It was a Sunday, and our itinerary involved visiting the art center and the Chatuchak Market.
We woke up at 08:00. We walked past the San Phra Phrom/ Erawan Shrine (四面佛) between Ploenchit Road and Ratchadamri Road. He reminded me that in 2015 Bangkok Bomb Attack was located here, where 19 people have been tragically killed. The golden statue is in the middle of the square, encompassed by worshipers. As Erawan likes to watch dance performances, the shrine would also provide worshipers the chance to pray while dancers perform in the background.
We then went into an orange exchange center under the scorching sun. I have exchanged 2000 Bahts from Australian dollars. He has already exchanged before coming to Bangkok.
We stopped at the Siam Station, a station with iconic shopping malls in Bangkok. Two biggest Asian shopping centers (Siam Paragon and Parc Paragon) stand before our eyes, one attached to the other. The Siam Paragon even houses the largest aquarium in South East Asia, the Sea Life Ocean World aquarium, which we did not visit due to its expensive entrance cost. The Siam Station is similar to Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay station or London’s Stratford station. The food in Bangkok is special in terms of its size, a palm size wrapping can have 6 small little cakes in it.
Bangkok has a wide mass transit system with buses and motorbikes on the ground and trains above and on the ground. Traffic could be bad during peak hours and flyovers provide an alternative for tourists and locals alike to get around.
At 10:00, we then proceed to the chosen place we have planned for today, the Bangkok Art & Culture Center (BACC). We came there through the BTS and stopped at National Stadium station. A little fact to know, all museums in the world closes on Monday. The interior design of this art center highlights curvatures and spirals. When we were on the escalator, it seems we were within a floating wedding cake with layers of icing (its main color is the sharp white with light brown as railings).
The main exhibitions are housed from the 7th floor to the 9th. Exhibitions have high mobility. What you have seen 3 months before might not be what you would see 3 months after. On the 7th floor, the current exhibition is dedicated to the legendary King Rama IX, who has reigned for 70 years and was considered as the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history. His recent decease evokes public mourning. This exhibition is named “Thailand: Land of Happiness under The King’s 70-Year Reign”. It was the theme for the 6th White Elephant Art Award Exhibition.
We were captivated by the first artwork near the entrance. It is a sculpture of Bangkok public housing, with mini people inside every floor, engaging in different activities. Despite its hyper-realistic style, most special part is that it is not static. There are music playing and on and off colorful lights.
This exhibition really changes my perspective in creating artworks. The medium and materials used are the ones you would never expect, which includes
flickering jewel pieces
The range of tools and skills required to create these artworks must be so broad because I promise you they are jaw-dropping, especially looking at them real.
After being blown away by the diverse artworks made by Thais, we moved on to the 8th floor, where the exhibition Mode of Liaisons were displayed. It is a collaborative project with Japanese and SE countries curators. The main theme is “What is Southeast Asia?”
Again, I was impressed with the details and skills involved, especially with one installation. It is a black wall with a TV installed, there are cushions for audience to sit on and headphones for them to engage in the video clip. Despite this interactive element, the installation itself is a sublime artwork. The floor and wall are realistic. The artist uses real garbage bag remnants, sticky tapes, wires, shells, rubbish to form this masterpiece. The feeling you experience when sitting on top of it is awe. How come the artist would make it? I think it is related to local complexities people are not normally aware of. Itself represents the ecosystem that houses the roots of the artist, the communities where the works were conceived and the networks systems that branch and transfer the artworks in relation to time, space and people. In other words, it transcends any physical boundaries and is inside our blood.
Another work I was mesmerized is without any name or simply I could not find any description near it. It is a skeletal model with fabricated meat lingering on the ribs. Perhaps it is present to portray the delicate relationships between curators, artists and viewers. It is open to interpretation anyway. I have taken a lot of shots on this artwork to get the shadow right.
Then, we entered an Utopian district. The artist him/herself created a whole set of rules for sex, transport, food, tools, entertainment etc. I found sex as the most interesting part because it literally said your hands would do it all and it is a holy process.
The bathroom utensils were colorful. He explained the color might be heated onto the metal to make such diffusive effects.
The final exhibition is on the 9th floor, named Crossing the Dateline. It revolves around the theme of time and travelling. It challenges our perception of time. This exhibition is a cross-cultural presentation through different forms, including photography, drawing, mixed media, interactive installation and video installation.
This is a simulated studio room of an artist. There are even biscuits provided for audience to consume.
Another interesting art I approached is a video installation. It is an honest documentation centering the theme: limited space for intimacy. Many viewers could not last till the video ends because of its slow motions and lack in dialogues. I found this delivery intriguing as if this is portraying a slow death.
There is also an artwork showcasing strings of fish hanging from the ceiling. I could not decipher how it is related to time though.
After consuming thousands of breathtaking art, our stomachs growled. We moved to our next destination, which is the Chatuchak Weekend Market. We arrived there through BTS and stopped at Mo Chit station. This market is Thailand’s largest market as its surface area houses 8,000 market stalls. The alleyways are called Soi in Thai. Generally, there are plants, antiques, pets, food and drinks, fresh and dry food, ceramics, furniture, clothing and books for sale. But we came here mainly for food.
After eating a few skewers, we went in the tent and had some Phad Thai. The portion was appropriate for him, but not for me. We tried the seafood cakes as well with salad and soy sauce dressing on top.
As I could not have enough of food, I consumed a coconut ice cream too with red bean and agar.
Our hunt for food almost satiated and we walked across the alleys until we could not stand the heat and left for Siam Paragon.
The Siam Paragon has a food court and a range of savory snackables for sale. It is quite impossible to consume them all because even your eyes cannot take everything in.
After visually and gustatorily consumed enough food, we actually did some window shopping and fooling around the mall.
I do not know the reason why, but it seems going to travel always involves a much bigger appetite than you normally have. We went to another night market that night.
Going to Bangkok, you do not need to worry having nothing to do, instead you need to worry would you have stomach ache after all those eating on the street, in the mall, in the markets, even in the convenient stores and there are a lot of food+desserts with coconut as ingredient which would make you cough very easily.