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Inaugurating Barack Inside a Bangkok Taxi

An international crowd packed Bangkok's Roadhouse BBQ last night to watch Obama assume the presidency on CNN. How captivating was Barack's speech? Enough to shut up more than 100 expats — crammed into a tight bar space, many of on their fourth pint of Tiger beer — for more than six minutes. Impressive.

After leaving the  inauguration viewing party for expats, we hailed a taxi working the post-midnight graveyard shift. The cabbie — whose name, I believe, was Teerajet — was having a very different inauguration viewing experience.

A fair number of Bangkok taxi drivers rig their cabs with mini-TVs. It's an escape from the soul-grinding traffic that only devout Buddhists have the inner calm to withstand. (That's my theory, anyway.) Some even pop in karaoke discs and pass the time crooning.

But this driver was tuned to the inauguration, which appeared to be dominating Thai TV news — even at 1 a.m.

As the TV feed crackled and hissed, he offered his (vaguely spiritual) thoughts on Obama:

"It's like with our country. We have to bring in change, leave the old behind," he said. "Old people are too connected to old institutions ... to bad forces. New people have a chance to change things."

For good measure, here's a shot of expats watching the big speech. Keep in mind that many of those who jammed into Bangkok's inauguration party weren't American — but excited nonetheless.

Both photos shot by Global Post correspondent Pailin Wedel.

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http://www.globalpost.com/notebook/thailand/090121/inaugurating-barack-inside-bangkok-taxi