BANGKOK: OF REMNANTS AND ART

by - 4:53 PM

One of the things that I love about traveling is the idea of discovering the arbitrary behind the mundane things. I guess this is why I have never been fond of prioritizing the main tourist attractions in all of the places I have come to see. Don't get me wrong, Historical landmarks are great and indeed a very important factor in getting to know more about the place that you are visiting. But as much as possible, it would be great to have some sort of balance in your itinerary everytime you try and visit a place. I have four things that I list down and prioritize when I travel: Art, Architecture, Food/Coffee and Nature. I often travel on a maximum of four to five days and I try to squeeze all that in and design my itinerary according to these priorities.

The great thing about designing your own tour is the freedom with your time and route - you hold no accountability of being left out or leaving someone out. If you are a budget traveler like us, research is the key to designing a good travel IT. Another priority for me would be the neighborhood of our accommodation, if you haven't noticed yet, I really like staying on the kitschy side of the city that balances great food selection, crowd and the art.

When I was researching about our neighborhood in Bangkok, Ratchathewi, I came across Chalermla Park - it was a five minute walk from our hostel Movy Lodge. After our brief rest at the hostel we decided to begin our Bangkok exploration by familiarizing ourselves with the neighborhood and also check our the first place in our 'must-sees'.
The main roads of the Ratchathewi are filled with modern buildings and if it is your first time to visit the area, you wouldn't notice the smaller houses hidden behind the monolithic structures. Hidden beneath the alleys and the bustling noise of the vehicles passing along the roads would be this humble neighborhood that shows a more local and realistic setting. A row of medium rise apartment buildings are juxtaposed with traditional houses made of wood.
Along with the aging texture of metal, fading paint and makeshift materials are random vignettes of neon colors, patterns and words written in urban fonts, one we would more recognize and coin as graffiti art.
Another reason why I love walking around the local neighborhood would be the sense of place that I get by observing the living patterns of the people who inhabit the place. This neighborhood was rather different than the visible areas of Ratchathewi, it was old and most of the buildings around the place are abandoned or waiting for demolition. But despite its age and the visible economic difference from its neighbors, I loved how the people in this area lived clean. There were no unnecessary things lying around the streets, no foul scent, people had a sense of pride by maintaining a sense of order with the way they live and present their homes, and I love every bit of the walk that I took along this place. 
Right smack at the corner of the alley would be this park with vibrant colors, benches, and swings. The Chalermla Park is more famous in the world wide web as the Graffiti Park, it houses different works from local and international graffiti artists in various scale, style, story and sizes. If you are into street art or just want to see something different in Bangkok, this place is definitely a must-see.
I once submitted an abstract for an international symposium about the emerging and transforming style of graffiti art. This trip actually gave me so much ideas as to how I can appropriate these things to the Philippine setting and continue my narrative study in the future. One of the main issues or questions about graffiti art would be its legitimacy of being considered as a form of art, some traditionalists and critiques would coin it as 'vandalism' and there would be some who would wonder the purpose of why the form of art even exist.
Debates and artistic beliefs aside, I personally see Graffiti as a powerful medium of site-specific art. I would bravely coin this as site-specific as this gradually draws the line between vandalism and art. Graffiti art like the ones I have seen in Chalermla Park would be a form of artistic expression with a hint of propaganda, it aims to speak to the place and the people who see it. It questions the space and its purpose and I personally think that it creates a certain purpose and memory recall.
I took this image to show the contradicting sides of this place, upon development and growth, some things were left and forgotten, including childlikeness and the idea of play.
I honestly believe that we need spaces like these in every neighborhood. It adds a more human and organic value to what seems to be a monotonous and ladderized way of living. 
To say that the Thais love their King would be an understatement. Maybe this is also why I can pretty much say that it is evident in every aspect of their lives, they obey and follow, they align their goals with the goals of their leader and they strive hard to reach it together. I saw in every aspect of Bangkok the deep love, submission and respect for the father of their country, and I truly wish for the same thing for my own country.
We came at a good time, there were less tourists and people walking around and I was able to capture images peacefully. I really did enjoy this visit to the public park slash gallery!
Beauty in the forgotten : Forgotten Beauty. Either way when you walk by, take a minute and try to picture what could have been, what might have been and what it was. This is how I walk around and travel, how do you enjoy yours?

How to get to Chalermla Park:
Ratchathewi BTS station (use exit number 1)
*Travel Tip: Google Maps would be your bestest friend!
You may click HERE for a more detailed walking direction.

You're welcome!

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