Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thai Kickboxing

Muai Thai!  @ Lumpiní stadium, where the best of the best get their brains bashed in.  One guy had to leave the ring in a stretcher!  Here's a sampling of the violence.  A keen eye will reveal the Olsen twins!


I had been admiring this shrine for a while, right outside a huge mall called Central World,
where people had been stopping to worship all day, in the midst of big city craziness!
 I met a couple of Thais who explained that this was a god named "Pík Khanet," otherwise known as "Ganesh," from India (khanet>ganet>ganesh)...
and that he was, among many other things, the god of artists!  Performers in Thailand apparently pay respects to him before performing. 
They said I must have found my destination, and taught me how to pay respects, with 9 incense sticks, one candle (free at the site)...
and flowers (which they graciously gave me)...
and then kneeling down and praying.  They told me to pray for money, success, artistic accomplishments, and "all things better."
here's our incense in the bowl, 
and our flowers went on the heads of these elephants (later when I walked by there were mountains of flowers on top of ours):
There was something truly transportive about this gorgeously glittering shrine, despite, or maybe because of, its busy, super loud location.
It had been a long time since I kneeled, prayed, or had any kind of induced spiritual experience, but this was definitely one.  To remember.  Thank you Pík Khanét.

P.S. While I was gathering the incense a man came up to me and asked "do you believe?"  Now I'm not one to lie to the Buddhist police, so I just replied "Pom ben silapín" ("I'm an artist"), and that satisfied him to allow me pay respects to this god of art!

Flower Market

right by this canal:
is this market, specializing in flowers...

 and greens it seems...
  and ginger by the ton...
  There are these flowers used for Buddhist shrine enhancement:
 and world-class Pad Thai right on the street:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Skytrain Order

Bangkok is a city of contrasts.  For example, despite the crazy traffic just outside the Skytrain, people actually LINE UP, in orderly fashion, to wait and then board!  I can't imagine this ever catching on in NY - Anyway it's much more fun to push.  Also, I have yet to see anyone run for a train here.  Running would be so...  rushed.  This is the slowest, fastest city ever.

And BTW, from this station, Siam (the equivalent of Times Square in NY), you can see this site of a building that was burned down during the protests in April.  One of many daily reminders of the traumatic chaos the locals lived through just 8 months ago:


Along the river, right next to this...
is this:
and this: 

Wat Arun Video

I recorded this audio as I explored this temple, Wat Arun, at the end of the day, with very few people around. You can hear the serene call to prayer, temple bells, some kids playing, and a motorcycle go by. I hope this recreates a bit of this beautiful, mellow experience... I was surprised to hear an Arabic call to prayer in this Buddhist site, but the Thais, like everyone everywhere, really mix it up.


Monks are all over the place in Bangkok, especially in the morning...

Wat Pó/ Wat Arun

Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha), and Wat Arun (my fave)... 

just the feet are 10-feet high: 

 the surrounding temples:
 these college kids interviewed me about the value of the English language:

 just outside...
 Wat Arun, across the river: