Finding my Light at Wat Phra Ram - Ayutthaya, Thailand

Finding my Light at Wat Phra Ram - Ayutthaya, Thailand

Finding my Light at Wat Phra Ram - Ayutthaya, Thailand

I visited the ancient capitol city of Ayutthaya, Thailand on two separate occasions. The first time I visited the city was on a day trip from Bangkok as most visitors do. It was a fun, full day of temples, but as with most day tours you are shooting in the worst light (you arrive well after sunrise and leave before sunset) and are walking around during the hottest part of the day.

After Thailand I departed for Laos and did the rest of the Southeast Asia ‘loop’ tour (Thailand - Laos - Vietnam - Cambodia - Thailand) returning to Thailand a couple of months later. I decided to return to Ayutthaya and stay there for a couple of days to fully explore and experience the ancient wats (temples) at my leisure.

The best strategy for visiting the ancient ruins is early morning and early evening/dusk. This is done for the best light, to avoid the tour groups that come up from Bangkok and to dodge the stifling Thailand heat and humidity. During midday (usually from 11am to 3pm) I was either drinking a nice, cold Singha beer with other fellow backpackers/flashpackers at a nearby cafe or I was back in my guesthouse room with the air conditioning at full blast.

Your best bet to get around the temples is to rent a bicycle. Most of the temples are located near one another so a bicycle sure beats walking around in the heat and besides it is good exercise.

Ayutthaya really (and literally) shines at night when some of the temples are illuminated. One night I decided to photograph Wat Phra Ram. I left my guesthouse about thirty minutes before the blue hour. A bicycle ride from my guesthouse to Wat Phra Ram is normally about a fifteen minute trip, but I discovered five minutes into my ride that balancing my tripod on my bicycle was quite a task. As a result, I barely got there in time to capture this blue hour shot of the wat with the reflection in the lagoon.

After taking this shot the sky turned black and I quickly put away my equipment. I searched for my headlamp in my Think Tank Photo backpack since my bicycle did not have a headlight. After a frustrating five minutes I gave up looking for it, I must have left it behind in my guesthouse. So I got back on my bicycle and weaved my way through the crazy Thai traffic in the dark. Let’s just say I had a couple of near death experiences on my way back to my guesthouse.

In the safety of my room I set up my laptop and hard drives to start downloading the RAW photos from my compact flash card. As I grabbed my backpack, I forgot I left the outer pocket open, and so you can imagine what fell on the floor.

There was my headlamp and my pride.

As a photographer I am always seeking the light, but on this occasion I was completely in the dark.

Check back for more of my Thailand adventures!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Taken on: 21st June, 2012. Copyright: All Rights Reserved - See Sam Antonio Photography's page of Flickr

Read more about Ayutthaya

Set at the conjunction of the Lopburi, Prasak and Chao Phraya rivers, the storied city of Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 by King U-Thong and served as the capital of what was the predecessor to the Siamese empire and modern Thailand.

Over the next 417 years it was ruled by 33 kings and repelled 23 Burmese invasions, before the Burmese finally succeeded in razing it to the ground in 1767. At its height, Ayutthaya was surrounded by a 12-kilometre-long wall which was five metres thick and six metres high and boasted 99 gates, brick and clay roads and canals to transport water into the city.

By all reports Ayutthaya was stunning and rivalled most European capitals of the time. The city was a major centre not only of Thai civilisation but also Asian, Middle Eastern and even European arts, culture and trade. A number of foreign communities thrived in the city, chief among them the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Persian, Portuguese, Dutch and French. As other ... Read our complete Ayutthaya travel guide

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