A sustainable retreat

In the southwest of Phnom Penh lies the region's largest surviving rainforest. After landing, I met other travel companions to spend three nights together at a riverside camp. We were split into two vans and headed for Sihanoukville. Downtown shophouses and heavy traffic gave way to lush scenery. No sooner had the hustle faded into the distance than rice paddies, palm trees and mountains came into sight. Here, Cambodia's nature remains undisturbed. In more or less two hours, we arrived at the ca

Tranquil beauty

A powerful earthquake that struck the northwest of Kathmandu in 2015 sent a ripple of destruction through the country. Not far from its epicentre, Bhaktapur bore the brunt of the natural disaster that damaged houses and religious structures. After years of reconstruction, despite lingering signs of ruin, this ancient town continues to preserve harmony between the old and the new.

After departing the capital city, we stopped at the heritage site for a few hours. While waiting to pay for entry, I

Snowy peaks and vibrant culture

Debris remains the lingering evidence of a massive earthquake in Nepal in 2015. With the epicentre in the northwest of Kathmandu, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, the natural disaster killed around 9,000 people, injured over 100,000 and impacted around 8 million. As Nepal began to recover, the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a complete standstill and tourism cracked and collapsed like people's homes.

Krishna Adhikari, a teacher-turned-guide in his 50s, is one of them.

"The earthq

Artists rally to save the Chao Mae Thap Thim Shrine

Hemmed in on all sides by construction, colourful paintings are nailed to the metal sheet fences of an age-old community. Inside, there is thoughtful mixed-media artwork, performances and memorabilia left behind in the wake of displacement. Artists are campaigning all-out for the protection of the Chao Mae Thap Thim Shrine ahead of a first court ruling that could result in demolition at the end of the month.

Wasitpon Tunsatapornpan, an organiser and artist, said people in this neighbourhood, on

A forgotten heritage

To the layman, Paniat is unheard of. It is an ancient town that lies in the eastern province of Chanthaburi. It sits at the foot of Khao Sa Bap, a square settlement that was once guarded by walls but levelled out, buried and forgotten to make way for an orchard village. However, the site retains remnants of Khmer culture that highlight the dynamic interaction between Siam and its neighbours.

"In BE 12, Dvaravati towns in the Central Region were circular or oval in shape, but those in Khmer cult

The power of boycotts

Soon after Move Forward Party (MFP) leader Pita Limjaroenrat failed to gather enough support for the premiership, some voters launched retaliatory campaigns with the hashtag #senatorbusiness to boycott business networks of handpicked junta senators who rejected him or abstained. Senators then took legal action against those who they believe harass them and their families. Voters are not only cutting off social relations but also punishing senators for committing crimes against democracy.


A world of colours

Kamolnate Trisupatsilp hears every sound as a colour. When she wakes up, an air conditioner's noise hums a grey fog. A pastel songbird laps gently in the corner of her visual field. When she drinks water, she can't help but see purple, orange and other hues ripple. When she walks to the bathroom and begins her daily routine, she experiences a kind of visual feast that can't be put into words. It goes on and on all day.

"Before I fall asleep, I still hear some distant sounds. Hence, the backs of

A vanishing heritage

In Sam Yan district, the fate of the Chao Mae Thap Thim Shrine highlights the fine balance between conservation and development

If it were not for a handful of visitors, the Chao Mae Thap Thim Shrine would completely vanish. Flanked by metal sheet fences, a narrow alley leads to the remnants of age-old communities. An entrance is adorned with red lanterns. A facade is painted with mythological figures. A roof is embellished with tile dolls. The smell of burning incense wafts through the open ga

Immerse yourself in queer bathhouse art

A bathhouse. A place for a romantic encounter. A community space. A gay sauna can also be a gallery that consolidates sexual and artistic experiences. Located in the heart of Phra Khanong, Krubb Bangkok is showcasing a photographer's collection of erotic artwork that explores the taboo subject of sexual expression and healing.

"BoyxTherapy" is a solo exhibition by Shotbyly, or Patthakarn "Mel" Sadubtham, who spent a year producing retro artwork by using digital photography and film editing tech

Tales of queer migration

There is a border that defines the contour of his identity. Only by crossing it can Jaokhun Promchana be the man he wants to be. After moving to the US, he studied a new language and toiled in the kitchen. Holding a dream close to his heart, he went the extra mile to join the US Navy and police. Currently, he is running a restaurant with his wife. From the outside, he looks no different from other men, but in his expired documents, a name and its title are a reminder of the former self that he a

The right to clean air

In 2009, Smog In The City envisioned a not-too-distant future for Chiang Mai. Set in 2019, Fah returns home to find her family and villagers suffering from air pollution. Following a critical level of toxic haze, the government orders a state of emergency and immediate evacuation. After her mother dies of smog-induced acute coronary syndrome, she rushes to take her family to an airport like other evacuees. While her father and brother deteriorate, a couple approaches her

Giving a face to the forgotten

Inside, everything seems to be in order. Time goes according to schedule. You eat, work, play and sleep. Nothing strays from the course. There is no disorder, or if there is, it is kept under control. Here, you go by the book, not at anybody's whim. But you are not alone. There are thousands around you who stick together through thick and thin. What more could you ask for? While basic needs are met, you are not allowed to go outside until completion of your term.

That is what life behind bars i

Struggling to survive

You are what you eat, but some do not have the privilege to choose. Nai, who is skinny and short for his age, lacks more than just a proper diet. He has been abandoned by his mother, and his father is serving a jail term. As a result, his uncle has kindly taken him into his own family. But like others, he is living from hand-to-mouth, so providing his nephew with a balanced diet from the five food groups is difficult. Due to a lack of variety in their diet, slum children, though not starving, ar

A bitter farewell

As Bangkok's Robot Building gets a makeover, a change in attitudes and laws is in order to preserve cultural landmarks

The Robot Building on Sathon Road is a childhood superhero that comes to life. Standing on staggered floors, the chunky android is studded with nuts and bolts. Its head boasts metallic-lidded eyes and two communication antennae and its frontal body is outfitted with black glass and blue stripes like armour. It is ready to fight a monster in the urban jungle.

Unlike other highr

Temperatures soar, headaches rise

As a heatwave grips the nation, people of low-income backgrounds are feeling the pinch

Like other early birds, Dao Dul, 35, goes on duty at first light. For her, time is literally money. Her office is not a well-built weather-proof skyscraper. It is a makeshift cart that provides affordable dishes to hundreds of community residents from dawn to dusk.

It is not a long day, but the scorching summer is making her life unbearable. A couple of weeks ago, the city's mercury peaked at 40°C.

"It is t

Pin-up stars

In the erotic novel Hom Dok Praduan (1968), Rong Wongsawan hints that a teenager fondled his flesh in front of her. “On the door is a cover photo of a socialite in Bangkok. Clad in her swimsuit, she allows waves to break on her thighs. But someone with restless hands drew overgrown grass so that he can rub it gently until it is torn. (In Mathayom 4, he often fantasised about her. The first syllable of her name begins with the mor letter. He feels thankful whenever she comes into his mind [...]).

Songs for life as it's no longer lived

Ad Carabao's new song Prachathipatung revives the myth of vote-buying and ignorance in rural society. The title is a coinage blending prachathipatai (democracy) and tung (money). On the track, parents ask children to return to their home village to vote for local politicians who give them money. It puts into song from the political discourse of an urban middle class that expresses disdain for villagers along with antipathy for one type of money politics as

Imaginary city

A shabby man wanders, scavenging for whatever he can find from a pile of rubbish. Still, he shares leftover food with a stray cat, caressing the creature with a warm smile, the only positive expression on his nondescript face, in a capital city that betrays no sign of any human existence.

It is the most life-affirming snippet of his life (and our lives?) in the silent film Neon Ghost (2022), the central work in an ongoing exhibition titled "Utopia Now" by Austrian-based artist Kay Walkowiak at

The many tastes of rice

For several decades, cracked ground in Isan or the Northeast of the country captured the public's imagination. In the 1970s, readers submitted their poems to Satri Sarn, the country's first women's magazine, recounting tales of drought, crop failure and hardship. Some were forced to eat leaves and grasshoppers, not rice, while others who fled their villages in search of jobs in Bangkok were duped or exploited by agents.

But, hopefully, it could soon be a thing of the past. A new wave of "rice t

Giving evidence

Under authoritarian rule, truths are silenced, censored and mutilated. Yet, many people find ways to tell their stories. It is an irony, though, that a repressive regime is a precondition of creative resistance.

With his background in history, Anon Chawalawan is collecting bits and pieces of ephemeral memorabilia -- from posters and daily newspapers to revelation letters -- in order to cushion the blow of public amnesia.

Shouting (figuratively) are banners with vocal messages, for example "Wan

An oasis of sakura

The van took such a steep, winding road that I felt nauseous and closed my eyes from the lush view of the Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park out the window. After an indefinite period of time, I breathed a sigh of relief upon arrival at a village. I did not expect that my first trip to Phitsanulok would take me to such new heights.

"It is cold and dusty," I thought, looking at the dirt road full of potholes ahead.

Ban Rong Kla, around 130km from the city, greeted us with its monumental milestone.

Curtains for Chinese opera?

"Hurry up," shouted a crew member who climbed up onto a makeshift stage. Casting sidelong glances, performers, half-clad, looked in the mirror and concentrated on applying layers of make-up. Nearby, a motley bunch of musicians and technicians double-checked their instruments. A stream of chatter from a growing audience -- without any partition between the theatre and real life -- put unintended pressure on the band.

On a humid night, a curtain soon went up amid gongs and drumbeats. Dressed in g

A creative accounting

Sophie, a young pianist, dreams of performing at a concert hall. When she gets an invitation letter, she feels overjoyed and begins to prepare for a debut, though with a sense of foreboding. On concert day, the sound of music comes from nowhere. She finds that it is created by the ghosts of past performers, yet continues to play her instrument. Her performance brings the ghosts peace, and they gradually disappear. As time goes by, Sophie becomes a successful pianist, but she never forgets the ev
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