Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Random Slices Of Life In Bangkok

Take a walk, have a look around and hope to see something unique. Interesting? Silly? Banal? It doesn't really matter, anything will do.

Thais love to post giant photos of important people on their buildings.

There's an interesting medical museum at one of the local hospitals. It was closed, but the sign was impressive. Nice hamhock. What's in the back of a local pickup truck? How about a giant bin of eggs and huge fruit.

Fire department headquarters sculpture interacting with utility wires strung along the street.

Past and present telephone booths. From metal to rock pile?

Lunch at the office. Another municipal office, this time for building and planning. So what do they do for an heroic sculpture? Man on bulldozer, of course.

Another building, another jumbo grand exterior portrait.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Taking Off At Terminal 21 In Bangkok

You thought that temple to shopping called a mall in your city was amazing? Wrong. You gotta go to Asia to see the next wave of shop-o-tainment. Youth culture, new disposable income, wanting anything from the West and year 'round muggy weather are the perfect ingredients for the latest extravaganzas.

Take Terminal 21 in Bangkok. You need a theme and this mall chose travel. Shop around the world, all nine floors of it. Where should we go? Everywhere!

How about San Francisco? Can't miss the Golden Gate.

And can't miss getting your picture taken at the iconic bridge. You know you're at a mall in Bangkok, right? Who cares! Get lost, find me at the three-story lighthouse.

Oh cute, a Brit phone box. Oh cuter, my phone that goes anywhere.

Back to the US, the movie theater has an appropriate mascot. Let's hop across the pond again to head Underground.

Or get on the double decker bus. Another photo op!

Time to head farther East, to Tokyo. Silly sumo wrestlers, they're going to knock the mall down. The hula skirts were a summer promo.

All this traveling makes one pooped. Rest stop, Roman ruins.

Friday, 25 October 2013

On View At The Bangkok Zoo

Animals? Sure, they have plenty of those creatures. But you know what they look like, a zebra is a zebra the world over. A nice feature of the zoo was a plethora of murals on the surrounding walls. Yay! To pay for the murals, the zoo decided to enter into various commercial partnerships. OK. Unfortunately, a few partners decided that promoting their product at all thematic cost was worth doing. Boo!

Take TOA paints, a natural partner for the murals. Great job on the animal scenes - thanks! But the product placement is way over the top.

Because, you know, animals have lots of paint in the wild, even spray cans.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Jim Thompson House, Bangkok

Jim Thompson was an American businessman, architect, and collector -- a renaissance man, you could say -- who is credited with helping revitalize the silk industry in Thailand in the 1950s and 1960s. He joined the army during World War II and was recruited to the precursor of the CIA, which eventually took him to Thailand.

After the war, he focused on the cottage industry of handwoven silk. He also collected antiques and in the late 1950s began constructing a home in Bangkok from parts of other old houses. What he created is a remarkable collection of buildings in a stunning garden setting -- made all the more spectacular due to Thompson's mysterious disappearance during a trip to Malaysia in 1967.

The sedate grounds with hidden traditional houses.

Fountains, flora, an inviting retreat -- what's not to like?

The grand entrance at the back of the house, leading to the main living area (no photos allowed inside, drat).

They're still giving silk demonstrations, a nod to the industry Jim Thompson helped to revive in Thailand. He did OK -- you can buy Jim Thompson silk ties at the airport. A cute little prayer area.

Another look between the houses and more lush flora.

Monday, 21 October 2013

What To See Randomly In Bangkok

Plenty of palaces and Wats to check out while in Bangkok, not to mention shopping, eating and sweating. What else might one run into?

The impressive Vimanmek Mansion, built in 1900, billed as "The world's largest golden teakwood mansion." Who are we to argue?

You can read more about the mansion and some of the following attractions here.

The big house is part of a park with multiple buildings. Nearby is the Dusit Palace, now an exhibition place. A good place for a picture.

Also in the park is a small exhibition pavilion dedicated to Thailand's traditional beast of burden, the elephant. Yep, the preserved skin of a rare white elephant. Tall tusks and other pachyderm pieces.

One more beauty, the intricate Dusit Throne Hall, 1904.

Victory is ours! Monument, that is, located a mile or so east of the preceding collection of buildings and attractions.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Phya Thai Palace

Around the turn of the 20th century, King Rama V wanted a new palace. Eventually a set of eclectic buildings were finished, but King Rama's stay and the grounds' use as a palace were brief.

The place had a variety of different uses, was turned into a hotel, and eventually swallowed up by a hospital. The two main buildings are architecturally interesting, if a bit out of place in Asia. A bit Art Deco, Romanesque and Gothic.  Overall, impressive.

The two remaining buildings, seen from the main avenue. The bland surrounding structures belong to the hospital.

Details. The Thewarat Sapharom Hall, a great reception pavilion. Interesting bird house.

The main palace.

Elegant interior.

Grand staircase and classic shutters on the windows to keep punishing sunlight and monsoon rains away.

Semi-abandoned office.

Clay dogs with Yakult probiotic drink offering. No joke, Thai (and other Asian) people frequently leave consumables as an offer at prayer locations. Probiotics are perfect!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Buying Into Bangkok's MRT, Part 2

Presenting Painting With MRT Cars. The big ads were a great opportunity for James to build color layers and to play with the depth of the scenes.  The results: