The ghost tower is ready for its close-up

11 08 2017

A primal scream from Bangkok’s collective unconscious: the towering vortex that is the Sathorn Unique has become the setting for a new Thai horror, “The Promise”.

The building is the most high profile of the cities “ghost towers,” never-completed reminders of the 1997 stock market crash that have dotted the city skylines for decades afterwards.

Towering conspicuously over one of the city’s busiest transport interchanges at Saphan Taksin, the brooding concrete shell of the Sathorn Unique has become a Bangkok urban legend and a magnet for graffiti artists and urban adventurers from around the world.

In new movie “The Promise” the tower is the scene of a teenage suicide pact. When one of the pair survives, and returns to the still-derelict building twenty years later, the ghost of her friend tries to see that she makes good on her promise…

City wild

11 08 2017


The ever-reliable Coconuts Bangkok site reports on attempts to put “Uncle Fatty,” a notoriously chubby suburban monkey, on a diet here.

Meanwhile, a restaurant has been busted serving endangered species to Chinese tourists. The Luang To To restaurant was found to be serving cobras, andangered soft shell turtles and pangolin meat to its guests. This follows on from the revelations of tiger meat being served in the city a few years ago.

Day 4 12.30 pm Cobra Queen Mother Shrine on Rama II

25 07 2017


I think I was a bit early, better to go in late afternoon. I didn’t see any snakes this time although I had a heart attack when a lizard slithered out of some foliage.

Day 3: Queen Sirikit Park 5.30pm

24 07 2017


The end of my first weekend back in Bangkok: the weekly gathering of Thai groundhog owners in the park behind Chatuchak Market.

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Hong Kong: horrible histories

27 05 2017


Facts I learned from Jan Morris’s charmingly dated (it was written in the 1990s by an author most interested in British colonial history) book about Hong Kong:

  • The pre-colonial inhabitants of the area suffered from a “horror called Xhu Mao Bing, the Bristle Disease,whose victims found spiky bristles like pighairs (sometimes apparently fishscales, too} sprouting through their skin.” Curious, I looked this up online but couldn’t find any other reference to it anywhere.
  • In 1857 a Chinese nationalist plot poisoned the city’s bread supply, (presumably few Chinese ate bread in those days so it was a cunning way to target the British administrative elite). The dosage of arsenic was miscalculated however, so that the poisoning lead to mass European vomitting but not death, and the colonial regime survived.
  • The first ever hijacking of an aeroplane occurred in 1940 on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Macau by sea pirates looking to diversify.
  • Smoking opium was legal until 1940.
  • Under the Japanese occupation, Queens Road Central was re-named Naka Meiji-dori and a monumental Shinto temple was planned for construction on the Peak (but blown up when the occupation ended).
  • It was not until 1981 that the census recorded more than 50% of the population had been locally born, rather than migrants from the mainland. So in other words, the influx of people (and money) from the mainland is nothing new. Rather, the brief relative lull during the 1980s and 1990s was the outlier.

Southeast Asia Weird

17 05 2017


In just about the least horrifying news out of Indonesia this week (scroll up) , the decomposing body of a “sea monster” washed up on one of its beaches. It is, most likely, the carcass of a whale.


Meanwhile Bangkok experienced a new food fad, with a bakery in Pathum Thani gaining online fame for this adorable/creepy dog-shaped coconut puddings. Can’t wait to eat on of these puppies…literally.


And finally in Singapore, a new “vending machine” for luxury cars opened in the form of an arrestingly designed showroom where with the flick of a switch you can “select” the car you want to test.

Japanese ghost story

27 04 2017


Scenes from the Kaikidan Ekotoba, a nineteenth century Japanese scroll illustrating 33 kinds of monsters said to inhabit the wilds of Kyushu and Korea.

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