Editor’s Note: These photographs may look old-fashioned now, but when we first started posting photos most images were scanned in from film negatives, and the resolution on the internet was very poor. Images needed to be only a few kilobytes so that you could download them with a phone modem; now they are thousands of times bigger.
Thailand – A Photographer’s Eden
Blessed with exquisite natural beauty, and possibly the friendliest population on the planet, Thailand is a joy to behold regardless of which senses you choose to employ during your visit. However, it does not yield its fruits without some amount of labor. The oppressive heat, pollution and fetid squalor of Bangkok, for example, often alienate the first-time visitor who fails to delve beneath its surface. But for those who linger and acclimate, there are rich rewards. A continuous visual feast is inevitably laid out before the eyes of anyone present to witness and, if you happen to be holding a camera, then your work is cut out for you.
River of Kings. Its murky, yellow waters plied by barges and river taxis, the Chao Phraya River leisurely snakes its way through the rapidly modernizing heart of old Bangkok. At the far right are the world famous Shangri-La and Oriental Hotels.
Monuments. The Grand Palace/Wat Phra Kaeo complex in Bangkok contains many well-preserved examples of classic Thai architecture. It was built over two hundred years ago to commemorate the origin of Bangkok as the new Thai capital. Towering in the background is the Phra Si Rattana Chedi, or Golden Stupa.
Seated Buddha. This statue of Buddha relaxes outside the Phra Mondop Library, near Wat Phra Kaeo. There are only four basic forms in which the image of Buddha is classically depicted: sitting, standing, walking or reclining. However, there are many acceptable hand and foot positions.
Golden Stupa. Entrance to the Phra Si Rattana Chedi. The gilded reliquary was erected by King Rama IV to house a piece of a bone said to be from the body of Buddha.
Water Lilies. Winged sentries guard an entrance to the Wilhan Yot, sheltering the Nak Buddha, before the tiled façade of the Auxiliary Library. The Nak Buddha and the library door panels were relocated from Ayutthaya, the previous Thai capital.
Prayer Bowls. The perpetually barefoot daughter of the author distributes 1/2 baht coins among prayer bowls, in the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho, a short walk or tuk-tuk ride from the Grand Palace, contains the largest reclining Buddha and greatest collection of Buddha images in all of Thailand, as well as the famous Institute of Thai Massage. The soles of the enormous statue’s feet are adorned in mother-of-pearl with the 108 signs that are employed to recognize a living Buddha.
Stupa. Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand (Siam) for more than 400 years until 1767, when the city was destroyed by the Burmese. This stupa is one of three at Wat Phra Si Sanphet, each in honor of a different Ayutthaya king. There are currently many bats living inside the stupa.
Clones. The enormous Chedi at Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is surrounded by rows of seated Buddhas. At many sites in Ayutthaya, the conquering Burmese beheaded statues of Buddha of this scale. Photographing your friend with his or her head over a decapitated Buddha torso is punishable by imprisonment.
Cliffs. The Phi Phi Islands are arguably the most beautiful in all of Thailand. A long boat pilot marvels at the scenery presented, compliments of Ko Phi Phi Le, as his passenger prepares to snorkel.
Beach. This stretch of emerald water terminates on a strip of sand adjacent to the actual beach featured in the recent Leonardo Di Caprio film, “The Beach,” an adaptation of the novel by British writer Alex Garland.
Fishing Village. The Muslim fishing village of Ban Ton Sai, on Ko Phi Phi Don, still holds its ground despite the growing onslaught of tourism.
Long Boats. So far, there are still no cruise ships in the serene northern bay of H-shaped Ko Phi Phi Don, but a large luxury hotel has recently been built.