Leaving Bangkok today for Kuala Lumpur then on to Amsterdam. Bangkok was an exciting place to be with all manner of visual stimuli ready and waiting to be soaked in. The food was great and the shopping was unique to say the least. Apparently the Silom district in Bangkok is the knock-off capitol of the world; from fake Rolex’s to fake Versace sunglasses pretty much any type of designer product imaginable can be had. The street vendors are pretty intense, jumping out shouting their sales pitch every time you pass by. The streets are lined with these little carts and booths selling all sorts of random items. The air is pretty bad; the whole city is enveloped in a thick veil of smog and it shows on the grimy walls and sidewalks. The juxtaposition of ultra modern western forms, decaying, dilapidated structures and traditionally ornate Thai shrines and monuments made for a very unique backdrop. We didn’t have as much time to explore the city as I would have liked, but the few days we did get to spend there were packed full of interesting things to see and do.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment, lot’s of pics from a place called Patong. Feel free to comment on this post
I’m currently on an island off the coast of Thailand called Koh Phi Phi so won’t be posting a ton as internet access is limited. It’s really beautiful here, the pic above was from the plane flying into Phuket, the closest town to Phi Phi with an airport. Leaving for Amsterdam on Wednesday, will be nice to feel some cold again, the heat here is nothing short of oppressive.
After all the shots of objects from Japan I thought I would do a post on the people themselves. Although the aesthetic elements of Japan were overwhelmingly pleasing, the people and the culture are what had the most profound impact on my stay there. Let me preface this by saying that any of these observations are obviously subjective as they are based on my limited exposure to one city during a 6 day period. I tried to see as many parts of Tokyo as I could and we usually traveled with local friends to insure we didn’t just see the tourist perspective.
I was amazed by how polite and hard working the people there seemed to be. The city itself borders on some sort of quasi-utopian vision of how good things could be in some alternate universe. It had it’s dark side as any city does, but by in large it’s just an incredibly clean and efficient place. Everyone we came into contact with was friendly and would go out of their way to help with anything you need. The service industry was something otherworldly, I have never experienced such courteous and attentive service anywhere else. The craziest part was they WILL NOT accept tips. We spent the first 2 days trying to tip cab drivers and waiters to no avail. Each time we left a tip on the table after a meal we were literally chased down outside the restaurant and informed that we had left money. No amount of explaining would convince them to keep the money. There is a significant language barrier but the courteous nature of the people we encountered usually overcame that obstacle through sheer diligence. There were workers everywhere doing all manner of tasks at any given time. Three people would be employed just to wave cars out of a parking garage and there were police and security guards posted everywhere in the city. They must be approaching 100% employment from the looks of things. I counted about 5 homeless people the entire time I was there.
Again these observations are all extremely subjective, my stay was limited to a short time frame and a small geographic area. But the same could be said for any of my stays in various American cities and none of them managed to appear so close to perfection as Tokyo. I can wholeheartedly recommend visiting Tokyo, you’ll find a great dose of culture and excitement. Make sure to save up though, that place is expensive. $12 beers anyone? I guess you get what you pay for though.
I am still rounding up and processing all the shots from the Tsuiki Fish Market, I’ll be posting those soon along with a lot of good ones from Bangkok, a visually stunning experience to be certain.
This incredible still is from Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo (1982). I’m in Bangkok right now waiting to go to Phuket to catch a boat to Koh Phi Phi Don. Saw this pic and decided I sort of feel like this guy at the moment. Bangkok is a surreal place to say the least. I’ve got a bunch of pics queued for a post, should be up soon.
Waiting to leave Tokyo for Bangkok right now. It’s been a great time here in Japan, went by too fast. Went to the Tsukiji fish Market early this morning (3am) and got a lot of pics. Will be posting them as soon as I have a chance. The above image is from the side of a truck in Azubu-Juban, it’s a sticker saying something about fighting crime I believe. While I am sure Thailand has a lot of visual beauty in store, I will definitely miss the non-stop display of design superiority that is Tokyo.
Was walking around Tokyo last night listening to music and took note of the songs I gravitated towards. In spite of the less-than-inspiring cover art, I really enjoyed listening to this album and particularly enjoyed this standout track. A very nice soundtrack to the futuristic utopia that is Tokyo.
The Field – From Here We Go Sublime – "Everyday"
Some more wonderfully designed signage from Tokyo. Most of these were taken in the Harojuku area, a few are from Shibuya. The type and design of the subway system is incredible, so well thought out. More to come….
My friend Paul used to live here in Tokyo so yesterday we met up with his friend Ena who showed us around some new parts of the city. We went to the shopping district in Harojuku then to the temple there. All sorts of great stuff to look at. We ended up in Shibuya at this tiny bar that only sat 5 people. I am not sure of the name of the area, but on some back alley in Shibuya there is a row of these little bars apparently all built very quickly after the war. I have to say Harojuku has been my favorite part of the trip thus far.