Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand
April 26, 2007, 3:12 pm
Filed under: airports, Bangkok, holiday, Suvarnabhumi, Thailand, vacation

Suvarnabhumi Airport (ท่าอากาศยานสุวรรณภูมิ; pronounced su-wan-na-poom), Bangkok’s new international airport, received a fusillade of bad press when it opened in September 2006. Even before the airport opened, however, it had attracted considerable controversy, including perenial delays, dubious construction quality, cost overruns, and allegations of venal deals.

It didn’t help when less than six months after it opened, the Thai military junta was forced to allow domestic flights to be diverted to the old Don Muang on a “voluntary basis” after months of strenuous protestations by airlines and airport workers over congestions (the airport is supposedly already operating at near-full capacity), inadequate facilities, and most worryingly, soil sunsidence and cracks on the runways.

I have flown into Suvarnabhumi more than four times now, and I have to say other than the long walk between the gates, many of the earlier complains regarding the airport interior seem to have been address or are in the process of being remediated. The propinquity (or lack thereof) between the gates and immigration is tough to solve because of the poor layout, but the immigration counters seem to be more adequately staffed. I’ve never had to wait for more than 15 minutes in recent flights. Taxis are also adequate, and washrooms seem to be cleaned regularly. Things are improving.

Here are some pictures I took at various places inside the airport during a recent trip.

Scene of the Churning of the Milk Ocean





Waiting area at the departure hall



And finally…a spa in the airport. This, afterall, is Thailand!



Plaza Athénée Bangkok, A Royal Méridien Hotel – More pics and YouTube clips
April 20, 2007, 4:08 pm
Filed under: Bangkok, holiday, hotels, Le Meridien, photos, reviews, Thailand, vacation, videos

Here are more pics shot from various places on the hotel grounds. The first is a pic of lotuses awaiting their installation on a lobby display piece. Lotus exudes tranquility and serenity, and appear to be a primordial spiritual symbol in a number of Eastern cultures.



The second is a shot of the hotel façade from the Ploenchit BTS, a mere 5-minute walk away.



The third captures a facet of the Bangkok skyline from the verdant garden adjacent to the swimming pool.



Clip #1 – Thailand Jazz Competition #2 Finale Concert

Clip #2 – Approaching train at Sala Daeng BTS Station

Clip #3 – FoodLoft @ Zen, Central World Mall

Plaza Athénée Bangkok, A Royal Méridien Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
April 17, 2007, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Bangkok, holiday, hotels, Le Meridien, photos, reviews, Thailand, vacation

The Plaza Athénée Bangkok, A Royal Méridien Hotel is encased in a modern, sapphire-blue tinted glass facade, and exudes an understated elegance. Inside, the theme of clean lines and gracefulness is continued, with white marble flooring, and a soothing center oversized lotus display piece flanked by two grand semi-circular staircases leading to the second-floor function rooms.

Beyond the lobby, which looked like they have been remodeled fairly recently, the corridors at the accommodation floors hinted at the age of the hotel. The rooms were simple and functional, with all the amenities one would expect of a business class hotel, but otherwise had no outstanding features.

Recreational facilities were adequate, and special mention must be made of the swimming pool, which is surrounded by a well-manicured, verdant garden. The deep blue pool tiles and pool side sala as well as lush greenery combined to help the pool take on a resort feel–a rarity in Bangkok city hotels. The gym was functional, with two treadmills, two elliptical machines, and a couple of other cardio steppers. There are also about seven weight resistance machines.

An interesting sight beyond the typical hum drum of a hotel was a rather unusual wedding that took place on Saturday evening. The couple must be connected to the military or police apparatus because there were several uniformed guards-of-honor lined up along the grand staircases to the ballroom, and in attendance were also several guests dressed in military/police regalia. The traffic police was also marshalling traffic outside.

Location wise, the hotel is well situated, within a mere 5-minute walk to the Ploenchit BTS. Mall worshippers will be glad to know that Ploenchit is just one stop away from Chidlom, were shopping meccas such as CentralWorld and Siam Paragon, billed as the largest malls in Southeast Asia, reign. Overall, a great hotel with excellent, discreet service worthy of the Le Meridien lineage.