Bangkok diptychs: a tour of the city in pictures.

Anything I say about Bangkok is already said. Every single spot I display here has already been explored by a million people. Promoted in recent times as a hot business destination, its been one of Asia’s biggest shopping cum tourist hotspots for centuries, after all. Ashoka the great called it Suvarnabhoomi (Golden land or land of Gold in sanskrit) when his empire covered this region some 2000 years ago. At the time we landed at the airport, I didn’t know that. The renaming of the Bangkok airport was underway with huge suspended banners in glittering gold typography. Needless to say, I was surprised to make note of this. Suddenly, I felt like I was home but in another chapter from a past life!
Like any other city in the world, Bangkok is throbbing with action. Famous for its notorious sex parlors, it’s perplexing to note that a largely devout Buddhist society should be lost to its very own ideal. Promiscuity, materialistic pursuits and greed seem to co-exist with ancient rituals, folklore and a love for Buddha.
On my trip there some years ago, I realised its easy to make friends as long as you can thank the locals with the ‘Kap Kun Khap’ refrain, hands folded like the Indian Namaste. My efforts at greeting every vendor with the Sawat Dee (hello in Thai) refrain helped in getting some great bargains while shopping in the colorful Chatuchak weekend market. Like in India, you must bargain, bargain, bargain for complete satisfaction. No wonder its such a popular destination with Indian tourists.
Buddhism is important in Thailand. Religious artefacts in general and Buddha statues in particular are sacred. The head is the most important part of the Buddha statue and should not be touched. Any disrespectful handling of a Buddha statue is considered desecration, which results in severe criminal penalties. An observation made in the zillions of curio shops that sell Buddha heads in every proportion, size and material. Also attached to the purchase of a Buddha statue is the statutory export tax. It’s not something you can casually carry back home. You have to declare it holding it from the bottom else you don’t get out of the country!
Every street corner had large banners in Thai with pictures of the monarch in all his finery. As I learnt from the Tuk Tuk driver, the Royal family are revered and respected. Jokes about royalty are absolutely not tolerated. I believe you must walk on your knees and always seem shorter than the royalty whether they’re seated or standing. Being tall, my slouch was back!
Pretty much like the Hindu customs, we were informed by the temple staff at the temple sites we visited that when sitting, ensure that the soles of your feet are never pointed toward anyone, particularly a monk or Buddha image. The feet are considered the lowliest part of the body by Thais. Oddly, you get the best foot massages there!
One great thing about the people was their smiley disposition. It’s almost impossible to find a frown on a Thai’s face unless they’re staring at the sun or lost in deep thought. They expect you to smile a lot too in return. Smiling is equated with patience, and Thais greatly admire those who are patient. Thais avoid violence, conflict and confrontation. Losing your composure means losing respect in Thailand. Do not be surprised to encounter situations where an obvious injustice or abuse is tolerated with an outwardly submissive attitude, for the sake of not losing face.
This is a collection of diptychs that showcases what we did along the beaten tracks in the city.

The gilded temple complex of Wat Benjabophit (I think). Wat is for temple in Thai.

Wat sized happiness at Wat Benjabophit

The reclining bronze Buddha of Wat Po. Done to death but then I have my own picture postcard!

Frescoes and the tourists: The floral paintings on the walls inside are beautiful, not to mention the intricate woodwork.

Buddha bliss and the miniature fresco.

Gilded detail from head to toe.

The straw hat & the bridge on river Chao Phraya.

Thai gondola and temples galore.

Our guide was quick to tell us that Bangkok is the Venice of Asia! I was intrigued by this decorative figure on the stern of another gondola parked by the bay.

Walking to the night market through a 140 acre park with a man-made lake right in the middle! The park is named after Buddha's birthplace Lumbini except that the Thai's call it Lumphini!

The shower in our swanky hotel room, "psycho" style!

On the tube, we stood in a neatly arranged queue of commuters, marked on the floor at every doorway of the station.

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About shabnamphoto

I'm a graphic artist with a passion for photography. I like to tell a story with my pictures. Sometimes a picture may speak on its own and at other times it may need an explanation. I'm intrigued by the ordinariness of life and enjoy documenting my life in the light and shadow of what surrounds me. Be it people, landscape, flowers, architecture or birds, the camera helps me see what I wouldn't with my naked eye.
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14 Responses to Bangkok diptychs: a tour of the city in pictures.

  1. test says:

    Thanks for finally talking about >Bangkok diptychs: a tour of the city in pictures.
    | shabnamphoto <Liked it!

    Like

  2. Blood-Ink-Diary says:

    Aray wah ! buhut khusurat photo-essay! You absolutely should be exhibiting everywhere! What a delight to come across a magnificent photographer — may you reach the zenith of success with such a talent.
    Jeetey rahain. Aap ki dost.

    Like

  3. Bhaven says:

    hi Shabnam, I stumbled upon your site while searching for ‘photshelter plugin for wordpress’ on the WP site and your question turned up. Looks like there is no plugin for .com. Then stumbled upon your blog and this article on Thailand. I just returned from Bkk and Pattaya last week and am still posting on my blog (www.bhavenjani.wordpress.com). You may want to compare notes, though mine is a long detailed story of each day. It’d be great if you also view my photo collection at http://www.bhavenjani.photoshelter.com. Do you have a photography site you want me to see?

    All the best in your work. cheers, Bhaven

    Like

  4. Surfing the net tonight while Hub babbles in dialect with a friend. I truly love these photos, the young girls remind me of my three beautiful nieces. innocent and full of life. My sister and her eldest daughter are coming for a visit this year. I can’t wait to see them. It’s been a whole year. I’ll be sure to take some great photos. Blessed be.

    Like

  5. Uttam says:

    I think Thailand means “Land of Smiles”

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  6. What a great web log. I spend hours on the net reading blogs, about tons of various subjects. I have to first of all give praise to whoever created your theme and second of all to you for writing what i can only describe as an fabulous article. I honestly believe there is a skill to writing articles that only very few posses and honestly you got it. The combining of demonstrative and upper-class content is by all odds super rare with the astronomic amount of blogs on the cyberspace.

    Like

  7. Kalpesh says:

    Hey Shabnam. Great shooting. Love the warmth in all the pictures.

    cheers.

    Like

  8. rupa gulab says:

    Lovely tour through the city – thanks.

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  9. shabnamphoto says:

    Thank you dear friends, I feel alive! You guys are the best, please keep in touch 🙂

    Like

  10. Anjana Taggarse says:

    The people in the places we visit make the deepest impression … as was our experience in Bhutan …. Kids found people friendly, eco friendly, trusting and most importantly, child friendly … Can a travelogue document this well? Cos we are travelling this week and I’m hoping the kids would be able to do that 🙂

    Like

  11. shaliniberi says:

    Love your travelogue. Only the typo on this site of all the instructions is busted so cant really see navigations.

    Like

  12. I’m a subscriber. Love your colorful photos.

    Like

  13. shabnamphoto says:

    Thank you for your visit. When you leave without a word, I learn nothing from you. Feel free to comment, rate or simply press the ‘like’ button (yellow star) just above this
    comment box! Thanks for the visit. And hey, you can subscribe if you really really like my stuff, (its the sign me up button on the right).

    Like

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