Last September I was in Bangkok to work on a story about women as motorbike taxi drivers. While it was published in the German media in the meantime I will take the chance to post the whole series of portraits here in the following weeks…
Motorbike taxis are a common means of public transport in the urban chaos of Bangkok. Organized in groups, so called “Win”, like the arms of an octopus they reach out from the main roads to bring their passengers deeper into the maze of smaller roads, the “Soi”, where no other public transport (Skytrain or Buses) go.
While driving a motorbike taxi is usually a male domain, there is one group of motorbike taxis that is known as “Win Pak Daeng” or “Win of the red lips”. More than 20 housewives, most of them married to soldiers work here together to earn some extra cash for the family household.
Despite occasional moments of discrimination or even harassment through male clients all of the women are very proud to be part of this group and enjoy the work. The great level of independence they have being their own boss is probably the major reason for them to brave the cities burning sun and tropical rains every day again. Being amongst friends is another one.
I must say I really enjoy working on projects in Bangkok. For various reasons:
1) The city is incredibly photogenic. I have always been attracted to cities that have this kind of dystopian blade-runner feeling. Cities that seem to be build in the sky. Not only the highrises but inner city highways, walkways the skytrain etc. Layer upon layer an urban maze is created, and if it is the magic hour close before or after sunrise or sunset, when the natural light mixes with neon light and steam rises from the food stalls, the city simply blows me away.
2) This place is just full of stories that wait to be told. Happy and sad ones. Loud and quite stories. Small ones and big ones. I just shot a nice smaller story last weekend. Soon to be seen here or at least linked from here.
3) The city is definitely one of the pulsing cores of Southeast Asia. A gateway.
4) And if I am not shooting right now, there are always great people to catch up with.
5) I simply like to have a break from Saigon once in a while. Even though I am deeply in love with the Thanh Pho (Ho Chi Minh City) living in Southeast Asia always meant to me to be in more than one place.. If possible at the same time
6) I just started learning Thai and of course touching base here helps a lot in terms of motivation
7) ah, and this is of course also not photography related but I can actually buy clothes, books and graphic novels here… hard for me to do so in Saigon.
Here 3 images to get in the mood. More to come soon!
Just got back from an amazing Conference in BKK earlier this week (ICIRD at Thammasat University) which was really interesting and inspiring. Lost of work waiting at the University unfortunately, so I did not have time to write it up yet. and later tonight I am heading to Hongkong, so not really time to do it now either. I will try to post a small write-up nest week. In the meantime here a few shots I took in the streets of Bangkok…
I was walking through downtown Bangkok when I had to stop for a moment… there was an amazing mixture of sounds. An old Chinese looking man was playing the Violin, not a real song yet deeply sad. Out of loudspeakers at the next shopping mall every minute the same announcement in Thai was repeated. The Skytrain rolled in. I took a deep breath in the hot and steamy Bangkok afternoon, got touched by a slight breeze… and then I started recording and shooting at the same time…
This is the result.
After working on a photo assignment portraying people living with HIV / AIDS in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi 2 weeks ago I more than ever believer that this is a topic not addressed enough and that one of the major problems with the issue is the strong stigmatization that they actually suffer. While I was covering the story in order to promote free treatment with ARV’s in clinics I also know that prevention is of similar importance. Have a look at this story on Reuters AlertNet to read how most prevention programs actually fail on of the most at risk groups – sex workers.
Thammasat University in conjunction with Chulalongkorn, Mahidol and Chiang Mai
universities is organizing an International Conference on International
Relations and Development, titled “Governance, Human Rights & Development:
Challenges for Southeast Asia and Beyond”. The conference will take place on
19/20 May 2011 at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan Campus, Bangkok.
The call for abstracts is now out to scholars and graduate level students, who
are encouraged to submit their proposals by 30 October 2010 to:
For further information please visit our website www.icird.org, or
contact us via email: email@example.com.
100.000 blocked webpages in Thailand???