“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” – Maori Proverb
The Bangkok protests have been ongoing for several months. The political climate in Bangkok heated up the day we left (when 4 people were shot). While we were there, I would say it was simply tense. Despite being there during the election, there was little violence during our stay. Our hotel was well out of town (although it did turn out to be very close to one of the key protest sites) so we missed out on all of the downtown activity.
That being said, we didn’t want to avoid downtown Bangkok for our entire trip – plus we had to head down there to get some chores done. We planned a few cautious trips into the city. When we arrived downtown to visit the BACC, we walked right through a protest site that would prove to be volatile after our trip. However, while we were there it was more like a carnival. There were bands, people were selling t-shirts with “Shutdown Bangkok” on them, and there were a ton of tourists walking around taking pictures.
We left on February 18th, 4 days after the police began to crack down on the protestors and to make attempts to clear them out of the protest sites they have occupied since October. Following the crackdown and death of several people (including children and a police officer), the Prime Minister was accused of corruption by the Thai Supreme Court. Some people say it’s warranted, others say it’s an attempted coup. Tempers are continuing to ramp up and some people are predicting an imminent civil war. I’m glad we were able to see and do the things we needed to do before it turns into a madhouse down there but it’s sad to think where the conflicts may go in the next few weeks.
I wasn’t bowled over by Bangkok’s MOCA so I was hesitantly hopeful about Bangkok Art and Cultural Center (BACC). Last year they hosted Bukruk and I was disappointed that it didn’t occur this year as well. Given the current political climate and the protest sites located at BACC, though, it probably made sense to skip it this year. I didn’t want to skip it, though.
I did end up liking BACC. There were a bunch of interactive art exhibits, local artists, and weird things to look at. It was small and a pretty random collection, though. For instance, there is an exhibit of travel photos that just looked like someone’s snapshots from a trip. There was a sign saying you can’t take pictures but there were tons of people walking around with giant pictures so I felt OK sneaking a few pics of the exhibits.
There were protest sites outside of the entrances to the BACC.
Giant ping pong table.
Private art gallery in the mall where the BACC is.
Inside the gallery
Sign made out of recycled money changer signs.
A display of kidney stones. Strange.
There’s a sign saying to sit and take a picture so we did.
Some sort of rap display.
Student desks with etched tops.
There were crayons and paper so that you could create your own etching and take it home with you. I appreciate interactive art.
The BACC is near the MBK Mall and you can take the MRT to the National Stadium stop.
It’s open 10am-9pm, closed on Mondays, and is free.
OK, I won’t get too excited but the Tournament of Books 2014 has started. My favoritest book of the year, A Tale for the Time Being, faced off against How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia in the first round. I really liked How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and assumed it would beat out A Tale for the Time Being due to it being more accessible, quicker to read, and snappier. I was wrong, though, and my book won its first round. Woo!
“Life is fleeting. Don’t waste a single moment of your precious life. Wake up now! And now! And now!”
― Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being
Check out the match commentary here.
We didn’t get to see as much street art as I wanted due to the protests (link). We did see some great things during our walk to MOCA, though. There seemed to be a theme about hope and a lack of hope throughout all of these.