Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Insert Face Here

Looking like one of those things that you stick your head in at carnivals for a laugh and a photo op is this picture of a smiling Buddhist monk combined with an illustration of the fat Chinese folkloric deity, Budai, in a Bangkok taxi. I guess that this is more appropriate than surrounding the monk's face with the image of a lion tamer, a muscleman, or a cartoon character.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Made in China

Mountainous landscapes have been one of the main subjects in Chinese art since the Song Dynasty in the 11th Century. It's hard not to appreciate the dreamlike quality of painted rocky cliffs fading into misty skies and elegantly drawn branches of bamboo. As my eyes wandered through the mystical landscape in the back of this taxi, I felt transported to another world. But then I suddenly realized that I was stuck in a traffic jam in the concrete jungle with my dirty feet plunked on a cheap floor mat made in China.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let There Be Light

If achieving enlightenment involves sitting under a tree on a lotus for days on end, it's going to be a very long time before I reach this level of awareness. It's too bad that attaining this form of illumination is not as easy as turning on an interior car light.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bangkok Porsche Taxi

In a city where advertising bombards you everyplace you go, introducing new products in Bangkok sometimes necessitates unconventional publicity stunts to get people's attention. Earlier this year, Samsung pimped out a Porsche Boxster as a Bangkok taxi and rode around the city picking up fares to promote their new Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone. I don't quite get the connection. And I'm not sure why a Lady Gaga song was chosen to accompany the video. But anyway, the marketing scheme seems to have worked. Never mind that they forgot to include any talismans on the dashboard.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Monk Fish

One of my favorite types of talismans in taxis here is in the form of fish made from accordion-pleated banknotes. Normally, these lucky charms are created with out-of-circulation Thai baht, but this one incorporates fake money with pictures of venerated Thai monks on it. I've heard of monkfish before, but this is getting a little too literal.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thai Origami

Thailand's answer to origami, the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, doesn't involve delicate paper with kimono designs folded into elegant forms of graceful animals, such as cranes. On the contrary, as illustrated by this cat-like figure in the back of a Bangkok taxi, it entails cheap shiny plastic in garish colors stitched together to form ill-proportioned creatures embellished with plastic beads and bells.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pepsi Taxi vs. Coke Cab

When it comes to the battle between Coke vs. Pepsi in Thailand, Pepsi appears to be winning. Certainly you can find both brands in supermarkets and convenience stores here, but an overwhelming majority of local restaurants, mom-and-pop noodle shops, and street-side stalls serve Pepsi. In a country where drinks and desserts tend to be on the sweet side, it makes sense that this slightly more sugary cola wins the Thai taste test. When I noticed the Pepsi clock on the dashboard in this cab, I assumed that the cabbie was yet another Thai fan of this carbonated beverage. But when I asked him about his timekeeper, he told me that it was free and that he actually prefers to drink Coke.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Be Strong

Since July of this year, over three million people in Thailand have been seriously affected by the floods. Many people have lost their homes and jobs. Others have been trapped inside their house for weeks and some are going without basic necessities. The driver of this taxi told me that he has been living in evacuee shelters for the past three weeks and his only personal belongings that he has left are in the trunk. For him and for many others, getting through this crisis will take a lot of courage. My hopes are that those directly hit by the floods can be as strong as the tiger whose image is stuck to the back window of this Bangkok taxi.