Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bangkok vignettes

Sidewalk amulet sales are a common sight everywhere in Thailand. People take their amulets very seriously. Some sell for hundreds, and occasionally thousands of dollars. 
I love Bangkok's street life. Thai culture is displayed in the events that are continuously being played out on every street in the city. People jam the sidewalks to buy, well, just about anything. I am always astonished at the sheer volume of fresh produce, meats, clothing, sweets, eggs, trinkets, amulets, ice cream, hot dishes and cooked food available all day every day. I often wonder how anyone can sell enough to sustain their families. But judging by the masses of people that buy, apparently they do.

As one wanders through the streams of people, stepping around sleeping dogs, being jostled by strangers on the crowded sidewalks, and exchanging smiles and greetings with vendors, there is a kaleidoscope of images that meld into a wonderful microcosm that says "This is Thailand".

This post is a collage of my most recent photos on the streets of eastern Bangkok.

Photos by the author. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission.

Early morning alms. Monks make their rounds, chanting blessings after receiving food from the pious.

A man sells cooked corn and other vegetables from his baskets that he carries slung from a pole across his shoulder from place to place.
Students at a barber school give free haircuts on the street as their instructors observe and assess the techniques.

 A man plays a kaen, a complicated reed instrument, on the sidewalk 
for spare change.

A common open air kitchen where rice and noodle dishes are cooked and served at sit down tables or in takeaway containers.

A young girl naps on a rice bag between rounds of begging.

These street-side vendors show why Thailand is known as
"The Land of Smiles".

A vendor softens grilled dried squid by passing it several times through a ridged hand-cranked wringer.

A tailor in a covered market.
His old machine is operated by a foot pedal.

 Kanom krok, a traditional Thai sweet. A soft cake made from rice flour and dried vegetable pieces, it is topped with a sweet coconut layer, covered and baked over steaming water. Aroy mahk! Delicious!

As in most cities of the world, some people must find places to sleep off a night of heavy drinking, as they have nowhere else to go. This man was on a pedestrian overpass at 8:00 in the morning.
 A man begs in a busy intersection near a large market.

 Scene at a small Chinese Buddhist temple. Many Bangkok Thais have Chinese heritage and such temples are commonplace, frequented by all Thais, whether Chinese or not.

 Vendors peel and section jackfruit on a sidewalk next to a bank.

 Flower vendors sell masses of blooms every day, as people buy them for placing on altars in their homes or at the office or to take to a wat  (temple). The two people on the left are stringing together garlands of jasmine and marigolds that they will sell for 20 baht (60 cents).

 It is common to see flowers and multi-colored fabrics encircling very large trees. Often it is a bodhi tree, the tree where it is said the Buddha was meditating when he reached enlightenment (this one is not). These locations act as places for prayer, or to mark the scene of a fatal accident, or near businesses as good luck.

Time out for homework at a busy market.

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