One of many reasons you may want to come to Thailand is to attend one or more of the hundreds of conventions held at the many venues around the city each year. Today I visited the free admission Thailand International Photography Exhibition held at the Bitec Convention Center located on Bangna Trad Highway. Easy access by BTS Skytrain from downtown hotels and acres of free parking ensures a massive turnout of both foreigners and Thai . Spread out over three buildings I lost count of the number of active exhibitors. The big companies were prominent, Nikon, Canon, Sony, HP anchored thousands of square feet of space. No expense was spared in giving the guests a very pleasant experience. Each company had built a viewing tower that simulated a safari blind fully equipped with ultra telescopic lenses to scan the floor.
Exhibitors supplied dozens of lovely models that gave each of the tens of thousands of camera buffs the opportunity to do a celebrity style shoot in a high octane environment. I counted dozens of individual photo clubs, identified by their club shirts all having the time of their lives. Photography has become a premier social prerogative in Thailand. The King has issued many photographs of himself wearing an SLR around his neck or in active use. The Thai people seem to have taken the cue from his royal highness and have fallen in love with photography.
I have never seen as many different photo equipment makers under one roof. Although the prices don’t qualify as cheap compared to some of the tax exempt countries of Asia, the thing this show had in spades was variety. Everything from bags to widgets, the number of name brands that exist in the world and that are not readily available in North America make an Asian trade show like a candy store for the photo enthusiast.
These consumer product shows are your opportunity to bear witness to the growth of the new Asian middle class at play. The economic miracle that has swept millions of people up into a moneyed class with plenty of disposable income underscores the fact that this is not your grandfathers Asia. Try building a trade show or two into your travel plans next time you visit. The effort just might add a new level of awareness to you trip.