Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Today, when I asked the driver if I could photograph his reproduction of the Emerald Buddha, he was completely surprised. He told me he thought it was strange for me to take pictures of a copy when I could have photos of the real jade statue sitting in his own temple. He suggested I go and see the original, and then he offered to take me there. Even after I told him about my ongoing project of photographing inside taxis, he shook his head and said, "You should really take a picture of the real one".
Saturday, April 26, 2008
While we were chatting, I started to think about the irony of this symbol of long life dangling from a safety pin. I couldn't help but think that this tired old turtle needs a more comfortable and respectful place to rest his shell. But, instead, this poor creature is precariously suspended in air, hanging on for dear life.
Friday, April 25, 2008
As we know from pop music and the movies, superheroes aren't perfect. In the case of Bangkok taxi drivers, sometimes they have no idea where they're going, they may try to overcharge you, they might take the long way to jack up the fare, or perhaps even refuse to take you somewhere. But, never mind those inconveniences and annoyances. Even Spiderman and Batman have bad days.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Finally, I directly asked him, "Why do you have these takraw balls in your car?". And, he responded by telling me they came attached to the basket hanging above, and that it was a set. At that point, I felt a little disappointed that they were simply a decoration with no meaning to the driver. But, then again, they make a nice conversation piece. After all, it gave the two of us something to talk about.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
There are some taxi drivers, however, that prefer a brightly colored silk or plastic version. These drivers apparently appreciate the longevity of them, but, of course, they're lacking the exotic aroma (even if you're technically not supposed to smell them). The artificial garlands serve the same purpose as the real ones, but, considering they're used as a gesture of respect, they just don't seem to carry the same genuine feeling. If you ask me, they're the equivalent of a fake smile. And in a country that dubs itself, "the land of smiles", that's not a good thing.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
If you want to stay dry, this is a good time to ride in a car taxi (if you can find one that's available). Otherwise, put on your Hawaiian shirt, grab a water bucket or a Super Soaker, and get ready for some wet and wild fun!
Friday, April 11, 2008
The plastic yellow bear lying next to the Buddha statue in the photo is another good example of the types of contrast you find here. For a foreigner, like me, this combination of objects seems funny and a bit strange. But, for the cab driver, and for most Thai people, this grouping is a perfect mixture. This unlikely pairing is proof that Asians can find harmony between opposites - this is the coming together of the Yin and the Yang on a taxi dashboard.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Larger versions of these masks are worn in Khon, a classical form of Thai dance drama. Khon is performed by troupes of non-speaking dancers wearing colorful and sparkly traditional costumes that include a gold headdress or mask that covers the entire head. The dancing is accompanied by music played on traditional instruments with a chorus that tells the story. To read more about Khon, go to www.mahidol.ac.th/thailand/khon.html.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
At that point, I considered asking him to stop the taxi so I could get out, but luckily, I remembed how to get to where I needed to go, and I could direct him the entire way. It helps a lot that I can speak some Thai. But, for foreigners who can't speak the language, taking a taxi in Bangkok can, at times, be frustrating.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to assure finding your way around this place without a major headache. One thing you can do is to arm yourself with a map. It probably won't help to show the driver the tangled web of streets, but you can use it yourself to help navigate and tell the driver where to go. Most drivers understand some basic English, such as "turn left, turn right, u-turn, and stop", and, of course, you can always point in the direction.
Another tactic I recommend is to bring a business card of the place you're going. Make sure it includes their address written in Thai, and their phone number. Some business cards in Bangkok even have directions on them. The other approach is to have someone at your hotel, restaurant, or other tourist spot, who can speak both Thai and English, tell the driver where you want to go. Or, you could have them write down the location in Thai for the driver.
If all those things fail, and the driver gets lost, take the Thai approach - sit back, relax, and don't worry. You'll somehow eventually get there. And, in the meantime, you might find yourself in a fascinating part of the city you wouldn't have seen otherwise. Oh, and don't forget to tell the driver, "Mai Pen Rai", which means "don't worry, it's no problem".
Thursday, April 3, 2008
The mirrored balls are believed to reflect negative energy away from you, bringing you into alignment with harmony. In cars, the mirror reflects away evil forces that cause accidents. Another reason they're used in the taxis is because of the low ceiling which is believed to have a pushing down effect on you. The idea is that the mirror reflects the ceiling back before its pushing effect reaches you. The mirrors are also used to reflect natural elements outside, such as fresh air, back into the car.
When I see the mirrored balls in taxis, they give me a sense of well being. In some ways, they're not so different than the disco balls in the clubs. The disco music and dance club atmosphere also helps to release all that negative energy, and brings you back into alignment.