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A Yaksha in the Royal Barge Museum in Bangkok
A Yaksha in the Royal Barge Museum in Bangkok

IN THE PICTURE #18

In ‘In the Picture’ photographers from all over the world share their 10 most beautiful pictures of Thailand. See Thailand through the photographer’s lens, read background stories about the pictures and learn more about the beautiful Thailand! This time we feature our great friend Shankar S.! Since the very beginning, this kind person has been helping us with some images for our site and therefore we are extra excited to publish him in our In the Picture section, thanks Shankar!

Hello, please introduce yourself.

Hello Thailand Magazine and readers,

Thanks for exhibiting my work! I am Shankar S. and have been living in Pune, India for many years. The city where I live is about 120 km from Bombay.

Since I was a schoolboy I was fond of taking pictures, at that time especially trains and everything related to them. The love for photography really blossomed after my divorce in 2008. Since then I travel all over the world taking pictures of different sights, cultures, nature and of course…. trains.

Besides my love for trains and photography, I love discovering the diversity of cultures. I am also fascinated by the music that is different all over the world. In every style and language as long as it’s nice and fast haha.

Currently I am retired and cooling my heels in my hometown Pune in western India. I have traveled to Thailand several times and am definitely looking forward to going back again before I get too old!

#1

A longneck lady near Chiang Rai

Here I’m posing with one of the ladies of the Karen Long Neck village near Chiang Rai. I find the concept fascinating. The ladies add one ring a year once the girl reaches puberty and this continues until she is 21. Removing the rings around the neck is another matter. Visitors are given an arch-shaped set of concentrated rings that are tied around their necks just for the photo op.

#2

Buddha head at the Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya

The most prominent feature of Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya, Thailand is this Buddha head, ensconesed into a tree.

What is your favorite destination in Thailand?

Actually all of Thailand, really! But to Bangkok I travel again and again. I love the friendliness of the people and the food. And the generally informal and relaxed atmosphere.

Which place / destination in Thailand is still on your wish list to visit?

I would like to see Sukothai and Buriram, places I have not been before.

#3

Train running right past the market stalls of the Maeklong Railway Market near Bangkok, Thailand

A train runs right through the Maeklong Railway Market, dangerously close to the stalls there. Note: The trains run at set times so try to plan your trip so that you can visit the Maeklong Railway Market and then the Amphawa Floating Market (it’s only open on weekends, after 2pm). The Amphawa Floating Market is much more authentic and much less touristy than the overly hyped Damuen Sadual Floating market, which is nothing short of a rip off).

#4

Beautiful Buddha at the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten) in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Beautiful translucent Buddha from the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten) in Chiang Rai. This temple is run by local artists, so it is always a work in progress there. I love the indigo tones of the temple and the translucent white colored Buddha!

Which place / destination do you recommend our readers to visit and why?

Chiang Rai – with its special White Temple (with its quirky gilded toilet block), Blue Temple, Black Temple (but not recommended), Karen Long Neck Villages and the Golden Triangle to see.

If you want to taste the atmosphere like Khao San Road in Bangkok, go to Pai. It is very un-Thai and more of a ghetto for backpackers, much like Khao San Road (which has now lost much of its old charm). Nowadays it is mostly farangs (foreigners) who crowd Pai, but near the village there is a large Buddha on top of a hill that is worth seeing. In addition, the youth can do a bit of mountain hiking over the Pai Canyon and explore the beautiful surroundings by scooter, for example. Pai is a hub of activities anyway.

Where do you like to eat?

I don’t really have a specific restaurant in mind but Thai street food is legendary, I would definitely encourage you to give it a try.

#5

The three-country point with Thailand, Malaysia and Laos

Three countries seen at the same spot: Thailand (where you are standing), Burma (Myanmar) and Laos: This spot is near Chiang Rai, Thailand. Love it or hate it, three countries at one place is the main attraction at the Golden Triangle. A couple  of tips though, some people may not quite approve of the touristy nature of the place. The Golden Triangle was once known for it’s drugs smuggling (not any more), but you may have the odd police search on your way back from this spot. So that’s one caveat).

#6

View from the Karon Viewpoint in Phuket, Thailand

Three beaches seen from the Karon Viewpoint in Phuket, Thailand”]. I loved the scenery and the trident shaped landform.

Name a nice coffee shop or bar where our readers can drop by.

I don’t really have a specific coffee shop or bar in mind.

What is your favorite Thai dish?

Multiple dishes like Thai basil chicken (pad kaprow gai), Tom Yum soup (make sure you ask for the less spicy version or it will blow your head off!), Pad ka gai (chicken soup with coconut milk) and Som Tam (raw papaya salad). My absolute favorite dessert is Mango Sticky Rice!

#7

View from the Windmill Viewpoint in Phuket, Thailand

View from the Windmill Viewpoint in Phuket, Thailand. Maybe I was just lucky to catch the solitary boat there.

#8

Phromthep Cape viewpoint in Phuket, Thailand

Beautiful scenery at the Phromthep Cape lookout point in Phuket, Thailand. (Also called Laem Phrom Thep). This is also a popular sunset viewing point, sadly my guide brought me here right at mid day. Ouch! 

What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?

Nothing special really. I just choose the most convenient and relatively cheap ones from Booking.com. One tip, the cheapest may not be the best in Thailand, as some of these cheap accommodations are very unreliable.

Do you have a (travel) tip that might come in handy in Thailand?

Respect the locals and their traditions, some things are different than you are used to at home, adapt as best you can.

Many foreign websites are unfortunately heavily focused on the sex industry in Thailand. Please, not all Thai ladies are available! Respect, respect, respect, and please don’t oggle at the local girls!

Don’t talk negatively about the monarchy and show full respect for the Buddha at all times. Don’t ride elephants, the way the poor animals are sometimes treated is inhuman. And being constantly ridden by humans permanently damages their spines and leaves the poor animals disabled for the rest of their lives.

Also, don’t visit places where you can hug tigers or have your picture taken with them. Either in Kanchanaburi or Phuket. These poor big cats are kept chained all day, fed an unnatural diet and made to do crazy poses with stupid tourists who should know better. I’ve read that some tigers are even drugged.

And although I’m past 60 now, and past my prime, for the younger crowd a tip, don’t do drugs in Thailand. It can get you into big trouble.

Other than that, my advice is enjoy all the beauty Thailand has to offer and believe me that is countless!

Is there a Thai phrase or word our readers need to learn?

  • Mai pen rai (no problem / no worries)
  • Bai sek gan mai (bye, see you later)
  • Chan rak khun (I love you)

#9

Fantasea in Phuket

Whatever you do, do not miss the Phuket FantaSea when you are in Phuket.

I generally say, that any place which prohibits photography does not interest me and I will not even go in. But in the Phuket FantaSea, they use special lighting effects, live animals including seven large elephants at one stage, and pyrotechnics (yes, indoors) and one of the acts involves a pitch dark theatre with acrobats doing their tricks way up against the high ceiling, with subtle light only lighting up their neon green outfits- all that would be killed if people start photographing these left right and centre.

#10

seller in a boat on the Klong Bang Luang in Bangkok

Two enterprising ladies sell satay off a boat just outside a traditional Puppet theatre at Klong Bang Luang in Bangkok, Thailand. Fascinating because this is one part of Bangkok I had never seen before = here part of the city with it’s ubiquitous canals is still preserved.

What type / brand of camera do you use?

I generally use Nikon dSLRs (different models) for my serious photographs and my iPhone (different models) for my Instagram shots. Some of my older Thailand shots are taken with an old Fujifilm F810 point and shoot camera.

Where can our readers find your work / photos?

Last question, who should we also ask our ‘In the Picture’ feature?

I like to tip a page that you should not ask but follow. The Tourism Authority of Thailand from India: TAT India.

#11 (bonus)

A Yaksha in the Royal Barge Museum in Bangkok

Formidable looking figurehead of one of the Royal Barges at the National Museum of Royal Barges in Bangkok, Thailand. I love exploring all this because it was a refreshing change from the usual run of wats (temples) and shopping malls that Bangkok is now so famous for.

#12 (bonus)

The Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai

The Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, attraction numero uno in Chiang Mai. This is an extremely sacred temple for the locals because it is supposed to contain some relics of the Buddha. (His bone or something). The good news is that you no longer have to do the long, arduous climb up the steep stairs – they have now installed a horizontal elevator – which takes visitors up at a 45° angle.

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