Friday, January 28, 2011

Don't Look Back

Notice anything missing in this taxi? One hint: it's the implement in the front of the car that the driver uses to see behind the vehicle. I asked the cabby about it and he told me that it had fallen off weeks ago and that he doesn't really miss it. Fortunately, he has a Buddha statuette on the dashboard and yan monk drawings on the ceiling to protect him when he accidentally backs up into cars and other things behind the vehicle.

Friday, January 21, 2011

All That Glitters

Most Thais are crazy about anything made out of gold. Never mind if the gold is fake and in the form of cheap gewgaws from China. My driver told me that his menagerie of faux gold talismans on the dashboard is supposed to attract wealth. But then he laughed as he pointed out his fake gold Swiss watch and told me that despite all of his efforts, he still can't afford to buy a real one.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Marble Temple

Most Bangkokkians have a favorite temple, or Wat as it's known in Thai. For me, it's difficult to pick just one because there are numerous magnificent Buddhist temples in this city from which to choose, including Wat Po with its giant reclining Buddha statue and traditional Thai massage school, Wat Phra Kaew with its "emerald" Buddha image and association with Thai royalty, and Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn, with its decorative mosaics that cover the surfaces of many of the buildings. Another temple that many Thais favor is Wat Benchamabophit. Wat Ben was constructed in 1899 and features an impressive Italian carrara marble exterior. I asked the taxi driver about his postcard of Wat Ben and he told me that it's his favorite temple because it was built by one of Thailand's best-loved monarchs, King Rama V.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pray for a Knockout

One of the many dualities that exists in Thailand involves the contrast of a peaceful, laid-back Buddhist culture with an all out, knock 'em down, kick 'em where it hurts national sport of Muay Thai boxing. On Sundays, many Thais visit temples, but it's also a popular day for boxing matches. Thais generally don't see these two activities as being at odds with one another. In fact, some Thais make special trips to temples just to pray for the victory of their favorite boxer.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's a Jungle Out There

Talismans believed to possess protective qualities are usually found inside cabs and other vehicles here, but occasionally you see charms attached to car exteriors. For drivers attempting to scare away evil spirits, menacing beast-like figures such as this King Kong mounted to the rear hood of the cab should do the trick.