In Defense of Bangkok’s Malls…Mostly

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:

The Colors of Bangkok, in Crayon Form

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?

A Thailand Bike Adventure: 850km from Bangkok to Lampang

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.

Meanwhile, in Bangkok…The Smallest Tuk-Tuk Ever

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 […]

How Expat Life Forces You to Open Your Eyes

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 […]

Taken for a Ride – A Thailand Scam Story

This is a story I wrote for the Toronto Star in 2006, reprinted here as a supplemental to an episode of The Bangkok Podcast on tourist scams. “Why are you being so stupid?” shouted ‘The Godfather’ through uneven brown teeth as he jabbed a gaudily-jeweled finger toward me. I sat across the rickety table from him, as a bead of sweat marched its way down my temple, sticky from the tropical heat. How did I wind up here?

Partying Swiss-style in Bangkok: Ricola Rolls Out the Herb Carpet

As a blogger in Bangkok, sometimes you get invited to events that run the gamut from huge to intimate, celebratory to somber, memorable and forgettable. I rarely go to these, usually due to a combination of being lazy and busy (I'm complicated), but a few weeks ago I was invited to an event by a company that was both familiar - hearkening back to my childhood - and vague, in that it wasn't a company you'd expect to be throwing shindigs: Ricola.

Technology to the Rescue: Working With Thai Police to Save a Stranded Friend

When you come to Thailand on a vacation, you hope that your trip will be smooth sailing. No problems, no hiccups, no wrinkles...just your itinerary the way you planned it. That's usually what happens - but not always. A few weeks ago a visiting group of friends had what you'd call a problem...and a hiccup, and a wrinkle - all on the same night! Thankfully, with the help of modern technology - and especially a few friendly Thai policemen - we were able to rescue them from what could have been a very long and very bad night.

The Bangkok Podcast is Back!

In May of 2010, my friend Tony Joh and I stuffed ourselves into a hot, tiny little room in the back of a friend's office, set up a few beat-up old microphones, and hit record on a laptop. It was the beginning of the Bangkok Podcast, and we had no idea if it would be successful or not, or if we'd even enjoy it or not. Luckily, it panned out, and over the next few years we did a weekly show that allowed us to meet monks, journalists, celebrities, politicians, and scholars, among others. It was great fun, but when Tony moved to Tokyo and I got busy with a new job and married life, we pulled the plug. However, as of November 2016, the Bangkok Podcast is BACK, BABY!

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