I had just gotten off the plane and collected my luggage at SFO. It was a bright September afternoon in San Francisco. I lit up a cigarette outside the terminal in my usual spot and reflected on my last three weeks in Hong Kong. I had just taken a trip to the other side of the planet, met loads of new people, had many new wonderful experiences and spent the majority of my trip putting up work throughout Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. I was experiencing a sort of rush. Unlike most people who touch down in San Francisco, my thoughts were ‘Fuck, I need to get the hell outta here…again’. I told myself that as soon as I got back to my sweet flat in SF’s classy upscale Tenderloin District. I’m going to hop online and start researching a new city in a new country to get up in. It was mid September, I was hoping to depart SFO again in December.
I did just that. My first choice was Istanbul, Turkey…too cold. Then it was Berlin, Germany…too cold, then New Orleans, Louisiana…not far away enough. Then it hit me, Bangkok, Thailand…perfect! Yes, it’s a stone’s throw away from Hong Kong and I was just in that part of the world. However, It’s a completely DIFFERENT culture than Hong Kong, it’s pretty much a free reign city for graff and street art…and even more importantly it’s warm in December. I got a ticket for early December (Thailand’s ‘slow’ season). The ticket was only $800 round trip, so I clicked ‘purchase ticket’ and started gearing up for the next adventure.
A few days later I told my friend and fellow artist Eddie Colla about it. He asked if he could come along, I said “yes.” Now it was the two of us gearing up to double team Thailand. Thanks to the patrons and staff at the Hemlock Tavern in SF who go to that part of the world for months at a time, I already had the trip planned out, i.e: where to stay, what to check out, how to exchange money properly, what walls to hit and bars to drink. I was pretty confident this was going to be a good trip.
Upon arriving on Khao San Road in Bangkok, Eddie and I checked into the Dang Derm Hotel. We dropped our gear off and started scouting the local area for walls. This part of ‘Old’ Bangkok offered up several tight alleys, bombed walls and big empty lots. The following night we were at it, we hit all the spots we scouted including a sweet wall outside of the Happy Reggae Bar and we found more spots, but the local authorities caught Eddie. Artists that previously traveled Bangkok advised us that in this type of situation, the penalty is to either go to jail or pay ‘the fee’ upon arrest, which amounts to $50.00 US. Thankfully, Eddie was let go with no penalty at all…not bad.
We spent our days exploring Bangkok, photographing our pieces, eating exotic foods, visiting temples and even taking the dopest canal ride throughout the city. Our nights were spent getting up; hitting up everything around Khao San Road within a ten block radius, Sukhumvit / Soi 6 – 11, the canal, Chinatown and several spots along the Norarat Sathan Bridge before heading to Pattaya.
Pattaya, I found, was a very different place than Bangkok. It’s far smaller, but appears to be as dense in population. My short time in Bangkok opened my eyes to Thai culture, history, religion and even social interaction. Pattaya opened my eyes to what the sex industry can be when left unchecked. I was only in Pattaya for three days and experienced what only can be described as an army of Thai prostitutes – perhaps even outnumbering their ‘patrons’. Several bars I walked by contained more bar prostitutes then bar patrons (like 5 to 1). This vast number of prostitutes is followed by a vast number of middle aged British and Australian tourists riding around on motor scooters…all there to support the trade of these young ladies and ladyboys. It seems to me that Pattaya’s main import is prostitution. Of course, I was only there for three days…so I could be mistaken.
As usual Eddie and I got our work up as much as possible throughout the city, concentrating the bulk of it both inside and outside of an abandoned pool hall off of Soi Buakhao. This place was perfect for us considering it was next to the Target Regency Hotel (where we were staying). The building was in the process of being demolished, so anything we hit on interior could be seen from street level in multiple directions. Its was a bit of a fun house for us.
After hitting Pattaya we spent a sweet three days on the island of Koh Samet to decompress and kick it beachside before heading back to Bangkok. On our final night there we continued in our fashion of putting up work leading to my final piece of the trip…a piece pasted upon the wall of an apartment building for police officers working at the precinct one block away. I had no knowledge of this at the time, but when a local cop came looking for me while I was hiding up five flights of stairs in this very same building, he told me the news. Thankfully I ditched my gear on the street. After a search, a passport check and brief conversation he let me on my way. The next day the piece was still there…I fucking love Bangkok.
Special thanks to Advanced Mammal, Party Pablo, Pete and staff/ patrons at The Hemlock Tavern for helping me plan this trip out…without you guys I would have been totally lost!