At some Thai wats (temple compounds), it is apparently traditional to offer a carved elephant, in thanks for (or anticipation of) prayers answered. One small wat in the Bangkok suburb of Nonthaburi follows a somewhat modified version of the tradition.
Thailand 2004 Archives
Black and White
The boy with brown hair looked something like a young David Bowie, but with the full lips and suggestively-mobile eyes of somebody's slightly unnerving aunt. After a while, a girl who looked as if she was at risk of being hospitalized for an eyeshadow overdose handed him a handbag, completing the picture of fashionable androgyny.
Continue reading 'Hi-So'
Khlong Saen Saep
Bangkok may lead the world in anarchically informal ways to get around. Like any other self-respecting Asian town, it is infested with tuk-tuks, three-wheeler taxis that skitter through the gridlocked traffic like gaily-colored bugs. There are buses of every size and color, usually doorless to allow passengers to get on and off as rapidly as possible. There are long-tail boats - narrow canoe-like vessels with a VW engine mounted on gimbals in the stern driving a screw at the end of a fifteen-foot shaft that makes a noise like a buzz saw and raises a rooster-tail of white water behind it - to take you across the river. There are taxis, with and without meters. There are motorcycle taxis. There are tricycle rickshaws. There is a Skytrain and a River Express. There will soon be an underground.
Continue reading 'Khlong Saen Saep'
Making generalizations about the weather is always a poor idea. Just when I thought I had the pattern figured out, we had two days of steady drizzle followed by a solid day of blazing sunshine. Nevertheless, the typical Bangkok day in this season appears to follow an easily-described pattern.
Continue reading 'Rain'
I now have the eerie impression that this site is just one point in a vast continuum of possible blogs: I received a nice note from Philip Sen, pointing out his blog, Disorientated, which is clearly my typographic and thematic neighbor in the n-dimensional blog-o-space. If you like my site, you'll probably like his even more, as he has more photographs, more countries and more regular updates. Recommended.
About 95% of Thais are officially Theravada Buddhists, although that 95% probably covers everything from sages and zealots to people who think of themselves as Buddhists but haven't seen the inside of a wat in decades. Apart from the ubiquitous monks in their 'saffron' robes (which actually span a spectrum that runs from brownish-yellow to lifejacket orange), the visible symbols of Buddhism are the wats, temple compounds where groups of monks are assembled together. But there's also what - to my eye at least - looks like a minor parallel religion, represented by the spirit houses and shrines.
Continue reading 'Shrines'
One of the big tourist draws of Thailand are the hill tribes of the north, and the guidebooks devote considerable space to describing how to identify the different groups by their dress, adornment and physical features. But sometimes farangs in Bangkok seem to exhibit their own distinctive tribal characteristics and distinctive behaviors.
Continue reading 'Farangs'
Lopburi, one-time site of the capital of Siam, has a large resident population of macaques who make their home in some of the city's shrines and temples.