Goodbye to Bangkok

27 10 2015

An illustrator says a short, sweet goodbye to Bangkok. By Mauk illustration.

Teens of Thailand

6 10 2015

An amusingly named and chic cocktail bar in Bangkok’s Chinatown.

Bangkok stays quirky, Hong Kong shuts up shop

23 09 2015

Not content with its gay dogs cafe and alpaca karaoke, Bangkok’s restless pleasure-hungry hordes have turned their attention to the Northern suburb of Nonthaburi, where the Little Zoo Cafe has just opened. It features a free-ranging menagerie of a European red fox, adorable fennec foxes from the Sahara, meerkats and a racoon to entertain customers while they sip their coffee.

The city is also celebrating the 101st anniversary of its Chulalongkorn Hospital with a bizarre celebrity-studded “medical fashion photography show” dubbed “Anatomy101”.

And finally, the new Museum of Thai Corruption has opened at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, aiming to educate the Thai public on the history of rorts that have been perpetrated against them. The museum hopes to move in soon to a permanent new home. The BACC though is already home to artist Wit Pimkanchanapong’s likeminded painting “If There Is No Corruption,” a satirical subway map showing a dense network of rail lines, in stark contrast to Bangkok’s actual tally of three (although that is soon to change).

Keep on fighting the good fight!

Meanwhile, while Bangkok is expanding its attractions, Hong Kong is losing two if it’s. The Goldfinch Cafe, a retro “soysauce Western” restaurant known for its dim, 1950s interior and classic pork chops, closed this month after more than fifty years at its Causeway Bay address. The restaurant will be forever remembered as the scene for the dinner between Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung in “In the Mood For Love”.

Hot on its heels, another old-timer, the Louis Steak House in Wanchai, annouced that it will also close due to a rent hike.

Bangkok vs Outer Space

10 09 2015

Fittingly for the world capital of the surreal, Bangkok this week faced off an unusual threat – not a flood, or another terrorist bombing – but an asteroid. Yes, the city was almost hit by a hurtling rock from outer space! Why does this somehow not surprise me?  The asteroid appeared brightly over the city’s Northern suburbs, here captured by a car’s dashboard camera about 29 seconds in, but burned up in the atmosphere before making contact.

Still, the city’s fortune tellers – OF COURSE – were quick to point out that this was an omen of back luck for the city. Guess we’ll have to wait and see..

The fallout

19 08 2015

While the tragedy of the Erawan bombing is still unfolded, it hasn’t taken long for investigations to take on a typically Thai bizarre twist after model and soap opera star Sunny Burns, originally from Australia, was held up online as a dead ringer for the main suspect.

He responded by going in to the police to clear his name – complete with instagram post from the cop shop – and uttering the immortal alibi: “I woudn’t have worn that, I’m a fashion blogger.”

Police used CCTV footage to corroborate his claim to innocence, that at that time he was on his way to the “muscle lab” (aka, gym).

Weekend report

18 08 2015

The Bangkok Blasts

18 08 2015

Having just returned from Bangkok, it was with great shock and sadness that I saw the news of the bomb attack on the Erawan Shrine. Indeed I had a personal connection: a friend works in the mall opposite, and by that evening, some hours after the attacks, no-one had heard from her . For a moment, I felt the real impact of terrorism. Had it touched someone I actually knew? But as it turns out, she was fine, busily searching for her employees to make sure everyone had come away unscathed.

But some 20 people lay dead – Chinese, Singaporeans, Filino as well as Thais. Volunteers rushed to the hospitals to act as interpreters or donate blood, but the damage had been done.

Today, a second bomb went off at the Saphan Taksin boat terminal, apparently lobbed from a passing car, but luckily this time no-one was killed. Meanwhile police released CCTV footage of a suspect.

But still: its not clear who did this or why. Insurgents from the Deep South, where a Muslim vs Buddhist ethnic dispute has left more people dead in the last ten years than the conflict in Gaza? Anti-military supporters of the Thaksin political dynasty ( aka, “the Redshirts”) from the Northeast? Middle Eastern Islamic radicals (like the Iranians busted bomb-making in Ekkamai several years ago?) Xinjiang separatists from Western China angered by Thailand’s recent expulsion of Uighur refugees back to Beijing? Or even the Thai government itself, seeking to legitimise its increasingly tight grip on power?

Whoever did it, the site of the first bombing is both strategic and heavily symbolic. The Erawan Shrine has been the site of violence before – it is here that Redshirt rage burned down Central World in 2006, and where a deranged man once smashed the image of Brahma (which this time was unharmed), and was promptly beaten to death by outraged onlookers.

It is also the very heart of the city, and a major tourist site. The high number of foreign casualties, just before Thailand prepares to welcome a million Chinese for their October holidays, was no accident.

Whoever ends up being the culprit though, this is surely a wakeup call that it is time for Thailand to get its house (in the South) in order, before the bombs of Pattani and Sungai Glodok become a regular occurence in Bangkok too.


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