Unreliable Bangkok 8: Henge

Photograph of abandoned railway structures in Bangkok

When the Thai economy was booming in the early 1990s, construction started on a 60km high-speed elevated train and motorway link from central Bangkok to the international airport at Don Mueang. However when the currency collapsed in 1997-98, work was abandoned.

These stained concrete fragments (pictured) are all that remains of the Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System (BERTS) or Hopewell project. They line the old diesel-fuelled railway through northern Bangkok like a modernist Stonehenge.

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Unreliable Bangkok 6: Haircut

Photograph of Stilgherrian having a haircut in Bangkok

In the Old City of Bangkok, on the afternoon of Wednesday 28 November 2007, this barber (pictured) gave me the best haircut I’ve ever had.

It wasn’t because I looked particularly handsome afterwards, though it was an improvement. It was the meticulous care and attention shown.

’Pong took the photo with a proper camera, not a telephone. He’s got a better eye than me, too, and he’s certainly captured the mood.

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Unreliable Bangkok 5: Polite

Photograph of street sweeper equipment in Thailand

One of the most important differences between Bangkok and Sydney is that Bangkok isn’t full of arseholes. I’ve already mentioned that Skytrain security staff are helpful. Unlike CityRail’s. But it goes way beyond that…

In virtually every bar in Bangkok, you don’t pay for your drinks up front. You sit, you order your drinks, they go on your tab, you consume, you enjoy the company of your friends. And when you’re ready to leave, then you get the bill. In virtually every Australian bar, though, you pay for your drinks in cash at the time of serving, thank you very much.

In other words, Australian pubs operate under the assumption that you’re the kind of arsehole who’d leave without paying.

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Unreliable Bangkok 4: Lust

Photograph of Leena Jangjanya election poster

Leena Jangjanya (ลีนา จังจรรจา, pictured above) is the most beautiful, most sexy woman in all of Thailand.

She’s usually just called Leena Jang, and since she’s a candidate in Sunday’s Thai general election her posters are everywhere in Bangkok’s northern suburbs. There’s three versions, including one in her graduation robes (law) and one where she’s looking like a successful businesswoman in white. You can see them both below.

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Unreliable Bangkok 2: Street

Photograph of street art in Siam Central district, Bangkok

I read somewhere that when it comes to culture shock, little things have the most impact. So on my second day in Bangkok it still smells different, people speak Thai not English, but I take that in my stride.

In our emerging global culture, though, there’s also much that’s familiar. In this photo, for example, the style of street art is much like home — and I’ll publish a nice selection later this week. The office worker in her neat grey dress could be from any major city, anywhere.

So what are those little differences which matter most?

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