Images from Protest Camps, Bangkok, Thailand, May 2014


Early protests in November 2013 at the Democracy Monument, Radjadamnoen Road, Phan Fa site, Bangkok.

I was woken abruptly at 2.43am, Thursday 14th May to the sound of terror. The booming echo was unmistakable.

An M-49 grenade exploded in the street parallel to my flat. This was followed by the cracking of gunfire – whether return fire from the few soldiers stationed there or a continued attack on sleeping protestors I didn’t know. I attempted to work it out as I lay.

The fractious foray died away into the night. I remained awake until morning. Three people were dead, killed while they slept, with over 22 injured.

On the morning of Tuesday May 20th I woke, almost as abruptly, to the tense news that martial law had been imposed across Thailand. I wasn’t looking forward to the zone around my flat being surrounded by soldiers and possible vigilantes.

However, as you can see from these photos, some taken on the day the law came into force, people remained calm and I witnessed an easy-going camp here in Phan Fa, my locality.

Thai protest can be eye-opening to visitors. For the King’s Birthday celebration last December, the loudspeakers simply stopped, the roadway cleaned and huge floral tributes to the King were placed along the avenue. A heart-warming reminder of the way we love to see Thailand.

The country is certainly providing much blog material. Since November 2013 I’ve been photographing the camp life and include a number of those images here. Far be it from me to comment reliably on the politics. Photographs tell my story. 

All smiles. Mother and daughter at the Radjadamnoen road protest camp, Bangkok.

All smiles. Mother and daughter at the Radjadamnoen Road protest camp, Phan Fa, Bangkok. Parents are not encouraged to bring their children to the sites, although some may have no choice as they travel far to attend.

Turn right outside my apartment block and the once busy dual carriageway that is Radjadamnoen Road (see link at end), built as a beacon of Kingly worship in this historic area, replete with stunning floral tributes is now a shanty town of taut, blue, stripy tarpaulin, pink mosquito net domes, gruff faces and sandbag mountains, site of the seven-month long standoff between the PRDC (People’s Democratic Reform Committee – colour: yellow) and the Pheu Thai Party (colour: Red – ‘Red Shirts’), the current democratically elected government now under the ‘stewardship’ of a caretaker Prime Minister.

On May 7, 2014, the Constitutional Court dismissed Yingluck Shinawatra from office as a consequence of the unconstitutional transfer of a top security officer.

I think most feared the worst after this development- now we have a military coup. However, as I wandered the site over the following days things looked positive.

A camp in November last year, Phan Fa, Bangkok.

I spend time observing and photographing the people who live here, how their lives are affected. Most seem to be utterly immersed in making their displeasure heard – the whistles, the flags, the rhetoric.

As roads are barricaded and khaki-dresesed civilian ‘guards’ supervise entry and exit points, local businesses operate as best as they can. Food outlets tend to do a roaring trade.

Early support from December 2013 at Phan Fa site, Bangkok.

Early support from December 2013 at Phan Fa site, Bangkok.

What started as a jovial, festive and peaceful political protest in Bangkok in November last year, complete with live music, happy faces and an overwhelming sense of people power has, unsurprisingly led to violence.

The majority of Bangkokians are spared the protest camps. They may get loud marches passing through the vicinity. Phan Fa, here in my neighbourhood and Lumpini Park on the south-eastern side of Bangkok hold the crowds.

Relief from the long hours camped in the oppressive heat comes by way of musicians performing on various stages on the site. Phan Fa, Bangkok.

The Democracy Monument provides an impressive and recognisable backdrop to the protest site and was also the site of the ‘Red Shirt’ Pheu Thai party protests in 2010 which I also witnessed.

The mask of protest, Heading off on a 'tour' of Bangkok. Phan Fa site, Bangkok.

The mask of protest, Heading off on a ‘tour’ of Bangkok. Phan Fa site, Bangkok.

One hot, tense morning the clashes between police and protestors erupted.

Scene of the first outbreak of violence along Radjadamnoen Road, Bangkok.

Detail: Scene of the first outbreak of violence along Radjadamnoen Road, Phan Fa site, Bangkok.

Scene of the first outbreak of violence along Radjadamnoen Road, Phan Fa site, Bangkok.

Scene of the first outbreak of violence along Radjadamnoen Road, Phan Fa site, Bangkok. Democracy Monument in the background. Site of the 2010 ‘Red Shirt’ protests.

As the daily temperatures reach the high 30s, long days of listening and waiting for updates is tedious, but the organisation of these camps is remarkable. First aid, massage, pharmacy and grocery supplies provide relief to hardened protestors.

Following the death of a child earlier in the year at the Ratchaprasong camp, keeping children near the sites is not encouraged. See caption, first pic.

All ages camp out in the midday heat, thankfully under a giant canopy.

All ages camp out in the midday heat, thankfully under a giant shady canopy.

As the stalemate drags on, the protests become a sideshow, while citizens get on with their lives.

Another protest march, this time along Sukhumvit Road, Thong Lor, Bangkok.

Another protest march, this time along Sukhumvit Road, Thong Lor, Bangkok.

I pass through the Phan Fa and Ratchaprasong sites on a daily basis, to and from work, keeping a safe distance of course.

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A recent site at Ratchaprasong Intersection earlier this year. I’ve seen this flag waver at various sites around Bangkok.

Young soldiers have been stationed at street corners in this area for a couple of months and until now thankfully, remained stationary.

Since Martial Law, soldier numbers have grown. I still wince on seeing the high-calibre machine guns carried by the soldiers. Explicit reminder of what it seems to take to enforce the peace.

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Thinking back to my camps in the stunning Blue Mountains of New South Wales in Australia, such a world away, I contemplate renewal there soon.

However, I can’t help feeling things will be OK… Even the soldiers are smiling. The Coup D’Etat is underway.

Red Shirt protestors at the same site at the Democracy Monument, Phan Fa intersection, Bangkok in 2010.

Related blog links:
1. King of the Roads – Radjadamnoen Klang, Bangkok.
https://warrenfield.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/king-of-the-roads-radjadamnoen-klang-bangkok/

 

2. I see red most days…
https://warrenfield.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/i-see-red-most-days/

3. Red Shirt anti-government protesters still at my door…
https://warrenfield.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/‘red-shirt’-anti-government-protestors-still-at-my-front-door/

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yingluck_Shinawatra

Warren’s links
1. Photo-library: Browse other images and/or purchase digital downloads for your home or business: http://warrenfield.com.au/
2. Warren Field Photography on FACEBOOK
3. National Geographic ‘Your Shot’
© Warren Field 2014
Taken on OLYMPUS Zuiko lenses.

Fields of Gold. Canola Meadow, UK


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The UK landscape in summer shimmers gold. This is an abandoned farmhouse in a canola field near a family farm in Herefordshire, UK.

Image specs:  f16 1/160 second, ISO 125, Zuiko 90-250mm f2.8 Telephoto Zoom, white balance auto mode, manual exposure, manual focus, metering: centre-weighted, natural mode, curves, tripod. 

Browse other images and/or purchase digital downloads for your home or business: http://warrenfield.com.au/

See also: National Geographic ‘Your Shot: http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/2997000/

 

© Warren Field 2014
Taken on OLYMPUS Zuiko lenses.

Last Light of 2013. The Setting Sun on New Year’s Eve, north Thailand


I’m sure most of us feel a connection to the imminent passing of the year symbolised by the setting sun on New Year’s Eve – the resolve to do things better, travel to new places, live a simpler life maybe.

In Thailand, the traditional Thai New Year is known as Songkran* (which falls on April 13 or April 14 – see blog links at bottom) but across the country Thais also celebrate the arrival of the Gregorian New Year.

Below are some images of the setting sun, taken on December 31st 2013 on a recent road trip to the north of Thailand.

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Above: Detail, on the roadside near Nan township.

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Above: Mountain ridges at dusk on the road to Nan township.

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Above and below: Sunset from the bridge over the River Nan in Nan township, northern Thailand.

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Above: Goodbye 2013.

*Songkran links on this blog:
Wet Weather Warning
https://warrenfield.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/wet-weather-warning-thailand-2013/

One Shot that says it all. Songkran Festival, Thailand
https://warrenfield.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/one-shot-song-khran-festival-thailand/

See other gallery images: http://warrenfield.com.au/

© Warren Field 2014
Taken on OLYMPUS Zuiko lenses.

Alaska Bits and Pieces 2 / Glaciers, Whales, Seals and Puffins! A Picture gallery


Location 4: Aialik Glacier

Location 4: Aialik Glacier

Creaking glaciers loom out of the fog, a bald eagle surveys with predatory eyes perched high on the cliffs overlooking Resurrection Bay, timid harbours seals bake their hides on the rock and the excitable mayhem of the black-legged kittiwakes deafens as they dive a ‘baitball’.

This was only one day in Alaska on a boat along the peninsula waterways near Seward (below). Mountains burst through the fog all around us.

Kenai Fjords is a new national park created during the Carter administration and is superb for sea kayaking and wildlife viewing.

Location 1: Seward Harbour

Location 1: Seward Harbour

I’ve numbered my pics and from 1-9 and you can see the corresponding locations on the map provided below.

Resurrection-Bay

Location 2: Bald Eagle

Location 2: Bald Eagle

The horned and tufted puffins were especially pleasing to see in their nesting plumage, including those beautiful beaks.
FACT: Thy can dive 300ft underwater – the same height as they fly above it. They literally ‘swim’ underwater.

Location 8: Horned puffin

Location 8: Horned puffin

We encountered deep-sea mist that, when clearing, revealed these amazing rock outcrops.

Location 3: Rock outcrops in Resurrection Bay

Location 3: Rock outcrops in Resurrection Bay

Harbour seals are difficult to spot from offshore as they blend in with the rock surface. On closer inspection of moving forms we found many clustered together eyeing us off. The boat keeps well away from all protected wildlife, minimising disturbance.

Location 6: Harbour seals

Location 6: Harbour seals

If you’ve never heard of a ‘baitball’ before you have now. Diving black-legged kittiwakes at the Chiswell Islands enjoy a feast of fish as the shoal moves just below the surface.

Location 9: Black-legged kittiwakes bomb a shoal of fish in the 'baitball'.

Location 9: Black-legged kittiwakes bomb a shoal of fish in the ‘baitball’.

We didn’t think we’d be lucky enough to see Humpback whales, but… after spotting their ‘blow’ as they surfaced we were able to spend half an hour observing them. One of the largest mammals eats some of the smallest food – krill and small schooling fish filtered through their baleen mouths/throat. FACT: their lungs are as large as a VW beetle car…

Location 5: Humpback Whale

Location 5: Humpback Whale

A complete misnomer, Common Murre are utterly spectacular divers. FACT: They can reach depths of 640 feet (195 metres) and still fly above.

Location 7: Common Murre

Location 7: Common Murre

Our boat got close to the glacier (top pic). I don’t know what was noisier – the creaking ice or shrieking passengers as great chunks fell into the sea.

Location 4: Closing in on the Aialik Glacier

Location 4: Closing in on the Aialik Glacier

I’m heading to Denali National Park next, hoping to see bears and moose… Watch this space.

Links:
http://www.kenaifjords.com

Warren Field Photolibrary:
http://warrenfield.com.au/

Map courtesy: © Google Maps

If you’d like to use or receive a digital copy of these images please contact me: wazzafield@hotmail.com

See images from the 2014 Alaska Calendar

https://warrenfield.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/warrenfield_alaska_calendar_2014.pdf

© Warren Field 2013
Taken on OLYMPUS E-System Cameras and Zuiko lenses.

Alaska Bits and Pieces 1/ July 2013


1 Lake Lucille, Anchorage and inset, in-bound flight.

1 Lake Lucille, Anchorage and inset, in-bound flight.

Bits:
Departing Bangkok – after I completed my record long haul door-to-door ever –  38 hours and 28 minutes, 2 hours sleep and no shower – I arrive in Anchorage, Alaska, United States.

Turnagain Arm off the Cook Inlet, Alaska

Turnagain Arm off the Cook Inlet, Alaska

I’m staying in Eagle River and Girdwood to photograph a wedding (a friend of mine from US and Australia who now works as a dentist in Bethel, Alaska) .

The drive around the locality includes great views along Turnagain Arm, part of Cook Inlet (Above).  A popular fishing spot and good location for a marriage proposal (my guess).

Alyeska Resort Hotel, near Girdwood, Alaska

Alyeska Resort Hotel, near Girdwood, Alaska

A view from the North Face Trail that climbs 100m up from the Alyeska Resort Hotel to the high country with glacial views as below. If you climb up (as I did) you are offered a free ride down on the cable car (above). No bears or moose seen yet.

One of many glacial views  in the area.

One of many glacial views in the area.

Pieces:
Next up is a Kenai Fjords cruise!

Links:
http://www.alyeskaresort.com/

© Warren Field 2013
Taken on OLYMPUS E-System Cameras and Zuiko lenses.

A Stork and a Spotted Orchid: A Day Out on the Khlongs of Thonburi, Bangkok.


View from the longtail boat along Khlong Mon, Thonburi canals, Bangkok.

View from the longtail boat along Khlong Mon, Thonburi canals, Bangkok.

Snarling traffic, lack of green space and oppressive heat typify the worst of Bangkok. Where can one find some weekend respite?

Try a day out on the Khlongs (canals) of old Thonburi, site of the founding of Bangkok on the west bank of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya River. Metropolitan Bangkok now sprawls to the east.

Starting at Tha Tien pier, negotiations for a fair price for your longtail boat can begin at thb 1000 for two people, return. I only wanted a single journey along Khlong Mon, dropping off at an orchid farm. From there we’d go on foot to a new floating market at Wat Saphan, a couple of kilometres upriver from the city, back through the villages lined with palms and orchid gardens. We agreed on thb 500 one way.

Thonburi canals located on the west bank of Chao Phraya river, Bangkok, Thailand.

Thonburi canals located on the west bank of Chao Phraya river, Bangkok, Thailand.

The ubiquitous longtail boats on the Chao Phraya River carry a growling truck engine on the rear of the boat for propulsion and are loud enough to downplay the serenity of the ride. Over and above this slight hiccup, the ride offers plenty of positives.

See video at end of blog.

Speeding off across the choppy Chao Phraya River, we entered the smaller Khlong Mon on the opposite bank, lined with stilted, ramshackle wooden buidlings, that have seen one flood too many. Other dwellings, some of sculpted stone, others of nailed wooden boards, contrast alarmingly.

Elderly woman looks out on passing boat traffic, Thonburi canals, Bangkok.

Elderly woman looks out on passing boat traffic, Thonburi canals, Bangkok.

Life continues as it always has along the Thonburi canals. Locals wash clothes in the river, tending gardens and catering to the passing tourist traffic. Vendors selling souvenirs (with inflated prices) paddle towards you. It’s a well-worn route for the boat drivers; a mini-dilemma for passengers. Stick to a polite ‘no thanks’ and you’ll be fine.

Larger stilted dwellings on the Chao Phraya River.

Larger stilted dwellings on the Chao Phraya River.

With smaller arteries leading off in all directions, the floating markets of yesteryear  – Taling Chan and Damneon Saduak amongst the most well-known – served the riverine households and must have been a colourful sight to behold. Today the tourist equivalent of these floating markets gives you some idea of the good old days. We see only the occasional paddled market boat that undoubtedly still delivers essentials to this outpost of Bangkok suburban living.

Spotted orchid at Ban Rim Khlong farm near Wat Saphan.

Spotted orchid at Ban Rim Khlong farm near Wat Saphan.

Ban Rim Khlong orchid farm was our final stop, 40 minutes after leaving Tha Tien pier. The gentle smiling fellow who met us, the farm owner, explained that where we were standing had been underwater a couple of years past. We were now looking at his regenerated orchid collection after his devastating loss. The 20 Baht entry fee was therefore well spent.

Ban Rim Khlong Orchid Farm.

It’s utterly cathartic walking along rows of spotted pink, yellow, rose, white and blue orchids, sheltered from the sun by an overhead gauze. Veinous roots hang down from the raised beds to help the orchids establish. Peaceful pathways from the farm led to the exit walk out to Wat Saphan.

Many of these communities still suffer from a lack of litter awareness, or a reliable collection service. Fast food packaging can linger for decades in the waterways.

The traditional way of living though can still be enjoyed walking along cement paths between small channels that irrigate the palm and orchid plantations. Husks of bombed coconuts lie all around.

Open-billed stork in the palms of Thonburi village plantations.

Open-billed stork in the palms of Thonburi village plantations.

Open-billed storks (above) and egrets benefit from the wetland farming activity, consuming the golden apple snail – an introduced species that went AWOL. This helps rid the farmers of a common pest (a familiar story in Australia – brought in with good intentions or as stowaways – the fox, cane toad, rats, cat and bugs of all description continue to devastate native animals and food supplies).

The odd-shaped bill of the stork could assist in the consumption of this ‘snaily’ snack.

Papaya (left) and banana.

Papaya (left) and banana along the pathways on trail back to Wat Saphan.

We chanced upon a jolly food vendor on a bicycle, his meals simmering peacefully in circular, stacked pans on the back of his bike. Serving a local woman as we arrived, we decided it smelt good enough to eat too. The dish of ravioli-style pork and fresh noodle spring rolls (khanom jeaw) made the day. The local lady seemed delighted a westerner was game to try the local fare.

At this time of year (June to October) most afternoon walks race against the impending downpour. Getting trapped in a Thai monsoonal torrent can drench the living daylights out of you. Wat Saphan made for a sheltered ending after a 90-minute walk. In this instance the rain held off until our taxi driver brought the huge curtain of rain ahead of us to our attention.

We end four hours of a perfect Sunday, home and dry.

Sources:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/punctuated-equilibrium/2011/jul/07/4

© Warren Field 2013
Taken on OLYMPUS E-System Cameras and Zuiko lenses.

This blog offers a brief insight into life in Thailand. Processed and published soon after the event, it is continually edited  for improvement. Constructive feedback is welcome.