Something Original In Thailand

Often one associates Thailand with fakes and knock-offs. Heck there are entire malls dedicated to knock-offs. But the entry will be about some original thinking and design. And the we find in a bridge, conceived by a Thai engineer.

Rama8Bridge-1

Rama8 Bridge seen from the east, going upstream on the Chao Phraya.Rama8Bridge-2

At first glance it looks just like a normal suspension bridge. But look closer, it is an asymmetrical suspension bridge. The closer cables are equal distance distributed along the road surface, while the distal cable are running parallel thus creating a pleasant asymmetry. Also look at the upside down Y-shape of the bridge tower. The whole bride is a very gracious and slender design, that I find very pleasing and unique.

 

Stay sharp

Cheers Markus \m/

Fringe Art And Wonders

Sometimes, little wonders happen. Witness this. Behind the prestigious Siam Shopping Center complex was an empty lot with a few semi-torn down houses. The wall that remained were soon graffitied with some pretty cool images. Not vandalizing, but real spray can art – big beautiful and funny murals. Well, at least I view graffities as art. Then a few month ago, some one in either the local Bangkok government or the national government figured that this lot needed to be gentrified and cleaned up. And they did. Usually this means that what ever soul and vibe a place has, that the soul and vibe get extinguished. But not so here. Instead the result is a small little oasis where one can relax, take a breather and still enjoy the artworks that were there before and a few new ones.

Amazing, that something so anarchic as these graffities survived and were actually incorporated in the little park. Unknown decision maker, I sincerely applaud you, respect.

MANWAlright, this might as well be the guiding principle of the park – Make Art Not War.

But there is also tongue-in-cheek humor.

Warhol WarholColRead the little sign in the center of the image – click on the image, if you need. To me that is pretty funny.

PeguinsThis one, too is pretty cool. I love it when art builds on already existing structure.

PiranhaBonesThis one I love, too. It is a graffiti the artist has sprayed a t a few locations around Bangkok. I also like the thought behind it: The privileged take the fish and eat it, then they throw the carcass among the masses.

SkullNChairsOpposite the park is a former bike shop. The Skull And Chainring logo is still there – mighty cool. So cool, I had to take a close-up of just the skull and play with solarization a bit.

But as you can see by the empty stools, it WAS a bike shop a few years ago. Now, not any more – bummer.

SolarSkullAfterwards, we headed for a small new cafe, near Chattuchak Park. And this pretty much sums up the fundamental problem with all these “smart devices” – they isolate people. Useless crap, such as reading my blog has become an obsession, that must be instantly consumed. So instantly, that we are completely forgetting what our purpose, responsibility or job is. Pay attention man!

Shopkeeper

Don’t get me wrong, this is a lovely place and the service was OK and most importantly we had a good time, but it sets a bad example when the shopkeeper is staring into his tiny, little 4″ screen, while working – not acceptable.

Stay sharp and ponder what makes your “smart device” so damned smart, when in reality it is a brainless and soulless piece of a few rare-earth metals, plastic and solder, that can likely never be recycled and will spend centuries rotting in some landfill in some war-torn country in Africa where it poisons the water suppl – I will continue to do the same, as i am just as guilty.

Cheers Markus \m/

Revisiting The Past

We took a trip to Stuttgart while we were in Germany. We got there, via the beautiful, very quiet and surprisingly on-time ICE high-speed train. Once there, we met a friend for breakfast at a cafe called “Hüftengold” which translates to “Hip-Gold”. You’ve got to admit that sounds much nicer than “Muffin Top”, while is describes the same thing. Then we crisscrossed the city on foot, accidentally passing many times through the Christmas Market, where we sampled many local foods. The smells that lay in the air in front of every booth were just too much to bear and we ate like pigs.

But we were also stunned by the amount of construction and change eh city has undergone in the last twenty years.

RoteBuehlPlatz1The weather was not just unexpectedly nice, but also very warm, which made taking pictures comfortable. Here is a building that wasn’t there twenty years ago. I only remember that there was an electronics store where I experienced a THX home stereo system for the first time. However, I also had to realize, that on my student budget this system was way out of reach.

RoteBuehlPlatz2The same building with its sharp edge from a different angle. I am a little torn, because I like the simplicity of the shape – although I would not want to have a corner office in this building. But because of the shape and the smooth facade, it also appears very uninviting to me. And I think that is a shame. I like buildings that make a statement, but I like buildings that make a positive statement even more. Positive such as perhaps just the sheer size. Think Empire State Building or Eiffel Tower or Burj Khalifa, their common statement is “Man Built This” to me these buildings are a celebration of the evolution of knowledge an know how.

On the opposite end of the size spectrum you have old brick masonry cottages in England and France and the traditional German wood frame houses (Fachwerkhaus). All of them have lasted for decades easily often for centuries. The common statement is “Built To Last”. We are capable as a species to build something that can last for a long time under challenging conditions. (Thus it is by choice that we build all too often cheap shit with a designed in expiration date of 24 months.)

But the building above says to me “Go Away”.

On to other topics – Nuclear Fall Out Shelters! Boom, there you have it. I grew up in teh now sometime romanticized 1980s. You know the time when rock starts wore spandex, make-up (look up Mötley Crüe and Poison, heck even Van Halen’s David Lee Roth wore lipstick) and really big hair. Women wore giant shoulder pads, to project the power of a linebacker. It was a great decade. Oh wait, really was it great. NO, it wasn’t all fund and clown-shoes. There was the fear of “Thermo Nuclear War” with the battle field being Europe – how convenient for you America and Russia. Thus any new sub-terranean structure built in the eighties, was also laid out to be a radiation shelter, which is what the word you see sprayed on the wall means. On the little island I grew up on, we had tank barriers. Thirty centimeter diameter vertical steel tubes, filled with concrete that could be raised three meters above street level, in order to stop the invasion of our little island. “Suck on that invaders! What are you gonna do now? Didn’t think of that, huh!” Yes, I come from a smart island. However, I am nit aware, tat my island ever had a fall out shelter, but then why would we? We were uninvadable. The entire Russian and East German army stopped in their tracks. They would have to leave with a long face, stewing in their own frustration. Heck, we probably would have mooned them from the safety of our island. It could have been a real Monty Python Knights Of The Round-Table moment. Think of my home island as Asterix’ village of the undefeatable Gauls, yes, that is so us….

StrahlenSchutzRaumOK, that was a tall tale, on for the book. I think it is time for breakfast, which reminds me of how my father-in-law is making coffee. He is an engineer, and this means his coffee is made extra properly. After having instructed the coffee plantation manager and teh coffee roaster about how he wants to have his coffee grown and roasted, he picks it up from there with precision grinding manually.

CoffeeGrinderStraight out of a Räuber Hotzenplotz movie, where Grandma used to grind her coffee the same way. But then the taste of my father-in-law’s coffee justifies the means – Top Shelf!.

Alright and this is it. Stay sharp, but also inviting.

Sayonara Yours Markus \m/

My Christmas

Hello all. I know, it has been an awful long time since I posted anything. But, I have a job that puts food on the table, makes the chimney smoke and affords me the luxury of posting these entries. Since I love what I am doing, my work takes second priority right after wife and family. Anyway, in November I posted the summaries of our Annapurna trip and in December I has my parents visiting, followed by us going home for Christmas. So you see it was a b.u.s.y. time.

Now you are caught up. But I wanted to tell you about my Christmas.

I was born and raised Christian, more importantly, I think my parents tried their hardest to raise a decent human being. While religion is important to a lot of people, I do believe that if there is a god or a supreme being, that she strives for beings that she can leave alone for a while. I do believe that since we were all equipped with a brain and a heart and even a soul on top of a super versatile body, I think we have to make use of all our faculties. This means not always choosing the easiest path, especially, if the easiest path is at the expense of others who are weaker, less powerful, poorer, less educated, simply less advantaged that those making decisions. In 2015 you heard a lot about the Greek financial crisis and how Germany behaves oh-so-imperialistically – comparisons to the Versailles Treaty that was stuffed down Germany’s throat after it lost WW1 were made, Angela Merkel was depicted as Hitler and so was Schäuble. Then you heard about the refugee crisis and the human rights abuses all over the middle East and of course the atrocities and the horror regime of the Islamic State. You also heard the reactionary slogans from politicians with a very limited view of the world – led by a loud mouth from America (a country I love like my motherland), all sorts of fascists from France, to Germany to former Balkan states to Hungary. The Brits are threatening to leave the EU – if you chose to enter politics and take all the fame and privilege of governing a country, then man-up and do it in sunny skies and stormy weather with imagination, creativity and integrity. In summary, there was plenty to go around to cause the blues for us living in peace and prosperity. Needed to get that off my chest.

So, my parents went to church on the 24th of December and I decided not to to. Not out of protest, but I didn’t have anything to say to the man or the woman upstairs and neither did he or she – at least not in church. I know some of you might view this a blasphemous – it is not.

This is what I did instead. Because it was very warm on Christmas Eve, I went and walked around with my camera. I watched the sun setting behind the horizon near a lake where I used to play when I was little.

XMasEve1Watching a sunset is always soothing to me – it’s like a massage or the soul. If you expand your view o a sunset, then you will understand. Look, we are drifting through the universe and, yet, we have so much protection, that we can wander the earth and find pleasure in what nature produces for us in convenient 24h increments – that is truly awesome.

XMasEve2To close the Christmas Eve sunset series a contour of the neighbor village from where I grew up. I rode my BMX bike across these fields, I scraped my knees while doing so and thusly my blood “fertilized” these fields – and it shows, because the farmers have been harvesting year after year with great success…….all thanks to the blood from my scraped knees…….

Moving on. As I was standing by the lake taking the above pictures, a hand tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and looked at a young man who offered me a freshly grilled kebab on his stretched out hand. A little perplexed (Germans don’t approach strangers at or after sunset offering food.to them) I accepted and we got to talk. It turned out they were refugees – yes exactly those refugees so many people have an opinion about – from Iran. They had smart phones and tablets and I simply asked how they can have these when they are refugees. The answer was simple, yet deep. They had jobs in Iran where they had a salary. But because two of them were Christians they were often harassed and beaten by the police for partying, being in the wrong neighborhood. Their muslim friends were harassed just the same way for hanging out with Christians. One day they and their families decided for these boys to leave Iran. They walked, took busses, rode on tractors, walked more, took trains, walked some more until they finally arrived in Germany in late September. Once they were assigned to a refugee home they were asked to take up German classes – and German is  hard language to learn. But after just three months we could have enough of a conversation that we could exchange thoughts and share a few laughs over food they had grilled on their tiny barbeque. And that was my really great Christmas Eve experience. Perhaps there is a supreme being who is telling me not to loose faith…may there is not and it’s just up to us to go through all this trouble of using head, heart and soul all the time.

Ask yourself what it would take for you to leave your home, your family, your friends, the majority of your possessions, your home, the place a lot of your dreams are rooted in. To me this is incomprehensible.

I think, the root of all this is intolerance, fed by a lack of education – both formal (knowledge, the connecting of dots) and emotional (empathy). At work, I separate people into competent and incompetent at what they are doing as well as willing and unwilling to do what they supposed to be doing. In my leisure life, I separate into people I want to spend time with and those I don’t. Skin colour, gender, religion and so forth are not of importance to me – why would they? I try not to generalize. And yes, I prefer people who can enrich my life, not financially, but through good experiences and the passing on of knowledge – and this includes them teaching and showing me new things as well as vice-versa. As the church service, my parents attended, came to a close I had to say good-bye to my four brief acquaintances and pick up my parents.

XMasEveIraniansThank you guys for sharing and inviting me in your midst. I wish for you, that you find the freedom and prosperity you seek and that you become upstanding and contributing citizens in Germany, because if you don’t, you affirm the loudmouths screaming their foul propaganda.

 

Cheers Yours Markus \m/