Throwback mobile photos of shoes on the streets in 2015. No shoes were harmed, poached, or touched in this collection.
The past few weeks have been rough ones. One of my best friends passed away with a stroke. It was so sudden and unexpected. All of us were shocked. He would have done more in life. On the other hand, he had lived his life as its worth beyond many could have achieved.
I’d say he and I had a long history since the university almost 30 years ago. I remembered our first eye contact and thought this guy could be a cool one to hang around with. And it was rightly so. We formed a small circle of close friends who were pretty much got wasted every time we got a chance.
He always introduced us to his new buddies while drinking. Some were peculiar. Ones I would never talked to in the first place. (Not to mention a handful of girlfriends that we lost count.) Many continued the friendship until today.
We were casted for small roles in a same play in the freshman year. That was the first time we worked together. I never thought our professional paths would cross again.
After the uni, we parted with our jobs but still partied regularly. Until one day I got a call from him about a new position at a firm he was working for. We ended up working in the same event management company for a couple of years. His working style didn’t change much—direct but sensible. It was a tough time when Thailand’s bubble economy was about to burst. He moved on to another job and eventually started his own event business when I left Bangkok for another life chapter in Sydney.
Ten years later, I was back in Bangkok, his business became a success. Despite of that ten-year gap, we still caught up and talked rubbish over drinks like before almost every week.
Most of all, I was impressed with him on his passion to help others, for an example, volunteering flood relief in 2011 and his generosity with his mates. I couldn’t tell for others but, as far as I knew, he supported a lot of people big and small.
We also got a chance to work together on some videos including one of the most challenging productions for me. He was the one who took care of my apartment when I was in the transition with a new job in Washington DC. My stuff was kept in the storage of his firm. He also coordinated the repair of my bedroom floor that was damaged from building leaks just weeks before I left.
It was Thursday, two nights after I came back from a getaway in Koh Samed, when he collapsed at the gym. I rushed to the hospital from a local pub when heard about it. He was still in the operation when we got there. He survived the night and transferred to ICU with a life support. But there was a complication and he eventually had to leave us on Saturday morning.
That was quick but I got a feeling it was how he would want to go. No lingering…just like that. As far as I knew this man from personal and professional views, he lived his life to almost of his fulfillments. We might be living longer than he did (who knows for how long it would be) but he certainly made the most of his time. His presence would be missed tremendously.
He was 46.
I love Bangkok for many reasons but one of the things I hate the most about the city is that the pedestrians’ rights are being ignored and violated heavily. However, when I get back from DC this month, there are some obvious changes on my neighbour’s streets in Phra Khanong area that make me feel welcoming. One is the installations of anti-motorcycle barriers and the other is the reorganising of street vendors.
Bangkok is quite infamous for its traffic but it doesn’t really bother me that much as long as public transport is still running reliably. So often that I rather walk unless it’s too hot, humid, or raining. But it is also often when you walk on the pavement and have to give ways to motorcycles. They illegally make a cheap short cut on the footpath—pedestrians’ footpaths—to avoid traffic on their roads where they are supposed to be. I find it is extremely unfair.
This is why I’m glad to see those anti-motorcycle barriers popping up on Sukhumvit Road around Phra Khanong Station. They are called ‘S-guard’, apparently. Even though I don’t think they will completely eradicate the behavior, at least, it’s a start to discourage bikers to evade walkways.
To a more controversial issue—street vendors. It has been somewhat a win-win to both vendors and customers. Optimising public space for micro business is not uncommon in Thailand. Bangkok’s street-food scene is one of the best in the world. And I couldn’t agree more. But when Bangkok Metropolitan Administration announced they were going to clear up the streets, there were some outcries about banning the unique Thai vendor culture.
On the very first night back in Phra Khanong, I am disoriented to find that half the vendors disappear from the street. There are only stalls on the building side of the pavement. But further down, those missing vendors are grouped together in small open area in front of a building that hasn’t been commercially utilised for years. It’s a relieve to see that my favourites noodles vendor is still there.
Personally, I like to have good footpaths to stroll on. At the same time I don’t mind getting something to eat there as well. These changes seem to be a practical compromise for me. And Phra Khanong is fortunate that is working. This might not be the case in other areas as some reports say.
It’s the first year in DC that I stay until late spring in June. And I feel obliged to check out Capital Pride.
I skip all the parties and the parade. Unfortunately, I missed the Equality March due to time conflict with my regular Sunday gym class. (Obviously, that’s my priority.) The only event I go is the Festival.
But I stay there for about two hours because the heat and humidity is just too unbearable. Although I find some similarities and differences with Sydney Mardi Gras, it is too much to dig deep into it. Besides, the event doesn’t really engage to stay until my volunteer shift starts at 7.30 pm. So, I just log on the volunteer portal and cancel it. They could live without me.
It’s the first LGBT celebration since I left Sydney. My takeaway is that I have moved on. It doesn’t get me excited and having fun with discovering and sharing it like I took photos of Fair Day event for the first time ten years ago.
In fact, I have been over this scene for a long time. My last engagement with Mardi Gras was in 2010 when I got a rooftop spot to shoot the whole parade. However, I consider my early works on LGBT exposed myself to the world and I am grateful for that. That could be the main reason for my feeling of obligation for the Pride this year.
In my little London adventure, there are two things that come to my thoughts: the experience of excellent public transportation and, to my surprise, pubs and beers that turn to be a big let down.
First of all, as a first-time visitor I commute in London without any confusion. These days, my main tool for travelling is Google Maps. With its accurate information, I can get around without having to ask anyone for directions. Moreover, the clear signs on the ground reflect exactly in the app. I have had this problem in Detroit where I couldn’t find the bus stop, which appeared in the Maps.
However, when you plan the trip with the app and start to get into the Tube system, it could be difficult to change the route because there is no mobile signal down there and will have to find out from that complex Underground map. My friend and I have to do that while in the pub crawl session.
I just can’t help comparing it with other cities I’ve lived. Sydney improved when I visited last year. DC is adequate but Metro network is not widespread. Bangkok train systems are reliable but they are not totally integrated with each other or with other systems—i.e., bus and ferry services.
More evidently, getting from/to the airport shows how to move people painlessly. Even though Sydney, DC, and Bangkok are not bad, Heathrow Express is the best. Many cities frustrated me in terms of getting out of the airport. To name a few: I queued up for a taxi for hours in Kuala Lumpur, I got confused with Uber pick-up point in Detroit, I was rudely dropped off a wrong destination in Chiang Mai because Songthaew driver misheard me.
I’ve got prior perception of the city’s public transport system from a couple of works I was involved. London was one of the success case stories in a report about urban transport in Malaysia. And we once interviewed CTO and Director of Customer Experience, Transport for London on how they could assist other cities with their experiences. To finally experience it first hands with this background is great.
On the other side, my expectation with pubs and beer is high but it just lets me down. Two nights out of three in the city, I get last call bell before midnight. I’m not sure if this is a norm but I don’t remember the last time I had to rush out of a pub.
And a quest for good local ale also fails. London Pale Ale I have in Oxford is fine. But others than that don’t jump at me at all. The tap selections are quite the same along the pubs I’ve been too. Unlike DC or Sydney, where they’ve got different beers in different pubs. My regular, Songbyrd, always changes beers on their taps.
To end this note, I’ve got one of the most embarrassing moments in my life in the last night in London. I can’t hold it to the hotel and have to release it on pathway by a park. Just a few second later, a police car pulls over behind me. The cops get out of the car and ask me questions. This could be the first time ever I got caught red handed with no excuses. I know I could be in a trouble with it but they let me go anyway. Oops! Lesson learned.