Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Bkk Eats - Thai - Rajdamri/Siam

My fave Thai restos near Lumpini Park all the way up to Siam Square. Terribly convenient if one will go shopping as Ratchprasong up to Siam is shopping centrale or if one fancies a stroll in Lumpini Park.

Jae Gee Fried Chicken
Fried chicken that I grew up with - this is an institutional hole in the wall for Esarn (northeastern) food in the same soi as the Polo Club. Gets extremely busy at lunch but worth the wait, is open all day and even for dinner though I prefer it in daylight.

My faves:
Fried chicken and fried garlic - to-die-for

Som-tum - papaya salad - you can customise this to your taste

Soup Nor Mai - Bamboo Shoot salad - rather strong taste but good if you are into this kind of thing

Larb - roasted rice salad with various types of meet, they have an interesting one with friend chicken instead of chopped chicken, pork or duck

see krong soup - like a tom yum with pork and lemongrass and chilli- really good

Yum Pla Dook Foo - fried cat fish with shredded raw mango salad

Open daily from noon till 8 pm (?)
Address: Soi Polo
Phone number: (to follow) and they do deliveries which is so wonderful
PS. to eat with sticky rice

Spice Market at the Four Seasons Hotel
A different thing from the super casual hole in the wall Jae Gee. Good Thai food especially for something a bit smarter. The food is really quite Thai for a hotel Thai resto and is delicious, you can tell them to not tone it down if looking for more authenticity. What's great is that you can sit at Aqua outside Spice Market and order from the other restos at the Four Seasons. At lunch, they do "street food" with noodles and Thai nibbly bits

My faves:
Nam Prik Noom - northern dip of green chilli and garlic with grilled chicken, veggies and pork crackling

Gaeng Phed Ped Yang - Roast duck red curry - very good here

Pak Boon Fai Daeng - stir fried morning glory - love the way they separate the leaves and stalks

All the salads are pretty good - I like the egg plant salad, pomelo salad and the fried morning glory with mango dip

Thai tea ice cream!

Open: daily for lunch and dinner (last orders 10 pm).
Address: The Four Seasons Hotel, Rajdamri
Phone Number: 02 126 8866 (reservation highly recommended for dinner)

The original is at the Peninsula Plaza next to the Four Seasons, another one opened at Gaysorn Plaza down the road and is on the 2nd floor. Good food, convenient, nice pitstop - a casual lady's who lunch kind of place.

My faves:
Boat noodles - the perennial favourite of Provence - it's really good - choose from pork, beef or fish (the fish one is not as good) with noodles or without noodles, the thickness of the soup is not for everyone, rich and fragrant.

Fresh spring rolls - thai style.

Roast duck - again, thai-style

Open - noon till 8 pm - much better for lunch
Address: the fancier one at Peninsula Plaza or the little branch at Gaysorn Plaza.

Erawan Tea Room
Again, a nice little pit stop at the Erawan complex attached to the Grand Hyatt. Lovely for afternoon tea, the afternoon tea set of Thai nibbles is nice. The music selection is weird and there are lots tourists as one would expect in that area but it is pleasant, nice atmo, smack in the centre and have cute silver tea sets. I would go there for late lunch or tea. Not really for a serious meal as the name would suggest

Open daily
Address: 2nd Floor Erawan

Somtum Nua
A favourite for students and shoppers. Always a queue, always packed and loud. Another hustle bustle place but in air conditioning and designed to feel like you are in wooden shack (whether it succeeds is another question). One of those places worth the wait.
It's a modern take on Esarn food. It has every kind of "tum" one can imagine, salads and soups and a good friend chicken (my fave still Jae Gee but this is a good one too). Level of spiciness can be customised!
My fave:
Tum - Mua - a some tum where they add vermicelli, pork crakcling and everything in there. Delicous

Address: Siam Square Soi 4

Egg tarts, egg tarts and egg tarts - need I say more? My fave egg tarts in Bkk, almost as good as Lisboa in London (not been to Macau or Lisbon so cannot compare). . . flaky filo pastry, choice of egg white or egg yolk filling. Even mini tarts. The butter bread is also delicious. I like to accompany my egg tart with a lod chong drink - a coconut and syrup drink with ice and vermicelli . . .kind of like an iced pudding drink

Address: Siam Square Soi 3

The restaurant at Jim Thompson House - Thom
The JT House is one of those establishments that is up there on the tourist to-do's. It is sometimes over looked as being just that, the reality however is that the Art Foundation is amazing, the house is gorgeous, there is a library and arts centre reachable by klong boat and a hop from National Stadium BTW and umm, the food is fantastic!

The grounds close by sunset so it is a good place for lunch or tea.

I like the lunch set - you can't go too wrong here - they have kind of chosen the best of the menu for you. I had the one with pad si-ewe fried noodles that comes with papaya salad on the side - delicious.

Open daily from noon till 6 pm
Address: Jim Thompson House

All of these restaurants, except for Jae Gee are connected by BTS and the skywalk which cuts Ratchprasong junction - that's downtown bkk, smack in the middle of everything - eat and shop, eat and shop . . . or watch a movie if you fancy.

Bkk Eats - Thai - Silom/Sathorn

At some point in time, writing down my favourite restaurants and recommending the same dishes to visiting friends on little scraps of paper (with my illegible handwriting), searching through old emails for my Bkk Must Eat list gets a little tiresome. I figure I might as well put it all in one place, with the phone number and addresses and my fave to-die-for dishes and hope that I can just say - "darling,if you are in Bkk and need some resto tips, have a look at Bkk Eats and you can find where I actually go to eat and drink" Maybe I will add to this with drinking holes, shops and galleries but for now - let's start with Bkk and food . . . :)

There are some restaurants here that are not to be missed. Full Stop.

Bkk Eats my faves (not in any particular order of preference - although I did post my top five about a year ago) listed by area as Bkk traffic can be such a pain, it is good to know at least where you are going, type of food as everything is available here and in a way what you will be eating dictates the kind of look and feel of the resto, this is especially so with Thai food. Also whether they are open fo rlunch or dinner. I'm starting with Silom/Sathorn - close to the The Oriental and the grand river hotles as well as The Sukhothai and The Metropolitan. The area is kind of the spine and connects new Bkk with Thonburi as well as old bkk, is the commercial district as well as business district also

Taling Pling
A two story garden house on the same soi as the Indian Temple on Pan road which connects Sathorn and Silom. Colourfully decorated, feels rather bijoux with little wooden tables, nothing too fancy, air con is super cold. Been around for ages, is always full, lunch and dinner and has the most fantastic food, booking recommended as it is always full. The menu is HUGE, little pics for you to look at too. Luckily the portions are small so you can try loooads of things, I have gone when famished and end up over ordering - thank goodness for doggy bags! Save room for dessert.

My faves:
Mieng Taling Pling - old school Thai hors d'oeuvre of betel leaf with shalots, garlic, ginger chilli, dried shrimp, there is a special coconut paste which is different from other places. Delicious and a must-try especially to master the art of creating a betel leaf cup.

Yum Taling Pling - a Thai salad of crispy fish with lemongrass with lime, chili dressing. Very fresh.

Yum Dok krajon with shrimp - flower salad with shrimp - always love to eat flowers, just the idea. This flower is supposed to be good for the eyes.

Kuaytiow Bok - a bastardished jumbo version of the Vietnamese fresh spring roll - rocks.

Deep fried garlic, chilli and pepper squid - to-die-for

Beef green curry with roti - beef is braised and tender and the curry rich and aromatic, served with fried roti.

Gaeng ped ped yang - Red curry with roast duck - the way it should be made. Sweet and rich.

Yod mara pad cha - marrow shoot stir fried with chilli - lovely texture and smell.

Deepfried pomfret with fish sauch - aamazing. Or go for the steamed sea bass with chilli and lime.

Kai jieow kab moo - heart attack city with thai omelet and pork crackling but so good, served here with chilli, lime and shallots, perhaps to cut the fat.

Mango Sticky Rice - esp if mango is in season
Tub tim grob - water chestnut wrapped in pink fragrant sweet jelly in syrup and young coconut ice ans shavings.
Flourless chocolate - yes, not only have the mastered the thai food but the pastry chef is not one to mess with

Open: Daily for lunch through to dinner. Last order 10:30 if you sit around and chill, they will stay open but don't be surprised if they close everything around you and leave you in the dark!

Address: 60 Thanon Pan
Phone number:02 236 4830

N.B. Avoid the other branches in town, they are a poor shade of what the original Pan Road branch is best. If you are there in the day time, stroll down the road and check out Kathmandu gallery or have a chai tea in one of the little Indian tea shops.

Le Lys
Lovely garden restaurant owned by a Thai lady and her French hubby, been around for ages though has moved to this location since a couple years ago. Cozy terrace and a patanque area - nice selection of french wine and to accompany what feels and tastes like home cooked Thai food. What is great is you can choose level of Thainess and they serve brown rice! Le Lys serve some very local southern dishes that you don't get in central bkk, very strong and pungent flavours here.

I only book when we are a big group - super fun place when there is a big group

My faves:
Mieng kap moo - Betel leaf hor d'oeuvre with pork crackling. Or try the tuna version with Kale

Larb woonsen - vermicelli larb chhose from chicken, seafood, port - Thai salad which is unique for its roasted rice, mint and chilli mix

Jungle curry - pungent, rich but without coconut. A local and strong flavour, worth trying

Gaeng Lieng - a very fragrant herbal soup

Duck Krapow - duck fillet with crispy basil thai style

Tamarind prawns - delicious

Open daily for lunch and dinner
Address: 148/11 Nang Linchi Soi 6
Outdoor terrace - lots of mozzies but they have spray and anti mozzy stuff.
Phone number: 02 287 1898

Baan Klang Nam
Rather large seafood restaurant in a compound of connecting wooden houses on the river with a view of the port. Busy and outdoors, lots of Thai families, big tables, oddly serves sushi as well. Huge menu, nothing fancy at all, you go there for the seafood and the hustle and bustle - it is delicious. They also have funny cocktails, makes it a bit kitsch, mai tais etc.

My faves:
fresh oysters - served Thai style - deep fried shallots and pak krajed and thai spicy seafood dip. The pak krajed causes the oysters to turn sweet, some chemical reaction happens and it's like sucking on sugar - bizarre and at the same time, delicious

pad thai without noodles - fresh juicy shrimps with all the ingredients of phad thai without the noodles.

steamed seabass with lime, chilli and garlic (pla krapong nueng manao) - I love this dish here.

bbq tiger prawns - to die for, esp with thai seafood dip

steamed mussels with herbs - delicious

The menu is totally humongous . . . anything goes really. I remember I used to order california rolls here too, why I am not so sure.

Open daily for lunch and dinner (I like it for dinner)
Address: Rama 3 soi 14 (this is the original, they have another branch which is Baan Klang Nam 2 - never been there)
Phone number: 02 292 0175

Monday, 22 November 2010

From Marathong to Loy Kratong . . .

Please excuse the misspelling on Marathon - I find the mistake so absurd that I have chosen to say that I ran the Bkk Mini-Marathong rather than marathon. can you imagine how funny that would be? Although there is nothing really that funny about waking up before sunrise on a Sunday morning to run but it was thoroughly worth it, every drop of sweat. The running route is extremely scenic and beautiful, to have the normally very busy streets of old Bangkok clear for running is definitely, albeit I found the marathon itself to be poorly organised considering it is in its 23rd year. Sure I am a newbie at this but you would think after 23 years of organising the same event, they should get it right . . .there was nowhere near enough water, the registration system was a pain and come on, bag drop with NUMBERS means that it could be arranged in numerical order.

Nonetheless, the run, which is what we were really all there for, was amazing. It was a temple and bridge run through old Bangkok weaving back and forth between Ratanakosin Island and thonburi with the first breaking light of day.

I only did the 10 k, that is enough for me (for now), Lee and his buddies are much more fit and serious runners, they did 21 km. The full marathon is 42 km and that is for mega-fit people, the elite runners finishing that in under 3 hours!

Lee and I
I thnk I have almost mastered the art of running correctly, my abs hurt, then again, it could be because brekkie with three very funny guys. Could not help to think whilst running how fab running gear could be. If we got our hands on designing some. A hint to Nike!

I had gone to sleep very early the night before as I wanted to get a full night's rest. I woke up to see a NY number on my phone, I knew that my friend Waris was arriving but was just not sure when. I found out later that the late night call was because he found himself in a situation that he described as being straight out a movie, at Bkk airport, totally surreal and really is not something that I will write about here. Let's just say, in developing countries like Thailand, well, some plots are exclusive to ours and rather absurd. Waris made it through as I made through my very early morning run and we rendez vous'ed for tea. Waris came with a friend of his, Paula, who incidentally I had met in Seoul last year at the Prada Transformer (she used to work at Prada) and now lives in Bali and even knows Hamish. The world is small.

To celebrate Loy Kratong, we had decided earlier, Nat and I, that we would do Loy Kratong - proper Thai-style and go to a local temple fair/party (ngan wat) at Golden Mountain Temple. Nat and the boys even dressed up for it. The plan was to arrive by klong boat, we are tourists in our own town and did not know the boats had ended for the day, so tuk tuk it was to Golden Mountain.

Waris and I

What the fair promised was gold old-fashion fun, neon lights, ghosts, lots of food and lots of young people. Nat bought me a pink elephant balloon so I would not get lost and we can all look up to the pink elephant and find each other. It worked.

Highlights were the dunking girls . .

Ferris wheel and haunted house

The old-fashioned vintage freak show (ghosts, Siamese twins etc etc)

The red-wrapped pagoda on the mountain which we decided not to climb.
Basically, it felt like we had entered the universe of Apichatpong, which is really Thailand, one full of neon lights, curiosities and fun in a simple almost innocent way (so much pink and so many teddy bears).

We created a ritual of our own, the passing of the pink elephant, I passed her on to P'Boyy. I felt a bit insecure going through the crowd without it to get to the exit but we survived.

Waris and I left the crew to go to his friend's house on the river to catch the annual Loy Kratong fireworks, a light show on the river, it felt like my third light show of the day.

Last year, my view was from P'Eric's boat and we could almost feel the heat. This time it was from a balcony on the 12th floor, right on the river next to the Shangri- La - it was like the light flowers would fall on us. The wait felt like an eternity, we became like annoying children staring at our blackberries hoping that would make the fire works start quicker - alas at 10.15 pm - with a big bang - literally - it started.

It was like watching exploding supernovas. It was well worth it. Every moment.

Then we went to float our kratongs. The lady added a betel nut and betel leaf as apparently the river goddess likes to chew them.

Waris and his kratong

My kratong this year . . .

The river by the pier was a bit turbulent but my little kratong was a resilient one, seeing as she was going to collide with a boat, she survived much longer than we thought she would. Tough little cookie (actually banana stalk),and with her went my thank you to the goddess who gives us life, floating the kratong with a pink flag and incense and flowers is like offering her a present (a biodegradable one).

I made my wish (2 actually) and sent her off . . .

What a beautiful day and night it was, truly magnetic, energy filled and with so much light. One probably should not expect anything less on the day and night of the full moon of 12th month of the lunar calender. When the river is full and the moon is bright, supernovas and goddesses come out, it is the festival of light after all.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Revisiting the Jim Thompson Era. . .

and immersing oneself in the intrigue of the years immediately after World War II and indeed a rather tumultuous time in Thailand's political, cultural and artistic landscape through a selection of headlines from the Bangkok Post, old footage, a movie (House on the Klong) and a fantasy bazaar in 2010, is only possible at the home of the man himself. Jim Thompson disappeared in 1968 but his legacy lives on. I had a personal tour by the expert of the subject and supreme curator P'Jeab or Grithiya Gaweewong herself, after hours.

She walked me through the carefully curated headlines that adorn the walls, sometimes with footage and sound clips from the National Film Archive creating a collage with moving images and sound taking you back into time . . . here are some of my faves . . . though the Twist is light, the context is much gloomier.

The never ending battles today with censorship, freedom of expression, double standards and a whole lot of other issues.
Sean Connery's visit in 1966 was not a secret (love this pic)

To journey back to the 50's and 60's is to witness the fact that Jim Thompson got his hands into everything, a renaissance man by any standard, even the most cynical and he truly immersed his own self with passion and unrelentless energy in his various endeavours, the perpetual host who could not "bear to be alone" and he obviously had great taste. His disappareance haunts people to this day, though the old movie from 8 years after his disappearance shed some light on his story, the man himself and the mystery. It was spooky and give me goosebumps at sevaral moments, defo film noir influence and talk about not holding back on the Hitchcock moments with that music. My first question after the film faded into black was "What happened???" P'Jeab told me to read the book . . .and I will read it, we all like a bit of intrigue but his is different, he became famous, infamous and along with him so did Thai silk (though silk is just the surface and the beginning, his legacy goes beyond that, and might I add that Thailand is not just about silk and beauty, it is far more complex). A true insider, and if Jim was still alive today, he would be 104.

Michael Shaowanasai's Bazaar, his homage to the era that combines his own methods, energy and vibrancy to the hope after the War, where after destruction there was creation and a power struggle of which we, as country was smack in the middle of, mere witness, victim or beneficiary depends on what side you are on.

New ideas, new horizons, the Dior New Look, Space, the red scare and the cold war. The items on sale unde the label Oriental Silk Sewcity (or OSS - the organisation Jim Thompson belonged to during war time, the precursor to the CIA) Nagara's couture creations sitting a long side these remnants of a time-past reinterpreted, at one level kitsch and fun, at another making a statement regarding the past, and what it took for us to arrive to where we are today. Though one does have to wonder. . . what much has changed, especially as plans for our new airport were announced in 1962 (this is a news clipping on the wall).

Then again, all was informed by context and references, there needed to be a new look after the war, the old order had been destroyed, is it possible for us to thrive ignoring what is around us?

The homage to him and his era sheds light on what we are today and begs the question as to how and why are we still trying to answer the same questions and are still in the dark.

A worthwhile visit that deserves some time to get to know a lost legend and the context in which he lived and our country and her politics, the latter something, which we cannot seem to escape from too far today and which if we look closely, is more relevant than ever.

Revisiting the Jim Thompson Era
will be at the Jim Thompson Art Centre until January 15th, 2011.
The Centre is open from 9 am - 5 pm every day.

Monday, 15 November 2010

More Than a Hoodie . . .

Yeah, that's right . . .it's MY HOODIE! My own customised Nike AW77 hoodie . . . Jeed invited me to go along to the Athletics Club to personalise my own hoodie, courtesy of Nike Thailand. So I went along to the Athletics Club and had my little session. The Athletics Club is a new sneaker shop and space, the kind that a few years ago during my (rather long) Air Force 1 craze I would've killed to have in Bkk, so very happy that it now exists even though they don't really order in the super fly kicks for girls, especially not Air Force 1's, it's sad, but I guess it's because Bkk girls don't wear kicks especially not big heavy ones like the aforementioned AF1's (they remain my faves, always). What Nike do have in Bkk, even if the choice of kicks is a bit limited for my taste, is great apparel and of late, the designs are looking fab . . . especially now that you can differentiate from the masses with your own little touch.
The hoodies for this AW77 project are great, the terry cloth weight just right and straight silhouette that is just right. They gave me a small, I had to change it for a medium, small hoodies never work for me, my take on it is that it needs cover you, wrap around you almost and the hood has to be oversized. The hoodie has always been indispensable for me, day to night, for travelling, to sleep sometimes even. The oversized thing is a throwback for me to the idea of the boyfriend's hoodie, or the boyfriend's shirt . . .it needs to drape almost, and I want to be able to hide in it, as far as colour is concerned. . .this time I went for heather grey all the way . . .even though the pink was a bit tempting.

The whole idea was to use the badges available to make your own design. At first I fancied the idea of covering my entire hoodie with little badges like the ones you get as a Brownie/Girl Scout, as honours, however, my eyes are hungry for ornament but my appetite might not be as large, ultimately, I am a minimalist, and less is more, except for the little funny details.

I settled for these little badges . . . the big one on the pocket says victory and was designed by a Thai artist. The whole AW77 series includes badges that were created by artists all over teh world to capture the essence of the local street culture so each badge has a story.

And two little pink honour badges on my shoulder . . .one symbolic of the great outdoors and the other one headphones and decks . . . all in pink of course.

I couldn't really stay to wait for the glue to dry and will just for them to deliver the piece to me. As seen from the pics below, it is definitely oversized . . . and is going to fast become one of my fave things to wear, especially with heels.

So from my "Bangkok Against the World" t-shirt that I made in NY at Nike to this "victory and honours" hoodie that will accompany me on adventures from day to night, wherever . . . Nike just went and done it again. Wonder what's next . . .pretty pleeease let it be Bridgerunners Bkk.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Ruhr - you blew my mind . . .

Or more like took it to another place as your camera's eye captured the stillness and every subtle movement together with the sound of the slightest vibration of any passing object might make. I know not much about experimental film (if anything at all), much less about the prolific James Benning but I know that each prolonged shot was for me, mesmerising; some excited me others were so still and grey such that it made me wonder what I was doing in the very cold dark theatre in the first place. What I found beautiful, and a few days later, I still have the lines implanted in my mind is the Tunnel shot which was the first of six shots in the first half of the film. A diagonal line of neon light cutting through the matte grey concrete, the slight rustling of leaves not missed, the sound of trucks and their lights piercing through captured without distraction. I could almost feel the vibrations.

The second experiment which documents the interior of a factory, the camera placed in one spot and placed their long enough to witness the dance of the machines to a beat set by man, but a dance that takes on a life of its own, glistening hot rods and the way they rolled, it was wonderful. The trees were ok, an intentional contrast to the man made perhaps, though if I am to stare at a tree, I prefer the way that Steve McQueen approached it in Giardini, with more life. The forth segment, the rubbing away of graffiti from a Richard Serra scuplture.
(how random that it should be a Serra in the middle of the Ruhr region,though I think it one of those cities like Lille or Leeds that the Govt tries to rejuvenate as art hubs).

The mosque bit was interesting, humans, particularly human behinds and the hum of the prayers. . .and the last that sent me into a slight slumber, the grey streets of Ruhr with its inhabitants. Ruhr is an industrial town in Northern Germany, what is synonymous with grey industrial towns is grey inhabitants and a lack of life, a monotony, Benning certainly captures this but I could not help but think that the factory and industry has its own rhythm and style . . .even the graffiti remover, he painted a dog - so a life of their own that is worth documenting and presenting as it is.

The second part was a coke burning factory, so a tower that blows smoke into the sky, as every ten minutes water cascades through the tower causing smoke to envelope the otherwise lifeless tower with vents, whose function is to produce coke. It was an indulgent hour, it was long, but to see the smoke take on a life of its own, an unpredictable life at that, and the tower change colours to the point that it seemed to change form and the sky surrounding it change as night descended. It was mesmerising but such that it allowed me to think about other things, for my mind to wander yet my eyes to see the spectacle before me, something which happens daily in Ruhr but to me in a dark theatre, and on a film, an exotic speciman.

I can close my eyes now and still see certain sequences where the smoke danced. I made friends with the factory and it enabled my mind to think about many other things. What is the point of art or cinema that triggers other emotions or thoughts or is not engaging enough to hold our attention? Maybe perhaps, that is the point, to endure the experience, to savour it and take that into something else, thus putting the power in the hand of the viewer to do what he wants to do. Warhol did this for 8 hours with Empire State, I am sure that in 8 hours in one's mind, great plays, scripts, songs and novels are created, but in one's mind only. The difference perhaps is if we choose to then document which the author gives to us. What is art, and what is cinema, if it is not to inspire and connect with what could be, if our minds are given the space to explore. I can close my eyes now and that smoke, those colours, their beauty, it does not change, as mundane as the subject matter was. Benning does not bully us to feel a certain way, or at least I did not feel bullied, sure the sequences was calculated, sure the sun's descent was manipulated but as far as I was concerned, this was more his meditation on Ruhr, industry on man and vice versa and I still felt free to interpret it as I wanted and I certainly know that I left Ruhr with much to think about and my mind awakened through monotony of it all.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

World Film Festival Bkk - Jacques Doillon

The honourary director at the The Nation's World Film Fest this year is Jacques Doillon. There was a little workshop at the Alliance Francaise last week, with a little discussion between him, some students and Professor Gerard Fouquet. Jacques was funny, totally passionate and extremely natural, of course he was intense in a way but his message to the film students present was pretty clear, just do it, even with a little money, it is all possible and there is no need to descend to the realm of advertising as no good will come of it, really, not in the end, and all must save and support independent film. I especially enjoyed his imitations of the little girl Victoire who played Ponette in his film of the same name during the panel discussion.

I tagged along with Lee to the French ambassador's residence for the reception for Jacques, it was lovely, especially with the cool breeze that one only experiences this time of the year. There was a wedding next door at The Oriental, a rather big wedding as there were fireworks, it was rather grand, and a wonderful coincidence that there should be a light show perhaps for Monsier Doillon at the French Ambassador's Residence. I would've liked to think so anyway.

The first film I saw of Jacques' was couple days after the reception, on Saturday, called Mariage a Trois - a film with Pascal Gregory, Julie Depardieu, Louis Carrel and this red head who was rather gorgeous with a porcelain-like face and body reminiscent of a muse in Boticelli's paintings (less voluptuous though). Sure there was a lot of talking but it was funny, ironic and at points utterly absurd, in the way that they took each other so seriously, you could almost see the characters caricatures of themselves and Jacques having fun with it. . . indulgent in parts but not in the way that it went on and on as there was always action and movement, I felt that he reflected well the utterly narcissistic, neurotic nature of all those in the film . . . a screenplay writer, actors, an intern (the redhead muse upstairs) and a producer. A cute, little satire that left me thinking - whooa . .they are crazy, but kinda sweet. It was produced by Paulo Branco (the Portugese producer who is Andre's hero), I did not know who he was last summer when Andre invited me to dinner with him, so to see his name in the credits, and also Gregory Bernard's who is also OLT's partner, the funniest guy ever - I was pleasantly surprised at the smallness of the world. The film also left me feeling rather warm and fuzzy.

I saw Ponette the day after, one of Jacques earlier films. It was really sweet, the story of a 4 year old girl Ponette dealing with the sudden loss of her mother.

She was really brilliant, the little girl and how Jacques managed to film these children and their little world, the way they spoke and how they dealt with each other. I particularly loved one scene with the little girls discussing the marital status of their parents, such precocious little things trying to figure out what "celibataire" meant. I wonder why films like this are not made any more . . . maybe because they are not so tortured and it is a bit old-fashioned, I mean, it was a simple movie about a little girl and what she was going through, though really, the concepts of life, death, god, letting go, pain/love it was all there, albeit with little children. There was a passage discussing religion and certain stereotypes thereof, I thought that if that came out of an adult one would be pretty shocked at how risque it was, but not from kids, then it's funny. So maybe presenting loss and looking at the complexity of ordeals and issues through the eyes of a child gives the film not only life but a refreshing prespective on life, loss and love. The last line, "Maman, elle m'a dit appredre d'etre contente" (Mum, she said learn to be happy) says it all really, the perfect words to the perpetually brooding child. The film gives one hope that, no matter what, it is possible to be happy after a dreadful loss and that the world is not a sphere for perpetual brooding. Thank goodness for that. See you in Paris Jacques!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A Northern Village . . .or two

Last minute unexpected trip up north to Chiang Mai revealed two villages. One is where I stayed, a little place called Tamarind Village - charming, very serene and extremely peaceful. Simply delightful.
view from my room
Another was a village in Mae Rim, en route to the village for a visit with P'Joei. I thought I had been transported back in time to a Thailand which was the stuff of photos and history, what my parents would talk about, a Thailand of the past. . .I suppose to an extent it is the Thailand of Apichatpong. Then again, it is a hub, as Chiangmai is also home to P'Navin, P'Rirkrit, P'Jakkai and Araya. P'Joei does not live in Chiang Mai town though, he lives in Mae Rim. P'Joei invited me up there to interview him for Purple Magazine, it is a rather extensive piece so we needed some time to actually talk and I needed to see the place he calls home. To be exposed to, to see, and to touch his oasis shed a little bit of light on to the man and his work. It is what one would imagine, holistic, natural, simple with the details that make it as myterious and charming as can be. To me it is a Thailand that is exotic, though at once I felt comfortable and very familiar in it.

Upon entering the driveway I was greeted by the most well mannered dogs ever, Godzilla and King Kong . . .Godzilla likes to play with various objects and offer them to you as gifts, King Kong (the lady) knows exactly how to get your attention and is so cuddly! So there I was, in the middle of jungle in a house on the pond nibbling on delicious banoffee pie, under the watchful eye of the dogs as we talked. P'Joei then fed his fish, I was obsessed, there were so many of them and then gave me a little tour. The little cottage on the other side was a perfect little getaway. It was idyllic and so still, you can hear everything that nature sounds like and to me is a reminder that palme d'or's, airplanes and awards aside, everyone has there own personal paradise.
the extraordinarily cute King Kong (Godzilla was hiding)
the cottage on the other side

Then back to Chiang Mai town as the sun came down, I love the walking street. . .so much energy, so random, so alive.

Alas, after 24 hours in the Northern Kingdom, I jumped on a plane and found myself back in Bkk, refreshed, revived and asking myself when I will get to go back there again and perhaps get myself a little cottage in the middle of nowhere (but still connected with WIFI as P'Joei puts it) and just be. My conclusion is that there will never be enough northern exposure until one day I have my own little house on a pond, with a little boat and a big library. Well, then again, one can only dream. I guess I have to thank P'Joei for planting that seed and sharing with me his little paradise.