Sunday, February 28, 2010

Think Pink

In Western culture, the color pink is mainly reserved for girls and for the occasional confident guy who wears pink oxford shirts and neckties. In Thailand, the color pink doesn't carry such associations. It's a color everyone seems to fancy, including the King. Today, my cabby who was once a military solider told me his favorite color is pink. I should have known because all the religious objects and other accessories in the cab, including the lace-trimmed seat covers, were tinted pink. Even his long pinkie fingernail was painted a striking shade of magenta.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fashion Seasons

Sitting on top of the taxi meter is the Emerald Buddha, or Phra Kaew as he's called in Thai, wearing three different outfits. The sets of clothing correspond to the three seasons in Thailand: cool, hot, and rainy. I wonder what the green Buddha's seasonal duds would look like if he were living in Bangkok today. Would he wear flip flops in the heat, a scarf when the temperature drops a few degrees, and galoshes when there's a downpour?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Seriously Happy

In Thailand, being solemn is a cause for concern. A Thai phrase you often hear basically means, "don't be so serious". In the taxi the other day, I wanted to express that same sentiment to my pensive-looking cabbie, but I changed my mind as I thought he might not appreciate my unsolicited advice. Instead, I dropped an indirect hint and told him his fish made out of money looked happy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dapper Cabbie

Even though previous Bangkok city planners have nicknamed this metropolis, "Fashion City", I wouldn't exactly call the taxi drivers here fashionistas. Some Bangkok cabbies don't even wear shoes. When I hopped into a taxi yesterday with a cabbie sporting a straw fedora, it was a pleasant surprise. The retro tropical look suited him well, and the style seemed apropos for this city and climate. I wish that all Bangkok cabbies were required to wear hats.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thai Foot Massage

The sticker on the taxi ceiling with Buddha's footprints reminds me of one of my favorite things about living in Bangkok: foot massages. For a couple hundred baht, you can kick back in a cushy recliner for an hour and let a trained masseuse kneed, prod, push, and pull your aching feet back into shape. Thai massage is all about releasing pressure and enhancing blood circulation, and sometimes they tickle or even hurt a little. When you're finished, your weary feet feel like new. And so does your attitude.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Heart Chinese New Year

How convenient that Chinese New Year falls on the same day as Valentine's Day this year. Red decorations can be used to symbolize either holiday and Thais will only have to wear red on one occasion instead of two separate days. The only problem is that I can't decide whether to have a romantic candlelight dinner or go to Yaowarat Road in Bangkok's Chinatown to eat delicious Chinese food, watch dancing dragons, and hang out with thousands of fellow Bangkokians.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Today, my taxi driver told me it's bad luck to buy amulets. Someone else is supposed to give them to you. But in case you really want a particular icon and no one is offering to foot the bill, you can buy it yourself and tell others you're "renting" it. I guess the idea is that you can't own a god or an idol, but I'm sure glad they're available for rent.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Embellished Brake Lights

Even brake lights can become decorative accessories in Bangkok cabs. In the back window of the taxi the other night were two brake lights garnished with plastic bouquets of twisting serpentine-like leaves and flowers that bloomed into fluttering butterflies. Every time the cabbie applied the brakes, these flora and fauna fantasies sprung to life. When the taxi was accelerating, on the other hand, the intense red lights with the plastic sprays went out. All I can say is that I feel lucky that we encountered mostly green lights at intersections that night.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Foreign Objects

I asked the taxi driver who these two characters are supposed to represent and he told me they're "farang", or white foreigners. I used to dislike that word, but over time, I've come to realize that it's generally used in a non-offensive, neutral way. I also recognize that despite every attempt to blend into Thai culture, I'll always stand out in a crowd here due to my physical appearance. But at least I hope I don't look as ridiculous to Thai people as these two oddballs hanging in the cab.