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IN THE PICTURE #67: ANNETTE JOHNSON
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.
We “met” Annette in a super fun Facebook group with various Thailand photos. Called, how could it be otherwise, Thailand in Pictures. Annette regularly posts beautiful pictures and we asked her if she wanted to participate in our category. Shortly thereafter we received the following pictures. Thank you Annette for a valuable addition to our column!
Hello Annette, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I am Annette Johnson, an amateur photographer. I have had a great interest in photography and have owned a camera since I was 16 years old. This has developed into a real passion for me since having to give up working in my early 50s. Photography for me is a means of sharing the many beautiful places I go to and see, and combines my desire to share them with others. I enjoy exploring the different types and styles of photography with my main love being landscape, travel, seascape and cityscape, as well as architecture. Being made to choose 12 photos (13 ha ha) from my travels has been no mean feat! But I am hoping you get to see more of my work in the Magazine in future.
When I started my travels, it was just the usual two or three weeks leave, but not always to the usual places. This all culminated in 2012/13 when I went with my partner on an epic trip along the Silk route to China; a total of 14 countries in 14 months travelling through Central and South East Asia. This left us both in no doubt that we wanted to live and work abroad.
In 2015 we travelled around the southern half of India for four months, before arriving in Nong Khai in the very northern part of Thailand between Laos and Thailand.
A year later, I found myself in Nakhon Ratchasima, commonly called Korat where I remained for over two years. After that we came even further south to the beautiful island of Phuket, where I have lived for the last two years and will hopefully remain for many more. Interestingly I have even moved south on the Island too, now living at the very bottom of Phuket in a place called Rawai, with my partner and my beautiful companion cat, Mia. I have a huge love of travel and combine this with my photography. I hope that my photographs inspire people to go and visit some of the amazing places and see the wonderful things that I have. I hope they can enjoy them just as much as me, if not more!
Please enjoy the images for what they are: a record of our world around us.
2017: Phimai boat races @ Nakhon Ratchasima
In 2017 I was still living in Korat, which is very close to one of my favourite places, Phimai.
We had gone to see the Phimai boat races and enjoy the general atmosphere of the markets and local people. They were amazing; the market stalls were bursting with different foods. This area was made pedestrianised so no traffic either.
The boat race spectators were also so very friendly and so very pleased to see us. In fact I think i can say that the people of Phimai are actually some of the friendliest people in Issan.
27 November 2019: Karon Viewpoint @ Phuket
Also known as Three-Beach viewpoint as once you reach its peak perched in the south of Kata Beach, in front of you is the breath-taking view of beautiful Kata Noi, Kata and Karon beaches as well as the deep-blue Andaman sea.
Also from there, if you look out from the beaches you will see the tiny Island Called Koh Pu, pretty deserted and difficult to get to. It’s joined by a land bridge to Koh Jum where I spent some of my 2nd honeymoon in 2008. So when I look at the little Island from the view point I get lovely memories, making this viewpoint one of my favourite places during the week when it’s lovely and quiet.
What is your favorite destination in Thailand?
Ya Nui Beach here in Phuket, is a small beach which is divided at low tide by a small sand bank with an accessible rocky outcrop to survey the views. My reason for loving it is I can walk straight off the beach into the water and snorkel and see amazing beautiful fish! It’s only a five minute drive from where I live.
Which place / destination in Thailand is still on your wish list to visit?
Phang Nga, and the Limestone Karsts (yes I know I should have gone by now!), but I have been exploring my own space here in Phuket regarding Covid-19!
2018: Thung Wua Laen Beach @ Chumphon province
Chumphon province is blessed with so many beaches along its extended coastline and Thung Wua Laen is one of the most well-known. But unlike at more popular destinations like Phuket or Koh Samui, Thung Wua Laen and other sandy strips of Chumphon are still in relatively unspoilt condition. The beach is located approximately 18 kilometres northeast of Chumphon.
2018: Vegetarian Festival @ Korat
The Vegetarian Festival (Thetsaken Kin Che), also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, is celebrated throughout Thailand in the month of October.
Thai/Chinese descendants, practice abstinence from eating meat and stimulants believing that it will bring about good health and peace of mind to the community. The event has its history in Taoist tradition, but it is clearly practised by Buddhists.
Along the route, businesses and people are blessed and ritual mutilation is performed. Several men and women impale their cheeks with sharp metal and bamboo sticks which can be decorated or undecorated. They cut their faces and light firecrackers close to their bodies. They also had evidence of cutting on their backs.
They appear embodied with the spirits and blessed people (including myself) kneeling at the side of the road. These devotees used their temple flags which were wafted vigorously over the heads of the kneeling worshippers. No doubt this was to cast out evil spirits and bless us for good health. Some even painted a red mark just between the eyebrows of the worshippers. I was so honoured to be blessed at this ceremony as well as witness it.
Which place / destination do you recommend our readers to visit and why?
When Covid-19 eases, I would say without a doubt, spend a few days in Bangkok. Then you will be ready for the rest of Thailand.
Of course I am biased as I live in Phuket, and it does have so much to offer along with all the outlying Islands and the Similan Islands, a beautiful Archipelago, along with Coconut Island for amazing snorkeling and diving to see amazing fish that you have only ever seen in books! The catamarans that take you out there are an experience in themselves. Wonderful!
Where do you like to eat?
I have not one but two right here in Phuket! The first one is what I call my Congee lady (see favourite food section). She has a stall right outside a local 7/11 store.
My favourite restaurant is again a Thai one down here in Rawai where I live. It is called Pratuangs. Deng and his wife, Tuang, are a wonderfully welcoming Thai couple who serve delicious authentic Thai food at not too expensive prices.
December 2018: Pak Meng Beach @ Trang province
During my road trip down to the South of Thailand in December 2018, our first really southerly stop was at Pak Meng. Here almost devoid of western tourists I was witness to a most spectacular sunset. Sitting watching one of the most spectacular sunsets I have seen was a very peaceful and calming feeling to my soul.
2017: City Gate @ Korat
One of the most defining features of the city of Korat is the moat around the Old Town, which has 4 key gates on the north, south east and west bridges. This image is the ornate and historical Ya Mo building of the Thao Suranarai following at Korat, or Nakhon Ratchasima Thailand. Only three of the original gates are still standing, this one is completely restored and yet is the one that everyone sees as you drive along the main road through Korat Town. The Cats are homage to the famous “Korat Cat” breed of the same city.
Tip us a nice coffee shop or bar where our readers can drop by.
If in Korat visit Cafe ‘ Erawan, they serve really nice coffee, sweet pastries, and food. The whole place is clean and air conned. As a point of interest the owner has a small but interesting collection of small model people and model characters from various Cartoons and Marvel comics. Always a nice welcome
What is your favorite Thai dish?
I just wanted to share with you my favourite Thai food; Congee or Jok (joke). I pretty much have this for breakfast most days, and it is a typical Thai breakfast dish. It’s usually sold at roadside stalls and only a few places in our area do it. It seemed funny at first eating savoury rice “porridge” for breakfast, but now I am almost addicted to it. I find that it sets me up for the day; I suppose much like a “cooked breakfast” but without the fried food!
Thai congee, known as Jok (and pronounced joke) in Thailand, is a rice dish that is commonly served with pork or chicken meatballs and a variety of Thai condiments and topping such as fried onions, garlic, chilies, fish sauce, sliced ginger, spring onions.
July 2018: Korat Candle Festival @ Issan
Back in 2018 I used to live in Nakhon Ratchasima, or Korat, in Thailand and one of the wonderful spectacles /festivals you can see is The Candle Festival. Traditionally Held in July it marks the beginning of three months of Buddhist Lent.
Each float will come from its own designated Wat/Temple, and is lovingly and with great respect , hand carved. Each year new additions/repairs are made and this is reflected in the differing shades of wax.
During the Korat Candle Festival, visitors are invited to take part and marvel at the many spectacular candles skilfully carved by Nakhon Ratchasima’s local artisans. The carved candles tell the stories of the lives of the Lord Buddha, the activities in honour of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, as well as the cultural and historical attractions unique to Nakhon Ratchasima. The grand procession of exquisitely-carved candles will be held around Korat on the 12 July while a smaller scale parade of all carved candles that have entered into the wax candle carving competition will be taking place at the Tao Suranarai Monument. The winner of the most beautifully carved candles will receive the Royal Trophy from Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
Throughout the three days, visitors will be mesmerised by the exquisite hand carved candles, spectacular light and sound multimedia presentations as well as rare cultural performances such as Khon Thai masked dance, merit-making ceremonies’, wax candle carving competition and a photo competition.
August 2021: Karon Beach @ Phuket
Yesterday (at the moment I was writing this in for the picture feature) was the first day for nearly two weeks that the sun was shining and it wasn’t raining or looking grey and overcast!
On a short trip to Patong along the coast road I had to stop at Karon, where from the top of the hill I saw these amazing seascape clouds! I couldn’t resist driving down the windy road to Karon from the Patong hills and soaking up some of the beautiful sea air and taking the opportunity to photograph the seemingly “painting” like landscape in front of me.
What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?
Do you have a (travel) tip that might come in handy in Thailand?
When buying street food, don’t go asking how much, stand a little bit further away and watch what the other customers pay.
And try and speak some basic Thai, and respect local customs, better still look them up before you get here!
Don’t ride motorbikes unless you have a EU Motorcycle license, otherwise your insurance is invalid, and trust me health care is not cheap!
Is there a Thai phrase or word our readers need to learn?
Try and learn numbers 1-10.
Hong nam Kha/Krap = Toilet please?
Mai ao kha/krap = I’m not taking it or I’m not interested. Kha (feminine) Krap (masculine) and always add these at the end of your sentence.
Tao rai? = How much?
Kho Thot = Excuse Me (h is silent in Thot) in fact H’s are always silent. ;-)
Sawat-dee pee mai = Happy New Year, This greeting conveys good wishes for good health, wealth, happiness and all the beautiful things in life.
2016: Sala Keoku @ Nong Khai
Sala Keoku, Thai: ศาลาแก้วกู่ is a park featuring giant fantastic concrete sculptures inspired by Buddhism. It is located near Nong Khai, Thailand in immediate proximity of the Thai-Lao border and the Mekong River. The park has been built by and reflects the personal vision of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat and his followers. I used to visit this wonderful place often when I lived in Nong Khai. It was so calm and peaceful. This is also a great place for studying the skill and craftsmanship of this man. There is also a sister park in Laos just across the border, which I visited in 2013
October 2017: Motorcycle Taxis of Bangkok
I have a great memory of Bangkok then, before Covid-19 hit our shores. We used to regularly go to Bangkok for the weekend from Korat, via a five hour bus journey, but it was worth it. These motorcycle taxis were around the Sukhumvit Road, around Soi Sukhumvit 19 (Soi is the Thai word for a smaller road). I wonder what these poor men are doing for work now, always greeting you with a smile as you come out of the Soi “Good morning madam! Where are you going? Do you want a taxi ride?”
I loved doing street photography around Bangkok, from street wall art, people at markets, to the shoe repair man down an even smaller Soi that only locals knew was there. That’s the Bangkok I miss!
2017: Namtok Si Dit Waterfall @ Phetchabun province
Another stop on my 2017 road trip around Issan took me to this beautiful and easily accessible waterfall, where i remember eating beautiful fresh strawberries when I sat at the base pond.
Namtok Si Dit is a large single-tiered waterfall, where water flows throughout the year. The area was once a stronghold of members of the Communist Party of Thailand, who went into hiding in the jungles of Phetchabun. Noteworthy is the nearby waterfall-powered rice mortar, used by CPT members whilst living in the forest.
What type / brand of camera do you use?
Canon 77D + Canon M5
Sigma 8-16mm HSM
Canon 10-18mm stm
Canon 15-85mm IS USM
Canon 70-300mm IS USM
Where can our readers find your work / photos?
Last question, who should we also ask our ‘In the Picture’ feature?
You already have been featering Paul Russell and you also can find him in the “Thailand in Pictures” Facebook group. He takes the best drone photos I have seen anywhere. Lives in Nakhon Si Thammarat, so posts daily on the group. He also knows his stuff on drones too, but produces amazing views of Islands and beaches and temples!
2016: Phu Phra Bat Historical Park @ Udon Thani province
In 2016, I landed in Thailand after 5 months in India. I was intrigued by the natural beauty of Thailand. To stand still and soak up some of that view, I visited Phu Phra Bat Park. This was one of my favourite first visits to the North East of Thailand. I hope you enjoy it too and venture far enough up North to visit! Phu Phra Bat historical park in Udon Thani province in the North East of Thailand is a forested hill with natural rock formations, huge boulders, and caves with large rocky overhangs. The caves were used by ancient man as shelter and as temples where Buddha images were enshrined.
August 2021: Ma Doo Bua l มา ดู บัว ภูเก็ต @ Phuket
The hidden gem of Phuket is a new cafe and restaurant whose sole purpose is to provide an irresistible background to all travellers. The main catch is an artificial lake covered with those unusual giant circular floating leaves called Victoria Amazonica, a species of flowering plant, the largest of the Nymphaeaceae family of giant water lilies.
Ma Doo Bua Café consists of three areas: the indoor room with air-con, an outdoor covered area with tables and chairs, and an outdoor terrace where customers sit on cushions around low tables, which is quite lovely.