A morning walk, Bangkok

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Royal palace, Bangkok. 2018. It’s already been two years since we went on our Asia trip. From Singapore to Malaysia to Thailand to Cambodia. I must say my feet are itching to  go back. Meanwhile, some views of Bangkok. Sawadeekraap…

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Klong or canal, facing the Artist’s house. Bangkok used to be a water city. Now many of the canals have been filled, turned into roads with thousands of roaring vehicles… Mind the tuk-tuks…

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Celebration on the klongs. Photo by HRH the Late King Bhumibol. The King was a keen photographer. This comes from an expo at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bangkok.

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Buddha statue at Jim Thompson’s House, Bangkok. Jim Thompson, born in 1906 in Delaware was in the OSS during WWII. (The OSS later became the CIA). After the war, Thompson returned to Asia, settled  in Thailand and built a successful silk business. His house was reconstructed with material from old traditional Thai houses and filled with Asian art. International artists, writers and politicians were frequent guests at his house. He disappeared mysteriously on a walk in the forest in Malaysia in 1967. The Viet-Nam war was already raging. Was he an American CIA agent? No-one knows.

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Chinese vase, Jim Thompson house. I could easily find a place for that in our house…

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Wood carving, Jim Thompson house. Another piece I wouldn’t mind having at home. Of course the visit is barefoot. A widespread custom in Asia. Take your shoes off when you enter a house. (Scandinavians and Canadians tend to do that too). The doors between rooms have a horizontal board set on the floor, as a “step” of sorts. We were told this was to stop demons from entering the rooms. One sees the same “steps” separating rooms in  the temples  at Angkor. (Watch out when you visit.)

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Demon or guardian at the Royal Palace. (Note, it may have been in another of the palaces or temples in or next to the Royal Palace). Do admire the exquisite detail of the painting and the costumes. See the animal heads on the shoulders, knees and shoe?

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“Thai zebra” at a street altar, Bangkok. One can find such altars everywhere on the streets. Decorated with elephants, statues of my Lord Buddha, or others… I understand it serves to pray on the spur of the moment… Buy a few incense sticks, go through the motions and voilà. Cleansed. At peace.

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Royal Palace again. (Men, make sure to wear trousers, shorts are not accepted. They will make you buy ill-fitting trousers for a small fortune in Bhats. Women have to wear a sarong and cover their shoulders.) I believe this character is a representation of a Portuguese sailor/merchant. Remember the Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach that far into Asia, around the 1400’s-1500’s. (Need to go back to Asia to check my facts…)

 

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Royal Palace again. I believe those are scenes of the Ramayana. Or the life of Buddha? Ramayana is an Indian epic poem that spread all the way to Indonesia. Note the “plebe”‘s submissive posture: one can only approach the King or the Gods kneeling. Though Thailand is a Buddhist nation, the Kings use the formal name of King Rama. Rama was a major King (myth or real) in ancient India. He is considered an avatar of Vishnu. His story is told in the Ramayana.

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Detail, Royal Palace. Not sure what the two characters are doing? Throwing arrows or flowers at each other?

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Beers of the world series. When in Asia, do try Singha. Quite decent.

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Wat Arun, Bangkok. For all its gold and glory, the Royal Palace, to me, is no match to the splendor of Wat Arun. Across the Chao Praya river from the Palace, it is a temple entirely covered with porcelain. Imagine the millions of hours of dedicated craftsmanship that went into its decoration:

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Detail, Wat Arun.

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Royal barge of Thailand, Bangkok, 1956. My parents had gone to Bankgok in 1956, when we were “stationed” in Cambodia. They brought back magnificent movies, photos, first slides in the market, a brand new technology then. In 2018 when I went “back” to Bangkok, we walked and walked and walked to the barges site/museum. Only to see it from a distance across a large tributary of the Chao Praya river, with no direct way to cross over… Streets and bridges layout in Bankgok may have been designed by Hanuman, Rama’s mischievous Monkey King friend. So you’ll have to settle for this 60-something year-old slide.

Happy Chinese New Year. May the year of the Rat start with a Banksy Bang.

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Khop-khun-kraap, thank you, for flying with Equinoxio’s Time-Space shuttle.

 

86 thoughts on “A morning walk, Bangkok

  1. Pingback: A morning walk, Bangkok – Poetic Justice

  2. Hello Brian. Incredible detail, very impressive. It seems they took pride in what they built and took the time and effort to make things stand out. Even some of the boats were well decorated. I am really surprised that Wat Arun has survived all these years. I thought porcelain was a rather fragile material? Hugs

    • Well, I guess the structure must be stone or something like that. But all the walls, stairs every nook and cranny is decorated with porcelain. For instance the flowers are made of cut-out plate pieces. Beautiful… Hope health is under control on your side?

  3. So envious of your travels; these are fascinating pictures and vignettes. So often it’s the smaller things that make cultural difference and enchant, such as the zebra shrine.

    • Yes! Yes! The zebra shrine is one. It is also very… typical of Asia. (I found). They are so open to the world. They have thousands of years of civilization, and yet, they will embrace anything from the outside they think is worth it. I call it “Fusion”. And it’s probably one the main reasons for Asia’s unbelievable growth in the past 30-40 years…
      Now, my travels? I was brought up that way. 🙂 My father was an air France man, so I spent my childhood moving around and now I can’t kick the habit. It’s also easier to travel just by two than with young children. (And cheaper)
      A bientôt Libre.

    • I do. Probably in the blood. (Can’t wait to convince my wife to go back to Asia ASAP).
      And yes the rat with a cork felt like a good symbol of the Chinese new year…
      Thank you for your good wishes. Any travel plans for 2020?

  4. Another interesting and beautiful time-space shuttle travel, thanks!

    That’s true, we take off our outdoors shoes when we enter the house. In winter we are wearing indoors slipper or thick socks, in summer I prefer to be barefoot indoors.

    Greetings from Denmark!

    • Xie xie Michael. 🙂 But I doubt that. You must have gone more often to Bangkok than I have. Thing is, our daughter did a project in Thailand (Chiang Mai) and spent time in Bangkok, so she took us to not well known places…
      How’s the health situation in HK? We hear all sorts of alarming things in the West.

      • Although we may have been to Bangkok quite a few times, we usually went to the more or less the same places!
        The situation in HK is not good; for 7 months we have protesters / rioters wearing masks destroying the city. Now we have everybody wearing masks to fight against he coronavirus disease.
        The dna of the virus has been mapped out and a vaccine developed but it will take months for it to be tested; meanwhile the number infected may rise exponentially.
        The only method is to isolate and reduce human contacts especially those from Wuhan.
        the coming fortnight will be critical.

      • What are your favourite places in Bkk? (For my next trip!) 🙂
        One mask chases the other… There’s a French saying that goes: Après la pluie le beau temps. After rain good weather comes…
        Stay safe. And let’s see what the next fortnight brings.

      • Tout va très bien par ici, cher Brieuc. En particulier, mon cycle de conférences sur aeolus se présente bien et maintient mes neurones dans le bouillon. Même si l’exérèse d’un carcinome mal placé sur le nez laisse une plaie qui tarde à cicatriser = pas de randonnées + pas de lunettes !
        Merci à toi, l’ami, et une belle et souriante journée à toi.

      • Personne ne souhaite se prononcer. Peut-être trois semaines, peut-être une greffe de peau … En attendant, je peux remettre mes lunettes. Prochaine conférence lundi 10 février. Je suis super prêt !
        Merci, Brieuc, et … un bel après-midi à toi (après avoir consulté une horloge de Mexico pour savoir quelle heure il pouvait bien être là-bas !)

      • Bon, tu sembles en de bonnes mains… Et les lunettes c’est quand même utile… J’aurais du mal sans…
        Bonne chance pour la conf.
        On a 7 h de décalage. Plus que la Guyane, je pense.
        Là il est 18:34 à Mexico, 1:34 du mat’ en France… Bonne nuit. 🙂

      • Sauf quelques exceptions, il n’y a en effet pas de restaurant publique dans un hôpital français. Et ils ne brillent pas pour leur talents culinaires … sauf quelques exceptions une fois de plus.
        Merci, Brieuc, et une rétablissement rapide, complet et sans peine à ta femme.

    • Ben oui… La fille d’amis à nous vit en Chine depuis 4 ans. Elle va probablement être rapatriée. Mais elle nous a envoyé une vidéo extraordinaire, où les gens de Wu-Han étaient sur leurs balcons, la nuit et se criaient des encouragements… J’espère que ça se tassera…
      Et toi, Véro? Tout va bien chez toi?

  5. Fascinating, thanks for a glimpse of a different culture, from a different perspective.
    Not a nightclub to be seen😀

    • Nightclubs? LOL. We sort of avoided that part. Though there was one street we went to, (name I forgot, need to get back to my files) which was way too tourist-crowded…
      Happy New year. (Still have until the 31st, by Frog standards…)

  6. One we moved to the country on a muddy plot we realized shoes in the house just wouldn’t work, but even after all these years I feel a little naked without them.

    The photos are lovely. The vase would be too precious in our house with all the dogs. 🙂

    Do you travel for business or pleasure?

    • LOL. I was brought up in Africa, so barefeet were the rule… I always joke that I got my first pair of shoes when I was ten… 🙂
      I have similar antique Chinese vases. But they’re tucked away under a console because of little G. Our grandson. When he started to walk and touch everything they were in danger…
      Pleasure. I’m done with business. I had a market research company which I sold my shares in year ago. Did a bit of consulting afterwards but I’m now really retired. Unless someone calls me for a project, which is unlikely…
      Be good.

  7. So very interesting. And yes, of course, I love the Banksy rat. I was surprised that the Monkey King won’t allow you to cross the water to the museum. Monkey’s are like that. 🙂 Great post.

  8. intéressant et belles photos – comme d’hab’; à propos, nous y serons bientôt… 🙂
    * * *
    une fin de semaine agréable – selon tes projets et tes désirs… 😉 amicales pensées et à+!

  9. Bangkok is one of those places I’m on the verge of going to (much like I was about to go to MEX…) but somehow never manage to go. But thanks for the vicarious trip through your eyes, Brian!

    • Yes, two years… I still don’t know how I did not manage to go back. As one other friend said the Jim Thompson story would make a good movie… (A different story for a change)

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