What you looking at? Bangkok, Thailand. 2007

Many people travel to see foreign places and people. Which of course means that foreign people get to see them and therefore the observer becomes the observed.

On a side note, it was instructional to be in a country that didn’t use Roman script on road signs (or just about anywhere else). The situation helped me understand what it’s like to be completely illiterate. I’ve been to plenty of places that don’t speak English but they tended to use Roman script (even in places like Japan and Morocco) so I still found it easy to get around using maps. What wake up call I got in Bangkok, when I was trying to use a map that was in English to give a address to a Thai cab driver by pointing to the map and he couldn’t read Roman script and I couldn’t make sense of his map in Thai script. From that situation onward, I’d ask hotel staff to write out my destinations in Thai script.

4 thoughts on “What you looking at? Bangkok, Thailand. 2007”

  1. Nice post. I’ve been in such situations. It is life in its rawest form, stumbling through disoriented, nervous. You begin to understand the power and comfort of systems (yours, that is, one you understand) that you inherently fight against. Rather, that I did.

  2. Is this Razzman with a flash???? Maybe not. I can’t imagine free wheeling you with a flash. But, I’m sensitive to flash issues these days as I just bought one and with the exception of one group photo of 15 children ages 6 months to 15, I’ve been a flop.

  3. Cafe

    Thanks. I’ve found that like most things, that with practice even discomfort and disorientation can become a piece of cake.


    Yep, it’s true, I did use a flash. All the shots I took on from 2005 through to about mid 2008 were all taken with a little point and shoot Cannon with a built in flash. Every now and again I play around with the flash.

  4. We first had this same thing in Syria, though some signs were still sporting the latin script. The problem was that for example the names of the places were not the same as in “official” English translation and there were always more than two ways to neme the same place.
    In Iran it was even worse, like yours, no latin script and taxi drivers who could not read it if you showed it to them. We ended doing the same thing as you did – handing pieces of pre-written instructions to taxi drivers. Another minor detail, most of the cabs in Teheran don’t have the taxi signs or names of the company on the car so hailing one can be a bit of a puzzler.

    Though I must say that Hungary can be pretty frustrating too – although they use the latin script, the language is so unlike all the others around here that you can’t make out or imagine a single word. No clues, no hints, just legible letters in strange sequences :)

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