Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dammed Yangtzes

For some reason the last month or so vanished before I noticed it was gone. Whoops!

Here’s a random selection of the things I’ve done over the last few weeks, so they’re not forever lost in the muck and silt of the alluvial delta of time’s majestic Yangtze. No, it’s not a very good metaphor. Anyway, last month I:

-Failed to make any progress in learning Thai.

-Failed to quite write enough for National Novel Writing Month. However, I did get more written than during the average month, so I’m counting it as an overall success.

-Failed to complete my grand Sketchup model of the Cathedral of Freising (see below). Modeling essentially complete but project abandoned due to lack of photographs to use as textures.

-Failed to complete my grand Sketchup model of the crypt of Freising Cathedral. Project reluctantly abandoned because of lack of accurate information about the crypt’s layout.

-Failed to complete my grand Sketchup model of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, which is more or less finished but still needs all the textures added. I am determined to get this done, but putting textures on something turns out to be pretty damn tedious, and I don’t quite have all the photographic reference material I need. I thought by picking this that I’d be doing myself a favor, since it’s on the UNESCO list and I assumed that surely I’d be able to find pictures of it from every angle. Nope!

-Hunted down and bought a portable, magnetic Shogi set in Takashimaya in Singapore. This was the highlight of a delightful trip to the most charming quasi-Fascist city-state I’ve ever visited. I especially like the box the Shogi set came in, which says “LET’S ENJOY THE SHOGI GAME”. I will. Oh, I will.

-Found and purchased a bunch of Nintendo DS games at extremely low prices in downtown Bangkok. I’ve been playing some very entertaining games I’d been missing out on, including Phoenix Wright, Nintendogs and Rune Factory. I have also been playing Super Mario Galaxy, which I think is the first video game in my 25-year career of playing video games that’s repeatedly made me stand up and burst into loud, gleeful laughter while playing it. Something about jumping Mario not from platform to platform but from little orbiting moon to freakin’ moon like a non-gay version of Le Petit Prince fills my heart with inexpressible joy.

-Visited some great parts of Bangkok that I’d never even been anywhere near before, including the Little India district, which was probably the filthiest, most surreally hellish ghetto I’ve ever seen in my life. The center of the ghetto is a burnt-out rubbish pile with a gleaming 10-story Sikh temple looming over it. My brain had trouble processing the image. What is wrong with humans that gilding the dome of an enormous and immaculate temple clearly has priority over hiring a f*cking garbageman? Given the number of people in that disgusting slum who must die of cholera every week, I guess it’s a good thing they have a gargantuan whitewashed temple to mourn them in.

This is the grand, fanciful mega-temple which rises above the slums of Bangkok’s Little India district. Below is an image from Google Earth showing the burnt-out shell of the building next to it, which is the centerpiece of the neighborhood and which has clearly been used as a communal dump and unspeakably filthy sewer for several years. Way to go, ghetto dwellaz! Keep on praying!

-Celebrated Loy Krathong, although we launched our magical wishing bargelets a little early in the evening, before it looked like the picture below.

-Hanging out with my pal Elliette.

-Finally visited the famous Jatujak market, and spending a horrid few hours in that godforsaken maze failing to find carved wooden chess sets. I found a nice set which looked sort of like the picture below, but the guy claimed that it was a valuable museum piece he wouldn’t part with for less than 3000 baht. Kim put the kibosh on that.

-Enjoying winter in Bangkok. It’s quite cool and breezy. I’m serious. I had no idea the seasons changed here, but I guess they do. Right now it’s like a cool early fall day in Munich, i.e., Biergartenwetter.

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