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IN THE PICTURE #58: TARIK ABDEL-MONEM
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.
Just before our publication, we received another email from this very friendly and professional photographer. Tarik asked us to use a different photo for our cover photo (see above). This one is slightly different from the one we had received first. The reason? UNESCO is going to use the original photo in a big report. Really insane to hear something like that! Tarik congratulations on your great successes, there are certainly many more to come! Keep up the great work!
Hello Tarik, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Tarik Abdel-Monem from the United States and I currently live in Lincoln, Nebraska. I am very passionate about all sorts of photography and videography. Many of my Thailand images are from the deep south. But some of my favorite photography experiences have been in Bangkok. I love night photography, people images, and shots of everyday life. Full-time I work in a university academic environment, which keeps me very busy. For side gigs I manage to find time for wedding photography and video projects. I’ve been doing photography since around 2007. I still find it a deeply enriching and fun experience which has opened up many doors for me.
Khao Sok National Park, Surat Thani (December 2013)
I will always remember the mist at dawn on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park. The colors and atmosphere are truly stunning. Highly recommended place to visit for a quiet and isolated vacation, with many great nature photo opportunities. We loved it!
Lumpini Park, Bangkok (December 2013)
I love wandering out at night and taking photos. There are so many fabulous night photo opportunities all around Bangkok especially. These men were playing a game of late night checkers in Lumpini Park.
What is your favorite destination in Thailand?
Bangkok for sure. Bangkok has everything one would want in a huge city. The photography opportunities are endless. We have a place in the northern part of Bangkok, and its not too hard to get around with more light rail expansions (sky train)..
Which place / destination in Thailand is still on your wish list to visit?
Kanchanaburi province. Some really interesting photography opportunities there, and I am a huge nature boy too.
Sukhumvit, Bangkok (January 2014)
This was a spur of the moment shot at Asok intersection. I held my Sony camera down low to the ground to get the right angle, walked quickly across the street, and took as many photos as I could! I really like how it captures the traffic congestion and urban Bangkok at peak times.
Yaowarat (Chinatown), Bangkok (December 2017)
The Sai Yong Hong opera troupe perform here for local crowds. The colorful costumes and characters are wonderful photo opportunities. This neighborhood (Yaowarat, Chinatown) between Hualampong and Wat Mangkon have really interesting places to walk around on the smaller side streets, especially at night.
Which place / destination do you recommend our readers to visit and why?
The far south of Thailand. There are many interesting natural sites and communities to visit throughout the area. I particularly like Muang Pattani, Narathiwat, or Yala, and any of the national parks in the south. The Tarutao islands off Satun are also wonderful places to visit for islands (like Koh Lipe) and snorkeling.
Where do you like to eat?
Do I have to pick one only? Then it would be Kai Tod Decha in Hat Yai. This is a very well-known and popular halal restaurant with all sorts of wonderful seafood and other southern Thai cuisines. My favorites are the seafood tom yum, fried fish with curry or chili sauce, and famous deep fried chicken. There is a Kai Tod Decha branch close to Hat Yai airport – the first place to eat when arriving in Hat Yai.
Amper Mueang Narathiwat (January 2015)
This is an Indonesian oil tanker beached not far from Narathiwat city. The tanker was full of stolen palm oil, and the Thai police arrested pirates armed with knives and axes. People flocked here from around the province to view the beached tanker. Local food and snack vendors were very happy! This was a 52 second exposure with a Canon DSLR and Sigma 35mm. I like to shoot inanimate objects in water with long exposures, so this tanker was a great find!
Sichon, Nakhon Si Thammarat (December 2013)
A small, open air Islamic school not far from the beach. This was a special visit, as we got to hang out with some extended family who live nearby, and had a wonderful time. With my good old Canon 70-200mm, I got some great snaps of the students clowning for the camera in natural light. This photo will be published by UNESCO in its Global Education Monitoring Report for 2021/2022.
Tip us a nice coffee shop or bar where our readers can drop by.
I highly recommend the street-side coffee shop between Phetburi soi 5 and soi 7 at night. They serve all sorts of roti and also have spicy curry sauce – my favorite. The shop is very popular at night and serves all your typical street vendor coffee and tea beverages. I am not sure how they are doing now with the COVID situation, but I hope they are still operating.
What is your favorite Thai dish?
Definitely Som Tam. The combination of textures and flavors is unique and the variations are endless. I like making it with apples and oranges too.
Buiten Hat Yai, Songkhla (January 2014)
The Central Mosque of Songkhla province is not far from Hat Yai, on the highway to Muang Songkhla. This was a 30 second exposure using my Zeiss Batis 25mm – truly one of my favorite and most used lenses! I love finding and photographing mosques, no matter where they are. But finding really impressive-looking ones are hard to find in Thailand, compared to Malaysia. The atmosphere here is peaceful because the Mosque is away from the city and highway. There used to be a wonderful restaurant within walking distance to this Mosque.
Amper Muang Yala (December 2014)
These Islamic high school students are practicing the Thai martial art of krabi-krabong as part of their physical education courses. This is Satree Islam Witaya Mulniti school, in Yala city. Like many others, this school teaches the required Thai national curriculum part of the day, and Islamic courses the other
What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?
The Fulay Guesthouse in Hua Hin. This is a budget place, but its location and overall charm and quality are very memorable. We stayed there years ago and really liked our tiny little room. I would definitely recommend Fulay for anyone on a budget.
Do you have a (travel) tip that might come in handy in Thailand?
Pack as light as you can. Almost everything you could need on a trip can be bought in Bangkok or other major cities.
Is there a Thai phrase or word our readers need to learn?
Soot Yaawt! ‘Amazing’ or ‘Wonderful’!
Sanam Luang, Bangkok (December 2017)
Sometime after the death of King Rama IX, the Ministry of Culture began allowing the public onto the crematorium grounds to view the Royal Crematorium. This is a 107 second exposure of the Crematorium with my Zeiss 25mm. There were huge crowds coming to view the Crematorium on a daily basis, and you had to walk all around Sanam Luang just to enter the complex. In the evening, they had a very formal kohn performance. I came back here a few nights in a row to photograph the Crematorium and kohn performers from different angles. It was a very memorable historic moment.
Taksin Bridge, Bangkok (December 2018)
What a super fun way to bring in New Year 2019! I had to wait on the bridge over 7 hours to get this shot, but hanging out with other photography enthusiasts on new year’s eve made it all the more rewarding. To do this you need to arrive at Taksin bridge no later than 5 PM to get a good spot on the walkway facing Icon Siam. Around 7 PM there will be hundreds of photographers along the bridge. By midnight, the entire bridge sidewalk is jam-packed with thousands of people to watch the fireworks. I have done this several times and always had a blast. Be sure to come with water and food, and some friends to hold your spots along the bridge (closest restrooms are down on Charoen Krung road). Highly recommended for anyone into fireworks photography!
What type / brand of camera do you use?
I started with Canon DSLRs, but moved to Sony Alpha years ago and am very happy with this system. I mainly use a Sony A7 III and have an A7 II as a secondary. I love using the Zeiss Batis 25mm, Sony 55mm, and Sony 70-200mm lenses.
Where can our readers find your work / photos?
Mijn photo e-book: https://photographingbangkok.com/ and my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarikabdelmonem/
Last question, who should we also ask our ‘In the Picture’ feature?
@spaceshiftstudio (Pirak Anurakyawachon) on Instagram is a wonderful architectural photographer to follow.