In 2012 near the start of my journey along the Silk route between Istanbul in Turkey and China, I spent a month in Iran. A beautiful country and actually very hospitable people.
Following the journey of Alexandra the Great to Persepolis, or next stop was the Lut desert to see the amazing sand formations known as “Kaluts”.
The Kalut is said to a sand mountain created by the effect of the dominant erosional agent in desert, i.e., wind making fascinating forms and shapes.
There are no threats, like scorpions or snakes, as the desert of Lut is an abiotic zone, which means that no single plant or creature can survive in such a harsh environment. Rising from the sand dunes, these natural and astonishing sculptures are a real shock to your eyeballs and, while walking among them, you are likely to feel you are wandering around Mars or even better, a Star wars film set.
Music free under creative commons licence from Youtube music library Title: Dakar Flow by Carmen Maria
Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya stands as the most elaborate example of Srivijaya influence remaining in Thailand today. Built around an eye-catching Javanese-style chedi, the site is thought to have been established when Chaiya was an important regional centre of the Srivijaya kingdom around the eighth century CE. Today the chedi features on the Surat Thani provincial symbol and is mimicked by the provincial capital’s City Pillar shrine.
Many scholars believe that the Srivijaya’s linguistic legacy can still be heard in the Old Malay derived languages spoken in modern Indonesia and Malaysia. Srivijaya subjects also may have been the first to introduce Buddhism to what’s now Thailand and Cambodia, though their Mahayana-dominated form would eventually lose out to Theravada Buddhism from Burma and Sri Lanka. The chedi at Wat Phra Borommathat is one of a handful of ancient Srivijayan monuments that can still be seen in the Chaiya area, with two others found at nearby Wat Kaeo and Wat Long.
First constructed out of brick and vegetable mortar some 1,200 years ago, the chedi was twice restored in the early 20th century. Some alterations were made, including the addition of Thai artistic elements, but the original shape was largely preserved. Those who have explored ancient Javanese temple sites will notice a strong resemblance to the sanctuaries of Prambanan and others. Rising from a square base, its five patterned tiers include shelves, niches and points leading up to a lotus and topped by a slender spire. Buddhist relics are said to be enshrined inside.
Surrounding the chedi on all four sides are ceramic-roofed cloisters filled with Buddha images of various shapes and sizes. Near a Bodhi tree on the other side of the cloisters, a trio of sandstone Ayutthaya-era Buddha images in the Subduing Mara posture sit side by side, exposed to the elements. Local lore claims that these images prefer to be outside, evidenced by a lightning strike on a building they were once placed in.
The temple grounds also include a medium-size ordination hall which, surprising given the importance of the temple, has no murals and only a small collection of typical-looking Buddha images. Stroll to the temple’s northern section and you’ll find a cluster of attractive old wooden buildings that appear to hail from around a century ago.
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Spirit of Fire by Jesse Gallagher
Have you ever heard of Natai beach? Imagine a stretch of white sands ten kilometres long that’s completely free of vendors and beach umbrellas. There are no big hotels, tailor shops or sleazy bars in the area, and absolutely no buzzing jet skis or speedboats.
Where is this magical place? Natai Beach in Phang Nga province just over the bridge from Phuket. With its sands blissfully free of vendors and sunbed rentals, to spend a day at the beach is to be immersed in a Natai nature nirvana soothed by the sound of the waves.
The balmy turquoise waters are ideal for swimming, surfing, stand-up paddling or kayaking. A bit like the Hamptons of Southeast Asia, with strict local building laws have shielded Natai Beach from all mass development. Instead of mega resorts and shopping malls, the beach is lined with a handful of boutique resorts, private villas and high-end restaurants.
Except one, Raipiang seafood restaurant, which does cater to more normal budgets and offered delicious seafood. Sitting here watching for a sunset dinner, not as spectacular as it could have been, but oh so lovely all the same.
During my recent visit to Bangkok, just after Songkran, I made sure not to miss this colourful canal walk between Chinatown and Rattanakosin
If you know me, you must be aware of my fascination for colorful and fascinating street art. I love to visit places that are noted for their vibrant graffiti and murals. And I am always up for arty experiences. Trust me, it is a lot of fun when you turn around the corner and find a beautiful piece of art.
Every artwork has a different story to tell, which is what makes this street unique. If you too enjoy stumbling on random art in nooks and crannies of different cities, this street will leave you mesmerized for sure. I had a great time clicking pictures of the countless murals, made by some of Thailand’s best street artists. And if you are looking for photo-ops, this is the place to find some!
Huahin Railway Station
Some photos from my recent visit to Huahin Railway Station, felt like I was back home in the UK, in Leatherhead where I used to live and where there is a very similar railway station to this, or is it the other way round? without the grand royal pavilion of course!
A remnant of bygone times, the picturesque Hua Hin train station is one of the stops on the route from Bangkok to the South. The station is located in the center of town, in walking distance from attractions as the night market and the main beach.
Its main attraction is the Royal Waiting Room which was used by Thai Royals when they visited the seaside summer Palace. Pictured on postcards and t-shirts, the building is one of Hua Hin’s most recognizable landmarks.
A visit to Hua Hin railway station feels like a step back in time. The station is one of the oldest in Thailand and one of the few still in its original state.
The main building in Victorian style dates back to the mid 1920’s.
Old style light bulbs between the tracks are carried by mythological birds.
On the other side of the tracks stands an antique steam locomotive.
A little away from the main building stands the Royal Waiting Room, a beautiful teak wood building in bright yellowish and red colors.
Originally part of Sanam Chandra Palace in Nakhon Pathom province, the building was moved to Hua Hin to be used as the Royal Waiting Room.
The very well preserved building was once used by members of the Thai Royal Family when they visited the seaside Maruekhathaiyawan Palace. King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) built the teak wooden palace as a seaside summer retreat in 1923.
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Title:Orient by SefChol
Founded in 1982 under the majesty of Queen Sirikit, Pranburi Forest Park is located 25 km. south of Hua Hin and encompasses over 3.17 sq. km. of protected land.
The park is known for its vast and dense forests of mangroves and twisty trails that lead visitors to all corners of the park. With its pristine views and natural beauty, Pranburi Park is the perfect escape from some of the urban centres in southern Thailand.
The nature reserve is an excellent day excursion from the Hua Hin area (and best of all, it’s practically free). Not only will you be surrounded by the tranquil and majestic scenery, but you’ll also get to see an abundant array of flora and wildlife, many of which are exclusive to Thailand.
The forest floor in the mangroves is covered by muddy sediments formed by the tides, densely covered by horizontally grown tree roots above and below the ground. This muddy habitat is an ideal place for crabs, mudskippers and shrimps. During the low tides, many crabs and mudskippers can be seen from the boardwalk.
In this video you will see some of the mangroves but mostly the local colourful Crab population that has been allowed to thrive here. Some were easy to see and some not so easy……..
During my December break in 2021, I was in Phang Nga on my road trip around the province.
I had seen there was this huge beautiful Limestone park and wanted to visit it. About mid morning was actually a good time to go and visit, still cool enough , but also busy enough. I say busy, but actually most of the visitors were locals doing their morning exercise and jogging.
As we walked around the main pathway through the park, it became apparent why the locals stayed within the main pathway. There, are we found out for ourselves, in due course, two very large troupes of Macaque monkeys. With the lack of tourists and people they have made larger areas of the park their home.
We did narrowly avoid a major skirmish between the two alpha males and their harems. Along with about 20 offspring. Nearly finding ourselves with our backs up against the locked railings at the other end of the park we stayed absolutely still and made no sudden movements or noise that might attract their attention.
Thankfully they all ran like a river of water towards the limestone cliffs and disappeared into the trees. We carefully made our way back , keeping to the main paths.
I did manage before that to get some interesting views of the cliffs, and the surrounding area, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
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Title: Anomalous Hedges by The Mini Vandals
A collection of images from my visit to this strange and surreal Wat, very similar to the one in Korat I visited, Wat Pa Lak Roi, which was my first introduction to Buddhist Hell Gardens.
The images leave nothing to the imagination.
Wat Tham Ta Pan in Phang Nga Town is one of the weirdest original temples in southern Thailand. Located around 100 km northeast of Phuket, the site offers a journey through Buddhist Heaven and Hell.
At first sight, the temple looks a bit abandoned and decrepit, which simply adds to the eeriness of the place. You’ll see a fountain at the entrance, where there are 5 sculptures of monks. Each holds a bowl that represents wealth, beauty, happiness, cleverness, and health. Try throwing a coin in the bowl of your choice. If you succeed in landing one in, your wish will come true.
Right next to a small shop, there’s a huge Chinese dragon with a wide-open mouth waiting for you to enter. This is the beginning of your ‘journey’ through representations of Buddhist Heaven and Hell. The inside of the dragon has a long and dark tunnel, with just a few tiny windows lighting your path.
At the end of the tunnel, you’ll find the entrance to a deep cave. Pray at the small shrine on your left before heading towards the Nirvana section, right at the end of the cave. It takes about a 10-minute walk along a dark track with bridges crossing a river to reach the end, which has 2 Buddha statues symbolising Heaven.
Buddhist Hell (‘Naraka’ in Sanskrit and ‘Na Rok’ in Thai) awaits you if you do not follow the 5 precepts of Buddhism during your life:
Abstain from taking life (thou shall not kill).
Abstain from taking what is not given (thou shall not steal).
Abstain from sexual misconduct (thou shall not commit adultery).
Abstain from false speech (thou shall not lie).
Abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness (eschew drunkenness).
A visit to Wat Tham Ta Pan can be a really scary experience, so it isn’t recommended for young children. Scenes showing torture applied to sinners are vivid and straightforward, leaving no space to the imagination.
An area behind these buildings offers a walk up a cliff through a garden dotted with statues of animals. The cliff displays sculptures and representations of Indian deities, such as Ganesh and Akhilandeshvari.
Wat Tham Ta Pan is a one-of-a-kind temple that’s well worth a visit, simply due to its weird originality.
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Title: Mist- by Odonis Odonis
A great stop off on my road trip in December 2021, when the waters were quite low.
In Thailand, however, every little trickling stream seems to be advertised as this or that “waterfall”, and more than once I’ve hiked several kilometres only to find something less impressive than a fountain you might find in front a three-star hotel. At Manora waterfall just north of Phang Nga town, however, you’ll be rewarded by something justly worthwhile.
The multiple layers and refreshing natural pools of Manora are just a short motorbike ride away from Phang Nga town. Upon entering the trail visitors are greeted by a pristine swimming hole with cool, clear water that flows straight from nearby mountain tops. This is where Phang Nga comes to cool off, and if you’ve had it with Thailand’s tropical heat, it’s a welcome sight indeed. Just beyond the swimming hole visitors will find a wide and relatively deep stream bridged by a fallen tree. If it weren’t for the hundreds of small fish that thrive here, this stream would also be a good spot for swimming. At least it makes for a nice photo. A little further up the path from the fish stream the first of Manora’s waterfalls comes into view. With less of a roar than those further up, this is a tranquil little spot to enjoy the entrancing sound of water gushing over rocks.
After passing another shallow swimming hole along the path, where you can swing like Tarzan on a vine over the water, Manora’s larger and more dramatic falls are found. Okay, so they’re not Niagara or Angel falls, but Manora is impressive, especially considering that six different sets of falls of different shapes and sizes thunder alongside a winding path of several hundred metres draped in lush jungle canopy.
music free under creative commons licence from YouTube music library Titile:Vitality by Benjamin Martins
Suan Son Pradiphat is a sand beach in Tambon Nong Kae, Hua Hin District, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, Thailand. Suan Son Pradiphat is regarded as another popular and well-known marine attraction in Hua Hin, it is about 9 km south of town of Hua Hin. Khao Takiab hill bisected between these two areas.
Its name literally translates as “oak pine garden”, because there are many this species of pines in the area. The beach is located in a military zone under supervision by Infantry Center, Royal Thai Army, therefore, it is a quiet and less crowded beach compared to other beaches of Hua Hin or Prachuap Khiri Khan.
There are restaurants, food court, coffee shop, restroom, and bathroom service. Along the beach is shady with oak pines. A Bryde’s whale skeleton is displayed at the entrance to the beach.
Music free under creative commons licence from You tube music library Music: Natural Light by Chris Haug
ok, just for fun this morning! I wanted to take photos of these beautiful Plumeria rubra ‘Kaneohe Sunburst’, so I decided to try them out with the M5 and two different but similar lenses.
Both sets of images were imported to FastStone picture viewer and exported without ANY edits as jpg to my desktop folder.
Both images were shot with the same settings i.e. for the first two images ; ISO 320, f/8, and 1/60th slightly different focal lengths but that shouldn’t really affect the image output. Let me know what you think?
both are on the same picture style and WB settings also, everything is the same.
Ok this second set of images were taken at ISO 250, f/8, and again 1/60th.
Now bearing a few things I have read recently, I think that we can with near certainty say that it is the lenses that dictates what strength of color and general rendition comes out in the final image, not the camera. Along with, as I have read recently, which software you use to manage your raw files, but as I used the same software for both that also has no bearing on the effect of the output of these images.
Granted this is not strictly a scientific experiment, or I would have had my tripod out, and been taking them at exactly the same focal lengths. This was just a casual bit of fun, but still very telling for me, so what are your thoughts? just for fun! which one do you prefer?
On my way through Chumpon on my most recent short road trip we stopped by the very auspicious Prince of Chumpon Shrine. Or , Admiral Prince Abhakara Kiartivongse the man who is credited with establishing the Modern Thai Navy.
A huge site set on Sai Ri Beach in Chumpon comprising of the shrine itself. If you walk down the ramp and look up, you will see that the entire shrine base is designed to be a duplicate of the HTMS Chakri Naruebet facing towards Sai Ri Beach. But this video focusses on the second attraction to the site; the Royal Chumphon Ship which has been put out of commission is exhibited with its bottom half embedded in the cement ground. The Royal Chumphon Ship was assigned on a mission to escort the landing crafts and patrol the coast.
You can enter the basin it is set in via either of two sets of stairs on both sides of the ship, and board it via a stairway on the port side. I had great fun walking around and seeing how constrained space there was and how its engine and kitchen space were so compact for such a decent sized vessel.
I will post a video of the shrine n due course, until then enjoy!
Music free under creative commons licence from you tube music library Title; Early Avril by Unicorn Heads