Textures: Central Thailand by a zugunruhe

The monkeys of Lopburi menacingly lurking, the history of Ayutthuya, the overcrowded markets, and the terror and beauty of Hellfire Pass. The middle of Thailand is a busy and varied.

Lopburi is pure monkey anarchy that is partially tamed by the two scheduled feedings everyday that quell the casual theft and battery the monkeys are prone to. Ayutthuya was the seat of Siam before the Burmese army rendered it obsolete in the 18th century. The terror of what happened to the Allied prisoners of war at Hellfire Pass is felt through the silence allowed now that the area is a protected park.

The markets a few hours outside of Bangkok are a clusterfuck of annoying tourists. Arriving early is key as by 10-11am Damnoen Saduak is a traffic jam. Though, an hour earlier it’s a peaceful walk through vendors setting up shop and the wonderful smells of noodles and chopped fruit. The railway market at Maeklong is overrun by GoPro strapped onlookers waiting for the train to pass through, while their litter is thoughtlessly piled at the end of the shops. Just up the road from Maeklong is the gem of Amphawa. The canal is wide enough to accompany tourists on boats, ample room on the side streets, plus there’s a sweet upcycle shop that had a St Edward’s shirt prominently on display. 

Lopburi

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Ayutthuya

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Hellfire Pass

Trains and Busses

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Damnoen Saduak

Maeklong

Amphawa

Textures: South Thailand by a zugunruhe

The south is a little bit of a different world. Much more clear water, remarkably warmer, and much higher prices. At times, the tourists or expatriates seem to outnumber the local population. 

The old town in Phuket City still feels colonial and has more in common architecturally with Havana than the cities in northward in the country. The rest of the province is partially mountainous and outlined by sandy beaches that are littered with colorful plant life and plastic bottles.

Koh Phi Phi is this exquisite, biconcave island in the middle of the Andaman Sea. The majority of services are located on the isthmus between the two limestone peaks. The island is so small that the service workers live right outside of, and between, the pricier resorts. A quick walk around the corner takes you from a these resorts to a local neighborhood where discarded sports bar signs rest and picture frames hang from windows. Tourists are charged 30 baht (~$1) when arriving at the island to aid in clean up and trash reduction efforts. Even as trash is collected and shipped off the island, large build ups of water bottles and other trash are still present from the mass amount of tourism the island receives.

Phuket

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Andaman Sea

Koh Phi Phi

Textures: North Thailand by a zugunruhe


Just outside of the old city in Chiang Rai are the White And Blue temples along with the Black House. Each of the complexes are beautiful artistic representations of temples and faith. The Black House explores death, while the White Temple explores random pop culture references, like a painting of Angry Birds flying into the twin towers.

A scenic, four-hour bus ride away is Chiang Mai, which does much more to feed the appetites for Mauy Thai and drag shows. The city provides a wealth of ruins and temples both inside the old city walls to the looming Doi Suthep.

Elephant Nature Park, an hour and a half long drive north of Chiang Mai, is a reserve for elephants who have previously been abused through the local tourist and logging activities. A full day tour only amounts to a few hours being guided around the grounds but sponsors a peaceful existence for these giant creatures that have seen the hell that the hands of men can bring.

 

Chiang Rai

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Chiang Mai

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Elephant Nature Park

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Textures: Bangkok by a zugunruhe

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“City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra's behest.”

Bangkok’s full name takes on as many personalities as there are temples and plastic bags floating around the city.

The capital of Thailand is dynamic. Due to the size of its population and activity, things tend to be mashed together. A decent walk will have you leave your hotel and follow a canal into slums only to emerge under a highway overpass, standing in front of a Gucci shop all while the visible skyline is obscured by a half-knitted wad of power lines.

The physical expanse of the city is tightened through cheap travel over water, rail, and road. The motorbike being the most present of all modes. As there’s always a near-fatal reminder just around the corner.

Most food and drink are gluttonously affordable. Walking out of a BTS stop to grab a cheap bottle of fresh, tart pomegranate juice is an incredible luxury. But even with Pad Thai that costs less than a coke in NYC, it’s easy to keep in shape by walking out of your way to dodge monitor lizards and pump faking masseuses that tend to latch on to your arm with alarming upper-body strength.

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Textures: Los Angeles by a zugunruhe

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There’s a documentary that begins with a producer in NYC, describing how he was watching the OJ Simpson chase live on TV. He recalls watching the that white Bronco speeding through cars on the highway and beginning to cry. When asked what was wrong, he responded “That light. It’s just so good”

The natural light in Los Angeles has organically produced styles of lighting and photography through its shear force. That incredibly bright, washed out feel is a natural part of Southern California.

The physical and social diversity of Los Angeles is expansive. The light only makes everything more vibrant.

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