Royal palace, Bangkok. 2018. Back to the future? In more ways than one, I guess. I was born in the East, in India under its Pakistani guise. (To me the names change, the land and the people not so much.) We then pushed further East to Vietnam, briefly, and Cambodia which we left in ’57. 60 years later, I “came back” to Asia. And re-discovered a continent that could (should?) well be the future of mankind.
Changi airport, Singapore. 2017. I have seen many an airport in my life. Never before had I “experienced” (as the Marketing people say) such a place. The best airport I’ve ever seen. Constantly rated amongst the best airports of the world. The openings in the ceiling are a smart way to regulate heat and humidity. Fastest check-in and check-out I’ve seen in a while. Changi is a service airport.
“Kama citra” ale. Bangkok. 2018. I Joke you not. “Electric unicorn”? Bangkok is totally off the rail. (Beers of the world series)
Ta-Prohm temple, at Angkor, Cambodia. The locals call it “Tomb raider”. Khmer sense of humour, this is where Angelina Jolie shot some of the scenes of the film. Built around the 12th century as a temple to Vishnu, Angkor Wat is now the largest religious monument in the world. A thousand years’ fusion of worship and jungle. Buddha has replaced Vishnu. And not even the Khmer rouge could affect Angkor’s beauty.
A café in Georgetown, on the island of Penang in Malaysia. Malaysia’s GDP per capita is now close to France…
Gardens by the bay, Singapore. 2017. When my Uncle René Onraet was head of Special Branch in Singapore in the 30’s, I don’t think he would have imagined what Singapore would become.
Tuk-tuk on the island of Koh-Lanta, Thailand. Another “experience.” Do not board tuk-tuks in Bangkok if you have a heart condition. 😉 On the islands? Fine. Relax and enjoy.
Beers of the world series. Koh-Lanta, Thailand. Make no mistake if you buy beer. “Gassoline” (!) is sold in empty beer bottles to the tuk-tuks.
Straights Chinese (Peranakan) traditional shop-house. Georgetown, Penang. 2017. The shop was (still is) on the ground floor, the warehouse at the back and the living quarters above. We stayed in one of those, splendidly remodeled.
The four Buddhas (or was it Vishnu?) at the Bayon, Angkor-Tom, Cambodia. 2018.
Singapore means the city of lions. Many times, when I mention Singapore, I hear: “Yes, but it is an authoritarian state.” Maybe so. The streets are clean and safe. Women walk alone at night, I’m told. GDP per capita (PPP) for Singapore is at $97,000 constant International dollars. (Adjusted for international cost of living.) in 1990, Singapore’s GDP per capita was at $37,000 constant International dollars. As a matter of comparison, the US GDP per capita is at 62,000$. (I will not mention France. A shameful disaster)
Singha beer, Thailand, 2017. Asia is a beer land. (Too hot for wine). Good beers.
Huawei ad, Bangkok transportation system. The Bangkok metro system is better than Paris. I swear. Progress? Just think: Huawei did not exist, 30-40 years ago when Deng XiaoPing told the Chinese. “To get rich is fine”. The Chinese got back to work. And got rich.
Street art, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. 2017. Penang is a very pleasant town. They actually have a scheme for expats. Something like “My second home in Malaysia”. I might consider it. 😉
Wat Arun temple. Bangkok, Thailand, 2018. Sheer beauty. The temple of the rising sun, named after the Hindu God Aruna. It sits on the Chao Phraya river. Every detail you see? Every flower on the wall? Made of fragments of porcelain. Glued one by one. They must have a cleaning team of hundreds to dust the temple at night.
Indian dancer. Street art in Singapore. Diversity. Variety. And street art. Oh, and GDP? They started at about 300$ GDP a year per capita in 1960, at Independence. Singapore is number 2 in the Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment, OECD) in Reading, Math and Science. Look at the country ranking here:
Tseu-Hsi, (or CiXi) the last Empress of China, c. early 1900’s. A mere hundred years and change ago.
Guangzhou airport, China, 2017. I still call it Canton, but then I was born in the 19th century. In the course of a thirty bl..dy hours flight, we stopped over at Canton airport. Night. December cold. Brand new airport that did not exist, as such, 30 or 40 years ago. In 2019, Guangzhou or Canton airport handled 65.8 million passengers a year. Close to half a million aircraft movements. Again, none of this existed 30 or 40 years. I wonder how Empress Tseu-Hsi would look on her great-grand-daughter above? “Child, would you mind covering your legs?”
Do not fear the Dragon. Artwork by my great friend Tiffany Choong. Visit her at:
Xie xie, Kam Sia, Terima Kasih, Kop kung kraap, thank you for flying Equinoxio Airways. 🙏🏻