Street Art or ‘Arrrghhhh’….?

June 25, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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One of the recent hot topics in the news is about a local artist expressing her artistic freedom by plastering tongue-in-cheek stickers on traffic lights and stencilling words on roads and public buildings. In some countries, graffiti, or street art are more common and accepted by people, and there are some artists famed for their street art. But here in Singapore, other than a few designated areas, it is against the law to use public places as canvases for art. There are people who are against graffiti or street art. They view it as unsightly markings that vandalise, disfigure and dirty public properties, and to clean up, valuable public funds, resources and manpower are used.

But street art, as the name implies, belongs to the street. Itchyfingers are not totally against street art, as long as it is done nicely…hahah…Most of the graffiti here are found sporadically on lamp poles or walls, and we have to agree that most are just vandalism rather than art. But there is one place that you can find better graffiti work, and it seems legal or maybe people there are more tolerant and feel that the chaos rather complement the kind of businesses and atmosphere there. It creates a narrow escape for graffiti artists to express themselves freely, and is none other than Haji Lane.

Each time Itchyfingers visit Haji Lane, we are able to find new artwork…


The first thing we saw was this colorful wall mural depicting indians of
South/Central Amercia…the whole shophouse was coated but the street was
too narrow for us to move
 backward for a wider shot 


Another part of the mural. Nice colourful headgear that looked like a 
chameleon…hahah 


Street art belongs to the street, so things like the wheeler-bin or a motorbike
parked against the wall are all part and parcel of its presentation…


The mural was done to promote this brand of spray paints developed by our
local graffiti artist… 


Integrating the artwork into part of the shop’s decor…


As part of the shop’s branding…


Event posters plastered on pillar…


How are you?


Stencilling is one of the quickest way of graffiti art besides stickers….


This is cool…Stencilling plus spraying a chimpanzee on a ball…


Another nice one…See the difference between art and ‘arrghhhh’ here?


Nice! The beauty of these street art is they may be here today and gone
tomorrow,
replaced by another layer of spray paint. Catch them while they
are still
 around, before the authorities decide to hunt for the culprits and clean
up the so-called mess and return the walls their original boring state….

Also see related post:
> A Narrow Escape 

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Back on the Right Track (Part 1) – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #8a

March 3, 2010 at 9:53 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Itchyfingers didn’t do our research properly on how to get to the Maeklong market as our trip to Bangkok was a last minute decision for a short break from crazy work schedules. As a result, we couldn’t make it to the Maeklong market in time the first time round. So, back at the hotel, we flipped through our guidebook and combed the internet again and realised that to make our way there and back to Bangkok in a day, we would have to set off much earlier. This time, Itchyfingers were ready to make our second attempt.

The distance from Bangkok to Samut Sakhon via the Mahachai Rail Line is 28km. The one-hour train journey begins at Thonburi’s Wong Wian Yai station roughly every hour starting at 5.30am. To do the trip entirely by train, we would need to leave Thonburi before 8.30am and catch the 10.10am train from Ban Laem to Samut Songkhram (Maeklong). Returning, the last two departures are 11.30am and 3.30pm from Samut Songkhram to Ban Laem, which has hourly departures to Thonhuri until 7pm.

We reached Wong Wian Yai station around 8.20am, in time to catch the 8.35am train to Mahachai.


The driver’s seat


Observing a soya bean seller from the train…You can choose to add extra
ingredients like corn, peanuts and sugar into the drink

An hour later, we reached Mahachai…


It was a weekday but the market next to the station was as busy…

Made our way to the ferry terminal to take the long boat to Ban Laem…


Fishing boat in water hyacinth-infested river…There were lotsa terns
flying around too…

We followed the same way to the Ban Laem station…still think it was very secluded…


Yeah! The train!

There were two Angmohs with a local guide waiting for the train, so we were positive the next train should be reaching soon…


We bought the 10.10 am ticket


Another one hour journey to Maeklong


Ban Laem Station


Just facing the train station sign was this path…


...that led to this. It didn’t ring a bell at that time…


While waiting, we had time to shoot the train…


Hmmm…they actually painted on the train body


We also had time to rest our itchy feet..

Soon we realised this was not the train to Mahachai when another one arrived…So, this one was just for show? We board the train, so did the two Angmohs and their guide.


At last we had the chance to choose a seat not near to the toilet…

Then I saw something interesting…


A man was pulling this rubber hose thing from this kiosk…could this be…


Yes! He was pumping diesel into the train…All ready to go!


Similar to the stretch from Bangkok to Mahachai which has a rural setting,
this stretch from Ban Laem to Maeklong also brings you to mangroves,
wetlands and salt fields


Wetlands…


Besides being more scenic, it is especially exciting for us cos there were
a lot of birds along the way!


Commorants, Egrets, Herons, Terns and Black-winged Stilts were common
along this stretch of wetlands. Wished we had the chance to stop and do
some birdwatching and photography!


Look out for windmill too! These windmills, made with bamboo frame and
canvas vanes, were used to draw ocean water into the drying pans with
wind power


Salt fields…Saltwater is pumped into shallow, large ponds in the fields
and then left to drain..A middle-aged Thai uncle tried to tell us that these were
salt fields with his body language…:p Too bad can’t get more information from
him due to language barrier…


People working on the salt field


For an interesting account of salt fields, see this site for a similar one in
Cambodia


These should be the living quarters or warehouses for the collected salt


Often, the train stops along the way were typically made of wood like this
one…some had the name of the train stop and the train schedule on them…


Others came with just the name of the stop


Yet there were some that had no name, no schedule and were strewn with
thrash…The train didn’t seem to stop at all of them, and most of the time
it only stopped a mere few seconds…


A typical train stop sign with the current, previous and next stop indicated
clearly. Itchyfingers cracked a private toilet joke out of this particular sign…
if you could understand Hokkien, you might be able to catch the joke…
8)

We were wondering when were we gonna reach Maeklong when suddenly our sight was blocked by canvases…Where did these canvases come from? Then I realised we must have just entered the Maeklong market and took out my camera to shoot some video. Unfortunately the train was too fast and we were too near the canvases for me to shoot anything decent. 😦 Yes, we had just reached Maeklong!

So, what’s so special about this Maeklong market that made Itchyfingers travel all the way twice to visit? We shall continue in our next post… 🙂

Also see related posts:
> Exploring by Train (Part 3) – Bangkok Trip #7a
Exploring by Train (Part 2) – Bangkok Trip #6a
Exploring by Train (Part 1) – Bangkok Trip #5a
Paper Art – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #4a
Pirate in the Land of Smiles – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #3a
Children of Heaven – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #2a
Have a Break…Take a Nap – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #1a

Exploring by Train (Part 1) – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #5a

February 18, 2010 at 10:00 am | Posted in itchy backside | 4 Comments
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Itchyfingers saw on the travel programme an interesting market in Bangkok called Maeklong that we have not visited or even heard of. It sounded fun and different from what most of our friends would have done in Bangkok (shopping lor! ;p) so we were eager to pay it a visit. But a search on the net didn’t provide very much details on how to get to the place, even if there were any, the sites were dated a few years back that we were not sure if the information is still up-to-date – the place we were keen to go needed us to take the train, so the train schedule was quite crucial.

Saw a friend’s pictures on Facebook and realised that she also visited the market just two weeks before our trip. Excitedly, I emailed her for details on how to get there but was a bit disappointed to know that she engaged the service of a local guide and they actually drove there. Itchyfingers always prefer the DIY way, so usually we won’t join any tours cos most of them are always so rush, unless there are no public transport to the destination or if doing it at our own pace would cost much more (like in the case of Cu Chi Tunnel at Vietnam). The price she paid for was 900 Baht per person (around S$38) provided if you have four person sharing the car, and they would also visit the floating market, a local house making homemade coconut sugar and a handicraft centre (Did I hear handicraft centre? See here for Itchyfingers‘ experience at Vietnam’s handicraft village). Being cheapo Itchyfingers, we thought 900 Baht for a half day tour (pick up from hotel at 7am and back at hotel at 12.30pm) was a bit damaging to our pockets :p and of cos we didn’t have another two persons to share the guide with us. So, back to more research online and hitting the library for more guidebooks…

Initially Tisu Boy was not so keen in visiting the place especially when we didn’t have time to do more research and couldn’t be sure if the information we found was still valid. But I was quite persistent and insisted that we should just try. Hence the plan was to just go to the train station and check out the updated timing before setting another day for a full trip.

So, following the direction on my scribbled notes, Itchyfingers took the BTS to Wong Wian Yai station. From there, we had to look for “a big roundabout and turn to the Taksin Bridge crossing the Chao Phraya River.” That alone was quite challenging (at least for me!) cos traffic in Bangkok can be crazy…Well, obviously I wasn’t the only person to find it confusing, cos we discovered later while looking for the big roundabout, that we were kinda ‘tailed’ by another guy who was also checking out the location map at the station! Hmmm…maybe he should have asked if he could walk with us instead of following secretly and then pretending to look away when we discovered him? :p

We ended up walking faster trying to shake him off, only stopping occassionally to take photos of landmarks to help us find our way the next round…haha….naughty Itchyfingers… 8)


From Wong Wian Yai BTS station, cross the overhead bridge to the opposite
side of the road, walk straight and cross the traffic junction. Then just walk
straight, passing a few streets before your nose brings you here. The smell
from the river was quite overwhelming, and this was actually the backyard
of the houses…


You should be on the right track when you see this…I think the station is
nearer to the number 8 sign, which we forgotten to photograph… :p

Not sure if eventually did we manage to find the correct roundabout, but we did see an obscure sign saying train station so we just turned into the street on the left…and we were quite surprised at what we saw…


We found the train station!


And that’s the train! How strange to find the station almost hidden in a
maze of a market on Somdet Phra Chao Taksin Road!


Doggy had no problem taking a nap here…

We went to check out the timetable for the train and were surprised to find that the train would be leaving in less than 10 minutes’ time. So we made the impromptu decision to just buy the ticket and hop onto the train!


The cost of the one hour journey from Wong Wian Yai station to Mahachai
station was only 10bahts (S$0.40)! We were given a timetable but it was
all in Thai… 😮

To go to that market on the travel programme, we would have to go from Samut Sakhon (also known as Mahachai). We were surprised that the train actually left on time! :p


Stalls at the station…


The train was quite packed…went through so many cars…no seats…in the
end we gotta share seats with a group of local teenagers. Obviously at
10 Bahts, you couldn’t expect to have air-conditioning. Luckily when the
train moved, it was more breezy

Our seats were near the toilet, luckily there was no smell…


Sign on the aluminum toilet door. Does anyone know the meaning of the
Thai words? Itchyfingers just interpreted it as: “must clap hands before
you go into the loo”… hahaha!!!


Tisu Boy went in to ‘kaypo’…but he din clap before or after he went in…
8)


No smoking…but the group of teenagers went out to smoke…


So dangerous to stand here when the train was moving just to smoke…


Wow this should be an old train?


Houses were quite close to the railway track…this was one of those further ones…


This house must be a chinese family…


This house had a beautiful pond of lotus


Some houses were in quite bad shapes…others had lotsa rubbish in front
and I wondered why didn’t the resident bother to clean up their front or
backyard…or maybe they did, but because they were so near to the railway
track, rubbish would always be thrown by train passengers?

While we kept ourselves busy taking photos of the scenery outside, the teenagers were having fun with a piece of towel…


They were having fun wearing and passing around this towel cap…I had the
urge to ask them to show me how to fold the towel cap and then wear it to
pose for photo…but eventually didn’t cos earlier on the towel was used by
one of them to wipe away sweat…er, not very hygienic leh…hahah…

One hour passed rather quickly and soon our train stopped at Mahachai and everybody alight. Strange it stopped at a market where one side was selling clothes, dried food and stuff while the other side was selling fresh meat…


The wet market from my train seat. It was an interesting sight but as the
weather was very hot and the stench from the meat was not very pleasant
in the humid condition, we decided not to walk in to see


O$P$!!! In Singapore, if you were to owe money from illegal moneylenders
(called the “loansharks”) and fail to return on time, they would use all
sorts of unscrupulous methods to make you pay up. One of the ‘ingenious”
scare method was to hang or put pig’s head in front of your door. The other
more economical and commonly used method is to shame you in front of
neighbours by vandalising walls and doors with “O$P$” (short form for
‘owe money pay money”) together with your name and telephone number


The other side of the rail…This seemed to be such a busy town!


We wanted to recce the location of the ferry terminal. My notes said,
“track run out at edge of Ta Chin River. Exit the station, turn right (same
direction train is pointing) and walk a short distance to the ferry landing.”
Sounds simple enough but when you were there with all the busy activities
around, it was so easy to get lost…!

So what happened next? Find out from our next entry! :p

Also see related posts:
> Paper Art – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #4a
Pirate in the Land of Smiles – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #3a
Children of Heaven – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #2a
Have a Break…Take a Nap – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #1a

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