Saturday, April 21, 2012

A telecom tycoons compassion for art: MoCA - Bangkoks Museum of Contemporary Art

See the location on Bangkok Arts and Museums Google Map

Bangkok has got the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) พิพิธภัณฑ์ศิลปะไทยร่วมสมัย: It houses a collection of Thai contemporary art, mostly paintings, collected by telecommunications tycoon Boonchai Bencharongkul, who founded and then sold major telecom player Dtac. "I've loved art passionately since I was a child, but as an eldest son I had to help run the family business," says Boonchai, who was schooled in the US and now runs the network provider Benchachinda, according to The Nation.

Over 400 artworks are shown in the six-storey building. You can see more than 100 works by artist Thawan Duchanee ถวัลย์ ดัชนี, one of the international best known Thai painters. "Thawan developed a unique style of artistry using black and red tones, based on the styles of traditional Buddhist art to explore the darkness lurking within humanity. His pictures initially shocked many people as being blasphemous to the Buddhist religion and some of his early exhibitions were attacked. But many leading Thai intellectuals supported his work", noted The Nation (see pictures).

Works of other artists shown for example: Hem Vejakorn, Chalermchai Kositpipat, Prateep Kochabua, Fua Haripitak, Suchao Sisganes, Thawee Nandakwang and Chalem Nakiraks. "Visitors will find themselves ticking off the near-complete roster of National Artists and eminent Thai names of the past half-century", writes Bangkok Post. You can start a virtual tour on

MoCA is on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road next to the Benchachinda Building. Open daily (except Mondays) from 10 am to 5.30 pm. Admission is 180 Bath. See also a video by The Nation. See also parts of the collection shown by

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Swinging Bangkok: A Night Out with Jazz

See the locations on Bangkok Jazz Google Map

Bangkok is rich of Jazz Bars. And rich of Thai Jazz Musicans. The best locations for Jazz:

Brown Sugar Pub & Restaurant: 231/20 Sarasin Road. "An excellent jazz bar that showcases great local jazz musicians. In addition to jazz standards voiced by able singers, as the night moves on, rock and pop influenced music comes to the fore", writes Brian Jungwiwattanapron. See a video of Mellow Motif, playing at Brown Sugar.

Cotton Jazz Bar: 3 Floor Shanghai Mansion Bangkok Hotel, 479-481 Yaowarat Road. In a former Chinese Opera house. Thai jazz artists like Siam Swing Band, Harmony and Marshmallow play all types of jazz, from avante-garde to bebop to jazzy interpretations of classic pop songs. See video. Open daily from 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm.

Jazz@Vie: See videos on Facebook. See video of Koh Mr Saxman.

Jazz Happens: 62 Phra Athit Rd. This bar on the 2nd floor of Bar Bali is run by Silpakorn University’s Faculty of Jazz, the performers are students or teachers. Homepage at See videos on Facebook

Look at this video;

Mello Yello Jazz & more: RCA, Zone S. Mon - Sat: 6.30 pm - 2.00 am.

Niu's on Silom: Between Silom Soi 17 and Soi 19 at Baan Silom Arcade. Italian and Thai dishes, international and Thai musicians, especially emerging musicians from Mahidol University. Very good reviews on

Saxophone Pub: 3/8 Victory Monument, Phyathai Road. "The Saxophone Pub and Restaurant is a favorite venue for local Thai and foreign music fans. Saxophone hosts a variety of music acts every night from local jazz groups playing standards to acoustic guitarists, big band, and the blues along with T – Bone, the fathers of Thai Reggae, who play every Friday night", writes Brian Jungwiwattanapron. See pictures by Nonchalante.

The Bamboo Bar:: At Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 48 Oriental Avenue.

The Living Room: 1st Floor, Sheraton Grande, 250 Sukhumvit Rd.

If you like to learn more about Thai Jazz, look out for these
Thai jazz musicians:

Mellow Motif เมลโลว์ โมทิฟ: Jazz and Brazilian Music. With singer Oong Natasha Patamapongs โอ่ง ณัฐชา ปัทมพงศ์. Mellow Motif is composed by Natasha Patamapongs (Oong/โอ่ง, vocalist, producer, arranger), Eugene Ang (ยูจีน, pianist, arranger, composer), Chanutr Techatana-nan (Hong/ฮง, drums), Pornchart Viriyapark (Oh/โอ๋, acoustic bass) and Sarit Tanpensuk (Andrew, flugelhorn/trumpet). See video by esprithin and video by ThaiPBS.

The Pomelo Town: One of Thailand's leading Jazz groups, composed of Jazz Faculty members at the College of Music Mahidol University. Members: Krit Buranavittayawut กฤษติ์ บูรณวิทยวุฒิ (Alto Saxophone), Darin Pantoomkomaol อาจารย์ดริน พันธุมโกมล (Piano), Noppadol Tirataradol อาจารย์นพดล ถิรธาราดล (Double Bass) and Kom Wongsawat คม วงษ์สวัสดิ์ (Drum). See video ofThe Pomelo Town youtube. Listen to Highway Bebpo Album on and Passage to the Origin album. Read more on

Rangsit University Jazz Orchestra: See video by polarxen.

Mahidol Jazz Orchestra

Saksri Pang Vongdharadon: Pianist and composer. His album *Seagull" is genuine Thai Jazz. See videos by VinyaIssraRecords and by Saksri Pang Vongdharadon on

Sarayut Supunyo: He is the band leader and piano/keyboardist of Thai jazz-fusion band "Infinity". See his cover version of Nat Myria's song "Why" on by sansana on youtube.

Wednesday April:

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Prevent the next flooding of Bangkok: Move people out of forests?

It sounds very special, what you could read in The Nation: Forestry experts and environmental activists called on the government to move people out of mountainous areas of Thailand, to protect forests and prevent floods.

The proposition was made at a seminar titled "Headwater Forest Strategy and the Way to Prevent Flood and Drought" organised by the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department. About 350 people took part, including forestry officials, forestry experts, environmental activists and members of civic groups.

A study conducted by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry found that massive deforestation caused by commercial farming in mountainous areas (500-1,500 metres above sea level) was one of the major causes of last year's severe flooding. More than 3.7 million rai of headwater forest in six river basins including the Ping, Wang, Yom and Nan were severely damaged by commercial farming (maize and rice). "We need to reduce the population in the mountainous areas and control land use. Moving people from mountainous areas to lower-lying areas would be a good way to protect headwater forests," said Wattana Wachirodom, an official from the Forest and Water Crisis Management Network.

The government may not follow. Natural Resources and Environment Ministry permanent secretary Chote Trachoo said he disagreed: "Relocating millions of people out of mountainous areas would be a very, very big issue," he said. Instead Chote Trachoo said, the government will pay people living in mountainous areas to plant trees and protect forests.

This created a lively debate on "I think that the worst damage is being done by a few very wealthy people who are engaged in illegal logging and massive deforestation and who do not even live close to the forest environment", points out one member. Another arguments, that thirty percent for the money for planting trees will go to the paymaster.

In the same time, during March, northern provinces as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai or Mae Hong Son were hardly hit by air pollution from burnings again. People were wearing masks, visibility on streets was low, as The Nation noted. See video on youtube by guzzlalex. And tourism was hit, as guesthouse-owner Buddy Maupin described in Bangkok Post. Researchers say, this haze comes especially from the cultivation of corn crops. Research data and field examinations by the Chiang Mai office of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry show, that the hotspots are areas cleared by burning in the dry season for growing of the same crop every year. "If we allow the practice to continue I'm afraid that within the next 10 years we will lose almost all our forests", said Bunpot Kantasen, chief of the local office, according to Bangkok Post. Officials believe mono-cropping has been encouraged by the government's ethanol use policy which has resulted in higher price for crops such as corn.

So, what should be done?

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