during bangkok thailand

Durian & God TV

Back in Bangkok. Feels good after almost three weeks in the relatively rural north. My relationship with the capital has evolved over time. I still love exploring Bangkok, but today I am dependent on my abiity to be inspired by what I find and photograph or film while going on long, long walks, discovering interesting compositions and challeing myself creatively. Few people seem to appreciate that once you put aside the heat and pollution (often intertwined), Bangkok is actually quite walkable. Two of my favorite stretches are from Thong Lor along Sukhumvit to Siam and Silom Road and from Taksin Bridge to Chinatown or even Rattanakosin.

Had breakfast this morning with a friend from Sweden who’s just moved here with her family. Managed to mix up the restaurant I had chose, but it worked out anyway and the food was delicious. These days, most restaurants serving western dishes here are really good at it. Not like when I first visited Bangkok in 1988. Back then, you had to either eat at the Mandarin Oriental, Sizzlers or, the last resort, McDonald’s, just to get a burger that at least visually resembled and tasted somewhat similar to what most Americans were used to filling their bellies with.

I got in much later than I expected last night. The flight from Chiang Mai was smooth. But we had horrendously slow flowing traffic in from the city’s old airport, Don Mueang. Which was most likely due to an afternoon rainstorm that flooded the highway’s outer lanes and created total gridlock on turnpikes. After arriving at the “aparthotel” in Thong Lor, I just barely had time to grab a Grab (Über) and head in to La Monita Taqueria to order a juicy veggie burrito and a cold San Miguel (they charge exuberantly for a Corona these days, something like 11 bucks a pop).

Shot a ton of walls during today’s 11k walk around town. Weather’s been quite favorable – as long as it was cloudy. As soon as the sun showed up, even for just a minute or two, the thermometer spiked and the temperature soared. And when that happens, it’s literally like opening up the door to a heated convection oven.

I have more than 800 TV and radio channels to choose from in my hotel room. I’ve flipped through a couple hundred of them and was blown away by how many Thai stations there were. Noticed only a handful of English language channels and several Chinese, Hindu and Arabic stations. Stumbled onto an American channel called “God TV”. As one might be inclined to assume, the channel broadcasts non-stop Christian programming 24/7. I have to admit that I’m a little fascinated by this stuff and just had to watch for a little while. There was a lot of sermonings and preachings in palatial halls with massive audiences yelling, crying and likely speaking in tougnes. And to think that the current president, the dude that honestly thought he could buy Greenland and have US businesse sever ties with China all in the same week, has spellbound so many of these religious folks. on a really.

There’s also a channel called “Fight” where they at least during the segment I saw promoted a rifle that shot burst of highly pressurized water and was positioned as an anti-demonstration, anti-prison riot weapon. Russia Today (RT) was available on the “dial”. I rarely turn on a hotel room’s TV and today’s exception reminded me all too well why. Apparently, the remote control is the filthiest thing you can touch in a hotel room. I think Charlotte had read somewhere that that remotes are rarely wiped clean and just accumulate disgusteness.

Tomorrow I’m heading to the river to explore Thonburi for a few hours. Will hopefully return with a bunch of new textures, patterns and interesting surfaces. Like that of a durian pictured above, one of few fruits here that I avoid – but not because of the smell. I just don’t find the fruit’s layered fleshiness particularly appetizing.