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IN THE PICTURE #55: VILLE PAGANUS
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. See Thailand through the lens of the photographer, read the background stories and learn more about the land of smiles.
With in this edition a Finn who shows us, among other things, some pictures of life Pattaya. Timeless and just the way it is, we also love this immensely. Thank you Ville for the lovely contribution to In the Picture and hopefully the move to Koh Samet goes the way you want it to! Wishing you a happy time on the island!
Hello Ville, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello reader of Thailand Magazine,
I am Ville Paganus, born and raised in Joensuu, Finland. Later I lived in Helsinki, Tallinn and Kuala Lumpur and today I live in Pattaya but will soon move to Koh Samet, Thailand.
I have always photographed but since 2004 I have been doing this more seriously. It is a good mental medicine for me. First I photographed nature, later cityscapes and people. I have photographed many themes, but what I like best is capturing everyday life, a documentary type of photography. I also find sad subjects interesting. In 2014, I lost my photography inspiration and started making music. Later, a new view in Asia brought back my photographic inspiration.
The only passion in my life is art. I always hated school and skipped a lot, it was a waste of time for me. And looking back now, the only useful thing I learned was how to read and write. In 2016, a dream of mine came true as my LP “Ei kaupallista potenttiaalia” was released as a singer-songwriter. In 2017 another dream came true because my photo book “Sekakäyttöisen mielenmaalaus” with the main theme of homelessness was published. You can find it on my website.
Best regards from Thailand,
When I first came to Thailand in 2018, this family lived on the same street in Pattaya as where I lived. Every morning at 06:00 when I wanted to get breakfast from the 7-Eleven I walked past this family as they were outside eating breakfast together. The pig was wandering back and forth through the street which was a strange sight in the city. You don’t see a family like this every day, so of course I had to take a picture. I see it as unusually interesting.
This man also lived on the same street as me and had a street kitchen there. The photo turned out well thanks to this supermodel who didn’t change expression when I took the picture. Real people are always the best models.
This couple caught my attention on a street in Pattaya. The man was doing bricklaying while his wife was doing mortar. This is one of my own favorite photos.
What is your favorite destination in Thailand?
I love small towns, the countryside and islands. Beautiful scenery, nice people, laid back lifestyle and much more Thai culture than the tourist attractions have to offer. On many islands they seem to have their own culture that is different from the mainland. Many Reggae people live on islands, such as the famous artist Job 2 Do, who makes good music. I think the island of Koh Samet in Rayong province has been my favorite so far and why can be found below my Koh Samet photo (#7).
Which place / destination in Thailand is still on your wish list to visit?
Many, but most of all I would like to visit the north of Thailand with its mountains and unique landscapes. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai for example. It can be very cold there and even snow every now and then, which is hard to believe when talking about Thailand.
I was in a bar in Pattaya and noticed this cool looking wheelchair. The lady at the bar told me he built it to keep working. He sells lottery tickets. Positivity is one of the many things I like about Thai culture. Even when shit like this happens most just move forward.
Boring “tourist photo”
I don’t usually take pictures of landscapes, but why I chose this picture is about the island of Koh Larn and the time when life was normal before the Covid-19 period.
Koh Larn is a small beautiful quiet island near Pattaya. I, Pattaya residents and domestic tourists come there to escape the drudgery of daily life. The photo was taken just before Covid-19 and everyone misses those good times. But the good news is that the government has finally realized that totalitarian restrictions cause more harm than Covid-19.
Which place / destination do you recommend our readers to visit and why?
I recommend you stay away from the tourist spots and discover Thailand better. The culture, the food, the art and history…but of course Bangkok has a lot to offer. Buses and minibuses are good and cheap and even domestic flights are cheap. Pattaya’s small neighboring towns of Rayong and Bang Sein are fun and seaside. Outside the tourist spots, many don’t speak English. But if it’s a short family vacation, the basic tourist beach destinations are good choices.
Where do you like to eat?
Too many to mention… I really like Thai food, it is healthy and good tasting. Every time I am in Thailand, I lose pounds. In the jungle on Koh Samet, I found Pizza Hippie. The wooden hut and courtyard is a piece of art. The rasta lady makes very good homemade pizza she said she was taught by Italians.
Bua Yai is a small town in the countryside, 100 kilometers north of Nakhon Ratchasima. A beautiful area with nature, small lakes, buffaloes, rice fields, nice people and a relaxed lifestyle. There are still strong and close-knit family communities, everyone comes together in the evening and everyone helps each other.
This photo was shot in Koh Samet, a small island in Rayong province with white beaches, clean water and incredible scenery, especially in the national park. Easy going life there and a hippie culture. I enjoyed it so much and that’s why I decided to move there. Chances are that when this article is published I will already be living there.
Tip us a nice coffee shop or bar where our readers can drop by.
In the Pratumnak area of Pattaya is Berney Music Lounge where great live music is played with a different theme every night. Old English rock n roll and Thai music for example. Many artists come to play there and the owner himself also plays. And you can eat and drink great!
Another favorite is Rasta Bar on the beach of Koh Samet, really a perfect place on the island.
What is your favorite Thai dish?
Again, there are too many dishes to list. But maybe Pad Thai which has “all the possible” in the meal. The dish is good tasting, healthy and not too spicy. But a regular basic noodle soup is also super and cheap. Three kinds of meat, some vegetables and noodles, a great meal even under the heading of soup.
The cat lady
I pass this lady and her ten cats almost every day as I walk around my neighborhood in Pratumnak in Pattaya where this lady always says sawasdee ka as I pass. I have many photos of her, but this one also captures most of her cats, so I chose this photo.
I was waiting for a doctor’s appointment in Naklua, Pattaya and had some time…. So I decided to walk around and found this cool duo who looked “identical” and were very photogenic together. He asked me for a cigarette and he gave me back some beer. Together we drank and talked a bit. He prefers to drink “Thai whiskey” (Lau Kao) which is very popular especially in the countryside.
Piece of art
The lady’s house is like a true work of art in Pattaya. Lady as this woman is called, spent months building, or rather creating the house. I see it as a work of art and took this picture when it was almost finished. She told me that someone was coming soon to live in it. I gave 50 baht for the photo and her creation.
What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?
Bungalows, small huts by the sea on the islands and villages are HOLIDAY for me. These can be booked like hotels from the internet and there is usually service nearby.
Do you have a (travel) tip that might come in handy in Thailand?
If you are melancholic and live in the northern part of Europe, for example, or some other cold place around the globe, I recommend you come to Thailand for a sun treatment. But also the beauty of Thailand and the positive culture will make you smile. Two weeks on vacation or longer if you move or retire here.
What is less fun is applying for a visa, it is expensive and a nightmare because of the bureaucracy involved. I have talked a lot about the positives so I will mention a few more negatives like the visa thing.
In the tourist cities there is always a risk of cheating and stealing. I have been in Pattaya most of the time because my brother lives here and I can give some tips, or warnings.
Like a bar downtown called, Pussy Beer Bar. These words define much of Pattaya and there is not much else to offer. If that’s enough for you then Pattaya is a rocking place, but not really a family vacation paradise. Western influences are strong in Pattaya, so not the best place to look for Thai culture.
Many westerners come here to look for a wife, but Pattaya is the last place in Thailand for that search. There are super nice ladies elsewhere. Partly because of cultural differences, men and women look for different things. 97.86% of Pattaya babes are looking for an easy life + financial arrangement that benefits the girl’s entire family. The position of the man is to be an unloved money machine. But with that money mind you usually get good service and a good “housewife”. If that is good and you arrive in Pattaya, it takes 25 seconds to find a girl to marry you. Thanks to Buddha, I never had a girlfriend here, but it’s still easy to see and hear the obvious.
Is there a Thai phrase or word our readers need to learn?
For me, every day is New Year and the phrase I use all the time is Sawasdee pimai – happy new year, and the locals know me and say hello to me using the same words. The Thai language is difficult, especially writing. There are so many letters and letters are intricate art drawings.
Tokay Geckos are super looking lizards. It took me a long time to capture one because they move very fast. Eventually I managed to photograph one in the restroom of my regular cafe and I thought it was a great photo. It’s good to have smaller geckos in the house, they eat the bad guys.
What type / brand of camera do you use?
Many years I use a Samsung phone, all my cameras are broken.
Where can our readers find your work / photos?
Last question, who should we also ask our ‘In the Picture’ feature?
I have never seen a local with a camera, except in music videos. The only photos I’ve seen here are mostly mobile selfies and photos of what people are eating. I look at Thailand photos from Flickr groups called Thailand and Thai Life. There are sometimes incredibly beautiful photos and good photographers on there.