Sunday, July 31, 2011

Top 50 Most Played: 50-41

          The music you listen to reveals a lot about what kind of person you are. I've learned that it's definitely important to talk about music earlier on in a relationship, rather than later. To be honest, I don't think two people with completely different music tastes could be compatible in that way unless one converts the other. But I'm not saying that if the artists on your iPod don't match mine, we can't be friends! 
          So for my imaginary followers who want to get to know me better, I'm going to show you my iPod. Well, at least a very important playlist on it: my Top 50 Most Played. I'll reveal 10 songs a post, and just share a few thoughts on each song - why I fell in love with it or became addicted to it.

50. Stormy Weather - Ah, there's going to be a lot from the Kooks on this list. What's gets me about them the most is lead singer Luke Pritchard's British accent. I fall in "love, love, love" for this one.

49. Ageless - Calming. Makes me feel like lying on a porch somewhere during a light drizzle; time flying by, but I'm not growing old. I could be there forever. 

48. Kill All Your Friends - LET ME EXPLAIN. I had a My Chemical Romance phase in middle school. This is a remnant from those days. Ironically, I listened to this song with my best friend, a fellow MCR fan... and I still totally would.

47. Vindicated - Lyrics and his raspy voice, especially the opening. 

46. Beautiful - Very honest lyrics. It's a Thai song. I always wish I was who he's talking to.

45. Always Where I Need to Be - Luke, you've done me again!

44. Hands Down - "My hopes are so high that your kiss might kill me, so won't you kill me, so I die happy? My heart is yours to fill or burst, to break or bury, or wear as jewelry, which ever you prefer."

43. I Don't Want To Let You Go - I don't know why this Weezer song is on the list.

42. กระเป๋าแบนแฟนยิ้ม (krapao ban fan yim) - I have to put the English pronunciation there because my "farang" iPod can't read Thai. Anyways, this song reflects my Richman Toy phase. I saw them three times. This song is actually the first song I heard from them and my favorite.

41. Countdown - Let me warn you about Phoenix as well. There's going to be lots of them further up the list.

*Note: standings are very susceptible to fluctuation.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Words & No Pictures

          Although this blog began as a project for the people in my faculty, I feel like they have forgotten it. So, I'm going to do something here that I've been wanting to do for a while, and that is write a personal post.
          What I've been wanting to discuss is how apparently my life has already changed since entering into Thai university, particularly Chulalongkorn. 
          Just a little background for you kind strangers who take an interest in my life: I'm a half-Thai kid, who has lived in Bangkok my whole life, but within an international society. What this basically means is that there were days living here that  I could get away without speaking a speck of Thai. Over the years however, I learned the value of having a Thai cultural identity and caught up with it. Still, I am very much 'foreign'. It's hard to explain without writing you a book, but I can show you how leaving high school and coming into "Nitade (Comm-Arts) Chula" has given me so many 'aha' moments about the true Thai society

The Breakdown of My Top 10 'Aha' Moments in Nitade Chula: 
  1. Thais care about who you are carrying.
    I'm talking about Louis Vuitton and relatives. It was just never a topic among my circle of "farang" (white/foreign) friends in high school. It was however very much a thing in the Thai group, as it is in Thai university - my faculty notoriously.
  2. Thais are so open about sexual orientation.
    In the Christian international high school I went to, the third gender was such a taboo topic. There, everyone seemed straight. Here,  if you're going to be gay, you gotta flaunt it. 
  3. Thais are the most 'community' people you'll ever meet.
    Especially in my faculty, where networking clearly takes precedence over academic studying. What really amazes me is how everyone looks out for each others' backs actively.
    • Ex: standing around to remind passerbyers about tuition fee deadlines.
    • Ex: calling everyone about upcoming exams and what to bring for them.
    • (Both these people were freshies just like me.)
  4. [My high school academic standards were impossibly high.]
  5. Thais are super friendly and "ngaii-ngaii' (easy-going).
    It doesn't take years, not even months to become close friends - people you go out with on weekends, ask for help, help out, tell your concerns to, etc. And if you think it was just a one time thing, THINK AGAIN.
  6. Thais are big likers and commenters on Facebook.
    I call it Thai-Facebooking. It's growing on me.
  7. Thais take activities seriously.
    Especially relevant to my faculty. Right now we're developing a play. All the work is virtually volunteer, yet there never seems to be a lack of people willing to help out. And they are so enthusiastic about it! Where were these kinds of people in my high school when the student council needed hands?! I'm lucky though that I have this trait in me. I'm definitely an activity person. =]
  8. Thais are so nice about pitching-in. 
    Seriously, people were so bad at this in high school (especially the guys - sorry if I'm talking about you!) I don't think it's a matter of wealth. In Thai society, it's just an unacceptable thing to keep someone hanging in cash.
  9. Thais take birthdays seriously.
    I swear I hear "Happy Birthday" at the "kana" (faculty) everyday. There is always a surprise cake - customized - and remorse from those who didn't remember! Where I came from, you have a 12-month margin to celebrate someone's birthday. Not complaining, just saying. =]
  10. And lastly, Thais are not ashamed to be sweet.
    Last night I was at a well attended birthday party for one of the girls in the kana who I've actually become particularly attached to. A beautiful surprise video and song left her in tears... It just confounds me to think that less than 3 months ago we were all practically strangers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Second Sighting of an Invader

Oh my gosh! I can't believe it! I found another Invader in Bangkok!
Again, I was in the car with my mother and spotted it in the midst of conversation.
This Invader was huge, although missing a few legs and teeth.
I'm accepting the destined sighting this morning as a good omen.

Bangkok-ers, can you tell where this is?

Monday, July 25, 2011


          I've been wanting watch a blockbuster film for a while, so a few hours ago I posted this desire as my Facebook status, and now I'm going to be at the theaters with people everyday for the rest of the week!
          Oh, and speaking of movies, I've been inspired to start a new project - to simply keep track of EVERY new movie I see from now on. I'm trying to devise a creative way to do this... and hopefully I'll keep it up!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Click to View Enlarged

          If you have me on Facebook and actually give a damn about my personal life, then you probably already know that I recently got my film developed! I can't get over how beautiful the shots turned out, so I'm going to shamelessly promote the best ones here. (Sorry for the redundancy, my Facebook friends.)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
& Others from Universal Orlando
[shot with $13-disposable film camera]
1. "Welcome to Hogsmeade"   2. A real butterbeer vendor   3. Honeydukes candystore
4. In front of Ollivander's with fellow wizards
1. "All aboard the Hogwarts Express!"   2. Added some lomo-effects on this shot of Hogsmeade
3. A "curious" crate I would call this.   4. Souvenir coin machine; insert 50 cents & a penny.

Artsy Activities
[shot with a way more expensive film camera - thus the amazing quality]
[EU Film Fest @Bangkok Art & Culture Center:]
1. My fellow art-enthusiast friend,
Mind, with some epic photos of old Siam
2. Portrait artist Khun Robert and his charcoal sketch of me!
3. Some intriguing flavors of ice-cream during movie intermission - Tokyo Banana & Yogurt Strawberry
[Unrelated:] 4. Excited about listening to my brand new Phoenix LP for the first time.

Attempts to Get on Mom's Good Side
[Canon EOS Kiss, film]
1. Good morning, mother.   2-3. Happy birthday, mother.
4. The final attempt; got dad's help on this one.

Aikido: Black Belt Examinations,
June 18, 2011
[Canon EOS Kiss, film]
Mostly pictures of Mac (17).

Night @ Beirut, Lebanese Restaurant
[Canon EOS Kiss, film]
Parents. Meats & Breads. Tasty Tea. Friends.

That's enough for now. (This post took me a ridiculously long time.) More film posts to come as I travel backwards in time sequence. I'd just like to leave you with this personal thought about the film hobby: Because one film roll tends to cover several different events and you have no way of checking the success of each shot after you take them, film photography offers you so much more excitement and surprise.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A New Passion for Street Art

Left: Monday. All I had on me was my sucky quality BB camera.
Right: Yesterday. Intentionally brought my good camera. =]
          I hope you're wondering why I am so excited over this seemingly mundane piece of vandalism because I'm dying to tell what it really is. This little mosaic "graffiti" is actually an original piece of artwork by a world-renown street artist who goes by Space Invader, or just Invader.
          Now let's back up a little. How did I learn about this Invader? Answer: The European Union Film Festival. One of my favorite films of the fest was a UK documentary called "Exit Through the Gift Shop". This movie completely changed my perspective on street art. If you're a person who looks at graffiti and sees vandalism, I implore you especially to watch this documentary. Because that used to be me.
          Anyways, a quick synopsis. The movie shines the spotlight on a world of artists who characteristically shy away from the lime-light. After all, what they do "is in sort of a legal gray-area." But this is what is intriguing about their art. It's controversial, and yet highly influential because of its accessibility. Think about it. You don't have to go to the museum to find them. You already see them everyday! This Invader for example, I've easily passed over 100 times in my life. (Hint: Rachaprasong)... And on top of all this, Exit is a comedy - it'll make you laugh.

I'm determined to find more. I'm on a quest.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Quest to Find 'Invader'

I'm on a quest to find invaders in Bangkok. That's right. I'm not joking. Right now I'm at Chula, my university. After class I'm going to return to the spot I first found an invader - this past Monday - and take a picture of it with my good camera.
Off to class now. Bye.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Finding Gold Spontaneously... (Again!)

          You know what makes me content about living where I do?...
It's that art and its appreciation are definitely not dead in Bangkok. I've seen it - literally.
          Recently, I devoted my waking hours of three days in a row to watching European independent films at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Had it not been for a little complaint from the parents I would have gone the fourth and final day. Deep regrets. Even when I wasn't watching the movies, I was at the Centre admiring Thai art exhibitions, getting a charcoal portrait of myself done in 10 minutes (actually more like 15, but that's still impressive), and delighting on rare ice cream flavors. I have no idea why I did not know about this very assessible place before. Makes me feel like I've wasted a lot of leisure time in my life.
          Anyways, how I ventured upon this event is another one of my spontaneous experiences. (Funny isn't it that I tend to find museums this way and end up enjoying them so much!) The story is that I came back from the US, craving to play aikido (the martial arts I keep up with), so I went last Wednesday and was handed a flyer by a friend. To be honest, going to watch foreign films sounded very interesting, but at the time I felt like it was never going to happen. I would probably be busy with catching up in summer school. No one else would probably want to go with me. I'm not familiar with the venue...
         So then the next day, I showed up for my faculty's photography club at 4 pm. It was the first meet and I predicted that it would end late, but all we did was introduce ourselves to people we already know... (smirk). What made me take another look at the flyersitting at the bottom of my bag was a conversation I had with someone-I-already-knew during the meet. She was talking about her plans to watch the final Harry Potter movie. I had plans too, but listening to her more thought-out plans, I realized how impossible it would be to get tickets at that point during the long weekend.
          I guess I was still determined to watch a movie over the long weekend, so I looked at the flyer, saw that a movie was playing at that very moment, turned on the GPS map-app on my Blackberry, and navigated my way to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre! And it was raining! Talk about doing things on a whim.
          When I walked into the theater, the French movie playing was already an hour in, but it still moved me. Then I caught all of the last film of the day, a witty documentary from the UK. A long applause from the audience on that one.
          I left the building, realizing I had struck gold.
[Photos & movie reviews to come. I'm off to take a midterm exam!]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

San Fran, Street Style

          My last day in San Francisco turned out to be the best day I had in San Francisco. My friend's brother dropped us off at the Ferry Building, which is where one of the Blue Bottle cafes is located at. On the way I caught of glimpse of the AT&T park, the big ballpark in SF. 
         The Ferry Building was such a beautiful place. From the outside it looks like a station or some corporate building, but it's actually a charming marketplace inside. Located right on the dock and on Market Street, the Ferry Building originally served as trade post for the entire bay. When it opened in 1898, ferryboats were the only means of transportation across the bay. Hence the Ferry Building brought together all sorts of characters and edibles in San Francisco.
Blue Bottle
New Orleans Style Iced Coffee [by Richelle Chen]  
          After we had our coffee at Blue Bottle (I recommend the New Orleans Style Iced Coffee by the way), Richelle (that my friend!) and I walked across the street to the downtown area...again! It was slightly chilly that day and in the excitement of finding a DAISO in SAN FRANCISCO, I bought 2 scarves for a $1.50 each. =]
          At that point, Richelle and I decided to spend the day doing and seeing the most "street" things in the city. We watched several street dancing performances. We had hotdogs from those famous hotdogs stands. I tipped a bum doing some kind of mime. We found the "Jesus Christ Loves You" guy who usually stands in front of Forever 21. We saw the drums of a locally famous street drummer, but he wasn't there. We even witnessed a worker's strike, and I asked one of the strikers about it.
1. The corporate area.
2. Street flower vendor.
3. Street drums minus the drummer.
4. The Jesus Christ Loves You guy.
5.  Street dogs!

          We also walked down Castro street, which was a really nice place. If you don't already know, Castro is known for being a gay street. But IT IS NOT SCARY AT ALL! I love the rainbow flag that are hung everywhere. And the people are so charming. One guy helped me out when I was talking about directions out loud. 
          At the end of Castro street is Dolores Park which Richelle says is where all the hipsters hang out. And across Dolores is Bi-Rite Creamery! There is usually a long line at this ice cream place, but we happened to walk in at the right time. I had the salted caramel and lavender honey. Both tasted amazing. I highly recommend. The lavender honey was a real surprise.
          Before walking Castro however, Richelle and I went to the CONTAINER STORE, which in addition to being Oprah Winfrey's favorite store is... my favorite store! What is more beautiful than organization? (Professor Daved, that is my rhetorical question!)
Ask me about what I got when you see me... because I'll have it with me!
          At the end of the day, I had Mexican food at Celia's with Richelle and her family minus a brother because no one called him. Whoops. We all returned home for a while before heading out again to the other brother's place. =P It was a good ending because I got to see everyone right before I left, even Maxi. Goodbyes were bittersweet.
Richelle, giving me the "What?" in front of Celia's.

One last capture of "home" in San Francisco.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Last Day of Wandering in the City

I don't know for sure yet, but I think this is what's on the agenda

  1. In-and-Out Burger Not anymore because we did that last night!
  2. The "Japanese Iced Coffee" at Richelle's favorite coffee place, Blue Mountain Bottle.
  3. A tall The Ferry building at Embargadero.
  4. Ice Cream at somewhere famous.
  5. Dinner at Celia's because they know Mika loves Mexican food.
  6. Return home for last minute packing. What if it all doesn't fit? 
  7. Airport.

My Third Fourth

My Fourth of July spent in San Francisco with my friend and her family gave me so many new experiences. For one thing I met so many new people in such a short period of time. Hopefully, I'll remember all of them and meet them again in the near future because I'd really love to. It was also my first time competing in a corn-on-the-cob eating race (I lost, but did well for a newbie and the only girl!), and my first time lying flat on the street to watch fireworks.

I've experienced a total of three Fourth of July's in America, and oddly enough this one felt the most "family" of them all, despite the fact that I am not related to anybody I spent it with.

I return home in 24 hours. It's sad, but exciting because I know my friend will make my last day here memorable.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Ultimate Touristy Things To Do in San Francisco

Happy 4th of July! For now things are calm here, but I expect some extravagant action at night.
Yesterday my friend and I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, in addition to touring around Fisherman's Wharf! I love the Wharf. Good food. Good view. Good street music.

Mika's Must Do's For Tourists:
1. Have the white clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl at Fishman's Wharf.
2. Visit the Lefty's store at the Wharf. It's hilarious. Especially if you are a lefty yourself (like me).
3. Alcatraz (the notoriously famous prison) is floating out just beyond the Wharf. Take a picture of yourself with it from the Wharf... And if you're able to, take the ferry to it!
4. Drive down Lombard Street. It's tricky! The most zig-zag thing next to zippers.
5. Walk the Golden Gate Bridge. (Or rent a bike; that looked fun too.)
6. Stand in line for Ice Cream at Ghirardelli's (San Fran's most famous chocolatier).

It was SUPER WINDY on the Golden Gate Bridge by the way. I had to yell to hear myself and talk to my friend. But luckily the wind wasn't blowing against us. It helped us across. =]

The best chowder I've ever had.


Look at this escapee posing as a tourist!
[Photography by: Richelle Chen]

Lombard Street

First-timers should get the Ghirardelli's Chocolate on a chocolate dipped waffle cone - a classic.

This is Maxi.
She waited for me on the other side of the bridge.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Good Bread.

Today is my first day of rest in San Francisco after arriving here on Wednesday. I'm living with my high school friend, and her family. She and I are big fans of books, records, photography, and hipstery things so we've been spending everyday out wandering in the city. Already we've been to the two major record stores in San Fran: Amoeba (yes, again) and Rasputin Records. I bought a record from each (and a few CDs). This time I had my artists in mind beforehand! I also learned a little bit of history about the two stores: the founders of Amoeba are people who left Rasputin. ;]
Rasputin Records - They have my favorite album,
and look at their Beatles section!
Amoeba had my favorite album too

Unfortunately - and I've noticed this since L.A. - book stores are becoming less and less popular. For some reason the digital age is hurting book sales but not record sales. =[ I haven't been to any Barnes and Nobles or Borders yet, although I HAVE TRIED. I did however find a smaller bookstore, Booksmith, on Haight Street yesterday. (Haight, pronounced like "hate".) Haight Street has many vintage stores that are so much fun to browse through. Be careful though! Lots of bums and druggies in the area!
1. Booksmith - they recommend stuff!
2. Finding my favorite flower on Haight Street.
3. Vintage clothes and gumball machine.
4. Buttons at a crafts store.

I feel like such a tourist here because my camera is always out. And I'm just shooting random things like buildings, buses, cable cars, cafes, hipsters... Just because the environment is so different than what I'm used to. The buildings are similar to downtown L.A. I don't know how to describe it but classic architectural. Bangkok is more modern and sleek.
And the slopes! I've always seen them in movies, but now I'm experiencing the real thing! It's like you can always see a background, middle ground, and foreground because the buildings are not on a level ground. Another notable feature about San Francisco's look is the colors. When I travel home on the BART (like BTS in Bangkok), I pass this residential area and it is just so colorful. Yellows, pinks, light blues, minty greens. I love it. The distribution of colors is random, but evenly spaced out. In the city, it's more of a classy palette: beige buildings with dark colored details. The red cable cars add the finishing touch.
"San Fran BTS" - I start from Millbrae everyday.

As for food, I think the bread here is really good. There are lots of sandwich places. I also had pizza last night, and the dough was really good.
Foreground: Beef Brisket Panini
Background: Chicken Pesto Panini

Keep following because I have yet to visit San Francisco's ultimate attractions: the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Blog Requests Are Always Welcomed!

So I got a personal request to post more of my photography on my blog. Awesome!
(Hahaha. I probably write too much yeah?)
Here are some random pictures from L.A.
Merry-go-rounds, surprisingly common in the malls
Little Tokyo, downtown L.A.
Classic architecture of downtown L.A.

The famous bench from the movie 500 Days of Summer
A classic treat at Balboa Island (Newport Beach)
Beach houses in Newport