The Khlong Thoey “slum” is home to some of Bangkok’s poorest residents – thousands of families crammed into a maze of narrow alleyways containing tiny shacks, often consisting of just one room. But despite its fearsome reputation, it’s one of the friendliest places in Bangkok, as these pictures hopefully show.
My favourite subjects are my family, ie my wife Linny and our two dogs Sasha & Oggy. Oggy is particularly photogenic but hard to keep still. There are also some pics here of previous dogs Masao (who escaped back to the street) and Josie, who was sadly born with a heart defect and died after just five weeks with us, as well as other hounds I encounter on my wanderings.
The recent extension of the BTS line means that Samrong, the last stop on the line, is now easily accessible. Getting off there is almost like going back in time, with a huge, bustling wet market, people travelling around by cyclo, and wooden houses lining sleepy canals. And of course that makes it a paradise for photographers…
Following the gentrification of Thonglor & Ekkamai, Phra Khanong is Bangkok’s next up & coming area, with plenty of cheap commercial & office space attracting galleries, bars and startups – in fact my company’s office is there. But away from the new condos, art galleries & restaurants, there’s a big slice of old Bangkok, with narrow alleyways lined with traditional wooden houses. Here’s a glimpse into this fascinating area.
Chiang Rai is just about as far north as you can travel in Thailand without crossing into Myanmar or Laos. It’s a small, friendly market town in the middle of some of the most stunning scenery in the country, with many ethnic minority hilltribes (including the Akha, who you can see in this gallery) living in the region. These pics were taken in and around the town.
Known as the “Village of Love” (it’s home to Bangkok’s biggest marriage registry office, where thousands of Bangkokians – my wife and I included – tied the knot!), Bangrak is an old-school neighbourhood with markets, restaurants and alleyways making it popular with food tourists. These pics were taken on a food walk with Taste of Thailand food tours.
I travel regularly to Goa on business, and in September 2017 I did a photography tour in the crumbling old city of Mapusa with local photographer Francisco de Souza. Photographing people in India isn’t as easy as it is in Thailand so it was very helpful to walk around with someone who knows everyone at the market. As with everywhere in India it was lively, noisy, colourful and very photogenic!
I was lucky enough to spend a Sunday morning in the company of two very friendly Vietnamese trainee monks, Quang Ngo and Quang Thang, who live at Wat Khantararam, a small temple in Bangkok’s friendly Talat Phlu district. I learned all about their lives and also got some good pictures.
Cholon, Saigon’s Chinatown, is a real slice of Old Saigon. Old-school markets, street traders, workshops and friendly people who are still surprised to encounter foreigners make it a real paradise for street photographers. I joined my old friend Arnaud Foucard on one of his Vietnam Photo Adventures for a morning wandering around this fascinating part of the city.
These two young men spend all day, every day in a sweltering little workshop toasting and grinding chickpeas into flour for use in various Indian dishes (including the delicious deep-fried green chillies I ate for breakfast). It’s hot, hard work and I couldn’t stand the heat in there for more than 10 minutes. But they were very friendly and happily put up with me taking photos of them, and the images I got there are the highlight of my visit to Mapusa.
As usual we celebrated the Lunar New Year – the Year of the Rooster this year – in Bangkok’s Chinatown area. I spent the morning with my wife who was wearing traditional Vietnamese dress, then spent the afternoon with a Russian client who wanted to shoot the celebrations. As colourful, noisy, smokey and boisterous as always!
Beyond the shopping malls, restaurants and skyscrapers of Silom and Sathorn, and beyond the luxury riverside hotels, Wongwian Yai is like stepping back in time. A small, partly Islamic community lives right up close to one of Thailand’s oldest railway lines, and people still stop and stare at foreign visitors.
Whether you approve of it or not, cockfighting is big business in Southeast Asia. The sport is televised in the Philippines, whilst in Thailand gamblers bet huge amounts – over $100,000 – on fights. I spent the afternoon at a cockfighting ‘gym’ in Bangkok’s Khlong Thoey ‘slum’ district in August 2018 to find out more about cockfighting and the men behind it, and whilst I can take or leave it as a spectacle, I was touched by the obvious affection between the men and their birds.
Bangkok’s Hualamphong is one of Asia’s most evocative railway stations, a venerable old edifice that celebrated its 100th birthday in June 2016. The old trains, the large numbers of colourful travellers coming & going and the translucent light from its roof make it a popular spot with photographers, and the surrounding streets, with their markets and temples, are equally photogenic.
On Saturday 28 January 2017, some Chinese new year firecrackers set off a fire which destroyed 38 houses in Bangkok’s densely populated Khlong Thoey neighbourhood. A week later I visited the scene to donate some money collected by fellow fans of Thai Port FC, and to photograph the aftermath. What we saw was an absolute disaster zone, but at the same time the collective effort to clear the damage and rebuild, and the smiles of all involved, was incredible.
Following the passing of Thailand’s King Bhumibol on 13 October 2016, people from all over the country have been converging on Sanam Luang and the Grand Palace in Bangkok. I spent an afternoon there experiencing the memorial commemorations and found a surprisingly festive atmosphere, and was impressed by the sight of people pulling together to feed and care for the visitors. Here are my favourite shots from the day.
Kazakhstan’s Mangystau Peninsula is a huge, empty region jutting out of the country’s far west into the Caspian Sea. Mostly uninhabited and untouched by human hand, it is like stepping back into some prehistoric age and boasts some of the most stunning landscapes in the whole of Asia.
On one of my walks around Bangkok’s Khlong Thoey ‘slum’ district, I came across these boys collecting small green fruit from a tall tree, using a plastic bottle on a stick amongst other things. Much of the fruit seemed to land on my head while I was shooting, but it was well worth it to get these fun shots…
Few visitors to Laos stray beyond Luang Prabang and Vientiane. But the south of the country offers some of Laos’ most stunning scenery, and the Bolaven Plateau in particular is one of the great travel experiences of Southeast Asia, a region of coffee plantations, forests, waterfalls and hilltribe villages who rarely if ever meet foreigners. These pictures were taken in Champasak, Pakse and the Bolaven in 2011.
The appalling events of 1975-9 always hang heavy over any visit to Phnom Penh, and if you want to learn more about what happened under the Khmer Rouge, then visiting the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and the former Khmer Rouge detention centre at Tuol Sleng are essential. Harrowing, but essential. Whilst Choeung Ek generally leaves everything to the imagination, Tuol Sleng has been largely left as it was when liberated by the Vietnamese in 1979, foot shackles, bloodstains and all, and is a truly visceral experience. Here are some images from my last visit in April 2017.