Before every travel I have this uncontrollable habit of doing extensive amount of research about my destination. It is somehow an obsessive behaviour that can eventually spoil the entire trip. The discovery factor, that sense of exploration and seeing things for the first time, is no longer there and as a consequence the trip becomes a fact-check rather than a sensorial journey. And still, I often do it. But not this time.
I had less than forty-eight hours to see Bangkok, an impossible task knowing that this is one of the biggest cities in Asia with an estimated population of over eight million people, it has an unpredictable tropical climate – though you can predict that it´s going to be hot – and a chaotic traffic. So I packed light, a small backpack, a camera and a travel book.
The whole area is a feast to the senses. Endless narrow streets that form an intricate maze, shoppers selling things that have no apparent meaning or utility, the intense smell of durian – typical Thai fruit – mixed with the smoke produced by the heavy traffic, motorbikes that drive through pedestrian passages with the utmost normality. “It´s chaos, good chaos. I wanted to stay and live here, at least for a while, at least more than just two hours.” But when you travel you know that you need to let it go.
The Grand Palace.
The most popular touristic site in town and yet I didn´t see it. Why? You need long pants, as a sign of respect, to get inside the palace and obviously I didn’t have any of those. I heard someone saying that it was possible to get in with a borrowed pair at the main door but once I got there, and looked inside, I saw thousands of people. I mean, it seemed as though all the tourists in Bangkok were gathered there at that specific moment. So I took it as a sign and decided not to go. It might sound weird but I had a great time just seating and observing people passing in front of those naked walls, and, of course, taking some shots.
After seeing The Grand Palace, at least the top of it, I headed south along the Rop Krung channel, checked the flower market which was practically closed and took a boat to the west bank of the Chao Phraya river and from there walked another couple of hours untill I realized that I was completely lost. I was exhausted by then. Its hot in Bangkok, very hot, and it was time to find my way back to the hotel for a cold shower.
2nd (and last) day.
Bangkok had me as soon as I landed. It’s one of those places that you can tell that you´re going to get something special from it. I was feeling ‘complete’ just from the experience I had on the first day but still I was lucky enough to get a second one. I choose a spot by the river (Shangri-la hotel) and walked up the Silom Road with no specific destination in mind.
Bangkok has several bridges and ‘fly-overs’ that allows to observe the traffic. I know, it’s not something that everyone appreciates or enjoys doing but from a photography point of view it gives a cool perspective to shoot.
After a brief stop in a random mall – there are plenty of those in Bangkok – for a meal and aircon, I went for my final stretch of walking. Around forty minutes from Ratchaprasong Junction to Ratchaprarop train station . My last forty minutes in Bangkok streets. It’s hard to identify what makes this experience so pleasant and fulfilling. There are many different answers and in most of the cases they are all true. I travel with a camera around my neck and the way I see things through the camera usually defines the whole experience. But Bangkok…well Bangkok is more than all of the different answers you can think of and surely more than all the images you can print in the heart of your camera. My wife travels frequently to Bangkok for business and she often tells me that she feels an overwhelming but great sense of energy when she is there. And I guess that there is no better way to describe it. Bangkok is energy, a lot of it, that surrounds you and affects you every second of the day.
Samyang 12mm F2