28 Sep 2006

Suvarnabhumi Airport

Suvarnabhumi, the new Bangkok international airport opened at 3am this morning. The main building of this new airport is the world's largest single building. It has 120 aircraft parking bays and can handle 45 million passengers and 3 million tonnes of cargo per year. This airport is new and very big. Its opening shows Thailand's ambition of wanting to be the air hub of Southeast Asia. This is the time to say goodbye to Don Muang Airport which I have visited so many times. I agree that Don Muang is always crammed with tourists, but it is so close to the city, and I know exactly where to get what I need there.

Suvarnabhumi means 'The Golden Land'. Gold is important to Thai culture as it is to Chinese culture. Gold usually symbolizes high quality, and its meanings include wealth, illumination and prosperity. This bright colour is also used to represent fertility. The old Chinese royalty used gold as its symbol, and only the king had the privilege to use this colour. In Buddhist tradition, especially in East Asia, the image of Buddha is always depicted in gold. This color is widely used in Buddhism to show that Buddha's teaching is like the ray of sunlight. It penetrates darkness and brightens our mind. Though yellow is the royal colour in Thailand, they have used gold in everything related to the royalty and Buddhism. I believe many tourists who visited Bangkok will be impressed by the use of gold in the grand palace.

I guess the king chose this name to hope that this airport will be like gold shining in Asia. In the introduction film of this airport, I saw this intention of which they tried to create the image of the airport on a golden field. Aircrafts taking off at sunset with beautiful reflections of golden sunlight from the surroundings. I must say this short video is a very good promotion for both the new airport and Thailand. It not only tells its audiences how big, new and effective the new airport is, but also introduces Thailand as an ideal place for all international travellers. I have been to Thailand so many times, and I think I have known quite a lot about this country. However, after seeing this film, I get the feeling of going there again to experience the charms of the country. Despite all the delays of this new airport and scandals of the current political situation, this short video is truly a good promotion to the country's tourism industry.

I cannot help myself but think of my country's policies on promoting Taiwan. Recently, our government announced a very strange decision. They decided to change the full name of Taipei C.K.S. International Airport to Taoyuan International Airport. I don't understand the decision. Further, we always say that Taiwan has the best location to be the hub for Asia Pacific, but I have not yet seen any positive policies to make this real. Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Shanhai and Guangzhou all have their big new airports now, and Singapore will complete their new terminal in Changi Airport in 2008. We are only starting to plan the new terminal and a new runway for our newly named airport. How can we compete with our neighbours when we are always couple steps behind? What is truly sad is that our current government never admits that we are losing our place in the international society, but tries to comfort the public by making false statistics. The worst is that they try to divert the attention of the public away from criticism by creating group conflicts. It seems that these politicians only care about maintaining their political power and privilege instead of lifting the living quality of the public and the national competitiveness.

Our world is losing its old geographical boundaries, and it is becoming a flat world, as proposed by Thomas Friedman. We should look forward and position ourselves as a constructive part of this flat world. In the meantime, we should put the needs and the welfare of the public as the priority and work on it. Changing the name of the international airport will not bring good welfare to the public but create confusion in the international society. I strongly believe that the government should take immediate actions to lift the service of the airport and to attract more international airliners. Though it is simply not possible to promote Taiwan through political measures, we should focus on what we have already established and succeeded in the international society. When Taiwan takes its good position in the international society, naturally the world would know Taiwan as a political state and would continue its positive, though not political, connections with Taiwan. This good connection would bring beneficial effects to the people of Taiwan.

Though we are not sure if Suvarnabhumi Airport can achieve its goal to be the air hub of Southeast Asia, its opening in fact promotes Thailand once again in the international society. Now I am expecting my next trip to Thailand because I know I will be landing in this brand new airport. I am hoping that I will have a good experience using this airport in the coming future. At the same time, I am also hoping that our government can really open their eyes to look forward and do something positive to promote Taiwan to the rest of the world.

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