Maitree Siriboon – Thai Village Boy Becomes Acclaimed Artist

Portrait of Maitree Siriboon

Maitree Siriboon was born iand raised in a rural village in Ubon Ratchathani, Isan, (in the north-eastern region of Thailand). At age 15, he Around 10 years ago he moved to Bangkok to study art, first at the College of Fine Art and later at Silpakorn University where he received his Bachelors in Fine Art.

Buffalo Boy with Flowers

The multi-talented Thai artist works in various media – mosaic collages, installations, performances, and most recently, photography.

Mosaic Buffalo

Maitree incorporates much of his childhood landscape into his art, where one can view a colorful scheme of trees, farmers, rice paddies, and water buffalo.

Buffalo Boy with Laptop

According to Maitree, “I’m an Isarn Boy who dreams of making art that heals the world both naturally and spiritually. My home, Ubon Rathchantani, gave me life as a child.”

P_KanaKukui_Maitree Siriboon_5.jpg

The 30-year-old has a wonderful collection of photography and mosaic pieces that pay tribute to water buffalo – appropriately entitled “Buffalo’s Heart”.

Panda buffalo

In recent times, a common insult in Thai is to call someone ‘kwai’ _ a ‘buffalo’. The term is used to describe someone who is less educated, difficult to teach, foolish, or stupid.

Maitree Siriboon in staw pile with water buffalo

Maitree is not amused by the term, as he believes that the buffalo, through its hard work that helped build Thailand into a rice-farming nation, was a key component to building Thailand into the modern nation it is today. Through his work, the artist hopes to restore the dignity of the lovely kwai.

Maitree Siriboon lying on water buffalo

Maitree is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Bangkok Bank Art Award, and the Silpakorn Pradit Award. His art has been featured in an array of publications, such as The Nation, Elle, Contemporary Magazine, and Art Asia Pacific.

November Photo Opportunity: The Monkey Banquet of Lopburi

F_KanaKukui_Thailand_Lopburi_festival_1.jpg

Looking for an unusual festival to photograph? Head over to Thailand for the Lopburi Monkey Banquet Festival held at the Phra Prang Sam Yot shrine. Located in central Thailand’s provincial capital of Lopburi, this Khmer shrine is inhabited year-round by hundreds of long-tailed macaques.

Monkeys climbing pile of food at the Lopburi Monkey Banquet Festival, Thailand

Despite stealing food and generally being a nuisance, the monkeys are a part of the daily life of the local community, as the townspeople believe they bring good luck and fortune. Having free reign of the town, the monkeys enter public buildings and traverse roads like any other citizen.

Close-up of monkeys feasting at the Lopbuti Monkey Banquest Festival

On the last Sunday of November, the Lopburi monkeys are honored with a huge feast set out on long tables in the ruins of the shrine. The delicacies offered include an abundant spread including sticky rice, tropical fruit salad frozen in ice blocks and an egg-yolk pudding.

The Giant Lantern Festival, San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines

People come from all over to attend the festival and watch the monkeys as they scamper on the tables and enjoy the feast.

Monkeys feasting at the Lopburi Monkey Banquet Festival, Thailand

Initially shy in front of the hundreds of spectators, the monkeys eventually get in the swing of things – gorging on the food, guzzling sodas, throwing pudding at each other, and generally causing a ruckus. This riotous monkey spectacle will delight any and all photographers.

Monkey walking of food banquet at the Lopburi Monkey Banquet Festival

Once the monkeys’ appetites are satiated, and the remainder of the food is on the ground, the monkeys return to the treetops to sleep off their indulgence. A fun, and unique, festival, you’ll leave the Lopburi Monkey Banquet Festival with a lot of great shots in your memory cards.

Crowds photographing the monkeys at the Lopburi Monkey Banquet Festival

Suggested Photo Locations in Bangkok

L_KanaKukui_Bangkok_Traffic.jpg

Due to Bangkok’s horrendous traffic congestion, visitors with just a bit of time on their hands are not going to be able to see many of the sites. Depending on how much time you have, the following are a few suggestions for photography.

 

Wat Pho
Reclining gold buddha statue at Wat Pho, Thailand

Wat Pho is where you’ll find the famous Reclining Buddha. This 15-meter high, 46-meter long, gilded statue is probably the most photographed Buddha in Thailand. But, it would be a tremendous mistake not to also explore the huge temple complex with its many elegant buildings, monks going about their lives, and even birds perched on the temple roof.

Grand Palace - Bangkok
The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Located in central Bangkok, the Grand Palace is a complex of buildings that was the former seat of the king. There are many truly stunning buildings to photograph, but pay attention to the signs as there are strict rules governing what is allowed to be photographed (particularly inside).

Soi Cowboy, Bangkok
Soi Cowboy nightlife district at night, Bangkok

If you’re feeling adventurous one evening, visit Soi Cowboy to get photos of Bangkok’s notorious nightlife. This street is ablaze with garish neon lights, and its denizens are used to photographers. Still, you should avoid snapping away at the working girls on the street as they usually don’t want their faces photographed.

Bangkok with a Bang
Boat traffic on the Chao Praya River in Bangkok

An easy way to get a lot of great photos of Bangkok is to take a boat up the Chao Praya River. For a nominal fee, the boat takes you by stilt houses, kids playing in the river, cargo barges carrying all sorts of goods downriver, and ferries carrying passengers from one side of the river to the other.

Wat Arun
Wat Arun temple at night, Bangkok

Finally, one of the most alluring images you can take of ancient Bangkok would be a photo of Wat Arun, known as the ‘Temple of Dawn’. Although the temple is located on the Thonburi side of the Chao Praya River, the best photos of it are taken from the opposite side of the river.

Many first-time travellers to Asia, particularly those on business, have asked about easily accessible photo opportunities in the cities they visit. This post is part of an ongoing series, each on a different Asian city, introducing a few photo locations for visitors with limited time.