Archive for October 21, 2006

Bangkok in Review

Stayed at the Asha Guest House and which was rather nice and incredibly affordable. Asha is run by two British expats who have decided to turn a house in Bangkok’s redlight district into a hostel that would be a boutique hotel in another city. Asha’s main charm is that it perserves the meet upness of a hostel with the cleanliness and design of a hotel. Includes a small pool, a beautiful room, decent access to the MRT and Skytrain, and is near the Chatuchak Market. The hotel’s food ain’t bad either.

Chatuchak is in itself an experience that’s quickly vearing towards the hyperreal. While 20 maybe 30 years ago Chatuchak would have been an authentic bazaar where food sellers from the country would meet the cosmopolitians of Bangkok, today it is increasingly becoming just another tourist trap. It’s composed of a monolith of temporary structures frenzied in their construction and improvised in such a way that shopping becomes an experience Canal City in Fukouka Japan might be trying to evoke the grand canyon, but Chatuchak is more on the level of booming refuge camp. It still contains groceries, religious items, and other things, but a lot of the stores have now veered towards antiques and touristy contrapations. Essentially, you can almost feel the wrath of Tesco bearing down on it as it shoppers discover the big c down the street can sell them produce at a decent price, but much like Canal City Chatuchak provides an experience worthy of visititation simply becuase of it’s size an granduer. There’s nothing quite like happening between two shanty towns of antiquated photographs of Asia to find an Asian book seller selling vintage Batman comics in Thai or Malay alongside yesterday’s programming manuals. Chatuchak also sits next to a bevy of parks well worth the look inside. One of which is awesome is awesome for skateboarding, but unfortunately they ban it (there’s a sports park next door for bikes they’ll let you skateboard on), but the park is notable for being probably bigger than any other park I can think of in Asia outside of China and also because it’s streams are chocked full of elongated snapping turtles and catfish providing a much needed relief from the constant Koi and Goldfish of the Sino cultures and also becuase it’s probably one of the few places in the world where you can see kids feeding chicken to turtles as schools of catfish pound into their backs.

Met up with a friend of mine on Monday and headed down the BTS Skytrain to the end of the line for a 400 baht boat tour (we were later told you can get a full day tour for 100 baht). Also visited the shopping malls of Siam which is rather impressive, picked up a pile of DVDs including most of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s latest stuff and the usual standard fare explotiation films. Upon arriving back in Taiwan I felt the same way I felt in Korea, that it was a much more conservative country and felt the usual trepidation as the bus driver loaded my bags into his carriage mysteriously shaking his head the entire time as if my mere presence was an offense to his carriage.

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