Humid and Hot Bangkok
in Bangkok, Thailand on 7th February, 2012

I had originally intended to make my way from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia up to Hanoi in Vietnam purely by train, boat and bus services. I had spent a few days on Penang Island and felt like I had really ticked the beach holiday tick box. I had began to miss a reasonably priced and readily available pint of beer and all the convinces that come with city life. So with all that in mind, I decided to fly from Penang up to Bangkok.

The first thing I noticed when leaving the airport was that it was still bloody hot and that the humidity had only gone down ever so slightly. In fact, my whole time here in Bangkok hasn't had a moment where there wasn't a clear blue sky.

I had made a miscalculation converting Thai Baht to British Pounds and took out £444 worth of local money. I've since spent a good deal of effort hiding this bloody thick stack of bank notes all over the place. This amount equates to what the cleaners in my hotel will earn in a year. I'm not sure if I'll find a way to spend it all given that most meals are £1.50, 8-hour train journeys are £13 and hotels are ~£12 a night.

As I left my hotel to grab my first dinner in Thailand a number of men came towards me trying to hustle cash out of my pocket. I brushed them off and headed into an Indian restaurant. After a quick meal I began to wonder around and take in the night life.

I had ended up in a neighbourhood with more hookers than tourists. There were some bars around. These were effectively holes in the wall with one or two walls missing so punters could take in the night life as hey drank away. I thought about sitting down for a warm beer in a wet glass but the hookers were persistent. They were grabbing my arms and begging me wherever I went in these crowded streets. I thought if I had been sat down they would basically ruin a quiet pint that I had sought after.

To add some context to the environment, this wasn't like digging around in a pub or bar back in Europe and chatting to all the local girls and having a bit of fun. These women could have been 22 or 42, it was really hard to tell. When I looked into their eyes it looked as though they'd had a long life. I must have walked past 3-400 of them that night. If anyone was interested in seeing the miracle of a woman going into labour and giving birth to a pingpong ball I'm sure they could just google it.

I spent a few hours during each day traveling around Bangkok taking photos. I really fought to find the charming and descriptive portraits that would explain what it feels like to be here. There are a lot of areas and activities which are famous but don't do well when photographed. In my quest to explain what it feels like to be here I ended up photographing some rather unusual places and people.

I had walked past 20 or so homeless people on my way to buy a train ticket one morning. On the way back they became the subjects of my shots. I had walked past a river which had shacks and labourers on the other side, that became my environment. I walked past a filming of a famous Korean dancer, that became my film location.

I walked along Khao San Road one afternoon. It had featured in the beginning of the film "The Beach". I was hoping to find a chilled out backpacker street like the ones I knew in Sydney back in 2000 but it was more like a tourist's street you'd find in any port in the Caribbean. There were loads of locals jumping on foreigners as they wondered up and down the road. The street also had more white people on it than I'd seen in the rest of my holiday put together. Impressive considering I started this trip with a flight connection in Latvia.

The thought of the film which the street was featured in got me thinking about summers back around the late 90's. I can remember the music, the girlfriends I had, the software I played with. I even loaded Rebirth up on my iPad and played around with the 303s and 808 a little bit.

I can remember enjoying the warm weather and experimenting with technology in my bright and warm bedroom with evergreen trees outside and faint lawnmowers in the distance. I remember being out at Christina Lake in BC as a child and thinking summer would last forever and that the awful life of being cold and going to school would never come back. Only now am I in a financial position to ensure that.

I think the one thing to keep in mind is that films, and photography for that matter, paint the world in a very controlled and rose-tinted fashion. Real life will never look or be quiet like that. And if something feels good in real life, there's a rare chance it'd make a great photo.

I am surprised how much easier travel has become. Notwithstanding the various internet problems I've had, when I can get online I can research and book anything easily. I can put 100s of travel guides on my iPad and sit in a very cheap, air-conditioned coffee shop and read through them over the course of an afternoon. Even the fact of traveling with a MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone and Canon DSLR isn't so special as I'm seeing a lot of middle-class locals with them as well.

English is being spoken everywhere. The people I feel bad for is the older German tourists I've seen here in Bangkok who aren't used to accented English as much a native speakers are. I also felt a bad for the Arab speakers in Dubai who would need to order in English at a lot of shops. If I had to order anything in Arabic anywhere that'd be a huge pain in the ass.

I really couldn't see myself coming back to Bangkok for any other reason that just logical purposes. I'm hear to capture the stunning nature and people of Thailand. On Thursday I'm heading up to Chiang Mai for a few days. I need to decide where I'll be headed after that.

Recent Posts