23 Jun 2014

Kacha 2.0: revisiting the canal one year later

One year ago, while walking back home from the mall where I had lunch, I decided to try a shortcut that led me to discover a whole community of people leaving both sides of a tiny and dirty canal called Kacha (see that post here). Today, roughly 12 months later, I felt like revisiting that neighborhood again, and see how much (or little) has changed during this time. But, to make things a bit different, I settled to walk the canal in the opposite direction this time, starting almost at the end of it, where it disappears under the chaotic flow of Rama IX road, and walking backwards to the place where I started my trip last time.

Resemblance, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
The stroll, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Shaded labour, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
The boy and me, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
It's surprising how such a small difference can change things so much; yes, I recognized the sights, the precarious bridges, the stench of the waters, the immense trees, the huts in all kind of impossible positions, but everything looked new at the same time since the arrangement of the alleyways followed a new random pattern, and the people I encountered in my first visit where nowhere to be seen this time. The bark of near dogs remained constant, as also did my steps, walking leisurely under a scorching sun.

Roof and cloud I, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Roof and cloud II, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
House and cloud, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
However, I reached the spot where las year I entered this microcosm much faster than expected, maybe because it was early afternoon and there was almost nobody on the streets, which made my walk unperturbed and, unfortunately, uneventful. But it was still early to go back home and, upon realizing that the canal continued ahead after that wide bridge, I crossed to the other side, and resumed my walk in new grounds (though along the same, old waters).

Mirror pool I, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
Mirror pool II, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
Mirror pool III, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
The sun was slowly descending, so people were starting to reappear in the streets again, and this gave me opportunities to shoot some of them, at times unaware of me, absorbed in their own routines, other times curious but distant, some other times literally approaching me, wide open smiles, asking for a picture. This is not that unusual in this city, specially among children, but today the people that approached me were specially friendly, so I quickly took a decision but kept it a secret for the time being. I indirectly asked if they would be around at the same time the following day, and left with a smile. The next day, roughly at the same time, I returned with one printed picture for each of them, and seeing the bright smiles and signs of happiness and gratitude they showed me was the best thing that could have happened to me, and filled me with joy. Photography has given me so many things until now, that it was only fair that I paid back a bit!

The mototaxi drivers, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Mototaxi driver, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
The gang, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Last time I concluded my post embracing detours, and if I had to give another advice this time, that would be: remember to always look back while you walk. You might find out things that you just past by and did not see at all.

Afternoon refreshment, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Parking lots, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
Concentration, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Sunset lights, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm

2 Jun 2014

Following the railtracks, II

Makkasan Airport Link to Ploen Chit (3 km)

Two weeks after my initial walk, which you can see here, I was ready to continue exactly where I had finished last time, so I took the Airport Link train to Makkasan and started my walk right underneath the mammoth overhead concrete station. Today's journey would be slightly shorter than the first one, roughly 3 km in length, but it promised to be interesting as I was going to stray from the main line at one point to explore an abandoned, secondary rail line that had been abandoned long ago.

Crossing stairs, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
Framed tree, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
Short grandfather with tall grandson, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
It was a mercilessly sunny day, and since it had rained a bit in the morning, the colors were rich and deep all around me, so it was only natural to take advantage of this lushness and beauty, thus I shot mostly in color, as I felt it represented much better the vibrancy and atmosphere of the day and of the walk. The first kilometer was a continuation of the landscapes from my previous trip, so at first I just walked across similar terrain, passing by a few constructions sites, always lead by the railtracks, both on the ground (the old land lines) and above my head (the faster and more modern elevated train).

Gestation I, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
Gestation II, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
Antagonists, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
But even though color dominated most of the things that surrounded me, I still found a few occasions were monochrome worked well and, since I'm determined to get better visualizing and finding monochrome scenes, I consciously searched and looked for them, and I just found a few the moment I left the main rail line, which continues further downtown, and I turned left, instead (exactly when you reach the old Makkasan Station), penetrating in what used to be another rail line but that has been long abandoned. The tracks remain, but they act now as the main avenue in this neighborhood of small houses and humble people.

Vacant spaces, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Projections, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
But, despite the abundance of color in today's post, perhaps the single biggest difference between my first trip along the railtracks and today's is a different one: while two weeks ago I encountered the whole area brimming with people, today I walked mostly empty tracks. Today it was earlier and it was hotter than the last time, so probably the people remained in their shaded shelters, waiting for the sun to sink before hitting the street (we should say the track, to tell the truth); therefore I just walked ahead, enjoying the unusual serenity of a quiet area right in Bangkok's city center.

Tradition vs. modernisation, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
On roofs and antennas, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Confluences, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
And, faster than I expected, I reached Sukhumvit road, that was my end goal, which made me realize something that it's probably very obvious but that had remained hidden to me until today: it's surprising how fast a photowalk goes when there is no people involved in it; in other words, people takes the longer time for me to photograph, since there is a whole process around it, whereas environmental photography doesn't require that "communication" and, therefore, goes much faster. Interesting fact. I took a few last pictures, trying to catch at least some glimpses of life (or still life) before calling it a day.

Still house, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
Dandy cat amidst the rubbish, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
One of the things of photography that surprises me and attracts me the most is how two very similar environments can lead to two completely diverse and opposite images. My first trip along Bangkok's railtracks ended up with a collection of monochrome images full of people, whereas today, just a couple of kilometres away, we have bright colors and an empty, dehumanized city. That's the power of this beautiful medium, I guess!