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Temple of the Sun | by Surrealize
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Temple of the Sun

Another pic from my recent trip to Thailand. This is the famous Wat Arun, taken from across the Chao Phraya River. This may have been the hardest I've ever had to work to capture a sunset. Not hard to find the best angle, but hard just to find a place to shoot from at all! I thought I was prepared for this shot and left my hotel well in advance so I'd have enough time to run around and a good photo location. The first problem that it was rush hour in Bangkok and I needed to get across town, more than 5 miles to get to this spot. This particular gridlock was so bad that even our little "Tuk Tuk" (3 wheeled golf cart) was unable to move. After 10 minutes of roasting in the near 100 degree heat and soaking in so much exhaust from the cars and busses that my skin actually started to darken, our Tuk Tuk driver told us to get out. He said simply "10 minute... that way ... go!" and so it was time to hoof it. All of the busses were actually vacant as the locals know they can apparently walk faster when it gets this bad!


The next problem was that I didn't actually know where I needed to go. I mean, I could see the spot that had been marked on a map and I had a pretty good idea of where I currently was, but it was tough to gauge exactly how far it actually was. So I started off with a brisk pace, carrying about 20 pounds of photo gear with me. I was confident that I'd have enough time. After 10 minutes, I looked back at the map and had only moved a fraction of the way. Hmmm.. perhaps Thai minutes are different, my pace starts to quicken. Another 10 minutes goes by, I can see the sun going down fast now, I know my time is running out. A quick check to the map... half way there. At this point, I freak out... this is my last night in Bangkok and my only chance to get this shot. The sunset looks to be incredible... I make the call to start jogging. The 20 pounds of photo gear feels more like 100. Sweat is no longer dripping but flowing down my face in this incredible heat. I'm camouflaged from all the exhaust that has now stuck to my skin.


The sun is setting fast... too fast. I'm honestly thinking about the sad faces of all my friends and family who will never get to see this amazing sunset that will likely now be gone by the time I get there... IF I ever get there. One last surge of energy, I'm close. I can smell the water... wait, that's just sweat... but a quick check to the map confirms that I'm close. I can now see taller buildings along what must be a river bank. The color behind the buildings is really starting to explode. I catch a glimpse of water through a crack between two buildings... I can see the top of one of the Wat spires... I'm here. But now I'm not sure where to go. I walk down an alleyway and head towards what appears to be an opening. It's a ferry boat launch and there is no place to shoot from. And there it is, the sun is actually setting... ah... I've got to find a spot. I come back out to the main street and see another corridor. I sprint past a bunch of local fisherman toward the water. I can only imagine that site... a sweat drenched, red-faced man, now blackened and hobbling... it must have looked like I had just crossed a desert. I see a floating dock on top of the water, with the Wat Arun across the river behind it. Boats are flying down the river kicking up large waves that make the floating dock almost impossible to stand on but I have to as it's the only unobstructed vantage. Camera already set up for the right settings, I fire off 3 sets of 9 bracketed exposures. Phew... I got the shot... now time to relax :)


Sorry for the Flickr drop off, lots of stuff going on and quite a few client gigs that have kept me busy. I'm looking forward to catching up on all that I missed this week!

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Taken on February 10, 2010