IN THE PICTURE #48
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!
We came across Nicolette when we were looking for some photos of the beautiful resort Banyan Tree at Bang Tao Beach on Phuket. After seeing more of her amazing photos, we asked if she would like to participate in our In the Picture feature. Below you will find the answer to our question… Enjoy!
Hello, please introduce yourself.
Sunny greetings from the land of smiles! My name is Nicolette, originally from Melaka, the historical state of Malaysia. Currently, I’m enjoying the peaceful island life on Koh Yao Noi in Phang Nga. Now, you may be wondering where that is? Well, the little island with a population of 5,000 sits just about a 30-minute boat ride from Phuket.
Once a travel journalist, I’ve been lucky enough to work with many talented photographers for over a decade. But it wasn’t until the day I’ve retired from the media industry that I started spending more time on my passion for photography.
These days, my free time is spent on travel and food… what’s not to love about these two, right?
Kind regards from Koh Yao Noi!
My first visit to Thailand showed me elephants roaming the streets, entertaining tourists with nifty tricks in exchange for some Bahts. Little did I know, their fragile feet (like ours) weren’t made for tarred roads and deteriorate over time. Here, a rescued elephant is treated for that and one can only imagine the pain she had gone through.
What is your favorite destination in Thailand?
As boring as this might sound, my favourite destination in the kingdom is the capital, Bangkok. While some may see it as just another city, I find it to be more than that – just look beyond the city slickers and concrete cylinders. It’s a city full of character, with a kaleidoscope of colours from art installations and neon lights from buzzing night markets, as well as a good mix of culture and modernization.
Where else in the world would you be able to find an airplane graveyard right in the middle of the city? And a vibrant flower market that comes alive past midnight? The collection of temples in this city is spectacular and amidst countless numbers of Buddhist temples, sits an intricately carved Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Silom, a place of worship for the Hindus.
Food selection in Bangkok is world class! From THB10 street food to homegrown Michelin starred chefs, you’ll be able to taste it all. If picnics are your thing, pack your choice of grubs and hit one of the many parks in the city to spend the afternoon with a book in hand. You might even bump into a monitor lizard in Lumpini Park if you’re lucky.
Which place / destination in Thailand is still on your wish list to visit?
Sukhothai… the province, not the hotel in Bangkok. Frequent visits to the ruins in Ayutthaya have kept me in awe and I’d imagine its less-touristy equal would be much better. Stories from friends and colleagues have taught me that Sukhothai is a much smaller version of Ayutthaya, but I just have to see it for myself.
Besides Sukhothai, Pai, Mae Hong Son and Phetchabun are on my wishlist for its beautiful landscapes. I would also like to do a train trip to Chiang Mai from Bangkok someday.
Wooden longtail boats anchored on the shores of the fishing village in Koh Yao Noi. These boats are usually built by the local villagers with craftsmanship that’s handed down for generations.
Night markets are the heart of Bangkok city, some running through the wee hours, offering endless choices of locally-made goods, as well as Thai and international flavours!
Which place / destination do you recommend our readers to visit and why?
There are so many destinations in Thailand to talk about, but I would like to give credit to my island home. Koh Yao Noi is the epitome of an authentic Thai experience. Although I’ve seen the island go through a change in the last four years I’ve been here, you can still experience untouched Thailand in various parts of the island.
In the fishing village, wooden longtail boats anchors by the shore. The morning calm is only broken by the sound of fishing boats sailing in and birds chirping away. Daily catches can be bought fresh off the boats at prices you’ll never see in mainstream markets.
People on the island are as warm as the tropical weather and are always ready to lend a hand. A friend once got lost during a bike ride for three hours, only to be lucky enough to bump into a local who drove him and his bike back to my home. Moving to the island from Kuala Lumpur, I was shocked to see locals leaving their motorbike by the roadside with their keys in it. Back home, the bike would be gone in ten minutes. But here on the island, theft is unheard of.
From hiking to unexplored locations, to catching spectacular sunrises and sunsets, there are much to see and do on the island. There is a local Muay Thai gym for aspiring fighters, a yoga retreat for finding inner peace and a batik painting center run by the ladies of the island for an artistic indulgence. Nightlife, however, is limited. So, one would have to be contented with one of the local bars. I could go on and on about the island, but nothing beats experiencing it for yourself.
Where do you like to eat?
Now, where do I even begin? This is a VERY tough one because I live to eat and there are so many great options in Thailand! Starting with the island, my favourite hangout is a roadside stall called Chicken Honey that serves grilled honey glazed chicken, beef and fishes fresh off the boat, alongside a wide selection of som tam.
In Bangkok, Rung Rueang’s Pork Noodles is a must! Imagine sinking your teeth in juicy chunks of minced pork served on top of a bed of noodles drowned in fragrant pork broth… I’m salivating as I type. A side of crispy fish skin adds a bit of crunch to the bowl.
Moo ping (pork skewers) from any random push carts would make my day and when paired with sticky rice, it’s a complete meal. For something more upscale, ERR (Urban Rustic Thai) plates up some pretty authentic Thai dishes in an olden day setting.
Up north in Chiang Mai, khao soi hardly ever goes wrong so walking into any local stall will pretty much satisfy my taste buds.
The pride of Bangkok’s street food culture, Michelin starred Jay Fai keeps the consistency in her food by cooking every single dish herself. Hence the slight wait upon ordering. But was it worth the wait? I say, DEFINITELY!
An elderly monk napping in the courtyard of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. Perched on the mountains, the temple dates back to the thirteenth century and is one of the main pilgrimage destinations during Buddhist holidays.
Tip us a nice coffee shop or bar where our readers can drop by.
Talat Noi in Bangkok has much to offer when it comes to quaint cafes and bars. Mother Roaster is one of the places where you can get a cuppa with a good kick. To get to it, you’ll have to walk through a junk shop, up a flight of stairs. Just follow the strong coffee aroma and you’ll find your way to the counter.
I’m not so much of a drinker, but I do enjoy a cocktail every now and then. A hip little izakaya place in Charoen Krung Road called JUA serves up one of my favourite cocktails in town – the Sake Gimlet. Their kushiyaki menu should not be missed when you’re there. There are even plates to share.
On Koh Yao Noi, there is a coffee joint called Coffee Break. Bung Wan, who runs the place, is very passionate about his craft and you can be sure to get the same delightful taste in your daily fix. Talk about consistency!
What is your favorite Thai dish?
Larb! I can have larb every day! This ground meat salad packs a punch when it comes to flavours. Seasoned with chili, lime juice and fresh mint, with a dash of ground toasted rice, the dish can be prepared with any choice of meat. I personally prefer it with duck or pork.
Another Thai dish that I really enjoy eating is kao tung na tang, which is crispy rice cakes with pork and shrimp dipping. I first had this in a restaurant in Phuket called One Chun. Its more of an appetizer, but can be quite addictive. If you’re ever in One Chun, you must try moo hong – stewed pork belly – that’s significant to Southern Thai cuisine.
Traffic in Bangkok is a test to your patience during peak hours, hence it’s better to get on the trains. This shot was taken from the connecting bridge between the Phetchaburi MRT Station and the Makkasan Airport Rail Link Station, which is a much faster way to get to the airport.
The giant statues in the kingdom never seize to amaze! This was shot at Wat Thep Phithak Punnaram in Khao Yai, just about a three-hour drive from Bangkok.
What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?
Because I enjoy having new experiences, I almost never go back to the same hotel twice. But I did at the Rosewood Bangkok. Their service is impeccable, staff are warm and I appreciate their attention to details and their tastefully fitted interiors. The hotel is connected to the Phloen Chit BTS Skytrain station so, that makes getting around easy!
Thailand has so much to offer in terms of accommodation and you can find great places to stay for every budget. Hotels with character, and lots of textures and detailing in its architecture and design would usually be my choice of accommodation because I love to photograph them. The Slate (at Nai Yang Beach, Phuket) en The Memory at On On Hotel in Phuket Town, Sala Chaweng in Koh Samui, Hotel Indigo and The Siam in Bangkok are some of my favourites to photograph.
Do you have a (travel) tip that might come in handy in Thailand?
Experience local as much as you can when traveling around Thailand. The kingdom has much more to offer than just night markets, temples and food. Have a rough plan of places and things you’d like to see, but you’re most likely to see more if you travel on foot within an area. It’s okay to get lost in Thailand, you can figure your way back later with Google Maps. Although I would suggest interacting with the locals – they’re always happy to help you find your way. And you might just earn yourself a tip or two on hidden gems known only to the locals. It helps to know basic words like “sawasdee ka/krub” (hello) and “khob khun ka/krub” (thank you) as the locals do appreciate the effort.
Try travelling through the waterway when in Bangkok. Besides avoiding traffic, it’s great for sightseeing too (if you manage to get past the stench). It may not be as posh as the water taxis in Venice, nor as clean as the canal cruises in Amsterdam, but you’ll be able to see Bangkok from a different angle, discovering the local lifestyle, new temples and even wildlife.
Is there a Thai phrase or word our readers need to learn?
“Ped nid noi” which means less spicy, helps when you have low tolerance when it comes to the level of spiciness. I would very much prefer to be able to enjoy the flavours in my food. To ask if the food is spicy, you can say “ped mai?”. If you can’t take spicy food, “mai ped” would come in handy. And last but not least, “ped mak” if you like a fiery kick!
A blue-crested lizard that turns beautifully blue only during breeding season. Simply one of the amazing wildlife Thailand has to offer.
Portrait of a lady… this is of my favourite shots from a visit to the Karen and Akha Hill Tribe Village in Chiang Rai, about five years ago. While the visit was rather touristy for a traveller, it was interesting to learn their way of life as modernity creeps in, making the simple life not so simple anymore.
What type / brand of camera do you use?
My phone most of the time, but I always have my Sony a6000 when I’m travelling. It’s an oldie, but most definitely a goodie!
Where can our readers find your work / photos?
Come take a look on my Instagram page.
Last question, who should we also ask our ‘In the Picture’ feature?
Pre-pandemic… before freedom is a luxury. Here, a child is enjoying the screening of shadow puppetry on a makeshift screen at the local funfair.
A little corner in Phuket’s first hotel, The Memory at On On Hotel. This Sino-Portuguese piece of architecture has so much character, it’s a playground for photographers!