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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Two new egat plants on stream in 2012

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) will build two new 800-megawatt power plants worth a combined Bt36 billion in Ayutthaya and Chachoensao provinces.

Egat expects to hire a contractor for construction of the first plant in Wang Noi district of Ayutthaya by the end of the year, so that the plant can feed power to the system in 2012.

Egat governor Sombat Santijaree yesterday said the bidding would also take place early next year for the construction of another 800MW plant in Chachoengsao's Bang Pakong district, which will supply power in 2013.

"During 2008 and 2009, Egat will borrow Bt10 billion per annum to finance the construction," Sombat said. "We're discussing with the Finance Ministry about the fund-raising options, whether we should issue bonds or tap loans from financial institutions."

Yesterday, Egat officially started the engine of its plant in Chana district, Songkhla, which is one of the investment projects under the 15-year power development plan (PDP).

The plant, fuelled by 130 million cubic feet of natural gas daily from the Joint Development Area, is supplying power for the South where demand rises 10-11 per cent per annum. With an installed capacity of 731MW, it cost Bt16.9 billion.

Egat has boasted that it faced no resistance from the local community, thanks to close discussions with local leaders. It has also contributed Bt400,000 to a community development fund. After the commercial start-up, the fund will receive Bt30 million-Bt50 million a year.

According to Santi, Egat will proceed with the planned investment under the PDP, which requires the state agency to erect two coal-fired power plants.

Egat is now looking for locations for the power plants, expecting to finalise the plan in 2009 so that the facilities can start feeding in power in 2015.

"If we can't keep to the schedule, the Chana power plant could be expanded to accommodate the generation of another 700MW, or Egat could buy more power from overseas sources like the one in Koh Kong, Cambodia," Santi said.
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Angkor What??

A long bus ride to Siem Reap, well four hours so not hugly long and also not the longest we'll do on this trip but we are aiming to shorten bus journey as much as possible by stopping at small towns along the way. The largest town like place we were in was paske so Siem Reap is very much welcomed by us. Western food, an opportunity to clean our clothes (properly) and meet lots of other like minded people in bars with western music.

We managed to steal the last room at the 'Shadow of Angkor' guest house for $8, fan with warm water as the owner put it, not cold. To be honest the day sun heats the tank so the first minute or so can sometimes be quite hot. The first time you'll find us arguing over who is going for a shower first, thats for sure.

We do the usual, dump our stuff, pull out our day bag and fill it with what we need and head out to explore. By foot we scoped out the restaurants we want to try whilst here (the most important task) then strolled around the town gathering our bearings, Siem Reap isn't particularly big but very pretty.

The next morning we woke early, yes again, rented our bikes for $2 each and headed in the direction of Angkor Wat. We stopped after 6km to purchase our $20 tickets each (Khemer people have free entry, we also worked out they must make $52 million a year from entry fees) before cycling a further 4km which brings you to the first ruin of the ancient and enormous city. The first being Angkor Wat, we walked around admiring the ruins and shocked we were still able to climb it and walk through. Not sure how long this will be the case but glad we had the opportunity.

We cycled further for another few km before reaching Bayon the next city of the Angkorian era, we are now understanding how large the city was. This was the one with the smilie faces on the rocks plus other beautiful wats. We continued cycling around the area stopping at particular ones and ending in the famous one where the trees are begining to over grown the ruins. Truly beautiful and more so the sun was being to set which created a glowing shade of burnt orange on all the surfaces.

We headed back for a well deserved shower and tucked into a german meat feast of sausages at one of the local bistros and enjoyed a few Angkor beers which are more expensive then the Lao beer.

The following day Daniella did her circiut around all the local artisan factories visiting ceramic workshops while Jon enjoys an extended lie in. Meeting for lunch later we booked a 'Day in the life' tour which consisted of us living a day in the shoes of a local. Starting of the day with rice havesting which I truly cannot convey in words the difficulty, mainly skill and techniques which years of practice will give you, oh and lots water. We all, including two others who decided to join the tour were sweating buckets while the locals seemed fine. This gave us a opportunity to really appreciate the rice we eat. We made a video which we will attempt to put up soon.

We then moved to another family in the village and helped them make thatched roofs with bamboo sticks and dried palm leaves before heading to a local reservor with an explantion of the villages eco system.
without another

Well an intresting a cultural time in Siem Reap and now its time for us to yet again pack our bags to move on. Not without another cake from the 'blue pumpkin' bakery though (a very modern upmarket stylish bakery) as you can imagine, we felt at home.To be honest most of Siem Reap is full boutique hotels and fancy restaurants to please the tourist trade. Every thing most backpakers aren't looking for but we enjoyed while we could.

Next stop the big smoke, Phnom Penh.
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