The Top 15 Skylines in the World v3.0
All my years in studying Urban Planning helped me grow a greater appreciation for the dense downtown skyline of the big city. The downtown core of big cities across the Americas, Europe and Asia are the cultural pulse and economic engines of urban regions where millions of people live. All urban "life" begins and ends, each day and night under the watch of the city's tallest skyscrapers and most grand architectural structures. So kick back and appreciate the view that they have to offer...
1. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong is number one on my list for many reasons: Hong Kong has a whopping 43 buildings over 200 metres tall, 30 of which were built in the year 2000 or later!!! It also boasts four of the 15 tallest buildings in the world… that's all in one city! Hong Kong’s skyline shows a large selection of distinct sky-reaching towers, with beautiful night lighting and reflection. This city exemplifies the post-modern skyscraper and skyline. Finally, the mountain backdrop makes this skyline (as you can clearly see) the greatest on the planet!
Metro/Urban Population: 6.9 million
2. Chicago, USA
Chicago is the birthplace of the modern skyscraper. When Chicago built its first steel high-rise in 1885, it was not the tallest structure in the world but the first example of a new form of engineering that would change nearly every city on earth. Chicago has 19 buildings over 200 metres tall (three of which are among the top 20 tallest buildings in the world, including the tallest in North America). Chicago has some of the finest mid-century architecture and examples of modern skyscrapers.
Metro/Urban Population: 9.5 million
3. Shanghai, China
Not to be mistaken for a space station, Shanghai is a real city! China's biggest and most advanced city, Shanghai was said to be the most cosmopolitan city in the beginning of the 20th century, but lost its glory during the “Mao era”. It is now quickly regaining its position as one of the biggest economic powerhouses in the world as well as a showcase of modern architecture. In Shanghai you’ll find 25 structures that are over 200 metres tall, one of which is the insanely tall, the 468m downtown Oriental Pearl TV Tower.
Metro/Urban Population: 13.1 million
Friday, March 31, 2006
Maybe yes, maybe no. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times claims that it's all a mistake in communications, and that Yawn Wenner will straighten everything up in due course, and a second edition is out next month. You'd think RS would know you need to obey the laws in China, and get all your legal ducks in a row. And not published a story about Tiananmen in your first issue. Not smart.
BEIJING — Rolling Stone has hit a wall.
The rock 'n' roll publication entered the Chinese market early this month with a huge splash, including billboard advertisements, a 125,000-copy roll-out and free Rolling Stone hats with each magazine. On Wednesday, regulators said they would not allow it to publish a second issue.
Authorities have been cracking down on the media. The editor of the Beijing News was sacked in December, and the well-regarded weekly supplement Freezing Point, which closed in January, has resumed publication with a new and presumably more cooperative editor.
Articles in the first Chinese edition of Rolling Stone about a rock star associated with the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and a blogger who wrote about her sex life pushed the limits of what is permissible.
But the case appears to be more about a clash between the magazine's brash business strategy and regulators keen to show who is boss.
China often depends on a patina of legality that allows companies or individuals to get things done while ensuring that those in power don't lose face. Push things too far, however, and you risk a backlash.
"They didn't go through the proper procedure," said Chen Li, director of the newspaper and magazine department of the Shanghai Press and Publishing Administration, where Rolling Stone was published, under the guise of an existing Chinese magazine. "There will be no future Rolling Stone content in this magazine. There's no such thing as 'Rolling Stone.' "
The publication's editor challenged that view, and some industry experts said it was possible the magazine could agree to tone down its articles and downplay its English name to keep publishing.
LA Times Link
Proposed Condos in Mississauga
Remember all that brouhaha over the last several years about the upcoming, amazing architecture planned for Beijing, nearly all of which was designed by Western architects? The local Chinese architects weren't too happy about it, so I'm glad to see a Chinese architect recently won a competition to design a condominium complex for Mississauga, Canada. A breathtaking work of art.
Yansong Ma, founder of Beijing/China architectural design firm MAD office, has been named winner of the international competition to design the landmark condominium tower at the new Absolute Community in the heart of Mississauga.
His spectacular design for a 50-storey residential tower was selected from among six finalists. Those finalists were drawn from entrants, which covered all continents except Antarctica. The as yet unnamed tower will rise from the northeast corner of Burnhamthorpe Road and Hurontario Street in the heart of Mississauga, Canada's seventh largest city.
"We are enormously pleased with the results of this competition," says Danny Salvatore, president of Fernbrook Homes, partners with Cityzen Development Group in the newly planned residential community. "Yansong Ma's vision is breathtaking. This tower will become an instant icon and an international landmark.
Canadian Architect Link
Monday, March 27, 2006
King of Thailand
What a photo. What a great looking guy with his great looking wife. The King of Thailand celebrates his 60 years on the throne in June, and I'm hoping to be among the hollipolli, if I get an invite from the TAT office in Los Angeles, but I'm not holding my breath.
In the meantime, Mango Sauce, one of my all time favorites coming from BKK, has posted two stories about how to get free wireless internet connections in BKK, and they are great instructions, even if the details need to be worked out.
David at Mango Sauce got tired of the spam and idiots a few years ago, so he shut down his blog/website to take a break and smell the roses. David is a great writer, and I've long encouraged him to return to writing and keep his blog alive, but perhaps with a different focus than sex in Bangkok. Not that I have anything against sex in Bangkok, but it's a touchy subject for any blogger, and it brings out the nutcases. His post on wireless is just great, and perhaps David will move away from sex and on to other, more interesting, subjects in Thailand. He has the talent and the expertise.
Wireless Internet access is seriously cool - especially when it’s free (See Free wireless broadband in Thailand). Unfortunately, though, when Gunter next-door is surfing his favourite ladyboy art films, your free wireless broadband connection slows to a crawl and, short of throwing him a live one, there’s not much you can do about it - except to buy your own connection.
When you take a look at what’s on offer, you’ll be annoyed to discover that Thailand’s leading broadband provider, True Corp, doesn't want to let you use your own modem and they try to palm you off with a crappy one that hogs a USB port and connects like a clunky dial-up from the stone age.
If you want the convenience of a wireless connection, the cheeky twats will try to charge you an extra 50%. This is a total rip-off but the lack of any real competition in Thailand lets them take the piss out of their customers.
The good news, however, is that their sneaky restrictions are easy to overcome and, today, I’ll explain how to connect a wireless modem to your True ADSL line without paying them an extra penny.
Continue reading "True wireless broadband without the rip-offs"
Mango Sauce Link
Supinya Klang Narong and her Mom
Supinya stood her ground, and won a victory that will have great ramifications throughout Asia, and she is, in a very real sense, the woman who follows in the brave steps of Burmese elected president Aung San Suu Kyi.
Suprinya deserves the next Noble Peace Prize for her brave work to defend press freedoms in Asia. She is not just a national hero, she is a world hero.
Posted by Carl Parkes on Monday, March 27, 2006
Welcome to Pattaya
What's the great thing about Pattaya? Among a few other items of interest, it's that easy going attitude that allows everyone to be a slob and show their inner self. Sort of like Khao San Road, but without the freaks. Life without borders, and lots of balconies when times get too tough and the credit card has been maxed out.
You are officially not stylish if you live in Pattaya. In fact, that is kind of the point. You come to Pattaya to be relieved of the burden of meeting "the cool people's" expectations. If you moved here thinking it would make you cool, you are delusional. The only people who think you are stylish for living in Pattaya are other people who live in Pattaya. The rest of the world sneers and looks down their noses at us. (Oh sure... some cool people will come here and visit, much the same way that Upper Eastsiders will drive up to Stowe for a weekend of skiing. But they know better than to actually live here.)
You want to be fat and wear neon spandex? Come to Pattaya. You want to wear a torn beer-logo T-shirt? Come to Pattaya. You want to have a sexual relationship with someone young enough to be your grandchild? Come to Pattaya. You want to serve white wine with your overcooked steak? Come to Pattaya. The cool people would punch you in the nose. We in Pattaya welcome all.
We come here to be losers on purpose, and hang out with other losers like ourselves. We're proud that we couldn't cut it among the stylish. We're rogues from proper society. If that stuff mattered to us, we would still be back paying our country club dues, standing in line at the freshest nightspots, reading Gourmet Magazine, and waiting with bated breath for the New York Times book review to come out to confirm that we are thinking and acting and reading within the prescribed style of the day.
Pattaya is the most day-glo plastic, dust-in-the-corners, un-Mozart, un-Tolstoy, un-cool place you can live, and that is why we are here. Trying to put lipstick on your pig of a life by claiming to be stylish makes you a fool. Relax. It's Pattaya. Fun City. The alternative lifestyle Disney World. The most un-stylish place on the planet.
Jil in Pattaya Link
Makasar Schooners by Carl Parkes
Another new blog aggregator which will attempt to follow the every changing and ever evolving blog scene coming out from Indonesia, including all my favorites such as Jakartass, Indcoup, Green Stump, Bali Blog, and Treespotting, plus others.....
Hope this one lasts.
Thai Omelet by Richard Barrows
This is just about the best damn post I've ever seen about taking a cooking class in Chiang Mai, by Richard Barrows of Thai-Blogs fame. He doesn't pull any punches, but cuts to the chase with his anticipations and hopes for a great cooking class. Richard promises some follow up stories, which are probably going to be just amazing.
One of the main reasons I am in Chiang Mai at the moment is to check out the situation of Thai cookery classes. I not only wanted to attend a couple of classes for my own benefit, but I also wanted to write some reviews for the enjoythaifood.com website. I had done most of my research in advance. On the Internet I had discovered that there were at least 15 cooking schools in Chiang Mai alone. In comparison, I think Bangkok only has two or three. Before I left I wrote emails to all of the schools asking if I could visit them to take pictures. Only five schools bothered to write back to me. These were: A Lot of Thai, Thai Farm Cooking School, AirÂs Thai Culinary Kitchen, Chiangmai Thai Cookery School and GapÂs Culinary Art School.
Once I had arrived in Chiang Mai I did some more research. First I checked out the free magazine to see if any of the schools were established enough to take out advertising. I only found two adverts: Chiangmai Thai Cookery School and Baan Thai. Apparently, these were the first and second school respectively that were established in Chiang Mai. All of the other schools just seemingly jumped on the bandwagon. I next visited the Tourist Authority of Thailand. Here I found an excellent brochure made by the cooking school A Lot of Thai. It was really nicely done with beautiful pictures of the dishes and a handy map of Chiang Mai. The person at the information desk handed me a list of cookery schools which has now added a few more to my already long list.
Richard Barrows Checks Out the Thai Cooking Classes in Chiang Mai
Bali Discovery is a business and website run by Jack Daniels that provides all kinds of services for tourists and locals on the island, and has a weekly email newsletter that everyone interested in Balinese matters should subscribe to. Go to Bali Discovery and sign up. It's free, it's only once a week, and it's always got some fun stuff.
Jack is generally geared to useful news such as monthly tourist arrivals, upcoming events, and whatever, but he recently has emerged from his shell and posted some somewhat racy stuff, such as a recent modeling show held down in Nusa Dua. And today he's got some photos of the male Balinese bodybuilder who has achieved a degree of fame throughout Asia, so no matter your sexual orientation, you'll probably find some alluring flicks on his website.
Record hits on Bali Discovery dot Com. Way to go, Jack!
Bali Discovery Models Link
Bali Discovery Male Bodybuilder Link
Saturday, March 25, 2006
The King and I
Yul as the King
Reading over the blog of Tom Vamvanij, I noticed one of his featured former posts was about the novel and movie The King and I, and it's unfavorable treatment by the censors in Thailand, who continue to ban all versions of both media from the country. Apparently, there's a lot more to the story than meets the eye.
Also, Tom is almost certainly the most articulate and thoughtful defender of embattled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, so if you're looking for some alternative views, his blog is the place to go.
Anna Leonowens and the Censors of Siam
What a hoot it is to see the Film Board’s moral and intellectual high ground turns into a pit. One may try to excuse the self-righteous censors on the ground that the letters were discovered afterwards. That in itself raises a question about the Thai “academics”, locally-bred and foreign-born, who had let the letters collect dust in the National Archive while they were intent on dismissing and defaming Anna. More importantly, it points to the fundamental problem of censorship. Nobody has a monopoly on the truth, least of all the Film Board sickos whose job is mostly to put Vaseline on naked bodies on celluloid.
Besides, who in the civilized world can defend this screed:
Tom Vamvanij Link
Lucky Thai with Twin Wives
Steve Suphan over at Thai-Blogs has been doing an outstanding job, both his humorous posts about life in the Kingdom, and his translations of articles from the Thai press. Thanks, Steve. He recently posted a hilarious story about a young Thai man who married a pair of beautiful twins.
Heaven or hell? Do read the comments!
Lucky Man Marries Thai Twins!
(Translated from the Thai Rath Newspaper, 24 March)
After Mr Wichai (Tao), aged 24, from Samut Songkram province, who earns his living by dealing in old goods, got married to gorgeous twins Ms Sirintara and Ms Thipawan 22, he vouched his sincerest ‘equal love’ for both of them!
Mr Wichai, just yesterday, 23 March, got married in pompous ceremony to both twins simultaneously. On being interviewed by the Thai Rath reporters, Mr Wichai declared wholeheartedly, that he didn’t see much problem in having to perform tiresome marital duties with two wives.
In the engagement ceremony before the wedding, Mr Wichai successfully offered a dowry of eight baht of gold and 80,000 baht EACH for his lovely darlings. Both families celebrated the marriage with joy and were said to be delighted for the threesome.
Posted by Carl Parkes on Saturday, March 25, 2006
Browsing through my Technorati tags for Thailand this morning, I stumbled across an amazing collection of Thailand tsunami photos taken by Zoriah, who is apparently a traveling photographer who specializes in war zones and worldwide disasters. Zoriah visited Thailand soon after the disastrous tsunami, and revisited the region last year to rephotograph the exact same spots of destruction.
Those of you who know Phuket, will recognize several of the businesses on Soi Bangla, including the nightclub with a pick-up truck crashed through the lower level, the destroyed McDonalds at the corner of Beach Road and Soi Bangla, and perhaps even the famous flooded interior of some hotel near the beach. It's an amazing collection that only proves how quickly and how successfully the merchants and people of Phuket were able to repair their shattered paradise.
War Shooter Link
Friday, March 24, 2006
I was out driving earlier today when when an oddball story on NPR grabbed my attention. Marketplace, one of the best shows on the radio, featured a segment on the surging demand for rabbis in China. Yes, I said rabbis. Of course, you're now asking yourself: why does China need so many people trained in Jewish law? Well, as the market for kosher food grows in the U.S. (vegetarians and Muslims also buy kosher), products are increasingly coming from factories in China. The need for people who can certify food as kosher is so great that rabbis are making more money in China than they ever could imagine back in Brooklyn. What kind of mishegass is that?
The Opposite End of China Link
And in other amazing news from that comical country known as China:
Menus on breasts are ogled
PATRONS of a Chanchun fish restaurant are ogling the menu, since it's pinned to waitresses' breasts and backs over their uniforms. Critics are outraged, naive waitresses are awkward and male customers hope for a good catch.
Fish fanciers may fancy the staff more than the fish in the Chanchun district of Jilin Province. The salacious delight has drawn fury from women since it started last week.
At the Zaotaiyu restaurant, when a waitress takes an order, she must bend forward so the patron can stare at her breasts and read the menu. Each sign on each breast bears the names of dishes and prices, said the New Culture Newspaper, based in Changchun.
The metal menus are shaped like curved fish, but they look like bras if seen from at a distance. The Zaotaiyu restaurant features fish dishes. More menus are pinned on waitress' backs. So waitresses must keep turning around as a customer keeps ordering.
A male customer said he was thrilled at the innovation, but got very uncomfortable when it was his turn to order.
Shanghai Daily Link
But wait! There's more!
Hide your women and children -- yes, we're talking to you, Lennox Lewis -- Mike Tyson is coming to town. We told you about this several days ago, and reports from elsewhere are now starting to trickle in. (It could be just that people don't care, but, for Shanghaiist, at least, Tyson was a childhood sports hero. We actually got teary eyed during his loss to Buster Douglas, and, in the years that followed, got suckered into paying decent money to watch many of the regrettable bouts during his decline ... always hoping that the Iron Mike of our youth would show his face again. We gave up that hope several years ago, and as a result don't watch much boxing anymore. But we are definitely more interested in Tyson's visit to Shanghai than, say, the Rolling Stones'.) Anyway, we have more info on Tyson's itinerary while in Shanghai to open the new night club called Minge Snatch:
Brokeback Mountain 2
Welcome to Gadling readers! Do have a look around and check back for my near daily updates.
No, I did not go see Brokeback Mountain, but I read the reviews and understand that it was an emotional and insightful look into relationships between two guys up in Canada. And my main question was: why can't American film companies afford to film in Montana but need to go to Canada to save a few bucks? Maybe I've got other issues about the film, but I could care less about all the controversy.
I live in San Francisco.
I've lived here since 1975.
I like wearing blue jeans and white t-shirts.
I drive a scooter.
My place is finely decorated with antiques, art, my Asian photography, and reasonably good furniture, though if I had the money, I could do a helluva better job.
I love jazz, and listen constantly to my favorite, local, best world jazz station, KCSM, from the College of San Mateo at KCSM I recommend this station on streaming live for anybody who has outgrown rock and wants to somewhat expand their mind.
I have lace curtains around the house. This is thanks to my former live-in girlfrined of seven years named Terra, who could use some new design work. Also, she looks exactly like Alice in Alice in Wonderland. I also lived with other women in Aspen, Lake Tahoe, and other locations.
I now live in a large Victorian mansion (constructed 1886) here in San Francisco in Pacific Heights, with seven fireplaces, a back yard, 14-foot ceilings, a giant wooden elephant from Chiang Mai, a "garden apartment" and nobody around but me.
I live alone.
I am straight. I know this sounds amazing to most people, but I am completely heterosexual. I think the best way to quickly quantify anyone's sexuality is to look at their porn collection. That's the real test of honesty. I do not own even one gay porn film, but if you want to know about Vivid or other porn producing companies from Canoga Park or Sweden, do send in your questions. I've got some 44 porn custom tapes, and they are classics, and they are all straight stuff.
I know, it's almost difficult to believe, but I'm a longterm, permanent resident, solo, single, male resident in San Francisco........and I'm straight. Gays always ha-ha and hoo-hoo when I make this announcement, but after all these years, I'm pretty well damn sure of my sexuality.
So excuse me while I go back to the porn.
Posted by Carl Parkes on Friday, March 24, 2006
Maymyo Market by Carl Parkes
It's always refreshing to see a famous movie star or rock legend get involved in human rights issues, especially when it involves a country as obscure and unknown as Burma. Big congrats to Peter Gabriel, who obviously has more on his mind than just replaying his old hits on the geriatric circuit.
Peter Gabriel to Push for UNSC Resolution on Burma
Acclaimed British singer Peter Gabriel will help to push for Burma's inclusion on the UN Security Council agenda next month by hosting a film screening and discussion on the human rights abuses taking place in the military-ruled country. The event, to be held at the US Senate in Washington on April, will include a screening of the film Always on the Run: Internally Displaced People in Karen State, produced by WITNESS, a non-profit rights organization founded by Gabriel. US senators Dianne Feinstein and Mitch McConnell, architects of the US Burma Freedom Act, which includes economic sanctions against the junta, will also be present.
"It is long overdue for the UN Security Council to respond to the deepening crisis in Burma," said Gabriel. "We need people of conscience to act now." The UNSC held its first briefing on Burma in December last year, following a US-led campaign to address abuses by the junta. No further action has been taken since then, as those in favor of the US position are believed to be waiting to see whether Asean's recent efforts to push Rangoon to reform produce tangible results.
The Irrawaddy Link
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Erawan Shrine 1963 scanned by Ron Morris
Erawan Shrine Destroyed 2006
I would imagine that most of the readers of this blog have visited the famous Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, since it's one of the leading tourist attractions and religious monuments in the city, and most of you have already heard the news that some deranged Muslim guy recently took a hammer to the concrete image and pretty much destroyed it. In the middle of the night. He was then set upon by a gang of local Thais and murdered on the sidewalk about 100 meters from the image. No word yet on what has happened to the murderers, but there are reports that they are back on their jobs as guardians of the shrine.
There's plenty of angles on this tragedy, and the conversation over at NanaPlaza has been pretty informative, so I'll post some of the better theories below.
The ferroconcrete image will be replaced within two months with a cast bronze image, which will certainly improve it's longevity. And I hope they expand the worshipping area to the expanse it once had, as show in the scan by Ron Morris.
BANGKOK - A mentally disturbed man was killed early Tuesday after he destroyed a much revered Brahman statue at the Erawan Shrine - one of Bangkok's most popular places of worship, police and eyewitnesses said.
Thanakorn Pakdeepol, 27, was found dead in a pool of blood outside the shrine shortly after he attacked the sacred image at 1 a.m., police said.
"I saw him climb over the fence and use a hammer to hit the statute," said Wandee Vichai, 42, a vendor who was one of the few eyewitnesses to the incident.
"I started to scream and some trash collectors came out and chased after the man. When I caught up with them he was lying dead on the pavement," Wandee told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa.
Lumpinee Police Colonel Supisarn PakdeeNarunart said two suspects had been arrested for Thanakorn's slaying.
The victim's father Saiyan Pakdeepol said his son had suffered from mental illness for several years and was nervous and depressed on Monday, one of Bangkok's hottest so far this hot season when the temperature reached 39 degrees centigrade.
Saiyan said his son had a breakdown and ran out of the house at midnight.
The Erawan Shine stands next to the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel in central Bangkok. The shrine was built in 1956, one year after the original government-owned Erawan Hotel was opened as one of the capitol's first international class establishments.
Rear Admiral Luang Suwichanphaet, a specialist in astrology, advised the hotel management to construct the shrine with the Thao Maha Brahma statue, also known as Phra Pom, on the corner of its property to ensure good fortune.
The Erawan Hotel was bought by the Hyatt hotel group about 14 years ago.
The shrine is a popular place of worship for Buddhists and Hindus from Thailand and abroad, especially among tourists from Hong Kong and Singapore.
It was pretty well ruined anyway. Those who remember the old Erawan Hotel will recall that there was a big car park in front of the hotel and the shrine was at the north end of that. The shrine was very visible and a genuine landmark. When then huge new hotel was built, the shrine was almost lost in its little corner. It has never really felt the same.
p.s. I suppose you've heard the story about the movie actress who made a vow before the shrine that if the spirit helped her get her wish, she'd come back and dance nude for the spirit. She got her wish and kept her promise. But everyone was sort of pissed off that she did so at around 3 am with bodyguards to keep others from watching.
destroying a popular hindi brahma in LOS probably was bad enough, but does one really need to pay with ones life for it with a primitive beating?
whats wrong with this country these days?
21 March 2006
Man beaten to death after desecrating the Erawan Shrine
A young Thai man, believed to be mentally ill, almost completely destroyed one of Bangkok's most revered religious images, the statue of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, at Rajprasong intersection early yesterday morning, after which he was beaten to death by a group of angry bystanders.
The Erawan shrine housing the statue is one of the city's most popular tourist spots and regularly attracts crowds of worshippers, both locals and tourists.
A new Brahma statue will be completed and placed in the shrine within two months. However, the shrine will be open for the public to pay its respects from today with four photographs of the statue facing out from the shrine.
A decision has yet to be made about the material to be used for the new statue. Plaster will keep its essence, but nine types of metal mixed with some surviving pieces of the old statue will ensure its durability. Surviving fragments include the face, head and weapons, said Religious Affairs Department director-general Preecha Gungeeya.
Two street sweepers from Pathum district office have been arrested and charged with the second-degree murder of Thanakorn Phakdeephol, whose father Sayant said he had a history of mental illness and had received psychiatric treatment six years ago when he was 21.
Sayant said his son disappeared from his house around midnight after showing the symptoms of mental illness. He later heard a radio news report that a man with anti-allergy pills found in his pants had been beaten after destroying the Brahma statue.
"It kind of hit me, learning of that detail, so I went to the [Lumpini] police station and found out that it was my son.
"I feel sorry that he destroyed the Brahma statue, which is highly respected by Thai people," he said.
Lumpini police station chief, Colonel Suphisal Phakdeenaruenart, said he was investigating whether there were any other people involved in the attack on Thanakorn.
Quoting witnesses, police said Thanakorn climbed onto the shelter housing the statue and, using a large hammer he was carrying, pounded it until all that was left of the statue were its legs. A number of visitors to the shrine were seen weeping after witnessing the desecration.
Saksri Klinbua, one of the arrested street sweepers, claimed he smacked Thanakorn only once in the head with a stick in self defence after Thanakorn charged him with the hammer in his hand. He said Thanakorn then knocked his head on the ground after a loop on his trousers snared on a steel fence as he jumped over it to get away.
Police said the other man arrested, Kasemsak Karunwong, had admitted to assaulting Thanakorn.
After the attack, Thanakorn lay close to a stairway to a nearby department store with blood running from his mouth. There was a four-inch wound caused by a blunt object to his head, a cut on his left eyebrow and many bruises on his back. He died before being taken to the Police Hospital, across Rajdamri road.
Khanittha, the wife of Saksri, claims she saw her husband smack Thanakorn only once.
"There were other people running after him and they later assaulted him, but I don't know who [they were] or how many of them [there were]," she said.
21 March 2006
'Brahma is always with us' -
The 'Tao Mahaprom' statue's spirit will live on, devotees say
The smashing of a revered Brahma statue in central Bangkok yesterday infuriated two believers so much that they killed the mentally ill man believed to be responsible for the crime.
For almost 50 years, the Brahma statue of "Tao Mahaprom" had drawn devotees to the Erawan Shrine. It had become a major tourist attraction with worshippers arriving from across the country as well as from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Singapore and Malaysia.
The statue and Erawan Shrine were built in 1956, shortly before the Erawan Hotel was completed, on the advice of an astrologer who said the hotel's foundation stone had not been placed at an auspicious time.
He suggested that the hotel's owners build a Bhrama image, a shrine and a spirit house in the area in order to compensate for the hotel's inauspicious beginning.
Three technicians at the Fine Arts Department's handicrafts division designed the statue and shrine.
The statue was designed and moulded by Jitr Pimkowit while Juerawee Chomsewee and M. L. Poom Malagoon designed the shrine.
The statue and shrine were installed at the site on November 1956 and have never been moved from the site. The hotel celebrates the statue's anniversary on November 9 every year.
Brahma is considered by Hindus to be the creator of all things and the thousands of people who visited the shrine every day believed that by worshipping the statue their prayers would be answered.
The shrine was constantly filled with colourful garlands, lotuses, incense, candles and teak elephants left by devotees.
When their prayers were answered many returned to thank Tao Mahaprom by hiring Thai classical dancers to perform at the shrine. As the number of devotees and tourists to the shrine rose every year, businesses in the vicinity expanded and prospered.
In 1988, the hotel's board set up the Than Tao Mahaprom Foundation of the Erawan Hotel to handle the businesses and oversee the money donated at the shrine.
Although the hotel was taken over, destroyed and the name changed to Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, the statue and shrine were unaffected by the change.
The shrine has been an integral part of Rachaprasong intersection for decades. "Although the image was destroyed, I still feel Tao Mahaprom is here," said Udomwit Yongjaiyudh, a member of the foundation since 1965.
Udomwit retired 10 years ago, but he still visits the shrine every day to help clean the statue.
Four troupes of Thai classical dancers have been performing before the statue for several decades.
"Nothing needs to be changed if the Bhrama is still here with us, and I believe [the Brahma] has not gone away but is still here everywhere," Udomwit said.
22 March 2006
Security will be beefed up at revered sites : Apirak
Security will be upped at revered sites throughout Bangkok after a deranged man destroyed the Great Brahma statue at the Erawan Shrine with a hammer in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayothin said on Tuesday he had assigned Bangkok's cultural department to survey revered sites and shrines.
"We will reinforce our security and provide security for [all revered sites] to prevent attacks on them," Apirak said.
Thanakorn Pakdithanapon, 27, who was believed to have had mental problems and been a regular patient at public hospitals, attacked the respected Great Brahma statue with a hammer.
Immediately after the incident two city cleaners beat Thanakorn to death.
Apirak announced the new security measures after visiting the Erawan Shrine. He said the city's Fine Arts Department would renovate the statue and work should be completed within two months.
"Until that time, people will be able to come to the shrine to worship. It will still be open to the public," the governor said.
Meanwhile, Surakiat Limcharoen, Patumwan district director, said he had paid bail for the two city cleaners accused of murdering Thanakorn and they were back at work today.
"We will seek ways to help them out because what they did was aimed at protecting the Great Brahma statue. They did not intend to kill the man," said Surakiat.
p.s. Murder suspects can get out on bail???
What happened to Buddhist tolerance, peace and non violence, a fucking myth....those scumbags need serious jail time, assholes!
Nipa Hotel Pattaya 1969
I hope Ron Morris at 2Bangkok doesn't mind (he probably won't), but Ron has been scanning an old tourist guide to Thailand over the last several months, and has just posted an advertisement for the legendary Nipa Lodge in Pattaya, and I just couldn't resist. I've been reading old histories and recollections of early Pattaya for many years, and all the reports always talk about the Nipa Lodge -- the first major hotel resort in the seaside enclave.
But I've never seen a photo of the resort until now, so I want to pass this on to all those folks curious about the original beach resort in the now fully developed escape of Pattaya.
Wait! Gambling casinos may someday be coming to Pattaya, and it will make the Cliff and Hard Rock Hotel look like small potatoes. But I still prefer the Royal Garden, and having breakfast with the American owner, all decked out in his shorts and t-shirt. What a guy.......
Albert Hoffman as World Traveler
I've always supported the idea of world travel as a way for anybody and everybody to learn about the similarities between international cultures, and help spread the ideas of peace and prosperity through mutual understanding. Jon Carroll, our local columnist here in San Francisco, passes along a great idea: kids should be able to spend a year or more on the road and get college credit for their roadside education. Personally, I probably learned more about life by traveling than by the four years I spent pursuing a degree in Economics from the university, so I think everyone should hit the road for an extended period and open their eyes to the wonders of this world.
The wonderful Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times (who will, rumor has it, win the Pulitzer Prize this year, and good for him) has made a modest proposal. I could paraphrase it, but I'll just quote it:
"Traditionally, many young Britons, Irish, Australians and New Zealanders take a year to travel around the world on a shoestring, getting menial jobs when they run out of money. We should try to inculcate the custom of a 'gap year' in this country by offering university credit for such experiences.
"So here's my proposal: Universities should grant a semester's credit to any incoming freshman who has taken a gap year to travel around the world. In the longer term, universities should move to a three-year academic program, and require all students to live abroad for a fourth year. In that year, each student would ideally live for three months in each of four continents: Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe."
I endorse the idea without reservation. About 20 percent of Americans own passports (that's an informed guess -- despite what you've read, that figure is not readily available), and a somewhat smaller percentage actually use them. I think there are lots of reasons for that, including geography -- unlike Europeans, we have to travel quite a way just to find a border to cross.
But there's xenophobia too; we seem to be a fearful lot. People who don't speak English scare us; people who don't have a lot of money scare us; people who eat organ meats scare us. Things can look dire in photographs, more dire than they are in person. And anyway, dire is not by itself life-threatening. People who live in the worst slums are, by and large, alive at the end of every day. Christians traveling in Muslim countries are, similarly, healthy -- and well fed -- when the clock strikes 12.
Even when Americans do travel, they tend to travel in groups. There is a huge English-speaking tourist bubble in almost every large city, and many people never get outside it. They see the sights, but they don't see the country. (The citizens of another famously xenophobic country, Japan, likewise tend to travel in packs; until very recently, the solitary Japanese traveler was as a rare as a nuthatch in Nome.)
I taught on a high-end cruise once, and at each port of call the travelers were ushered off the boat to a pricey hotel restaurant, then taken to an equally pricey mall for an afternoon of shopping. I still remember hanging over the rail in Mumbai, watching porters struggle with huge ceramic elephants that were going to be carted up and brought back home. Progress: It is now less acceptable to bring back the pretty parts of dead elephants.
Jon Carroll at SF Chronicle Link
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Yao Defen at Home
Dan Washburn at Shanghaiist sure has got this one right. What can be done to help out this illiterate giant who has been exploited by a traveling circus, and lives in near total poverty? Plenty of links here, and a heart-breaking story posted at Epoch Times.
Posted by Carl Parkes on Wednesday, March 22, 2006
So the Queen of England is doing some travel and after five days in Australia makes a courtesy call in Singapore, after an absence of 20 years. During her visit, some young lady who works for PETA, dons a bear outfit to protest the use of fur caps in the Queen's royal guard.
Then, the idiotic cops in Singapore arrest the bear on the grounds of an illegal demonstration. Singapore: the laughing stock nation of Southeast Asia.
Jodi Ruckley, 33, a volunteer with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), dressed as a bear, protesting the use of the palace's Houseguards bearskin hats, struggles with a policeman as she is placed into a police van at the gate of the Istana or Presidential Palace where Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was expected to arrive on Friday March 17, 2006 in Singapore. The queen, who arrived in Singapore late Thursday after completing a five-day visit to Australia, is making her first trip to the city-state in nearly two decades at the invitation of the city-state's President S.R. Nathan.
Bobafett81 Live Journal Link
Korat Bargirl 1966
A young American G.I., stationed at the huge American Air Force base near Korat from 1966-1967, had the good sense to take hundreds of fascinating black-and-white photos of the town, the base, and the rudimentary bars in Korat.
Fescan Photo Link
Monday, March 20, 2006
Chiang Mai Night Safari
After months and months of controversy and scandal (delays, missing funds, missing animals), Chiang Mai's Night Safari has recently admitted that over 100 animals have died in captivity since the hillside attraction was opened late last year. God, I only hope that no other countries agree to send their animals to this disgraceful zoo.
Of course, the zoo's director blames this tragedy on the countries who sent their animals to Thailand; the packaging was all wrong.
Mai pen rai.
The Coordinator of Wildlife Fund Thailand disclosed the shocking revelation that 104 animals had died in Chiang Mai Night Safari, including the new baby giraffe that was born during Chinese New Year; and its mother. The animals had died because of various reasons, including the stress of transference from their accustomed habitat, overdoses of anesthetics, improper environment, depression caused by stress; and infection of wounds caused by fighting with each other.
Refuting these claims, the director of the safari contended that the main cause of death of the animals was due to the stress caused by the relocation process only; and was not the fault of the safari staff.
Nikhom Phutta, coordinator of Wildlife Fund Thailand disclosed that he had been informed of the details concerning the many animals that had died in Chiang Mai Night Safari from one of his field officers. He said that the officer had informed him that after the safari had imported many animals, they experienced many health problems that caused the animals to die. Those that died were replaced and even those later died, all in all a total of 104 animals from among 21 different species. These numbers were reported on January 8, 2006 and now after two months have passed by; it is not known how many more animals have passed away.
Chiang Mai Night Safari has tried to hide this tragic situation regarding the deaths of these animals. It is the opinion of knowledgeable animal conservationists that environment inside the safari is inappropriate for these particular animals. They are housed in cages that are too narrow and the habitat the safari has provided is fundamentally unsuitable for the animal's requirements, giving rise to stress and mental suffering.
Supoj Methapiwat, director of the safari's animal management strongly denied these claims, saying that the death of the animals was not the fault of the safari. The animals died because of stress caused by relocation and that was the responsibility of the shippers at source; and it was up to them to find new animals to replace the ones that had died.
Something seems to be amiss in the current nationwide crackdown on prostitution.
Tangerang municipality is leading the charge by rounding up women walking alone in main streets past newly imposed curfew hours, but Jakarta and other major cities have also been raiding locations allegedly used as brothels. Needless to say, these campaigns get massive coverage by the ever news-hungry media, with female prostitutes the main focus, to send a clear message that the authorities are serious about fighting vice.
Waged in the name of stopping society's moral decay and saving the nation's young from moral bankruptcy, one is left to wonder if the campaign is missing the real targets.
Commercial sex workers who sell their bodies for a few hundred thousand to a few million rupiah are certainly a menace, and if they operated in your neighborhood, you'd probably want them removed too, and thus you would wholeheartedly support the campaign.
But let's be honest with ourselves. These streetwalkers are not the only ones who are selling their bodies and souls for financial or material gain in this country. Since they work in hiding to evade the authorities, they are not even the most visible of all prostitutes, either.
No. There are bigger prostitutes -- bigger fish for the authorities to catch if they are serious about wiping out prostitution. And a lot of the time, these prostitutes do their deeds so blatantly that it is really just a matter of political will for the authorities to round them up.
Prostitution is usually defined as the sale of sexual services, but the online encyclopedia Wikipedia says: "In a more general sense of the word, anyone selling his/her services for a cause thought to be unworthy can be described as prostituting him/herself."
Going by this wider definition, we can think of many other people in various forms of employment who are engaging in the world's oldest profession:
* The elected politicians who betray the people's mandate by continually claiming to work for the people when they are really just serving their personal and political interests.
* The appointed officials and bureaucrats who, instead of acting as the servants of the people, make the people their servants while enriching themselves.
* The intellectuals who sell their minds and thoughts to provide scholarly justifications for laws and policies that are clearly detrimental to the interests of the people.
* The ulemas and priests who willingly give a religious cloak to laws and regulations that suppress people's freedoms and rights.
* The journalists who betray the public trust and fill the media with lies and half-truths to mislead the people.
True to the wider definition of prostitution, they are selling services for causes thought to be unworthy. And there is no cause more unworthy than corruption.
Another controversy current in the Indonesian press is the alleged theft of sunken treasures from Indonesian waters. And where does most of the booty wind up? Another story from todays (unlinkable) Jakarta Post.
During the last 20 years, there have been dozens of legal and illegal salvage operations to recover ancient treasures from shipwrecks in Indonesian waters.
Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of pieces of ancient ceramics, gold coins and glassware, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, have been removed from the country's seas.
With so much money being made by the treasure hunters, Indonesia has officially only received Rp 26.7 billion (US$2.9 million) for what should be a state asset.
"We handed over around Rp 27 billion to the Finance Ministry recently. We hope we can give more to the state in the future," said Ali Supardan, a senior official at the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.
The first major discovery of an ancient shipwreck occurred in 1985, when an expedition of foreign and local companies found thousands of pieces of ancient ceramic in the sea near the Heliputan islands in Riau.
Experts estimated the items were worth at least US$17.5 million. However, the state received nothing from the find when the recovered items were shipped overseas and sold at auction.
In 1999, another salvage project involving local and foreign companies recovered thousands of ancient ceramic pieces in the Gelasa Strait near the Bangka-Belitung islands in Sumatra. The government received less than $300,000 from this discovery, despite estimates that the treasure was worth millions of dollars.
A 1992 presidential decree stipulates the proceeds from any treasures recovered from Indonesian waters will be evenly split by the state and the salvage company or companies.
One senior government official, who asked not to be identified, said salvage companies preferred to bribe the necessary officials rather than pay the state.
"If a salvage company knows it will get millions of dollars from a sunken ship, it will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars bribing high-ranking officials to avoid paying the state," he told The Jakarta Post.
In 1998, German treasure hunter Tilman Walterfang found over 60,000 pieces of ancient Chinese ceramic dating to between the 7th and 10th centuries, near the Bangka-Belitung islands.
The discovery was praised as one of the most important ever in Asia, as it helped archeologists understand the ancient trade route known as the "Silk Road of the sea".
While the recovered materials were valued at about $80 million, Walterfang ended up paying Indonesia only $2.5 million in cash plus a number of unsold pieces.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Motos by Chuck
There's Flickr for us aspiring amateur photographers, and there's PBase for those who have made the grade, such as Chuck, who recently passed along a link to his Vietnam photos.
Chuck Kuhn Photos at PBase
Video May Hold Clues to PCH Wreck
L.A. County sheriff's officials say two men who crashed a rare Ferrari in Malibu last month may have been filming the incident.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's investigation into a mysterious crash that destroyed a rare $1-million Ferrari in Malibu last month is now focusing on a videotape that was purportedly shot from inside the vehicle at the time of the accident, according to sources close to the case.
The sources said that Ferrari owner Stefan Eriksson and the other man in the car, identified by authorities as Trevor Karney, had a video camera rolling as they raced on Pacific Coast Highway on the morning of Feb. 21 at speeds in excess of 162 mph.
Deputies who arrived at the scene did not recover any video equipment. But sources said detectives were later told that the high-speed driving was taped. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation.
The revelation is the latest twist in a crash that has prompted both an accident investigation and a probe by the Sheriff's Department's Homeland Security Division.
Although no one was injured in the crash, the investigation has generated significant attention because of the strange circumstances and the fact that it destroyed one of only 400 Enzo Ferraris ever made.
Eriksson, a former European video game executive, told deputies who arrived at the scene that he was not the driver and that another man, named Dietrich, was behind the wheel. Eriksson said Dietrich fled the scene.
But detectives have always been skeptical of his version of events. Investigators have taken a swab of Eriksson's saliva to match his DNA against blood found on the driver's side air bag of the Ferrari.
Eriksson also told deputies that he was a deputy commissioner of the police department of a tiny transit agency in the San Gabriel Valley.
A few minutes after the crash, two men arrived at the crash scene, identified themselves as homeland security officers and spoke to Eriksson at length before leaving.
Sheriff's Sgt. Phil Brooks said Wednesday that a few weeks before the accident, Eriksson was pulled over in West Hollywood without a driver's license.
At that time he told officers that he was a deputy police commissioner of the anti-terrorism unit of the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority and showed a badge, Brooks said.
Before coming to the U.S., Eriksson lived in England. According to Noel Hogan, a British private investigator, formerly with Scotland Yard, Eriksson once told him that he was a police officer. Hogan had been trying to recover a Mercedes SLR worth more than $450,000 that had been reported stolen in England and which Eriksson had in his possession.
Officials at the transit agency, which provides transportation for the disabled and elderly from Monrovia, said Eriksson was given the title of deputy police commissioner after undergoing a background check and offering the agency free video security cameras for its five buses.
Eriksson left video game machine manufacturer Gizmondo last fall after a Swedish newspaper printed allegations of his criminal past.
L.A. Times Link
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
North Korea Leader
I always wondered why Kim Jong-Il wore those elevator shoes, but now I know.
In other news, the Guardian (London newspaper) is once again looking for contestants who can take three months of their lives and travel around the world, snapping digital photos and running a blog of their adventures. But check the pitiful pay:
a digital camera
a camera phone
Come on, Guardian, you can bump it up. That's only good enough for a weekend in Cabo, but they expect me to blog, travel, sleep and eat for that paltry sum.
They're looking for a "green" traveler (whatever that means) and a "grey" traveler over the age of 50.
Get paid to go on holiday
This week, Guardian Unlimited is launching a new series of Netjetters, the competition that allows readers to win cash, kit and a three-month trip around the world, in return for writing a regular travel diary of their experiences.
'Green' and 'grey'
This year, two Netjetters will be chosen to travel and write on the themes of "green" and "grey" travel. One recruit must come up with a trip that allows them to travel as "greenly" as possible, in line with the rising tide of interest in eco- and responsible tourism. You may choose to base this on where you go or stay, your mode of transport, what you leave behind and how lightly you tread along the way. Or it might be what you choose to do, for example volunteering or working with protected wildlife.
The other chosen Netjetter will be aged 50 years or over, to reflect the growing number of people embarking on travels later in life. To be selected in this category, you must not have outgrown your spirit of adventure.
Each of the Netjetters will win up to £2,000 towards their trip, Fuji S9500 camera, a Nokia 6630 3G camera phone and a state-of-the-art laptop, all of which will be theirs to use on their Netjetter journeys and to keep thereafter.
Posted by Carl Parkes on Wednesday, March 15, 2006
North Korea Rocks
You've probably seen those breath-taking videos of the annual celebration in North Korea which involves tens of thousands of costumed performers, all decked out in elaborate outfits (think China back in the Mao days) and step marching in perfect order. The pageantry has long been withheld from the general foreign audience, and limited to invited journalists only, but this year the good folks at North Korea Tourism have decided to open up a bit and invite the unwashed foreign masses into their private party.
The American company making the arrangements is right here in San Francisco, where Lombard Avenue makes that difficult bend before it heads out to the Golden Gate Bridge, so I might drop by and see if they have some complimentary press passes for the event. If not, you might consider springing for a few thousand bucks for the land portion, and then tack on RT flights from your home to sunny, sunny Pyongyang.
And do request a tour of that strange, abandoned 101-floor hotel which was never opened but is certainly among the architectural follies of all time.
Keeping with the tradition of offering some of the world's most compelling travel "firsts", Geographic Expeditions announces a rare opportunity for Americans to look behind the headlines and set foot in the Democratic PeopleÂs Republic of Korea (DPRK) to attend the 2006 Mass Games in Pyongyang. The Games exemplify the ideal of a nation in total collective and artistic harmony, and are quite probably the earth's largest and most astounding human spectacle. This tiny window of opportunity is only the second time in fifty years Americans Â other than a sprinkling of journalists - have been allowed into the DPRK. Indeed, it is unclear when this privilege will be granted again.
Geographic Expeditions Link
The Criminal Court has dismissed defamation charges by Shin Corp against media activist Supinya Klangnarong and all co-defendants, saying she had the right to express her opinions about the company and government. The court said her statements did not defame the plaintiff, Shin Corp.“The court ruled that all the defendants were not guilty,” the judge read from the verdict.
Ms Supinya’s statement "was an expression of opinion based on information gathered from her research and others.""I feel free," said a tearful Ms Supinya. "This is the Thai public’s victory, not only my own personal victory because it is about the interest of the Thai public."In today's social crisis in Thailand, only the judicial system has proved to be something we can believe in."
Bangkok Post Link
The ruling ended a high profile legal battle between media conglomerate and Supinya, secretary general of the Campaign for Popular Media Reform. The suit was filed two years ago when the family of caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra owned Shin Corp.
Supinya was accused of libel for saying that Shin Corp had a mutually beneficial relationship with the Thaksin administration and the ruling Thai Rak Thai Party. Shin Corp has also sought Bt400 million in compensation in a civil suit. Criminal Court said today that what Supinya's statements were not considered defaming the plaintiff.
The Nation Link
Bangkok Criminal Court yesterday dismissed a defamation suit brought against Supinya Klangnarong and the Thai Post by Shin Corp, the telecoms giant founded by caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Shin Corp brought legal proceedings against Supinya and four Thai Post journalists for an article published in 2003 which quoted her as saying Shin Corp’s profits had soared because of favorable government policies.
In a case that is widely seen as a key test of freedom of expression in Thailand, the court ruled that Supinya’s comments had been made without malice, and dismissed all the charges against her and the Thai Post journalists. “The first defendant [Supinya] made her comments with good faith and honesty, and did not intend to defame the plaintiff – or to tarnish its reputation, create hatred or insult the plaintiff, but rather, out of public interest. Therefore, the first defendant is not guilty,” the court said.
Manager/International Herald Tribune Link
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Now this is really amazing. Gridskipper is an excellent blog that covers travel destinations with a snarky and often blatantly sexual appeal, and that's fine with me. Today, there's an outstanding profile of nightlife in Dubai, which quickly moves into the prostitution side of things. No surprise there, and plenty of links. Excellent work.
Gridskipper is primarily written by a guy who lives in Los Angeles, somewhere down by the beach I believe, either Santa Monica or points south. He does all the posts, but guest bloggers are identified at the bottom of each post. I don't like this arrangement and wish Gridskipper would put each poster's name at the top of each post, ala Gadling. After a while, you develop an opinion about each poster and know something of their background, and it makes the whole blogging visit much more interesting.
Well, he won't do it, or the blogging conglomerate he works for just won't budge. Maybe he will change his mind someday.
Anyway, back to this amazing post about Dubai. After all the great tidbits about prostitution and insight into that murky world, you find the final paragraph:
Personally, I am planning to make regular trips to Dubai and am hoping to arrange to meet some new clients while there, so I decided to see how the local scene works. If you would like to meet me while I am in Dubai, visit my website and then send me an email.
Who is going to Dubai? Somebody who calls themselves Princess Kama? What the hell? Do visit the post and then visit the website of Princess Kama. You won't believe it.
Lucy Liu Wedding Photo
Never underestimate the creativity of wedding photography in China, where dual sets can please both the parents and your friends......curious about the exact nature of your new bride.
BEIJING (AFP) - Forget the Mao suits of a generation ago. Actually, forget about any clothes at all. Naked wedding photos are the hot new trend among young couples in once deeply conservative China.
Even in Anhui, a largely rural province in the east, many newly-weds are having their pictures taken in the nude, to the fury of their parents' generation, the Xin'an Evening News said.
"Some photo studios are just going too far. They allow young women to have their photos taken in bikinis or with nothing on at all," said an irate woman from the Anhui capital of Hefei. "I hope the authorities will do something."
She had just found out that her daughter had taken two sets of wedding photos, one to show the family, and another considerably more intimate one for her own private consumption.
Yahoo News Link
Monday, March 13, 2006
Philippines DOT Postcard
A very interesting contrast between opinions and views of the Philippines is provided by a travel column from the Guardian, and a follow-up post from Torn and Frayed in Manila. The newspaper columnist apparently blazed through Manila and headed straight up to the world famous Banaue rice terraces, where she stayed in "a hotel with pretensions of a Swiss ski lodge, sitting incongruously in an Asian rainforest."
Sorry, there's no rainforest anywhere near Banaue, but you might find a few surviving stands in Mindanao and Palawan.
She then heads down south to Bohol, where she hangs at lovely Alona Beach, though my bet is that she actually stayed at the Bohol Beach Club, as she had previously stayed in Banaue at the most expensive digs in town. From "Swiss ski lodge" to backpackers hostel. I doubt it.
Rosy, rosy, rosy.
I downshifted to Bohol time on Alona beach, an idyllic stretch of white sand and coral reefs that has become a haven for divers. The Philippines offers some of the best and cheapest scuba diving in the world and is an excellent place to learn. Alona is one of dozens of dive sites dotted around the country and has healthy coral, a multitude of fish and an underwater cliff dropping to 50 metres. By day I watched small fishing boats bring in their catch and at night ate it in the beach bars. A basket of glistening lobster, tiger prawns, squid and exotic fish were bought to the table; all I had to do was choose a selection to be thrown on the barbecue.
The Guardian Link
Far more revealing is the short commentary by Torn and Frayed on travel cliches often used when describing the country, and an important question rarely raised in most forums: where the hell are all the backpackers in the Philippines? The following comments are just great, so do read this post to the very end. Even Carlos Celdran jumps into the fray (so to speak).
How to write about the Philippines
For your cover, only a jeepney or a smiling Filipina with a flower behind her ear will do.
It is essential that your first sentence should include the words “7,000 islands”. Sprinkle the text with such phrases as “vibrant” (perhaps the most useful word when describing the Philippines), “crystal clear waters”, “hellish pollution”, “idyllic stretch of white sand”, “monster traffic”, "sunset", “mishmash of cultures” “3,000 pairs of shoes”, “ferry disaster” and “vibrant (there it is again) night life”.
When describing the politics of the Philippines, you should always describe it as an “exuberant democracy”. Mention no politicians other than film stars or Imelda Marcos.
Never use the word “prostitute”, “bargirl” is much nicer. When describing nightlife make sure you mention the “ubiquitous San Miguel” and the fact that Filipinos eat only balut.
There is no need to discuss the history of the Philippines beyond a brief mention of the Bataan death march.
Torn and Frayed in Manila Link
Bokor Palace Hotel
Along with those deserted islands and beaches of southwestern Cambodia (mentioned below), the relatively untouched coastal town of Kampot and nearby Bokor comprise one of the more unique and accessible journeys in Southeast Asia. Travel writer and author of The Trouser People, Andrew Marshall posts this wonderful story in The Telegraph, complete with teeming, bloody pools of leeches.
For me, Kampot was a magical place, with a slow, tranquilizing rhythm. I spent a lot of time just watching the sun set over the river. Once, a funeral was taking place nearby, and a sound system blasted out the mantras of praying monks at voice-of-God volume. Then a woman sang a lament in Khmer, for me the most bewitching of languages. To this haunting soundtrack fresh storm-clouds rolled off Bokor's darkening slopes, and the sun finally set.
Suddenly the clouds vanished, revealing a haunting landscape of gutted buildings set around a wind-creased reservoir. This was all that survived of Bokor Hill Station. The grandest ruin was the once lavishly appointed Bokor Palace Hotel, which opened on St Valentine's Day, 1925, with a banquet for 120 guests. Baudouin, Cambodia's résident supérieur (colonial governor), gave the after-dinner toast. Neither he nor his detractors, who dubbed the complex "Baudouin's Folly," would recognise the place today. Anything of value - from light fittings to floor tiles - had been ripped out and carted away. The denuded walls were smothered in the same electric-orange moss. Graffiti covered every surface, some appropriate ("I see dead people"), most fatuous ("Minger loves Nutter"). I found it comforting that nature would still be swathing the building in brilliant-orange moss long after Minger and Nutter had faded away.
The Telegraph Link
King's Island by Tim Patterson
Travelers seeking to get off the beaten track and explore some remote islands and deserted beaches -- without killing themselves with excessive, gruelling travel -- might consider visiting the beautiful places situated between the Thai eastern border near Trat and the bustling Cambodian resort town of Sihanoukville. I'm no expert on this area, but Tim Patterson recently escaped the frigid climes of his temporary home in Hokkaido to venture south and find himself the only visitor to these forgotten beaches.
The idea to explore the scattered islands that lie between Sihanoukville, a beach town 150 km southwest of Phnom Penh, and the Thai border was, like most Cambodian projects, easy to put into motion but impossible to plan. Starting out, the only thing I knew with certainty was that the islands were out there somewhere beyond the sunset. The maps I checked agreed on the general position of two large islands at the eastern edge of the Gulf of Kompong Sohm, but each cartographer had apparently inserted a sampling from a different Jackson Pollack painting to represent the archipelago that lay beyond. How many islands there were, what they were shaped like, whether people lived on them and how it was possible to get there and away – the details, if you will – were a mystery that only grew foggier as I roamed about town searching for the informed sort of speculation.
King's Island by Tim Patterson
The President of Burma
A world's record? Apparently so, though few people or media organizations are aware that the world's longest serving journalist prisoner continues to be held in Rangoon, despite the pleas of Reporters Without Borders and a handful of other international media outfits.
Whoever may be reading this post, please spread the word and let the world know about this brutal suppression of human rights in the tragic land, controlled and brutalized by one of the world's most despotic military regimes.
Organizations seeking press freedom have marked the 76th birthday of Burma's longest-serving journalist prisoner Win Tin with calls for his release from jail.
In a statement marking Win Tin's birthday on March 12, Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association called for his "unconditional release" and claimed that "his health has seriously deteriorated after 16 years in prison."
Win Tin, formerly editor of the influential newspaper Hanthawaddy and vice-chairman of the Writers' Union, and an active participant in the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, was arrested in 1989 and sentenced to 20 years on charges that included "anti-government propaganda."
Win Tin also served as a secretary of Burma's opposition National League for Democracy and was senior advisor to pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He has won international recognition for his pro-democracy involvement, and in 2001 he was awarded the World Association of Newspapers Golden Pen of Freedom and the UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association charged that despite two heart attacks and a prostate condition Win Tin had been denied "proper medical treatment." He was also denied the opportunity to write.
The Irrawaddy Link
I've been to many of the major festivals in Bali and am familiar with most of the classics, but the pre-Nyepi rituals are something relatively new and certainly worth checking out if you happen to be on the island toward the end of this month. The always informative Bali Discovery newsletter has posted a missive with background on the "silent" day and some very unusual festivities that take place the prior.
Sort of like Lent and pre-Lent Carnaval by with a Bali-Hindu flavor.
Sounds like fun!
Kiss Me Ketut?
The residents of the village Banjar Kaja in South Denpasar must be worried that current legislation now being considered by National Legislators will mean that their unique ritual tradition of med-medan for celebrating the New Year may soon become a thing of the past.
Practices with roots clouded in the distant past, the members of Banjar Kaja always gather on the day immediately following Nyepi to engage in an activity that may soon become punishable by a fine and serious jail time. On that day, young boys and girls of that community gather on the local green; boys to the left, girls to the right, gradually advancing towards each other before breaking into a charge by both sexes culminating in an exchange kisses with the opposing gender. Tradition dictates that one charge of the lips brigade is seldom enough, mandating that relentless bussing occur in an area known locally as the kissing fields.
Where med-medan started no one is sure. Where it ends is less a mystery; many married couples trace their "first contact" to a celebration of med-medan in years past. The proper and complete observance of the festival is mandatory for the youth of the Banjar who quickly abandon any residue of reticence in the face of stories of natural and personal disasters that have befallen those who failed to participate in the special ritual.
And, as with all special events in Bali, God's blessing is always sought first via a solemn procession to the community temple before undertaking the important task ahead. Prayers completed, the boys and girls then separate into two groups; there to pluck up their courage and pucker their lips for what follows.
Concerned parents, perhaps playing a role that will be assumed by policemen in the future, bring buckets of holy water to cool off the romantic ardor of their children accidentally overcome by the moment.
Bali Discovery Newsletter Link
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Art Banned in Jakarta (Pink Swing)
Aside from the maniacs at Little Green Footballs and Michelle Malkin, most bloggers are fairly cheerful people who enjoy wasting their time ranting and raving about issues of concern. But even the most positive of bloggers sometimes wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, and before coming to their sense, lays down a minefield of disconnected threads which threaten to tear the head off of every possible reader.
Treespotter, of Treespotting fame, just had such a moment.
Great fun, but you can only hope the guy takes a break soon and spends a few weeks relaxing somewhere up in the hills of East Bali.
What's Available in Cipinang Prison
(Maximum Security Prison, Jakarta, ID):
10 kg ganja, smuggled into the prison by the security guard
400 grams of pure, uncut heroin (other drugs are available as necessary, as above)
20 large weapons
47 small weapons
2 hand grenades
1 small firearm
9 mini hand-saws
55 gas lighters
158 VCD/DVD players*
12 cellular phone (reception isn't very good tho)
1 digital scale
HIV (see Community Living below)
A Cipinang graduate, playboy billionaire, (ex) Lamborghini owner, Mr. Tommy Soeharto is apparently not doing too well. Tommy was transferred to the maximum security island prison Nusa Kambangan from Cipinang a while ago. He was convicted in the same $9m corruption charges (as Mr.Gelael, the chicken farm investor), escaped, killed a Justice and back to prison for 15 years. At the earliest, he should be out by 2009. The prison-reformed Tommy (one full year and a bit in sentence reductions for good behaviour so far), it seems, isn't doing very well and currently very, very ill.
During the entire February, Tommy was granted a total of 13 days away from prison and 12 days in March (all on medical ground). All in weekends.
It is boring to argue on fear and loathing except that such inflammatory comments might attract likeminded blog-wanderers and generate some traffic. (unless you're Hunter Thompson on the last suicidal charge for Pulitzer).
And while you getting annoyed and all that, if my politics has anything to do with this, here's some things that I probably care about. At least i know where i stand on a few things. Or at least I did. It's been fun when you're one fucked up soul such as me and other alternative weekend entertainments involve destruction of some measure, but - just to be clear - I don't really believe that I will change history or anything.
Not on the Forbes List
Each year, Forbes magazine assigns some 30 young kids to research and report on the world's richest people, and then markets the hell out of the issue to keep up the buzz, and circulation. Tracking the wealth of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet is probably a fairly straightforward proposition, but figuring out the wealth of somebody in a country such as Indonesia is a whole 'nother ball of wax, as shown today by Yosef Ardi.
What's weird with Forbes' Indonesia rich list?
We knew from the Forbes that Rahman Halim and family (Gudang Garam) is the richest in Indonesia followed by R Budi Hartono (owner of Djarum Group), Putera Sampoerna, Aburizal Bakrie, Lim Sioe Liong (Salim Group), Eka Tjipta Widjaja (Sinar Mas), and Paulus Tumewu (Ramayana Group).
1) Rahman Halim = US$2.3 billion
2) Budi Hartono = US$2.2 billion
3) Sampoerna = US$1 billion
4) Aburizal Bakrie = US$735 million
5) Lim Sioe Liong = US$655 million
6) Eka Tjipta Widjaja = US$515 million
7) Paulus Tumewu = US$500 million
Is it true that Bakrie is wealthier than Lim or Eka? Eka's net worth in 1999 Forbes list was at US$2.5 billion. It's true that the company struggled with the crisis at Bank International Indonesia (BII) in 2001 and the huge bonds at Asia Pulp & Paper. But the company survived and aggresively expand its business in the last four years.
Could it be possible that Tumewu or Bakrie are richer than Sukanto Tanoto who has US$7 billion investment in Brazil and China?
"No way that Bakrie could match Sukanto. I would say Eka Tjipta is the richest for Indonesia," said one investment banker in Singapore.
Where is Hashim Djoyohadikoesoemo with his US$2.5 billion worth of oil and gas assets in Khazakhstan & Azerbaijan?
How about Mochtar Riyadi family with their Lippo Group? How about Peter Sondakh who got US$800 million in cash from the divestment of Excelcomindo to Telekom Malaysia?
How about Soeharto? Where is Soeharto family's money which Time magazine estimated at US$15 billion eight years ago? The Soehartos' net worth was put by Forbes at $1.7 billion in 1999 and $4 billion in 1998. I just can't believe the family's wealth had dropped to below US$500 million.
What about Sjamsul Nursalim?
While he once had US$3 billion debts to government and pledged some key assets like Gajah Tunggal (the largest tire manufacturer), GT Petrochem (petrochemical company), and Dipasena (the largest shrimp farm in Asia), I believe that Sjamsul regained control over two of these companies, not to mention other assets in Indonesia and Singapore.
Indonesia Today Link
Saturday, March 11, 2006
After months and months of avoiding this tedious task, I finally bit the bullet and wasted a few hours updating my blogroll. Do please check your listing for accuracy, and if you have a blog centered around Southeast Asia that you would like to see added, contact me at my Hotmail address.
I arranged each blog within each country in the order of my personal favorites, so if it's your first research trip into some new suggestions, start from the top and click down. And if your blog isn't #1, don't fret; I'd say that the first half-dozen in each country are my favorites.
Of course, with a massive direct deposit into my dwindling bank account, you can automatically go to the top and increase your daily hit count by several thousands! Wire money today and be a major player tomorrow!
I've also added Cambodia and Vietnam to the list, but it wasn't all that easy. Many of the blogs listed on other blogs have gone out of business or just haven't been updated in several months. Bloggers, please, when you give up the ghost, do leave a final message to let everyone know. Same goes for bloggers who go on extended vacations or are just temporarily burned out. It happens, but do let your readers know.
My main interests in Southeast Asia are Thailand and Indonesia, so these blog lists are the longest. Singapore and Indonesia were the two lists that increased the largest in size since my last update, and I'm happy to report that Indonesia is finally picking up some new bloggers with some great writing styles. I still can't find much decent for Malaysia, so if you have some tips, do pass them along below in the comments. Also, if anyone has some suggestions for Vietnam and Cambodia, I'd appreciate a shout out.
I also updated Asia News Links and Asian Newspapers.
Have fun with the blogroll.