The Slack Has Been Picked Up

And This Really Isn’t a an SEO Worthy Healine (Or Subhead)

But sometimes you just can’t be arsed. Been busy this past week, as I had my third and final test in level one of my Thai language class. This is actually the second time I’ve taken the test. The last time I took it, I got a borderline score; the instructor testing me said that she would pass me so I could move onto level two if I really wanted to, but she advised against it. I decided to give it a few months and try again.

This time, the result was satisfactory; passed with flying colors. Anyway, I neglected ye olde Photo a Day project for the past several days. I’m here to rectify that.

The view as I ascend the escalator to get on the skytrain outside my school in Phloen Chit (in Bangkok) has always struck me for its … perpendicularity, I guess we’ll say. Not sure if that’s a word, but it is now.

Gotta come clean: I actually had to merge two different thresholds to achieve the desired image:

A threshold version of an urban landscape of converging perpendicular lines at Phloen Chit BTS station, Bangkok

Tomorrow I’ll post the non-threshold version.

Remember the Thai gargoyle? It resides just out of the lower left-hand corner of the frame in this photo.

Photo a Day: Thai Gargoyle?

Is There Such a Thing as a Thai Gargoyle?

The Thai equivalent (presumably) of a western gargoyle, perched on a Bangkok building.

Various combinations of those terms put to Google have proved a fruitless search, so I have no idea. I would presume, however, that these sorts of things one sees on Thai buildings serve the same sort of similar function as that of the gargoyles one finds on older buildings in Europe?

I’ve been meaning to ask my Thai friends and colleagues about this, but I never think about it, except when I happen to see one. I’ve tried to decipher the script at the bottom, but it’s such a stylized font that I found it too difficult to read with my nascent language skill.

Anyway, I snapped this photo with my phone a while ago, but it’s one I see at least a few times a week. My Thai language school is located literally right outside of the Phloen Chit BTS Skytrain station. Every time I take the escalator up to the platform, I go past this guy keeping watch over the building next to the one my school resides in. There is also an archer, but unfortunately his photo turned out too blurry to post.

If you click the above photo and look at it full size, you’ll see that it’s not as sharp as it could be — but still pretty impressive when you factor in that I was moving (up the escalator) when I took it. Once again the N8 comes through.


It’s Not the Size of the Immigration Building …

But how you use it? Someone forgot to tell the Thai’s that.

The government building that houses the immigration office in Bangkok. It's kinda big.

This is the um, foyer, I guess, of the rather large government building that houses the immigration office designated for foreigners to deal with visa paper work. I have to report here every 90 days with paperwork from my school to show that I’ve been a diligent student.

I keep hoping when I show up here that there will be an ice skating rink or something equally fun — maybe a skate park or something.


Potted Plants as Sculpture

Photo a Day: the Potted Plant Sculpture Guardian

In this vacant lot outside the Ratchawithi BTS skytrain station — the one that is bordered by the hella rad graffiti featured in the Photo a Day a few days ago — resides this, er, sculpture. I’m not sure what it is or what it may or may not represent, but it is the only sculpture I’ve ever seen that utilizes potted plants as a medium. Huzzah.

potted plant sculpture outside the Ratchewithi, Bangkok, Thailand

Photo a Day: Hella Rad Graffiti

There’s Graffiti, and Then There’s Art

An example of some of the amazing graffiti art to be found around Bangkok, Thailand

This definitely falls into the latter category; it’s not just graffiti. I spied this today while on my way to Pantip Plaza in Bangkok to get my nerd on. Actually I had some time to kill as traffic was so bad at lunch time, it took my bus an hour to traverse a route that usually only takes 20 minutes in the afternoons or late mornings.

Missed my first class and had to stick around to make it up with an evening class. D’oh!

Such is life in the Big Mango. Anyway, when I first moved to Thailand in 2010 it didn’t seem like Bangkok had much in the way of artistic graffiti. Or maybe I just didn’t get around the city that much, since I didn’t actually live here at the time. But I’ve seen some other incredible examples of graffiti that I want to photograph.

Can you spot the Thai lady talking on the phone in this photograph? Or the other farang guy photographing the wall? Oh, here’s a few detail crops for you (click to see full size):

a detail from some amazing graffiti art in Bangkok, Thailand

a detail from some amazing graffiti art in Bangkok, Thailand

┬áP.S. I felt justified in backdating since my whole day’s schedule got screwed to hell. So there.

Highways Are Like Airports

Highways Look the Same the World Over

Highway 7: on the Road to Bangkok, Thailand

North America, Europe, Asia — I’ve never been to South America or Africa, but I’ll wager highways and expressways look the same there, too. It’s one of those instances when one is traveling abroad that strikes you — not because of the differences, but because of the mundane sameness. One expects a foreign land to be … well, foreign.

But like airports, some things lend themselves to the logic of design replication. Even when you see the palm trees or banana trees here, the highways could be U.S. Interstates in the Deep South somewhere. The only indication one gets here — other than the obvious one of being on the left side of the road — is the road signs are, naturally, in Thai. Although as you can see here, they also bear English, and are strikingly similar to their cousins elsewhere in the world.

Highway 7: on the Road to Bangkok, Thailand

Of course as you get closer to Bangkok on Highway 7 things begin to take on a bit of a telltale Thai appearance:

Highway 7: on the Road to Bangkok, Thailand

Sorry for the dirty windshield, but then I was just a passenger. And again, not trying to make art, just illustrate a fact of expat life. As always click ’em to see ’em big.

Photo a Day, Bangkok ‘Hood Edition

A Slice of Rural Village in the Midst of Bangkok

My neighborhood isn’t quite the usual sort of neighborhood one fines foreigners residing in Bangkok. Indeed, it’s not even the sort of neighborhood one typically finds Thais living in Bangkok. My soi, or street is actually nothing more than a concrete walkway on pilings that meanders from the banks of Bankok’s Chao Phraya river to the main street in the area, Charan Sanit Wong (as rendered in Western script).

My building, Marina House, is modern enough, but as you can see, the rest of the houses in this slice of rural village consists of all manner of abodes, from fancy, white-washed houses to dilapidated shacks built from whatever miscellaneous materials their denizens can scavenge. All of these are built suspended over the swamp that rises and falls with the level of the river –Bang Plat isn’t that far upriver from the delta where the river empties into the sea.

Walking through my neighborhood, one would never know that one is only a few miles from the central business district of downtown Bankok, one of Asia’s largest megalopolises. Indeed at night one hears the buzzing and droning of insects and droning, and the amusingly ridiculous mating cry of the tokay gecko.

I haven’t managed to capture one photographically yet — at least not without unacceptable blurring — but there are a pair of big-ass monitor lizards as well lurking about as well; the male is a big old dude who is every bit of three feet long and then some. Sometimes he hangs out by one of the little shops where food is prepared, waiting for scraps to be tossed over the railing.

Anyway, here’s a view of my ‘hood as it appears from the hallway outside the door to my apartment, which is at the back of the building. The front is literally on the river; you walk outside of the front door of the building onto a deck, beyond this is water.

Jeff Chappell's Photo a Day: the Bang Plat, Bangkok edition

If you recall the coconuts from yesterday’s Photo a Day entry, you can see the tree they fell from, there on the left.

Inaugural Photo A Day Entry

Sparing Myself 1,000 Words a Day with a Photo a Day

(To)Infinity (and Beyond) in Black and White: Jeff Chappell's Photo a DayOne of my goals for the New Year — I’m talking the Thai year, here, since that’s where I currently live — is to update my blogs more frequently. Particularly since I have some freelance writing work that will keep the bills paid (I hope) for the immediate time being.

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a photo-a-day type of project for some time., having been influenced by all of the similar projects out there. The problem is, I tend to be a bit anal retentive a perfectionist, and when it comes to photography, I always want to make art, as pretentious as that sounds.

Of course I have to remind myself, art doesn’t mean laboring for hours over composition, technique and Photoshop. Many moving examples of the photo-a-day concept involve people who aren’t photographers, either by vocation or hobby, using simple point-and-shoot cameras.


Now with my Thai language studies underway for several months now and going well — although I flubbed my second set of tests — and some actual paying work underway, time to get back to image making.

Thus begins Jeff Chappell’s very own Photo A Day. I want to try and post photos for the next 365 days, photos that I take each day and posted that day. I’m not going to box myself into a corner and say that I will do that every day, but I will hold myself to the rule that I can’t post a photo I’ve ever posted before on the Teh Internets. That includes Facebook (which I no longer use), Flickr or anyplace else.

So let us begin. Here is a photo which will call (To)Infinity (and Beyond) in Black and White.

No dithering about making art. I was waiting for the Sky Train here in Bangkok yesterday afternoon and, with this project in mind, busted out the trusty Nokia N8 while standing on the platform. Post processing done in Photoshop, naturally — namely the black and white conversion and a diffuse glow filter.

Of course you should click on it to embiggen the image, if you wish.