Thailand (IV): The Queen’s anniversary
From Nang Rong onwards, the plan was to reach and pass the Laos border by bus in one blow. As it was impossible to conciliate bus schedules, my group and I ended up staying in Ubon Ratchathani instead. What I thought it would be just a quick dinner and an overnight stay to move on, turned out to be one of the most curious and enjoyable human moments of the entire trip. It was the Queen’s anniversary day and everybody went to the main square in their best suits and uniforms to celebrate the event with pomp and circumstance. I was “caught up” in the ceremony and ended up meeting and shooting some of the cheerful participants. Thai people warmth and hospitality are really amazing, that’s all I can say…
There was a retro scent on all that, and I felt like a time traveler, walking back five decades or so. The women’s clothes and uniforms in electric blue or magenta and the setup of orange floodlights that lit the grounds, gave the scene an acrid color environment. Looking back, I felt the whole thing as very enjoyable but very strange, so much so, it remained vividly implanted in my memory.
This particular event and the vision to come of the fluorescent green rice fields of Laos made me decide later to process and present the majority of this trip’s shots in color. Even confessing that in some cases, the color palette is displeasing, it lives up to my visual memory. I could manipulate, even subtly, the color boundaries or go for my aesthetic preference for black and white, but it would defeat the purpose of being truthful to what I saw. It is a purely personal felling and one that never had cross my mind before. Strange and interesting… Years ago I wouldn’t care less about this question and would go for the best visual outcome, regardless of all.
↑We all sang the happy birthday song, Thai version. I was holding a candle and a camera at this point…
↑The party went on in that spontaneous but orderly Thai way of… partying.
↑Getting on the bus to Laos… See you on the other side of the border!
All photographs by António Marques – © António Marques Photography, 2013