The Joy Of Having Joe In My Life – Uppest And Closest Harbour Tour

Finally, last week, we rented a small long tail boat with a toothless capt’n to drive us around the harbour along Chao Phraya River. Now, here’s the thing. In Thailand the view on some things is a lot more casually than in other places. And thus, we were able to get some shots that would have simply been impossible or would have been only possible by jumping through countless hoops, which would have taken away all the fun and spontaneity.

We set off shortly after sunrise and drove upstream along some undeveloped part of the river bank. We rode until we arrived at this old rusty factory.

Then we cruised around a bit more only to get very, very close to a ship sitting very high in the water – apparently no load on-board. This offered some very unique angles and brought the size of these vessels into perspective.

Depth scale on the bow of the ship. Bow with Anchor.

Being really close and low at the dolphin nose bow on the shipBeautiful, the sun is kissing the Bangkok port “Good Morning sweet heart, rise and shine.”Anchor dangling above us. If the anchor would have been lowered, however controlled, we would have been bathing at best.

After that we headed back to the Klong Toei pier and the city presented itself squeaky clean, like a five-year old in his sunday school sailor outfiit, pomade (probably a Dapper Dan Man) in his hair and the extra shiny shoes (his friends usually make fun of).

And, yes we have reached the finish line of this post and the series.

Sayonara and stay sharp

Yours Markus \m/


The Joy Of Having Joe In My Life – About Town

This is the third entry about Joe visiting us in Bangkok. We also just spent a lot of time meandering through the city on foot, in public transportation and in taxis. And in doing so, we shot a lot of the, sometimes at odd times. Like these two images of Soi Cowboy in the early morning hours, when the neon lights are turned off, restocking takes place and children play.

An Innkeeper restocks beverages for the next evening. A lot of very thirsty people frequent Soi Cowboy.I saw a boy and a girl playing together at the entrance to an entertainment locale where usually women work with very small dresses. I can’t help but to think of my own childhood and how the life trajectory of these two kids will be vastly different from mine or the life trajectory of the children of my friends.

We walked about town some more and then just resorted to photographing people and events unfolding around us as we stayed at one spot – such as this nice lady walking past a spirit tree and trash cans.

I would also love to know the story of these boots that we found abandoned near the intersection of Ratchadaphisek and Rama 4 roads.When the city had worn us down, we entered one of the many malls, enjoyed the air conditioning and had a few drinks and a snack. There, too, scenes and situations caught our eye.Behind one the city’s biggest shopping temples is a little gem of a neighborhood. We went there to escape the noise and smells of the city and to take some more pictures. This place was until a few years ago an abandoned lot with a few ruins on it. The ruins provided a great canvas for Bangkok’s great graffiti artists. And after the government took care of the lot and cleaned it up, they did it with a rather light hand. They left the artworks in place and now on a fairly regular basis, the artworks change. My favorites are still the works of Alex Face.

Next to the park is a now closed bike shop. It catered to city riders with their fixies and single-speeds. I liked it, but that was apparently not enough. All that is left is the cool graffiti logo on the outside wall of the shop.

Alright, an this too closes our erratic walk through Bangkok.

Stay sharp

Cheers Markus \m/


The Joy Of Having Joe In My Life – Gear Wheel Alley

The avid reader of my blog is definitely familiar with gear wheel alley by now. It is my favorite place to hang and take pictures in Bangkok, if not Thailand. And of course I had to the my dad there, too as well as Joe. Gear Wheel alley is a part of Chinatown that few tourist visit – and that is good so. It is one of a few neighborhoods that have not been gentrified or commercialized or turned into a caricature of itself…,yet,… It is still pretty genuine.

This time we started in a Chinese temple, where I saw these hands making signs. With a few of these hands I have made some interesting manipulations to the fingers. However, I want to keep rudeness from my blog…but I think you can figure it out yourself pretty quickly which fingers might have been folded and extended.

From there we moved on to my favorite – the Fiat 650. I have photographed this car so many times and I have watched it decay over the years. But it still makes me very happy and smile when I see the car.

I lie this picture of just the rear of the car with the grass growing on teh left and the decaying and spotted wall in the back.But I really love this one, because it shows how tiny the car really is. As it stands there it almost triggers an impulse to want to protect it and “cuddle” the car. It is a Fiat 600 Viotti Coupe. However, I opened the engine compartment and found much to my surprise an ancient Subaru boxer engine planted in the engine bay. So, I surmise that this was a restoration project that went out of control, before ti could be completed successfully – bummer.

We moved on from there and explored the side sois of the area with their enterprising people.

There are no generational boundaries in gear wheel alley. I must say, I admire tehis man fr wearing an immaculately white shirt while working with dirty and greasy transmission parts AND not getting dirty – this is the high art of truly knowing what you are doing.This is a very cozy shot for me. Again a man who works in transmissions – differentials to be precise.While everyone else is busy, this elderly gentlemen is reading the news paper, while waiting for customers to pick up crankhafts – you know you need one, you know you want one…for once in your life a proper many crankshaft with proper stroke. None of that shiort strike motorcycle stuff, but real Detroit long stroke. Stroke so long, that with three turns of the crank you can get from NYC to LA.This one I took by accident and I realized it as I was going through my pictures to select which one warranted processing.

And there you go already again. We are at the end of our little stroll through Gear Wheel Alley.

Stay sharp and try to find beauty in the mundane.

Cheers Markus \m/

The Joy Of Having Joe In My Life – Luang Prabang

My friend Joe came to Bangkok for a visit. And despite this being a pretty hectic and transitional time in our life, we had a good time. Joe brings a relaxed vibe, while Barbara and I contribute travel ideas and impulses for things to do, which results in a very positive and fresh atmosphere. And so we did do a lot. Besides being my friend, Joe is also my mentor for photography – he puts me on my toes and pushes me into all sorts of ethical conflicts, by challenging me to manipulate pictures subtly to create situations that have never existed. I embrace these challenges as growth opportunities to learn new techniques but also to reflect on my own interpretation of photography. Because, although I prefer to work in Black And White, this already represents a major manipulation of reality. So let’s get going. We went for two nights to Luang Prabang, Laos. This place is absolutely great. Very relaxed, yet, people get stuff done, are awake and friendly. We took a car to visit the Pak Ou Cave – a cave upstream along the Mekong from Luang Prabang, filled with hundreds , if not thousands of Buddhas of all sizes and shapes.

We were there quite early and had the cave to ourselves. It is truly amazing being in this cave, feeling the cool morning air and seeing the good lord Buddha everywhere you turn. Some of them must have been there for ages, given that you can see cobwebs around them.

Since we came by car, we had to take a boat to cross the Mekong.

The area around the cave is very rural, poorly developed, very peaceful and quiet. When we arrived back in Luang Prabang, we strolled through the city only to make it up Mount Pousi in time for sunset. This reminded me of the ritual I participated while i lived in southern California during graduate school. Just before sunset everyone would gather near the beach and watch the sunset hoping to see a “Green Flash”.

Interestingly, while t was usually very warm during the day, the evenings, nights and mornings were comfortably cool, which allowed for mist to form.

At night we walked the market on Main street up and down. Joe was intrigued by Cobra Wine. And while he did not buy any, he tried it and found it a bit underwhelming. This is where i saw this cool graffiti of a girl with her balloon.

So now you might ask what does Luang Prabag look like? And I think this image best portrays the vibe of the city. There is a slow-moving contributory to the Mekong winding from the mountains through LBP. Depending on the season, the locals build a rickety, yet, dependable bamboo bridge….it is a great place to visit and decelerate.I could go on with more pictures, but, we have more to cover of Joe’s visit. This concludes the LPB trip.

Stay sharp

Markus \m/

The Ruins Of Angkor Wat – It Is Always Amazing

My parents were visiting, which means you have to show people around – wow them with the cultural wonders of South East Asia. Thus, we decided to go on a three-day trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia to visit the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. This was our third visit in six years. As a general observation, we have noticed in that short period, that the visitor numbers have increased drastically and that the ruins have fallen into much more serious states of disrepair. But we have also noticed, that the Cambodian government is putting a lot of effort into preserving the existing ruins. Unfortunately, we have also seen a lot of brainless tourists stomping all over the ruins without any regard, that their carelessness will accelerate the decay. This is a shame. It is even a bigger shame that usually, these same people are being careless because they are so occupied posing for narcissistic selfies – which I admit, I have zero understanding for. If I were in charge, I’d slap a “selfie-stick fee” on for each visitor, of $500/per day. But this is not a ranting entry, but one that wants to share a few impressions of Angkor.

Ta Phrom, one of the most stunning temples, due to the mighty tree-overgrowth. From this point, we turn 180 degrees and we see one of the main buildings under renovation.

Ta Phrom also has a few other highlights. The entire structure is heavily overgrown by trees and roots. The structures deteriorate, because of the unforeseen loads exerted by the trees’ varying weight (dry day vs rainy day) and the wind loads also introduced by the trees.

Then there are the little quiet moments, when as an observant visitor you have a moment of solitude.

Some of the sites have a few permanent residents.

Other sites are less frequented and invite for a short nap.But of course, Angkor is very popular and usually tourists roam everywhere. So it takes some effort to create the illusion of being all alone among the ruins – to create an illusion of serentity. Seen here are some impressions of the Bayon – a temple built to glorify himself built by King Jayavarman VII. When you’re the King, you’re the king.

The interaction between ancient man-made structures and nature is pretty awe-inspiring, sort of put a man in his place. We may rule temporarily, but nature has so much more stamina and will outlast and reclaim any buildings made by man.

Moving on. When you visit Angkor and its temples, you will likely be pushed to get up early one day – really early….earlier, to witness the sunrise. And you should, it is absolutely worth it. I took my dad to the main building the Angkor Wat. We walked down the long pathway for a little while and then just sat down to photograph.

And then eventually, it happened. The sun rose behind the Wat…..only to look like a rising full moon.

About thirty minutes later, I shot this image of the entire Angkor Wat structure and then went off to visit other sites.

Overall, I am very happy that we took the trip, that we were able to share this with my parents and show them these beautiful places. But, I worry about the future of this world heritage site.

But for now, just for now, I am happy and I will not dwell on what might happen to Angkor and its buildings, but will enjoy the fact that I have seen Angkor again.

Cheers, stay sharp and try to find joy in this very moment you are in right now.

Yours Markus \m/