30 Jun 2013

Picnic at Suan Luang Rama IX Park

Saturday afternoon. Nice, sunny day outside. Three good friends spending the weekend in my place. We are starting to feel hungry, and the conversation develops like this:
Any suggestions on where to go for lunch? 
Why don't we buy some food around here, pack it in a backpack, along with a blanket, grab some drinks, and take a cab to eat relaxingly in Suan Luang Park?
Do you mean a picnic and some beers?
Let's go!

Metallic roots, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

The traffic was terribly slow, so we almost ended up eating our precious picnic food inside the taxi, but patience triumphed and, in the end, we reached the park. In the early afternoon, any park in Bangkok is quiet and unpopulated, so we just found a nice spot under a tree that we liked, extended the blanket over the grass, and starting devouring our meal without any trace of manners.

The sentinel, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

There was nothing but a soft breeze and the sound of birds around us, a perfect retreat mere kilometres from noisy downtown Bangkok, but, unknowingly, our presence woke up the discreet, almost invisible inhabitants of this green realm: the smell of food was calling, and a few animals started to approach, cautiously, evaluating how to catch some of our fallen crumbs.

The rascal, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Once we finished our lunch, my three Thai friends wanted to doze for a while in the comfy blanket, while chitchatting in their beautiful, indecipherable language, so it was my perfect opportunity to take the camera with me and go for a lonely walk around the park grounds. We agreed to reunite at that same spot in two hours, so off I went, ready to enjoy the beautiful scenery. But the first thing that struck me in the eye was a bright, yellow glow that was moving slowly between the foliage, coming towards me. Soon I realized what it really was.

Yellow rounds, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

It rained last night, so the park-carers were patrolling around, cleaning the paths and lanes from fallen leaves, emptying the bins from garbage, and cutting off the branches that were dangerously bent or slightly cracked from the storms. They did their job careful and meticulously, while advancing elegantly in their yellow truck amongst the green. Yet they were not the only ones taking care of the cleanliness and beauty of the place, for other, more humble workers, were doing the same job on their feet.

The couple that fills the sack, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Last night's rain had not disappear completely yet, as there were still small puddles, here and there, offering the viewer beautiful, lush reflections full of color, and the plants and flowers still showed the mist of water drops over their leaves.

Romance of plant and water I, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Romance of plant and water II, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

As I continued walking, I past by a beautiful shrine that was erected on top of pillars, in the middle of a pond full of water lilies; the contrast of the blue sky, green foliage, golden columns and red tiles was a beauty on its own, and any picture taken of it was easily going to be beautiful without much photographic effort. I guess there are places that are difficult not to get a good picture of!

Unreachable shrine, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

It really is a pleasure to walk leisurely, at your own pace, alone with yourself, enjoying beautiful sights around, caressed by a soft breeze, and being able to capture some of those tiny, subtle moments with a camera. I strolled around the lonely paths, no clear destination in mind, just following the shades, until I caught a glimpse of the tip of a tower between the branches. Now my road became clear, and I walked in that direction.

 The peak, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Ratchamangkhala Pavilion is the biggest, most recognizable landmark in the park, and it can be seen from pretty much everywhere in the area, its pointy roof tower standing way above any of the trees. Located in the bank of the biggest lake of the park, it has an harmonic, beautiful shape, and its white and golden figure contrasts sharply with the lush, colorful surroundings.

Ratchamangkhala Pavilion, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

It was getting really hot, so I started looking for a thicker shade where I could walk unperturbed by the sun, when I found something that was even better than that: a quiet, solitary Chinese pavilion that offered me not only the cooling shade that I needed, but also a peaceful place to sit and rest for a while, accompanied by lovely little structures and architectures. I enjoyed the small, relaxing break sitting in a wooden bench by a little pond, I drank a lot of water, and grabbed some pictures.

The Chinese retreat, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

The Chinese retreat's roof tiles, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

The geometries and shapes of the Chinese shrine were all whimsical, delicate and pretty; from the tile arrangments to the railings, paths and benches, all was meticulously designed following regular patterns that pleased the eye. Symmetry and improvisation was combined in a very balanced manner, which gave the small place an aura of rarity, but of delicacy at the same time. This careful distribution of elements worked very well in conjunction with the shadows of the surrounding trees and bushes which, all together, created a vivid mural of blacks and whites, perfect for some monochrome captures.

Another kind of Chinese shadows I,  GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Another kind of Chinese shadows II,  GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

When I resumed my walk, I realized it was almost time to reunite with my friends, but there were still many areas of the park that I hadn't had the chance to visit, so I decided to walk back to the starting point following another path, bordering the opposite bank of the lake, so I could see different  gardens. And that's how I discovered the charming, elegant music pavilion, all fringed by trees, and bathed by puddles of light and shadow. Even though I was running out of time, I still made a bit of time to sit down in the grass for a while, and there I met a very friendly boy, amateur photographer like me, who was experimenting with stop motion with his Fuji camera. Nice to meet you, and let's have a photo walk together soon, Fluke!

Waiting for the band, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Unfortunately, there was no more time for idly conversation, and I had to hurry back to meet my friends. But I didn't have to walk all the way back, for I met them on the way, as they were walking by the lake banks, still chitchatting of all things past and future. As I joined them, we bough some ice creams in a nearby kiosk, and decided to sit by the water for a while, and enjoy the fast approaching sunset. It's been a nice weekend from beginning to end, thank you guys!

Ratchamangkhala Pavilion at sunset, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

10 Jun 2013

Pratunam jungle, part II

Not that I go downtown often, quite the opposite: I spend most of my days and weeks far from it, as my work and leisure normally spins around Ramkhamhaeng, and I try to avoid visiting the city center over the weekend, as there is nothing I hate more than being stuck at traffic jams the only 2 days I have a bit of time for myself. But today it was that rare occasion when I felt like having a stroll in the jungle of Pratunam, again (maybe my last walk there ended too quickly and I felt it was incomplete). Whatever the reason, I walked to the canal, hop on the boat, and off I went.

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
Magnet eyes, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm 

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
Childhood dreams, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

It takes about 30 minutes to reach Pratunam from my area, and usually the boats are doozy and half empty at this time in the afternoon, far from the crowds that populate this same unstable vehicles in the peak hours, before and after work. Therefore, I could sit in one of the wooden benches and enjoy the sights around me without worrying about my verticality. A child that was standing a couple of meters from me caught my eye immediately, his pure, bright eyes a magnet to my camera. But he got off pretty soon, and I continued my trip to the hordes of the busy center.

Lumix G Vario 12-35mm
Bayoke & cables I, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm 

Lumix G Vario 12-35mm
Bayoke & cables II, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

It has been a terribly sunny day, the sun was harsh and merciless, and walking in the street was an exercise on physical resistance, constantly stopping to drink water and wipe my forehead, or even the camera. Even though, the vendors were unperturbed in their usual spots, defying heat and humidity, in total sync with the ambient around them.

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
Harsh light, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Pratunam offers everything in mind: you just have to walk for a while along the multiple small streets that form this area, to find anything from food, to clothes, second hand objects, shoes or gadgets, amidst many other things. Trading is the heart of this district, and so everything revolves around this activity.

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
Shoe hierarchy, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
All but the fitting room, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm 

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
Colorful smells, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm 

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
Green goods, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Tired from the noises and voices of cars, passers-by and vendors, I tried to look for a quieter road where I could walk at my own pace, and so I ended up in a back alley where I could sit for a while, drink a long sip of my dwindling bottle, and spot a couple of kids that were, from very different locations, looking at my and my camera with big, amused eyes.

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
Frisky eyes, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm 

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
Protection or retention?, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

It felt great being under the comfortable shade, so I decided I would walk back to the pier through the indoor markets this time; so I entered one dark corridor, not really sure where it would lead me, but the area is not that big so I knew there was not risk of getting lost by much. Surprisingly, the inner lanes were mostly deserted, dark and silent, with hundreds of small storehouses closed. These are the bowels of Pratunam, I guess, but at this time of the day all business is done outside, in the bright, sunny streets, and this place rests.

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
Inner shrine, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

As I crossed the interior maze, I found a small, affordable place offering good massage, and suddenly my feet begged me to accept. So I laid down in one of the hammocks, and one hour passed by in a second. Reinvigorated, I resumed my walk only to realize that the world had completely changed in the span of that short massage, as if the hands of that old woman had some kind of magical powers and had bewitched me and retained me there for hours or days: it was night already, and it was raining, so I hurried back to the pier to take a boat home. The drops of water formed curious abstract shapes in the surface of the canal as I waited, so I took a last shot before entering the packed boat, calling it a day.

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
Watercolors, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

4 Jun 2013

Morning to evening: a long day through a few pics

This morning I had my first job interview in 3 years and, if things work out, I will be working soon in a new place. New grounds, new people, and new responsibilities, but a change is always welcome as it introduces new perspectives and boosts motivation. I didn't have much time to walk around before or after the interview, but as I walked out to take a taxi, I could grab a few stills.

Tropical autumn, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Tropical autumn II, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Ocres, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Later today, in the afternoon, I felt like going out for a photo walk: the weather was nice (sunny but not too hot), I had the whole day off, and the prospect of a 180% turn in my near future had me excited and couldn't stay at home, immobile, so I took my camera and off I went, no destination in mind, just decided to randomly walk around my neighborhood.

 Ways of transport, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Parked and gone, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

 HDR water deposit, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Lines and frames, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Thai people is warm and friendly, and it is always a pleasure to meet them, even if the language barrier is usually thick and tall as a wall. But a camera seems to be a universal language, and, more often than not, arises curiosity, proximity, and the customary smiles.

Delivery man I, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Delivery man II, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

When I thought that the day was already over, I received a call from a couple of friends that wanted to go to a vintage market in the other side of the city. It was late and it was far, so I was hesitant, but finally I took my camera again and got on a bus to meet them. I was hungry and wanted to have something to eat somewhere, anyway, so I could have an unexpected dinner with friends. What's better than that?

 Order, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm

 Red and black, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm

Gradient, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm