The Plastic Chairsof SE Asia - chris hilton

Plastic Chairs of South East Asia

Scooters, smoke, traffic, noise, welding, fixing, selling, cooking, talking, eating, sitting, fire, roasted bird soup and pointed baguettes, balloons, beer, Tin Tin and dancing, games, markets, shops, stalls, street food, guards and police, soldiers, street barbers and pirate bars, coffee and ice cream, stares, smiles, selfies and the ghosts of war ...

Agent Orange, Buffalo, Oxen, Pol Pot, Genocide, paddy fields and killing fields, lanterns, dragons, sweat shops, butterflies, bromeliads and boats, temples, religion, rivers, rats, lizards, chickens and snooker tables, tourists and televised cock fighting, dogs shitting, kids pissing, bells, neon, scrap yards and spring rolls, communism, rice pudding and ring worm ... and in the midst of it all, a sea of plastic chairs.


The proliferation of plastic chairs allows life in SE Asia to exist outside ... on the streets. The hawkers carrying baskets aren’t just selling food; they carry an entire mobile restaurant.

They tote the ingredients, the stove, the fuel, pots and pans, even the plastic stools for you to sit on ... life survives in the open air. It is not tidied away behind closed doors as is customary in the West. In the UK we keep the clutter of life locked away and the streets swept clean ... and the menace that fills the void in our uncluttered world is gentrification; making things tidy and neat and ‘nice’. It sucks the joy from our most individual of spaces... Well, you can’t gentrify life, it’s a messy business and perhaps ... just perhaps ... it’s the Plastic Chairs of SE Asia that are providing a final barrier against creeping global gentrification. Allowing life to be played out on the streets, keeping it haphazard ... Maybe we should set our own Plastic Chairs free ... free from their garden yoke ... let’s set the lot free, let’s make a mess, live outside for a bit


The Plastic Chairs of South East Asia is now available as a book.

The project was also published as an article with a greatly expanded text on adventure.com