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Having dinner between two railroad lines in Bangkok
Having dinner between two railroad lines in Bangkok

IN THE PICTURE #19

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! With this time very good street photos from Bangkok. There are more than ten but we just couldn’t make a selection from the submitted images. We are very happy to be able to show you some images of everyday Bangkok. Simon Baker thanks!

Hello, please introduce yourself.

My name is Simon, I am an Australia but I have lived in Thailand for over 25 years now, with all but three years in Bangkok. My relationship with Thailand started back in 1989, when I was a volunteer in Thailand with Australian Volunteers Abroad (now called Australian Volunteers International). I spent two years at Khon Kaen University teaching English, though I suspect I did more learning than my students, as I picked up Thai and Isarn. The northeast of Thailand is known as Isarn and it has its own language/dialect, culture and maybe even more important for many, its distinctive food. Isarn and Lao are basically the same languages, and many of the taxi drivers, construction workers and street sellers in Bangkok are from that part of the country, or increasingly, from Laos.

After, two years at the University, and a few months back in Australia, I moved to Cambodia to volunteer there for a year. There, I managed to pick up Khmer, a really important language on the streets of Bangkok, as there are now so many migrant workers from Cambodia in Bangkok and beyond in Thailand.

After Cambodia, I realised that I no longer wanted to teach English. So, I went back to Australia and studied gaining a PhD. My research was on child labour in Thailand and I showed why and how the number of Thai children being exploited within the labour system, declined and did so, dramatically. The same goes for child prostitution. Since the 1980s the position of Thai children has improved dramatically and now are most likely to be found in school.

Since finishing my PhD back in 1998, I have worked on issues related to child labour, child prostitution, human trafficking and HIV/AIDS. Due to my work, I have spent periods of time in all of Thai’s neighbouring countries and beyond. On these trips, I have taken a camera with me to capture images of life. However, it was when I bought a good digital camera that my love for photography really developed. For me, it is not so much the taking of a picture that is important, but rather my interaction with the people I interact with that I really enjoy. My enjoyment with photography has been enhanced by sharing my photos on Instagram and getting feedback from strangers, who have made really encouraging statements of support.

#1

Woman working in the street having a laugh

As I was just taking this picture a fellow worker shouted out to the woman not to be stiff! She burst out laughing and she made my day. She and her fellow workers were re-paving the footpath in Ari during Bangkok’s COVID-9 soft lockdown.

#2

Smiling man with tattoos on his head in Bangkok

What a face! He was buying amulets near the Sapan Kwai BTS station.

What is your favorite destination in Thailand?

My favourite area of Thailand is Isarn. In many ways this is the least touristic area of the country. It doesn’t have the beaches or the mountains that other parts of the country, but I find my interactions with the people of the region so refreshing, as they see so fewer tourists.

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

I have visited every region and if not every province in the country. I wouldn’t mind visiting the Thai communities that still exist inside Myanmar.

#3

Street food near the Thaksin Bridge in Bangkok

Street food near Thaksin Bridge. I like this photo as it captures the motion as he is preparing the food. People are walking by, motorbikes are parked behind him and he is on the road, but it is his spot.

#4

Having dinner between two railroad lines in Bangkok

Two migrant workers from Myanmar prepare dinner of fried tomatoes and fish. They had just returned from their work site –a new hospital building right near Victory Monument. Each working day they walk to and from their workers’ camp. A short distance, so there is no need to bus them in.

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

For me, I get most enjoyment from walking through different communities in Bangkok. The city is full of different groups with their own stories to tell. Once you know where to look it is easy to find pockets of Portuguese from Europe, Iranians, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Cambodians and others from Asia, all of whom who have been here for over hundred years. And now there are new waves of migrants from the west, Japan and the migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Where do you like to eat?

After 25 years of living in Thailand I still love Thai food. I don’t have a favourite place to eat at, just try somewhere new and it will be hard to go wrong!

#5

Child playing on a railroad line in Bangkok

The railway is the playground! Her mother is from Cambodia, while her father is from Thailand. The first time the mother came to Thailand she did not have the proper paperwork and was arrested and sent back to Cambodia. Later, she got back to Thailand and married a man from Bangkok, who works as a motorbike taxi driver. With COVID-19 things are tough for him and thus for the family and a second child is on the way.

#6

young Muay Thai boxer, with a six pack

A young Muay Thai boxer, with a six pack! Along the railway line, near the Phayathai BTS station is a Muay Thai camp run by men who use to be boxers. Their aim is to keep the local children and adolescents in school and away from drugs. They have produced a number of Thai champions including a number of girls.

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

When I arrived in Thailand back in 1989 it was difficult to find a cafe in many parts of Thailand, however now there are cafes everywhere! Walking distance from where I live there are numerous cafes, so many that I have never been able to determine the exact number

What is your favorite Thai dish?

Gai yang and somtam! BBQ chicken and a green paw-paw salad, served with sticky rice and other delights from Isarn. I prefer this type of food 

#7

Having dinner between two railroad lines in Bangkok

Where better to enjoy food than between two railway lines? As soon as they saw me, they invited me to partake and what great Isarn food it was. They had a large barbequed fish along with other Isarn delights. This picture was taken a short distance from the Phayathai BTS station.

#8

Massage on the railroad in Bangkok

A mother grooming her son. For those living along the railway near the Phayathai BTS station, in between trains, the railway line is where they undertake their daily activities.

#9

Woman in Bang Sue, Bangkok

A woman living in a community in Bang Sue, where they are building Bangkok’s new main railway station. Soon, this community is going to disappear as the land prices skyrocket. The word within the community is that hotels and condominiums will replace their residences.

What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?

Anywhere in Isarn and most likely in Khon Kaen province.

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

Try to learn some Thai – it makes all the difference. Go beyond thank you and hello and you will be shocked to hear the reaction. You speak Thai so well! My first Thai phrase was Pom phut passa Thai mai dai – which means I can’t speak Thai. Those hearing me, were convinced I could speak Thai because of that phrase and it opened so many doors.

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

Don’t worry about the tones, and yes as you start learning you will make so many mistakes, because of the tones. And some mistakes may well be embarrassing, I once tried to tell my students that I needed to mark their exam papers, but apparently, I told them that I needed to check the corpse!

#10

Someone spraying a Buddhist statue gold in Bangkok

This photo is taking along a railway that runs under the Phayathai BTS station. The man was spray painting Guanyin gold, she is the Chinese female Buddha figure who is associated with compassion and a school boy was engrossed. He works at a hair salon, walking distance from the railway, and is known by those living the railway, for spray painting his Buddha figures.

#11 (bonus)

Cutting hair on the street in Bangkok

It is Sunday and the migrant workers have the day off. All the people in the picture are from Myanmar, though in this workers’ camp, there were workers and their family from Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. The barber clearly was known for his skills, as I have seen him cut the hair off a number of other workers.

#12 (bonus)

A woman from Isarn returns home along the railroad line after spending the day selling somtam

A woman from Isarn is heading back home along the railway line after spending the day selling somtam – one of my favourite Thai/Isarn dishes. She carries all the ingredients needed to make the dish and will produce it on the spot, using a mortar and pestle, as soon as someone orders it. She would also provide sticky rice to go with the somtam.

What type / brand of camera do you use?

Where can our readers find your work / photos?

I only use Instagram – @simonbakerphotography – the name is rather long, but it is the name by daughter gave me.

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

Rather than one particular photographer, check out the different hashtags connected to Thailand – There are many tourist sites such as #bangkoktravel#visitbangkok#beautiful_thailand and many more to sites such as #whathappeninthailand that are trying to record what is taking place presently with the demonstrations.

#13 (bonus)

LGBT community in Bangkok during a protest

This picture was captured under the Sala Daeng BTS station. Only in Thailand would the democratic protest movement be lead, in part, by the LGBT community. The LGBT community has been highly visible in the protest movement to bring democratic reform to the country. Early November 2020, the LGBT community organised a march and it was both colourful and powerful. A highlight of the protest was a show put on by 3 who performed Single Ladies by Beyonce and they brought the house down. Their message was that there is unity in diversity and that everyone should count.

#14 (bonus)

Two children near Sam Sem train station in Bangkok

I clearly was the funniest thing they had ever seen! These two children saw me taking photos and they wanted me to take their photos. This photo was taken late afternoon near the Sam Sen Railway station.

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