Chiang Mai

With the trainers on their mighty backs, the elephants head toward the stream for a nice bath. One learned to self spray with water and kept repeating to show off to us. It even gave the trainer a nice shower, or was it a playful revenge? Sad to see these majestic creatures, which are the symbol of Thailand, have little position in the modern world other than as tourist attractions.

Last series of the monks in Thailand. Here the monks prepare their praying ritual amidst a misty morning.


While passing by a remote village close to Myanmar borders, we were fortunate enough to witness a festival. Nearby villagers, young and old, came together to celebrate. Each adorning their best costume which were distinct from one another. The festival had plenty of interesting shows, games and food. Another well known cultural village we visited was the Kayan Lahwi Tribe (aka long neck tribe) where women wears brass rings on their neck. Girls as young as 5 years old starts wearing the rings. The ring effectively pushes down their shoulders, creating a longer neck.




Thailand has plenty of gorgeous landscapes and the best time to capture the magical moments are during sunset and sunrise. One of the downside to capturing a sunrise is getting up 3-4AM, journey to the location and set up your camera. 3 cups of coffee and I barely shook off the sleepy bug. It is torturous for someone like me who prefer late night than early morning.


The cool air rolls in as the sun set and the heat dissipated. Our little monk friends came out to lit up the candles, revealing a different atmosphere in the temple. Serenity overtook the compound while a distant chanting accompanied by occasional ringing bells. The soft candle light emitted a surreal glow on the building and people. We lit up some floating lanterns discreetly, since they are heavily regulated. Fighting off image blurs was a real challenge as we all depended on the candles for illumination. I’m thankful a couple shots came out decent.


Basked in good weather, we went to an idyllic stream surrounded by forest. A farmer came along with his cart and faithful working companions for an au naturel bath in the stream. We were blessed with good back lighting and an obliging farmer who posed for us wonderful moments. A bond between man and beast was obvious as they enjoyed the reciprocal friendship.


During pre-dawn we head out to a strawberry farm up in the sleepy mountain. The farm was partially covered in fog when we arrived, as the sun slowly peeked out bursting its golden rays across the field. We had the opportunity to take images of the beautiful ladies working in the field, adorned in their ethnic costume. Later we were invited to catch a glimpse their humble home.

The entrance to the temple Wat Pha Lat was obscure and cannot be seen easily from the outside.  Upon entering the site, I started to marvel at the tranquility of the temple that was surrounded by forest. I read there was supposed to be waterfall, but none was seen during my visit. The temple isn’t grand or shrouded in gold like others in the city, but I feel at peace in the serene environment. A monk was engaged by the group to pose, but I struggled greatly under the low lighting and confined space in the temple.

After the photography tour, I extended my stay for another two days. Exhausted from the lack of sleep and long  shooting sessions, the popular Thai/Foot Massage was like god sent! They can be found everywhere, from the open air in the middle of a bazaar, to hotels, to shop houses near busy street. Prices can range from over 2,000 baht to as low as 200 baht per session. I recommend going to the lower end massage as they are basically the same. The massages were so affordable I was doing 2 sessions a day!

Foot MassageOutdoor Massage







There are well over thousand of temples in Chiang Mai. I skipped all the animal attractions like Zoo, Tigers and Elephants, to visit various famous temples in the city. The temples were rich in history and cultural, yet it still inspired a sense of awe and serenity whilst wondering the scared ground.

Wat Chiang ManWat Chedi LuangTemple











Going around the city is simple with Tuktuk and Songteaws (red trucks) readily available especially near tourist attractions. Tuktuk fare for 1 way tend to vary widely. They will quote higher price to foreigners, easily 100 baht and above. As I understood, a 5 mins ride can go as low as 20 baht. Yes 100 baht is less than US$3, but I don’t like being suckered. So always negotiate when taking Tuktuk. From experience, Songteaws usually offer better rates of about 20-50baht per head. Only drawback is they will pick up other passengers along the way resulting in longer travel time. I’m not in a hurry, so why not.


In Chiang Mai city, there are 3 main shopping attractions. The night bazaar is one of the biggest attraction offering all sorts of souvenirs to handicrafts at very affordable price. I was amazed at the wide varieties and quality offered. In addition, there are the Saturday and Sunday Walking Streets which are only available during the weekend. Similar to the Night Bazaar, the walking streets offer better atmosphere as the street are off limit to traffic, but the crowd can be a little overwhelming.

Sunday Walking Street

As for food, I did no research and simply went on with my visits, trying the most appealing vendors, stalls or restaurants. Food is relatively convenient, and by far mostly great. Unless you are picky or have restriction, just go ahead and try their local vendors.

Pork Balls

There is a chinese restaurant I would highly recommend. Visit Jia Tong Heng Restaurant and try their roast suckling pig and duck. They have been around for ages and the food is great! I was told their original location in the city is always pack and crowded, so go their alternative location if you can. No queue, same good food.

Jia Tong HengRoasted Suckling PigJia Tong Heng Name CardJia Tong Heng Location






If you would like to know more about Chiang Mai attractions, below are other sites which have detailed write up. The sites helped me narrow down on the things to do.


Pocket map courtesy of Raming Lodge Hotel where I stayed at.

chiangmai map


Barely went through the USA trip images, already I packed my camera gears and headed towards Chiang Mai on a photographic tour. As a photographic tour implied, the main attraction of the tour was to take pictures in exotic locations with like minded people. Exchanging techniques and experience with other fellow photographers were simply priceless.

Simple breakfast of coffee and toast
A painful task to wake up 3AM so we can get in time for sunrise shot.

Stumbled in total darkness to the shooting platform only to realized we were surrounded by campers when day breaks.


Other than landscape, animals and people were arranged for shooting sessions. Setting up shoots sound simple, but not when the animals have a mind of their own and the weather changes frequently. When you mash everything together, getting the perfect shot is still challenging. Ensuring every moment is captured, I burst through most actions and compiled a whopping 5,000+ images. I will hate myself when going through all the images.

Selfie among the props
Making use of the props to take a selfie. Does look haunting doesn’t it?

Bull cart
Our stars have arrived.

Gentle giants preparing for the shoot.


I’ll post the images at a later date, some time next year!