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  1. Feeling blue during Bangkok’s rainy season? Let’s make our heads deep in a good story and get whisked away on a rainy day in the City of Angles. Here’re my 5+1 favorite bookstores in Bangkok that you Farang will also enjoy exploring—and getting a good deal. Must-Visit Bookstores in Bangkok Neilson Hays Library At-A-Glance: Nestled in a quite yet convenient corner of Bangkok, the architecturally-designed building in neo-classical style with striking white-and-green façades is a much-loved library since its foundation in 1869. What’s inside: The coveted address houses more than 20,000 books offering the widest collections of English titles loved by locals and foreigners alike. No matter what kind of books you are looking for—a crime thriller to while away, a recipe for dazzling dinner or a far-flung travel idea—these page turners will await you here in this high-ceilinged bookstore in Bangkok. The building is adjoined to the relaxing Garden Café and Gallery where you can savour the rich aroma and taste of warm coffee while appreciating the inspiring art exhibitions. Location: Neilson Hays Library 195 Thanon Surawong, Si Phraya, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500. Passport Bookshop At-A-Glance: Overshadowed by a myriad of cafés, bars and stores along Phrasumeru Road, the hole-in-the-wall book shop is a destination for all avid readers, especially those interested in travelling. What’s inside: Though the place lacks in space—there are only three wooden tables here—it is lavish in style and rich in detail! Travel-oriented books mostly occupy space on shelves while a collection of impressive objects, e.g. Russia dolls, children’s toys, straw hats, clogs, masks and cameras are placed in the proper place. This bookstore in Bangkok is really full of artistic odds and ends, but there’s no untidy feeling. Only all-round aura of coziness mingled with lovely jazzy music. Soak up the ambience and chat over a cup of tea (or coffee if you prefer). Small mementos are also available if there’s no more vacant space for books. Location: Passport Bookshop 589 Phra Sumen Road, Bawon Niwet, Bangkok, Bangkok 10200, Thailand Dasa Book Cafe At-A-Glance: Within a walking distance of the Phrom Phong BTS, sits a quaint little shophouse of three storeys where, on the pavement, a few boxes of bargain titles that go as little as THB19 can be found. What’s inside: Unbelievably, this is the biggest and best used bookstore in Bangkok adjoining a bookstore, a café and a hang-out spot together inside. Tough its hardwood floors are squeaky, its stairways are narrow and its light is dim, the shop is a reader’s paradise offering around 17,000 titles in Thai, English, French, German as well as Swedish and Norwegian. You possibly find rare and collectible publications here, too. Neatly organized by genre and in alphabetical order, bibliophiles will find themselves amid a wide selection of books on the first two floors. More exciting? Climb up to the third where you can rummage and sieve through a section of discounted books (THB 29 – 99). If browsing is not your thing, opt for online searching at Dasa Book Cafe Relax over a cup of caffeine and make an excuse to linger. Location: Dasa Book Cafe 714/4 Sukhumvit Rd, Khlong Tan, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110. Hardcover: The Art Book Shop At-A-Glance: Located on the third floor of Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC), the book shop is designed with extensive glass walls in the front and, in the back, a simple black background—yeah, the futuristic transparent design. What’s inside: I guess this is the best bookstore in Thailand where hefty art tomes from home and abroad are available. Not to mention the internationally-acclaimed artists’ publications. And let alone a stunning collection of rare and out-of-print academic art books that will be exhibited from time to time. Glossy pages on travel, fashion, architecture and design are also up for grabs here, too. If you just don’t want to dig deep down into your pocket, a visit to the place is a fest for the eyes and soul. But you hardly resist to purchase Trust me! Location: Hardcover 939 Rama 1 Rd, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330 Candide Books Café At-A-Glance: Once a miniature book café in Phra Nakon vicinity, this bookstore in Bangkok found a new home in the Jam Factory. Similarly to a beachfront wooden bungalow, the lovely building under the shades of big trees appeals its visitors with the aesthetically pleasing appearance and roomy décor. What’s inside: Warm, welcoming smell of fresh-made coffee and redolent scent of paper and ink will hit your nose as you approach inside. The industrial-chic book café named after Voltaire’s classic writing piece is an ideal space for various titles from local publishers and famous writers. You may find the place to best enjoy art exhibitions as well as a cup of warm drinks while chillaxing with friends or in solitude. Location: Candide 41/4 The Jam Factory Charoen Nakhon Road Khlong San Bangkok, Thailand 10600. The Bookshop At-A-Glance: Situated underneath the swanky Ashton condominium in Sukhumvit Soi 38, this is another brainchild of Bangkok’s in-demand architect Ashley Sutton. His imagination turns to be an architectural masterpiece that best combines magical scenes of Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland together. What’s inside: Climbing up the last step of leading-to-nowhere stairways, you may temporarily in a visual shock. I said so because shelves, chandeliers and piles of books seem to be swept up to the ceiling by a magical tornado passing a minute ago. Back on the ground there’s a rather small space stylishly decorated with iron tendrils, marble gueridons, metal chairs and plush velvet seats. This is NOT a bookstore in Bangkok; only the name is. It’s an extraordinary bar where you can while away during downpours. Creativity play not only at the space and décor, but also in the menu. You will spend time reading it a bit longer because of its entertaining descriptions. Thirsty? State the name and one of its three categorized levels: Introduction, Chapter 1 and The End. Time will fly when you are getting laid back here, just like in the library. Location: The Bookshop Ashton Condominium, Sukhumvit Soi 38, Khwaeng Phra Khanong, Khet Khlong Toei, Bangkok Thailand 10110.
  2. We've decided to aim for a local school (private or public), with SMIC and Pinghe as backups. But I'm confused about the international tracks at some local schools. Is that just a separate track for non-Chinese passport holders? Or is it for local Chinese who want more English? As mentioned, the only real downside to a local school (for us) is the old-fashioned educational approach. Are some local schools more progressive than others? Do experimental schools have a more progressive approach?
  3. Thanks for your explanation. What percentage of the kids in the Pinghe international section are native Mandarin speakers? The website says the emphasis is on teaching English, so I imagine the focus is on getting non-English speakers up to speed, while maintaining some level of Mandarin reading and writing. Is that fair to say? Are you happy with the amount of Chinese instruction? How does the level of Mandarin instruction compare to local schools? I think our goals (placing the kids in a Mandarin-speaking environment for both play and academics) might be at odds with those of most Pinghe parents. We have the same concern about harshness in local schools that you have. Perhaps one year of it will be bearable given the other benefits. Friends from both Taiwan and the mainland have told us their elementary teachers were "cruel" and "humiliating," so I guess we've been warned. Michael, I think GoPlayer was just making clear to me, a newbie, that many "foreign" kids (at certain schools including Pinghe) are actually native Mandarin speakers (though this is not necessarily the case at other schools), whatever their passports might say.
  4. Many thanks to all of you for your helpful advice. Hello, Ciwei. It's encouraging to hear your success story! It sounds like a local school would be great for us, if my kids are up to speed in terms of reading and writing Chinese (I will need to have them evaluated.). The lockstep educational approach and all that homework don't sound ideal, but it will only be for a year or two--and thanks for the heads-up on tutors: we'll need one. Do you have any say in which local school your kid goes to or are they assigned automatically based on catchment areas? If there is choice, how did you go about it? What kind of school should we avoid? Hi, Sbergman. My impression (from posts and websites) is that the Chinese track at SMIC would provide a better focus on Chinese than the Singapore school or Pinghe (they seem to have a special section for foreigners, which defeats the purpose for us, and it also seems to be boarding only). It's a shame SMIC bans Chinese outside the classroom. Is your child in the English or Chinese track? How is his/her Chinese? Otherwise, how do you like the school? Adam, do you plan on keeping your child at a local school after kindergarten? Anyone else out there with kids in the Chinese track at SMIC? How is your child doing? Best regards
  5. Hi! We're thinking of moving to Shanghai for one or two years in the fall and are looking for advice about local schools for our kids. I have tried to read the threads here, but most of the commentary centers on the international schools. Have any of you had success with the local schools? How about problems? Can you recommend any particular local schools? For reference, I have two kids, who will be 7 and 9 (second and fourth grade) next year. They speak Mandarin and are learning to read and write; they are roughly at grade level. (I'm not concerned about the English instruction they will get while we live in Shanghai because they are native speakers and well ahead of their peers.) The rationale of the move is for my kids to solidify their Chinese on a daily basis with Chinese kids, so the international schools don't appeal. Do the local kids mostly speak Shanhainese outside of the classroom? Given the comments here, I have one main concern: the rigidity/rigor of the local school system. I don't like this approach to education for my kids but think it will not wilt them over just one year. How long is the school day? How much homework? Also, my kids are not Asian--are there bullying issues for such kids in local schools? Are there other concerns I should have? Last, I've heard the Taiwanese educational system is more progressive than the Chinese one. What Shanghai school is popular among Taiwanese expats?
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