Oz Magazine

Eyes in the Sky

“The way you can tell how a drone pilot is feeling is to look at his feet,” says Tim Foster, as the eight propellers of his CineStar-8 Quadrocopter chirp like a chorus of birds and start to spin. “If he’s relaxed and still, like this, it means everything’s okay. If he’s shuffling around, like this, it means something might be off. And if he starts running…RUN!”

Foster gives a hearty laugh as he maneuvers the drone off the hands of his media consultant, Dave Warner, who is serving today as a human launch pad. The Quadrocopter ascends quickly over our heads and toward the setting sun, glinting through the bare branches of trees on a crisp Atlanta day in December. Foster is calm; his feet are planted firmly.

Encouraged, I tap gingerly at the controls of the camera control unit hooked over my shoulders. The camera, a pretty standard-looking DSLR affixed beneath the propellers, pans (rather jerkily, I’m afraid—I’m still getting used to this kind of power) over the parking lot where we stand, over the red brick church beside it, over the cemetery and street beyond, then around 180 degrees so that I can see myself, standing ant-like on the asphalt. The ultimate selfie.

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Citylife

Going Back: The Part Nobody Warns You About

The last few days were rough. Rob and I both got food poisoning from an ill-conceived late night hot dog binge, and spent our final hours taking turns packing and puking. Farewells were a fever dream; my nausea felt like a premonition – leaving Chiang Mai literally made me sick.

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I didn’t really cry though, in part because the anxiety of transition eclipsed all other feelings, leaving me oddly numb. There were so many different stages of departure – giving notice, quitting my job, moving out of our house, selling my motorbike, taking last minute trips to all my favourite street food stalls, multiple going-away parties – that the actual exodus seemed anticlimactic. After three years in Thailand, leaving didn’t feel real.
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Citylife

Copy, Paste, Enter: Thailand’s Plagiarism Problem

by Hilary Cadigan

For the past two years, I have served as a judge for the Northern Thailand section of the Junior Dublin Literary Awards, an international essay contest for high school students. I am typically informed of this honour by arriving one day at work to find a five-inch stack of print-outs on my desk that I must read and judge in the span of a day or two.

This can be rather daunting when you’re on deadline and have to edit and post five news stories before lunch, but I cannot say the task does not bring me some joy. Here’s to you, imaginative physics-hating kid who wrote, “Hail to the durian that smashed Sir Isaac Newton’s head!” And to you, sweet young visionary, who assured us all: “If you wore a panda mask, you will become a panda. If you wore an elephant mask, you will become a elephant. If you wore a horse mask, you will become a horse. If you wore a Selah Moon mask, you will become the Selah Moon.”

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Citylife

Itchy to Rock, Itchy to Roll: The Itchy Band Story

Firelight flickers over the faces in the crowd, an even mix of Thai and farang, swilling cheap cups of Sangsom and chatting amongst themselves. It’s a cool evening and many of the bar-goers are dressed in leather jackets adorned with spikes and patches – skulls, fireballs, the names of local punk gangs – attached with safety pins. The clientele meshes well with the bar itself, 7 Pounds, a ragtag open-air affair near Wat Jed Yod, several small buildings framing a central courtyard scattered with vintage adverts, old analog TV sets and mismatched chairs.

Inside the glassed-in room that faces the courtyard, a rotund Thai dude with a bald head wears suspenders, intentionally bleach-stained jeans and combat boots. His band, Stomper 191, has just finished their set, a rather cacophonous blend of deadpan vocals and crashing guitars.

Next up is Itchy Band, the four-woman garage punk ensemble that everybody came to see.

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Citylife

Honour Thy Mother

By now, I think it’s safe to assume that most of you know about kombucha, the fermented tea that hipsters and health fanatics are drinking by the gallon. But what could have been merely a passing fad seems to have staying power, thanks perhaps to its ancient legacy and uniquely addictive flavour.

Although specifics are murky, kombucha’s long history traces back to China, with some saying it arrived on the scene over 2,000 years ago, reportedly known by the ancient Chinese as an “Immortal Health Elixir.”

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Citylife

The Art of Erecting a Garden

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Tucked into a lush sea of rippling green rice paddies of north Mae Rim is a teahouse. Made from a converted barn and surrounded by a walled garden, it may at first appear like any other teahouse. That is, until you notice the umbrella stands. And the columns holding up the antique sala. Are those…? Yes, folks, those are penises. Welcome to the brand new Erotic Garden and Teahouse of Mae Rim!

As my colleagues and I pile out of the car (this was, for some reason, a very popular assignment), we are greeted by a slim, elegant Thai lady, middle-aged and dressed in a colourful wrap skirt. This is Katai Kamminga, queen and creator of the Erotic Garden and visionary of all things erogenous. After a warm welcome and introductions to her Australian archaeologist husband Dr. Jo Kamminga and their 21-year-old son Kris (who seems to handle his parents’ erotic fancies with admirable grace), it’s time for a tour.

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Citylife

The Unstoppable Jonas Dept

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Jonas Dept sits in front of the gleaming grand piano, face calm, torso swaying slightly, fingers flying rapidly over the keys in a dance that seems effortless. Beside him sit his two co-players, their six hands moving in intricate patterns that somehow never collide. They occasionally make eye contact, smile briefly, one hand shooting out to turn the page of the sheet music before returning to the ivory, barely breaking stride.

The “Six Hands, One Piano” act has become a bit of a trademark for Jonas, who now plays regularly in Chiang Mai with two old friends from his Royal Conservatory of Brussels days.

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