Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

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More Bangkok Streets

On July 9th, all I did was travel, starting at 7am in Bangkok and ending at 12 midnight in Penang, Malaysia. It was one of those wearying days, so I didn’t take any photos. That means a bit of flair from yesterday’s street shots!

Juice and drinks are everywhere. This high-class shop had bottles instead of the ubiquitous bags-o-juice with a straw.

Fresh juice in Bangkok

There’s a lot of emphasis on uniforms, whether for workers or schoolchildren. Actually, I’m not sure if these are school or work uniforms!

Everyone wears a uniform in Bangkok

Traffic is a way of life. You’ll see jams at any time of day, and hear taxis / tuk-tuks complaining about it constantly.

Crazy Bangkok traffic at all times of day

I think this was one of the food stalls where you choose your ingredients and they cook for you. Although after closer inspection, I’m not sure. Might just be a fresh fruit or juice stand. Either way, there’s a plethora of good, fresh produce in Thailand! Oh yes, El Guapo, I would say you have a plethora.

Roadside food hawker in Bangkok

Thailand was a lot of fun and a lot of sweat, but somehow I’m happy to be leaving for less tourism-based areas. Up tomorrow, my first trip to Malaysia for sightseeing instead of business!

Posted 7 years, 3 months ago at 3:26 pm.

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An American in Bangkok

Jim Thompson: perhaps the most famous foreigner in all Thailand? He emigrated to the country after falling in love with it when stationed there just after WWII. Apparently he had a keen business sense, because he took Thai silk production from a cottage industry to a booming worldwide business.

In 1967, Jim Thompson disappeared while on a vacation to Malaysia. Even now, it’s unknown what happened to him – foul play, animal attack, or something else. Fortunately, his legacy lives on, as his home in Bangkok is open for visitors to see the beautiful Thai houses and Asian art collection that he assembled. I made my visit there on July 8th.

Traditional Thai houses are built on stilts to avoid damage from floods, and the ground floor around the stilts is mostly open.

Jim Thompson's House on stilts

Inside Jim Thompson’s house, no photos are allowed. But the excellent guided tour does explain a lot about this famous expat and his very original home (built from several old houses that he reassembled here). I highly recommend it for anyone visiting Bangkok!

Main entrance to Jim Thompson's House

Now for a street photo: this one was just too good for me to resist posting.

Fans and toys for sale!

The road where I stayed (Nana Soi 4) had lots of bars, where perplexingly hot and young women would talk to just about anyone. I wonder why?

Seedy bar in Bangkok

I was a little bothered by the obvious sex industry. But what can one do, other than avoid those bars. It’s frustrating that the low income society has driven women to this in order to support their families and children. So, visit Cabbages and Condoms and hope for a better future.

That’s all for today’s Bangkok adventures. Tomorrow, a day of travel – so I’ll show some more street shots!

Posted 7 years, 3 months ago at 3:07 pm.

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Street Buys and Santa Condom

Some of the people I met in Thailand were very nice, and the Thais I know in Germany are fantastic people. But if you’re a tourist in Bangkok, be very careful whom you trust. This basically means no one who drives a taxi, tuk-tuk, or motorcycle; and absolutely NO ONE that approaches you on the street with “helpful information.”

  • The attraction you want to see probably IS open, right now.
  • Unless it’s the palace, they probably WILL let you in with shorts/sandals on.
  • There is no “diamond buddha” at a special temple that’s only open one day a year (TODAY!).
  • The traffic always sucks; it won’t get better in an hour if you stop somewhere for shopping.

On July 7th I determined that almost no taxi wants an “honest” fare. One guy complained constantly about traffic after I refused his offers to stop for shopping, and tried to guilt me into leaving the cab. I persevered, and it took a whopping 15 minutes to reach my destination (not 1-2h as promised).

A second taxi was actually nice: took me right where I wanted to go with no complaints, for the metered fare, and actually HAD correct change. The third just wanted the flag drop (35 Baht, or about $1), then persuaded me to take the Skytrain to my destination. I took the Skytrain after it was clear he had no idea how to get to my destination, a small hotel in Nana.

Aside from taxicab craziness, here’s a selection of what I saw today. First, the Golden Mount (where the first cabbie didn’t want to take me). Great views of the city from the top of all these stairs.

Golden Mount in Bangkok

Second, here’s a lovely image from Wat Suthat Temple:

Photo inside Wat Suthat temple grounds

Now a street photo from my walk around the center of town. The small 3-wheeled vehicles are tuk-tuks, named for their annoying 2-cycle-engine noise.

Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing

After being hassled by several dudes on the street (“Don’t go to that temple! It’s closed today!”), I went to the farmers’ market. Mostly veg (for cooking) and flowers (for shrines), with a smattering of other stuff as well. Great local color!

Bangkok chilies at a farmers' market

Here’s where I ate lunch. Finally found something moderately spicy, although from what I found so far, the average Thai food (or what they serve Caucasians) is not nearly as hot as what I expected.

Lunch in a farmers' market in Bangkok

For dinner, I tried out a restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms. It promotes the use of birth control, in order to bring the skyrocketing population into check. Apparently seven children per family in a developing country is too much. The prices are much higher than restaurants the locals frequent, but the service and food are fantastic. Since the profits go to a very good cause, I was happy to splurge and spend $13 on my meal.

Plus you get to see lamps made of condoms, and great statuary at the entranceway:

Condom mannequins at Cabbages and Condoms

Yes, Santa Condom. I think I have a new theme party idea for Skydive Orange! What do the jumpers think?

Posted 7 years, 3 months ago at 3:10 pm.

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Bangkok’s Steamy Underbelly

By steamy, I mean several things. Yeah, there are Bangkok’s red-light districts. But then you have the humid summer heat – and the clouds of actual steam rising from every street vendor stall. How the Thais eat skewers and plates of hot, roasted meat and veg in this heat, I don’t know.

Eating street food in Bangkok

On July 6 I attempted to find out, by walking the streets and taking candid photos of the locals. Okay, I got shots of a few tourists here and there as well – they are the lifeblood of this city, after all! I mean that literally – they are a transfusion of cash into Bangkok’s arm. There wouldn’t be so many tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis without us tourists. “Where you going?”

Motorcycle taxi drivers in Bangkok

The “Zen” mall in CentralWorld was burned down during riots in this summer’s red shirt protests. Now it’s surrounded by walls, prepared for rebuilding. To help promote goodwill there is a thoughtful poem from the president of Zen, and lots of heart-shaped posterboards where some people have scrawled messages of hope for the future of their beloved mall.

To others it’s a good spot to sit and smoke:

We Love CentralWorld!

I’m going to use a cropped version of this photo so you can see what’s so great about this scene. All eyes are on this beautiful woman:

Lots of cellphone users on the streets, but less than Japan

The contrasts don’t stop in Bangkok. This woman looks like she’s meditating as the epitome of wealth in Asia drives by: the BMW.

Quite good

The pink slippers are classic.

Awesome!

Only half a meter of sidewalk separates these two, yet they live worlds apart.

Excellent!

For my last street photo I’ll throw in this food vendor snacking on her own wares. It’s a good sign if they’ll eat what they have cooked, right?

Excellent!

Now for the night photos, taken from the upper deck of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel. This was tricky, because the platform rotates. There is a screen with wide spacing (big enough to fit a D-SLR through), then a concrete outer ledge about a foot wide. The screen moves, but the ledge doesn’t.

I set my camera & mini-tripod on the outer ledge and clicked the shutter release. With a 5s timer, the camera stabilized as I pulled my hands back through the screen. Then I walked along the (rather fast) rotating platform to stay with the camera. Not much leeway here! Fortunately the camera is heavy enough, and the tripod small enough, that the high winds weren’t likely to blow it off the ledge.

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There’s a lot of traffic in Bangkok. Even at night the streets and highways are crowded. During the day, the cabbies complain constantly about the traffic. “Don’t you wanna go some shopping on the way?” No, because the traffic will NOT be better after you drag me to some scam gem shop.

DSC_6409

These wide shots were the best I could do, because there was no way to look in the viewfinder while placing the camera (through the mesh screen, and while walking slowly along the moving platform). If anyone finds a non-rotating vantage point in Bangkok with such good views, please let me know for the next time I’m there!

Posted 7 years, 3 months ago at 3:08 pm.

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Mannequin Nip-Slip

Bangkok has a LOT of medium-tall skyscrapers, which you can look down on from the Baiyoke Sky Hotel’s 84th floor. I got this shot after breakfast on July 5th.

Bangkok view from the Baiyoke Sky Hotel

Here’s a good photo for the engineers, showing what the infrastructure of Bangkok is like. I suspect it’s a good metaphor for the city’s hodgepodge of rich/poor, fancy hotels/slums, etc.

Messy electrical wires in Bangkok

They are just as excited about football (ahem, soccer, for my American friends) as the rest of the world:

A football ad for... Pepsi?

Somehow, I can make a series out of the mannequins smuggling raisins from Lima. But, as you’d expect from Bangkok – a city known for sex tourism – the mannequins are a bit more risqué.

Yowza, a mannequin with no pants!

Personally I prefer the more subtle nip-slip; this might just be a Janet Jackson-style “wardrobe malfunction” instead of gratuitous nudity.

Bangkok mannequin nip-slip

Tomorrow I’ll share street photos & night photos. Nothing R-rated – hehe.

Posted 7 years, 3 months ago at 3:47 pm.

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50-Lemon Can

My last day in Japan was American Independence Day. Sadly I didn’t spend July 4th with any Americans, or see any fireworks. Most of the day I was on a train or plane. But I did see a few cool sights along the way.

As I got very little sleep the days before departing, I tried out this little treat on the express train to Narita. According to a friend, it’s what hung-over Japanese salarymen drink on the way to work. This can has 50 lemons’ worth of vitamin C! “Eeeexcellent, Smithers.” <tents fingers diabolically>

IMG_5085

After a long day of flying, I arrived in Bangkok and caught a shuttle bus into town. It started pouring just as I stepped off the bus, so I splurged for a taxi… it was 40 Baht (about $1.25) from the bus dropoff to the Baiyoke Sky Hotel.

I was only on floor 25 of this very cool 84-floor building, the tallest in Thailand at over 300 meters! Here’s the view from my room:

DSC_6195

It was not a bad deal considering the nice buffet breakfast, and adding in that I could go to the top of the building at floor 84 for free, night or day. I wouldn’t stay a whole week here (a bit pricey), but for a couple days, it was great relaxation and an even better view.

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That’s it for now. I’ll have night pictures from the tippy-top at floor 84 coming up. That was tricky due to the super-annoying revolving platform which would make any long-exposure tripod photos useless. I found a way around it, though – mu-hahaha!

What’s the tallest building you’ve ever been in / up? Currently I’m on Taipei 101, over 500m. When I visited Dubai, the Burj Khalifa (a.k.a. Burj Dubai) wasn’t done yet.

Posted 7 years, 3 months ago at 3:19 pm.

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