Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blue Christmas (Tree)

It's made of over 50,000 used CDs--I want one!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

People Who Take Pictures

They're as much fun to watch as what they're taking pictures of, don't you think?

Christmas Can Be Fun

I wish I could show you the blaze of lights on and around MBK Center--it is gorgeous and fun and exactly like Christmas meets the Fourth of July meets Mardi Gras. This is a pale rendition of what is there--plus no live music and food and big TV screens augmenting it all--you'll just have to take my word for it.

And the new Ong Bak is proof that Tony Jaa should not attempt to write and direct his martial arts opuses (opi?) but it's fun anyway. Check it out when it comes your way--but don't watch it at home--it needs a theater and popcorn!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Taking to the Streets

If I spend too much time in my apartment, crouched over my laptop, working with people in the States and Canada, I begin to feel fragmented and lonely, wondering where I really am. 

My apartment is Western enough in its appearance that it could be in Seattle, and my soi is quiet enough during the day that I could be on the moon. (At night, when the little street urchins come out to play, it's quite another story. I leave my windows open to hear their exuberant shouts, and to absorb some of their joy.)

My attention is completely gobbled up by news and emails and web content from the other side of the globe, and my thoughts rest there as well. When I go out to get food, I blink like a dazed mole, stripped of any sense of place, and I begin to yearn for the company of friends.

My best female friend Usa is in Sydney until April, my best male friend Rodney is in Idaho until the end of this month,  my two friends Mickey and Banana, who were always at their restaurant for a drink and a chat, now live in Pranburi. A woman who was becoming a good shopping/lunch/conversation friend was called by a family emergency to London until February.

When I lived in Bangkok before, my life was one big classroom, which means I was always on stage and always talking with people. Now my life is one big computer screen.

Unless I pull myself away from it--this is an essential survival skill, I've discovered--turning off my laptop, leaving my neighborhood, getting on a bus, and finding new neighborhoods or new things in old neighborhoods. 

Riding a bus puts you in a community that the faster, more efficient subway and skytrain do not. Bus riders are all in it together--the hygienic, rapid transit capsules provide privacy bubbles for every passenger. You see and hear people behave on the skytrain and subway as though they were in their living rooms. On the bus, people are in a new, temporary village--presided over by the conductress, headed by the bus driver.  And for the moment, all passengers live together.

On a bus, there is contact, fleeting, but very real, and the view from its windows provides ever-changing entertainment. The best buses take me to a destination I hadn't anticipated, the "mystery buses" that seem to change routes on the whim of the driver, although it's actually a result of my poor reading skills, or the ones I've chosen to ride to the end of the line.

It's a bargain--community, exploration, and therapy--all for around thirty cents US. I can't do it every day of course--I have work to do, appointments to keep--but every three days or so, my prescription for disorientation and missing my friends and family is to take two buses and keep my eyes open.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Graffiti, Anyone?

Or perhaps a dog sleeping in the street?

Night Light

Night comes fast here--one minute the sky's pink and violet, then the light switches off. (Don't forget to click on these to get a larger image, and the ones in the tis the season post too. Makes a difference in what you see.)

Tis the Season

I can't help it--it is so cool to finally be able to show people the city I live in with a teeny little unobtrusive camera. So here are some things I saw today...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More Exploring

A grubby but well-loved little dog with a hairdo, two spirithouses in a garden with no visible residence for corporeal entities, a house that I want for my own--tattered curtains and all--and a soi that curves and has greenery and mystery and a pedestrian from Africa. (I, hightech illiterate that I am, found that left-clicking on these pictures brings up a much larger image--I live, I learn...)

Walking through the City

Wreathes delivered on motorcycles and Hindu-inspired statues at a Buddhist temple--have I mentioned recently that I love Bangkok?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tropical Winter

I bought a blanket the other day, a blithe little tartan in shades of rainbow sherbet and made of cotton, I think--definitely not wool or even acrylic. It's the size and shape of an over-sized beach towel and adds just enough heft to the sheet I've been snuggling under for the past month to prevent me from reliving the night that I woke up shivering under its light weight.

Well, perhaps not a shiver--but a definite feeling of light chill awoke me and sent me out later in search of something a little more...comforting but not a comforter. Especially not the polyester duvets I've seen in Thai markets, looking a lot like a slumberland version of Crocs, brightly colored and potentially slimy with sweat.

It's odd how quickly heat becomes the norm--I left a city where I slept under a lightweight down comforter constantly, except for a few weeks in midsummer. The light and warmth that I'd longed for in Seattle fell upon me like an ancient curse..."Be careful what you wish for..." when I first arrived in Bangkok. Now, in "winter" with its slightly lower temperatures that would constitute a heatwave in the Pacific Northwest, I wear longsleeved tshirts and wish that I had brought my fingerless gloves to wear in the airconditioned arctic blasts of the skytrain and subway.

This is the time of year that residents of Thailand yearn for, in the same way that Northwesterners wait for their several months of summer sunlight, buying fans and lightweight clothing that they will use as often as Bangkokians will use the sweaters and hooded jackets that fill the market stalls now. Although you never know--one of my first delighted glimpses of the idiosyncratic fashion sense of this city was on a scorching day when I saw a girl in the shortest of shorts, with the upper portion of her body securely wrapped in a brilliant pink pashmina, because after all you just can't be too careful--the temperature could plummet all the way down to 90 F or 30 C in a heartbeat!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Stop Day

A day when you stop is the phrase for day off in Thailand, and today in this part of the world, the pace slowed, the skytrain and subway were uncrowded, and my little street was quiet. The sky was brilliant and the air was cool and the sunlight felt like a benediction, not a punishment. 

Today the King of Thailand turned 81 and the love that his people feel for him was almost something that could be held between two outstretched hands--it permeated the air of this often frenzied city and made it nearly still. 

Tonight at the time that he was born, my little subsoi went dark and the light of candles appeared at windows and doorways. All over the kingdom, at that moment, people stood in honor of their king, holding blazing tapers. The sounds of exploding fireworks could be heard in the distance, as flames flickered in the darkness, every one of them a silent wish.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Acid Test

After three days of no internet access at home, back it came tonight, better than ever. As the ultimate test of its efficacy, I posted photos, which is usually a big, fat exercise in frustration--but not tonight! It's a good omen, perhaps--I'll take whatever auspicious signs and portents that I can get--and I'll share any good luck that comes with it.