Bangkok, with its tweeting police whistles, roar of traffic and the cry of street vendors, is not for the faint-hearted. Yet the City of Angels, or Krungthep, as it is called, has earned itself a deserved place - up there with the best - as a shopping mecca, with deals on wheels and glitzy shopping malls rubbing shoulders with alley wares and weekend markets. The variety is mind-boggling and local Thai designers are producing some inspired stuff that will have your bags groaning in delight. Shopping in Bangkok is for the intrepid but, with a stout heart, a good map and a stouter bag, you'll be bulk ordering bags, belts, jeans and blouses like the pros in no time. Stand your ground and bargain hard.

In a historic development for Bhutan’s aviation industry, the first helicopter sporting the national flag touched down at Paro International Airport yesterday. The Airbus H130 helicopter, assembled in Singapore, stopped over in Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh, and upon entering Bhutanese airspace landed at Gelephu Domestic Airport to refuel before heading to Paro Airport. The helicopter can accommodate up to seven passengers, excluding the pilot. The government plans to use helicopters for search and rescue, air medical evacuations, fire fighting, moving cargo, transport of VIPs and government officials, and possibly even for tourism, with services scheduled to launch on November 5..  

The public will be able to view the female panda cub, born to giant pandas Xing Xing and Liang Liang, in another two or three weeks, said National Zoo deputy president Rosli Ahmat Lana. He said preparations were being made by the zoo for the purpose. “Liang Liang (mother panda) is now able to let go of her baby for an hour a day in the isolation room. It will be increased to a minimum of two hours daily to prepare the cub for public viewing,” he told Bernama. He said the cub was now two month-old and healthy, with a body weight of almost five kilogrammes. “She can now run in the cage and the spots on the body are now full,” he added.

Planned rail tours in Vietnam are expected to offer passengers a new travel option. Representatives from 18 tourism firms in Ho Chi Minh City recently took a five-day train tour to four destinations, including Binh Thuan, Nha Trang, Phu Yen, and Binh Dinh. The tour, organized by the Saigon Railway Co. and the Ho Chi Minh City Travel Association, is the first step toward a full rail tour service, to be provided in the near future. Rail passengers need not worry about luggage size, and rail cars for tourism are upgraded with improved toilet areas and more space to move around thanks to a lower seating capacity, while well-trained wait-staff serve a good menu which changes daily. 

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