Apipar Norapoompipat is a features writer of the Life section of the Bangkok Post.
Early last week, the world watched with bated breath to see if Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun would be sent back to what she feared would be her inevitable death in Saudi Arabia. The 18-year-old had renounced Islam (a crime punishable by death) and run away from her family, accusing them of physical and psychological abuse.
Friday marked the official launch of Thailand's premiere Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB). It's been a long time coming, but for those in the dark, a biennale, in the art world, is a large-scale international contemporary art exhibition that takes place every two years in major art hubs around the world. Artworks by both renowned artists and rising stars are scattered throughout the city, adding vibrancy and sparking profound discussions about art and culture for a period of a few months.
When the government didn't interfere as protesters read poetry in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) to rally against Premchai Karnasuta's killing of a protected black panther, it was a pleasant surprise. When they didn't obstruct Thai artist Vassan Sittiket's retrospective that included artworks criticising Thai society, things started to look even more hopeful. The BACC, about to celebrate its 10th anniversary, kept pushing the envelope, and the government didn't react like it normally would.
Last month, I met Queen Silvia of Sweden. It was an encounter that I never expected, and it was a meeting that changed the way I view the world. It wasn't for anything regal or fancy. It was for something much more profound. Queen Silvia, visiting as the founder and chairman of the World Childhood Foundation, was in Thailand with her team to shine light on the issue of child sex abuse.
Sitting gridlocked inside a taxi while inching closer to the BTS, where my fate of being shoved around inside a carriage of full people awaits, I can't help but sneer at the large bright-blue poster displayed so shamelessly on the BTS skywalk. It reads "Krungthep ... chewit dee dee tee long tua", which can roughly be translated as "Bangkok ... A life that's perfect and balanced".