Art, Creativity, Photography, Travel, Writing

Posts tagged ‘Chiang Mai’

Travel theme: gleaming

Most of the countries we’ve visited in Asia go in for gilded decoration in a big way:
gleaming gold in Myanmar

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the Shwezigon pagoda in Bagan, Myanmar

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gold and white gleam in the golden temple in Amritsar, India

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and white gleams at the white temple at Chiang Mai, Thailand

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Thanks to Ailsa for this ‘gleaming’ challenge

Travel theme: decoration

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I found these in a shopping mall near Tarsus in Turkey

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the Royal Pavilion at Chiang Mai

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Venetian masks on sale at the Christmas market in Strasbourg

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Christmas decorations in Strasbourg

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Deruta, city of ceramics, Italy

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wall art in London’s Portobello Road

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graffiti – decoration or desecration? this is a climbing wall in Hamburg

Ailsa’s travel theme

one word photo challenge: rainbow

Richard Of York Gained Battle In Vain – so went the phrase I used to remember the colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

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Chiang Mai’s Royal Flora festival

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one of panels in the large stained glass window in the Gellert Hotel, Budapest

Jennifer Nichols’ weekly challenge

One word photo challenge: glow-in-the-dark

Celebrating what glows in the dark

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photos taken at Chiang Mai’s Royal Flora festival in 2012.

Did you find any photos of things that glow in the dark? Halloween as a source of images immediately springs to mind or maybe the day of the dead or maybe just a simple candle on a table at a romantic dinner.

Travel theme: height

I still can’t get over the fact that I climbed up this

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and this

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to get to the top

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of this

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‘this’ being the Lion Rock of Sigirya near Dambulla, Sri Lanka and home to the wonderful painted frescoes of the ‘cloud maidens’

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the interior of Wells cathedral, UK

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Kuala Lumpur, city of lights, viewed from the top of the Petronas tower

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Petronas towers, Kuala Lumpur

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KL skyline

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Sentosa Island cable car, Singapore

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giant bamboo in the Bhuping Palace gardens, Chiang Mai, northern Thailand

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the golden stupa at Doi-Suthep, Chiang Mai

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banners in Wat-Phan-Tao, Chiang Mai

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inside Wat-Phra-Singh, Chiang Mai

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the white temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

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the white temple

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hot air balloon over the Moselle valley, Luxembourg

the annual Schouberfouer in Luxembourg is enough to strike fear into the hearts of many as they ride to great heights on the various ‘attractions’
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photos taken on a flight over mainland Europe to Turkey

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Are you afraid of heights? panic at the prospect of climbing a staircase to the top of a building, stand on the edge of a cliff and look down?

Take a flight to visit Ailsa in search of other ‘heights’

a walk round Chiang Mai

Late one afternoon, when it was much cooler, we set off on foot to visit a number of wats that I wanted to photograph. We started at Wat Chedi Luang. Although the front of the grounds houses new, ornately decorated temple buildings, Wat Chiedi Man is home to the ruins of a 600-year-old temple that was once home to the Emerald Buddha that now resides in the Grand Palace grounds. The brick and stone structure, surrounded by carved elephants, has not been fully restored but was once the tallest building in Chiang Mai.

 

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Buddha head covered in gold leaf

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ornate doorway

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the pyramid

Wat Pan Tao, next door to Wat Chedi Luang, is one of the few temples constructed in wood and still in good condition.

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Khmer-style gateway at the entrance of Wat Pan Tao

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some of the offerings

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banners with Chinese zodiac images on them

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mosaic staircase

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alms bowls

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we really didn’t expect to find a garden like this in Thailand!

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all the street signs were like this

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I can never resist photographing graffiti whenever I find any

We then  walked north to Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple in Chiang Mai, home to a tiny crystal buddha thought to have the power to bring rain. It was built in 1292 and is a exceptional example of Lanna-style architecture.

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detail of gold stencil work inside Wat Chiang Man

From there we walked south west towards Wat Phra Singh (Phra Singh means lion Buddha) passing this small temple which was almost in the middle of the street.

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a mural painted on the side of an apartment block

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Wat Phra Singh

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This is a typical scripture repository. These repositories were designed to keep and protect the delicate sa or mullberry paper sheets used by monks and scribes to keep records and write down folklore. The high stucco-covered stone base of the repository protected the delicate scriptures from the rain, floods and pests.

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Wat Phra Singh interior

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The lovely Lai Kam chapel houses the revered Phra Singh Buddha image. Sadly, the head was stolen in 1922, and a reproduction is now seen. 

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a naga head near the chapel sports jaunty pink ribbon floral offerings

Gathered at the front of the buildings were several ladies offering you the opportunity to make merit for yourself by releasing birds from the confines of small baskets. I have never fully understood the logic behind this practice. I can see how you could earn merit for yourself by releasing the birds but what about the people who captured them in the first place. In some temples, we were glad to see, this practice is now actively discouraged.

We then took a tuk tuk to wat Suan Dok,  supposedly a good venue for taking photos at sunset.
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The rows of smaller white chedis contain the ashes of Chiang Mai Royal family. We got there just in time to see the sun set but it wasn’t particularly spectacular. The main wat building was being renovated and was surrounded by scaffolding and safety netting making it impossible to photograph the exterior.

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I went inside to look around;  the columns have been covered with new red and blue and gold mosaic pieces and it was really vibrantly coloured.

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the last of the setting sun catches the top of a gateway at Wat Suan Dok

In the evening we fortified ourselves at the mobile bar – a songthaew which had been converted to a small bar which set up most evenings just across the road from our guest house.

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It proved to be a place to chat to some really interesting people, for example, a Canadian urban bee-keeper. Small stools were set up around the bar and everyone was happy to chat to everyone else. The bar closed at 11pm so nobody’s sleep was disturbed. We thought it was a really neat idea and it was very popular.

a day of photography

While in Chiang Mai I joined Alan, a professional photographer, for a day of photography out and about in Chiang Mai. I wanted to get away from using the automatic settings on my new dslr camera, learn a bit more about the camera and, hopefully, to get some interesting shots. I got up early and made my way to Wat Phra Singh. As the aim wasn’t to take any typically tourist photos I managed to sneak a few before he arrived.

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paper cutwork decorations over an archway

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decorations

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before the crowds arrive

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mosaic naga head

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stencilled door

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interior

We took lots of photos of the banners and the woven lantern decorations, from low on the ground looking upwards and turning the camera at different angles. Because I took so many photos that day I have made many of them into collages.

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We then took a red songthaew to Wat Goo Come, or Wat Chedi Liem which had a beautiful viharn (the sermon hall and usually the busiest part of a wat). This was on the outskirts of town and therefore off the tourist track. You can visit the complex by horse drawn cart and there were a number of stalls selling food and drink.

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staircase up to the viharn

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roof gables

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Inside the viharn these lanterns were perfect for trying shots from below.

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Approach a group of figures from different angles and then go really close to photograph the small ones in the front.

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An attempt to incorporate a modern day clock into a more traditional composition.

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We experimented with exposure compensation settings in combination with the ISO settings on these photos of the silhouette of a gable on the ground.

After refreshing ourselves with a fresh coconut our driver took us to the nearby Chiang Mai Gate market.

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Inside the picture frame shop I had to try and take a photo of the Admiral with the wall of portraits in the background.

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Inside the market we watched the stall holder make Thai coffee by straining it through something that looked like a sock – a great photo opportunity.  I tried traditional vertical shots and some taken on the diagonal from close to the ground. The bizarre-looking contraption to the right of the lady’s head (plastic bags and a glass bottle) is a makeshift fan to be used in hot weather.

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The next challenge was to use the props in the form of the small flowers in pots against a textured/coloured background.

After a delicious vegetarian buffet lunch we were driven out of town to the ancient Wat Umong situated in the forest.

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There were a number of plaques on the trees with sayings on them and I had to try and get the plaque in focus but not the path – not easy.

We didn’t visit the wat itself but confined our attentions to taking some photos of the dismembered Budhha statues amongst the trees.
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abandoned figurines

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Look at the difference between these two photos. The top one was shot at ISO 1000 and the bottom one at ISO 800 and -2 on exposure compensation.

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detail shot of the hand

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playing with taking photos of shoes and feet

We then drove back into town for a much-needed cup of tea in a colonial style tea room.

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strange fruit in a vase in the lobby

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In the garden of the tea room (Raffles-like but without the price tag) there were squirrels chasing each other up and down the tree trunks. Examples of the beautiful pale green celadon ware were hung on the walls in the garden.

We then walked down to the night market to meet Lily, who works in a cabaret bar and who obligingly posed for some portrait photos together with one of the other artistes. I have never tried taking portrait shots before so this was a real challenge.

 

Apart from taking the shots of Lily her/himself Alan explained that it was important to give a sense of place too. At around 5pm the bar was empty but the shots give you an idea of the place. I have to say that I think she would be perfect for the part of one of the ugly sisters in the pantomime “Cinderella”.

By the end of the day my head was buzzing with ISOs, exposure compensation, and aperture priority shooting. It was a fascinating day and I have certainly learned to look at things differently and to make more use of shooting from low down, something I hadn’t tried before spending the day with Alan. I now need to sit down with the instruction manual for my camera and practise, practise, practise.

 

Chiang Mai Royal Flora by night

We returned to the Royal Flora exhibition a couple of days later, this time late afternoon so that we could see the rest of the exhibition and also to see the garden of illumination when it was illuminated at night.

 
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sculpted figures in the gardens

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inside the cacti house

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these graceful dancers greeted visitors to the main exhibition halls where there were displays of ikebana-type floral arrangements and model gardens

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I think this is a pineapple which has started to sprout

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I think this is some sort of gong and you swing the little metal bells against the “trunk” of the sculpture

This is a short video of the illuminations

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other visitors at the exhibition

Chiang Mai Royal Flora by day

Between 9 November 2011 and 15 February 2012 the town of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand hosted an exhibition called Royal Flora to commemorate three auspicious occasions: The 84th Birthday Anniversary of His Majesty the King, The 80th Birthday Anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen, The 60th Birthday Anniversary of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince in the form of The International Horticultural Exposition for His Majesty the King. The theme: Reducing global warming to save planet earth and to improve the quality of life from the concept of 3Gs (Generation, Garden, Greenitude) and 3Rs (Reuse, Reduce, Recylcle).

According to the publicity: “More than 8,000 plant and flower species will be showcased here, all displayed in various themes. There will be 30 decorative gardens of the international participants, including 23 existing international gardens from the last show, plus seven new zones from Armenia, Canada, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Yemen.

This year’s exposition will also introduce a new “Imagination Light Garden”, an illuminated garden filled with plants, floras and glow-in-the-dark butterflies. The International Gardens zone will feature national blossoms, blooms, horticulture, as well as the culture, art and architecture of the participating countries from around the world. Each garden will reflect historic, diplomatic, cultural and trade ties between nations, people or, where possible, royal families of the two countries. The Thai Tropical Garden will be a colossal 100,000-square-metre area where visitors will be able to witness first-hand an extensive variety of tropical horticulture encompassing fruits, plants, flowers and herbs.”

Here are some of (the many) photos I took:
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reverence for the royal family is everywhere

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the gourd tunnel

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the Russian stand featuring the “love fish”

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poster at the entrance of the bug world exhibit

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bottom right is a leaf insect mimicking a leaf – very difficult to see

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Belgium’s exhibit

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Turkey

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Tibet with the giant ferris wheel in the background

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view of the Royal Pavillion from the top of the ferris wheel

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the avenue leading up to the Royal Pavillion

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doorway to the Royal Pavillion

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Royal Pavillion interior

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front of the Royal Pavillion

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the imagination light garden in daylight

The area covered by the exhibition was so large that we decided to return a few days later, in the late afternoon so that we could see the illuminated areas at night (see separate post).

Chiang Mai part 1

From Udon Thani we flew to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. We had not visited for some 12 years so we were expecting to see a few changes. The town has grown enormously and extends way beyond the “old city” walls. For the first part of our stay we were based in a hotel outside the old city, and an easy walk to the night bazaar where we ate most evenings.

We went to visit Bhuping Palace and gardens which is the winter residence of the Thai royal family. Although you can’t visit the buildings you can wander round the gardens. We shared a golf-type trolley with some other visitors as the grounds are very extensive and include a magnificent collection of roses.

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2 statues in the garden, the half bird-half woman is a mythological creature called a kinnaree

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rather than cut the tree down entirely the trunk has been left and has been elaborately carved

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this rose is called black tea and it really was the colour of black tea, this photo doesn’t really do the colour justice

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this rose is called cocktail and was a very pretty pink-flowered climbing rose

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giant bamboo – you can see how tall they are in comparison with the lamp post.

From here we proceeded on to Wat Doi Suthep, probably the best known temple in the area.

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the little bronze bells hang under all the eaves and tinkle in the breeze. The penants depict signs of the Chinese zodiac

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gold stencil work on a red background

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a really kitsch garden complete with the thai equivalent of garden gnomes

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fruit and flowers of the jackfruit tree

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temple guardian

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coloured glass mosaic lion dog at the top of the naga staircase leading up to the temple

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the naga (serpent) staircase

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lotus blossom for sale at the entrance to the temple. The outer petals have been folded back on themselves so that they look as if they are origami flowers

We then visited the zoo where the highlights of the visit were the elephant and baby, the white tigers and a peacock which decided to display just as we went past as well as a giant panda and a couple of koala bears

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