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Archive for the ‘Asian life’ Category

Songkran

cropped garlandThis weekend in Thailand, it is Songkran, the  Thai New Year and a time for happiness and extended holidays. The traditionalists, and maybe the older more reflective folks, give offerings at the temple, thanks and blessings to others. The New Year celebrations are about beauty, with cleansing, the house and the soul and spirit. Lots of flowers everywhere, jasmine garlands made and presented.

And cleansing is associated with water. In other parts of South East Asia, this is the time for the Water Festival and essentially in Thailand, water is at the centre of the expressions of Songkran.’

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At the Office, the staff arranged a commemoration for us, not from Thailand, and experiencing our first Songkran. Solemn with heartfelt honouring of each other and light-hearted with the happiness of sharing.

A favourite sweet in Thailand is sticky rice with mango and a coconut sauce. Delish.

mango and sticky rice

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From Saturday to next Tuesday, the likelihood of being sprayed and splashed with water is 100% if you leave the dry comfort of your house. Last night driving to the grocery, the car was repeatedly hosed down and rained upon by young people, prepared with barrels of water.

And the toy retailers do  grand business with water guns, coming in an array of styles, sizes and colours.

Otherwise, yesterday one of my colleagues took me to Ancient Siam, 30 minutes out of Bangkok. Ancient Siam is a re-creation of the glories of Thai architecture. and how splendid, how imaginative, wonderfully crafted, those buildings. And while amazed that someone had the vision to do this (one man from the private sector), you have to wonder at how much tradition has been lost in the thrust for high volume, western-style urbanisation. A globally common tale.

Anyways here are some pictures of Ancient Siam.

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Plenty life at the sea wall

I spent two days earlier this week in Manila, The Philippines. Well, mostly in the hotel and in the car. This megacity shares the traffic problem that besets  big cities and small towns in the twenty-first century.

Driving from the airport to the hotel at night, I had the distinct sense that I was somewhere close to the sea. Although I do not dwell in the cosmic forces dimension, let’s just say, that my small island spirit must have been scanning the environment for  some familiar comforts.

The next morning looking out the window, indeed, I was right on the coast looking out at the Manila Bay. Like Georgetown, there is  sea wall, though not as dramatic and also not in sad repair or garbage strewn. Alas.

Along the way, benches for people to sit and also, charmingly, scupltures.

 

These Asian economies are amongst the few still producing economic growth. Large populations and labour surplus markets allow for ‘competitively’ priced export-oriented products and there is the vast internal market for consumption. Manila is supposed to have the largest mall in the world.

In some countries well over half of the people work in the informal economy, having to be self-reliant. And like elsewhere, a big part of that is the small-scale retail, in food, in clothes, in crafts. And in personal services. Here is a picture of a masseur working on his customer right there at the sea wall.

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