Ride the subway in the time of flood

Bangkok Subway Flood

Bangkok subway (MRT) was bravely operating during Bangkok floods last year, even when surface areas around some station entrances were flooded. This poster appeared after the floods advertising MRT as a live-saving service. Although a somewhat idyllic depiction of events, the water level in the photo appears to be accurate.

Zzzzz

It appears to have been a slow day for this tuk tuk driver in Banghlampu.

Spiritual well-being comes at a price…

As the capital city in a devoutly Buddhist country, Bangkok has no shortage of temples and shrines. Though, while they may offer you a chance at reaching enlightenment, they can’t promise that you’ll get your shoes back once you have it.

Spirit-houses of the Upwardly Mobile

Generally, spirit houses are meant to evoke the building that they belong to- luxury hotels have elaborate shrines, financial complexes have sleek modernist spirit-houses, and upcountry homes often have theirs built in a traditional style out of wood. So does this elaborate gold spirithouse outside of a rundown wooden home suggest a desire to move up in the world?

The Cowboy Stand

The streets and sidewalks of vendors are crowded with stands, where a wide range of vendors sell their wares. Most stands have obvious purposes: some sell tasty grilled chicken, others offer bootleg DVDs, and some sell cheap tourist t-shirts. But what does the stand topped with the giant cowboy hat sell?

The (not-so) Royal Hotel

It’s unclear whether it takes it’s name from the image of the King above its entrance, or it’s close proximity to the Royal Palace. Whichever it is, with it’s faded beige walls and graying exterior, The Royal Hotel is looking anything but regal these days.

Buddha Alley

It’s not quite a hallowed shrine, but even in a dark and dusty alley, these statues of the Buddha retain their serene expression and beatific glow.

Flaking with Adoration

The strange, flaking texture of this Buddha’s gold is not a sign of its neglect or abandonment- rather, its a sign of devotion. Visitors to this temple can purchase tiny squares of gold leaf. By affixing the gold to the Buddha, they are helping in the upkeep of the temple, and thereby earning merit for the next life.

Play the Lotto

Most visitors to Thailand visit the Grand Palace, shop at Chatuchak Weekend Market, and maybe take in a competition of Muay Thai, the local martial arts. But for a real Thai experience, why not play the lotto? Little books of tickets are sold along nearly every boulevard in Bangkok- there are even small markets and special sidewalks devoted to the sale of the tickets. But if you want a little extra luck, try to buy your ticket from a disabled person- though it might not make much sense, they’re said to be the luckiest.

There’s Money in Marigolds

Though they appear delicate and insubstantial when strewn along a temple’s altar, marigolds are an essential offering on any Buddhist shrine. Keeping Bangkok’s many temples, spirit-houses, and altars supplied with marigolds is big business. Just visit Bangkok’s teeming flower markets, and you’ll likely see mountains of the glowing yellow flowers.