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).

On the Thai internet

3 08 2015

Two Thai social media favourites of the minute,  both bearing a universal message for our age. Above, an adorable but cocky boyfriend warns of the dangers of smartphone addiction in a video called “So you just gonna ignore me?” and below “Street Nude, Global Warming”, a Facebook page in which artist Ronnachai Kunsiri strips off in nature to highlight the threats to Thailand’s various ecosystems from global warming.

Also, this beautifully edited and oddly moving advertisement, currently screening on the Skytrain:

The rocket festival

26 07 2015

My travels in the Thai Northeast would take me close to the provinces home to the infamous Rocket Festival. I was sadly (or luckily) out of season though for the chaos. It is worth noting that in addition to this video, there is another video on youtube where you can watch someone losing an arm to the rockets…

Justice for Joco

17 07 2015

In one of these bizarre, only-in Thailand turns of events this week, protesters converged on a Bangkok television station (ineffectually, but where else to protest?) to protest the revenge-attack eating of a dog in the country’s Northern province of Sakhon Nakorn. The attack, subject of a recent report by Channel Three, took place after a villager’s beloved husky dog, Joco, escaped and slaughtered 38 ducks in a neighbouring village.

The duck owners struck back the next night, allegedly dognapping, killing and eating the pet. I hadn’t known that Thai eat dogs, a specialty of that province.

On hearing the news, the Thai Huskies Association and “animal rights activists” led by a soap opera star sprung into action, protesting for “justice for Joco” although some online commentators were quick to point out their double standards; where was the concern for the rights of the ducks? And furthermore, given the cruelty of keeping a husky in a tropical climate, shouldn’t they be looking a bit closer to home before taking the moral high ground on animal welfare?

This was brought to home forcefully when I stumbled on to Bangkok’s (and surely the world’s first) late night gay dog cafe this week. Silom Soi 4’s former gay bar One Night Only, which used to have topless male models and a stripper pole, has now morphed into a living room-like space where patrons can sip a coffee, read quietly in the comic corner or pet the two huge Siberian huskies, three labradors or resident Afghan hound. Although the dogs certainly looked healthy, loved and well-cared for, the Afghan was passed out under a sofa desperately trying to sleep and the huskies lay for the most part with the faces pressed against one of several fans, trying to keep cool.

Asia’s sexiest….

21 06 2015

Over the weekend, with some friends, talk turned to the latest internet sensation in the Far East, Taiwan’s
sexy beancurd seller, above, who has been burning up hearts online over the last week. The hot-blue-collar-worker-plucked-from-anonymity-to-become-a-sex-symbol seems to have a particular resonance in Asia. This is just the latest case in a string that includes Sexy beancurd Seller’s compatriot Ms Fried Chicken who parlayed a video of deep frying a chicken steak into a softporn bikini-modelling career in Taipei, to Bangkok’s mototaxi-model.

There have also been hot Japanese war correspondents, dashing English teachers, a handsome Filipino KFC store manager and a suave Malaysian immigration official (apparently) who have burst out of anonymonity to become short-lived lust objects.

The most unlikely story of all, though, I had missed. It is that of ‘Brother Sharp’, dubbed China’s most handsome beggar, who was hounded by paparazzi after his movie-star-like looks were revealed to the general public, went into a mental institution and then emerged to walk in Guangzhou Fashion Week and be reunited with his family, mysteriously losing his looks along the way.

And that is to say nothing of his fellow PRC citizen, Most Fashionable Homeless Person in History.

Other worlds: The Lanfang Republic

18 05 2015

Few things are more fascinating that pondering the great historical “what if”s. What if, as in Philip K Dick’s sci fi novel “Man in the High Tower”, Japan and Germany had won the war and divided the United States between them? What if the Chinese had colonized Africa before Europeans? Or the Africans had sent a fleet to Asia?

It was in this spirit that I was amazed to read of the existence of something I never knew had existed – the Lanfang republic, an ethnic Chinese quasi-democracy, acting in concert with the Dayak forest tribespeople, deep in Indonesia. On the island of Borneo (or today’s Kalimantan), Lanfang resisted against the Dutch for one hundred years. Paying allegiance to the Qing emperors but with a strikingly participatory model of government (an interesting riposte to the benign dictatorships of “Asian Values” advocates), the republic lasted from about the same time Australia was coming in to being to (about) the time of the Victorian Goldrush, leaving behind towns with still majority-Chinese populations today.

Imagine how differently this could have turned out – would China have stretched all the way to the Tropics today?

It put me in the mind of Palmares and the quilombos of Brazil, the lost ancient Garamantians or the mooted post-independence United States of Latin Africa.

It is such an amazing world we live in.

Bright lights, black magic: Contemporary HK Lore

10 05 2015

After a mad run in the last few weeks, Hong Kong’s stock market is bracing for a crash landing – all the moreso now that a certain TV series, widely considered to be an infallible omen for a bear market, has popped up again on repeat. In the perfect synergy of Hong Kong’s obsessions with money, celebrity and, err, feng shui, the 90s stockmarket drama “Greed of Man” is believed to herald a downturn on the city’s bourse every time it appears. Wikipedia explains:

“The Ting Hai effect, also known as the Adam Cheng effect, is a stock market phenomenon in which there is a sudden and unexplained drop in the stock market whenever a film or a television series starring Hong Kong actor Adam Cheng is released.[2] It still remains as a popular topic among stock brokers, years after the television drama The Greed of Man was broadcast in Hong Kong in late 1992. The effect is named after Ting Hai, the primary antagonist in the drama, who was portrayed by Cheng.”

Read the full article here.

It all reminded me of the hilariously tongue-in-cheek “Li Ka-Shing Forcefield”, an invisible barrier which is said to repel typhoons from the city during the working week, in order to protect billionaire kingpin Li Ka-Shing from having to issue paid time off to the city’s harried workers.

Again, wikipedia has more.


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