Splassssh!

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





M/M Paris in Bangkok

6 02 2014

M/M Paris, the design duo who rose to prominence in the art and fashion worlds with Bjork’s “Hidden Place” video, are in town for a talk sponsored by the Siam Center fashion mall and the Thailand Center for Design and Creativity.





Cafe life

6 02 2014





BKK street

6 02 2014





Ratchethewi – if these walls could talk

6 02 2014

From this….

Ratchathewi, the first stop after Siam heading North to Victory Monument, is  rather transitional neighbourhood, often overlooked by tourists as they whizz over it in the Skytrain en route to Chatuchak or the mega malls. It is home to a grittily picturesque little garment district, several vast blocks of empty land, a semi-derelict arcade with a medieval theme, the city’s best costume store and the hulking 1960s Hotel Asia, home to a mammoth annual conference of Elvis impersonators every August. And, critically,  home to some of the city’s best street food  and street art.

Although I have covered the street art in the area before on the blog I was surprised to hear it was also street food Mecca – who knew? But sure enough,  the  stalls underneath the Skytrain are thronged with locals and reputed to serve the city’s best som tam and pad thai.

Ratchathewi’s street art legacy recently took a direct hit though. A landmark mural by now-deceased street art star Mamafaka was painted over last week by a rival grafitti crew, in a act which has sparked a street war of smarts.

To this…

The iconic artwork installed as a centrepiece of the Bukruk street art festival last year was painted over with pretty lame, amateurish tags in the middle of the night, leading to howls of protest from street art lovers. The “artists” responsible hit back by claiming that the temporary nature of street art was what made it unique and that Mamafaka had himself removed other artists’ work to create his own piece.

Unappeased, Mamafaka fans hit back by gathering for a painting party to obliterate the offending work within days of its appearance – replacing it witha wall of black and simple typography advertising an upcoming retrospective of Mamafaka’s work at the Rachadamnoen Art Centre, an elegant “fuck you.”

To this.





Alt-BKK

6 02 2014

Bangkok indie girl rockers Yellow Fang released their new album this month, The Greatest.





URFace – Papa’s got a brand new bag

6 02 2014

Check out my new bag from Bangkok streetwear and design company URFace. Last time I was in town the brand was showcasing a great line of tote bags with illustrations by Mamafaka but I was thwarted by, first, poor service at their pop-up store at bad Motel, and then an out-of-date website listing a Siam store which turned out to be closed. The brand now has a new office and flagship store in Bangrak and, more conveniently, a stockist in Centralworld (the Designitti store next to Topman).





My life as a… live wire

6 02 2014

Spotted this week, the amusingly titled autobiograhy of Suharit Siamwalla, the crossdressing techno DJ and heir to an Indian immigrant paper company fortune who last year ran unsuccessfully for Bangkok mayor on a platform of free yoga classes, improved public transport and more parks.





1 02 2014





Dot

1 02 2014

We stayed in Bangkok at an interesting new single-room hotel, located in an art gallery on Suhmuvit Soi 31. Called Dot ART+Suite, the property contains a single spacious, beautifully appointed room located above a gallery of beautiful pieces of wood carving. It came complete with a vast ornate Thai-style bed, a leather upholstered sofa, interesting artworks and a six-person orgy-size shower. Something different, in a great central location. We loved it.





In the Mood For Thonglor

1 02 2014

Because my boyfriend is a fellow Wong Kar Wai fan, on our first night I took him the WKW-inspired restaurant “In the Mood For Love” in the fun swanky district of Thonglor.

I had originally planned to take him to its sister establishment 2046 but apparently that was short-lived, having already closed (its location in the desert jungle-themed Rain Hill mall probably didn’t help).

When we arrived (granted, quite early) “In the Mood..” was empty too although as the evening progressed it filled up with more of the Thonglor beautiful people in expensively sequined hotpants and ostentatious leather bags.

The restaurant is a strange beast though – although the name and decor come from the Wong Kar Wai film of denied love in 1960s Hong Kong (complete with a wall of mirrors designed to recreate the fractured cinematography of the original film), the food is Japanese-inspired and the soundtrack is, disappointingly, generic “hip bar” house music rather than mournful cellos and kitschy 1960 cha-cha that so beautifully soundtracked its celluloid namesake.

I have to say, the avocado “caterpillar” was pretty good though. And in true Bangkok fashion we followed it up with mango sticky rice sitting on a plastic stool in the tropical night at the street market at the mouth of Soi 38, before heading off elsewhere for drinks and massages. A nice Thonglor evening!








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