Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country, but there are also an estimated four million Muslims. Thailand’s three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattanai and Narathiwat have about 18% of the Thai Muslim population. The rest are scattered around Thailand.
Early morning is a great time to go out and photograph a small sleepy town as it wakes up. If you are out and about before sunrise, you might stumble across a scene like this with people offering food to a monk. This was taken in Chiang Khan in Loei Province. The weather was pretty cool in the morning but it gave me a nice fog that added to the atmosphere of the photograph.
The Golden Mount (Phu Khao Thong in Thai), is a steep artificial hill in the compound of Wat Saket in Bangkok. King Rama III (1787–1851) decided to build a large chedi at Wat Saket. Unfortunately, the chedi collapsed during construction because the soft soil of Bangkok could not support the weight. Over the next few decades, the abandoned mud-and-brick structure acquired the shape of a natural hill and was overgrown with weeds. During the reign of King Rama IV, construction began of a smaller chedi on the hill. It was completed early in the reign of his son, King Rama V (1853–1910).
HTMS Maeklong was a Royal Thai Navy escort vessel and training ship, built at the Uraga Dock in Yokosuka, Japan. Her sister ship was the HTMS Tachin. The Maeklong is preserved in concrete in Chulachomklao Fort in Phra Samut Chedi district of Samut Prakan province. The ship is named after a river, the Mae Klong.
There has been a temple fair at Phra Samut Chedi in Samut Prakan for the last 185 years. The temple buildings used to be on an island in the middle of the Chao Phraya River. But after the river was dredged in the 1950’s to allow container ships to reach the port in Bangkok the river gradually changed direction. The gap between the island and the bank silted up and it soon become part of the mainland. The annual temple fair is held every October at the end of the rainy season.
I love taking pictures of the alms round in Thailand in the early morning light. It’s always a challenge to get a good picture as they come out of the temple just as dawn is breaking and it’s still a bit dark. Even more challenging are the alms rounds that are done by boat like this one. You don’t see it too often these days. Mainly during festivals. This one was to mark the end of the Buddhist Lent in Lat Krabang when over 100 monks from 26 temples came out by boat to collect alms from local people.
They have eating contests all over the world. But this one in Thailand is very different to say the pie eating contests that you might see at county fairs in the US. Cockle eating is a required skill in not only prising open the shells but also slurping them all down. This competition was held in Phra Samut Chedi distict of Samut Prakan where many people are fishermen. I’m not sure if I could eat cockles on a good day. But these volunteers managed to eat a whole plate full. They even had a spicy dip to help it all go down more smoothly.
This is how they change light bulbs in Thailand 39 meters up a stupa. There was no obvious harness to stop him falling. I don’t know how he did it, but he went even higher than this. He must have nimble feet like a cat. Or at least the nine lives of a cat. Last week I watched a group of people wrapping the red cloth around this stupa. None of them had any safety gear. I guess they trust in the Buddha to protect them.
At the start of the Buddhist Rains Retreat, known as Khao Phansa in Thai, Buddhists take part in processions to take giant candles to their local temple. The idea is for monks to use these candles for the entire three months of the Rains Retreat. These processions are usually done on land, but the people along Ladachado Canal in Ayutthaya do it slightly different as they go to their local temple by boat.
The Tak Bat Dok Mai floral offering merit-making ritual is unique to Saraburi province. This ritual stands out from the merit-making activities conducted in the other parts of Thailand because in addition to the offerings of cooked rice, food, incense, candles and other conventional sacred items, the Tak Bat Dok Mai ritual includes offerings of Dok Khao Phansa flowers that only come into bloom during the Buddhist Lent.