Friday, February 12, 2016

The Bangkok Book 4 / 曼谷之書 4

The Visual Language of Design


Along each BTS station is at least one department store while there is more than one mall next to the most crowded stations. Despite the commercialized feel, I have to say that each series impresses me with their distinctive design style. For example, the graphic design decorating the overpass that connects Chit Lom and Siam stations give me ample inspirations. 


     The images in the mall are not only pleasing to the eye but also convey very positive messages about life. 


     The graphic design in Siam Center makes it a joy to go to the restroom! 


     Emporium extends their advertising to the space in the BTS station with designs in all forms. They must speak to me even though in the beginning I didn't take them seriously. Now I can say one slogan right off the top of my head, "If you need a hug, come to the Em district!" 


     I am not an expert on department stores, but I feel Emporium has vision. There is a playground designed for children. Also, TCDC, the design center mentioned in my earlier post, is located in Emporium as well. 


     The visual design of BTS is neat and to the point. Bangkok is packed with foreign tourists, so it's very crucial to use simple English and understandable visual language. 


     Even the sticker that tells passengers to yield priority seats is slick. 


     This is a bookstore selling books on designs near the No.9 pier. I love the small yet beautiful shop. 

The Visual Language of Life


     Anyone that walks out of the No. 8 pier will be attracted by this advertisement of massage. It's hilarious and lively! 


     Art is a part of Chatukcha Weekend Market as well! 


     Some paintings are reminiscent of the old ways of living in Thailand, which I find irresistible. 



     The old and new ways of barbering in Bangkok. 


     It's not hard to find the old and the new co-existing in the big city. 


     The magic of  Bangkok lies in that its numerous colors create a rare visual harmony! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Bangkok Book 3 / 曼谷之書 3

Food Stands 


     Street food plays a very important part in Thai cuisine. Food stands can be found at roadsides or along the alleyways either alone or in a group, satisfying people's appetites of all senses. I don't eat street food, but I just love the atmosphere. In the morning, both the locals and foreigners can be seen to order a bowl of noodles and take their time to eat under the sun. After work, two or three friends would chat over a table of food along with chilling drinks. This is the beauty of the Thai style of life! 


     One morning when I am sketching a food stand, I draw the attention of an old German gentleman. He says that he's currently dwelling in Bangkok. I ask, "Are you going to stay here forever?" He answers, "I am 76 years old. What is 'forever' for me?" After our talk, I can't help thinking, I am turning 40 in half a year, and that means I have only half of my life left, if I am lucky. I should seize the time to do what I feel like doing!  


     Beverages are extremely popular. The vendors pour different kinds of powder into the cups. After stirring, they would pour the liquid into a whole cup of ice cubes. My new friend from Shanghai describes the taste of Thai milk tea as "so cool!"  


     The tuk-tuk can be turned into a stall. I am wondering if he's selling desserts. 


     There are many traditional noodle shops in the city. On my way to Sala Daeng BTS station every day, I can't help stopping to take a look at this place. While sketching, I find that they have quite a number of customers. 


     It might look kind of old on the outside, but inside it is decorated with wooden tables and chairs, which has a retro feel. 


     A few days later I finally walk inside for a bowl of pork noodles. The owners and staff are extremely friendly. I even show my previous sketch of the shop to the lady owner. They, meanwhile, help me to review Thai. 



     Four jars of condiments can be found on each table. Thais do not hesitate to add more sugar or chili powder  to their food! 


     I do not record what I eat right from the beginning. One evening I suddenly feel very lonely when eating all by myself, so I just take out my book and pens. Strangely, my loneliness evaporates right away. I also get to have detailed observations of the ingredients. For one thing, I discover that salted eggs go with fried rice. 


     Mama instant noodles are fairly popular. They can be eaten as salad. They can also be turned into stir-fried or soup noodles. One of the advantages to draw and eat at the same time is that I eat more slowly. I also have a perfect excuse to sit for a long time in a restaurant. 


     This is my first bowl of noodles in a market. It tastes very sweet, but the customer sitting opposite me seasons it with one more spoon of sugar! It costs only 13 bahts, which is much cheaper than the cheap street food in Bangkok. 


     Yummy mixed chicken rice. I love the well-seasoned rice. 


     During the first few days of the trip, I am too careless to remind the server that I want no chili in my food, so my tongue is literally on fire. Later, I mostly go for stir-fried rice, which is a very safe choice. 


     The omelette rice is another conservative option.

Fami Mart 


     I find it pathetic to have to eat food from a convenience store. Sometimes it's because I want to watch Thai lakorns in my hotel room on time. Interestingly, bigger Fami marts have a small restaurant in them offering hot food. 


     My breakfast sponsor is also Fami Mart. I did not bother to record the 7-11 series, which is even sadder. 


     I personally find it fun to draw and sketch breakfast. I feel like a professional gourmet. 


     On the last day I buy a box of jackfruit desserts, which are very very very sweet! 


     Next time when I go back to Thailand, I will try more kinds of food with my not-so-strong stomach! 

The Bangkok Book 2 / 曼谷之書 2

Motorcycle Taxi Drivers


Among various means of transportation in Bangkok, somehow motorcycle taxis hold special appeal for me. At first I observe and sketch from afar, but later I learn how convenient it is to be offered a short ride at a low cost. These drivers are experts. Even a gigantic piece of luggage can be squeezed into the small space in front of the seat. Take a motorcycle taxi if you don't want to be trapped in an annoying traffic jam! 


     Motorcycle taxi drivers usually gather at the entrance to an alley. When there are no passengers, they would eat, phub, or just relax. I am particularly impressed by their black bandanas, but don't worry. They are not going to rob a bank. 


     There is a long queue waiting to take a motorcycle taxi during rush hour.



     Monks clad in orange robes are eye-catching in a big city. They are everywhere in Bangkok. In fact, they also lead very modern lives. Attention: Women can't have any physical contact with them, which is especially challenging in crowded MRT or BTS carriages. 



     High school students in uniforms are part of the cityscape. Students from some schools even tie up their hair in the same style. 


     College students also wear uniforms. The shirt is basically tight-fitting, and there are different choices for the skirt in terms of length and styles. The girls can wear their own shoes or sandals, which makes them look more mature than high school kids. 


     However, there are no straps on the belt, so the belt would often slip up and down. 


     I spend an afternoon in the cafeteria in Chulalongkorn University. I notice that everyone's uniforms are neatly ironed. Most of the students immediately get down to studies after lunch and have enthusiastic discussions about their questions. 


     Apart from student uniforms, the police uniforms are tight-fitting too. 


     I have thought long and hard about begging one BTS policeman for a photo shot, but I do not have enough courage. This is the best picture I can get. 

Ordinary People 


     I am also interested in observing the flower vendors that are constantly making flower wreaths. 


     One day I run into a fish vendor selling fish in plastic bags. 


If you are heading to nearby cities from Bangkok, chances are that you have to buy tickets and take minivans from Victory Monument BTS station. At 6:30 a.m., against the indigo sky, a line of ticket sellers wearing coats sit in a rickety shed. There's something about the image that makes me want to sketch it. 


     Many vendors in Damnoen Saduak Floating Market are middle-aged or old ladies who are really skilled at rowing boats. 


     There isn't much space for the ingredients or food on the boat. They have to fight for tourists' attention in time before the boats move away, which makes me feel that this is a competitive profession. 


     The restaurant where I eat in Chatukcha even hires a singer with a drummer to attract customers. Thai men seem to have a like for growing a beard. 



     Uncle McDonald in Thailand is as humble and full of gratitude as most people here. 


     I can't repress my desire to draw Ramakian before going through the customs in the airport!