On my last day, I went to the Jim Thompson House before heading to the airport after lunch.
Jim Thompson was an American businessman who had a successful silk business empire. He disappeared in 1967 on a trip to Malaysia.
I shot the next photos on the way to the Jim Thompson House Museum. The big building with the sculpture is the Arts and Culture Center.
This was my lunch at the MBK Food Island food court in the MBK Shopping Center in Bangkok before I headed to the airport. Walking to the airport link metro station near me, I encountered an actual train that runs on the railroad on the ground. That was NOT the train I took to the airport. The one I took is the same one I took on the first day, using Bangkok’s light rail system.
I took the metro to the Saphan Taksin BTS station that’s a staircase away from Sathorn Pier. There are ferries on that pier that go up and down the length of the Chao Phraya River. There were stalls selling black clothing for mourning the late king of Thailand, Bhumidol Adulyadej. He had just passed away a week before I flew there.
Crossing the footbridge from the Sathorn Taksin BTS metro exit to the pier, I saw this chicken walking around.
I took a ferry to Tha Chang (N9) pier to head to Bangkok’s Old City and the Grand Palace area.
6 second video clip of the ferry
I walked around there but was not able to get into the Grand Palace since the funeral for Thailand’s late king was going on.
Mourners in black were queued up outside waiting their turn to go in to pay their last respects.
I had lunch at a dining/ entertainment complex called Tha Maharaj.
There were also meals being given out. I was given a plate, pretty good. A second lunch.
And also water stations every few meters. It came in handy since it was a very hot walk.
Here are a few other photos of the Old City:
Lots of vendors were selling photos of the late king as souvenirs.
I took the much cheaper cross-ferry pier from the Tha Tien (N8) pier across the river to Wat Arun- the Temple of Dawn. (The ferry earlier plies the river lengthwise. This one goes “across”.)
The temple was under construction, but it still looked good. I also got to take some great graffiti shots right outside it.
Unfortunately, when I was ready to head back to the old city side of the river, the ferry had ceased operations for the day. Because Thailand’s prince was going to that temple for some funeral rites for the late king.
So I had to take a taxi which took the long way round to get back to the part of town where I came from.
Before I found a taxi, I walked around a couple of streets surrounding Wat Arun:
I even found these two great pieces of graffiti outside the temple.
I had the taxi take me to Khao San Road. I took some photos, got some graffiti shots, got shooed away by a seller of fake IDs.
Black May, or Bloody May is a common name for the 17–20 May 1992 popular protest in Bangkok against the government of General Suchinda Kraprayoon and the military crackdown that followed. Up to 200,000 people demonstrated in central Bangkok at the height of the protests. The military crackdown resulted in 52 officially confirmed deaths, many disappearances, hundreds of injuries, and over 3,500 arrests. Many of those arrested are alleged to have been tortured.
One was a standalone piece on the side of a building’s upper floor, and one was on a corrugated tin fencing a building.
Here’s the Rama VIII suspension bridge the spans the Chao Phraya:
After my Khao San Road jaunt, I took a taxi back to Ratchathewi, where I was staying. Those taxi rides let me experience the infamous Bangkok traffic, which I had previously avoided previously on this trip because I took the metro and boats.
While looking for a cab, I saw these cool double decker buses parked under a bridge. They’re for ferrying around the late king’s mourners.
I had dinner at La Monita Taco Truck in the food court of the Siam Paragon mall. It was all right. I walked around a bit more and took some night shots of the area surrounding that mall.
Here’s a photo of the old Scala Theater, which opened in 1969. According to Wikipedia, it’s the Scala is “the last remaining operational standalone single-screen cinema in the country”.
Early in the morning, I biked around again and took some photos of the Royal Palace Museum since it was too hot when I first went there on the first day for me to set up a good picture. The photo with the white fence is one of the entrances to climb up Mount Phousi (which I did not do).
I biked to the UXO Lao Visitors Centre after. It’s a small museum and office devoted to unexploded ordnance in Laos. There’s a lot of unexploded ordnance left over from the Vietnam War.
I got there a few minutes before the mini museum opened, so I biked outside and grabbed a sausage from a roadside grill before heading back.
Here are a few last shots of Luang Prabang I took biking around this day before and after the UXO Centre.
Here’s some I snapped from the van on the way to the airport.
I flew out of Luang Prabang in the afternoon. Did not opt to take the long bus ride to Chiang Rai to return to Thailand anymore. Luang Prabang’s airport was small, so the airplanes were very close to the windows. I was able to take a lot of clear photos of aircraft.
Since I took Air Asia, a budget airline, the plane landed at Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok instead of the swankier Suvarnabhumi Airport. It took so long to get a car from this airport and the traffic was bad. There’s no subway like the airport I landed in on my first day. So I just got a pizza takeout from Gallery Pizza for dinner. It’s an art gallery that also makes and delivers fine pizza.
I started the day with a great breakfast at Lotus Villa. I had this every morning of my stay there. It’s kind of like pho noodles but with a great tomato based clear broth. I would have two bowls and multiple spring rolls.
I spent most of this day hanging out at various food stalls along the Mekong River, since I spent the previous day mostly along the Nam Khan. I ate a lot from different stalls since I walked a long stretch and it was so hot. I had more of their delicious noodle soups. The noodles are like pho, so they’re thin and not too filling. Great spring rolls too.
I bought two neat paintings by a local artist. I framed them when I got home, you can see them below. I also got the shorts I’m wearing in the first photo at the Luang Prabang night market.
Here are more photos I shot biking around town.
Biked back to the side of the Mekong River to catch the sunset but my photos aren’t that great.
I woke up right before sunrise to catch the early morning alms-giving ceremony. It was so early, it was still dark out as you can see in the photos below. These were taken on the same street as Lotus Villa.
These next ones were from the street around the corner. I then followed them down the road.
I went back to the hotel for breakfast after my early morning jog following the alms giving ceremony.
In the late morning, I borrowed the Lotus Villa hotel’s free bike and crossed the bridge to the other side of town across the Nam Khan River.
It was a hot and tiring bike ride so I didn’t take that many photos on the other side. Then I went back to the original side I came from and took photos of the Nam Khan River from there after lunch.
I put my SJ Cam SJ4000 action camera on a small tabletop tripod in the bike basket to shoot while I bike, but the mini tripod kept toppling over. It was a failure. Most of the footage was unusable. I stitched together a 13 second clip of acceptable footage to show what the neighborhood the other side of the bridge looks like.
I had lunch at a nice place called BBQ By The Bridge, which is a wooden structure serving Laotian specialties right by the wooden bridgemisge (for bikes & pedestrians only- no cars) that takes you over the Nam Khan River. Photo of the place and food is in this album. Google Translate came in handy when I wanted to ask the proprietor what their specials were. I’m glad I got a Lao (Unitel) prepaid sim card with 3G data.
I arrived in Luang Prabang around 5:30 AM in the morning via the bus I boarded in Chiang Rai 16 hours before.
I left my bags at the Lotus Villa, but couldn’t check in my room yet as it was too early. This is what the room looks like when I eventually got to check in later in the day.
I walked around town and took some photos. Please click the < and > on the left and right edges of the photos to advance to the next picture in the slideshow.
Had lunch at La Rosa, a nice Italian place with great pizza.
I bought a Unitel sim card from the Lotus Villa hotel. They sold it with cheaper prepaid data plans than the bank. The bank in town also doubles as a dealer for Beeline (the other Laotian telco) sim cards and prepaid data plans. Some of the local stores also carry sims but it was hard to communicate so I just went with the hotel.
The Unitel sim card had lines marked out for nano and micro sims, but no perforated cutout. The hotel staff had to cut it manually using scissors.
Unitel’s mobile data coverage was pretty good for a developing country, even when I biked around random places in Luang Prabang, I would still get 3 bars of signal. I did not encounter losing signal or even having 3G drop to E while outdoors. Although, it would drop to E sometimes indoors in my hotel room.
The data speeds weren’t the fastest. I only ever got 3G signal, not 4G/ LTE, but I don’t recall it being any slower than what I was used to in the Philippines, even when my signal indicator back home said 4G.
It was slower than the 4G/ LTE data speeds I experienced for a couple of days with TrueMove in Bangkok, but Thailand probably has a more advanced 4G infrastructure.
More photos from when I went to walk around in the afternoon:
Had crepes and a sandwich for dinner at the night market.
After exiting immigration, my first order of business was to get a sim card – for Google Maps. I taped it up so it wouldn’t get lost when I went to Laos mid-week, because I wanted to go on using it for my last two days in Thailand. Thai mobile internet speed and coverage is pretty good the grand total of 3 days I was in Bangkok. The airport sim card kiosk sellers were excellent, they could speak both Mandarin and English. I got a prepaid data package for 10 days since I was returning to Bangkok after going to Luang Prabang on the evening of the seventh day after my arrival and staying for one and a half more days.
Thailand TrueMove sim card
There’s a metro station in the same building as Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport that made it a cinch to get into the city after I landed, avoiding Bangkok’s infamous traffic jams.
I had dinner at a Thai place in a small strip mall like dining complex called Cocowalk Plaza in Ratchathewi:
This is my Google Maps timeline for the day I flew to HK from Manila. It was 1,149 km (according to Google Maps. See lefthand column. Click on photo to enlarge.)
This is my 4 minute video journal for my trip to Hong Kong last October 8 to 10, 2016:
(choose 720p HD quality on the lower right hand corner for a higher quality video.)
One of the first things I did upon getting there was buying a sim card so I had data on my phone- essential for using maps to get around. I didn’t buy a prepaid sim card from the airport. I got it from one of the Filipino stores in World-Wide Plaza in central (Hong Kong has a lot of Filipino migrant laborers).
It was real cheap because it didn’t have unlimited data. I think it had only 2 GB, but it’s more than sufficient for me for three days. The airport sim cards all offer unlimited data packages, but HK$88 felt like overkill for me since I was there for only three days. This cost me only HK$38.
Past Central, near the mid- Levels, there’s this really cool narrow alley with neat graffiti. I saw a small post with graffiti on it, took some photos, then noticed that there’s an even longer wall up the stairs it with more. I passed it on my walking up to the PMQ (00:17 time stamp in the video journal above).
stairs to the right
It’s on the left side of this photo. In this photo, I was actually shooting this woman pushing her cart uphill, the graffiti wall just so happened to be on the edge of it. This was a really steep climb, she’s really incredible.
woman pushing cart uphill, Hong Kong, October 2016
Too long, didn’t read version -> Watch this video:
Day 1: 26 August 2016
I got to Banaue around 5:15 A.M., so I was really groggy. The hostel I stayed in sent a tricycle to fetch me, and I went to sleep upon getting to my bed 5 minutes after. I stayed at a hostel called Banaue Homestay on the main road.
(click to zoom in)
view of the rice terraces from Banaue Homestay
the hostel as seen from the road
Parts of the ride were pretty horrible. The problem was not the bumpy roads, but the fact that it was zigzagging all over the place. One of my first purchases in town upon waking up was three tablets of carsickness medicine for the ride home.
I walked around a bit and grabbed a late lunch at the Las Vegas after waking up.
one of the 2-3 streets in downtown Banaue
Las Vegas Restaurant
Las Vegas Restaurant
Las Vegas Restaurant food
Las Vegas Restaurant ceiling
(click to zoom in)
Around 2:45 PM, I hired the hostel’s tricycle to take me on a tour of the different viewing stations set up for tourists to photograph the Banaue Rice Terraces.
The first spot was at the Hiwang Village. It involved a very mild hike of around ten to fifteen minutes. (5 photos)
The next viewing stations were at the:
a.) View Point (4 photos)
b.) the National Food Authority View Deck (where the sign proclaims that the view of the rice terraces printed on the 1,000 peso bill was taken here) (4 photos)
c.) and the Main View Point. The signs are all hand-painted. (8 photos)
That night, I had dinner at a cozy little lodge downtown called Sanafe. The place had a lot of old school photos and antiques.
Sanafe Lodge food
Day 2: 27 August 2016
Saturday is the town’s market day. People from surrounding villages gathered downtown to buy and sell hard goods, livestock (mostly poultry), fresh vegetables, seafood (probably captured elsewhere as Banaue is landlocked), shaved ice desserts, grilled fast food, etc. (13 photos in slideshow below)
– 13 second video clip of market day
I stayed for a couple of hours until it started raining around 1 PM, then I hightailed it back to Banaue Homestay.
I ventured back downtown late afternoon and hung out at the Uyami Green Lodge to have late lunch and read. I also had dinner there before heading back early evening.
view from the Uyami Green View Lodge
one of the 2-3 streets in downtown Banaue
Uyami Green View Lodge food
Uyami Green View Lodge food
Downtown is made up of two to three streets below the main road from the hostel I stayed in. You can access it via a road sloping down, or a narrow stairway.
Here are four photos of downtown at night.
Day 3: 28 August 2016
I hired the hostel’s tricycle to take me to Batad. It’s a town around an hour away from the hostel that also has rice terraces. There’s a half hour hike from the last bit of paved road where we had to park the tricycle to the ticket booth. Then another half an hour from the ticket booth to various spots where you can sit and catch your breath on rickety benches. You can opt to hike another hour or so more to reach a famous waterfall, but I abandoned that plan an hour after hiking downhill.
(8 photos in slideshow below)
The first ten minutes were on super rocky and muddy ground with a lot of gaps in between. I kept worrying I would fall down and never be heard from again. I don’t know how the locals seem to be able to hike it with just flip flops. It was quite slippery due to the rain.
I would pause every so often to catch my breath. Luckily, after the scary first ten minutes, there were paved stair steps to walk on.
You can opt to keep going down into the actual rice paddies and houses below, and then cross to the other side to the waterfalls I mentioned above.
There is no way to reach this part of town via any motorized vehicle, just on foot. Not even a bicycle.
After Batad, the tricycle took me back to my hostel where I rested. Left Banaue around 6 PM and got back home before 3 AM.
I met Flip One after he commented on a couple of my graffiti posts online. He invited me to watch him paint a wall in Taytay, Rizal. He wanted to do an homage to Wild Style, but written in baybayin, the precolonial Filipino alphabet.
This is the video of the day we met and shot Wild Style in Rizal. 8 minutes 42 seconds:
I met Flip One after he commented on a couple of my graffiti posts online. He invited me to watch him do a wall in Rizal, but before we headed there, he took me to Buenviaje Street, Marikina, where there was a really long wall covered with great graffiti. I would never have seen this if he hadn’t brought me there, because I am very rarely in Marikina.
video length: 1 minute 19 seconds | YouTube link | Vimeo link
I first shot the graffiti on the walls surrounding this basketball court one night last year, in September 2015.
When I passed by again in May, I saw that some of the pieces have been changed, so I made it a point to go back and shoot it. Also, it looks more vibrant when photographed at daytime and my 2015 photograph of it was made at night. During the day, it looks like this:
Barangka Drive graffiti panorama, Mandaluyong City, Philippines
This section on the upper right of the wall impressed me a lot.
Please CLICK the thumbnails to view close up photos of the individual pieces:
Watch a two minute video of me shooting the two parking lots:
They were both in parking lots along Quezon Avenue. As I mentioned in the video, the first piece was difficult to climb and access due to the rocky obstacles in front of it. So I don’t have close up shots of the individual pieces.
Quezon Avenue parking lot graffiti, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
These were outside:
This are some wide angle shots of the graffiti in the second parking lot:
Click the thumbnails below to view details of each piece:
No dispatch is complete without an addition to my collection of Philippine graffiti:
That one was shot in Quezon City, on the corner of Roces and Tuason Streets.
Zoomed out view:
This one was shot along Hemady Street in New Manila.
This one of a flying horse was shot in San Juan. The 3D perspective is really good.
Animals hanging out on the street:
You wouldn’t want to mess with this one in a cockfight:
I spotted a bunch of monkeys randomly hanging out by the side of the highway outside Subic in January. I fired off some shots, but none were any good as I was too far and could not reverse. I went back to Subic this April and was able to get a few good shots.
As it’s easier to create manipulated images with software and post them online, more and more people who aren’t used to internet staples like memes and satire websites encounter such images for the first time and take them as gospel truth, get enraged, or scared, and reproduce their misinterpretation elsewhere.
I like how this article explains that manipulated/ processed/ staged images aren’t necessarily “fake”, but subject to different meanings depending on the context of the shoot, and anyway, aren’t all photos “staged” somehow when you choose what to exclude out of the frame?