Bangkok building takes architecture to new heights

Meandering around central Bangkok recently, I kept seeing from different angles a startling building nearing completion.  It arrested me from every point of view, and it is as memorable to me as the Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

I looked up the nearly completed skyscraper online, and dezeen architecture and design magazine provided me with background that I have shamelessly extracted here in part.

At 314 meters, or 1,030 feet, the MahaNakhon tower was intended to be Continue reading

A shop owner bolsters my appreciation of Cambodians

printer.png

This sleek all-in-one is not mine.

My printer mystified me.

Purchased here in Cambodia, the HP all-in-one device is three years old.  It worked fine until a couple of months ago, when it refused to print the information inside a form.

I tried everything, so I thought.  I changed online documents to PDFs, JPGs, Excel and Word, all to no avail.

Finally, it dawned on me that Continue reading

Cambodia hardly is a hotbed of the visual arts, but. . .

img_4126

Cambodia’s minister of culture and fine arts, Phoeurng Sackona, spoke warmly about the artist Sopheap Pich, standing at her left, in front of the sculpture called Big Being.

No one would describe Cambodia as a vital center of the visual arts in Southeast Asia.

While there are art schools and art exhibitions, the output does not tend to be memorable. (When it comes the visual arts, I find photography to be the most accomplished.)

One reason must be  Continue reading

Photos below must be worth worth 1,000 words each

rollsIn keeping with normal practice, the sidewalk along Monivong Boulevard, a major thoroughfare, was cluttered with parked vehicles a few months ago and thus was impassable.  As usual, I found myself walking in the gutter.

It was then that I noticed a Rolls-Royce behind me edging toward the sidewalk.  It is the Rolls in the photo.  I was struck by the contrast between it and other vehicles on the road and suspect you will have the same reaction.

Even my modest condominium building, where I rent a furnished two-bedroom unit for $1,000 a month — relatively low in a prime area where new two-bedroom units run close to $2,000 and rarely much more — has a Rolls owner in residence.

I am dumbfounded by Continue reading

Festival in Bangkok central park sets splendid standard

img_3990Having reported on and attended in other capacities an incalculable number of parades, festivals, street fairs and similar special events, I have become rather jaded about them.

But the 2017 Thailand Tourist Festival —  which this year apparently replaced a celebrations of the Lunar New Year in Bangkok’s Chinatown in tribute to the memory of the late king — blew me away.  By changing the focus, the government felt able to respect the year-long mourning period since his death last fall.

img_3886The event in the city’s centrally situated Lumphini Park took place from last Wednesday through Sunday.  It was a triumph of organization, diversions and civilized crowds of almost impenetrable size on the weekend, somewhat less thronged before then.  I was there on three days.

The organizers had divided the space according to five of the country’s regions, plus a section devoted to China.

I very much enjoyed Continue reading

Variations of ‘home’ set Cambodians apart from West

unnamed

My mother and I at home a few years ago.

Where I spent most of my life, there was the concept of going home.  That referred to where I went to bed at night.

Here, Cambodians usually mean the same thing.

Were I to head to my hometown, that would refer to the Boston, Massachusetts area, where I was born and lived the first 18 years of my life.

Here in Phnom Penh, “hometown” does not exactly exist as a concept.  Instead, Cambodians will say in their language they are going to their homeland.

“Homeland” is freighted with far more significance than “home” or “hometown.”  It has Continue reading

Much in the capital city eludes the physically challenged

One of my neighbors moved here from Sweden to work.  That he need to use a wheelchair in Cambodia, where there is little accommodation to individuals who cannot walk as well as able-bodied individuals, does not seem to faze him.

When I asked him about life in Phnom Penh for folks like him, he told me that he managed pretty well.  Of course, managing means that he Continue reading