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IN THE PICTURE #53: RIEL
In this feature called ‘In the Picture‘ we ask great photographers from all over the world to share their 10 most favorite Thailand photos with our readers. (Sorry in this case even 16 haha – couldn’t resist and rules are there to be broken every now and then, right?). See Thailand through the lens of the photographer, read the background stories and learn more about the land of smiles.
Today on October 1st 2021, it’s exactly one year since we started this feature. For this one year anniversary we thought it would be fun to showcase a few of my personal favorite photos taken by myself. Hopefully this article will provide some “sanuk” (fun / joy) and put a smile on your faces, after all Thailand is not called the land of smiles for nothing!
Chock dee krub!
Riel (Thailand Magazine)
Hello, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Sawasdee krub dear Thailand Magazine readers,
My name is Riel, half Italian / half Dutch, born and raised in The Hague since 1977. In the mid nineties I started my own business in the field of marketing communications for the music industry where I worked for twenty years with great pleasure and conviction. The company was responsible for the publicity and promotion of events and festivals such as Awakenings, Lowlands, Sensation, Mystery Land, Dance Valley Time Warp (DE), Sziget (HU) and I Love Techno (BE).
Also well-known clubs like the Paradiso, Melkweg, AIR, 11, Trouw, Tivoli, Doornroosje, Effenaar, Patronaat, Toffler, Maassilo, Simplon and many others were my clients. Campaigns for “brands and artists” such as Banksy, Prince, Bacardi, Fight Club and even the pre-campaign for Mc Donald’s I’m Lovin It are also done.
For many years I also published my own magazine, focusing on electronic music, artists and events. Throughout the Netherlands, 40,000 copies of this magazine were distributed each month. The magazine contained background articles about festivals, the nightlife and interviews with artists such as Underworld, Dixon (personal favorite), David Guetta, Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, Martin Garrix, Don Diablo, Moby, Jeff Mills, Dave Clarke, Richie Hawtin, Sven Vath and many more artists.
About seven years ago I decided to focus on something new. I started to focus mainly on the city of Leiden, where I have enjoyed working and living for many years. I work at a super nice company with a great team for whom I do the marketing and communication. We provide services for the cultural, scientific and commercial sectors. Personally, I have a number of goals for this city that I am quietly working on.
In July 2018, Ilonka and I started Thailand Magazine with a mission “Sharing our knowledge, everlasting love and inexhaustible passion for Thailand with the world by creating high quality content. By doing so we persuade others to visit, discover and experience this amazing and beautiful country with its friendly people and beautiful nature.”
Any free minute we have we invest into Thailand Magazine. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has prevented us from traveling to Thailand for two years but we have continued to work uninhibited and will certainly continue to do so! We are just getting started and far from finished with what we have in mind. We love the Thai people and will work hard to promote and support Thailand as much as we can!
THAILAND WE LOVE YOU!!!
Riel (and Ilonka)
Bangkok – Siam Center
The very first moment we started talking about Thailand Magazine. It’s July 2016 and my partner Ilonka and I are peering from the Mercure Siam over the skyline of Bangkok. That was the exact moment where we said to each other “Let’s start a site about Thailand!”. Now in 2021, we haven’t regretted that decision for one second. And even though Covid-19 has thrown us back a few years it has only made us more aware that this is something we really want! Bangkok here we come – we are going for it!
Khao Sok National Park – Cheow Lan Lake
Waking up in surroundings like this after sleeping on a wafer-thin mattress in a ramshackle floating hut on the water is impossible to describe with any keyboard…. Actually, that incredibly beautiful experience begins at the moment you step into a longtail boat. Your phone has no reception here, which gives you all the more time to see the lush jungle, towering rock formations and emerald green water. Anyone going to Thailand I recommend visiting this area at least once.
Khao Sok National Park
Many months before we had slept in Khao Sok we already decided that we wanted to spend some nights at Our Jungle House just outside the small village Khao Sok. The first time we slept in a little house in the middle of the jungle but the last time we visited Our Jungle House we slept in a spacious tree house high above ground. A free feeling in the jungle of the Khao Sok National Park!
What is your favorite destination in Thailand?
Haha, now that I have to answer this question myself I notice how difficult it is!
Of course I put Bangkok here, a real metropolis and in my opinion the perfect place to start and end a visit to Thailand. Bangkok really has it all, think of (luxury) shopping malls, accommodations and sky bars but also beautiful parks, ancient temples, interesting museums and fun (night) markets. Although I’m a big fan of this city myself, I also know that others do not (have not) experienced this mega city as pleasant. Therefore I would also like to focus on a number of other insanely beautiful destinations in Thailand.
Let me start with Railay, to be exact Phra Nang Beach. This beach is by far my favorite beach in Thailand and every time I arrive in Railay it feels like coming home. From Krabi airport or town it’s not far at all and from the coastal town of Ao Nang only fifteen minutes by longtail boat.
Small tip: Spend at least two nights on Railay. During a day trip to this area it is very crowded and when the day trippers are gone this area becomes really beautiful again.
Then there is the Khao Sok National Park, I can say that this is the most beautiful place in Thailand that I have visited yet. Spend one or two nights on Cheow Lan Lake and do a few excursions. (We know a good guide/local and would be happy to introduce him to you).
Finally, three islands I must have mentioned. Koh Lipe, Koh Ngai and Koh Phi Phi. The last one is quite touristy but with the right attitude you can enjoy that as it also has its advantages. Koh Lipe is located in the south of Thailand and is surrounded by very clear seawater, so incredibly beautiful to see! In one week you have discovered the whole island which makes it very nice to visit Lipe. Then there is Koh Ngai, simply a little paradise on earth!
Which place / destination in Thailand is still on your wish list to visit?
I would very much like to spend a few weeks, even months in the Isaan located in the northeast of Thailand. But also Khiri Khan, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kanchanaburi and Nakhon Si Thammarat are high on my wish list.
Koh Lipe – Sunrise Beach
Our favorite beach on beautiful Koh Lipe and immediately our favorite spot on Sunrise Beach. Way in the back, hidden behind some rocks, at Ten Moons Resort is a small beach which is part of Sunrise Beach. Sshhht don’t tell anyone about it….
Which place / destination do you recommend our readers to visit and why?
Visit Khao Sok National Park anyway and sleep in the (basic or luxury) floating houses on Cheow Lan Lake. It is so special to wake up there! The Gibbon calls, the buzzing (is that what you call it?) cicadas and chirping of many different species of birds, sigh if only I were there now! Here you really become aware of the beauty that mother earth offers us and it is just very nice to wake up!
As a beach destination, in my opinion, you must have been to Railay anyway. To be exact at Phra Nang Beach, the photo at the top of the article was shot there.
Where do you like to eat?
Another difficult question… Therefore, a few options where I would prefer to eat every week.
As a sky bar in Bangkok, I want to mention Cielo and SEEN, because what an incredible meal we had here! As a cruise on the Chao Phraya, I recommend everyone the one at Baan Khanitha. Looking for a nice sandwich and sleeping near Khao San Road or Rambuttri Road? Then go get your breakfast at Konnichipan Bakery.
On Koh Phi Phi, the restaurant called P.P. Wang Ta Fu is where you should be if you like sushi and sashimi and Italian food is at Italiano Bar & Restaurant. On Koh Lanta, a visit to Yang Garden is recommended if you like grill dishes. On Lipe, I recommend Elephant where the atmosphere alone is worth it thanks to the staff (give them my regards) and Jenna’s Bistro in Ao Nang is also always a real treat to dine at! Give greetings to Greete and the team there too haha!
Finally, one of the most special restaurants in Thailand and perhaps on earth…. The Grotto of the resort Rayavadee on Phra Nang Beach in Railay. This is where we will hopefully be eating in December and for me a very special place…. (see update). Not everyone can eat at The Grotto because you have to be a guest there at Rayavadee. Railay Family Restaurant in the Railay Walking Street is also very cozy and good, we love coming there!
Koh Ngai – Thapwarin Resort
Sometimes you have to think different, in this case we booked a snorkeling tour from Koh Lanta but actually only to drop us off on Koh Ngai. This was cheaper, faster and more fun than renting our own longtail boat. Koh Ngai is so overwhelmingly beautiful, our mouths dropped wide open when we docked in front of our resort (Thapwarin Resort) to get off…. We weren’t the only ones, the entire speedboat looked at us jealously when they realized we were staying there haha.
Bangkok – Siam Square Area
This photo is an ode to the previous king of Thailand. Phra Chaoyuhua Bhumibol Adulyadej, short for King Bhumibol or known as King Rama IX. This peace-loving man meant so incredibly much to the Thai. He was an inventor, photographer but above all a father of the people. We were therefore very touched when we heard that this good man passed away in October 2016.
Tip us a nice coffee shop or bar where our readers can drop by.
The ThreeSixty Rooftop Bar of the Millennium Hilton Bangkok is a super nice rooftop bar with insane views! And because the staff is always so friendly and service oriented I tip this one here. But also the sky bar of the Rembrandt Hotel which listens to the name 1826 has so far amazed me with their extraordinarily tasty cocktails, truly the best I have ever had in Thailand – Thanks Stephen Pinto!
What is your favorite Thai dish?
Bangkok – King Power MahaNakhon
This gigantic tower in Bangkok, also called Pixel Tower, is a true icon and at the time of writing still the highest sky bar in Bangkok. The glass platform on which you can walk is a real experience, a must for anyone visiting Bangkok (and not afraid of heights).
Bangkok – King Rama XIII Bridge over the Chao Phraya Rivier
Talk about iconic landmarks…. My heart fills with joy every time I see this bridge over the mighty Chao Phraya River from afar or close by. After all, it means I’m back in familiar Bangkok in the country I love most! Thailand I love you so much!
What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?
Here we go again, stop those difficult questions…555. There are so many great accommodations to be found in Thailand…. In Bangkok, I am a big enthusiast of The Westin Grande Sukhumvit and The Okura Prestige because of their super service and quality they offer. Both hotels are located next to a BTS station and have excellent restaurants as well!
Do you have a (travel) tip that might come in handy in Thailand?
Thailand received virtually no international tourists in 2020 and 2021. Because so incredibly many Thais depend on tourism we want to ask you to be generous in the form of a tip on your next visit to Thailand. For most of us, 100 baht doesn’t mean much but know that for a very large portion of Thai people it is a significant amount.
It is claimed that on average a Thai earns 25,000 baht per month. But realize that a large part of them is far below that, with some earning 3.500 baht per month and a large part about 10.000 baht. Therefore, we urge you to give as many Thai people as possible, whether they work as cab drivers, in the hospitality industry, on the street or in any other capacity, a little extra on their next visit to Thailand. We will certainly do this when we return!
Is there a Thai phrase or word our readers need to learn?
Suay maaaaaaaaaak = Very beautiful! Suay stands for beautiful and mak stands for very/much. And most of us know thank you already, but did you know that when you say khob khun maak krub you say thank you very much instead of thank you. Sometimes that little nuance makes all the difference.
By the way, I like to close with Chock dee krub, which means something like “good luck” or “best wishes.”
Krabi – Railay – Phra Nang Beach
Personally, this is the most iconic and favorite picture that has stayed on my mind the most when I think of Thailand. We have been here dozens of times and the location and surroundings never bore me. This beach (Phra Nang Beach), which is part of Railay, is definitely my favorite beach in all of Thailand. Every time I think of this place a smile comes to my face, is that why they call Thailand the land of smiles?
Pai – Coffee in Love
Anyone who heads towards the village of Pai situated in the north of Thailand should, in my opinion, explore the area around it. The nature here is so incredibly beautiful and totally different from the islands in the south of Thailand. If you like beautiful views and/or coffee, have a drink at Coffee in Love, located on the road to and from Pai.
Koh Tao – Mango Viewpoint
Here you see the love of my life and Thailand Magazine partner Ilonka looking out over Sairee Beach on Koh Tao. It’s a long way to get to Mango Viewpoint, so I don’t recommend you do this by scooter. Ask someone on the island with a 4FFWD drive to bring and pick you up, this costs almost nothing and is much safer.
What type / brand of camera do you use?
Just with my phone, but a very good one, a One Plus.
Where can our readers find your work / photos?
Last question, who should we also ask our ‘In the Picture’ feature?
Bangkok – Wat Paknam Bhasi Charoen
At first glance, this lower part of a face with mouth and chin doesn’t represent much. This is about seeing things in perspective, the bigger picture. Let me explain.
In 2019, we were out through the (small) waterways of Bangkok on a klong tour. During this very nice tour, we stopped at a special temple and were told that a large Buddha was built here. Along the way, I came across this part of the Buddha and took this photo. Here you can see the result….
Krabi – Tiger Cave Temple
Going up or down? On a mountain near Krabi Town, this temple has an incredible climb and descent. But that is more than worth a visit to the Tiger Cave Temple! The view is phenomenal and as you walk up the 1260 steps you will be encouraged along the way by the people who have started the way back…. Conversely, you do the same when you take the stairs back down. A super experience!