Thursday, December 27, 2012

Will the Chinese build a highspeed railway from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and to Nong Khai?




China has just opened the worlds longest Highspeed-Railway from Beijing in the north along 2298 km to the southern boom city of Guangzhou. There were a lot of international headlines around the first train on this line. And they helped to forget the big problems with Chinese Highspeed Trains as the Wenzou train collision in the not so far past.

But the Chinese Railway policy has much bigger ambitions. It is under way to create a Highspeed Railway System in Southeast Asia, linking China to Laos and Thailand and creating connections from China to Singapore.

Laos is forcing plans for a $7 billion railway link from the capital Vientiane in the South to the Chinese border in the North (passing the towns of Phonhong, Vangvieng, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha). The construction shall begin early in 2013. The line will be completed around 2014, said Laotian Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad at an international rail conference in Beijing. "While the exact route isn't clear, the rail line is expected to connect the southwest Chinese city of Kunming with Singapore, passing through Laos, Thailand and Malaysia", wrote wsj.com.

The project is financed by a 30-year loan from Export-Import Bank of China, according to rfa.org. China will be responsible for the construction. "Beijing is seeking to secure raw materials from neighboring countries to feed massive infrastructure investment and its manufacturing industry", wrote wsj.com. There is one more railway project in Laos: On December 24 a contract was signed for a US $5 billion railway line from Savannakhet to Lao Bao at Vietnam border. The construction is undertaken by Malaysian company Giant Consolidated, writes enjoy-laos.com.

Meanwhile preparations for four highspeed-railway lines in Thailand are going on. Funding is to come from a proposed 2-trillion-baht investment programme dedicated to new infrastructure projects over the next seven years. In November 2012 Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said according to Bangkok Post the government is planning four high-speed rail lines to support trade and tourism within the country. The four high-speed rail lines are Bangkok-Nong Khai-Vientiane; Bangkok-Ayutthaya-Chiang Mai; Bangkok to Hua Hin; and an expansion of the Airport Rail Link in Bangkok to Chon Buri, Pattaya and Rayong. These plans are supported by a Study of Thailand Development Research Institute Foundation. And China is aggressively lobbying the Thai government to select its train and construction technology, writes Bangkok Post. Chinese Deputy Railways Minister Lu Chunfang told Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that its construction costs average only US$20 million per kilometre compared with $81 million in Japan and $50 million in Germany. Thailand and China signed a memorandum of understanding on April 15 to conduct a feasibility study for the Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Bangkok-Nong Khai high-speed rail links. Thailands government plans to open international bidding early next year on the first phase of the high-speed rail project. Chinese government officials advising Thailand have suggested that it begins with a 54km route linking Bangkok and Ayutthaya as it would fall in line with the government's push to have the ancient capital serve as host for the 2020 World Expo, noted Bangkok Post.


Read also:
Growing Chinese influence in Cambodia: A railway from Preah Vihear, a steel plant and a seaport in Koh Kong


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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Good morning Old Bangkok 3:
Artsy Phra Athit Road

See the locations on Old Bangkok Buildings Google Map

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Where Phra Athit Road turns into Phra Sumen Road


Not looking for the neon lights, the souvenir stalls and the crowd of backpackers in Khao San Road, but for heritage? Then Thanon Phra Athit ถนนพระอาทิตย์, located along Chao Phraya River, may be your road for a stroll and for your dinner or for a drink, because it's known for its bars and artsy restaurants and also for some shops. It's not far away. First you may arrive at Santichan Prakan Park with Phra Sumen Fort (from 1783), one of the two remaining of fourteen forts, that used to guard the ancient city. From the park a riverside walk leads to Pra Pinklao bridge and to some restaurants with riverview. Phra Athit road also shows you the architecture of old Bangkok with shophouses and palaces:


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Phra Sumen Fort


Bann Chao Phraya บ้านเจ้าพระยา (Wang Grom Muen Sathit Damrong Sawat): Next to Sumeru Fortress on Chao Phraya River. Originally the palace of Prince Sathit Thamroungsawat, son of King Rama II. Later it was Prince Khamrob's palace. The two-storey brick building is supposed to have been built between 1868 and 1910. Architectural characteristics are "the delicate perforated wooden porch, the window facades overlaid with half-circle glass, the curved upper balcony", notes Donruetai Kovathanakul in a research project. See picture by flatkrab


Bann Phra Arthit บ้านพระอาทิตย์: Wang Thanon Phra Arthit Tee Nuang. House Number 102/1 Phra Athit Road. Finance Minister Phraya Vorapomgpipat (Wang Chao Woraphong Pipat วังเจ้าพระยาวรพงศ์พิพัฒน์) constructed the building in 1926. From 1962 to 1989 the Goethe Institut rented this house. Now it is the office of Manager Media Group. And it houses the restaurant Coffee&More บ้านพระอาทิตย์. See gallery. See pictures on soidb.com. See also picture on bloggang.com and here

Picture tourrattanakosin


Buddhist Association of Thailand:

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Bann Maliwan: Also called Maliwan Palace and Wang Grom Phra Nares Worarit. It was originally the palace of Prince Worarit, son of King Rama IV. During Woröd War II it was command-post for Seri-Thai, the Free Thai Mouvement. It is also known as Tha Chang Mansion. Today its the office of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. It was built by the Italian architect Ercole Manfredi.

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Wang Grom Phra Sawatdiwatwisit: This building was first the residence of a consort of King Rama IV. Today its the Unicef-Buiding (United Nations Children's Fund).


Prince Adisaranuwongse Sukhasvati's Palace:

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Picture Ian Fuller


Restaurants on Phra Athit Road
Read more in the Banglamphoo section of Mouthwatering Food in Bangkok



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