From the innocuous “men” and “women” signs on restroom doors to the urinating cartoon Calvin on the back of many a vehicle, stickers and decals play a much larger role in the life of Bangkok residents than one may realize.
Two years ago I wrote about a taxi I was in that had the following information conveyed on its passenger door window through a series of stickers: No smoking, weapons, drinking, sex, durian, dogs, or water buffaloes allowed.
But where do these stickers come from? I don’t see sticker stores in the malls nor do I see sticker aisles at the local Big C hypermart. The answer turns out to be unsurprising: like most things of universal importance in this city of nearly ten million people, the stickers can be bought from a street vendor.
Up and down the streets, waiting at filling stations and stopping by the street food stalls where taxi drivers like to congregate, the sticker vendors drive these wagons powered by modified motorcycles, the panels of decals hanging like blinders, blocking their peripheral vision.
Upon closer inspection, some of the stickers tell a lot about the people who would buy them. There’s a popular cartoon of an Issan (northeastern Thai) boy with his pants dropped, peeing. The Playboy bunny is a popular brand here, even if the magazine is not locally available. And the classic Harley Davidson logo is popular even among the drivers of Japanese brands of scooters.