Photos and words by Liza Herlands
As if a Kemper wire made of wind and dust was sliced above the heads of mortals to create a stark difference: eyes of giants versus those of the common man. Winding streets engulf sidewalks with carts of steaming soups and heads of this animal or another, blinking neon signs that read: ‘The Dollhouse’ and ‘Cowgirls’, smells of fried corn balls and starched children’s t-shirts hang from rungs of white roofed tents, lights flaring off spinning, flying, bouncing toys for sale, nights so bright you forget the sun.
Fog brushes the skyline, blurring the skyscrapers so only a faint outline can be seen. The massive structures stand somewhere between today and lifetimes in the distance. Thick geometric lines cross and halt to form the mass of blocks canopying the city of Bangkok. From above, air is still, the city is a post modern utopia of business and capitalism as far as the eye can see, and then further. Below is a different world. This world is culture.
Bangkok is a city known by many names; the traditional is the longest name in the world. I choose to highlight it as ‘the land of smiles’ and by no means did I create this as my own. Bangkok remains one of the friendliest cities in the world. From the North in Chaing Mai to the southern islands of Ko Tao and the likes of Ko Phi Phi, Thailand lives up to this stereotype with genuine authenticity. But what makes this city so different from the rest when it comes to coffee? For starters, coffee isn’t immediate when thinking about beverages Asia. Of course I knew I’d at the least find a Starbucks somewhere without having to journey to and from the international airports to do so. Asia’s coffee consumption is growing on an average of 4% per year since 1990, but it’s not only the beans and tastes that drive people into the coffee shops. Perhaps it's the soothing decor and striking angular lines which imitate the skyscrapers synonymous with success and prosperity of the south Asian city.
Aside from the Northern culture and southern beach party practices, Bangkok stands out as an international city. Juxtaposed from the lush river sprayed jungles and warm grains of sand so fine it’s as if the waves roll in like glass on velvet sheets tucked beneath rock and earth. Bangkok sits on its own. A name for itself. What follows is artfully designed and striking constructions of shop, coffee, and involuntary practices that leave you indulged in the city’s up and coming shop scene.