Bangkok 1957, the T(w)hailight zone.

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1957? (OMG). Sounds – and is – like an awful long time ago. Feels like a long time ago. ๐Ÿ™‚ We were living in Cambodia then. My father was working for Prince (Samdech) Norodom Sihanouk. A business trip to Bangkok? Sure. Took my mother with him. Left us kids and babies to the care of the Cambodian Nanny (I know, so Bourgeois) and off they went to Bangkok, otherwise known as Krung Thep. Their shooting arrangements assigned movies to my mother (8 then super 8mm. Under a very slow digitalization process) and photos, B&W, slides to my father. Those are scanned slides from that era. Imagine white tuxedos, elbow-length gloves and long dresses, at 6PM, the cocktail hour. The above photo is a well-known temple in Bangkok. Don’t ask me which.

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Bangkok then was a maze of canals, the Klongs. (Not sure about the spelling. Will one of my many – and most welcome – visitors from Indochina enlighten us to the correct spelling? Don’t be shy.) ๐Ÿ™‚ Houses, businesses, restaurants, floating markets thrived along the banks. The only means of transportation was aquatic. Now, I understand that most of the Klongs (canals) have been filled up, covered with some sort of asphalt and invaded by hordes of motorcycles, with no friend of foe. How does one say “run for dear life” in Thai?

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Do note the very typical straw hats, common to many parts of South East Asia, though each region or country has a particular shape and design.

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Some sort of market on the Khlong?

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The following images are Royal barges of Siam, in their moorings. I imagine some strings were pulled.

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Bangkok temples. Those of you who have been to Thailand, help me here.

bk31Traditional dancers:

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This trip in the Twilight zone wouldn’t be complete without music. Allow me to introduce you to “Ramvong” (Rom vong, Ram Wong), a very traditional music style in Indochina. The next piece is from Cambodia. I just love it. Childhood memories? Though very Asian in style one can detect some Indian influences in the music, rhythm, tones. Also watch carefully how this to-day version is danced, with traditional, simplified hand moves, and not so-traditional! Don’t skip it! Hit play.

As usual, text and photos (c) BMO and Equinoxio except for the last photo, a vintage postcard of the time.

Thank you for traveling with Equinoxio.

 

25 thoughts on “Bangkok 1957, the T(w)hailight zone.

      • Interesting indeed. They probably heard you tell stories. I heard stories of Ireland from my Grandmother growing up and I always wanted to go. That was my first big trip and I keep going back and back.

  1. Pretty much unrecognisable from the Bangkok I visited last year Brian, still a fascinating city though, I’d go back tomorrow – especially given the appalling weather in the Netherlands right now!

    • I don’t even want to think of my three miserable winters in NL… Haha.
      having said that, it is the reason I wanted to post those pictures, as a testimony of a “city long gone”. Including the “ramvong” song, which is a music I adore… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Twhailight zone! Hahaha..thats a good one. Lovely memories, enjoy reading it.. The nanny part still existed in Indonesia as well and I4 am sure it could be the case in the rest of South East Asian countries..

    • Terima kasih, Indah. The title came out at the last minute, I’d thought about that post, but when I started writing the title I thought about the Twilight Zone. And oh, yes, nannies were very important. Second mothers… ๐Ÿ™‚
      (How’s the snow?…)

    • Yes, pretty much “Life” magazine. A good friend of ours in Africa, Bill Atwood, the US ambassador was actually a former Life editor I think. Fact is we were living in a fiction. I’d close my adventure book and there would dolphins cruising away a 100 yards from our terrace.

  3. Life is magic. Sound is magic is energy is heat. It is waves, that musicians float on with hats,not unlike those in the boats. Love the old images. The red ones. How do you turn sound into color? I need to study physics of sound. I am not sure if this is true, I heard that there are tonal systems in the world that have 12 tones, like sitars.. European and America are just a 8 tone, all playing in a circle of 5ths… is that right? Heck I dunno.. Just throwing thoughts at you. take care, ted.

    • Wow! You definitely are more knowledgeable about music than I am, but yes, you’re right: sitars have 12 tones, which is why to a western ear, it sounds “monotonous”, because the western ear is not trained to distinguish the subtle variations. As I was born there (in India) I love the music, but my wife and daughters after 5 minutes say: why is it always the same “whining”? ๐Ÿ™‚
      Be good.

  4. This is so interesting! I’ve been to Bangkok so many times and I hardly recognize it on your pictures. Take good care of those photos, they’re real treasures ๐Ÿ™‚

    • yes I imagine to-day’s Bangkok (which I don’t know) must be very different. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will take care of those pics, and share whatever is relevant. Take care. Brian ๐Ÿ™‚

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