Tag Archives: Thailand
Michelle picked this wonderful cookbook up off a shelf at Siam Paragon’s Kinokuniya.
I’m sure Poo is just her nickname. But what a great nickname it is.
It was the Singapore Agent who told me about the poster guy on Rambuttri. “Rambuttri like Rambutan,” he said. “But with a tree at the end. Look for the restaurant with the good pad thai, next to the massage place. That’s where you’ll find the poster guy.”
The pad thai restaurant next to a massage parlor? In Bangkok, this means nothing at all — on the restaurant-and-massage-filled Thanon Rambutri, doubly-so. But it made for a treasure hunt. And, as you know, I LOVE treasure hunts.
[If I had taken a photo of the guy selling posters, I would have put it here. But my breath was wrenched away when I saw him. I forgot my camera. I forgot this blog. I only saw amazeballs.]
His folding table on the sidewalk, nestled between a jewelry stall and a t-shirt vendor, was piled high with old Thai posters for 80s American action movies, Chinese porn, and Japanese yakuza deliciousness. They were ripped, frayed, stained with water or coffee or blood. They were just $10 a sheet. They were gorgeous.
“Michelle, can you get me a coffee and a pack of cigarettes?” I licked my leafing finger, and started sorting. Holy shit — is this Nikkatsu Noir?
At Bangkok’s Goddess Tuptim Shrine, there’s something prickly going down.
At this veritable penis park, there are whoppers, dongers, cocks and dicks, carved-off woodies and sleek shiny johnsons in stacks.
Every last one is circumcised. Even the cocks of cocks.
Continue reading »»
Continue reading »»
Bangkok is awesome. Pad thai, ping pong balls, reclining buddhas. But nowhere is sweeter than this hidden corridor of Central World Mall, where crowds of high school kids practice their sweet dance moves every weekend. Each gang brings their own routines and own MP3 players. Any reflective surface–shop windows, aluminum panelling, fire extinguisher cabinetry–stands in for a mirror. And the moves? OMG. It’s pure coordinated secret wonderfulness. Justin Bieber, eat your heart out.
But it goes deeper. Almost every tourist hotspot across north-east Asia has a rack of costumes, a dramatic backdrop or two, and a whole boatload of awesomeness to dive into. All your dreams can come true, in Asia.
Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi’an
Winter Egyptians, Beijing
Guards of Mianshan Daoist Retreat
Cultural Revolution-era Mao and Lin Biao, Shenzhen
Gangsters of Old Shanghai, Shanghai
Stewardess and Captain of Old Russian Passenger Plane, Beijing
“Traditional Americans” at the US Capitol, Beijing
Geisha Girl and Samurai, Shenzhen
People’s Volunteer Army Volunteer Soldier, Dandong’s Commemorative Museum of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid North Korea
Sailor Girl, Bangkok
Pingyao Governor, Ancient Government Building, Pingyao
Miao Minority, Dali
Spotted earlier this week by reader Laurie London. (Thanks!)
We haven’t set foot in Bangkok in far too long. Months. But fortunately, AsiaObscura eyes are growing more populous, and reader Matt Smith wrote in with this great pair of electoral campaign posters.
What a smile! What a dog! (Pity about that shit kid he had to deal with.)
You can surely find more Obscurata in Matt’s Thai Diary, from Amazon.
Jim S., one of our favorite resources for Chinese and Thai scoops, writes that the poster translates to “When you need honesty”. He continued that, “Chuvit is not a member of any party, and was elected MP as a protest. He attacks everyone. Interesting person. Lots of educated young Thais in Bangkok voted for him.”
May S. writes that the second poster reads “something about politics being a diaper that needs to be changed when it’s full of shit. Most Thais think of him as a funny straight-forward politician and he finally got his seat this time, although his first day at the parliament was not that good.”
I found a flyer on the subway, for Beijing’s “岭郡ONE: Tuscany Romantic life” apartment complex, units from 430 sq-ft. Clever… looked like an ipad.
Continue reading »»
Continue reading »»
I put this up on YouTube a little while back, but it’s definitely worth putting up here: the illegal border crossing at Mae Sot.
I shot this from the Thai side of the Thai-Burmese border. To get from Mae Sot to Myawaddy, you cross a bridge, pay a toll, and have your passport confiscated for a few hours. (If you’re me, that is.) Or, if you’re Burmese, you could pay a fellow with a fat innertube a few pennies, and be waded across under the bridge. Literally, in the shadow of the legal crossing.
It’s pretty beneficial, really, if you work illegally in a Thai factory for sub-minimum-wage, or a monk on the run…
Michelle’s spent a slew of Chinese New Years here in Beijing, but she’s never seen these before — 大头娃娃 (Dàtóu wáwá or Dai Tao Fut) — incredible paper mache masks that we found in the back of a junk store, in Bangkok’s Chinatown. In English, they’re called Big Headed Buddhas, and for just a few dollars each, how could we resist picking them up!?!
King Rama IX, the King of Thailand, is groovy. I haven’t read the ugly tell-all bio yet, but based on pictures alone, this is a man I can adore. Some oldies, first:
But this next picture, his newest, which ran as the above-the-fold cover photo for every Thai newspaper on the first of January this year, is just about my favorite. I mean, how cool is this guy?
Wat Suwannaram, a 12th-century temple, is hidden on the far side of the river in Bangkok. It’s remote — no tourists, only two praying women in short skirts (they’d left their high heels outside.) The real draw here is the mouth-dropping murals, which tell the most bizarre and glorious tales. While we tiptoed around, a couple of masked women carefully touched up the murals, many of which were fading and cracked.
An old hag gets waylaid:
An insane Thai artist, who resides somewhere between Henry Darger and Moebius the Frenchman, realized he needed to return to his hometown, Chiang Rai, and build a temple. Not just any Wat — it had to be something bigger, something bolder, something more… white. It was to be the most renowned tribute to the Buddha, yet. It was to deliver him students and followers, and scores- nay, millions- of tourists a year. It was to put Chiang Rai back on the map.
And it did.
Bouncing along dirt roads in a tuktuk, sucking in truck exhaust, I cursed Sasha and Tina. “What’s another Wat,” I kept asking — I’d seen thirty, forty, maybe even a hundred, so far. I was sick of Wats. And here I was, twenty five minutes away from my guesthouse, and the bus to Chiang Khong, just to see another.
Then, far down the road, something white appeared. Wat Rong Khun (วัดร่องขุ่น) was glistening. It was literally brilliant. Closer, it appeared to be a palace made of Ice — something from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Pollution and open sewers aside, this was breathtaking.
After the grim Burmese reading , I had to go in for a second opinion.
So today I tried this Chiang Rai palm-reader. He must be good. He read palms with one glass eye.
Out near the zoo, hidden in a dusty residential neighborhood, miles from the nearest high street, is a Chiang Mai forest. In the middle of that forest, lies this piece of majesty: Wat Umong.
The koans, which you’ll find nailed to trees at random, read like a stocking-stuffer self-help book. But they’re great.