Saturday, July 27, 2013


Perhaps related the the previously mentioned 'snapshot' informal survey of the tourism sector was the way that the boys were treated, Thing 2 especially.  Blond haired blue eyed little boys are virtually nonexistent everywhere we went.  And so, PFPJ was treated like royalty.

It was a bit disorienting to be in a country where people (apprently) don't mind being randomly photographed.  This is definitely not the case in Zambia and so I'm way out of the habit of taking peoples' portraits without their explicit permission and I'm really unaccustomed to being ASKED to take someone's picture!

(Above) I was actually wanting to take a picture of the psychedelic orange and yellow fuel and mixing contraption at the gas station (that was for the motorbikes?) but the attendant kept sneaking into the frame so I could take her picture.  Granted, clearly we were foreign tourists and traveling some kind of tourism circuit, so the expectation was there that we wanted to take photos was already there.  Still, I'm not sure what behavior was expected.  There were many photos that we wanted to take (the young monks goofing around and working at a temple construction side, launching loads of scrap timbers+bamboo over a cliff...)

There are rules about photography in Thailand that had be on edge.  For example, you can't take photos of Buddha.  At the airport and driving from the airport there are huge signs and billboards warning (in English) that you should not take photos, you should not buy trinkets of Buddha or buy statues to use to decorate your house ("Buddha is not furniture" proclaims one and shows pictures of Buddha heads for sale at a market and another shows how a ginormous Buddha statue is used to as decor at a hipster nightclub.)  But when you go to the temple of the famous reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) in Bangkok, that is what everyone is doing.  They sell tickets so you can go in and take photos of this statue.  Odd, right?

The reclining Buddha.  It's big and it's housed in a tiny little temple so it's actually quite impossible to get a photo of it. So TJ took pictures of people taking pictures.

The giant reclining Buddha's toes.  The feet are 3 m (12 feet) high and 4.5 (13.5 feet) long. The original Big Foot?

Another tourist trying to find a detail to focus on b/c you truly can't capture the massiveness of this statue.
Mother of pearl inlay detail on the Reclining Buddha's feet. In addition to this rosette on the soles of his feet there are 108 'panels' showing the auspicious characteristics of the Buddha.

(Above) Testing lenses at the Sony store.  The salesman kept insisting on being photographed.  (This is my new 50mm/1.8.  Why have I never owned this lens?? So fun)

This monk's interpreter/handler basically forced O to take this photo.  O studied Buddhism all thru Year  6 and was surprised to see that a monk was walking around this temple (as a tourist himself, b/c this particular temple does not have monks, that's another blog post) with an iPad when he learned that a monk can't even handle money much less have possessions like the latest iPad, so he asked.  Basically, if a monk is given something he can have it.  This isn't quite true, a monk can't accept anything ridiculous or lavish or something considered a luxury but the "rules" are a bit flexible and up for interpretation.  Things are not so clear cut.  

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