From The Car Window

I am spending a lot of time in the car here in Bangkok. Fortunately, I don’t have to drive myself, because I would have flipped out so many times already. The stress would have killed me – simply put, it would not be good at all. Riding a bicycle or a motorcycle is fine here, but driving a car sucks big time. The traffic is all on the wring side, the controls are all switched and on top of that is the pure fact that Bangkok traffic at its best, smoothest moving is still worse than Minneapolis or any German traffic at its worst. BKK traffic at its worst means you are stuck in the car for hours without ever moving. I am not exaggerating. I have been getting out of the car a few times now to walk through traffic on the highway to the BTS. This may sound insane, but it is not, because, when cars don’t move, there is no danger.

Anyway, long introduction. On the bright side, I have plenty of time to watch the world go by from my car window. Last week I saw next to the highway a crammed residential area – shanty town, that had dump truck after dump true parked next to each other. Where does the trash that 10.5 million people produce go?

When I get out of the car to walk the rest of the way, I walk past all these little street vendors and motorcycle taxi drivers who are hanging and enjoying a break.

I saw a store that sold live fish in little plastic bags.

Right next to that shop were two motorcycle taxi drivers playing a round of Mahjongg, laughing about me taking their picture – crazy Farang! Admittedly, I am not sure if these guys really play Mahjongg (or if Mahjongg is even spelled like this).

As an appendix to last week’s excision to Samut Songkram I want to share last week’s moment of Zen image.

For the last image we go to Germany, to my home town Mannheim. People from the south of Germany are in general a lot more outspoken, open-hearted and direct than the Germans north of the Main river. I know I am generalizing, but my mom is from Hamburg (way up north and my in-laws are from the north as well and they would agree with me on this).

Anyway, as I grew up in Mannheim, I had a great-aunt. Aunt Fine (pronounce the “e” at the end as in [pheene]). She used to have a stand at the market and was just overall machine gun mouth, just like her sister my dad’s mom. Well, she was the one who first told me about a long gone cafe in Mannheim next to the market place, that the public simply called “Cafe Asshole” – I am not making this up. You can imagine how fascinated my pre-teen mind was by that name. I asked why it was called like that. She explained, that in the center of the market place is a statue of the Roman god Mercury wrestling or doing whatever the Roman gods did to pass time. Anyway, since Roman gods by tradition were always skimpily dressed, if not to say nude, dangling freely and wildly, our Mercury statue has a bare ass. Now it just so happens that Mercury’s bottom points to the exact location where the entrance to the cafe used to be – hence the name cafe Asshole. Cool right. My dad also told me about another restaurant long gone. It was originally called “Zu den zwölf Aposteln” (The 12 apostles), which the Mannheim natives re-christened to the “twenty-four ass-cheeks”. Doesn’t leave anything for misinterpretation.

So without any further ado, the Mannheim market place with Mercury.

This concludes today’s post. We will go grocery shopping now and then….ah what the heck, it’ll be a lazy Sunday today.

Enjoy the weekend and have a god next week.

Hasta luego muchachos.

Markus \m/

Airplane!

Last week I showed a few images of the 747 body and I promised I would go back for more. Today, I did and here is the result of that trip. First of all, there were two nice ladies – who did not wan their picture taken. They apparently run the place, although they, too had no idea who the plane belonged to, who put it there or when. But they fond it hilarious, that I asked to roam around and take images. They really cracked up, when I asked about snakes, since I really didn’t want to irritate a Cobra or Python on this grassy lot.

Clearly I had to go with this image – I find it beautifully weird.

The flight attendants jump-seat with the safety belt still attached. The seat cushion – which may be used as a floating device in case of an emergency water landing – was missing. I wonder where it could be. Probably someone nicked it and is sitting on it comfortably now.

Yes, you can acquire a genuine 747 restroom. In case you have not made it into the “Mile-High” club, but would like to experience what the fuss is all about having sex in 38000ft, then a little investment in a used airplane restroom will allow you to get this experience in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Seeing through the remaining to hull pieces.

There also some wing parts, like flaps. What we can see here is the paper honeycomb structure that fills the void between the aluminum skins of the flap structure, making the flap structure very light weight, yet extremely stiff. From a broader perspective, I love it, that nature is already reclaiming the debris.

Finally, you’re young successful n just love the airline food you get served in first class?! Then this is your ticket to recreate these culinary climaxes in the convenience of your own lower West side apartment. Go ahead knock yourself out: The fish, the pasta or the beef.

That’s it from the 747 body in Bangkok.

Stay cool and continue to be cool, ice-cold……

Markus \m/

Looking Back

“Markus, come you’ve got to see this. There’s  guy who “photoshopped” this sick video of a plane flying into the World Trade Center.” These were roughly the words my co-worker Haiming said, when he showed me a video of how a jet alas into one of the WTC towers. I remember, that I thought, it was a pretty sick joke – tasteless, but admired the skill because it looked so realistic….much like I admired the Dinosaur special effects in Jurassic Park in 1993. A few minutes later I received a company internal news bulletin, that a plane had crashed into one of the WTC towers. My co-workers and I discussed, what may have happened – the word terrorism never came up. Eventually, pretty much the entire department had gathered in a conference room with a TV – N15 to watch the events unfolding on the news. I remember that they showed over and over how the first plane hit one tower and a few minutes later how the second plane hit the second tower. It was absolutely surreal. “Usually images like that come with a John Williams soundtrack and have a hero who saves the day against all odds.” But this was supposedly real. I remember how I watched live on the news how the first tower collapsed, vanished, seized to be. Again a few minutes later, the second tower collapsed, too. How was this possible. The towers represented to me America from my earliest memories. They were America and now they were reduced to pile of concrete, bend steel and dead bodies. To me the towers were an icon of strength, of might, of the genius of the human mind – an achievement of science and engineering – gone. All that’s left are memories, photos and stories.

Over the following days the reruns of the footage that showed the unthinkable made me detect more and more details, that I had missed. Like the specks that zoomed down the towers – people, desperate people trying to jump to salvation, trying to slide down the towers. I cannot imagine what state of mind man must be in to arrive at the conclusion that it is a good idea to jump from a quarter mile high building. The fear, the sheer terror makes it incomprehensible, too much to wrap my head around.

I also don’t understand how much hate and disregard one has to have for human life to fly a plane into a building with the conscious goal to achieve maximum loss of life. I remember my parents and my in-laws and some friends calling from Germany, asking worriedly, if I was OK – obviously I was, we were. The news channel showed images from the International Space Station observing the giant plume and smoke issuing from the World Trade Center site – surreal.

When I came home that day, Barbara and I spoke about what we had heard and what we felt – how the world would move on. Three years earlier, we had stood on top of the WTC and had taken pictures, it was our first trip in our new home – Memorial Day weekend 1998. Now this was never to be again. Tuesday, September 11th was great late Summer day in Minneapolis – clear blue skies and a comfortable temperature. As the sun set over south-west Minneapolis, my friend Joe and I sat on his back yard stoop and we chatted about what had happened. He is a photographer and had shot many times in New York. To me, as I said earlier, New York represented America as a whole. And the World Trade center towers stood in my world for America’s biggest strength, what I admired the most – dream big and then achieve. We were both essentially speechless – we spoke, but we didn’t scratch the surface of what had happened.

Now it’s ten years later and America has changed. I still had a lot of admiration for the country – for the people we know and the friends we have. It pains me to see the country ten years on so heavily divided within itself. But, I will not turn this into a political topic. I still stand by what I wrote in an email to my co-workers a few days after 9/11 – “You are not alone in this.” Strength comes from co-operation and collaboration, from listening, from the exchange of genuine ideas and the pursuit of realizing them. Ideas – good ideas – great ideas – bold ideas, this is the one area, where I think, America has too few of these days. So, as we are remembering September 11th 2001 tomorrow, I wish for America, that it remembers what made it big and successful, that it remembers that it used to invite diversity, the it stretched out a helping hand….like it is written at the statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Take care….

Markus \m/

 

 

Where The Hell Did My Muse Go?

Alright, I have not written an entry in ages and I apologize for it. But see, unlike professional writers who can even completely uninspired and possibly even hung over write a 1000 essay, I cannot. I need a Muse…Inspiration and most importantly a little serenity and time. Now, I figured tonight, that if I am incapable of writing a proper post, the least I can do is post a few images with a few captions.

So here we go.

In Early August I was in Germany for business. My home country is going through quite some change, like that we are pursuing alternative electrical energy sources very aggressively.

Recently, I was waiting for the BTS and saw that construction workers had finally cleared a lot. There were only a few building ruins left on the far end. One side I found especially interesting – I would describe it as a Slice Of Building, because you can see all that was happening in the inside of the building.

One of the reasons, I definitely have less spare time is that i am training or the Phuket Ironman in December. Throughout July and August I panicked a little, that I wouldn’t be able to get ready for the race, simply because my runs didn’t come out the way they were supposed  to. I was suffering from the heat. I had to literally learn to deal with the heat. I am drinking now way more than I ever have. Wet sponges on the neck help keep the temperature down and so forth. Now my running is slowly coming up again. But I am also spending quite some time on the bike. Like on Sunday, I went out at 6:30AM and rode north through Bangkok. After about 25km I passed an empty lot with a 747 body and all sorts of plane parts on it. I can only show images I took with my phone, but none the less, you get the idea – a real full 747 body, unreal. I will go back next weekend and take more images with my camera.

The body is cut into three segments. The first class section and the cockpit make one section – seen above. And the middle and tail section are serving as some sort of storage. The hulls are gutted, because next to the body sections there are a few plane kitchens and plan toilets available.

Yes and of course there is the mandatory trash strewn all over…and soi dogs…and dog shit….and probably snakes, too. Barbra and i e are thinking about getting the nose cone, that hides the RADAR and converting it into a lamp shade – oh, how fabulous it will be.

On Saturday, we went with some friends from America to the Samut Songkram province to visit the famous Maeklong Market. The market takes place of all places on railroad tracks. A train coms by 8 times a day and the vendors just leave their stuff on the tracks and just resort to puling the swings of their booths back, so the train can pass. Obviously, please ned to get off the tracks as well. It’s quite the spectacle, because everything is very confined….not much room for error.

The vendors are smart, they let the customers walk on the tracks, so that in case a train driven by a lead footed driver barrels through, it hits the non-locals and not the locals.

I may have mentioned it, that i love the movie The Big Lebowski. And when I saw thee two Thai gentlemen, I knew immediately that they are likely the Thai version of The Dude. The first one is a Rickshaw driver and does as the Dude would do – taking her easy.

The second Dude, took it a step further, because he is married and we all know The Dude was not married, because the toilet seat was up. But this guy was still as “badas” as they come, he had The Tree Of Life tattooed on his bony chest – suck on that Farang (this is what Thais call us foreigners).

Back to the market. There were many things that caught my eye. One of the aesthetically most appealing things were the fish dinners for two and their beautiful packaging and presentation.

Naturally, when you walk on railroad tracks that also serve as a market display you see juxtapositions and weird stuff like black and white images where a single cherry red tomato oddly materializes – it’s like Alice In Wonderland, although I have not seen the Mad hatter, yet, but tons of Tweedledees and Tweedledums.

Hm, this is about it. I have many more images that I have taken and i also have many more ideas of entries, i just have to find my muse again. Now, in 2 weeks we are getting three visitors of whom one definitely qualifies as a muse…..we’ll see. In the meantime, I will see that I can force something out.

Stay sharp and be cool.

Markus \m/