If there is a place where the global financial crisis does not seem to exist, where would it be? The Thai capital of Bangkok might probably make a good example. Last week’s VIV Asia show was as vibrant as ever.
With visitor numbers almost equal to the 2007 edition, the credit crunch and its consequences seemed lightyears off Bangkok’s BITEC venue, where this year’s edition of VIV Asia was held, 11-13 March.
Exhibitors present showed up with relatively large numbers of key decision makers – and some of them said there was simply no space for gloomy thoughts or pessimism in all the talks, presentations and deals that occurred.
What is it that made Bangkok stand out amidst of all turmoil going on in the world, I wondered? Of course, it’s a mixture of elements – hope, ongoing investments, business mentality, clear progress and a welcoming atmosphere.
This all, however, is part of the story, I realised when I was fortunate enough to pay a visit to neighbouring Cambodia prior to VIV Asia.
Tourist-wise I came to visit the lakeside village of Kompong Phhluk, not far away from the city of Siem Reap. The village, renowned for having wooden houses being built on 10 m stilts to resist floods of excess water from the Mekong River during the rainy season, could only be reached by boats.
Behind the houses, near the waterside, miniature varieties of these huts on stilts could be seen with well-known pink or brown inhabitants – backyard pigs in a way I could not have imagined. Most had about 4 m2 to spare and their huts had simple twigs or cloth on top to cover their heads from the burning sun.
I was too surprised to ask questions as to whether the animals were allowed to get out, what they were fed and when they’d be eaten – but I managed to take a fair amount of pictures.
These were good examples of backyard pigs, I realised, the well-known vessels of virus mixing and contamination – and I imagined similar kinds of pig-keeping happening in Europe in the 19th century.
Reviewing my pictures, I became very aware of that last magical ingredient of VIV Asia. Cambodia, that’s an economy that prefers US dollars to its own currency riel; that is the Khmer Rouge atrocities still being very alive as they extended well into the eighties; that is tourism that has only started flourishing in the last set of years; that is a livestock business that still needs to take off in many areas.
The location? Only 400 km east of Bangkok.
The magical ingredient of VIV Asia – I’d call it the vicinity of business opportunities. I just hadn’t seen it through my own eyes before.