Strength in Community, Strength in Diversity
BKK OX supports community, creativity and consciousness in Bangkok. We strive to unearth the city’s unsung heroes, places, and activities which are truly going to give you a meaningful experience here. For my full story read below…
The City of Angels – a cultural melting pot, where millions of locals, expatriates and tourists co-exist in a sprawling concrete jungle which constantly arouses your senses, demands your attention, and provides moments of pure magic in abundance.
How to navigate your way through this chaotic city? How to unearth meaningful experiences to have with your family, friends and loved ones? Where can you connect with like-minded people?
I’ve been here for eight years weaving through the streets of Bangkok and unearthing the hidden delights it has to offer, as well as connecting with the incredible people who live here. The depth of Bangkok is mind-boggling. We are blessed with a city rich in creativity, cultural diversity, and life-changing experiences. You just need to know where to go.
Through BKK OX, I will unearth the meaningful events happening every day here. I will interview the unsung heroes doing amazing things in the city. I will reveal communities that exist here, who are waiting to welcome you. I will give you my guide to what’s going on in the flourishing Arts and Music scene, and I will reveal the opportunities you have to enrich your lives and get the very best this city has to offer.
About me, Max Rapkin…
A Writer from Newcastle, England
My mother and father inspired me to be creative when I was young. They were performers, my mother a Singer/Songwriter and my father an Actor and Singer/Songwriter. I got the writing bug when I was very young. From the age of 10, I already knew I was destined to be a writer and throughout school all I did was write and fantasize stories. I didn’t care about much else other than writing, playing outside, climbing trees and kicking a football around a park somewhere. I made the decision early in my life and it stuck with me.
I studied English Literature at University and had the time of my life in Leeds, Writing and Editing for the Student newspaper as often as I could. All the while I knew that after University I was going to do my Post Graduate NCTJ and get into Newspaper Journalism, the only viable occupation I could see that was possible for Writers. I moved to London after Leeds and did just that, working for local newspapers in West London as Trainee and everything was going just as I had visualized. At the Hounslow Chronicle they told me I was the best trainee they had ever had.
The turning point – The 2009 Financial Recession
The Recession hit UK hard, and the jobs market was destroyed. The Chronicle told me there was no budget to take on a full time employee and in fact they would need to make a lot of people redundant. I could wait and continue as a trainee, but by then my money was running out. I had no choice, my dream was suddenly in ruins and I had to figure out some other way to make money in what was a mess of a country.
Sales saved me
I went back to Newcastle, racked my brain and started looking for any jobs which would have some element of creativity and excitement. I needed something which got me out there, meeting people and improving my leadership/communication skills. That’s when I found the ONLY industry which was recruiting at the time – the Sales industry. Here I met a group of smart, well-dressed, American men who talked about their vision and their plans in the UK to open-up offices everywhere selling Broadband Internet – and I was immediately sold on their charisma and charm, and above all – their positive energy, which I needed at the time. They trained me to sell, and I got very good at it and started building my own team in a Network Marketing structure that was, all-the-while, building my self-esteem back to a high level – I felt like I was worth something again. They told me I was capable of anything and I started to believe them.
The car crash
Two years into the Sales chapter, I started getting second thoughts about the industry and where I was going. During this spell, I was involved in a life-changing, horrific car crash, sitting in the passenger seat with three members of my Sales team in the back. We had been driving back from a trip late at night. We all survived, but we all came away with some nasty injuries which changed the course of our lives. I broke four vertebrae in my back and took six weeks off working to heal, and during this time, I made a big decision. I decided that it was time for a change and months later, when I was given a lump some of money as compensation for my injuries and loss of earnings, I seized the moment and decided to travel to Thailand with two of my best friends and see what SE Asia had to offer.
Thailand is my spiritual home
As cliched as this sounds, I knew Thailand was the place for me the moment I arrived here. The warmth of the people drew me right in, I found the Thai culture beautiful, their traditions meaningful, their food sublime, and the atmosphere generally more peaceful and friendly than back home. I very quickly decided I wanted to try and find work in Thailand, abandoning the sketchy plan me and my friends had to go to Australia. My two friends left Thailand and went back to UK after a while, but I stayed and before we separated we made a pact together; we were going to do something here in Thailand together. We were going to set something up so that we could live there together permanently one day, and work together. I started connecting with people and found a job in a Thai government school, with a reasonable salary, in an area where the cost of living was minimal, and I grasped the opportunity with both hands and never looked back.
The Birth of Live Lounge Bkk
I loved teaching and moved to another school after one year, teaching a different age group and got a big pay increase, and there I stayed for three years until I got the opportunity of a lifetime. I was offered a position as a Manager of a sports bar, the biggest and best sports bar in town. The decision was was a “no-brainer” and would see me move right into the heart of the city, where I really wanted to be.
Fortunately for me, the sports bar expanded, buying the Indian restaurant that was upstairs, creating a huge new space. An opportunity presented itself. One section of this huge space was perfect for converting into a live performance venue. We built a stage, some sliding doors to separate the room from the sports bar, and started throwing stand-up comedy shows and acoustic music sessions.
With the help and vision of some great friends, and support from the sports bar, myself, Davey Charlton (a rapper) and Britt Rodrigues (a DJ) founded the concept Live Lounge Bkk. This was a dream come true and we had full creative control, so we bought a load of music/stage equipment started throwing events and connecting with the Arts community in Bangkok. At the same time, I enrolled in an intensive Thai program at Chulalongkorn university, hot in pursuit of fluency (and nothing less) in the Thai language.
Three Years On
I have been running events here at Live Lounge Bkk for three years and supporting the art scene with Davey Charlton, and we’re still going to this day. Now I can speak, read and write Thai to a good level, I am married and have a baby girl, and feel an unstoppable sense of Carpe Diem.
I felt it was time to seize the moment and start this website, to help those millions visiting through Bangkok with some knowledge I have picked up along the way. This is for those ex-patriates living here who still, like me, need guidance in finding the right places for them to hang-out and feel comfortable. This is also for Thai people, who are interested in developing their English, and share my passion for Arts, Music, Community, Wellness and Family related activities.
The longer I have been here in Bangkok, the more I am drawn towards creative events because I believe creativity and art brings people together in a positive, symbiotic environment, and makes the world a better, happier, more peaceful place. Go and watch an intimate live music gig, or a dance performance at an arts venue and tell me that the you didn’t feel something magical inside – like a kinship with your fellow humans. When people are able to express themselves through art, it’s so real and powerful.
The birth of BKK OX
I’ve decided to create BKK-OX for anyone visiting or living in Bangkok, Thailand who wants to have meaningful experiences with friends or family, connect with like-minded people, and attend some incredible events happening in the City of Angels, Bangkok, right now. So here we are, and thank you so much for being here and giving this space your attention.