Party Times In Pattaya

It has been a while since I found time to update my blog but despite this, I have been active with the camera, although not as much as I would have liked.

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I still have an ongoing issue with my Nikon D750 but there is little I can do until I find a way to get my D610 delivered to me from Scotland.

Most of my attention has been taken up by parties, a subject that often involves great hilarity and meeting new and wonderful people here in Pattaya.

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Take my first image for instance. I was at a birthday party for a good friend “Phetch” when I spotted a gorgeous little girl enjoying a lolly. I introduced myself to her mother and asked permission to take a few photos.

The result is an image of an angelic little girl.

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My next offering is of the birthday girl herself and her boyfriend Stuart as he presents the birthday cake. This lovely couple own the Corner House in Rompho.

Next we have two images that for me, were the best of the night. Wan attended the party and sat beside myself and Nom. She had a couple of drinks and got up to dance. At the time however, she was on the stage and singing along with the band, providing me with a few classic images.

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Wan is one that you never take your eyes off, for you just do not know what she will do next.

The image of the lady singing (the one WITH the microphone) sings with a another chap that I have never managed to discover their name either as a duo or own identities. They are often seen entertaining around Rompho though.

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They are an excellent duo and produce some great cover versions of rock standards and ballads.

Staying at the Corner House Bar, I have included one of Nom, taken with Wan, before either of them had been dancing.

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I was going to say they were taken before any alcohol was consumed but that may be a lie.

Shortly after Phetch’s party, I was invited to another party for my good friend “Dong” er Martin.

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Martin and his delightful partner Oil, own New Country Road Bar (NCR) in Rompho, a short walk from the Corner House. I had assisted with some arrangements for this event, following the highly successful Jerry Lee Carlson gig at the NCR. Click here for photos and blog article.

Martin, like Stuart, has been very supportive of me during troubled times, and I owe this pair my very existence in Thailand. Yes you know who to blame now ūüôā

Dong as he is affectionately known is pictured above.

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The entertainment for this came in the form of a Scottish lassie living in Pattaya by the name of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Stephanie. Steph does a lot of oldies like her name suggests, with a bit of hip shakin’, gyrating and knee grinding thrown in.

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One of the guests was a guy called John, another top man living here in Pattaya. John loves to dance, especially to the likes of Chuck Berry and despite being in his 70s, the man can boogie all night – almost non-stop.

Where he gets his energy from I have no idea but I wish I had half of it. Stamina beyond belief!

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It is incredibly rare for me to feature in my photos, mainly because I am almost always behind the lens.

But due to camera issues, another splendid chap known as Marcus attended, with a view of offering advice but as a result of his presence, I got some time to be on the receiving end of the camera. Marcus is a top photographer in his own right.

This one is of Nom and I, which would usually only be captured on a phone picture.

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Anyone hosting a party in Pattaya should really look into hiring the Jäger girls. These two lovelies work for free, promoting Jägermeister and other drinks such as Jim Beam.

The deal is simple, they will sell customers one measure from your own stock and they will provide a free drink from their collection. The guest gets two drinks for the price of one, the bar gets the sale they may never have had and everyone gets inebriated. Result!

It is difficult to say no to a Jägerbomb when a two ladies are offering a free one, along with a photo too.

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So what happens when customers get free¬†J√§gerbombs and Jack Beam? See for yourself ūüôā

I don’t know the girl standing behind Nom but she was the life and soul of the party. She had everyone in tears of laughter all night long. A top girl and one that would be welcome at any party of mine. Here she has bent a drunken Nom over and well – I will leave the rest to your imagination ūüôā Jenny can be seen sitting on the bar looking weary.

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Another classic featuring the wonderful Julie, who is a regular with husband Steve at both aforementioned bars. Steve and Julie love to dance and are in fact, featured on many video recordings from this night. Friendly people who liven up every party they attend.

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The image above is one of my favourites. I had just met Karin for the first time and found her to be an outgoing person who loves to sing and enjoy herself. I snapped this photo when she was laughing and chatting with her friend Poi. Completely natural and one that I am proud of.

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Next is Martin’s girlfriend oil, who was still reasonably sober at the time but like the majority of Thai ladies, they love to dance. And boy can she dance! Later in the evening she was found on top of the bar with Jenny dancing to many party hits.

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Above, we have Poi and her magician boyfriend. The latter entertained us with some magic tricks when we required a bit of respite from the antics going on inside the bar.

Rompho throw the best parties ever. I have attending parties galore since arriving here and very few disappoint. Often people get very drunk but you never see anyone causing trouble. No requirement for bouncers here.

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I will finish with a photo taken at Phetch’s party at the Corner House, simply because I wasn’t sure what was going on but again, it depicts fun and beautiful people. Well OK – Stuart adds the fun part.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven In Pattaya

What a fantastic couple of weeks I have enjoyed as far as music is concerned. Firstly, I went to see Helmut and Friends at the wonderful Hemmingways in Jomtien, where the band blew me away, with some amazing cover versions of soul, blues and rock tunes.

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Helmut is a guitar maestro and handles everything from Mark Knopfler to Gary Moore. In fact, the whole band are superb and if you haven’t seen them and you are in the Pattaya area, head along to Hemmingways on a Thursday evening from 20:00 and observe an awesome band in action.

The food in the bar is rather tasty too, I hasten to add.

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However, this post is about a certain Jerry Lee Carlson from Sweden and Håkan Nelson, from the same country. The pair played four gigs in Pattaya and I was fortunate to see two of them.

Initially I ventured out to The Triangle in central Pattaya, where a large crowd gathered to enjoy the show and secondly at New Country Road Bar (NCR) in Rompho, which is located in the Rompho Complex in Jomtien area of the city.

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Many people said the event would never work in Rompho but my friend Martin asked me to promote it for him and I did just that. Firstly with posters and flyers then numerous videos supplied by Sweden’s number one rock ‘n’ roll star, Jerry.

Jerry has played all over the world, including tours of Europe with his legends show, featuring tributes to Elvis, Roy Orbison and of course Jerry Lee Lewis.

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He has recorded a number of albums, appeared on TV and radio and is simply, one of the best entertainers you will ever see.

A lot of planning and preparation went into the NCR event, hours of hard work, hiring equipment, tables, covers in case it rained, food and so much more. Was it worth it?

Damned right it was.

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NCR attracted 102 people seated, plus 16 inside the venue and approximately 40 bystanders, who watched from the sidelines, due to either a lack of seating or they were enjoying the event from another bar.

Jerry kicked off the show as always with thundering rock ‘n’ roll classics from his hero Jerry Lee Lewis. He sang the hits of Elvis, Fats Domino, Hank Williams and even did a rendition of a Robbie Williams hit, just to show his versatility.

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Rock, country, blues and boogie woogie tunes all blasted out from the venue. H√•kan Nelson on drums was his usually faultless self ashe followed Jerry’s left hand to keep the tempo going.

People came from other bands to watch the gig. Local media in the form of Pattaya People were present to record video material, which will air shortly. Love Pattaya were represented too and kindly supplied the bar staffs shirts.

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Bar owners came from pubs in Pattaya and Rompho to enjoy a fantastic show.  Many people came to Rompho for the first time and hopefully they will return with other new faces for future events.

Jerry sang “Great Balls Of Fire”, “Whole Lotta Shaking”, “High School Confidential”, Hound Dog”, Bonnie B”, ” Mean Woman Blues”, “Lewis Boogie” and many more classics from the golden era of music.

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If ever there was a man born to entertain, Jerry Carlson is that man. He is a genius on a keyboard/piano and sounds identical to a certain Mr. Lewis, when the legend was in his prime.

He also does a great impression of¬†Andy Kaufman’s fictional character¬†Latka Gravas from the hit US sitcom “Taxi”.

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Jerry also impressed with a version of “Take Me Home Country Roads” with a “NEW” added into the lyrics, just for the bar. He sang ” Blueberry Hill” replacing Blueberry with Phratamnak to give the song a local feel about it. Phratamnak Hill is a popular area in Pattaya with tourists.

Yours truly even acted as compere for the night, introducing Jerry and¬†H√•kan. Not something that was planned, I can assure you but it’s amazing what you can be persuaded to do following a few Smirnoff Midnight’s.

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Jerry did three sets and even came back for an encore or two once he had washed the sweat from his face because it was incredible hot on Saturday evening.

Like many others, I felt disappointed when the show came to its conclusion. The guys had entertained us for a couple of hours but I would have happily listened for another two hours.

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I love rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly, especially when it is produced to this standard. But all good things have to come to an end – till next time that is. Jerry and¬†H√•kan’s return cannot come fast enough and rumours are rife that they may return as a trio. I hope so!!

Next up NCR have Rock ‘n’ Roll Stephanie, who will feature at Martin’s birthday party. Steph, like me, is Scottish and does a fair bit of hip shakin’ during her act.

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If that event proves successful it will pave the way for further live music events at NCR, which can only help to attract visitors to the area, which in turn will benefit the many other bars and restaurants in the complex.

I happen to know a few great singers and bands in the UK, who if they ever fancied a busman’s holiday to Pattaya, could be catered for.

Ziggi – your audience awaits you ūüôā

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Looking Back On The Things I Did

I have been feeling a bit nostalgic today so I thought I would write something around the pictures I have taken over the years.

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I began my life in photography way back in the days of film with a Praktica camera but alas I have no images from those days. They were tough on the old wallet, as mistakes cost you dearly with processing costs.

I progressed to digital photography with a Sony Mavica around 1998. The camera was shockingly bad, using the old 3.5″ floppy discs to store images on. From there I moved to a Kodak that was a huge improvement as far as image quality¬†was concerned.

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By now I was beginning to enjoy my photography, so I purchased a Panasonic Lumix G1 with a 200mm zoom lens. It used the Micro Four Thirds system, was light and easy to use.

I was asked to do some pictures at football matches shortly after buying the Lumix. The camera was ideal for the task, until the light was poor or it was raining, which was frequent in Scotland. So a new camera was acquired in the form of a Nikon D90, which was soon replaced by the excellent D7000. I used the latter for two years before progressing to a full frame Nikon D600, D610 and finally, at the time of writing a D750. I still own a D610 but it is in Scotland awaiting shipment to Thailand.

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The first image on this post was taken with my Nikon D90 with an 18-200mm zoom lens. I was thrilled with it at the time, despite still learning how to use the camera.

I had worked on various websites as a photographer before being asked to work for the Scottish Womens Football Association. The next image was taken at Aberdeen when the Scottish ladies played host to Cameroon, on a wet and cold, wintry day. There was as much excitement in the large crowd as there was on the field of play.

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Over a period of six years, I covered hundreds, if not thousands of matches for men, women and children’s games¬†before I finally had the opportunity to go into a studio with models.

My inaugural shoot was in Glasgow with brother and sister Tunde and Eno and despite having no knowledge of studio lighting and no assistance from the studio owner, I managed to obtain a number of decent photos. The couple can be seen in photo three.

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I was hooked. I had found an area of photography that I simply had to explore more. I loved working in a studio environment and the truth be told, it is probably the only reason I would consider returning home. I miss taking models into one of the many studios I used but in Thailand, I have yet to discover a setup that compares with what I am accustomed to.

Actually I have yet to find a studio for hire!

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I continued working at football matches but every free moment I had, I would find myself arranging studio shoots with a variety of models, covering diverse themes from Marilyn Monroe to rock chicks or glamour shoots to horror. I would point my camera at anything that I found interesting or different.

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Then one day, I was invited to a music event. A concert featuring numerous bands. Nervously I arrived at the venue, not knowing if I could capture the night’s entertainment or if it would be a complete disaster. Thankfully it proved to be another stepping stone for me, for the night was a success.

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Again, I was addicted to this new form of camera work. I did gig after gig, touring the UK, working at prestigious venues such as the O2 concert halls around England and Scotland. I also photographed an all girl punk band in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, famous for hosting “Strictly Come Dancing” these days.

Despite the travelling time, spending many nights in hotels, I was in my element.

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Not only was I getting “Access All Areas” passes to gigs but I was getting up close and personal with the bands. I was “on stage” with the groups, capturing the drummers at close range.

I met the odd famous person and many new friends, a number of which I am still in touch with today.

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Not only did I have the opportunity to work with some wonderful acts, I also took them into studios or on location, so I guess I must have been doing something right.

There were also downsides to working with music acts. Many thought that cameras grew on trees or Nikon just presented you with £20,000 worth of equipment for free. To say they were reluctant to put their hands in their pockets would be an understatement. Some people still believe that photographers should work for free.

Alas this is not the case. If you have a burst pipe, you expect to pay the plumber – right? The acts get paid, and so should the photographer.

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There were a lot of people who understand that your equipment costs money and has to be kept up to date and were happy to pay for my services.

So where I am now? Well I am currently living in Thailand and loving life but not working with the camera at least once or twice per week, irritates me.

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I have of course been out and taken many images in my time here but my objective is to return to some form of full time employment within the world of photography. It may not be here in Thailand but it needs to happen, for I have a yearning deep inside me to take photos.

Maybe I will find the cash to invest in a Nikon D800 and D5000, my dream cameras.

One day!

 

 

 

 

Everyone Loves A Party

Since arriving in Pattaya, Thailand in April 2016, I have enjoyed many wonderful parties, typically in the area known as Rompho. My latest venture into the nightlife of Pattaya was no exception.

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Rompho is a complex of bars and other small businesses all set in one location. It is said that there are fifty bars within the complex but if I am honest, I have frequented around a dozen or so.

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I have my favourites that I used to visit often but since moving to a new condo, three kilometres away from Rompho, I am not seen just as often as I would like to be.

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But every so often, I do return, mainly to see friends or maybe I am passing by whilst out on one of my 10 kilometre walks in the sun and I pop in. I always get my haircut at one of the barbers in Rompho, just so I can say “hello” to people I know.

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Recently I was invited to a double birthday party, although it may have been my camera that was asked for more than me ūüôā

Never one to turn down a good party (within reason), I packed my bag with my Nikon D750, my SB700 flash unit and a couple of lenses and set out to do what I enjoy most. Getting drunk! No – seriously – taking photos.

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When I arrived I was delighted to see that the band were one that had appeared at the venue before, the location being, the Corner House Bar in Rompho. Despite having photographed the band previously, I still don’t know if they have a name. They certainly didn’t the first time I saw them. But when you are adept with your instruments and fronted by a talented vocalist, it doesn’t matter what you call the band!

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It was the lead guitarist who attracted my attention. The man was made for the camera. He has one of those lived in faces that every photographer hopes to stumbleupon. AND he is willing to pose as he plays, acting up for the big shot. My opening image features this man, and once again, I apologise for not knowing his name. Next time I will ask.

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The party, as always at the Corner House, was a huge success and my role was to capture as many of the guests on camera as possible.

The celebrations were for Stuart, the gaffer and his friend Chris from Luton, who were both honouring each other’s birthdays. Why we celebrate being a year older is beyond me. I would rather rejoice if they discovered a way to become a year younger!!!

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My second image is one of my favourites, for there is nothing more rewarding than photographing good looking people. I captured this lovely couple as they entered the bar.

Next up is a man with a face that you cannot forget. His beard is distinguished and the extraordinary ponytail, if that is what it’s called, is an eyecatcher.

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The bar staff in most bars in Pattaya are worth concentrating on. This image of the dark haired beauty, is the Corner House’s cashier – Bee.

Then we have the girl in the green dress, who was sat opposite me and my girlfriend, Nom. But I bet she regrets sitting at the photographer’s table, for when I got bored, my attention switched to her. She was a star it has to be said, posing like a true model but unfortunately I missed most of her ingenuity whilst striking a pose and she wasn’t one for repeat performances. However, the photos of her that were taken when she forgot about my presence, provided some fun shots.

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Then we have birthday boy Chris and one of his friends from England. Two very nice guys. Chris, went to the trouble of buying every lady in the bar a flower from one of the many flower sellers, who come round Rompho. The girl with the roses must have thought it was Christmas.

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A Scottish friend and rock ‘n’ roll singer appears next. Stephanie was there for various reasons but one was the hope of getting the opportunity to belt out a few songs. She gave us three renditions of Chuck Berry classics to mark the passing of the rock ‘n’ roll legend. Steph is well known around Pattaya, often seen singing in a variety of bars. This time however, she performed with a very good band, and was awesome. Not that she is bad without the band of course. Best get that in before I get thumped!

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I have included one of that man again, the lead guitarist but this time with an artistic approach. I set the camera to F2.8 and got close up, zoomed in, so that I achieved a depth of field that blurred the closest point of his guitar. The focal point being his plectrum.

Now the gentleman who looks like he is crooning his way through a Frank Sinatra song or belting out a power ballad, is actually singing “Happy Birthday” to Stuart and Chris. In another life, he could be a soul singer, at least for photographic purposes. I love this image.

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The presentation of the birthday cake to Stuart from his lovely partner and soon to be wife, Petch. I have much to thank Stuart for but that is something I won’t go into here, suffice to say that I am honoured to be associated with him.

The two beautiful girls are again anonymous, for either I cannot recall their names or I forgot to ask. Well I was drinking copious amounts of Vodka at the time. But they take a lovely photo and that is all that matters to me.

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Another good man, playing pool. Steve, who asked for an action shot of himself, which may not be the best term to use in the city of sin, as described in certain newspapers.

What’s going on over there then? The boys from Luton seem interested in something but I have no idea what caught their attention. I am also at a loss as to what is going on behind them ūüôā

I will leave you with another image of a man that I could photograph all day or night in this instance. Again the aperture on the camera is set to blur anything close or in the background as I focused in his face.

Many thanks to Stuart for the invitation to his party. May there be many more.

The whole collection can be found by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

New Year In Thailand 2017

For the first time in my life, I celebrated the bells at New Year away from my homeland, seven hours ahead of Scotland. Yes Р a new experience for me as Thailand and its many tourists got into party mode.

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My second invitation to take photos at a wonderful bar in Rompho in the south of the city of Pattaya, Thailand was presented to me from the bar owners. This bar is known simply as The Corner House and is aptly named, seeing as it sits on the corner of The Rompho Complex.

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I had attended the Christmas Lunch festivities last week and enjoyed a delicious meal, courtesy of the The Corner House but it has to be said they surpassed everything I have witnessed at Rompho previously.

I have attended many parties and events with the Rompho Complex, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed but none had went to the expense of laying on a live band before. And what a great band they were too.

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The party was put together in conjunction with The Sexy Girl Bar on the opposite side of the thoroughfare. Between them they hired a group of musicians from the Philippines, who I later discovered had no name for they were put together especially for these sort of events. This had no reflection on the quality of the musicians, for they were excellent, doing great covers of mainly rock songs. From Blondie to The Animals to Dire Straits, they nailed every tune.

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The party was halted by twenty minutes of rain, which threatened to sabotage the night’s entertainment but like most precipitation in Thailand, it did not last long, and if anything enhanced the atmosphere of the early celebrations as everyone crammed into the bars. I met a multitude of new people as the rain poured from the heavens.

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The raise ceased and soon everyone was returned to the seating areas outside in the warm evening to enjoy a drink and edibles.

The Corner House had a buffet laid on as did their counterparts The Sexy Girl Bar and by all accounts, the offerings were superb, although I was kept busy and missed the opportunity to sample the food.

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That was until the barbequed pig was cooked to perfection and served to the many queuing patrons. I will add that all this marvelous food was free of charge.

I said the to the owner of The Corner House “You have put on a fine spread here and the band are phenomenal”. The response was simple and to the point. “If something is worth doing, then do it right.”

It was indeed carried out to perfection.

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Faces young and old were present. From babies to great grandparents. People from the UK, Canada, America, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Australia, France, Germany and many more were to be found partying and dancing the night away. A multitude of Thai people helped balance things out as everyone mixed in unity. The world could learn some valuable lessons from Thailand from the way everyone gets on together.

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There was one gentleman who entertained a number of children for hours on end. His stamina and patience was a joy to watch as he danced with the youngsters for the majority of the night. I was enthralled just watching the kids jubilant smiles as ran around getting into the party spirit. I bet the slept well when they got home!

The band were exceptionally good and before long people of all ages were bopping away on an area retained for dancing.

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I was kept busy, for as at all parties, people see a photographer and wish to have their photos taken. This is me in my element. I love working with people and Thailand has lovely folks in abundance.

I had the opportunity to take photographs of beautiful ladies and handsome men. People with faces that told stories, that lived in appearance.

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Dancing children prancing around having a ball. One little girl saw it as a game, running away just as I was about to press the shutter button. I got her though – in the end.

At the bells streamers and tinsel were strewn everywhere as the band brought in the New Year.

Sadly there was no fireworks out of respect for the late King, who passed away earlier in 2016 but the party was still a massive success, pulling in at a guess around 200-300 guests. Over the piece it would almost certainly be more for visitors came and went as they sought out friends to wish them all the best for 2017.

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Personally I felt tearful at midnight for I miss so many people back home but it didn’t stop me enjoying myself with new friends in Pattaya.

There were no lager louts, no one so drunk that they became troublesome or even a little bit annoying to others in attendance.

So well done to both bars and the festivity goers, who made this a brilliant night to remember.

A happy New Year to one and all and as they say in Scotland “Lang may yer lum reek.”

A full set of photos can be found here https://www.flickr.com/gp/139555139@N07/9xu7V4

 

The Corner House Bar

On Christmas Day I was invited to attend Christmas lunch at the Corner House Bar in Rompho in the city of Pattaya. I didn’t intend to venture far for Yuletide but I decide to take my friend up on his offer. I also took up the option of taking my camera with me.

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I have been in The Corner House a few times previously and always found it a friendly place to have a drink or an inexpensive meal, so I knew roughly what to expect.

Upon arrival, I sat outside, for in Thailand Christmas is a warm event. The sun was splitting the skies as the temperature peaked at around 33 degrees, unlike the cold wintry Crimbos I am accustomed to in my homeland of Scotland. a pleasant change indeed.

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The bar is situated at the corner of the Rompho Market Complex in Jomtien and is one of the first you will observe as you approach the area from Jomtien Beach. It has ample seating inside and out or you can sit on a bar stool within the bar and enjoy the sun as you watch the world go by. It has two open sides, which contributes to its spaciousness, with ambient lighting giving it a homely feel.

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You will be welcomed by friendly and courteous staff, who will serve you swiftly but will never hassle you in anyway. Press the bell for service and the girls will appear, take your order, delivering it to your table posthaste and always with a smile.

There are TVs suspended from the ceiling or walls as the bar offers live football and other sporting events for the customer to peruse whilst enjoying a cold beer.

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The Corner House serves excellent food from a small but varied menu, which is very affordable. The food is delicious and portions are on the large side.

If you fancy a game of pool, there is an excellent pool table in the bar and I am told the pool team is rather good.

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So back to Christmas lunch. Turkey is something I am not a huge fan off, unless it is for Christmas lunch or dinner. My food was well presented and looked mouthwatering. As I sampled my first piece of white meat, I was in heaven. The turkey breast was moist and cooked to perfection. The brown meat matched the breast for taste and quality, mixed with succulent potatoes and trimmings.

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I had of course been working the camera before and had watched with interest how the staff dealt with the high demand, seeing as the bar was sold out for Xmas lunches. They worked their socks of attending to their customers. The kitchen staff, the waitresses and bar girls all toiled in the heat of the moment to ensure that every customer was a happy one.

The bar had a DJ playing a mixture of Christmas tunes and assorted songs covering most genres. However the music was never overpowering, with the volume set so that people could enjoy each others company.

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What truly amazed me, was the diversity of the people in attendance. The majority were from the UK or Australia but it wasn’t single men. The bar had attracted families from the age of seven through to people in the sixties or seventies.

The was an extended table, which had twelve people seated at it, all English, all ages and with one intention; to enjoy themselves.

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The Corner House has a fantastic laid back and friendly atmosphere within good surroundings.

So if you are ever in Rompho and you fancy a quiet drink or a luscious meal or even to take in a football match on TV, then give The Corner House Bar a visit. You will not be disappointed.

Walking Street may be the place for wild nights out but The Corner House offers an alternative that is often desireable. This is a venue where everyone is welcome.

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Rompho Parties

Rompho is a place that will always be close to my heart, even when I decide to depart this magical land of Thailand and more specifically, the amazing city of Pattaya. Rompho is a bar, food and market complex situated in the south of Pattaya at an area known as Jomtien.

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Jomtien itself offers an abundance of bars, massage places, restaurants and shops, not to mention the fabulous beach with its numerous activities; a beach that stretches for a number of kilometres, where you will always find farangs walking and enjoying the splendid weather that Thailand enjoys more often than not.

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But I want to concentrate on the area known as Rompho. What is it you may ask? Well, as you enter the complex from the main road, you will find a busy market place, some of which is indoors but much of it, typically the food stalls at the front are outside. The food area is very popular with tourists and locals alike, especially at night.

 

There are two main thoroughfares, which are roads that divide the complex into two but there is also a couple of walkways that split the bars again, which is for the most part undercover.

On the left there is a line of barbers or hairdressers salons, which breaks for a car park, followed by a large restaurant before concluding with another indoor market.

To the right, is a mixture of bars, massage venues and small eating houses.

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But I am going to concentrate on the bars, and there are many, the names of which will have you giggling at times. Sexy Girl Bar, Piss Bar, No Name Bar and Have Name Bar are a few you will see, the latter two always give me a chuckle when I see them.

Now the central part which sits between the two roads parting the complex, is made up of many small drinking establishments. The best way I can describe most of these is to say they mainly have one back wall, a bar area, a pool table or two, seating around the perimeter and if the bar is big enough, chairs situated outside, sometimes on the street. I will add that the streets rarely have traffic on them other than motorcycles.

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There are no other walls, there may be a supporting beam here or there but that is more or less the structure of the small pub, which in most cases will hold approximately 20 to 75 customers depending on the size of the bar. This is of course on a busy night. Most bars appear busy if they have a dozen customers and six girls working there, simply because of the dimensions of the properties.

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Come closing time, they simply pull down shutters, some metal, some plastic and there are bars that have nothing to prevent people entering the premise when closed. These bars will have chains around their fridges but that is all the security you will find on them. Yet I have never heard of a bar being broken into or damaged after closing time.

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The bars employ girls to serve drinks to the customers. A few employ lady boys, which I find their antics over the evening highly entertaining. I am told that you can bar fine the girls and take them out for a nice meal or go dancing or whatever you both decide to do, although I have never done so myself ūüėČ

Many of these establishments have live entertainment but if not there is always music playing over the speakers, often too loud or even not loud enough but the owners will alter to suit the clientele on the night.

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At the top of the complex is a large Thai buffet, a dance hall of sorts and another largish restaurant. I have never had the pleasure of going that far up Rompho for my entertainment so I have no idea what goes on in that neck of the woods but the buffet appears to do well, being busy any time I have passed by.

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So there you have it. Rompho – a basic insight. But what these bars are good at – is parties. Entertaining the customers. They are the bees knees and a Rompho party is something you must attend if ever in Pattaya.

You do not require an invite. Just walk along and listen for the music or look for where there are canopies outside of bars, a small stage, a DJ or food laid out on tables. Walk in, you will be welcomed with open arms and if you try to walk beyond any bar, there will always be a lady attempting to attract you in with cries of “Hello sexy man” or “Welcome” or “Where you go?” Some may even drag you in if you don’t enter of your own free will but it is all good natured.

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Once at the party, find a seat, a lady will serve you and deliver your chosen drinks to your table. You will not be asked for money, instead you will have a small container, known as your bin, which accumulates till you decide to move on. This is when you pay your bill or “Check Bin.” You should always keep a close eye on your bin though. I have caught people putting their bills into mine but it is rare.

You can sample the food, which is always free of charge to anyone attending the parties. In fact I know people that attend parties just for the food then leave. Shocking behaviour!

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The parties are always great fun. The bar will lay on entertainment of some sort. It may be a DJ or a band. Often it is a singer or three, who take it turns to give their vocal chords some exercise, singing to backing tracks. Some of these artists are good, others are dreadful but occasionally they are simply brilliant.

Drag artists, dancers, showmen, magicians may come along at intervals and entertain you with their own brand of amusement and again it is a hit or a miss if they have any talent.

Towards the end of the night, drunken people will get up on the stage, grab the microphone and make a complete fool of themselves but it is all in the name of fun and enjoyment.

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Thais know how to throw a party and the ladies love to dance and/or sing. Once they have sampled enough Thai Whisky or Tequila, their principles go out the window or they would if there was windows and the dancing commences.

There are bars that appear to throw parties every night. Someone’s birthday is usually the reason and often it may be a member of staff who is celebrating being a year older. Other bars never have parties, not even for their own staff. Shame on you ūüôā This is Pattaya – people come here to have fun, drink and be merry, sex and rock ‘n’ roll and dancing the night away.

The night will be split into western music and Thai music. I have heard farangs complain about having to listen to Thai music but hey – you are in Thailand in case you have failed to notice. Once is a while a Thai song will have you tapping your feet or singing along with your own interpretation of the words. if not, sit back and watch the ladies dancing. They can be sexy, they can be provocative or simply downright mad but they will always have fun.
Everyone who comes to Pattaya will always head to Walking Street, which of course is world famous for its Go Go Bars and sexy ladies or Soi 6 and LK Metro, the latter being my own preference if I am down Soi Buakhao way but in my opinion, you should never come to Pattaya and not put a couple of evenings aside for Rompho. It is an experience you will never forget if you hit the right bar, with fun loving people and girls galore.

Rompho offers good food, cheap beer, sexy girls, respect and the parties – well they are the best. And if it is all too much for you, come back the following day and enjoy a Thai massage.

Street Photography

I have always had a love of street photography especially that of a candid nature, that is to say, when the subjects are unaware of your presence. I believe that if you are discreet, the end result is always more pleasing and natural.

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I had messed around for a few years with the subject but confidence betrayed me more often than not. That was until I met the legend that was David Hannah. Davie as we will call him, introduced me to new aspects of photography and with his help, my self-assurance grew, not to mention my skill level, which was greatly enhanced thanks to Mr. Hannah.

The man acquainted me with night shoots, light trails, sunsets and landscapes, whilst in return, I gave him his first taste of studio work.

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But it was my love of working with people that always won me over. It does not matter if it was an event such as a concert, a sporting occasion, a model shoot or simply walking the streets observing and patiently waiting for the right moment or incident to occur.

For instance in image one above, I spotted the lady in a world of her own in a coffee shop as I passed by in the darkness. I took the photo and disappeared into the night, leaving her totally unaware of my presence – and that for me is the secret of street work.

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It was Davie who taught me about Bokeh/Depth of Field or gave me greater clarification on the subject at least. We would walk the streets of Glasgow and I would observe his positioning, request details of his camera settings and ask every question under the sun as I picked his brain.

Street musicians are often a great source of images and will usually have no problem with you taking a photo or two in return for a few pennies in their hat or box. Buskers are there to make money at the end of the day and are wonderful subjects. Incidentally, the gent above does some brilliant covers of T. Rex, Slade and Mungo Jerry to name a few.

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The homeless make another smashing subject and although I won’t show images of those less fortunate than myself here, I always asked permission before taking the photos and gave them a couple of pounds for some nourishment.

Often I would go out with the view of covering an event such as half marathon or in the instance above, an annual bicycle race in Glasgow. when there is no star attraction, I would focus on the crowds or anything else of interest. This would occur frequently on the football terraces in matches I attended.

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In many instances, the photo you are looking for magically appears in front of you, like the one with selective colouring or the girls reflections. As soon as I saw them, I had the image imprinted in my mind and how I would edit it once I returned home.

Or the one with the girl holding the sign. N0thing unusual there but add to it, her reading a book, and her angry or bored expression and you have a better image. She was totally engrossed in her novel, and once again, discretion is key.

Below is one that I took over and over again, whilst standing in the shadows of Jessops on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. I could picture what I was trying to capture but the lady in the image, didn’t play ball, in that the way she blew the smoke from her cigarette would affect the final production. Finally after numerous attempts, we nailed it. I say we but she knew nothing of it. Patience is a virtue though.

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The next one I adore, simply because it could have been taken anywhere. In fact, Glasgow is probably the last city I would consider for this ones origin but it does go someway into displaying the cities diversity these days.

I have no idea if this is mother and child or grandmother but I like the capture nevertheless.

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Sometimes when walking the streets with a camera, you draw attention to yourself and my next image reflects one of those occasions.

It is posed, because the lady in this offering was a model I had had the pleasure of working with previously and she recognised me as she and her family passed by. She took the time to speak to me and happily posed.

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She even permitted me to take a few pictures of her children, who are just as photogenic as Ashley is and a studio shoot was arranged with them. I may do a post based on that shoot at a later time, for they are excellent models in their own right.

We often see street musicians but this was my first encounter with a magician on Glasgow’s streets.

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A few card tricks to grab people’s attention before moving on to the more inventive saucery. What annoys me about these sort of acts is the way people will stand and enjoy the show then walk away like they had not observed their talent at all. And for what? To save a few coppers by not rewarding the entertainer. Come on, stop being a tight ass and give them a few pennies from your pockets.

I am going to leave you with an image of a man that is responsible for all that I love about photography. I mentioned Davie as I commenced this post and it is only fitting that I conclude with one of him.

Unfortunately he is no longer with us but he will always be with me in spirit. Rarely do I pick up my camera without reminiscing about the good times we enjoyed when out and around various cities, beaches or mountains with our trusty camera. RIP big man. Miss you.

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First Shoot In The Rain

The main differences between the rain in the UK and that of Thailand is simple to explain. Whilst it would be easy to say the rain is warmer here, for it is, the real divergency is the atmospheric storms.

If thunder and lightning scare the pants of you, do not come to Thailand during the wet season. You know the storms are on their way when you hear a roar of thunder away in the distance. The wind will start to pick up before the calm, then all hell breaks loose.

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The skies darken, the electrically charged heavens detonate sheets of lightning every few minutes or even seconds and thunder rumbles resoundingly, often when least expecting it, startling you. The noise is deafening at times and with the lightshow, it can be a truly sensational experience.

Then the rain falls. Within minutes the streets are flooded with three or four inches of water. The levels of deluge increase and before you know it, there can be a couple feet of rainwater on the roads, making life very difficult for the drivers.

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Motorbikes will be stranded, dogs can be seen swimming in the middle of the road, oblivious to the cars, passing slowly around them. No doubt the canines are enjoying the coolness of the water and accepting the respite from the heat and humidity gleefully.

But life continues. Many vehicles here are 4x4s for this very reason. Traffic jams galore are founded around the city but people will get to their destinations eventually. Although I saw one video taken in Pattaya that featured a motorbike being carried away by the torrents of water, despite the best efforts of the driver and passersby attempts to thwart the process.

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I adore the wet season. It is a spectacular time but I daresay that the business owners and motorbike taxi drivers, despise this time of year.

So on to the photos. Most were taken on Jomtien Beach or streets nearby. First up is a chap doing his utmost to maintain dry feet. He was doing rather well in my opinion, for I was beachside, knee deep in the mucky water to take this photo. No need for Wellington Boots or waders. Just get the sandals and shorts on. The water is warm at least.

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Below this image, is a 4×4 taking workers home just as the rain commenced. They spotted me with the camera and I got the customary yells of “hey take our picture” as they passed by. Thai people in the main, appear to enjoy getting involved with my camera, which of course adds to the pleasure it brings me.

Back to Jomtien Beach and this poor gent has to take the rubbish out. To make matters worse, he has to cross the road to deposit his wastebin for collection. At this point, the water was a few inches deep but the road was fast filling up as the drains failed to cope with the mass of rain.

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The next two were taken not far from my condo. The first is basically self explanatory but if you look closely at the second one featuring a red and white motorcycle and sidecar, the driver is sucking frantically on his cigarette.

Now I have witnessed some unusual sights on motorbikes; from dogs and cats riding in baskets on the front of the bike to four people including babies being transported around the city. Drivers smoking is not an odd sight by any means but how desperate are you to smoke in a downpour?
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My final offering was taken as the storm began. This is the view from my balcony, overlooking the swimming pool and gym, with the latter featuring in this image. The skies have darkened as the clouds rolled in, the trees bending in the wind and the rain is lashing the roof of the circular gym.

I took this just before heading out in a 4×4 taxi to look for flooding and photos. Sadly I left it 30 minutes too late so most of the representation of stormy Thailand above, is actually the aftermath of this rainstorm. The flooding was beginning to subside, much to my annoyance.

Next time!

 

 

 

Pattaya At Night

Most of my images so far from Thailand have been taken during the daytime when half the city is asleep. By this I mean those who work in the entertainment industry.

This is of course is what the city is famous throughout the world for but is nothing like it is portrayed as. Yes of course there are bars where you can see pretty girls dancing naked and despite prostitution being illegal, you can pay girls to spend the night with you.

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But you should be aware that the lady and you are entering a personal agreement not you and the bar you met her in. I will also point out that 99% of the girls are brilliant. They are normal human beings and in my opinion deserve a lot more respect that they receive. You will find a bad apple in any walk of life but be careful, act sensibly and respectfully and you will enjoy this wonderful city and its night time activities. Plus there are some awesome music venues, pool bars and restaurants to be found.

Girls flock here for work in the way that tourists come in their droves for fun. But unlike other countries, it is not as seedy because the ladies who work the bars here are doing so to provide food, schooling, medical care and clothes for their children or to send money home to their parents, who will live, more often than not, hundreds of miles away, usually¬†looking after the girl’s babies.

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It is a very different way of life from what us westerners are accustomed to.

I have deliberately avoided posting images of the workers from the touristy Walking Street or LK Metro because I see no need to do so. There are thousands of images available on the internet and websites that will provide you with all the information you require. Most are excellent and informative and worth reading before coming to Thailand.

My posting today is for photography purposes only.

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The top image is taken from The Pattaya Beer Garden¬†and features the Pattaya City sign. Unfortunately the “CITY” part was not illuminated for reasons unknown to me, I guess a fault in the wiring due to the heavy rainfall we have here during the wet season. But I still like it, with the reflections on the water adding interest to the photo.

The second one is of the same sign but taken from Bali Hai Pier, which is much closer to the point of interest. Again the lights are reflecting on the surface of the sea and the colours have changed as they do every few seconds.

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Some evenings there is a laser show. I have yet to determine where it is coming from but various coloured beams of light shoot up into the night sky and would make a spectacular photograph. One for another evening I hope.

Sunsets. Something an old friend, who recently passed away, loved to capture, often along the beaches of Ayrshire or the mountains of Glencoe in Scotland. He introduced me to sunsets and as such I still make the odd attempt to snap them wherever possible. On this occasion I have to confess to cheating slightly. Although we were 30 minutes away from darkness, I forced the mood and lighting by altering the ISO and Shutter Speed of the camera to produce the effect of the sun going down. It also fabricated the silhouettes of those playing beach volleyball.

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My next offering was taken at Jomtien Night Market, a stones throw from the volleyball players. Basically it is across the road. This was my first visit to the market, which is a small, compact offering with an abundance of stalls selling a diverse array of food and the normal clothes and touristy items. Well worth a visit if you are in the Jomtien area.

Back to Walking Street. I was heading from Bali Hai to the Pattaya Beer Garden for dinner, when I passed this youngster with her hula hoops, doing her act in the hope of visitors dropping 20 Baht into her tip box. Coming from the UK, I am wary when photographing children, so I asked Nom to check it was OK to do so.

Now it was not the girls looks nor her expertise with a hula hoop that was bringing in the tips. It was her adeptness for shouting out “I love you” to passers by who simply fell for her cuteness and in turn placed money in her tin.

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I will end this post with an image, which was again taken from the Beer Garden. Whilst not having a tripod with me to make use of slow shutter speeds and thus avoiding camera shake, I utilised the wooden beams around the restaurant to rest the camera on to get this one. It features Seazone, which by all accounts is a wonderful seafood restaurant on Walking Street. This of course is to the rear of Walking Street. As you can see, it is a busy place.

Dont forget to follow me by hitting the button on the righthand side of the blog. You will find links to my facebook page and a contact sheet, should you desire to do so.

My next post will feature the wet season. Rain, rain and more rain.