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IN THE PICTURE #80: SUPHAT SAQUANDEEKUL
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 are very pleased with Khun Suphat’s contribution! The submissions are not only beautiful to look at, but also very informative! Who knows, maybe one day we’ll ask this connoisseur of Thai culture to collaborate on some interesting content about Buddhism.
Thanks Khun Suphat for the amazing pictures!
Hi Khun Suphat, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Dear readers of Thailand Magazine,
My name is Suphat Saquandeekul. I was born and grown up in Bangkok, Thailand. At 16 years old I went to study in Japan, and after that I also worked in several countries for all together about 30 years of living overseas. After retirement some years ago, I have been living back home in Nonthaburi Province which is considered a part of Greater Bangkok.
I have interests in photos since I was a boy because my father liked photographing. I have my own camera when I was about 16 years old but of course it was a very simple cheap camera. I got my first single-lens reflex camera when I was in my 30s. Since then, photographing has been one of my hobbies.
I love travelling and learn about new cultures, ways of thinking as well as lives of local people. I have a passion for art so I am interested in local art of the countries I visited. Having been living in foreign countries awakened my interest in Thai arts, especially the art in temple and Buddha images. I takes many photos of Buddha images and Thai temples.
Have a great day!
November 2017: A sky lantern and the full moon on the Loy Krathong day in Chiang Mai
The festival is locally called “Yee Peng Festival” and widely known for the spectacular photos of masses of lanterns releasing into the sky. It was my first time to visit Chiang Mai during the Loy Krathong Festival. Traditionally people float “Krathong” on the river but the releasing of sky lantern seem to gain more and more popularity in the Loy Krathong Festival in other regions too.
February 2020: “Gate of Time” at the ruin of an ancient temple “Wat Phra Ngam” in Ayutthaya Province
At the site, now there are only a small Chedi (pagoda), a white Buddha image and this arch gate covered by trees. This old abandoned temple is in the middle of nowhere surrounded by local people’s houses. I love the atmosphere and the picturesque remains of the temple, particularly at sunset. You should check with locals about the location as the Google Maps seems not point to the right location.
What is your favorite destination in Thailand?
I love to go to the beaches. One of my favorite destinations in Thailand is Koh Lanta Island in Krabi Province, southern Thailand. I selected a photo of the beautiful sunset at a beach in Koh Lanta to share here (image 4), together with some information and also the reason why I like this destination.
Another favorite beach destination for me is Chumpon Province on the southern coast in the Gulf of Thailand. Along the southern coast there are plenty of nice beaches from Prachuab Khiri Khan Province down to Chumpon Province. Most of the tourists go to Koh Samui, Koh Pangang or Koh Tao located in the offshore of Chumpon but not many visit beaches along the Chumpon’s coast itself. Therefore you can enjoy the serene and (mostly) clean beaches.
I like Thung Wua Lan Beach which has a long white-sand beach and Pha Daeng Beach. The latter is a beach along the red-color cliffs which is very quiet because it is a little hidden from the road. Besides the serenity, the accommodation and food in Chumpon is lower than in Koh Samui. However you might need a car to visit the beaches along this coast as there seem no other public transportations.
Which place / destination in Thailand is still on your wish list to visit?
Hin Sam Wan, which means “Three Whale Rocks”. It is a group of 75 million-year-old giant rocks formation jutting majestically out of the mountains in Bueng Kan Province in the north eastern region. It earned its name because from the right perspective (particularly from above), it looks like a family of whales. I think it will be nice to hike to the top of these rock and fly a drone to take the photos from bird eye view.
July 2017: The sunset at Samui Island
It was at a small restaurant on the cliff along the main west coast road of Koh Samui. I do not remember the exact location nor the name of the restaurant but never forget this beautiful sunset. With the panoramic view of the whole bay and a bottle of cold beer in my hand, this is one of the best sunsets I have ever seen.
December 2019: A sunset at Bakantiang Beach on Lanta Island
Koh Lanta, an island on the Andaman Sea in Krabi prefecture. This beautiful island but less known is easy to access as you can go by car from Krabi. There are two islands, Lanta Yai (Big Lanta) and Lanta Noi (Small Lanta), both of which can now reach via bridges connecting to the main land. I love this island because it is less crowded comparing to Koh Samui and other islands along the southern coast of the Gulf of Thailand. Accommodations and food are also less pricey here than other islands on the Andaman sea such as Koh Phi Phi. And most of all, you can have a beautiful sunset photo like this with the silhouette of hills far away making it different from the ordinary sunset view at a beach.
Which place / destination do you recommend our readers to visit and why?
Nan province in the northern Thailand. It is a small province with a town of the same name at the border with Laos. Houses and shops in the town are still from the old days, so as lives of local people here. Around the province there are several places to visit too. I visited Nan a few times and enjoyed a slow life there. Nan’s old town is selected by the Green Destination Standard of the Netherlands to be one of the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations in the World.
Where do you like to eat?
“Cabbages and Condom” in Bangkok. The name of the restaurant might probably give you some strange image of the restaurant but it is definitely a decent one. It was named by the owner of the restaurant Mr. Mechai Viravaidya who is a former politician and activist in Thailand who promoted condoms, family planning and AIDS awareness in Thailand. What I love about this restaurant is its quiet and cozy atmosphere, even though being located in the Sukhumvit area where is crowded with high-rise condominiums and hotels. There is a big inner garden surrounded with trees and sometimes there is a show of Thai classical music. They serve excellent Thai and international dishes and the price is $$$$.
December 2020: An exquisite Buddha image at Phra Mahathat Chedi Pakdee Prakat, Prachuab Khiri Khan Province
This long-name pagoda is in Rattanakosin-style and named by the late King Rama IX. It was built from the faith of the people to His Majesty without any fund from the Government. It was to honor and present to the King on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of His Majesty’s Accession. I think this place is still not much known to foreign tourists but I would recommend a visit. It is on a hill that gives you a nice view of Phrachuab Khiri Khan city. I was impressed by the main Buddha image “Phra Buddha Lila Kanjanawabophid”(also a long name!!) which is in a posture of walking. The Sukothai-style Buddha image is very delicately built with slender body, long and slim finger-tips bend delicately backward, the foot soles are flat and the heels projecting smooth curves with the clinging monastic robe, looking like the figure is about to move.
December 2016: A Buddha image at Wat Pan Tao temple, Chiang Mai
This standing Buddha is one of the Buddha images in the temple, apart from the principle Buddha image which is a golden sitting Buddha. I like the stretch marks on the surface of the figure which makes this Buddha image looks different from other gilded Buddha image. The temple itself is also one of the landmarks in Chiang Mai that you do not want to miss. The temple is almost 200 years old which is one of the oldest temples in Thailand. The Lanna-style assembly hall or Viharn is entirely built with teak wood painted in black.
Tip us a nice coffee shop or bar where our readers can drop by.
The SwingBar is absolutely my recommendation. It is a small and cozy open-air bar and restaurant which is on the rooftop floor of a hostel named Chingcha. You will have to walk up to the rooftop floor as there is no escalator, but I guarantee it is worth. You can have a panoramic view of the Wat Suthat temple and its giant swing. (the number 8 of my 10 images). The best time to go is just before sunset, but you should arrive a bit early to take a side counter-style table where you can have the panoramic view right in front of you (these table cannot be reserved). They also serve various kinds of Thai and international beer including craft beers.
What is your favorite Thai dish?
“Gaeng Pa” or “Jungle Curry”. It is a (very) hot & spicy curry containing kaffir lime peel and leaves, lemongrass, green pepper corns, galangal, garlic, pea eggplant and of course chili. But this curry is unlike other Thai curries as it does not contain coconut. It was originally prepared with wild boar, but is now more commonly prepared with pork or chicken. This spicy curry will make you understand what Hot & Spicy means!!
January 2018: Royal pavilion in Phraya Nakhon Cave, Prachuab Khiri Khan Province
The pavilion was constructed by the order of King Rama V to commemorate his visit in 1890. The cave is in Khao Sam Roi Yod mountain with three caverns, two of which have skylights sinkholes that allow sunlight to reach inside the cave. The pavilion is best shot at around 11am when shafts of light fall onto the pavilion. I was not lucky because it was cloudy on the day I visited. What you have to know is that the cave can only reach by walking up about 1km all together to the cave across two steep hills. Alternatively you can get on a boat to reach a nearby beach and then walk about 500 meter to the cave.
March 2018: The View of the square in front of Wat Suthat temple, Bangkok
I took the photo from a cozy open-air bar & restaurant named “SwingBar” which is on the rooftop floor of a hostel. Wat Suthat is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok constructed during 1807-1847 under the instruction of King Rama I. The temple is famous for its longest ordination hall (Ubosot), the ancient big bronze Buddha, and of course, the giant swing in front of the temple. The swing is a religious construction formerly used in an old Brahmin ceremony. I love this panoramic view especially at sunset.
What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?
Banyan Resort @ Rayong which is at Suan Son Beach on the coast of Rayong province. It is a 3-star hotel but very nice, clean and equipped with all facilities (including an electric water pot and hair dryer.) No swimming pool though. There is no restaurant at the hotel, but you can find so many restaurants along the beach. Rooms are bungalow style with small terraces at the front. Most of the bungalow are surrounded individually by bushes so they are very private. The beach is just across the small beach front road. Suan Son Beach, as its name in Thai meaning “Pine Garden”, has a long beach (about more than 3km) where you can sit in shades of pine trees (or of course right on the beach) enjoy both the beautiful sunrise as well as the sunset. There are several beaches along this coast which you can also reach within 10-15km drive. I always stay at this hotel whenever I visit Rayong.
Do you have a (travel) tip that might come in handy in Thailand?
Foreigners who visit Thailand might have some experiences of receiving wrong information when asking local people about something. For example when you ask if they can do something for you, they would answer that they can. But later you would find out that they were unable to do from the beginning. Or when you ask local people about a direction to some place, even they do not know exactly how to get there, they would tell you as if they know. I think it is not their intention to lie to you but I think it might be in Thai culture that they want to please or not to disappoint the other even they do not actually know or are unable to do. So please do not expect a 100% right information or answer and re-check with different people or other sources too.
Is there a Thai phrase or word our readers need to learn?
I think “Mai Pen Rai” would be a word that foreigners should know and understand. Literally it is translated to “Never Mind” in English but I think this word in Thai has a broader meaning. Sometime it means “Do not worry” or “Take it easy” or sometime “ No, thank you, but yes please”!! It is (too) difficult (for me) to explain how to use this word in each meaning. I think, to learn foreign language, it is not only to remember the meaning of words but to use or learn the word from practicing in real daily life and understand the word from the circumstance or the scene when you use it.
May 2019: A local little girl offering face painting with “Thanaka”powder on the Mon bridge of Sangkhlaburi, Kanchanaburi Province
The girl was adorable, friendly and enjoyed chatting with tourists. The Mon Bridge is a wooden bridge built by the Mon tribe that connects the Thai side of the city to Wangkha, the Mon village on the other side of river. With 400 meters, it is the longest wooden bridge in Thailand and worth a visit.
January 2019: The Buddha images at the cloister in Wat Pho temple or the Reclining Buddha Temple
There are almost 700 of Buddha images in different postures kept at this cloister which is called “Phra Rabiang” in Thai. If you spend sometimes walking along the cloister and observe these Buddha images, you would find that each of the Buddha images has different face expression. I do not remember how many time I visited Wat Pho, but every time I always have nice photos of the Buddha images here.
What type / brand of camera do you use?
I use a Canon EOS Kiss X7.
Where can our readers find your work / photos?
See my images on Instagram.
Last question, who should we also ask our ‘In the Picture’ feature?
I would recommend @kon_teaw_wat. I don’t know him by person but I am following his Instagram. He takes very beautiful artistic photos of Wat Thai (Thai temples).
August 2019: The reclining Buddha Image at Wat Pho temple, Bangkok
You might know that there are 7 various postures of Buddha image representing the 7 different days of the week. The reclining Buddha is for Tuesday and is my birthday Buddha image so I visit Wat Pho regularly such as on the New Year day and my birthday. The figure is 15 m high and 46 m long. I cannot help taking photos of the Buddha image every times I visited and I always find a new beauty each time. On my recent visit, I noticed that the exquisite two box-pillows encrusted with glass mosaics on which the Buddha rested had very delicate curves making it looked soft like a real pillow.
August 2019: The huge Buddha image at Wat Muang, Ang Thong Province
The Buddha image is Thailand’s largest gilded Buddha images created in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of His Majesty the King Rama IX’s accession to the throne in 1990. It is 92 m. high, and 63 m. wide and can be seen from far away as this temple is surrounded by rice fields. While huge Buddha images in Thailand are always placed on the high bases which are out of reach from people, this one is on the ground level so you can touch the Buddha image. This probably impressed me much than any other large Buddha images I have ever seen.