While rigging a black backdrop in the studio today – for a shoot tomorrow – I stumbled onto the latest release from Prince, “HITnRUN Phase 2“, published last year. Maybe his funkiest album since, “Sign o’ the Times”. Really diggin’ it. At his best, Prince is as gifted a lyricist as he is a virtuous guitarist.
Now and then I’ve been working on new entries to my growing gallery of “Silver Surfers” and yesterday, I finally got around to publishing them on santamonicaimages.com – which I’ve admittedly neglected for quite some time.
I’ve had a web presence since 1999 – using first the jlrmedia.com domain and a few years later, www.raboff.com as my digital homestead and showroom for my work. I hand-coded my first site and produced several versions using Flash and Shockwave (authoring tools produced back then by, Macromedia). In 2006, ten years ago, I started blogging using the flexible WordPress platform.
I mention this to you, dear visitor, only in passing as my new website has already been launched – without much fanfare or ado. When completed, this will be – by a long stretch – the most comprehensive version of www.raboff.com so far. As I don’t participate in the social cesspool of Facebook or any other social media, this will continue to be the go-to place to catch up with my latest work, travels and blog posts.
Slowly going through and choosing which photos to save from over a thousand high resolution images shot during three weeks of traveling. Tedious but satisfying work. It’s a selection process that takes place over a series of days – sometimes weeks.
Basically, I have three criteria to define if a photo survives or is forever cast deep down in the digital abyss.
Firstly, I ask myself if the image emits anything emotionally on an artistic level. Secondly, I think about its historical value – is it a time stamp that represents a significant moment in my life? Lastly, I look at the photo to see if there could be some monetary value, either as a standalone print, part of a collage or as an addition to my micro/macro stock portfolio.
Over the years, I’ve fine-tuned this process so that it usually only takes me a few seconds to filter an image. The shot above? It hit all three of my criteria – sometimes, a blurry subject has just the right focus.
This is one of my last shots from Venice Beach. I took it just a few days ago, after a 3 hour surf session just to the left of these rocks in what is called, Backwater.
Now that I’m back in Scandinavia, it’s ever so gloomy. I seem to consistently negate how important color is to my well-being. After so many years, one would think that I’d be used to this grey and distressful, colorless environment. I don’t think I ever will. Today’s weather is what I’ve for years referred to as “classic DDR” – essentially, when the sky and sea are seamlessly joined and everything looks more or less lifeless. Erich Honecker is surely smiling from wherever Marxists go after they dematerialize.
Sad to hear about David Bowie. He was almost a generation older than me, but I certainly connected with his music during the early 1980s. Saw him live in concert once at Ullevi in Göteborg during the Let’s Dance tour. I think it was 1983.
According to an old NPR interview I listened to this morning, David Bowie enjoyed more of the creative process – writing music, drumming up events, designing alter egos – than he did standing on a stage performing the same songs over and over again. One tends to think of all musicians and performers as being pathologically extroverted and manic about wowing their audience to keep their egos afloat. The interview shone some well-needed light on this convention.
Kastrup – Los Angeles – Hawaii – Los Angeles – San Francisco – Los Angeles – Las Vegas – Los Angeles.
Arrived earlier today at LAX after a short but somewhat bumpy ride on a Southwest Boeing 737 from the neighboring state of Nevada where I partook in meetings at the massive CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas.
I’m not a gambler in the sense that I play poker, Lotto or any other game of chance where the odds are inherently low. But at the airport, mostly to kill some time prior to my flight, I actually sat down, inserted a twenty into one of hundreds of slot machines and on my very last dollar, won $75. Perhaps a sign that during 2016, I may need to roll the dice more often…
I’ve been to the consistently idiosyncratic Las Vegas several times, but never experienced a trade show there. And certainly not one as sprawling or intense as CES. On some anthropological level, it was certainly interesting to experience first hand one of the world’s largest trade shows and all the folks that participate in such a spectacle, i.e. upper echelon executives, sales reps (in various stages of exhaustion), presenters trying to lure visitors into their booths with loud music and young female hosts in hot pants, sparkly skirts and towering high heels.
Stayed once again at Mandalay Bay at the head of the Strip. This time with a nondescript view of the resort’s closed, but nonetheless gigantic pool. If you stay there, make sure to stay high up and ask for windows towards Luxor and the Strip.
Sadly, I did not get a chance to ask someone at the front desk of Cesar’s Palace if it was the real Cesar’s Palace.
It’s soon time to return to the Swedish winter’s meteorological doldrums after many weeks with mostly sunshine, balmy weather and lots of surfing. Charlotte and Elle are home already, hopefully recovering from the horrid trans-continental, multi-timezone induced jetlag and ever so slowly sliding into everyday life.
As per usual, I’ve worked far more than I had anticipated. It’s still so hard to relax and let myself go numb and forget about work. When you enjoy what you do as much as I do, it feels darn close to being a curse.
While Charlotte and Elle were out and about doing whatever they were doing, I retrieved my surfboard from the hotel’s storage room, screwed on the blue fin, waxed the board, slipped on my wetsuit and headed down to the ocean.
It’s hard to explain in a way that does the feeling justice, but after three hours and dozens of 2-3 ft sets, I left beach with a huge grin on my face a few minutes before sunset. I left behind me twenty or so surfers, still hoping to catch a few more waves.
Ironically, the surf in Venice was, if not better, than at least equally good and certainly more consistent to what was served up off the north shore of Kauai in Hawaii.
In the shower back at the hotel, It took me a good ten minutes to peel off my wetsuit. That’s how tired I was. But rest assured, it was a good tired.
I met a German couple among the folks in the water. They were stoked about the whole SoCal surfing experience and were seriously considering a move here. At least during the European winter. I sympathize entirely.
I can’t think of a better way to end the year than in the Pacific. And if I’m not too tired tomorrow morning, I may even start the new year the same way!
Happy New Year!
As per usual during visits to beautiful places, we’ve now fallen madly in love with Kauaʻi. It feels downright sad that we have to leave today. Particularly Hanalei Bay where we spent many hours surfing in the friendly waves. Fortunately for me, we’ll be traveling to one of my all-time favorites; the crusty and salty L.A. neighborhood, Venice Beach. Already looking forward to both surfing in Venice and adding new surf shots to my collection as well as producing what I hope will be a most inspiring video essay on the merits of winter surfing in Southern California for a client.
During our ten days here on Hawaii, I’ve shot many hours of HD footage and several hundred stills from all over the island. And for the first time ever, I’ve been able to successfully backup every clip and image to the cloud, in this case, my Dropbox account. I can’t give the folks at Dropbox enough praise. There are many “free” alternatives, but none that can match the ease of use and reliability that Dropbox provides at a most reasonable fee. It’s really become a ubiquitous part of my workflow.
As an extra precaution whenever I’m afoot, after offloading each card to my computer, uploading the roughly sorted material to Dropbox, I’ll let all the video and RAW files remain undeleted on the SD/CF cards – until I get back to the studio (where everything gets backed up once more to my Backblaze account).
In addition to my primary backup – a five year old 17” Macbook Pro – I’ve also copied everything to a 1TB external HD. After all this, I sleep pretty well at night.
The new Canon EOS 5Ds has performed well. I absolutely love Canon’s new, rather dampened shutter sound, the handy intervolometer (finally!) and the focus tracking feature in the otherwise somewhat featureless film mode. In reality, the Canon 5Ds is basically a Canon EOS 5D Mk III with double the resolution, crammed into a full frame sensor.
As each RAW file is a whopping 50MB large, I’ll probably delegate the 5Ds to studio work and use the forthcoming 5D Mk IV (rumored to arrive next spring) for travel work.I’ve not even tried editing any of the hires video or time-lapse clips on my almost vintage laptop. Just viewing a single RAW file in Lightroom takes far too long – even with the new 1TB SSD I added a few months ago.
The day is just about to break here on the south coast of Kauaʻi. I can here my young daughter breathing, almost in sync with the lapping Pacific waves below us. It’s time to make a cup of java and get ready for the year’s last journey – towards California!
From today’s excursion to Waimea Canyon here on Kauai, Hawaii. Shot this mystic view on the way down from from one of the wettest places on earth, Mount Waiʻaleʻale – a mountain with an elevation of 1,569 m and an average of 11,500 mm rain per year. Noticed that NASA has an observatory and what also may be a lab facility in the area.
For lunch, we thoroughly enjoyed succulent, seared Ahi (tuna) tacos with mango avocado salsa at the unassumingly styled yet ever-so aptly named, Island Taco in Waimea village. Can highly recommend a lunch there.
Got some really good footage today with a GoPro mounted on the front end of the hood of our Wrangler (jeep),
It’s raining several times a day – mostly short showers with light drizzles before and after. Lots of little fluffy clouds making for dramatic sunsets.
Recently, I was quoted in a local Swedish magazine as saying that I’m “damn bad at being bored” – a quote that in itself defines me as a somewhat erratic, unruly and maybe even a bit of a whimsical dude. All true. I am all those things. And then some.
Basically, I’ve improvised just about every moment of my entire life. I know no other way, have no master plan, definitely no mission nor any kind of long term vision. Aside from staying alive and keeping life as interesting as I can, that is.
My loosely assembled philosophy is to actively take advantage of the ad hoc, unscripted and unpredictable moments that life serves up. Inherently, this perspective steers most of my everyday choices and for good or bad, the vast majority of my decisions as a photographer, business owner, father and husband. Seize the moment. Don’t be a victim of circumstance. Use it to your advantage. Turn the page. Shove off. There’s nothing to see here – move along!
I’m rambling. On Christmas Eve, no less. Just needed to give the magazine quote some context.
Anyway, I started this most auspicious morning with a invigorating run along the Pacific Ocean just as the sun was on the rise. And yes, it was a spontaneous decision to slip on my joggers and hit the road…
Shot this with my iPhone during yesterday’s excellent trail trek along the bluffs that outline the dramatic southwest coast of Kauai. Used the Pano mode and some post production trickery to get the most out of that small, but oh so sensitive sensor.
It’s soon Christmas Eve here in the North Pacific. Surreal. No Santa, but many of the locals are wearing his helpers hats. We’ll celebrate Hawaiian style with no Santa – but at a luau with dinner at a beachfront restaurant we stumbled onto and made reservations at yesterday afternoon. Of course there will be a few holiday, well-wishing calls to both immediate and extended families and friends.
Wish you and your family happy holidays – however and wherever you celebrate.
First visit to the Garden Island, Kauaʻi. Fifth visit to the Hawaiian islands – when you include a week long stay back in the mid 1990s when I traveled around the world for 3 months with a remarkably small backpack and a lightweight mountain bike. Boy, was that a trip to remember. Flew -> Stockholm -> New York -> Los Angles -> Honolulu -> Fiji -> Auckland -> Denpasar -> Singapore -> Stockholm with a bunch of shorter domestic trips at each destination of which Kaikura on the south island of New Zealand was the most memorable.
It’s pretty breezy this time of year on Kauaʻi – so the waves on the south coast are fairly choppy and less than perfect to surf in. Elle and I still hope to enjoy a few good sets. And I would love to add a few good shots of local surfers to my portfolio during our visit. If not, then I’ll just focus on the amazing nature that quite literally encapsulates this garden island.
While Elle and I walked from Santa Monica Beach to Venice Beach early-ish this morning, I reflected on how little has changed in Venice. At least along the Boardwalk. Of course, they didn’t sell medical marijuana licenses back in my day – but in the grand scheme of things, for better or worse, very little has changed since I was Elle’s age. That’s almost forty years with the same mix of ramshackle storefronts, homeless, musicians, artists, skaters, surfers and street hawkers.
After a hefty breakfast near the beach, we walked eastward to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, arguably the trendiest/chicest/hippest shopping strip in Southern California. The above scene was from outside one of many cafes around lunch time today.
The video is from a recent afternoon visit to the studio of our favorite charity, Hang on Hangers, founded by the always thoughtful generous and kind friend, Annika Jonasson in Bangkok, Thailand.
Shot on an iPhone and edited in Final Cut Pro X.
Venice Pier, early yesterday evening. I was out shooting surfers, which were few, and as the sun set in the Pacific, I found myself once again mesmerized, nay, hypnotized by the wide palette of hues and how smooth the in-between gradients joined them together. The clarity is amazing and though I haven’t yet looked at my shots and footage, I’ve surely captured some pretty good stuff.
The shot of me above was taken by Noah Youhee Won, a local photographer and graphic artist that couldn’t help but get a couple of images of me and the pier as silhouettes.
Slightly nippy but still absolutely gorgeous SoCal sunshine welcomed us back to Los Angeles this mid December afternoon. Weather-wise, it feels just about the same as when I was here in February. That’s California for ya.
The sun really lifts my soul.
Staying in Santa Monica for a few nights before flying westward to the Hawaiian Islands. Both surfboard and camera gear survived the transatlantic flight with Norwegian. Brother Nick was kind to pick us up with his ginormous new truck at the unusually busy Tom Bradley Terminal.
I’m writing this literally a block away from the Santa Monica Pier, not far from where I’ll be filming local surfers these next couple of days. Excited to see what the new camera can accomplish.
For more than a year now, I’ve been contracted to shoot PR and marketing photos of Scandinavia’s most spectacular hotel, Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live. I’ve shot food, drinks, rooms, suites, bars and a whole bunch of other particulars – both throughout the final months before the grand opening and for the first six months afterwards.
One of many individual projects was to help market the hotel’s very first Christmas show. So, I scripted, filmed and produced the broadcast commercial and shot a slew of Press and PR images to help the marketing team generate interest and help sell tickets. The show has been sold out for quite some time now and I saw the first of four shows the other night. It’s certainly one of the most spectacular shows I’ve ever seen and surely one of the biggest productions ever produced in Malmö. I was invited as a guest, but after eating a belly full of sumptuous American and Swedish inspired Christmas food, I just couldn’t sit still. Above is one of the shots I got with my phone. Couldn’t make up my mind which I was more impressed with; my camera phone’s ability to shoot decently in such relative low light or the show’s Vegas level production.
In Paris for a weekend of travel photography. Enjoying both surprisingly good (warm, sunny) weather and seeing my sister (and her family) who’s here from Alaska as a delegate during the climate conference.
Haven’t been in the French capital for about 5 years and it’s probably twice as long ago since I was here wintertime.
There’s been a tectonic shift in the way Parisians interact with non-French speakers. I ascribe the change to both how today’s younger generation has more to lose by not learning at least a basic understanding of the language most visitors speak and that English, is the de facto lingua franca.
We’re staying in the 10th arrondissement, not far from Gare du Nord and where Canal Saint-Martin links the northeastern area of Paris with the River Seine. It’s a truly eclectic neighborhood with lots of Middle Eastern grocery stores but plenty of classic Parisian brasseries.
About a half a year ago, our daughter Elle saw a documentary on YouTube (where else, right?) that disclosed some extremely discomforting facts about the food industry in general and more specifically about how horrifically bad farm animals are treated throughout their miserable lives.
Right there and then, Elle decided to remove meat – all forms of animal meat – from her diet. Shortly thereafter, her mother Charlotte joined in and about a month or so later, I too took the plunge and removed chicken, pork, beef and all other forms of meat from my list of edibles.
Charlotte and I still eat seafood and shellfish, though. I mean, I completely concur with Elle in not financially supporting the food industry’s unacceptable methods and gut-wrenching practices. But to stop eating shrimp and sushi? That’s taking it a little too far. and probably ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.
Recently, Elle’s taken her self-imposed dietary constraints even further by insisting that we eat less dairy products – and to thereby extend our moral stance against the often unhealthy production processes used to produce stuff like milk, yoghurt, butter, cream, and cheese.
As I’m sure some of you can imagine, this is by no means an uninteresting culinary challenge we’re in the midst of. And though I often feel I fall short in concocting and serving meals to the girls that look nice, taste good but are unquestionably healthy, I’m slowly learning about all kinds of new fascinating ways to create food that caries health benefits way beyond the dinner table.
The above photos is from a recent food session focused on so-called pintxos.
As a nation, Sweden is decidedly at the forefront on many important environmental and human rights issues. But when it comes to food, however, this country is sadly pretty much slave to a few dominating corporations that dictate the relatively slim range (and contents) available in grocery stores.
Exceptions exist – and we’re lucky to both work and live near one of the country’s only Whole Foods inspired stores. And despite having a really good selection of organic, locally sourced products, I still order many of our kitchen’s basic ingredients via Amazon UK, including organic cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds, pistachios, sun dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and a bunch of other specialty foods.
Ordering weighty stuff from Great Britain isn’t cheap and sometimes, my purchases are unreasonably expensive. Admittedly, a few times, when I haven’t been paying attention, the shipping charge has even exceeded what the products themselves cost. And one might rightfully question how environmentally friendly it is to order food from the UK.
Fortunately, my qualms are usually quite literally quieted by our loud, two horse power monster blender while it mashes, crushes and whirls nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, kale and almond milk into my breakfast smoothie…
Though I’m not a hardcore Star Wars nerd, I’d lie if I didn’t admit to having a childish level of excitment about J.J. Abrams take on George Lucas space opera, arriving in (US) theaters in about two weeks.
The faux Sci-Fi tech is certainly intriguing, but more importantly – at least to me – are the over-the-top, incredulously bombastic visuals. Escapism at its best.
Buddy Ken Wegas sent me the above photo this morning from the premiere of the very first Star Wars film at Mann’s Chinese Theatre on May 25, 1977. I’m there, somewhere in that crowd, together with Marcos and his father, director and writer, Antonio Santean. I’d been babysitting his son Marcos for a few months, and as a bonus, Antonio kindly invited me to see the premiere showing of a movie starring mostly unknowns – but that had been generating so much buzz and that almost instantly created fans all over the world. Photo credit: unknown.
The other day I was interviewed for a Swedish lifestyle magazine about my work and life as a photographer. And though my dedication to Västra Hamnen was the general theme of the piece, I’ve read the journalist’s first draft and it also gives an nuanced and factually accurate account of who I am and what’s important to me.
I put some extra emphasis on how I feel about traveling as compared with, say, spending a third of my life being entertained by what’s shown on an ever-so flat or gigantically wide television (and other viewing mechanisms).
During the interview, I realized and felt obliged to vocalized how sad I felt about how there still are so many places, cultures and people that are difficult – if not life threatening – to experience.
The map above is generated by Google via TripAdvisor which then generates the absolutely absurd statement that I’ve visited 33% of our planet. I should only be so lucky to have covered that much in my life. It’s probably a single digit percentage, if even that. Still, I feel infinitely lucky to have a career that takes me to so many fascinating places.
One could easily presuppose that because I travel so much, I am not happy at home. That my need to constantly keep moving derives from a rootlessness of sorts. This may very well be the case as I’ve been traveling since I was very young and have had many, many “homes”. And perhaps I’m retrofitting the narrative of my yet-to-be-written autobiography here, but when I dig back into my memories or flip through some of my oldest photographs, I still feel mostly intrigued and inspired when I see how interesting my life has been thus far.
Last Friday, I spent a couple of late afternoon hours high above the sea shooting cocktails and scrumptious meals in the sky bar and Kitchen & Table dining room at Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live.This is one of their signature cocktails, “John Doe”. Don’t recall all the particulars, but bourbon and chocolate was definitely in the recipe. Chocolate and whiskey. You just can’t go wrong with that combo.
This shot is from Sunday’s mega-multi-class-workout-photo-session. Twenty or so models of all ages and sizes participated. Everything went super smooth and I have a whole slew of inspiring photos of folks in various stages of exercise.
Instead of traditional strobes/flashes, I opted for a fairly new solution: several high-powered LED bicolor panels on stands. I knew from previous projects in the same hall, that the wide spectrum of color (yellow floors, green walls, white ceilings and various coloured clothes) was going to be tough to deal with in post. But thanks to the extra exposure strength and relatively low ISO provided by the LED panels, I was provided with enough latitude in the images dynamic range to make all kinds of relevant adjustments.
Earlier this evening, by sheer happenstance, I stumbled onto an episode of Groucho Marx’s classic series, “You Bet Your Life” from 1959 with my mother in it. She appears at 6:59 together with an elderly gentlemen.
I’ve always had a vague memory of hearing that she’d been in one of his game shows. But until today, I just wasn’t sure which.
Apparently, some heroic person has taken the time to upload all episodes and credit all of Groucho’s contestants. So after just a few clicks, there she was, a 26 year old Ina Solveig Anders (my mother’s stage name). I’ve not created it, but here’s her page at IMDB.
I haven’t heard my mother’s voice in almost 40 years, so watching her on a late 1950s TV show – more or less five years before I was born – was certainly strange, albeit exciting.
Elle was studying for a math test when I interrupted her with this news flash, but I have a feeling she’s going to revisit the show on her own time to see more of the obvious resemblance she shares with her grandmother.
I have no idea who the fellow she was competing with was. But he most certainly looked like he could have been her grandfather.
I know this is a bit early, but can there possibly be two more appropriate photography concentric books to give away this holiday season to friends, family, employees, customers, clients, patients or partners? I’m just sayin’…
Each of these exclusive books include unique photos and insights into what makes Västra Hamnen such an inspiring place to live and work in.
Interested in buying a box of books for your company, organisation or institution? Get in touch!
So I’ve been freelancing for about 16 years now. Our small family business has the highest possible credit rating and no bank loans or debts. Heck, we don’t even have checking account. And like all good corporate citizens, we pay our business (local and government) tax each month on time – with barely any bitching. And thanks to a really good financial consultant, our company books are well-balanced.
Earlier this fall, I had an assignment for Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs via Sweden’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York City. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see a post about that most challenging, albeit interesting gig. And with the exception of being hired by Malmös city council on a few occasions, working with the Swedish government was both gratifying and surprisingly straightforward. But like IKEA, Ericsson or any other large organization that I’ve worked with in the past, it’s key to pace yourself and adjust the volume and rhythm to suit their tune.
Anyway, it’s now been a while since I sent my invoice to the Government Offices in Stockholm – to, in effect, my government which I help finance via taxes. Optimistically, the administrator/controller responsible for payments to the state’s suppliers (like myself) will pay my invoice in an equally orderly fashion as I am expected to pay taxes. Not holding my breath, though.
What, no jet lag? Nope. Can’t remember when I felt so relieved from not having to deal with at least a week filled with sleep disorder. Considering how ridiculously noisy the hotel we stayed at was, I actually feel more rested now that we’re home again than I did during the entire week in Bangkok.
I wrote a brutally honest and scathing review about our guest experiences over on TripAdvisor about the hotel. We tried to change hotels about half way through our stay at the Shama on Sukhumvit, but management forced a severe penalty on us for departing early.
Ironically, my critique will doubtlessly cost them considerably more than what they would of earned – had we paid them to switch hotels. Their strict policy is typical for a desperate hotel in decline. The only really good thing I can say about the property is that the view from the pool was sweet albeit far from spectacular.
I shot this a couple of years ago somewhere around the north east corner of Santa Monica – a mainly residential area within the city limits where well-kept streets are lined with small to medium sized mansions. One of the residents in one of the larger homes there works in the film industry and has for years pimped out the family’s garden and stretch of sidewalk with all kinds of goblins, ghosts and ghastly creatures. I really admire that “all-in” attitude.
Some interesting facts about this auspicious celebration from the History Channel’s website:
“Evolving from the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, modern Halloween has become less about literal ghosts and ghouls and more about costumes and candy. The Celts used the day to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, and also believed that this transition between the seasons was a bridge to the world of the dead. Over the millennia the holiday transitioned from a somber pagan ritual to a day of merriment, costumes, parades and sweet treats for children and adults.”
Surprisingly, I’ve barely listened to any of my podcast subscriptions while in Asia. Instead, for whatever reason, I’ve reacquainted myself with oldies but goodies – like the Swiss harp virtuoso, Andreas Vollenweider.
I’m actually streaming his album “White Winds” via Apple Music as I type this. And though I’ve not listened to Andreas string plucking for probably over 20 years, his music still sounds so timelessly fresh and curiously relevant.
Yesterday, after a visit to the gym, a bagel with salmon and cappuccino breakfast at one of Sukhumvit’s two Dean & Deluca branches (a well-known New York delicatessen brand interestingly enough now owned by a Thai property development corporation), the girls and I headed to the sprawling slum area of Klong Toey’s “Jet Sip Rai”.
Nobody knows for sure how many people live in this vast shanty town near the Chao Phraya River. I’ve heard estimates of over 100k – but that number could be easily underestimated. The area’s busy streets, narrow alleys and concrete paths which criss-cross Jet-Sip-Rai, are packed with people.
Most of the area’s inhabitants live out there lives here without any opportunity for social elevation. The majority live in simple shacks most without running water, proper ventilation and with their electricity needs coming from often haphazardly high-jacked power lines.
This is where our favorite charity, Hang on Hangers started five years ago. It’s where many teenage mothers and families live. Some of which now enjoy a relatively decent living thanks to the money they earn while making hangers and jewellery for Hang on Hangers. For some of the girls that help founder, Annika Jonasson and her staff, it means their children can get proper medical care and or attend school. For others, it means that teenage mothers can get treatment for drug abuse or stop working in go-go bars or massage parlors. The money they earn isn’t going to make them rich by any measure. But it will allow them to work from home.
While Elle and Charlotte visited Ms. Wasana and her daughter Fon (bedridden since birth with severe cerebral palsy), I filmed one of the staff during the process of turning a simple hanger into something that makes Hang on Hangers so unique; their beautifully hand-made, fabric clad, designer hangers.
The group photo above is from yesterday’s visit. Here’s a link to Hang on Hangers if you feel like visiting or donating.
Writing these very words while sitting on a huge white corner sofa in an apartment hotel on Soi 2 in the Thai capital, Bangkok – the city of Angels.
It’s five in the morning and impossible to know for sure if the noise coming from Sukhumvit Road below me is generated from late night or early morning traffic. There have been a few occasions with loud and boisterous laughter to remind me that I’m in a city that is never, ever quiet.
We arrived early yesterday morning with Norwegian’s direct (and mostly smooth) flight from Copenhagen. After an unusually long and tedious drive into downtown, we checked in, unpacked, showered and then headed out for a quick lunch at one of the city’s most well-known neighborhood eateries, Suda Restaurant on Soi 14 (BTS Asoke).
Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, food plays an almost ridiculously important part in Thai society. If for no other reason – and there are a plethora of honorable and morally justifiable reasons to visit this great city – Bangkok has quite possibly the most restaurants of any city in the world. The width and breadth of the selections is gargantuan.
The dishes offered at Suba are as simple and straightforward as the plastic, pastel colored plates and rickety tables it is served on. That’s not to say everything we ordered wasn’t amazingly tasty. It was. A bit spicy, but still full of harmoniously balanced flavours. I’ve never eaten anything remotely as good in Sweden, in the US or anywhere else. Thai food outside of Thailand just seems, well, counterfeit. Ironic, I know.
After an intense summer and fall of lugging around and handling heavy camera gear to location shoots both near and afar, my shoulders, neck and back have been in more or less constant pain. Maybe not really constant. But certainly nagging and reoccurring enough to warrant remedy. So, to kickstart what will hopefully be a quick fix, I began the week-long visit here with a two hour “Energize Me” session at Health Land – one of the city’s enormously popular massage and treatment centers. The above shot of one of Bangkok’s few remaining canals, or khlong in Thai, is from right outside Health Land near Asoke. Highly recommend a visit there. Great staff and a pleasantly relaxing locale.
Next on my to-do-list was ordering a pair of new prescription glasses at the – at least for me – utterly in-navigable and disturbingly disorienting Emporia Complex – adjacent to the Phrom Phong skytrain station. With my printed prescription in hand, that project took only about 30 minutes to conclude and my new pair of specs should arrive at the hotel on Friday.
Finally, before heading back to the apartment, we ate dinner at another favorite; ISAO Fusion, a small, almost indiscernible Japanse restaurant tucked away between massage parlours on Soi 31. When we lived here for a few spring months in 2013, we loved returning to ISAO where food, service and ambiance enjoy a perfect balance.
So, in addition to eating several great meals, taking care of aches and pains infused by my occupation, providing our shopping addicted daughter with some new garb (from Pratunam, not Siam Paragon), we are also here to provide our friend Annika Jonasson and her staff at the Hang on Hangers project with new photos, perhaps a few videos and eventually, an updated web site shop. Looking forward to this latter part of our week here immensely.