HOT INFO On The Road
Taka

itis@itisnet.com

March, 2000 - ?

Taiwan, Thailand, One SE Asian country, Central Europe

My name is Taka Yamauchi, a Japanese. Please forgive my bad English. I will try to write as best as I can.

Email #4, March 22, 2000 From Bangkok, Thailand

Currency $1=$37.72B, 100yen = 34.60B

Weather
Still Incredibly hot. We cannot move so much. 2 hour is the absolute maximum to be able to look around. One place in the morning and another place for afternoon.

Information office:
New information office is opened near Kaosan Area. Very convenient.
Just at the foot of Pinklao Bridge, air conditioned and a lot of free pamphlet available. Open daily 9:00-19:00 Very helpful as usual. There are chairs and tables and you can rest watching Chaophraya River.

Sight
Royal Palace: now 200B includes photo/video permit. There are two portions to enter. One is Wat Phrakeo and Grand Palace. Once you move to the second part, the Grand Palace, you cannot go back to the Wat. The ticket also allow you to enter two more places, Vimanmek Mansion(Free Thai Dance at 10:00, 14:00) and Royal Thai Decoration and coin pavilion. Free English guided tour available at 10:00, 10:30, 13:30 & 14:00. Good part for the tour is free and the bad part of the tour is that the guide move to quickly. IF you want to enjoy the wat section where is full of Thai traditional culture, you have to leave the tour after you see the Emerald Buddha.
Wat Po: entrance fee 20B
Wat Arun: entrance 20B
National Museum 40B
National Theater now open. Performances are held on Sat and Su at 17:00
Ask the schedule at Information office, Fee varies according to the performances.
The cultural Center also have free performances. Ask the time and date at Information Office. The show may start 19:00

Entertainment
Current movies in BKK: The Beach, Stuart Little, Green Mile, Hanging Up.
At theaters, 100B. Some theaters may offer discount for earlier shows.
You can see all movies at many restaurants in Kaosan Rd


Email #3, March 19, 2000 From Bangkok, Thailand

Currency $1=$37.77B, 100yen = 35.02B

Weather
I have just arrived in BKK. Incredibly hot. I already missed the rainy weather in Taipei. My estimate is 35 degree and humidity is 100%. Every time I move I am covered by sweat all over.

Accommodation:
I have just walked W part of Kaosan area, where you can see a wat(temple) and many guest houses are clustered. This area used to be a very quiet area but not any more. Many new GHs, shops bars are opened since last year. Now this area is equally noisy and busy.
I am staying at Thai Green GH which is hidden deep inside of Thai local neighbors. If you know Gipsy GH, it is easy to explain the location. Go directly S from Gipsy into a very small alley.There are 3 GHs in this alley. Apply, KC and Thai Green. Thai Green has small rooms for s100, d120. There are few large one may be 160.
New GH Review.
One S side of the Wat(S from Kaosan) there are two GHs opened. One is Sawadee Smile Inn, This is very similar to near by Welcome Sawadee Inn. The prices varies from 190-390(dr 90) but most rooms are very small rooms. I cannot see any value of them. The other one is Saan Sabai, just in front of Sawadee Smile, This has similar facilities to Sawadee group but the rooms are comfortable size. S170 d270 a/c ab 450 and deluxe 490. The restaurants and lobby are nicely designed. This could be good place upper class budget travelers.
The best valued budget hotel for middle/upper class budget travelers is Sukpasah Hotel, on the same alley of Welcome Sawadee. Old style Thai motel, charges just 350 for double a/c attached bathroom TV towel. Excellent value. This could be ITIS Award for BKK GH for 2000.
There is another cheap GH is about open.(Currently accept guests.) Just out side of the W gate of the Wat. start from 120B, more affordable GH. I will review more later.


Email #2, March 17, 2000 From Taipei Taiwan

Currency $1=NT$30.7

The small update before I fly from Taipei.

Weather
It rained heavily last night but it is cloudy this morning.. I checked the Weather information on the government publication for tourists. It says that the half of the days in March are fair. I think it number includes cloudy days.

Accommodation:
The cheap accommodation in Taipei is very limited. There are few hostels. The prices have not be changed since I started Taiwan research in 1998. The Taiwan information is available only in Japanese. Sorry I could not provide in English. There is a little problem to translate Chinese name to English spelling.. There are some information for cheap hostels in Taipei.
Happy Family I and II, two locations near the train station. T2581-0716 Most western travelers goes to ones to main ones.
dr NT250 s400+, d550+. C3 d450 S-TV, K, fr.C2
Go out from NE corner of train station, cross the road N from the station and walk E until you reach a big street, Chung Shan Road.Turn around 180 degree. you will see small sign of Happy Family. You can meet many travelers and foreigners who teach English in Taiwan. Good place to collect information.
Taipei Hostel: T395-2950 dr NT200-220/p, s450 d500, C3 TV
Youth hostel atmosphere. Walk E on the street S side of the train station. After Chung Shang, go 2 blocks(you can see a big computer shop, T-Zone) then turn left then turn right on a first alley. The hostel is at the end of it.
The last one I can report is a GH for Japanese. It is excellent facilities and very clean. I really recommend it place but non-Japanese cannot stay unless you are with a Japanese..
Ooshiro GH: 2550-5063 F2550-5064 dr NT250 Fr, free washing machine free coffee tea C4
Very popular. Reservation in the morning you want to stay is highly recommended. The location is near Happy Family. Walk W from Happy Family I mentioned above and you will see a place where subway is running. Walk N along side of the line turn left on the 2nd entrance of the subway. The GH on the left side.

Transport to/from the International airport
Normal airport bus is NT110 connecting the train station to the airport.But another company operates withy NT90. almost same service. They takes about 1 hour
NT110 one: at the airport, counter is one on the left. From the train station S bus terminal, a small bus terminal.
NT 90 ones: At the airport, counter on the right. Fro the city, leave from many hotels. for example Lai-Lai hotel, The convenient one is Formosa Hotel on Chung Shang Road, N from Nang King Road.. It runs every 15-20 min. Since it stops at many hotels, it may take a little more time, but not much.


Email #1, March 16, 2000 From Taipei Taiwan

Currency $1=NT$30.7

I am in Taipei, Taiwan, waiting my reservation from HK to BKK get cleared. All flights of Chinese Airlines from HK to BKK are completely booked for next 2 weeks. When I made my reservation in Japan over the phone, I thought I made my reservation, but it was in the waiting list on the day. I have to arrive to BKK before 20th, so I decide to fly from here to BKK directly.
Sorry no update for Hong Kong/Macao possible this year.
Instead I will report some information about Taiwan.

Weather
Rainy or cloudy everyday in Taipei. But Sunny in South half of Taiwan. For N Taiwan weather is expected to be same until May. Then Hot and Humid summer will start.

Bank/Exchange
Each bank has its own policy. But one thing is same. Cash is very easy to change without commission. T/C exchange rate is slightly higher(only 0.07%) than cash but T/C requires high commission. The rate for US$ is the best and the commission for T/C is lowest. T/C for other currencies may face huge commission.
T/C commission:
Airport: Many banks at the airport in arrival/departure halls.
Taiwan Bank: US$100-NT120 The rate are good and same as ones in cities.ICBC: US$100-NT20, Y10,000-NT28(lowest I found so far.)
Banks in Cities. Banks are everywhere. The center is on Nang King E Road.
Taiwan Bank: US$100 commission 100+20=NT120
Taipei Bank: US$100 com. NT20
ICBC(International Commercial Bank of China): US$100 NT7, J-yen 10,000 NT20 (Some brunch may ask other hidden fee. Please make sure before you sign your checks.)
TaiShin Bank: US$ no commission

Internet
More internet cafes were opened.
Free Internet places.
1 & 2.)
TT Station: S from the Taipei train station. The computer center has two locations inside. 1F-4 terminal 10 min. free to use. Just stay in a line.
Basement - 8 terminals. Buy a good more than NT50 and get a receipt. Then you can use 1 hour access for free.
3.) Nova: S from the train station, 3F another computer store. many terminals. 15min internet is free.
4.) Most public libraries has internet facilities. 30 min. free. You go to the library and make a "sign up" Usually you wait only for 30 min. One of the branch is located on Changang W. Go ChungSang N from the train station and turn left at the first light. The branch is on the right side. Tu-Sa 8:30-21 Su M 9-17:00 Very slow.
Private Internet points.
1.)
Internet Cafe: From the Mitsukoshi Tower, S from the train station, go South and turn right on the first corner and go W for 2 blocks on the right side. NT100/hr + drink NT100 10:00-23:00 good environment.
2.) Go Go net: New internet. From the Mitsukoshi Tower, S from the train station, go South and turn right on the first corner. The cafe is on the left Basement. NT90/hr min. Some soft drink NT 30 (all you can drink.) If you become member, it will be NT60/hr.
3.) Internte: #138 Chung Shang N 1 block, W side of road. NT100/hr
4.) King of Comics: From the train station W gate, go N, walk on the W side of the street. At the first light, you will see MacDonald. The place is under Mac. NT90/hr. Basic drinks, such as coke, coffee, tea are free. all you can drink. Excellent facilities and very fast. Highly Rec.


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