Who’d Want to Visit Noisy Bangkok?

My friend had some shocking advice about Thailand: “Spend as little time as you can in Bangkok,” he said. “It is just another dirty big city with nothing to offer but noise, pollution, and endless crowds.”

I knew I wouldn’t take his advice because my research had told me otherwise. Bangkok is loaded with fascinating temples, palaces, historical locations and exotic things to see.

The capital of Thailand has been around since the early 15th century. This city of 8 million people demonstrates the results of rapid growth with little urban planning and a lack of adequate infrastructure. The city is built on the banks of the Chao Phraya River which meanders through the city. It has always been a major source of commerce and transportation so consequently many of the more exotic old temples and important historical points are located within walking distance of the river.

Today, the river is a great way to get around the city. An efficient system of water taxis transport people from one end to the other and everywhere in between in comfortable water craft.

As a travel photographer, Bangkok provides me a wealth of very exotic and unusual material depicting the history and culture of a distant land. I’ll submit many of my images to several stock photography websites that have accepted my photography in the past. People use these sites to find images for advertising, magazine or Web articles, books and presentations. As they buy my images, I get a small commission. It helps defray part of my travel costs.

On this trip I’m planning to focus on photographing the fascinating canals of Bangkok. Few major cities in the world provide you with such a unique way to view, and photograph, everyday life close up.

I am glad I decided not to take the advice of my friend who encouraged me to bypass this incredibly interesting location, and I have the pictures to prove it:

Homes and businesses are built out over the edges of the waterways. People go about their daily activities in a carefree way completely unaware of the clicking camera in my hands. Unfortunately the canals are a disappearing wonder of this amazing city.

Bangkok became known as the Venice of the East during much of the 19th century. Today, many of these historical waterways have been filled to make way for new roads but thousands of people still commute on the canal network and the Chao Phraya River every day.

The Long Tail boat is the standard mode of travel here. These amazing unique hand-built creations feature the largest, noisiest automotive engine available as a power plant to drive a propeller on the end of a 10-foot-long drive shaft. The engine is precariously balanced on a fulcrum at the back of the boat that allows the operator to move it vertically and up to 180 degrees from side to side, to direct the roaring rocket along its watery way.

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