The Spectacular Airport
The Suvarnabhumi (su-wan-na-poom) International Airport, located 30 kilometers east of Bangkok, is the first place that amazed me most in Thailand not only for its capacity of handling 76 domestic and international Thailand flights per hour but for its spectacular airport terminal building with a three-ply membrane roof.
The pinched jet lag that I felt courtesy of the two and a half hour Manila to Bangkok air travel had vanished immediately as I stepped beneath the sheds on the north side of the airport terminal. Candidly, a feeling of reverential respect mixed with wonder had engulfed my psyche as I watched over the roof membranes consisting of glass fiber coated with Teflon, an inner membrane coated with the same substance and the transparent polycarbonate sheets conveniently attached on a steel cable with opaque fritted glass fitted on a mesh structure.
While my eyes were rolling at the Bangkok night landscape, including the best rooftop bar in Bangkok that we passed by as our tour bus was plying the highway, my ears were glued to the tour guide’s story of his prime boxing career with a boast that Manny Pacquiao, who holds the title of the Philippine National Fist, is very much lucky to have been born ten years younger than him, otherwise the golden boy from General Santos City could have tasted a Thai knock out. He was such an expert story teller that I did not notice that we had reached the Khurana Inn situated at Rajparop Road, which is my home for my three-day stay in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Cooperative Lesson
The first stop of the 40-man Mindanao cooperative leaders’ study tour was the Klong Chan Credit Union (KCCU) Limited at No. 1 Soi Sereethai 7, Klongchan Bangkapi, City of Bangkok.
It was in that palatial building that I experienced for the first time the Thai tradition of retaining the footwear at the door step and roam the building interior on bare foot.
The piece of information I got from the Chief Executive Officer of Credit Union League of Thailand (CULT) was really a big surprise . . . that Thai cooperative leaders learned their first lessons in cooperativism from the SEARSOLIN in Xavier Heights, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.
Joining the Chao Phraya Princess Cruise along the Chao Phraya River was not only enjoyable but memorable as well. While enjoying the sumptuous dinner amidst the pleasant sound of the live band, the lovely lady singer with a powerful voice sat beside me and said: KUMUSTA KABAYAN? (HOW ARE YOU BROTHER FILIPINO?)
Capping the third day of our study tour was a visit to the Federation of Savings and Credit Cooperatives in Thailand situated in Nonthaburi Province as well as a travel to Samphan Nakorn Pathom Province for a visit at St. Peter’s Credit Union (SPCU).
The Man and the Beast
But nothing beats my excitement and amazement when we witnessed the breath-taking crocodile wrestling and spectacular acrobatic elephant show in Samphan, west of Bangkok. Candidly, this crocodile wrestling stunt had astonished me most as the head of the crocodile keeper was fed into the mouth of the salt water crocodile while his right hand was waiving at the audience…
What amazed me most was the perfect timing such that the jaw of the beast closed just a split second after the head of the keeper was completely hauled out from the mouth of the salt water crocodile.
My Final Thoughts
Amazing Thailand had really affected me with great wonder. The Suvarnabhumi International Airport terminal building is architecture and engineering at its best. The lessons I learned from the outstanding cooperatives we visited were superb but the fact that their cooperative leaders studied the basics of cooperativism from the Philippines and yet they produced largely successful cooperatives than we do is really mind-boggling.The dangerous play between a man and a beast had really sent shivers down my spine. But what endeared me to Thailand most is the fact that it is the only Southeast Asian country never colonized by a Western power and I love hearing the Thais beaming with pride that they were born in the LAND OF THE FREE.