I’VE SPENT LESS TIME in these parts of Thailand than elsewhere. Never really a beach person, and I try to bypass Bangkok as much as possible these days. There is plenty to see in Krung Thep, as Bangkok is known in Thai, but the traffic can make it too much bother. There are several parks and towns in the south I’d like to visit, but that’d mean dealing with Bangkok!
Bangkok is famous for a few things, one of them being its street food.
Another thing Bangkok is famous for is its temples. They are active places of worship, and must be treated with respect by visitors.
Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), one of the most famous in Bangkok, houses a 45 metre long reclining Buddha.
A Buddhist soldier or guard protects Wat Arun, Bangkok.
In many parts of Bangkok, footpaths are so full of vendors, walking is a challenge. Most people accept this as part of life in a vibrant city, although Bangkok City has begun to tightened up on vendors.
I'm not sure if she is making this bed to sell, or if that is where she is sleeping tonight. Or maybe it's just for resting on while she mans her stall?
A row of long tail boats, Bangkok. The rivers and canals are a better way to see the city than road.
Approaching a ferry stop on the Chao Pray express. River taxis and ferries are still vital for Bangkok commuters. Closing of many of the famous klang (canals) has contributed to flooding.
Not long ago I took a ferry down the Chao Praya, past Wat Arun for the first time in maybe 25 years or more. It is still magical.
Gold doors picture guardians in the wai (greeting) pose, possibly Wat Pho.
Thais are overwhelmingly Buddhists, although Islam dominates parts of the south, and Christianity is common around the northern border regions.
The prang (spire) dates from the late 1800s, although a temple has been here since the mid 1600s at least.
Narathiwat is a seldom visited, sleepy fishing town in the south of Thailand.
Thousands of travellers pass through it on the bus or train between Malaysian and Surat Thani, feeder port for the famous Thai islands, Samui and Phangan.
Narathiwat is in the "deep south", the restive, Muslim dominated part of Thailand with historical and cultural links to Malaysia.
A food stall in one of Narathiwat's markets.
Entrance to our Narathiwat hotel. When we exited one morning, there were soldiers all the way down the street. Separatists have been fighting Bangkok rule since who-knows-when.
Most foreign offices advise against all travel to Yala and Narathiwat, even though foreigners have never been targeted by separatists. We found a friendly, little backwater, where the coming and going of fishing boats was about all that was happening.
The riches of the tourist trade have bypassed Narathiwat.
1992, Koh Phangan. Tom Ka Gai being prepared in the kitchen of my beachside guesthouse.
There are some truly lovely secluded spots on Koh Phangan. Had Rin is not one of them.
Koh Phangan backpackers, 1992, enjoying a day trip around some bays.
Simple huts on the beach. Have they survived the last 3 decades, or been replaced by concrete and aircon?