Thailand 2011 (VII)

Wat Suwan Kaha

If you have the opportunity to leave Phuket Island and explore a little further afield (which I strongly recommend), then Phang Nga Province (the mainland area immediately north of Phuket) contains some interesting places well worth a visit. Cross to the mainland and head a little way north before picking up a fork in the road that bears east, and after roughly an hour of driving, some 10km short of Phang Nga Town (pronounced “Pang Naa”) you will find a majestic arch/gateway to the north side of the road, with little clue as to what lies beyond. ..

This temple is slightly different from those of Phuket, mainly by virtue of the fact that it is actually constructed within a limestone cave complex. Outside the entrance is a troupe of near-obligatory monkeys, but within, the temple itself is a calming, quiet and reflective place.

Canon EOS 7D with 16-35mm f2.8L and 24-70mm f2.8L Lenses

All underground shots taken in natural light with a tripod and long exposure.

Thailand 2011 (VI)

In continuation of my earlier post, here is a second selection of images taken during my visit to Phuket Orchid Farm, a venue that has to be an orchid-lover’s paradise, not to mention a fantastic place for anyone with a camera… It’s so easy to lose yourself for a couple of hours as you wander the rows and rows of plants. Perhaps it’s the near-endless variety of the different species; maybe it’s the heady scents from these fragrant blooms – whatever the reason, you’ll struggle to make a short visit here. As I explored, I recall starting to sense patterns in the shape and colours of the orchids on display. I rather fancied the idea that I was picking up where certain species had been cross-pollinated with neighbours, to produce an all-new and even more exotic hybrid. Almost certainly complete bunkum on my part – I am quite certain that orchid breeding is far more complicated than that… but it was quite a fun thing to do.

Oh, and I appreciate that the last image – the flowerpots – isn’t strictly an orchid – but I just liked the shapes and textures in the shot…

Canon EOS 7D with Canon 24-70mm f2.8L Lens

Thailand 2011 (V)

Atop a crest in the rocky spine of Phuket island, overlooking Au Chalong (Chalong Bay) to the east and Au Karon to the west, work has commenced on the construction of a truly fantastic “Big Buddha” that will rival some of the greatest in Asia. Work started to commemorate the 80th Birthday of His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej and continues daily. The actual Buddha  itself is comprised of a steel frame over which are placed formed sheets of metal that in turn carry small marble tiles (now numbered in their tens of thousands). This is an interesting place to visit, and on a clear day the views of the south of the island are truly spectacular.

The first two images are largely self-explanatory; the third – a view of a shady tree just to the right of the main dias. – shows how it is adorned with a huge number of small brass bells – purchased from the temple shop and left there by worshippers. In even the slightest breeze this tree sings melodies all it’s own. The fourth is a statue representing Ganesh, one of many names given to the “Elephant God”. So revered is the elephant to Thai culture that entire temples have been built to honour them. An ‘elephant keeper’ will work with a single elephant and they become a partnership for life, such is the trust between them. When the elephant passes away, the keeper will honour the elephant with a full funeral service, as though the creature were a respected member of the keeper’s family. Finally, the last image is that of a goddess or priestess, and can be found on the stairway that leads to the main dias. This particular image is fashioned sitting on the back of a crocodile or alligator. This particular shrine seems to serve as a wishing well – the figure is positioned in a pool of water that has been liberally sprinkled with coins from all over the world.