In 2012 Melinda and I took a short break to Thailand, spending 4 days in Bangkok before heading down to Koh Samui for some beach time.
I had never been to Thailand before other than stopping over in the airport for a few hours while in transit to Europe, but I absolutely fell in love with the country on this short break. Bangkok is often described as hot, noisy, smelly, polluted, congested and overcrowded; certainly, there is (more than) an element of truth in these descriptions, and yet there is also a great dichotomy in the pace of life within the fascinating capital. In my first few hours upon arrival in Bangkok, with my senses assailed by the noise, smell and heat, I tried to ascertain whether road rules had ever been suggested as a viable idea here; and yet it soon became apparent that for our taxi or Tuk Tuk driver, an understanding was easily reached with fellow road users via a simple glance, a casual gesture and of course a great willingness to use the horn.
I remember my friend Martin saying to me that he loved Asia because it is so different from the west, and I can only completely agree with his sentiment. While enjoying the frantic pace of the city, it is also very easy to simply detour down a quiet shaded side street thus escaping the noise and enjoy the feeling of being immersed in a temporary oasis of calm. As an architectural photographer, I naturally wanted to visit the temples within the city and so after haggling with a Tuk Tuk driver who informed us that the Grand Palace was closed at that particular time due to a religious festival (it wasn’t, it is a common scam used to drive you around from shop to shop before finally getting to your destination…) we eventually negotiated a defined route with another driver taking in the particular sights we most wished to see, beginning with the stunning temple of Wat Benchamabophit (also known as the marble temple).
Naturally the vast majority of images in this post are architectural in nature; of course there are so many things to see and photograph in this amazing place, but in this post I simply wished to share and spotlight the incredible architecture as seen from my perspective…
The second temple that we stopped at was Wat Intharawihan which, somewhat unusually, featured an extremely impressive standing Buddha (most are lying down).
After Wat Benchamabophit and the second temple (Wat Intharawihan) we headed to the amazing Grand Palace, which has a much stricter dress code and as such I had to endure many hilarious remarks from Melinda regarding the tent skirt shorts I had to hire to cover my 3/4 shorts.
There are so many stunning buildings at the complex, and on any day an inevitable stream of tourists struggling like us to take it all in. The details on the buildings are so numerous and simply incredible; naturally a photographers dream. I was using the 17mm TS-E, as well as my 24-105mm f4, and my 70-200mm f2.8 L; the biggest challenge I faced was that there is simply so much to shoot, and I found myself constantly changing lenses as images appeared in my vision and mind’s eye. The sun was totally unrelenting and I recall that at one point I had to remove my shoes to enter a particular temple, only to struggle barefoot upon exiting to reach my shoes, as the marble was possibly even hotter than a McDonald’s apple pie (surely the hottest substance known to mankind)…
All of the images in this post were taken using my Canon 5D Mk II, which was my travel and back-up camera as I was still shooting the majority of my professional assignments with my 1Ds MkIII. However although I missed the 1Ds’s auto focus performance (the 5d Mk II’s is pretty average in my opinion), I did not miss the extra weight that comes with it on this trip.
Bangkok is one of those cities that I really look forward to returning to; the food was superb, and really so wonderfully cheap. I cannot recommend a few days here too highly; when Mel and I are feeling stressed we often wistfully cast our minds back to nights spent eating and drinking off the Khaosan road, followed by wonderfully relaxing foot massages at midnight!