Thai indie: Gym and Swim

11 08 2014

Love the title, and cute tune.

Bangkok street art: worldwide tropical

11 08 2014

More of the pan-Third World street art by Brazilian Cece Nobre in Bangkok.

Bangkok grey

9 08 2014

Work by artist Ludo in the Thai capital.

Goodbye to the aquarium of dreams

7 07 2014

It could be the end of the line for one of Bangkok’s most fantastical attractions. After reaching the English language blogosphere about a year ago, the bizarre fish pond in the ruins of the New World Department store hit critical mass online last week. In a short time, its image popped up on several major blogs and my Facebook news feed. The appeal of the site – a ruined department store, now flooded and teaming with tropical fish, swimming endlessly in circles in the dark past dripping escalators and old cosmetics counters – is deeply intuitive, a kind of dystopian Atlantis.

It even inspired one online artist to produce the piece above.

The fish had originally been introduced to the flooded basement of the department store to control mosquitos breeding in the dark, stagnant pool but without predators, they multiplied rapidly. But now with the spotlight suddenly shining brightly on its murky waters, the pond faces a new threat. Thai authorities have stepped up the barricade around the hulk of the New World building and announced that it could be demolished – finally, after a decade in ruin – within thirty days.

Report from my own not-very-successful expedition to see the fish here.

Thai Weezer?

7 07 2014

…or New Direction?

Art Thai

18 06 2014

Flyer for the “Wolf” exhiibition by Note Kritsada , Bangkok street art by Tikka Tek and a piece from “Isolated Land” (Scroll down) by Suthipa Kamyam.

Isolated Land

16 06 2014

The nineteenth century naturalist-style illustrations of Thai artist Suthipa Kamtam, now on show in Bangkok.

Meanwhile in Bangkok…just don’t mention the coup

8 06 2014

This week the above picture emerged online of the Iron Throne purportedly in Bangkok (it wasn’t). Yet the seeming appearance in Thailand of the ultimate prize in the bloody wrangling of the “Game of Thrones” was a fitting metaphor. The Coconuts website ran with the on-the-ball headline – “nothing to do with the coup, we swear”. It was a fitting comment on the bizarre maelstrom of pop culture and politics that has emerged in the city since it entered the limbo-land of its umpteenth military rule.

Ex-PM Yingluck was “outed’ by the US National Inquirer as as one of Obama’s extramarital flings, protesters took to silent read-ins of ‘1984’ in protest against army rule (the book, and others deemed allegorical, having been hastily banned) while other more militant anti-junta activists (with a less developed cultural vocabulary?) adopted the Hunger Games movie’s three finger salute as a sign of defiance.

And yet – the city trundled on, as ever oblivious to its chaotic ruling factions. Thai glamour girl Chompoo Araya again caused a sensation on the red carpet at Cannes, a boy in Khon Khaen miraculously sweated blood and a bevvy of new art galleries and party spaces popped up including this one I’m anxious to visit: The Soy Sauce Factory in Charon Kreung, host of a new Afro-funk night.

Party like its the night before the revolution.

Thai style

26 05 2014

Bangkok marks its recent military coup in typical style – with a “hottest soldier on Instagram” contest. Typical Thai – I love it. ;)


4 05 2014

Work by the Bangkok and Zurich based Swiss street artist.


18 04 2014

Songkran, the Thai New year, was celebrated this week with the huge G-Circuit Songkran 8 party in Bangkok, to which muscle dudes from all Asia flocked, and then re-lived endlessly on their Facebook pages. It looked like a great party. Meanwhile in Hong Kong,  the Thai immigrant community held a part of its own, the traditional water-splashing ceremony on the streets of HK’s Thai stronghold, Kowloon City.

Singapore tried to get in on the action with the self-proclaimed “world’s largest Songkran party” leading to outrage among some Thais who saw Singapore sneaking up to steal “their” event, but much to the relief of the critics the event fizzled in the end when water splashing, perhaps the festival’s biggest attraction, was banned in a – very Singporean, very un-Songkran – attempt at promoting water conservation. Fail.

In its homeland meanwhile Songkran went on much as usual – with backpackers super-soaking each other in aqua-street combat, several underage revellers in hot water for public nudity, 100 people dead in car accidents (it  is always the most dangerous time on Thailand’s roads) and a slew of sentimental, masterfully manipulative new year television commercials.

New music

7 04 2014

New Mandarin, from Thailand

Bangkok’s latest crisis: weird eyebrows

2 03 2014

Having seen off the end of the world, a turbulent election, bloody political skirmishes and an unprecedented “Shutdown” (which this week was announced to be over) Bangkok is now facing its latest crisis: weird eyebrows.

A Thai friend had mentioned to me in Bangkok that the trend for “weird eyebrows” was hitting critical mass in the capital, whereby teenagers and gay men (particularly) penciled in thick, geometric-looking superbrows to dramatic effect.  He said that “no weird eyebrows” was already popping up as a common term on the gay hook-up app grindr, along with “no fats and no fems”. I had scoffed at him, until this week the Coconuts Bangkok website ran a link to this Thai “Weird eyebrows” facebook page, “over the Eyebrow” where people post social media pics of the said item. It has 28,000 likes.

Then this weekend while dining with my boyfriend and mum in the hip Tai Ping Shan cafe “Nosh” I turned around to see a table of quite attractive, possibly Thai and very gay looking men – one with unmistakeably Weird Eyebrows.

Watch out Hong Kong! Its coming your way.

26 02 2014

Photograph by Louis Lee, Bangkok

Lost in Paradise

26 02 2014

Rural migrant workers stand adrift in a vast and dreamily still Bangkok, in Lek Kiatsirikajorn’s exhibition “Lost in Paradise”, now on at the Kathmandhu gallery in the Thai capital.

24 02 2014

Photograph taken in Bangkok by Louis Lee.

Flowers, not blood.

24 02 2014

This is cute. As the protests continue to intensify in Bangkok (this week with the tragic death of two children bystanders at a rally) Thai celebrity florist and founder of the new Museum of Floral Culture, Sakul Intakul, has released a timely reminder of the city’s gentler side. His quirky, pastel-coloured little Bangkok floral guidebook features (of course) plugs for his new museum, and tips on where to see flowers and flower-related art throughout the Thai capital.

After all this is a city of twenty four hour flower markets, street jasmine sellers and garland-draped shrines, swamps and tropical gardens, and refined royal gardens.

The slim tome is rounded out with  his (not bad) personal shopping and dining recommendations.

An interesting specialist perspective on an endlessly fascinating city.

KFC shoots commercial in Bangkok to sell chicken in South Africa

22 02 2014

What a wonderful world!

Bangkok 2014 : the brave new world

6 02 2014

Today I left Bangkok. The city was still roadblocked at five key intersections by the Shutdown protesters. They had set up encampments at strategic points to try to bring the city to a standstill and force the government to abandon planned elections. They have been unsuccessful on both counts. The elections went ahead last weekend with six people shot on the election eve at a protest clash, but no further violence, much to everyone’s relief. Two of the protest sites have now been abandoned with protesters consolidating their stronghold at Lumphini Park, currently resembling a refugee camp of tents.

And yet, the blood and chaos predicted by the international media has failed to materialise. To all intents and purposes, the city functions as normal – which is telling about how “normal” Bangkok ever gets. Few cities would tolerate such large scale civil disobience – police have been instructed not to confront the protesters, who have quickly set up markets behind their road blocks with the atmosphere of ambitious school fetes with aerobics demonstrations and salsa concerts, food vendors and everywhere people selling shrill whistles and endless “Shutdown Bangkok” souvenir T-shirts. At one “protest” I saw people getting their feet massaged – to spite the government, presumably.

For all their (confused) claims about promoting political reform (how????), the “Shutdown Bangkok” sites seem, for the most part, more money-making and hedonistic than political.

But then Bangkok is Bangkok – it always manages to have a laugh and find its thrills, in this case for example opportunistically crowning visiting Japanese journalist Daijiro Enami a sex symbol. The reporter’s “hunk reporter face” incited a minor fangirl riot of his own.

But other than this, and the fact that you can now walk down the middle of Silom Road or Sukhumvit Road (and enjoy live music and fresh air) Bangkok is still Bangkok. It still supplies those little thrills that no other city – in my experience – can match, those “Bangkok moments”.

Like a trannie dag queen dancing on the night after the election in killer heels in a muddy puddle, complete with dangling, splashing  electric wires.

Or peeking into a tattoo shop at Nana at midnight, to find it empty – except for a pet rabbit.

Or buying a sweet potato latte.

Or a cello player busking in Sukhmuvit outside a Family Mart next to a fried chicken seller.

Bangkok –  don’t ever change

Bangkok superstar

6 02 2014

Bangkok people

6 02 2014


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