February 2002
The Chao Praya, flowing through Bangkok.
A river bus. For about $0.20, you can go anywhere along the river.
A waterfront scene.
A banquet barge.
Rush hour.
Every inch of waterfront is put to use.
Wat Po, seen from the river.
Watphrapathom Chedi Nakhon Pathom, the largest chedi in Thailand.
Watphrapathom Chedi Nakhon Pathom.
Watphrapathom Chedi Nakhon Pathom.
The floating market at Damnoen Saduak.
The main drag at Damnoen Saduak.
A hat vendor.
Ornamental plants. If you can't get it at Damnoen Saduak, you don't need it.
Our floating hotel, moored in the middle of the River Kwai, and the boats that brought us there. We took a train across the bridge (yes, that bridge), and part of the way up the river, then transferred to these long-tailed boats, powered by automobile engines with propeller shafts attached to them. The boats traveled at breakneck speed, under a full moon, and with no lights on.
Each double room at the hotel is built on pontoons, lashed to the others, and anchored in the middle of the river. Each room has a porch with a hammock, and running water in front, behind, and underneath the room. Kerosene lanterns provide the only illumination.
A farmer tends his buffalo.
A touch of luxury at a lodge in the jungle near the Burmese border.
To deal with changing water levels, the local farmers live in floating houses.
The resident elephants in the nearby Mon village beg for bananas.
A Mon schoolgirl. The spiral designs on her cheeks are worn by girls and boys alike.
The grounds of the 14th Century Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol, in Ayutthaya, one of the ancient capitals of Thailand.
The reclining Buddha at Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol.
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol.
The main chedi at Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol.
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol.
Supplicants make offerings to the Buddha at the Phra Mongkohn Bophit Chapel.
The Buddha is unmoved. Like the faithful everywhere, those offering prayers seem to be undeterred by the lack of results.
Wat Phra Sri San Phet at Ayutthaya.
Wat Phra Sri San Phet at Ayutthaya.
A temple of the grounds of Wat Phra Sri San Phet.
"Jumbo Shrimp Attacks Power Grid!"
Reputed to be one of the most beautiful large Buddhas in Thailand, the Phra Buddha Chinnarat at Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat in Phitsanulok. This will be on the mid-term.
One of the temples at Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat.
Sukhothai, the first capital of Thailand, dating to the 13th Century.
Wat Mahathat, at Sukhothai.
In Chiang Mai, an umbrella painter creates a shady spot for himself while he works on an exceptionally large commission.
Fellow tourists Mitch and Terri had arranged to be married in a Buddhist ceremony in Chiang Mai. The Thai tailors kept calling back to our guide to confirm the measurements for the wedding outfits - Mitch and Terri are both six-footers, a rarity in Thailand. The rest of us formed the impromptu wedding party.
The morning after the wedding, the couple visited a local temple to get the monks' blessing.
In the Pra Sing temple.
A small temple on the grounds of Pra Sing.
Ruins in Chiang Mai.
A diminutive Chiang Mai temple.
Monks prepare a cannon-like drum for a street festival in Chiang Mai.
Hanging around in the pit area before the competition.
Hauling one of the drums to the assembly area.
The drumming battle begins.
From Chiang Mai, we headed into the hill country, following the Maewang River.
Our elephantine transports weren't alarmed by the narrow paths and steep drop-offs, but we were!
Crossing the Maewang River.
Our elephants stopped to refresh themselves, and mischievously sprayed us with river water.
On foot, we headed higher into the hills, stopping to cool off in this swimming hole.
Our destination, a Karen village, whose inhabitants live in raised houses. Their chickens, pigs, and dogs occupy the spaces under the houses.
A villager drying leaves.
Villagers visiting one of the local shops.
The yard of a prosperous villager boasts several buffalo.
Back in civilization, we attended a trained elephant show. I don't normally like animal acts, but these elephants were clearly well cared-for, and seemed to be having a good time.
An elephant tips his trainer's hat.
Tourists give the elephants treats.
I get a little pick-me-up.
"Thank You, and Have a Nice Day."
A caged raptor gauges my potential as a prey species.
A cobra handler.
The long climb to the Doi Suthep temple complex, located on a mountain outside Chiang Mai.
One of the temples at Doi Suthep.
Doi Suthep.
Doi Suthep.
Our next stop was the island of Koh Samet, on the Gulf of Thailand. The ferry at the left got us close to shore, then we hopped onto a barge for the trip to the beach. The "dock" was there for show, only.
The view from the beach at Koh Samet.
The beach.
My bungalow, which came complete with a single fluorescent bulb and lots of friendly little green geckos. Very laid back.
Many Thai front yards sport little temples, where their owners routinely make small offerings to the Buddha.
Leaving Koh Samet.
Everyone safely on board the ferry.
Back in Bangkok, we stopped to see this solid gold Buddha at Wat Traimit. Weighing in at over five tons, it's priceless.
A Buddhist slot machine. You drop in a coin, the lights whirl around and stop on a number. You pull a paper fortune out of the corresponding numbered cubbyhole below, and learn your fate.
Fair warning.
The Wat Po complex in central Bangkok contains a massive collection of temples and statuary.
Wat Po.
Wat Po.
Wat Po.
Wat Po.
On the other side of the Chao Praya River from Bangkok are the Thonburi klongs, or canals. Working on the power lines must be a thrill.
The wealthier Thonburi residents have private docks that double as front porches, for watching the passing scene.
A typical Thonburi residence, with a freight barge moored in front.
The shopping mall.
Thonburi children, beefing up their immune systems.
One of the Thai royal barges.
One of the Thai royal barges.
One of the Thai royal barges.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok.
A chedi and a temple on the grounds of the Grand Palace.
A temple on the grounds of the Grand Palace.
Temple detail. These places sparkle in the sunlight.
The Thai version of gargoyles.
Another temple on the grounds of the Grand Palace.
Guardians of the Grand Palace.
A final Grand Palace temple.