Arrival in Thailand
I arrived in Thailand in May 2010. Red Shirts had occupied a small area in Bangkok and - depending on your point of view - there was either a violent demonstration or a siege taking place in the political and cultural heart of Thailand.
I instinctively realised this was not going to escalate, but headed out of Bangkok - a full safety measure. I flew to Surat Thani on the east coast - destination Koh Samui. From Surat Thani I took the ferry, wanting to see the island as it appeared over the horizon.
About this Site
These photos document my travels in Thailand, using the iPhone App Hipstamatic, which glorifies your photos by adding a filter to the image as you shoot.
They're grouped into thematic sets of 4 or 9 (and sometimes 16, 25 or 36). This restriction forces me to discard all but the better photos. The numbers allow for a squared-up formatting of the page; but more than this it has taught me to take less photos - which makes sense considering the restrictions of the app itself.
Leaving Koh Samui
I left Koh Samui because, after a while, it gets boring to stay in one place; it was time for a change of scenery. I needed a new tourist VISA and headed for Penang, Malaysia to get one.
I really liked Lamai Beach, Koh Samui, and it's a place I would recommend anyone to visit to get a flavour of the people and country before heading to other places. I still think about the island with fondness.
Ao Yang, Krabi
In Penang, Malaysia, I was told that I could not apply for any more VISAs for a while. Since I could only have three more months on a tourist stamp I decided go somewhere nearby. I picked Ao Nang, Krabi for the same reasons I had chosen Koh Samui. I knew it would have good infrastructure and that I could settle in quickly.
Amazingly it took me less than 3 days to find a lovely bungalow and to rent a bike on a monthly basis.
I thought this would be my final 3 months in Thailand...
I met Ying playing pool in a bar in April 2011, and not long after she quit her job. She stayed for a few days, before going home to visit family. After a few weeks she came back and stayed with me permanently and we've been together since. It was, of course, at this point that I decided to stay in Thailand - but without a full tourist VISA this meant bi-weekly trips to the Malaysian border.
The iPhone 4
We went to Centara Resort, climbing over the cliffs on a rickety path. At the beach we both needed a swim to cool down, but after 3 minutes Ying got stung by a jelly fish, and so we started to walk back. Ying fainted, so we reversed, as the path was just too dangerous, and eventually the resort manager kindly put us on a boat taxi. At some point during the excitement a bottle of water opened in my water proof sack and my iPhone 3GS fried. A few days later I had a shiny new iPhone 4.
A Move To Laem Sing
In August 2010 we decided to move closer to Ying's home in northern Thailand and made for the coast, east of Bangkok. After an unsuccessful exploration of the Trat region, we found Laem Sing and quickly located a bungalow in the perfect location 50m from the beach. This was to be our home for 8 happy months.
Kut Chap Udon Thani
Ying decided to visit home again, and I decided to go with her. We flew from Bangkok - Ying's first. After 7 days I returned to Laem Sing on my own.
The following photos cover the period in Kut Chap and my time alone in Laem Sing.
Back to Kut Chap
A lot happened in Dec 2011. I returned to Kut Chap and stayed for about 4 weeks. I was able to get a 6 month tourist VISA in Laos, having renewed my passport. I was able to get a much better picture of the place, and it was good to spend some time Mai, Ying's daughter.
After 4 weeks we returned to Laem Sing, this time taking Mai with us. This began another interesting phase in our relationship.
At the end of April 2012, Ying and I left Laem Sing. We decided to spend a period of time living in Kut Chap in her mother's home. Mai was due to start school and it made sense. Including the visit earlier in the year, I had spent quite a while in Kut Chap and enjoyed exploring this rural community; particularly following the various stages of rice farming.
The Nikon D40
My iPhone 4 was stolen in a hotel in Laos at the end of October on a VISA run. I attempted to replace it with a 4S (even though the 5 is available in Thailand it is much more expensive and since the camera resolution is no different I was quite happy not to spend the extra). However the phone I was sold turned out to be a shoddy rebuild and I had to return it at a loss (no consumer rights in Thailand).
As a result I have settled instead for an iPhone 3GS - but I don't think I will be using that camera again. Instead I have cleaned up my Nikon D40 and will start using this instead.