A Shot and a Thought: Thailand

Praying to the Reclining Buddha in Ayutthaya

I know this post is coming too late, things in Bangkok have settled down for the time being and for that I am thankful.  Hopefully calm will prevail, though I have my doubts.

Like many, the city of Bangkok has been on my mind for the past while. I know that I am by no means alone in my feelings, but like many expats living in Asia, Thailand has a special significance for me. Like millions of others, Bangkok was my first ever stop in Asia and other than countries in which I have held residence, I have spent more time in the Kingdom than any other. There is no doubt at all that without first visiting Thailand in 2000, my life would be very different than it is today. Most obviously, I doubt very highly that I would be living in Taiwan had it not been for my first Asian adventure. I felt at home there; more so now that I have been through a dozen or so times.

My feelings are different now; and I am not doing well at sorting them out. It would be easier to sort things out if I better understood the politics and sociology in Thailand; but the fact that I don’t doesn’t lessen my feelings. Violence always saddens me, but this case has been even worse. Usually when there are clashes, I feel pretty comfortable in at least siding with one side who I view to be in the “right”. Two years ago, when people took to the streets of Yangon, I had no problems at all siding with the monks and against the government. During the protests in Iran, I was clearly on the Green side. In the past month or so in Bangkok, I am really ambivalent. I don’t like the Red Shirts methods; they seemed to step past civil disobedience towards purposefully violent chaos. I don’t like that they seemed to be manipulated by Thaksin, whom I have very mixed feelings about. On the other side of the coin though, I can’t help but feel the government and army didn’t diffuse things as well as they might have and I realize that the government is backed by the wealthy vs. the rural poor of the Red Shirts. Finally, I feel very saddened that the King, whom I once quite respected as far as monarchs go, was ineffectual at best. All of these things just leave me cold and sad. I know this has been some time in coming and I realize that I had been looking at things through rose colored glasses, but somehow I feel that my innocence has somehow been lost. That makes me feel sad and not very hopeful.

Most importantly, I hope for better times in Thailand ahead. Not important to anyone but myself, I hope that I can soon have the same warm feelings for Thailand that I had not so very long ago. I hate to feel so cynical about a city I once considered my favourite spot to spend time in.

Here’s to better times in the Kingdom.

A Shot and a Thought: Temple Vices

I took this photo Thursday at Guandu Temple,
where Matsu’s (Goddess of the Sea) birthday was being celebrated.

Anyone who has known my photography over the past eight or so years knows that I love taking photos in temples.

Of course, part of what I love about temples are the standard motifs of beautifully colored robes, solemn rituals, ornate architecture, incense, candles and all of the other beautiful things most everyone loves.  Going further though, what is often the draw for me is the people who are there, and I am not speaking of monks, nuns or temple officials.  I love seeing the people who are there, just spending time; not to worship or to advise, just to hang out. Continue reading

A Shot and a Thought: Confluence

As I had mentioned, when I decided to put a halt to the Daily Someone, I wanted to come up with a couple of new, ongoing posts.  Last time, I made my first “One Hour” post; today it will be my first “Shot and a Thought” post.  Simply, these will be posts where I put up a single photo and I then write about that photo.  The photos can be of anything, taken anytime and the thoughts can be just as random.  I will be doing a Shot and a Thought posting weekly.

So, here is the first of the series.

Continue reading