Photo a Day: Soi Dog No. 1

A Photo a Day Paen to Thailand’s Soi Dogs

A soi dog outside a Starbucks on Beach Road in Pattaya, Thailand

If you’ve ever been to Southeast Asia in general and Thailand in particular, you’ll notice a lot of stray dogs and cats, particularly pooches. In discussing this with indigenous friends, it seems this is in part due to Buddhist philosophy and very old animist beliefs, part ignorance and part plain apathy. Bear in mind I’m not criticizing, just noting the reality and what I’ve found; if you disagree by all means please chime in.

Unlike some guide books I’ve read, and complaints I’ve seen and heard tourists make, for me personally this has never proved an issue. In my three years of living here — here being Thailand and Viet Nam, with the odd trip to Cambodia or Laos — I’ve only ever had one issue with a stray dog — or soi dog, if you will (soi being a Thai word for side street). And this was because some local ne’er do wells had been provoking a group of dogs, and they were kind of worked up, and one started to come after me as I happened to walk past.

I’m not sure whether it was my father’s country-boy teaching or what, but from somewhere in the depths of my prior learning and experience, I remembered to keep my wits and not run away, but rather took a step towards the dog, threw up my hands and hollered — loudly. The poor dear immediately backed away with her tail between her legs.

Nevertheless, out of all the inoculations I’ve had for traveling abroad, for one brief moment I wished I had gotten the rabies one. But I wasn’t angry at the dog, but rather at the drunken butt wipes teasing them.

Also bear in mind, I walk past soi dogs, most of whom belong to no one and have no one taking care of them except in the most marginal of capacities — if they are lucky, they reside near a temple — virtually every day. If you leave your abode, and you live in a community of any size here, odds are you walk past a stray mutt. Go to a 7-11/Family Mart (or a Circle K in Viet Nam) and you almost certainly will encounter a soi dog or two.

So I’ve probably walked by stray dogs more than 1,000 times over the past three years; probably at least 1,500 times. And out of all those dogs, there only been a problem with one. Others’ experiences may differ, and I know a frequent visitor here who has been bitten by a soi dog — but this is mine. Actually some of them are quite sweet; all of them will seemingly leave you alone if you leave them alone.

I actually walk past the aforementioned pooch who came after me quite frequently; as I say, if some local hoodlums hadn’t been messing with her and her pack mates, it wouldn’t have happened.

Interesting Subjects

For some time I’ve had this idea of starting a Tumblr or even a specific site devoted to photographs of Thailand’s soi dogs; there are some interesting mutts out there, living by there wits alone in the naked city. Maybe I can help drive some traffic and attention to the non-profits out there devoted to helping them, too.

Maybe the sweety pictured above will be my first one. She is usually out front a Starbucks most mornings. There’s another male dog hanging around, too, but I didn’t see him today. I was waiting for a songthaew this morning and spied her under the chair, snoozing, and busted out my phone.




Photo a Day: Rainy Day at the Beach

Or: Photo a Day Gets Some Help from a Gradient Map

This was actually taken a few weeks ago when I met some friends down in Sodom-on-Sea, also-known-as Pattaya. It’s a bad as you’ve been led to believe, which is why it is so much fun. Even when it rains.

Jeff Chappell's Photo a Day Goes to the Beach

I was tinkering with black and white settings in Photoshop, and then thought I’d tinker with gradient maps; found one I like in the photo tint ones. Excelsior.

Photo a Day: Back to Thai School Edition

Photo a Day Stuck in a Thai School Daze

If you’re North American or European — dunno about the southern hemisphere peeps — you may read this and think, “Wait … what? It’s not back to school time. In fact it’s almost summer vacation/summer holidays time? What gives?”

Well in those aforementioned parts of the world, you would be correct. But here in Thailand, as in other nearby Southeast Asian countries, it’s nearly back to school time, as summer break is winding down. Yes, it may not be technically summer just yet in the northern hemisphere, but the two hottest months in this part of the world are April and May. It’s officially hot season, and as such, public school kids are on what they call their summer break in the month of April.

Schools are closed, and it many families take holiday trips this time of year; it also happens to correspond with the Thai New Year, or Songkran.

So I walked into Tesco Lotus this evening to pick up a few things, and was greeted by row upon row of the standard public school Thai uniform: off-white short-sleeve shirt and blue dress shorts for boys or skirts for girls. Thai school kids generally wear a version of this or something similar all the way through high school; even most colleges require their students to dress in a similar fashion, although I believe the boys have to don ties as well (poor dudes).

School generally starts again the first full week in May (they get another month-long break in October, and there are a number of holidays throughout the year for which schools close.

How do know all this? I taught in a Thai public school for a semester, my first teaching job after getting my CELTA certification. It was … challenging, to say the least. Fortunately this past year in Viet Nam redeemed ESL teaching for me.

Anyway, this image struck me, so I busted out the Nokia N8 and snapped a picture; it’s a natural for the official (and SEO friendly) Jeff Chappell Photo a Day posting.  It’s nice to have a decent image sensor/camera on my phone for once. Of course I prettyfied it in Photoshop.

For whatever reason,  I think this image looses something in the small size. Not all images do, but I think this one does, so I made the original image size bigger than usual; clicken to embiggen, as always.

Jeff Chappell's Photo a Day: Back to Thai School edition

P.S. I was technically a little late with this, but I was just looking up the links and got sidetracked reading old blog posts. Besides, with the magic of WordPress, I can make it look like it was posted prior to the Photo a Day deadline of midnight, local time, heh.

Coconuts in the Sun: a Photo a Day

Let Me Go on, Like a Coconut in the Sun

coconuts in the sun: Jeff Chappell's Photo a Day

I spied these coconuts on a neighbor’s porch the other day, and thought to myself, there’s a photograph. I’m not sure if they are drying or just inadvertently left lying around, or what; she wasn’t around to ask and I doubt if my Thai or her English is up to the task, in any event.

I was leaving my pad today, in the early afternoon hazy sunlight and busted out the Nokia N8 to snap this photograph. You see a lot of this sort of thing in my neighborhood in Bang Plat, a community within Bangkok right on the river — it’s a slice of rural Thai community smack in the heart of the urban megalopolis. No doubt it will be featured much in the future in a Photo a Day.

As for this image, other than a little cropping and minor tweaking in Photoshop, as always, here are the coconuts. And that’s our Photo a Day photo today.

Oh, apologies to the Violent Femmes.

Give it enough light, and the N8’s image sensor whups that ass. Here’s a detail from the original photograph, with no size compression. As always, click the images to embiggen.

coconuts in the sun: Jeff Chappell's Photo a Day