Thursday, December 16, 2010


Raintree (music)

After stopping by Skytrain JazzClub, Logan & Sandy took me to a Thai country music joint called Raintree that Lonely Planet says is "one of the few remaining places in town to hear Pleng Peu-a-chee-wit, Thai folk music with roots in the communist insurgency of the 1960s and 70s."  I would describe the interior design as "Buffalo heads meet random other stuff," and the fried bar food a-la-Thai was great.  I have to admit the music was better than I expected (I've heard that the secret to happiness is low expectations), and I shot 2 videos to share the sound...

King Tut in the house.  Come to think of it, his nickname sounds very Thai...
flags on display, including Ecuador's (center), presumably still up from the world cup (which they got to watch at night over here!) 
Thai Country Music Maven:

Skytrain JazzClub

It's across the street from my skytrain stop, overlooking it, and not really a jazz club, but it's cool! 
 Logan + Sandy chill, chill, chillin...
 the staircase is covered in art:
mostly graffiti:
 I love how when artists imitate something they tend to wind up adapting it to their own visions & uses:  

meanwhile, this traditional-looking sculpture was just hanging out by our table...  Bangkok.  
nuff said.

Thai Haut-Cuisine

Thai food, I have come to realize, is an amazingly delicious, developed, and diverse art form (a seasoned one!).  It is the product of a great and tweaking focus on tradition - some might say "obsession," much like French cuisine (and Ecuadorean while I'm at it!).  But the Thai ability to share the richness of its cuisine with the world is obviously limited (American Thai restaurants are generally a pale and watered down sampling of the real thing).  I love this food as much as I love French and Ecua food (which is a lot), and the emphasis these cultures have placed on good food strikes me as very beautiful - aesthetic.  Cooking & eating - the nutritious nourishment of the body is such a basic, defining dimension of life, that it seems wholly justified to focus on it as one would on life itself.  As they say here: "same, same."  I've already mentioned the related preoccupation with food among Thai artists...   If we have to cook and eat to stay alive, why would we degrade and rush this process, as in fast food?  Much better to honor and celebrate it to the fullest and best of our imaginations and abilities...  It should take a lifetime.


Thailand was one of the few countries NOT to be colonized during the twisted, long era of colonialism (even while all its neighbors were).  So while it can be said that they value "Western" things like, say, Winnie the Pooh (they like them some Winnie the Pooh), there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of inferiority complex.  They have their own racism though, where lighter skin is privileged (bad sun!)  - the darker-toned Isaan people from the northeast suffer discrimination, and there are lots of "whitening" products available.   But generally Thais go about the business of being Thai as a perfectly valid, valuable, and EQUAL cultural option.  They don't seem to sweat the "West" that much, and for the most part, it seems to work for them.  At this point they've got their own language with its own script, their own take on religion (that borrows as much as it needs), and their own distinctive cuisine.  It's refreshing to see a country like Thailand in the face of enduring "Western" world domination.

Thai Bark-Boxing

The neighborhood dogs kept me up last night - I guess they all decided it was fight night!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Skytrain Mirror

Flower Market 2

I stumbled on the flower market at dusk...  The front end this time!
they do beautiful things with their flowers, often for Buddhist rites:

 it smelled great as you can imagine...

 food stands, as always and everywhere...

alien fruits... 
and there are many types of garlic here, mostly milder... 

all taking place across the street from this monument - so dry, colorless, and bureaucratic in comparison:

Rights of Passage

This lovely family from Bangladesh had just had their visa application to the U.S. rejected today.  They've been all around South East Asia (in Thailand at least 100 times!).  They obviously face challenges with patience and dignity.  It made me feel incredibly fortunate to have the ease of travel that comes with an American passport.  Her sparkly dress glittered on the pier as we waited for the long-boat to take us to our next destination.  They had me take a picture of them and wistfully suggested I visit Bangladesh next time.

Buddhist Prayer

This lady from Myanmar started spontaneously singing/praying at the top of Wat Traimí in Bangkok's Chinatown...

Blind Music video

Blind musicians abound in Bangkok, here's one walking through a small market around the corner from my apt, on Rangnam Road, with his young drummer leading the way.  You can see how crowded it is...  I never want to hear that violence is just human nature again - because if so many people can live together, most often quite peacefully, in huge cities like BKK and NY, then PEACE is human nature!

Chinatown 2

Chinatown is so huge here that it encompasses micro-ethnic enclaves within it.   Today in Chinatown I passed by a market full of people and goods from India...


Tributes to the King are ubiquitous all over the city (I think because of his birthday): 
 Then I stumbled upon this majestic Wat Rajaburana (even sounds Indian to me):

and this neighboring tower... 

contrasts continue... 
you know I love this hanging drum pavilion! 

these little Buddhas were tucked away inside a small structure... 

Bangkok weather in December is basically hot & humid.  And this is winter!