The last part has begun: Thailand and Laos
Barely two weeks after returning from the Philippines, I was bidding goodbye again to the PETplanet team and Germany. This time for a month and a half. The last section of the Thailand and Laos tour was ahead of me and after a somewhat turbulent 6 months, I was more and more looking forward to a relaxing holiday. Frankfurt Airport, it occurred to me, was fast becoming my second home. For this final part of the tour I had been building up, over a period of months, a solid list of very interesting contacts and I was pleased to have come up with a busy visit schedule.
After arriving on Sunday in Bangkok, I had around a day and a half to get acclimatised. Braving the unbelievable heat and humidity, I visited some temples, including Wat Arun, one of the highlights of the city. In the evening I chose a restaurant called “The Deck” overlooking the Chao Phraya River. I need hardly add that Thai cuisine is one of my favourites.
Two days later, the Propak Asia Fair opened at the BITEC exhibition grounds. I was there the previous day to get the lie of the land and complete the registration formalities and to meet Ms Bow from the organiser’s office. As so often happens with overseas trade fairs, the halls seem at first sight a total shambles, but experience tells me that overnight everything will be transformed and it will look fantastic. So it was here too. I have some 40 appointments with PETplanet readers. I had seen most of them at Chinaplas only four weeks previously, but many of them were exhibiting products specifically focused on the local market.
Quite by chance I happened to bump into Laura of Guozhu Precision Mold China, who was visiting the trade fair with a colleague. Although we are in the year of both Interpack and Drinktec, the event was quite lively, but less crowded than last year, according to the many conversations I had. Growth rates in the PET sector, such as in Vietnam and in Thailand are not expected to be spectacular.
The beverage packaging sector is likely to be smaller, and largely orientated to the single-serve area. Bericap presented, among other things, their new neck concept for the 250ml Coca-Cola bottle.
The first days of the exhibition seemed to fly by. On Friday I was really keen to take part in the Asia Drink Conference, but at noon I had an appointment with converter and Demark customer Titan Success at their offices, and the traffic in and around Bangkok is completely crazy, when all you should need to do is just get from A to B. For the Thai Editourmobil part of the tour, I used a Toyota bus with driver called “Ton”.
On arriving at Titan, I was surprised to find that they were in-house bottle producers, operating from the SIAM Drinking Water site. Thanks to the horrendous traffic, I only managed to get back to the hotel at 5.15pm, having taken 2 hours to travel 50km. I felt a cold coming on – unsurprising with an outside temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, dropping sharply to an air-conditioned 20 degrees inside. I therefore decided on a restful weekend, so that I am fighting fit for my upcoming double date at Indorama on Monday and Tuesday.