After many, many visits to Bangkok’s Chinatown in the last year, my seemingly aimless wanderings have culminated in this; beginning on December 6th, 15 of the images I captured there will be exhibited at Kathmandu, the Bangkok photography gallery owned by famed Thai photographer, Manit Sriwanichpoom. The official press release:
The Last Chinatown
A photographic exhibition by
6 December 2008 – 25 January 2009
[Opening party on Sat 6 Dec at 6.30 – 9 pm]
American photographer Austin Bush spent a year exploring the back streets and main drags of Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown. His cinematic images depict the realities and oddities of life in one of Bangkok’s oldest neighbourhoods: the tiny alleyways with creepy old men and smoking teapots; the clacking of Chinese chess pieces and choppy conversations in Tae Chew; tired prostitutes and lotus bud-shaped coffins; bespectacled dogs and beggars. Unlike other Chinatowns around the world, which often seem little more than culturally-themed shopping centers, Bangkok’s clings to its roots and continues to be a living, breathing, albeit gritty community.
After graduating from the University of Oregon in 1999, Austin Bush received a scholarship to study Thai at Chiang Mai University, and has remained in Thailand ever since. Austin photographs for various publications and writes guidebooks for Lonely Planet. Samples of his work can be seen at www.austinbushphotography.com. This is his first photographic exhibition.
Kathmandu is located on 87 Th Pan, virtually across the street from the Hindu temple on Th Silom (see map below). Additional details can be obtained at the Kathmandu website. I hope those of you in Bangkok who read this blog can all make it to the opening!
It’s been far too long and I apologize. I’ve been working furiously on the next edition of Lonely Planet’s Thailand, and simply haven’t had the time to blog. I am in Chiang Rai at the moment, doing research for Thailand, and will do my best to share the food discoveries I’ve been making up here.
Guided by an old issue of the Thai-language food magazine Khrua, my first great food find here in Chiang Rai is a local noodle restaurant called Paa Suk.
The signature dish here is naam ngiaw, a thin broth (usually pork, but here they also do a beef version) flavoured with a local chili paste and tomatoes, typically served over fresh khanom jeen noodles (‘northern spaghetti’, if you will) . The pork version (pictured at the top of this post) was deliciously meaty, although I personally prefer the type served in Mae Hong Son that emphasizes sour tomatoes over meat. The dark cubes you see are coagulated blood, and the dish is served with sides of bean sprouts, pickled mustard cabbage and slices of lime.
They also do a very northern dish called khao kan jin:
This is rice that has been mixed with (again) blood, wrapped in a banana leaf, then steamed. The result is drizzled with garlic oil and served with fresh coriander, cucumber and green onion. Very nice, and you wouldn’t know there was blood involved unless I told you.
The restaurant is currently being run by the third generation of the same family, and now they even have a branch on Soi 3, Th Silom, in Bangkok, which I’ll be sure to investigate as soon as I get back.
Th Sankhongnoi, Chiang Rai
053 752 471