Colorful Bangkok Nightlife

Now, I hope I have your attention with this title. But just to be clear, the entry is completely G rated – no skin or anything behind that. Instead, take the title literally as colorful as in full of color. Saturday and Sunday have been productive days photographically speaking. Saturday night we walked to the Asok BTS overpass and just shot the intersection. Sunday, we were once again treated to go to the top of the world, as I call it now.

Th intersection of Sukhumvit Road and Ratchadaphisek Road is a super busy intersection twenty-four hours a day. The waiting times are up to 360 seconds (6 minutes). When I took the image, there were 28 seconds left before the next green phase.

When I took this image, I wanted to capture the yellow streaks and the red streaks of the opposing lanes. I like the image in black and white, too, but in color it reminded me immediately of a the intensity of a Star Wars laser fight in space: “Gold three here, Leader Gold, my proton torpedo is jammed….”

Now up to the top of the world. I have to say, I really love heights – being above it all and having a clear view of things is great. Being on top of our towers is fantastic. There is the view obviously, but then there is also the calm breeze. The heat is actually bearable and most amazingly, the noise that is a big part of Bangkok, is almost gone – it is quiet, beautifully quiet. Well, and the view, the view is just amazing to me – three hundred sixty degrees unobstructed, literally on top of the world, in a city that is three meters above sea level.

Next up the view of the river. Looking at the river as it lies calm and slow cutting its way through Bangkok. It hides all the crap that literally flowing through the city right now (Floods, we have a flood here in Thailand – still!), but it also gives the city an almost normal non-frantic appearance. In reality, the city is bursting at the seams and the tension between “Haves” (in incredible excess) and “Have Nots” (mothers sleeping with their babies under bridges) is bigger than I can often consciously bear to see. What I mean by that, is that if one walks around Bangkok with all senses engaged, one must build up the ability to look away and not least not register. This is a great city to live in as an expat, but the excessive wealth that is on display here is balanced with abject poverty and if one cares to think about it with horrible social injustice. For example 5 year olds are supposed to be in bed at 1:00 AM and not cleaning car windows on traffic jammed Sukhumvit in the hopes of making a few extra Baht. Nobody has any dreams of these kids to become engineers, doctors, artists. Instead the girls are encouraged to become a masseuse, where they learn quickly that they can make extra money by jerking off Farang men.

Again, I love living and working here, but it is all to easy to fall into the trap and believe in this “Expat-Lala-Land”. But enough of this on with the beauty o Bangkok from high above.

Finally, the sun is actually setting as a big, fat, red ball – probably the only advantage of having brutal air pollution – the sunsets become spectacular.

When I lived in Pacific Beach, we’d watch great sunsets over the Pacific Ocean and if it was a clear horizon, we’d hold our breath to see the elusive Green Flash. In Bangkok, you want a few clouds low on the horizon and you can see a great light show  in the sky above the horizon clouds. Bangkok is great and has a lot of nice things to offer – sunsets being one of them. Unfortunately, there are also people in this city for who the sunset is the last thing on their mind.

Alright, stay sharp, keep your senses engaged. Your time here is finite, soak up as much as you can.

xoxoxo Markus \m/ (always wanted to do this “xo”-thing)

Ladakh And Delhi – Loose Ends Tie Up

Hello dearest readership. It’s been a busy week. Due to the floods in Thailand (that still have not reached central Bangkok), I have been looking for and booking temporary accommodation for my team members. We have opened up a temporary office and now I cannot have my people live on the streets, can I ? Apparently, I was not the only one who was looking for temporary housing. The temporary housing market in Bangkok would currently make a great lab experiment for economics undergraduate students. Here they can learn about supply and demand, price elasticity, negotiation tactics from the buyer and seller side and many more things that they just hear and read about otherwise – oh, the learning opportunities.

Anyway, here are a few images from Delhi that I thought are worth showing.

I wrote about how doors represent opportunity, but of course seeing this carefully chain-locked door is less inviting. This chain locks the public out from a pretty large beautiful palace that the interested visitor can only see from a distance. Since we were locked out here, we moved on to the Red Fort where I saw a family taking pictures of “the boys”. However, the boys paid attention to the tall white guy who took a picture of their dad taking a picture of them.

The buildings in the Red Fort, were ornate with tons of details, just great – and of course all “Handmade With Pride In India”. In addition it was right around sunset and the light was golden honey – just made a person feel all good and relaxed.

We also visited the Indian parliament in Delhi – or at leads t was a government building.

Finally, back to the Red Fort, where we watched a large flock of birds repeatedly approach and tack off from this dome. It was fun to watch and I was thinking that these birds were maybe playing pretend aircraft carrier – at last it was as busy as the flight deck of the USS John C. Stennis.

This is it for today, gang. Tomorrow starts another week and while our friends and family in Europe and America are moving toward the end of Autumn into Winter with al the temperature changes, we will stay in Bangkok right around 30C – which get s a little old after a while.

Keep it real and please try to do one good deed for others a day.

Markus \m/


Ladakh In Black And White

Alright, this is the first time I have teased about a blog entry over multiple previous entries. But here it is. In no particular order and it’s also just a small extract of all the great things and sights we have seen on this trip. Obviously, I look at these images and think “I must have really relaxed my mind on this trip” because I can tell by the images I take. So, without much further ado. Let’s get started….

..with doors. To me, doors represent opportunity. If you go through it, what will be on the other side? If you have to work to open them, you have earned to go through.

Entry door ajar in Leh.

Door to main prayer room, Thiksey Monastery

Diskit Monastery, Utility entrance door

Not a door, but a window. The king’s former view from Leh Palace, which is currently very nicely restored.

Diskit Monastery, Main prayer room

View from Stok-La Pass towards the Ladakh Range

Mountain Panorama near Rumbak camp site

The Ladakh Range seen from Stok-La pass via pony

My highest point on the trek – Above Stok-La Pass looking north

Stok Range seen from Leh palace

Thiksey Monastery

Prayer Wheels, Thiksey Monastery

Bazaar on Main Street Leh

The New WazWan Planet, now featuring Lucky Tailors. Side Alley, Leh

Sunset in Nubra Valley (You should see this in color – insane *)

Nubra Valley – Morning Sun

Looking over Leh from Leh Monastery

India Gate At Night, Delhi

This concludes my little black and white summary. I hope you enjoyed it.

Stay sharp.

Yours Markus \m/

* = Barbara put the foot down. Here’s the Nubra Valley sunset in color.

The Trek – Day 4: Stokla Campsite – Leh

I need to start with a little add-on to the third day. I told you how we made the super quick descent sliding down over the gravel on the rocks. Barbara is demonstrating the technique perfectly – this is about half way through. You can see where we started – on top.

A few hours we were at camp: Set up tent, Nap, Tea-time, Dinner, Campfire, Shot-the-shit, Sleeping.

Next morning I woke up early and went off to watch the sun rise and just in general “to soak it all up” – the warm soft light, the silence, the landscape, the prayer flags, the wind. As I am sitting there looking at the prayer flags, I se one of the pony men with a ray and a cup of tea. Now, I felt like a spoilt ass. No one has ever waked after me serving me tea. I got up – interrupting my soaking up session – to meet him to get the tea and to then proceed back up to my vantage point to continue said soaking up.

Me, soaking it all up and having a tea for breakfast – Life is sooo good.

Around camp there war prayer flags strung all over. The prayer flags are always in primary colors plus white and green. The colors fade quickly due to sun, rain, and snow fall, which makes them even more interesting to look at. The prayers are usually all the same on a string of prayer flags – printed with the same stencil. Nonetheless, they are great to watch in the wind and they have a sort of calming effect.

After about an hour, I went back to camp to tear down the tent and pack up our stuff.

The last day’s walk was an easy 2 1/2 hours, where we had ample time to mentally review the trip and enjoy the scenery once more.

The End. It was an absolutely amazing trip. I can highly recommend as a starter for higher altitude activities.

The final image is us relaxing at Leh Monastery.

Gang, stay sharp and try that thing with the one good deed for a stranger – it’ll make you feel like a billion* bucks.

Markus \m/

* = adjusted for inflation

Opportunity Knocks…

Last week my friend Joe came to visit. He is my friend from Minneapolis and has schooled me in the ways of photography from the bottom up. So, when he came here, I thought what can I do give him a special and memorable photo opportunity. I thought, we’ll go to the sales office on the 43rd floor and shoot down south. I showed you guys a few images a few entries ago in early October. The 43rd floor was closed – bummer. I found help with the building supervisor. She brought us to the 43rd floor. When she saw us set up, she offered to take us up to the helipad – the very top of the building. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited – unobstructed view from the roof top, best view in the city.

So here it goes:

It was an interesting sunset – because the horizon was very overcast, but above the horizon were large holes in the clouds through which the sun rays shone. The next image shows this better.

The next image shows the latest shopping addition in Bangkok – Terminal 21. It’s nicely done, but I am not sure whether this center will be such a big hit. I assume the rents re quite high, yet the layout is done like the back alleys of Venice, where one can get lost – not what I have in mind when I am shopping.

Okeydokey, tomorrow the last post of our Ladakh trek and if I get around to it “The Best Of Ladakh In B/W”

Until then stay sharp and do one good deed for a stranger a day – it’ll make your day, promised.

Yours Markus \m/

P.S.: I will go up there again and be better prepared and less awestruck.

The Trek – Day 3: Rumbak – Stokla

The morning of day three started out cold. The little creek that the ponies drank from an where we washed our cooking utensils the evening before in was frozen. We had breakfast and then packed our stuff. We set off towards the highest point of the trek. the 4900meter high Stok-La pass. As always, we would leave before the pony-men and the cooks, since they packed up the cooking tent and had to load the ponies. They usually caught up with us enough to come in only a few minutes into camp after we did. Today however, we had a long climb ahead of us and the altitude was definitely a factor.

The way ahead – Stok Kangri. Just to the left of the mountain is the pass we had to cross. From there on it was all downhill – which I find more strenuous than climbing.

As I got into the final ascent to the pass, I could see the pony-men and the ponies catch up still far below me, but holding a good pace. l felt this urge to not get past before the top. Long story short I did not get passed. The pony-men arrive maybe 10 minutes after I arrived and we shop hands and took images.

A few moments later Barbara and our guide arrived at the pass.

The view from up there was grand. The guide pointed out to me, that if I wanted to ascend a little higher – pointing to a close by peak – I could in fact get above 5000 meters. So I dropped my backpack, took my camera and “shot up” the mountain (shooting up the mountain is relative – since I did not have my backpack, I thought I as flying up…then again the air is pretty thin and my reception might have been impeded due to oxygen deprivation). Anyway, I got up to the peak and soaked up the views from up there, too.

When I was back at the pass, I saw part of the Karakoram range, which is just so majestic.

The mountains underneath the pony’s belly are part of the Karakoram – home of the K2, the world’s second highest mountain.

From here on it was downhill al the way into camp – still, about two-hour descend. We found a short-cut down a boulder field. We descended 400 meters in less than ten minus, sliding down the gravel that was on the boulders – similar to skiing. Everytime we stopped, my thighs were screaming and my lungs were pumping desperately for oxygen. You might ask:”Why?” And my answer is:”Because it is fun, it’s living, it’s being alive. Your body works.”

To close you moment of Zen. Prayer flags over Stok-La Pass:

Stay sharp and be good.

Markus \m/

The Trek – Day 2: ZingChen – Rumbak

Day two started to great. I had slept like a baby, while Barbara had not slept quite as good as me. After a good breakfast we tore down our tent and packed the backpack and off we went. Per our guide, the second day was a three-hour to maybe three and a half hour day. We were following the same contributory as the previous day. The path was inclining ever so slightly, but by the end of the day we were at about 4000m and had climbed about 500m. We made good time as the valley opened up and presented us with this view.

A few minutes later we walked past a mile marker with an animal skull – Skulls, c’mon, this has got to be cool, right?!

After about another thirty minutes of walking we came past an old mill that was still in operation. The flour ground there is used to make roti and chapati. But you can also give you butter tea a shot in the arm , by stiring the flour into the tea.

I was totally in love with the simple mechanism that ran mill – water powered by creek. The whole system is designed that the vibrations induced by the loose “bearing” of the mill stone are used to jiggle new grains into the mill. When the flour comes finally out, it is powdery fine. While we were there the mill ground barley – the smell, I tell you the smell was fantastic. I traded the miller a candy bar for a bag of his flour, which the cook used in the evening to make bread – top shelf!!!

As soon as we left the mill, I started to really drag. I managed to get into camp and set up the tent, when I bade farewell for what was supposed to be a half hour nap. Four hours or so later Barbara came to take a concerned look at me. Admittedly, it was a long nap, but boy was I ready to go again.

Now, despite my falling apart and tiredness, I still had energy to take a few images of the prayer stones along the way.

And another one a few meters closer to camp.

That night I ate whatever the cook served up. I was hungry like a wolf and I crashed back into my sleeping back at 19:30 (7:30PM) only to wake a healthy twelve hours later. Over night the creek in camp had frozen and it was overall a bit nippy.

This concludes the send day

This includes the second day. In the next post we will ascend to the Stok-La pass and male pride will accept the challenge that never was by the ponies to race up to the pass.

Until then, stay sharp readership.

Oh and your moment of Zen, is a sculpture I found in the Delhi airport, depicting the Sun Salutation yoga poses – how great is that?

Oom Mani Padme Aum

Yours Markus \m/