It's hard to escape the hubbub around ICONSIAM, Bangkok's newest mall. For those who aren't too familiar with Bangkok and may be laughing at the fact that a shopping mall is worthy of hubbub, well...you need to live in Bangkok a bit longer. Shopping malls are a big business here, to chagrin of many who think Bangkok has way too many malls as it is; to those people, opening a new one is just a needless waste of money and space. Well, in my opinion, those people are not wrong...but they're not right either. I think ICONSIAM is a great addition to the area that it's in (with some caveats that I'll discuss below). I also think that the "mall question" is much more nuanced than simply saying "too many malls", so let's look at some of the issues at play:
As I've said before, Bangkok is an interesting city, but it ain't a very pretty city. It has pockets of beauty, sure, but the cement:vegetation ratio is absurdly off-kilter. However, that's not to say you can't get inspiration from Bangkok's varied fabric, crazy infrastructure, and unique personality. Indeed, one might even say that - with the mix of smells, noises, sights, and people - Bangkok is a very colorful city, which got me to thinking...musicians, artists, and authors have been inspired by this for centuries, so why can't it inspire its own colors?
Over the Songkran break this past April, two biking buddies of mine, Andrew and Bill, set out on a pretty audacious adventure – to bike from Bangkok to Lampang (near Chiang Mai) over 8 days. First of all, I’m totally jealous. That seems like an incredible ride that I would love to do – but which, at my current level of fitness, would probably kill me. Second, that’s a pretty long ride, but the part that is most impressive about it is that they did it in April – the hottest month of the year.
In 2004, my good friend Scott convinced myself, Dan, and Derek to take part in the vertical marathon, a yearly charity event wherein they somehow convince people to pay for the privilege of climbing up the stairwell of the Banyan Tree Hotel, a 64-storey hotel on Silom Road. I joke, but it’s actually for a good cause, and an interesting challenge to one’s physical fitness; most anyone can walk or run – some faster/further than others, of course – but climbing stairs ain’t easy. There’s a reason that doctors use a single flight of stairs as a fitness test for victims of heart attacks.
Tuk-tuks and Bangkok go together like spaghetti and meatballs. So much so that even those who haven’t been to Bangkok can probably tell you the size and shape of your standard tuk-tuk. I thought it was a pretty easy too, until I was stuck in the back of a taxi and this tiny little beast roared by.
I mean, what is it? Is it like…a specially constructed tuk-tuk for navigating particularly narrow sois? A home-made one-off that some guy built in his garage?
It’s easily half the width of a real tuk-tuk, especially the newer ones with a roomier passenger compartment. And […]
I've written before about how Thonburi is the 'uncool' side of the river, often called Bangkok's Brooklyn or the hipster side of the river or some other cutesy term. But that reputation won't last long. I was excited to finally hear that Thonburi's newest attraction is now open, Lhong 1919. I was even more excited to get a private tour before it opened to the public, and even more excited to get invited to the grand opening. Like most of Bangkok, it's all who you know.
You may have heard the recent news that Gord Downie, the lead singer of iconic Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, has passed away. It was not unexpected, and Gord filled his last year with a tour that acted as a sad, triumphant thank you and goodbye to Hip fans across Canada and around the world. But unexpectedly, his death got me thinking about a few things,
On a recent episode of the Bangkok Podcast, which I co-host, we asked listeners to submit any questions they had about the show or us that we would answer during our 50th episode. We got a good number, and answered most of them, but I wanted to post a bit of an addendum to one of them that got me thinking.
Fair warning: This post is sort of a rage-filled rant against elements of western media, Asian governments, and the apathy that people show towards what’s really important in life. Why? Because I saw something today that broke my heart and got me mad. Cuss words may appear.
So, forgive me folks, I’m kind of pissed off now. I’ve written before about how a person changes when they become an expat; how living in a strange culture and being constantly exposed to new and different viewpoints can alter how one thinks about the world. It’s one of the great benefits of being […]
Like most long-term expats in Thailand, I have a Thai wife. Other people have Thai husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, special friends, significant others’s’s, or whatever label you want to sling at it. Point is, a lot of expats are sharing their life in Thailand with a Thai partner, which is great. I’ve previously written about the challenges that inter-cultural relationships can bring, but I was talking to a friend the other day and managed to ‘formalize’ my thoughts on yet another challenge we face daily (using Bangkok as an example): the difference between what you’re getting out of Bangkok, […]