Mr Heng in Bangkok Chinatown is a most welcoming man. Not content with serving me home made juice and bottles of water, he took great care to brew and serve some reviving Oolong tea… perfectly timed at the point where I had grown weary and wandered down an enticing alleyway and towards his mechanic shop. He beckoned me inside, observing quickly that I looked tired (why keep such observations to yourself, after all?). We drank copious cups of tea while attempting to communicate in my extremely limited Thai. The tea kept flowing and I was most grateful for the opportunity to rest for a while.

Mr Heng serving tea in China Town, Bangkok

Starting this week I set out with a project in mind to photograph ‘Local Communities’. My aim: to capture portraits and images of diverse groups and communities, from people within a specific locality, to various social and cultural gatherings which thrive within the Big Mango. I chose to start with working communities in the backstreets of Chinatown, Bangkok.

It was fresh and clear on Monday morning as I headed purposefully towards my destination. Many people in Bangkok will be familiar with the main thoroughfares of Chinatown and I’ve certainly had my share of trawling shopping streets and eateries there. This time, I wanted to wander freely and discover quiet alleyways and hidden gems away from the noise and bustle of the main street. These narrow arteries are still madly industrious. No dull, utilitarian workspace here, but a vibrant blend of strong and vibrant colours and smells.

Man in blue, Chinatown, Bangkok

Along the way, I captured a few irresistible images of the fabulous colours around me.  For starters, a man in royal blue polo shirt, under a royal blue awning, fringed by royal blue shutters on either side of his shop. 

Another man wearing a dark red sweatshirt, working directly in front of a perfectly matched painted wall. And another in an oily blue shirt fixing an oily blue engine – with matching oily blue bucket placed strategically in the foreground.

Pink man between green shutters, Chinatown, Bangkok

Then, just as I’d settled into the theme of matching colours I spotted an exhausted welder seated between brilliant green shutters, wearing an even brighter and more brilliant pink top.  Fabulous.

How easily people break into a smile and humour the ‘farang’ with the camera, Thailand must be one of the most welcoming and tolerant places on earth.

"Go on then, take a picture!" Old lady smiling in Bangkok Chinatown

This lady didn’t speak but seemed keen to be photographed. When I asked her if this was ok, she simply moved towards me with a friendly smile. I took that to be a ‘yes’ and she seemed most pleased with the results.

I found Mr. Achoon sitting on his chair at a busy intersection. He was a remarkably engaging and spritely character for his eighty-five years.

What a pleasant way to start a project on Local Communities. And what better setting than the richly diverse and colourful working communities of Bangkok China Town.


February 11, 2010 - 8:52 pm Polly - LOVE those colours ....... and of course those smiling faces. It just brings me back to the happy smiley people of Thailand ...... bring it on Jackie!!

March 21, 2010 - 10:16 am Pooja Kishnani - Jackie, these photographs are so beautiful!

April 12, 2010 - 11:42 am Kaylea - Wow Jackie. The colours in these photos are amazing! I love the first one with the man with the teapot. Which lens did you use for that? Hope you are well and will follow your blog now that I know it is here! Kaylea

April 22, 2010 - 5:32 pm Cathy - Hi Jackie, Just found your blog through Gavin Gough - lovely series of portraits. Seeing yours and Gavin's work makes me want to come and live in Bangkok! Cheers, Cathy

April 28, 2010 - 11:19 am jackierado - Many thanks for the comments - I feel very lucky to be photographing in Thailand where there's so much to see and people are so warm and tolerant of camera-wielding foreigners! Most pictures are taken with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8, although the first required the widest angle on a 16-35mm f/2.8 to fit everything in!