Old Friends

I was very much looking forward to Wednesday of last week. Two friends of mine came for a work visit. We met for dinner and you know, friendship has many qualities, bit one of them is that although you haven’t met in a year, you meet and you pick up as if there was separation at all, despite the jet-lag Bryce and Jon were suffering from. On Wednesday I went to bed very happy, because I knew we’d spend more time together. Yesterday we went to the “manly” Chinatown, the Chinatown where there is metal and sweat and welding and heaving greasy stuff; where there are pistons and crankshaft it is something a lot of people might not be able to understand or appreciate, but we all enjoyed it.

ChineseNewsIf you have been following this blog for a while you know that one of my favorites in Bangkok is Gear Wheel Alley in Chinatown. Above you see the news of the week. I think it talked about the Brexit.

NO!, I will not talk about the Brexit. I have friends in England, some of who voted leave. I respect this decision, but I do not understand it. However, in friendships are only as strong as the differences they can overcome – the British exit from the EU is a shame, but it is nothing that will come between us.

Gear Wheel Alley….moving on.Fiat650ProfileYes the little Fiat 650 is still there, still there. Jon,always a keen observer, notices that the car looks like the day it cam off the factory floor. It is not an inside joke, but if you are not a motor-head, this one likely passes you bay. In the 70s and 80s (as far as I know) Fiats had a pretty bad reputation for reliability. Especially rust was a huge problem – it was so bad that the staples in the car catalog were already rusting while potential customers were still in the research phase.Fiat650RearBut this little car is simply an icon! Unfortunately, FIAT was not able to recapture the magic with the remake and bloated version of the Fiat 500. “Cutesy-ness” and cheap plastic have replaced soul and character – what a bummer.TrannyThe ladies are still rebuilding transmissions and my to visitors agreed with me that spending a week to a month in gear wheel alley should be compulsory or any engineering undergraduate student – wrenching, cleaning and getting dirt underneath these computer  console spoiled fingernails.

DifferentialWFeetWe (you, me and the dude who is attached to these slipper clad feet) are inspecting a bevel gear box.

HelicalGearA manly, heavy helical gear wheel suspended on each side by tapered roller bearings.

4Cyl4ValveWe were actually lucky, because this was the first time that I have seen engine in different states of rebuilding. Here we are looking at the cylinder head of a four cylinder engine with 4-Valves per cylinder. EnginesBut do not fear, there is plenty more where that engine came from. I am telling you students would learn more is week than in a whole semester by taking engines apart, cleaning everything and putting it back together. Mission is accomplished, when the engine runs properly again.

Go make me happy, stay sharp and enjoy the time you can spend with friends, they are not always around and one day there will not be around anymore at all.

 

Cheers Markus \m/

 

 

 

 

1273 Days Ago At The Train Station

A few years ago my friend Joe and I went on a Photo Safari through Bangkok. We try to do that every year. It’s great and I really cherish this one week every year, because we expand our friendship with new shared experiences, new sight and loads of shooting the shit. In the last few days I have perused through photos from the last five years, where I stumbled over a trip we took to the train station. Thailand has a railroad company and a railroad system – and it is wonderfully old and used and shows great patina. I know in any other place in the world patina on a railroad system would be referred to as wear. But here I think it is more patina than wear – there is a beauty to it.

While the train system is in pretty heavy use, Bangkok’s Central Station still has spots that look like it is just waking up from a long fairy tale nap – kissed back to life by some prince on a white horse.

When I look along the narrowing gap between the carriages, it’s almost as if I can look back in time.


If these weeds were roses, it would a the railroad equivalent of the sleeping beauty. But there is more to see at Hua Lompong. There are visual metaphors for the state Thailand is in. Thailand is at a fork as a country – choices must be made. The ASEAN community is putting Thailand under economic pressure – evolve or fall behind; fall behind quicker the more time passes. Following the right track means smooth rolling in the long run, following the wrong track may lead to derailment.


It may also mean just the end of the line, a place where the shards of shattered dreams lie to rot.


Uuuuh, I am getting philosophical….better stop that. Anyway (is the word I am looking for), there is plenty to see at Hua Lompong and if it is just the convergence of tracks and carriages in the distance under an ominous afternoon sky.


Cool, this concludes our little excursion to Bangkok’s hidden gem, the train station beyond the platforms and travelers.
Stay sharp and keep an eye open for life, it happens all around you all the time.

Cheers Markus \m/

Bagan

Two months ago, we went on a long weekend trip to Myanmar. We flew into Mandalay and the by taxi to Bagan. I did not have much of an idea what to expect. So let me give you the lay of the land. Bagan is a huge flat area – a former flood plain. In that expansive area there are hundreds of temple buildings. That sounds quite interesting. The area is bounded in the East and West by mountain ridges. But unless you are born with wings, found a way to defeat gravity or spent $400 on a 20min balloon ride, you likely cannot fully enjoy the sight. The sight is best enjoyed from above – way above, by plane, balloon or jet-pack (which I have been assured by my 2nd grade teacher, some forty years ago, we would all have by now). BaganSunriseAnyway, here we go. This is what Bagan looks like when you are an earth-walking mortal.Being the early birds we are, we got us at the crack of dawn. The temples make for a nice silhouette, with the sun crawling over the mountain ridge behind us in the East. On a rented electric scooter you drive around and about between the ruins. This mode of transportation is quite advanced, because it keeps everything quiet and un-polluted. My lungs went through carbon-everything withdrawl – living in Bangkok, air that is only dusty was very new to us.

TempleLandscapeWe moved on and up the ladder of impressiveness to the next temple.

TempleUpWhen I see this temple, I can’t help but imagine that Space Alien would rather land here, than in Washington D.C., where we are made to believe they blow up the Capitol all the time. Now, I think if I were a clueless space alien looking for something impressive with a pointy finish on top to get out of my blowy-uppy mood, I’d give this a good look. But then I am not a space alien in a blowy-uppy mood and thus I just enjoyed the visit until we moved on.TempleLargeThis was something like the Madison Square Garden of Bagan in its Hey-Day or for my German readership – Think Schalke Arena, sans retractable roof. This is pretty impressive and also the first temple you can enter.CoolWindowWhere ever you can enter, normally, there are places to look outside. What you see here is an early experimental stage of glass – we are still working on the transparent properties of this window glass. The decorations and reliefs they had patt down already…very impressive and beautiful.DoorGroovesI had to take this image, because ti shows the grooves in the floor, made by the door locks. BhuddaAbgledBecause these were all temples and not so much palaces for some despotic ruler, there are many statues of the good Lord Buddha gazing compassionately.BuddhaFullFrontalBecause it is very quiet in Bagan, the mood inside the buildings is somber and relaxing.

FirstTempleView from one of the temples we visited. You can see against the horizon, that there are many pagoda roofs piercing into the sky.BaganSunsetAt the end of  the day, the tourists ride their scooters home, wondering if the batteries may last or if they have to pedal the scooter home. SInce, I embrace danger (except snakes, I run and cry like a little French girl when it comes to snakes), we stayed to the bitter end and enjoyed sunset viewing.

A small side note on snakes: A lot of travel guides warn of the snakes – Cobras and what not. We were cautious and we did not see any. For which I was very glad. In summary, Bagan was a nice trip, but if you need to decide between Bagan and say Angkor – choose Angkor, no question. If the choice is between Bagan and say Ayutthaya Thailand – choose Bagan.

And that closes this entry.

Stay sharp and keep it real.

Markus \m/

 

 

 

Nightlife

Bangkok’s night life is notorious. So, no need to add to the clichés, instead I want to show you a more quirky and abstract side of Bangkok.

AlleyCatsDinnerNear the newly renovated Siam Discovery is an overpass, where locals feed the cats, tourists watch them with Ooooohs and Aaaahs and local Farangs take pictures of them. The overpass crosses Sukhumvit and provides a nice view over Traffic-plagued Sukhumvit.

TrafficAtSiamOf Course, sometimes even in Bangkok the traffic must move as witnessed on this image. There is also an escalator, with which one rides from the overpass straight into the mall. So what to do with the 15 seconds the ride takes. Rest the camera on the moving handrail and fire away.

OnAnEscalatorAtNightOnce in the mall, Barbara told me that this was no ordinary mall – no it is a Concept Mall. You see, I think Thais give anything a fancy name that they don’t know what to do with, like Eco Boutique Hotel. Now that we know what they are – we really try hard to avoid them. But the Concept Mall is pretty nice architecturally. Many store try out new stuff (concepts), while I just saw the mirrors on the ceiling and the many straight line cris-crossing the place.

SelfProtraitEscherDo you which way is up? Good, then I can bid you now farewell until the next.

Stay sharp

Markus \m/