Archive for November, 2006

A step in the right direction

The powers that be have finally started the process of lifting the Martial Law, which was enforced during the recent coup.
Whilst it’s not a total lift, with only 35 of 76 provinces still under the martial law, it’s a step in the right direction for real democracy and not military governed. Defence Minister Boonrawd was quoted as saying “We’ve decided to lift it in Bangkok and nearby provinces because we care about the international community and tourism”.

The emergency security laws will not be lifted officially until King Bhumibol Adulyadej gives his assent, a formality that is expected to take a few days.

’tis the season

yes, time to unravel cotton balls and use them as decoration on fake plastic christmas trees.

this under-appreciated ornament has been part of a thai christmas for years on end.

there’s really nothing fantastic or ingenius as a stream of fake snow made out of cotton balls.

so when does the celebration start? the moment it’s cool enough for patrons to sit outside in the bangkok night and drink beer and eating seemingly clean food. beer garden season.

before all this talk about the damn laws about alcohol advertising, bangkok has seen better days in regards to the beer garden. you used to see them pop up in the most splendid places like parking lots at tesco or any other damn vacant lot, then it’d gradually move to more popular foot traffic areas, the most popular one is probably the area in front of the world trade center.

this year however, it’s been sprouting up first at most depressing places like fucking j avenue, where i still don’t understand why people hang around villa market, if not to buy a tray of sub-par uni for B380.

gone are the days where visitors could felt excited about a night in bangkok because it was an illicit combination of drinking moonshine and ability to imagine what prohibition felt like while drinking sangsom out of a tea pot behind iron curtains at 4am. the wonderful rawness and endless hidden secrets of bangkok, like the landmark hotel’s roof is one of the best place to drink till the early morn and catch the sunrise, have been lost amid all these silly dj from nowhereville nights.

Ho Ho Ho

It’s worrying when 2 weeks after Halloween, you suddenly see the shops putting out their christmas decorations and playing Jingle Bells over the PA system. Maybe the lure of Christmas for me died when I had to start worrying about what to get people, rather than if i’d get that new BMX or Skateboard (the 80’s had so much to give to kids like us!).

With the amount of gadgets being released this holiday period, what’s topping your list of toys to die for?
For me it would have to be the Sony PS3, and I’m silently hoping some shop in MBK gets one in before the big day.

Special Olympics of Thailand

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If there’s one belief I always held onto was the idea that we, as individuals should always serve society. It is the main reason why, I’m rarely ever sympathetic to the folks running around Bangkok, complaining about everything but rarely ever taking steps towards solving the problem.

I want to shed light on a lesser known non-profit in Thailand, but a well established International organization – The Special Olympics of Thailand or SOT. The Special Olympics focuses on individuals who suffer from intellectual disabilities (mental retardation) ranging from 8 to 80. They help empower individuals enabling them to take control of their own lives. Individual and team sports are used to develop their motor skills, confidence, mental aptitude and interaction with society.

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I personally volunteered with SOT for about year and half now at first as a Basketball coach, trainer, and most recently as part of the fundraising team. It has been one of the most awarding activities in my life.

One kid I work with constantly, first entered the program extremely shy, an able to socialize and interact with others without turning semi-violent, and unable to communicate his feelings at all has done a complete 180 within a year. I remember a time; he completely ran circling the water bucket because he was thirsty and couldn’t find a cup. He eventually just stopped and fainted with his tongue hanging out! It took me forever just to figure out what he wanted. I later found out his Aunt used “negative” methods to teach him not to dunk his head when he’s thirsty in the water barrel at home. He used to instantly cry every time anyone even got near him. Now, every time he comes to camp he has cheesy smile and runs up to hug me. He is able to clean his house and watch himself without too much burden on his Aunt & Uncle.

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SOT only has 4 paid employees who currently coordinate and oversee over 10,000 “special athletes” in the organization. The rest are teachers, doctors, and individuals who volunteer to help run the programs in individual provinces (broken down into 4 sections, North, Northeast, South, Central.) SOT holds events all throughout the year, “development” camps and medical check-ups all free of charge to the individuals.

According to Ministry of Public Health, Thailand has about 1.5 million registered intellectually disabled citizens. The Special Olympics of Thailand would like to help these individuals but unfortunately they do not have the funds to reach out. Due to the lack of support and awareness, SOT lack the notoriety of the other non-profits, therefore they must make due with their very limited budget.

It’s nearing the end of the year, and tax season is not too far away again. Many of BKK’s workers are looking for ways to get a couple tax breaks especially those in the higher income bracket. Red Cross and Unicef in Thailand are great organizations, but in my opinion they’re so filled with bureaucracy that money donated takes an extremely long time to reach those who should be benefiting if ever.

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You can help to support Special Olympics Thailand in many ways. Individual donation to cover training and competition expense of each athlete amounts to 600 Baht per year. Corporate sponsorship supporting event organization costs are most welcome as well as contributions of food and beverages for these activities. Yes, even bringing a few trays of food for our events will help! You can also rest assured, the money you donate will actually be put to the athletes instead of someone’s salary!

If you would like to donate or volunteer to the Special Olympics of Thailand, or have any questions please contact the SOT National office at 02 266 6705 or E-mail sothai@inet.co.th

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for more information:
Special Olympics Thailand – http://www.specialolympicsthailand.com/
Special Olympics International – http://www.specialolympics.com/

Platform: About Installation

Thur, Nov 16 at 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Queen’s Gallery.

Platform is a two-part exhibition showcasing Thailand’s most dynamic emerging artists working in installation, sound, new media and other non-traditional formats.

The Platform exhibitions will be held at the The Art Center, Chulalongkorn University from 23 Nov – 16 Dec and at the Queen’s Gallery from 9 – 30 Nov.

Platform brings together some of Thailand’s most talented and ambitious emerging artists. Their works are engaging, interactive and poetic, breathing new life into everyday materials and transforming the spaces of art into spaces for exchange, play and critical reflection on today’s global culture. While these artists have begun to build international profiles, there is still an inadequate framework for their work in Thailand. Platform will bridge this gap by linking two of Bangkok’s key sites for contemporary art – The Art Center, Chulalongkorn University and the Queen’s Gallery.

The Art Center will also host a live audio-visual performance by Platform artists, and a seminar co-hosted by the Hong Kong-based Asia Art Archive. Platform artists will also feature in an interactive art showcase at the Heineken Fat Festival (11-12 Nov), in collaboration with the Soi Music Festival. Platform is co-curated by Manuporn Luengaram and Australian curator, Dr David Teh.

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Is American culture changing the youth?

The Lost Boy posted a story today about how he thought that Thailand’s youth are embracing the American “way of life”, and it got me thinking about the whole situation as I was having lunch in Paragon and enjoying my Grande Triple Shot Non-Fat Low Sugar Caramel Macchiato in Starbucks, listening to a bunch of teenagers speaking in some weak attempt at a US accent (mid-west accent at that).

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“… loy loy krathong” & Curtain Hotels (โรงแรมม่านรูด)

On the Third Lunar Moon in November (Nov 5th this year), Bangkok celebrates the festival known as Loy Krathong. If you break it down, it essentially means “float lotus shaped vessel” Usually, the Krathong is made out of banana leaves, flowers, with a candle and incense in the middle.

The traditional line is the Krathong are a tribute to the Goddess of Water. Its believed by lighting the Krathong and floating it away down a river, pond, lake that one’s bad luck and sins will be carried away. Therefore, starting giving you a chance to start over for a new year.

OH – and there’s a lot of fireworks and stuff. :)

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(picture credit: Google, and the dude Google riped the image off)

And that’s your basic lesson on the festival,

Now on what Loy Krathong actually means to the younger Thai generation, I would have to say Loy Krathong has become Thai’s version of Valentine’s day (of course before Valentine’s day got mainstream here.) I’m sure most can imagine how romantic the idea of going on a date, and lighting a bunch of candles along with thousands of others along a river bank, and watching a parade of incandescent flame float away into the horizon, you can see it right?

According to Public Health Ministry, there is a 10% increase in young Thai girls losing their virginity on Loy Krathong night. So, I guess after promptly wishing and washing away their sins, they feel the urge to start the accruing new sins for their fresh start. Sounds about right to me. Just kidding. Sort of.

I can see the Thai paper headlines, “Bangkok teens go buck wild, at sight of 3rd lunar moon”

Of course to be consistent with the elders pursuit in saving the youth from the darkside, the Thai Police annually steps up their patrols at โรงแรมม่านรูด or “curtain hotels” in Bangkok. (If you don’t know what curtain hotels are, I’ll save that for another time) In order to ensure, no funny business is going on because we all know losing one virginity should never happen until your 30, because that’s when all those old farts lost theirs. (smirk)

Anyhow, I’ll be heading over to Royal Navy Yards to wash myself of my impurities, and promptly spending my new life with my best friends from the past life Johnny B. and Durex at my favorite fly-by hotel on Petchaburi road “Jim Plee.”

I Keed, I Keed. Sort of.

Happy Loy Krathong!

When model nights ruin it for everyone else

Don’t get me wrong, I know that club owners see a value in allowing Z list models free drinks and food. It’s like chumming the waters when hunting sharks, you give something and generally you get something back in return. My beef is when I take a group of friends out to Koi on a tuesday night (these are creative people, in the fashion industry) and get told that the normally available bar menu is now only for models.

Excuse me??? Since when did paying customers take a backseat to Z list models?

I’m tempted to start a “Ban Model Night” campaign
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The Tunnel Club Grand Opening

Bangkok’s late night party options just got larger, with the opening of The Tunnel (Soi 5, Lang Suan), Bangkok Metblogs was exclusively invited along to shoot the event and experience the opening party. Being Halloween, many guests turned up in costume and added to the whole experience. It’s good to see Bangkonians really going for it at Halloween, as it makes a change from the subdued London parties I’ve attended in recent years.

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