Advanced Communication Methods

As you may know, Harriet has a nanny who speaks very little English – the theory is that she teaches Harriet Thai and Harriet teaches her English, but what’s ended up happening is effectively a Poto and Cabengo-type situation, so we use a message board to explain things that need to be explained. Here is how we explained that Harriet had to go to the doctor’s office at school this afternoon for some vaccinations:


Despite the fact that these pictures would appear to be impossible to decipher – for the record, they are meant to be a caduceus, a doctor, and a red cross – this worked & everyone successfully made it to the doctor’s. A triumph.

The Wat Next Door

Just downstream of the school is a small wat. We don’t usually spend much time on the river going downstream, as most of Bangkok is to the north of us. But the last time we were on the river we noticed the wat had an enormous reclining Buddha facing the river. So we went to go see. Here he is:


The wat also serves as dock for express boat service, albeit not one that’s used that often:


(It’s generally called Wat Chanyawat, as far as I can tell.) Like most wats on the river, there’s the opportunity to feed the catfish and/or pigeons:


There’s a lot going on at this wat: it hosts an immense number of massage parlors. There was also an old woman with an enormous sleeping pig.


Out of the Past

Just north of Saphan Put is the flower market, and just north of that is the electronics district, and just north of that is the Nightingale-Olympic:


The Nightingale-Olympic was founded in 1930 as Bangkok’s first department store. The current building dates from 1966, as does almost everything in it. It’s still very much open, and staffed by a number of ladies in pink polo shirts, but store appears to be frozen in amber.


Aside from the employees, there were no other customers. That’s fine, because there are plenty of mannequins.



Almost &nbasp; but not quite – everything is ancient. Here, for example, are some ancient games in glass cabinets:



It’s worth noting that this isn’t a museum: everything appears to be for sale, it’s just selling very slowly.


The prices, it’s worth noting, haven’t been frozen. These five-piece practice putting sets are going for 1750 baht, which is US$54. Vintage sets of golf clubs are going for 25,000 baht.

Upstairs is a wonderland of ancient musical instruments and exercise machinery:


“If you try one machine for five minutes,” the owner of the store explained to the Bangkok Post. “it is equal to riding a horse for five laps.”

The third floor, the stairway of which is seen below, is closed to the public, but you can see photos of the beauty salon here, and it features prominently in this music video. The owner again: “Any woman who stepped inside the Merle Norman Cosmetics Studio would turn out to be a beautiful lady.”


If you need a vibraphone in Bangkok, this is a fine place to buy one.

The good ladies running the store thought that my picture-taking was detracting from their retail efforts, and I was told not to take any more. I don’t think that was actually true, but I didn’t take any more pictures.

A Visit to the Pig Shrine

I know everyone wants to see our visit to the Crocodile Farm over the weekend, but the photos from that are on several phones and I need to get them all in one place. But! Yesterday I went to go visit the Pig Shrine, in Thai อนุสาวรีย์ หมู, which is pronounced Ànúsǎawárii Mǔu if you need to talk about this with a Thai who does not know the English words for “monument” and “pig,” respectively. We are not afraid to be helpful here! Here’s what the pig shrine looks like:


And here’s a closer view of the main pig, who’s been canopied, garlanded, and gilded:


This is what the sign tells you about the Pig Shrine – this is in all capitals, but I’ve spared you that particular idiosyncrasy:

The memorial was built in the year 1913, the year of Her Majesty the Queen Sri Phatcharinthra’s 50 birthday anniversary. It has another name as Sahachat Memorial, literally means the memorial of those who were born in the same year, which were Prince Narissara Nuwattiwong, Phraya Phipat Kosa (Celestino Xavier) and Phraya Ratcha Songkhram (Kon Hongsakun). All of the three had joinly built the memorial as a gesture of gratitude to the Queen. The memorial was made of metal cast in the pig sculpture, meaning Year of the Pig which was the Queen’s year of birth, as well as the 3 donors. The designer of the memorial was Prince Narissara Nuwattiwong.

The queen in question was one of the wives of Rama V, who was the mother of Ramas VI and VII. The Snake Farm is named after her. Prince Naritsara, the designer of the monument, was Rama V’s brother and important in Thai arts and crafts.

The pig shrine is fairly popular! It is not an unfair generalization to say that Thais do love pigs, though mostly for eating. Here are a few secondary pigs:


The pig shrine is on the western side of Rattanakosin, the royal island in the center of Bangkok. It’s across a canal from the Ministry of the Interior and the Department of Provincial Administration; though there aren’t any more protests around here, there are still barricades on the bridges across the canal:


Okay, more soon.