Bladerunner: Bangkok Edition
February 9, 2017 12:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Thailand for a few days to garner some creative inspiration for a cyberpunk project set in the future in Bangkok. As this is more a research trip than a tourist trip, any recommendations for places should I seek out?

I have specific people I will be speaking to while I'm there, but I also plan to do some urban exploration in between mtgs. If you know of any locations that feel like they belong in a dystopian future, involve futuristic art/nonconventional artists, involve the lesser-seen side of Bangkok, black markets etc, please let me know. Bonus: if you know anyone living in Bangkok I should talk to/meet up with to talk about science fiction and futurism - feel free to DM me. Thanks!

Note: While I won't be alone, I want to avoid anything dangerous or very illegal.
posted by egeanin to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Pantip Plaza - it's an entire mall devoted to electronics, pirated movies, etc.
posted by bluecore at 1:26 PM on February 9, 2017

Its been a few years since my last visit, but my spouse went to high school in BKK and we have a fair number of friends who are still there.

In the Pantip Plaza vein you'd be highly remiss to miss out on the electronics floors inside MBK an older mall next to the national stadium. Its got some glitzy newer stuff but the upper floors are/were still a maze of electronics shops and folks doing not terribly illegal but definitely gray market stuff. There isn't as much/any market for pirated DVDs as on my first visit when there were literally dozens of stalls offering titles that were burned to order, prossibly off site - you would order your titles and get told to come back in 20-30 mins and some sketchy runner would come back with the burned disks in a bag.

I cannot comment on its safety or legality, but there was a period not terribly long ago when explorations of the Sathorn Unique tower were all the rage. its a partially constructed high rise that was abandoned. second hand I would tell you its got awesome views and a really eerie vibe, might be worth checking out.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:43 PM on February 9, 2017

I think I would go to a lot of street markets—sois awash in vegetable sellers and the like—and take a lot of photos. Baskets of vegetables, things laid out on tables, et cetera. Then using that imagery, I would replace the foods with tech stuff—baskets of computer parts, technical equipment, phones, and the like (for the cyberpunk feel).

Also, try to go out to Chatuchak Market and get a feeling of the immense market that spreads out over so much space.
posted by blueberry at 2:17 PM on February 9, 2017

My favourite 'weird bangkok' stuff from when I was there nearly 7 years ago, may or may not be good for locations:

Erewan museum, a giant (29 metres high) three headed elephant statue with a museum and temple inside - interior, interior2.

The Forensic Museum - no pics, as its mostly gross, but a museum including weird medical specimens.

Tuptim shrine, a small shrine behind a big hotel, dedicated to penis sculptures.

Sathorn unique tower an unfinished skyscraper, famous for urban exploration.

Ancient Siam miniature park a theme park with many of Thailands more famous temples, recreated at 50% or so scale. Also includes some super made up ones
posted by scodger at 5:09 PM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

The solar collector building on Koh Larn off of Pattaya blew my mind.
posted by miles1972 at 5:37 PM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Been a long time since I visited Bangkok, but the ideas above sound good. You might also find some architectural ideas on docomomothailand.
posted by Gotanda at 6:29 PM on February 9, 2017

Diagonally across from Pantip (btw, all the pirated DVDs and software are tucked away out of sight now, you have to ask) is the dark, claustrophic, covered market of Pratunam which features glitzy stripper costumes made to order among other more prosaic wares. Behind that are narrow sois packed with street vendors and grimy cheap hotels and in the middle of that, Baiyoke Sky (hotel) rises, the tallest building in BKK and beyond that are the elevated train tracks of the Airport Link and regular train tracks which are lined with tiny wood shanties and thickets of wires and cables.

So there's that, but there are also massive outdoor video screens showing adverts but I can't actually pinpoint one right now. They're around the spectacular downtown malls, Siam > Paragon > Central World. The SkyTrain. Patpong.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:50 AM on February 10, 2017

I've spent a lot of time in Bangkok over the years, and it's hard for me to form any mental connection between BKK and "science fiction/futurism." Maybe if you can explain how they're connected in your work/mind you'll get more/better help?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:21 AM on February 10, 2017

If your Blade Runner type idea includes vast cityscapes with high rise buildings, the view from the bar at the Lebua at State Tower is pretty stunning. I've been there a few times. It's the tallest building around and you walk down a big outdoor staircase to get there and feel as if you are surrounded by nothing but Bangkok's vastness. Yes, it's the bar featured in Hangover 2. But worth a visit.
posted by banishedimmortal at 8:15 PM on February 11, 2017

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