A Trip along the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok

Wat Arun seen from the Chao Phraya River, BangkokCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series lens.

The Thais are a Special People

This photo features the famous Wat Arun and was made while cruising along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand. I have mixed feelings about Bangkok. The city is hot and crowded. There are very few, decent green public spaces in the city. I know, I looked for them. But what's undeniable is the beautiful spirit of the Thai people and the grace and serenity with which they approach the challenges of day to day living.

I refer, in this case, to educated, middle class folk whom I watched making their way to work very early in the morning. There was something about the way they carried themselves and the soft, warm light that illuminated their progress. They seemed, somehow, apart from their urban surroundings appearing to be tuned into another reality. And they didn't need MP3 players to do so.

Sometimes it's a Crap Shoot

Making the above photo was quite tricky. The ferry was packed and hooting downstream pretty quickly. The well-mannered but overwhelmed conductor was keen, as a way of accommodating new passengers, of encouraging those near the front of the boat out of the way. But I needed to find a spot where the view wasn't lost behind all the heads on this overcrowded ferry. To do so I was continually moving backwards, forwards and sideways throughout the trip. It was bumpy, fun and well worth it. It was also nice and cool as the otherwise oppressive conditions were subdued by the breeze streaming off the cooler water.

Local passengers were quick to find a seat or, otherwise, stand and hold onto a railing or overhead support not unlike the kind you've likely seen on trains, trams and buses. But, for a photographer, the experience is a little more challenging.

It was difficult to stand in one spot,for more than a few seconds, without being propelled violently one way or the other. You can imagine that producing a sharp, well composed photo was a challenge. Where I could I wrapped my arms around a railing to help steady my body and minimize the chance of injury. That approach seemed to work quite well.

I don't have any current desire or need to return to the big, chaotic city that is Bangkok. However, as long as my love for Asia continues, Bangkok remains an excellent hub from which many nearby Asian countries can be easily reached. And, of course, there are the Thais themselves: a unique people with an approach to life from which we can all learn.

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru