Discovering old neighborhoods in Thonburi is a favourite for photographers and urban explorers in Bangkok. Cruising along walkways with a camera or smart-phone, almost too narrow to fit a motorbike through.
Concrete paths on stilts above murky waters, lotus flowers, and lily pads. Surrounded by old teak houses, you’ll find yourself weaving through snapshots in time, scenes of a historical and authentic Thailand. The city’s canals keep the tropical plant and animal life flourishing – it’s a welcome change from all the cars, noise, and pollution of the inner city. You instantly feel as though you’ve left Bangkok when you walk these paths.


It’s great for photography, it’s visually stunning around every corner you turn and you meet so many interesting people along the way. I’ve made some friends whom I still visit when I’m in the area. It’s a great place to capture the essence; the people of Thailand ….. so full of character and life, and people who have always been kind and welcoming in my experience.

Something often is missing in larger cities. The vibe is very laid back, a slow pace, to better adapt with the sweltering heat. The neighbourhood is quite diverse, different ethnicities and cultures in every direction. From Buddhist temples to mosques, you can often hear the chanting of monks in one moment and the call to prayer in another. To me, this place is magical – or maybe I’m just buzzing from the heat.

And not to paint a perfect picture; there’s also poverty, canals filled with black sewage, stray dog and some rotten smells that’ll burn your nose hairs out of your nostrils. But this is life here, gritty at times, and I dig it.

A while back we were walking with a small group of “farangs” down a newly discovered alley which was lined with colorful houses, potted plants, and dragonflies whirring all over the place. After a few minutes in, the path opened up into a lush green garden filled with lettuce, melons, and papaya trees. The crops were green as could be, flourishing in the tropical sun. As we moved closer, we saw an old man perched in the shade under a rickety old gazebo which had now been overgrown with emerald green vines. His eyes scanning over towards us with such an intensity …. whoa. His penetrating stare almost stopped us in our tracks, which of course made us want to capture that moment in time. His features were so unique, almost glowing eyes.. “Nice garden, looks like you’ve got some papayas that are almost ready for a salad.” …..


It became instantly clear this guy was definitely not interested in talking about papayas. Normally Thais can talk about food for days, but not this guy. He just slowly looked up and nodded, seemingly uninterested in anything I was saying. So yeah, this conversation was going absolutely nowhere and it didn’t feel right to bother him for a photo. It was all kinds of awkward, so I gave up on the idea, I’d just leave, it was easier. …. “Well, gonna get going, see you around.”


Text by Josh Sullivan: