Thailand

Thailand (VI): Bangkok mix

Bangkok was both the arrival and departure point of my 2013 Southeast Asia raid. My wife Maria and I had just four days to explore this bustling megacity before we headed back home and we knew we could barely scratch the surface on such a tight schedule. The tour of the historical sites bordering the Chao Praya River was inescapable and the spare time was spent beating the streets on foot…

The historical conservative mixed with the high-tech sparkle of consumerism… BK has it all.

Siam Square – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Siam Square, under the Sky Train lines – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Wat Arun from the Chao Praya River – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Wat Arun – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Chao Praya River from Wat Arun – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Wat Pho – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Wat Pho – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Tha Prachan – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Tha Chang Pier – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Tha Chang Pier – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

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Sky Train station – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Bangkok Art & Culture Centre – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Bangkok Art & Culture Centre – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Bangkok Art & Culture Centre – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Siam Square – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Rama I Rd. – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Ratchadamri Rd. – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Ratchadamri Rd. – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Phetachabury Rd. – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

National Museum – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

National Museum – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Siam Square shopping mall – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Siam Square – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Siam Square – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Siam Square Sky Train station – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Chatuchak Market – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Chatuchak Market – Bangkok, Thailand, 2013

Good bye, Bangkok!

All photographs by António Marques – © António Marques Photography, 2014

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Thailand (V): From Nong Khai to Sukhothai

Crossing the Mekong again into Thailand on the way out from Laos, we arrived at Nong Khai. After the somewhat rough ride from Luang Prabang, this laid back little town was just about right. A couple of nights on the fantastic Mut Mee Garden Guest House made me feel right at home before heading to the historical site of Sukhothai, the ancient capital of the first Kingdom of Siam.

Thailand, August 2013

Nong Khai, Thailand, 2013

Wat Po Chai, Nong Khai, Thailand, 2013

Taa Sadej Market, Nong Khai, Thailand, 2013

Nong Khai, Thailand, 2013

Salakeawkoo, Nong Khai, Thailand, 2013

It seems these Thai kids learn how to drive a scooter before they learn how to walk…

Nong Khai, Thailand, 2013

Sukhothay, Thailand, 2013

Sukhothay, Thailand, 2013

Sukhothay, Thailand, 2013

Sukhothay, Thailand, 2013

Sukhothay, Thailand, 2013

Sukhothay, Thailand, 2013

Sukhothay, Thailand, 2013

Sukhothay, Thailand, 2013

Sukhothay, Thailand, 2013

Sukhothay, Thailand, 2013

Sukhothay, Thailand, 2013

All photographs by António Marques – © António Marques Photography, 2014


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.

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Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, 2013

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Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, 2013

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Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, 2013

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Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, 2013

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Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, 2013

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Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, 2013

↑We all sang the happy birthday song, Thai version.  I was holding a candle and a camera at this point…

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Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, 2013

↑The party went on in that spontaneous but orderly Thai way of… partying.

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Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, 2013

↑Getting on the bus to Laos… See you on the other side of the border!

All photographs by António Marques – © António Marques Photography, 2013


Thailand (III): The Khmer temples

Heading East along the Cambodian border stand the most interesting temples of the Khmer empire within Thailand. None of these temple complexes has the grandeur of Angkor Vat in the southern neighboring country but they compensate that fact with their architectural refinement.

Visitors – mostly from Asia – come in great numbers. A curious and appropriate human frame for those stones, from a westerner perspective.

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Prasat Muang Tham, Thailand, 2013

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Prasat Muang Tham, Thailand, 2013

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Prasat Hin Phanon Rung, Thailand, 2013

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Prasat Hin Phanon Rung, Thailand, 2013

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Prasat Hin Phanon Rung, Thailand, 2013

↑Who said that cultural tourism is just for old timers?

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Prasat Hin Phanon Rung, Thailand, 2013

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Prasat Hin Phanon Rung, Thailand, 2013

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Prasat Hin Phanon Rung, Thailand, 2013

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Nang Rong, Thailand, 2013

↑Back in town, is business as usual…

All photographs by António Marques – © António Marques Photography, 2013


Thailand (II): Passing through ancient empires

Thailand´s landscape is generally pretty flat in the central area – where Bangkok is located – but begins to roughen up as we move away from the capital. To the north, stand some of the most impressive ruins of the old Siamese empire, whose capital, at some point, was the city of Ayutthaya. Heading East, bordering Cambodia, we stand in Khmer territory, an even older empire irradiating from the city of Angkor.

Taking all the heavily historical places aside and the numerous temples found everywhere, Thailand is a pretty much down to earth, westernized open-market society with their more than fare share of “concrete boxes” and housing developments. The scale is, however, much more humane than it is in, say, Latin America, for example.

Strong family ties, buddhist devotion and the ubiquitous presence of the Royal Family are the bonding factors of national identity.

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Samut Songkhran, Thailand, 2013

↑The kindliest, friendliest and most lighthearted of all Buddhist monks I have ever seen!

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Samut Songkhran, Thailand, 2013

↑Talking about over-decoration…

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Don Hoi Lot, Thailand, 2013

↑That´s how the land ends and the ocean begins at Don Hoi Lot; seamlessly without warning, no rolling waves, sandy beaches or rocky edges…

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Nakon Pathon, Thailand, 2013

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Ayutthaya, Thailand, 2013

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Ayutthaya, Thailand, 2013

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Ayutthaya, Thailand, 2013

↑Talking about over-decoration… (II)

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Ayutthaya, Thailand, 2013

↑Really huge!

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Ayutthaya, Thailand, 2013

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Train to Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, 2013

↑Thai trains have a delicious retro touch to them…

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Train to Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, 2013

↑Those unexpected purple curtains really drawn my attention…

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Phimai, Thailand, 2013

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Phimai, Thailand, 2013

↑Like water in the monsoon, the Royal Family is always present.

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Phimai, Thailand, 2013

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Phimai, Thailand, 2013

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Phimai, Thailand, 2013

↑Cracked up but still hanging on.

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Phimai, Thailand, 2013

↑The sky, down below.

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Phimai, Thailand, 2013

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Phimai, Thailand, 2013

↑Pinkie pink!

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Nang Rong, Thailand, 2013

All photographs by António Marques – © António Marques Photography, 2013


Thailand (I): Trains, boats and markets

The strongest memory remaining from my trip to Thailand – and Laos, for that matter – is the omnipresence of water. Water overflows rivers, soaks the land and saturates the air. Especially during the monsoon, nothing escapes its influence. Water channels replace streets, reaching the people’s houses to their very front doors or even running beneath them. It’s a floating world out there and the locals build their lives around a symbiotic relationship with this element.

Going to the floating markets, southeast from Bangkok, was a natural first step to start this journey. The train from BK makes a slow ride until Samut Sakhon, where we must take a ferry across the Tha Chin River. Then, we resume the railway until reaching its final destination, Samut Songkhram. The train stops literally inside an open market of fresh fruit and vegetables!

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Tha Chin River, Thailand, 2013

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Samut Songkhram, Thailand, 2013

↑The arrival of the train at the Maeklong market in Samut Songkhram, is a big touristy event. I shot the tourists that where shooting my train. What a crossfire!

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Samut Songkhram, Thailand, 2013

↑Taking the stalls out of the way for the train to pass.

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Samut Songkhram, Thailand, 2013

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Amphawa, Thailand, 2013

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Amphawa, Thailand, 2013

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Amphawa, Thailand, 2013

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Amphawa, Thailand, 2013

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Amphawa, Thailand, 2013

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Amphawa, Thailand, 2013

↑(Good) food is the name of the game, here. It seems everyone is selling it, preparing it or eating it…

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Amphawa, Thailand, 2013

↑Night snap.

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Damnoen Saduak, Thailand, 2013

↑Walking off the beaten path, we can see this color explosion.

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Damnoen Saduak, Thailand, 2013

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Damnoen Saduak, Thailand, 2013

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Damnoen Saduak, Thailand, 2013

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Damnoen Saduak, Thailand, 2013

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Samut Songkhran, Thailand, 2013

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Samut Songkhran, Thailand, 2013

All photographs by António Marques – © António Marques Photoblog, 2013