When we are traveling in Thailand, I take lots of pictures, and I have noticed that my favorite ones happen to be pictures of old women. Now I’m going to be a bit cliché, but every picture tells a story, and old people are amazing with wrinkles representing years of experience. Below are four different old women from different parts of the country each of them telling a different story.
A long-neck woman in Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Since the 80’s due to the conflict with the military regime in Burma, Kayan tribes have fled their homeland over the Thai border where refugee camps were set up. The beautiful women with brass rings around their necks has become a popular tourist attraction, and my meeting with one of them was extraordinary. With 24 brass rings around her neck, this amazing-looking woman truly fascinates me. Despite being photographed, surely every day, she was kind and patient when I took some portraits of her. She makes a living by selling beautiful handmade textiles to tourists, and as thanks for letting me photograph her, we bought some with a helpful tip.
My wife’s 86-year old grandmother in Lam Thap, Krabi
Every time I meet my wife’s grandmother, she is sitting proudly with her legs crossed cracking betel nuts and grinding them to powder as she can’t chew well enough anymore. Mixing betel nut with betel leaf and limestone paste provides a stimulant and psychoactive effect. She is a tiny woman weighing 32 kg, but her experience weighs heavily raising a big family in Lam Thap, Krabi during some pretty hard times losing her first son during the communist insurgency and later her second son to cancer.
Paddling woman at Damnoen Saduak floating market
Damnoen Saduk floating market 90 km southwest of Bangkok is an excellent place to take interesting pictures of old women in small wooden boats known as sampans. One woman wearing a purple shirt and a traditional straw hat caught my attention because of her fun facial expressions as she paddled around the canal selling guava and rose apples. Starting working early morning when the market is at its busiest and quitting around noon, I can’t stop wondering how many miles of paddling this woman has in her back.
A Buddhist nun in Phuket Town
One day when we went to a morning wet market in Phuket Town, we walked past an old nun on her alms round holding her alms bowl sharing some peaceful energy to the locals who showed some huge respect — not only because she is a nun, but also because of her age. Both young and older people took their shoes off and bowed with a ‘Wai’ gesture — a way of greeting and a sign of respect and thankfulness. I would love to take some close-up pictures, but I wanted to give this adorable nun some space.
There you got it, four beautiful old women making this world a more interesting place.