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IN THE PICTURE #68: GORAN EHREN
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.
One day we came across some amazingly beautiful photos of Thailand on the photo platform Flickr! Of course, we immediately asked if this good photographer would also like to participate in our column, which, by the way, has had the opportunity to highlight almost 70 talented photographers. Below we show you some of his favorite snapshots, we love them! Thank you Goran and a beautiful 2022 to you, your family and everyone you love! (That goes for everyone reading this post too, of course).
Hello Goran, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Dear readers of Thailand Magazine,
I’m Goran Ehren. Born in Stockholm, Sweden. First visit to Asia was in 1981, and in 1989 I moved permanently to Asia. First Bangkok, then Hanoi and then back to Bangkok again. As a child I was handed my grandfather’s Brownie camera which got me started taking photos. But it was only after my retirement some ten years ago that I got the time to focus more on my photography. What I enjoy the most is walking around taking photos of people in their daily life. Mostly I find my subjects in the back streets of Bangkok and other places in Thailand and Asia. In these places you find the “genuine” Asia and not the polished façade that normally is presented to visitors and tourists.
Make the best of 2022!
Boats on the Mekong River.
This is early morning in the North Eastern province of Bueng Kan. On the other side is Laos, and during the day these boats are busy carrying people and goods to and from Laos. The peacefulness is palpable at this early time of the day.
Bangkok’s only horizontal coconut tree.
It’s difficult to believe that this photo is taken in the central of Bangkok, just a few minutes walk from Sukhumvit Road. I took the photo five years ago, and the tree is still there. But finding that beautiful afternoon sky doesn’t happen every day.
What is your favorite destination in Thailand?
As I love to explore new places I prefer not to go back to the same old places too often. There is so much more to explore. My favourite destinations in Thailand would therefore be any place that I have not yet visited. As I live in Bangkok it’s obvious that I spend most time walking around here. And there is always something new to see, and shoot.
Which place / destination in Thailand is still on your wish list to visit?
Phattalung province in the southern part of Thailand. There is this large lake Thale Noi with the Hua Lan Hua Lieo community in the Thale Noi Village. The fishermen there are doing fishing by fishnet lifting. This gives some spectacular views.
Planting the rice.
Rice is both the staple food of Thailand, as well as the main export commodity. It’s a very labour intensive crop where each seedling is planted by hand. The Isaan region on the north east of Thailand counts for half the rice production in Thailand, and here they plant rice in the beginning of the rainy season in June.
Hands with history.
Taken in the Talad Noi area of Bangkok, which is where second hand car parts change hands. A whole neighbourhood is allocated to this type of business. Handling of these parts is a very labour intensive and dirty business. This man knows his trade.
Which place / destination do you recommend our readers to visit and why?
If you’re in Bangkok, just take the MRT (subway) down to Chinatown and walk all the small cross roads to the main Yaowarat Road. There you get the chance to observe the everyday life of the local citizens, without the touristy fanfare. That can keep you busy for a day or two.
If you have more time, then travel up to Bueng Kan province in the northeast corner of Thailand. It is located on the shores of the Mekong River. This is the opposite of the hectic Bangkok lifestyle. And the tranquil beauty along the Mekong River is breathtaking.
Where do you like to eat?
Somtum Je Kai Udon in Udon Thani. They specialise in the North Eastern dish Somtam (Papaya salad) and have over 40 different versions of this dish on their menu, in addition to more traditional main dishes. It’s extremely popular, so be prepared to wait a loooong time.
Thailand is a Buddhist country with temples located in almost every neighbourhood. Incense, candles and oil are used in many rituals. While the temples are rather empty on weekdays, during weekends and religious holidays they are packed with worshippers.
Chinese sausages for sale.
A shop owner in Bangkok’s Chinatown is displaying his produce at his store front. Twice a week this family makes Chinese sausages in this shop, and also smoke them there for several days. What fascinates me is that the only “advertising” done by most of the family businesses in Chinatown is just to present their products in the store front. What you see is what you get.
Tip us a nice coffee shop or bar where our readers can drop by.
I like to visit old original place that still keeps the atmosphere of days gone by. A clear favourite is the Earse coffee shop on Phat Sai road just off Yaowarat Road in Chinatown. They have been in operation in the same spot since 1927! The clientele is mostly retirees from the local area, with the odd tourist mixed in. I see the same people there every time I visit. They are all regulars. A nice place to sit down and watch the interaction between all the people. And the coffee is good too.
What is your favorite Thai dish?
A fresh, sweet, bitter and spicy Yam Som Oo (spicy pomelo salad) is always welcome on the dinner table.
Porters of Chinatown.
Bangkok’s Chinatown is a place where a lot of goods change hands from early morning. And all this is done with the help of porters. They shuttle back and forth between buyers and sellers in the dark and wet humid lanes of Chinatown. Here a porter is bringing ice from the ice factory to the fish vendors that need it to keep their food fresh. The humidity is so high that even the ice produces “steam”.
Blood is a very common ingredient in Thai cooking. Especially the blood from pig is widely used. I was very fortunate to visit a small local workshop in Bangkok where the blood is prepared before being delivered to the shops and restaurants. This specific workshop is over 80 years old and uses the same cooking method as in the old days. There are large wood fired vats where the blood is cooked and prepared. It’s really like a bygone era.
What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?
Coming back to my interest in old classic buildings, Centara Grand in Hua Hin is a favourite. This is the old Railway hotel, built in 1922. All the old original architecture is amazingly preserved so you feel like being taken back in time.
Do you have a (travel) tip that might come in handy in Thailand?
Slooow down. The key to getting a feel for the place is to slow down and take in what you see, hear, smell and feel. Those experiences will stay with you for a long time. If you just rush through all the famous tourist spots, then you could as well sit at home watching YouTube videos from these places. And as mentioned above, get off the main streets and on to the back roads. Here is where you see the real Thailand.
Is there a Thai phrase or word our readers need to learn?
“Chai”. This can have many different meanings, like Yes, I understand and I agree. When you meet someone and start to talk, just insert a “Chai” every now and then when they are talking and they’ll never stop. You get to know a lot that way, and makes your subject very happy.
Selecting the best chillies.
A girl is sorting chilli according to “perfection” at a local market in Bangkok, Thailand. For a good looking chili you can demand a premium price.
In the local food markets plenty of ice is used to keep the produce fresh. Blocks of ice are normally delivered by truck from large ice factories to the local markets for crushing and further delivery.
What type / brand of camera do you use?
Fuji X-T3 with a standard 18-55mm lens is a very practical setup to carry on my normal walks.
Where can our readers find your work / photos?
Last question, who should we also ask our ‘In the Picture’ feature?
Please check out Atsushi Hariu. Nobody covers the whole of Thailand as he does.
Taking his singing birds for some fresh air.
When walking the local communities in Bangkok you see a lot of different scenes out of the daily life. This guy has several singing birds at his home, and if the weather is nice he takes them out for some fresh air in the morning before the sun becomes too strong.