreams.
After the theatre piece, we caught a taxi to The Deck at Arun Residence, a Western/Thai fusion restaurant on the bank of the Chao Phraya River, directly across from Wat Arun – the Temple of Dawn. The place is really cute, the food is very good, and the service is attentive. And if you’re sitting on the deck or the rooftop terrace, the view of the wat is amazing. Add this to the list of places to take visitors.