Chromacoma checking in for October with another ‘places to shoot’ entry for the guide. I shall also be using this as an excuse to post a few scans of recent, medium format film work (Rolleiflex) shots taken at this location.
In prioritizing what places to mention in the guide, most of the first mental selections I make are typically always old favourites, sometimes very old buildings and the like. It occurred to me last week that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the inclusion of new places also and so that is why this month’s entry is ‘Chang Chui’. You can’t Romanize Thai into English so any attempt is always subjective, that said some words are easier to try with it than others and this one isn’t too bad. But what does it mean? Basically it means a ‘messy artist or craftsman’. Kind of like one who just throws stuff together willy-nilly.
Based upon that working definition, one might say that the naming of this place was, in fact, spot on. It is a very carefully thrown together venue but has the look and feel of something that was cobbled together on a wing (whim?) and a prayer without any careful planning. Nothing could actually be farther from the truth however as this project was the brainchild of none other thanKhun Somchai Songwattana, the owner and businessman behind the fashion brand and retail outlet ‘Fly Now’ (very famous and chic in this country). He is something of a fashion mogul in Thailand and this is a place he personally came up with as a hangout for artistic types in Bangkok. He is also very well known for being a thoroughly generous and kind man with good heart to match his good vision.
Having only just opened this year (2017), the whole place is carefully designed to look like it came together through casual happenstance but is actually a beautifully executed presentation with a very consistent artistic theme throughout. So what is it? Well, it’s a large plot of land on the very most-Westerly side of Bangkok, but still within city limits. It was originally purchased with a view to housing an HQ for Khun Somchai’s brand but the design guru later changed his mind, instead looking to create an artistic venue and meeting place that comprises of shops, cinema, crafts, good dining and drink, music and cool people. To that end, it certainly seems to succeed.
Subtle hints of the ‘Fly Now’ brand tie-ins are evident everywhere around the grounds of this attraction, especially in the kinds of clothes and fashion accessories on sale. One or two such cues are anything but subtle however, such as the HUGE decommissioned commercial jet plane in its bare aluminium skin standing on its proper landing gear around which there is a bar, forming a central motif to the whole place. There’s also a similarly ‘past its former glory’ level helicopter artistically placed to catch your eye amongst a whole slew of old radial aircraft engines, now serving roles of form rather than function.
The heat being the problem that it always is in Bangkok means that this venue doesn’t typically open until about 4pm on through to 11pm (ish) and so was always intended to be a cooler, late afternoon through sunset and on till dark kind of affair. Another big help is the larger mist spraying cooling fans everywhere, although photographers would do well to be prepared to cover up their gear when walking through some of these misty spray zones.
It is quiet on the earlier weekdays (currently closed on Mondays I think) but also cheaper. That means that it’s 20 baht per head as opposed to the usual 40 baht on Fridays and through the weekend peak times. If you want to see and take photos of lots of hip looking young people, the weekend is definitely your best bet. At these times there are often live artists painting and bands performing, trip hop and ambient music being pumped around the place etc. It’s generally quite pleasant. The quieter days like a Tuesday or Wednesday are great for getting nice clear shots of the place itself though, with less people in the way. I would base my day to visit therefore around what I was really looking to shoot.
All in all, it’s a pretty cool place and there’s more than enough there to justify going there more than once, especially for photographic purposes. If you are already in the city, most taxi drivers will have heard of it by now, if not just ask for ‘Pinklao’ and then get local directions when you are in that area. It’s on the main Sirinthorn Road that you have to take west from the city to get to the main Southern bus terminal so it’s not going off the beaten path at all. If you are central or Eastern Bangkok, you could even just save hassles and ride the BTS sky train all the way out to the Bang Wa terminal at Ratchapreuk and then get a taxi going that way from there, they will likely know it.
For more specific detail, here is the website and map info link:
Even more photos below, enjoy!