Posts Tagged 'thailand'

Cosplay in Thailand

Super cute girl with glasses

(Cute turquoise and pink girl: (Apparently the slightly crooked teeth she has is considered a super cute beauty feature is Japan! It is kind of cute, isn’t it?)

One interesting Japanese fashion that has caught on amongst young people in Thailand is cosplay. Cosplay is where people dress up like their favorite characters from anime or manga, or just archetypal characters like schoolgirls and cat maids. Siam Paragon recently had a cosplay festival. I was really amazed at all the great costumes and models that were there. It was really a visual feast for photographers!

cute cosplay schoolgirl

beautiful traditional costume

cute cosplayer

cute green haired girl

cool cosplay

wounded samurai!

beautiful girl

“there is a light and it never goes out”, or light in Thailand for photographers

Matisse moved to the South of France chasing its beautiful light. When I first read this, I remember thinking: light is light, dark is dark, how can light be different from one place to another? It’s only when I came to South-East Asia that I understood how light can have different qualities.

Depending on the time of day, the light here is soft and kind, stark and merciless, pure gold, heavy and tired. Capturing these different feelings and moods is what makes photography in Thailand and South-East Asia so interesting.

As Shanghai photographer Franc Peret says: “don’t chase the subject, chase the light.”

Morning light is a beautiful soft light. Morning light is violet and kind, there is a tenderness to every morning landscape:

soi dogs at dawn 6:04

6:30 am

Noon light: In South-East Asia this light is very, very strong and washes out all the colors. I don’t like taking pictures at this time, never mind it’s hot to be walking around doing anything at all.

(These colors have to be cranked up using photoshop, and even then, it feels pretty washed out)

in the distance

Late afternoon light: This is the most beautiful time of day here. The light feels like liquid gold. If I am free, I always try to go for a walk around this time.

Sakura on the Chaopraya


Nightfall: In Bangkok itself, nightfall is weary and dramatic, but in the countryside, nightfall is dense and beautiful.


sunset cruise on the mekong river

Matilde at sunset on Kao Tao

What is your favorite time of day for taking pictures in Thailand?

5 easy ways to improve the Bangkok Film Festival

Dear Bangkok Film Festival organizers,

I love film festivals, but it seems like you’ve made it as difficult as possible to enjoy and even attend this year’s film festival. Here’s how you could make it better next year:

1) Simplify your web site. Make the information I care about: the schedule and description of movies, ticket prices, theatre location, which showings have directors in attendance easy to find. Right now, your flash freezes my browser and it’s almost impossible to find the information I want. I don’t care about flash animations of high-society Thai people, hit counters, boring press releases or ads and neither will most festival-goers.

2) Improve your online schedule. Make an online HTML schedule, where the user can click on the movie title and get a popup window with all the details inside.

Right now, to decide which movies I want to see, here’s what I need to do:

  • download a pdf schedule with the times, locations and only titles of the movies
  • take each movie title and google it myself to see if I’m interested in it, one by one.

This process is so annoying that I almost gave up and didn’t attend.

EVEN BETTER: If you want to step into 2009, make a little “my film festival” app, where I can make and save my own personalized schedule of all the movies I want to see, and share it with my friends. You could easily use this to show people some ads from your sponsors, sign up people to a mailing list for next year’s festival, and find out which movies are popular.

Right now I have to write this down on paper by hand, and that’s so 1985.

3) Better signs at the theatre: Please put some signs telling me where I can buy tickets and how the ticketing works, like “buy coupons here”, and “redeem coupons for real tickets here”. I stood in line for 10 minutes just to be told I had to stand in another line to buy an individual ticket (not a book of 6 coupons, which then still need to be redeemed for tickets). It’s a big confusing mess.

4) Please have enough programs. People love movie festivals because they can see a lot of movies in a short time they wouldn’t normally see. You want people to see lots of movies, because you’ll make more money. If I come to see one movie, chances are I am interested in seeing more than one. When I tried to get a program with all the movies, there were already none left, despite it being 2 pm.

5) Hang up descriptions of all the movies where people can easily see them. When you ran out of programs, the only alternative to find out about your movies was to stand at the counter looking at one binder of movie descriptions with a long line of people forming behind me. Not cool.

People love movie festivals, please make it easier for us to come see your movies!

storms, floods and other small town life

One thing I really like about small town life is that everything is an event: stuff that you wouldn’t even bother to notice in a big city becomes super exciting!

Tonight there was a big storm in Nong Khai and after it was finished I went with an old guy from my building to look at the flooded streets. There’s about a foot of rain in some streets and it’s funny to see people drive through it.

As we walked past the restaurant, this Thai woman asked us where we were going:

Woman: Pai nai? (Where are you going?)
Me: We’re not going anywhere. We were bored in our rooms and we came to look at the flood.
Woman: Wow, ok.

Another aspect of small town life is everyone is always asking you to teach English somewhere. Why not? I thought, (see “small town life, nothing to do”) so today I “taught English” to a class of 7-9 year olds. I say “teaching” because it’s really more like herding a bunch of animals than any kind of learning anything.

So we played a game where I told them different actions in English and they had to do them (“jump, sit down, clap your hands, spin around”) and then different students took turns being the “boss” and telling everyone what to do. This went down well because it involved screaming and running around, which was what they were going to do anyways.

Then I tried to go for a bicycle ride in the country side, but I ran into a guy I know who bought me a gin and tonic. That one gin and tonic was so strong I had to walk my bike home, I was so drunk.

You’ll notice that today was a record because I talked to *two* foreign guys in one day and they were both *ok*. No sex tourist/sexpat topics were mentioned at any point. I enjoyed talking to them. Meeting one such person in one day sometimes happens, but is still rare enough to be noteworthy. But two? Holy shit.

acclimate: a cool new mag for expat women in bangkok

Finally, someone has figured out that expat women in Thailand are a market worth catering to:

Acclimate Magazine

I really like their mission statement:

Acclimate gets it. We understand the struggle, because we’ve experienced it ourselves. We address the issues of identity loss and readjustment, while helping expatriate women find their own passions and their own best life in Bangkok. We offer inspirational stories from women in our community who have managed to find their way through unbelievable trials. And we never forget about the small stuff that makes life just a little easier, like where to get a great haircut, or where to go for the best foot massage.

how to do laundry by hand, country-style

doing laundry, country-style!

“You can get a big tub and do your laundry by hand!” the Thai owners of my building announced happily when I asked them if there were any washing machines I could use, or some kind of laundry service.

Me: “Um….ok….um…how would I do that, exactly?”

Like most Canadians, I’ve washed one or two things out by hand in the sink, but any kind of large-scale laundry-washing endeavor has involved, you know, WASHING MACHINES. But washing machines are actually rare here, especially the real, modern kind so hand-washing everything is pretty common.

Of course, any place poor enough for laundry machines to be a novelty probably has lots of people I could pay to do my laundry. However, I like doing chores myself. Also, while it’s easy to pay people to do stuff for you in Thailand, it can be quite hard to get things done the way you want. (See: “it’s so hard to get good help these days”) — so in most cases it’s a lot simpler to do it yourself.

Here’s how you wash laundry by hand:

1) You need a big laundry tub, about 3 feet wide a laundry brush, and of course detergent. If you’re a princess like me, you need rubber gloves too. The giant tub is important, it really doesn’t work well to do a lot of laundry in your sink.
2) Put water and detergent in the tub, then the laundry. Make sure everything is wet, then let it soak for 1/2 hour.
3) Using the laundry brush, take each item of clothing and inspect it for stains, and give it a good scrub with the brush.
4) Drain the water, and put in new, clean water.
5) Let stuff soak a little bit more
6) Drain water, and twist out the water from each item. Once you have to twist out a towel or jeans, you will have a newfound appreciation for centrifugal force: it fucking sucks.
7) Hang each item on a hanger and put it out in the sun. In Thailand, where temperatures reach 40C, no one except hotels own dryers: it takes about an hour for clothes to dry in the afternoon sun.
8) Done!

khun baan deocan, the video

Here’s the video for Pai Pongsatorn’s Khun Baan Deocan:

For those unfamiliar with Issan (and not sick of hearing about it already from this blog :-), here are some details from the video:

* The food you see the singer making in the beginning is Issan food: stuff like laap, som tam (papaya salad), weird stuff like fermented crab. I think the point of the video is that the singer opens an Issan restaurant, and all these “real” Issan people go eat there, and then it’s delicious, so the singer is *really* Issan, or something like that. (Thais, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here.)
* Notice the deliberate “country” styling, in normal Thai videos, they make people look as rich as possible.
* The people you see eating in the restaurant are all wearing uniforms of jobs that Issan people working in Bangkok would have: taxi drivers, construction workers, food sellers, security guards.
* The singer is WAY darker skinned than anyone you’d ever see in a Thai pop video.


A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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