Travels in Thailand

Photographer Oupa Nkosi found himself at home in the bustling streets of Bangkok and the laid-back island of Koh Samui

It’s not surprising tourism is Thailand’s number-one employment generator — as a Jo’burger it’s amazing to walk down the street at any time of the day or night and not fear being robbed. It’s great to walk into a restaurant and feel welcomed and appreciated by the incredibly warm Thai people.

Everywhere you turn there are tuk-tuks, scooters, people selling, people buying and police officers all over the place. Thai people are patient and hard working, opening their businesses early and closing late every day.

Bangkok is 200 years old with a population of 10-million people, and rich and poor live side by side. It has incredible poverty next to hi-tech hospitals and shiny shopping malls.

The Grand Palace complex was built in 1782 and contains the royal residence, a number of government offices and the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Ninety percent of the population is Buddhist.


The Thai are passionate about their food, which is low in fat but high in flavour. Standard Thai menus have up to eight courses with dishes such as tom yum goong (spicy soup with prawn), brown rice and steamed vegetables with egg whites, sho muang (flour shell with a chicken and onion filling), kratongthong (crispy noodles in a pastry shell) and yam hed tang chanid (spicy assorted mushroom salad) — enough to convert me to the exotic cuisine.

Fast-food outlets are few and far between and most stalls sell fruit, veggies, fish and soup in the organised chaos that is Bangkok’s streets.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of images from Thailand

The city’s public transport system is intriguing. When buses, taxis and tuk-tuks are trapped in the traffic, skip it and buy a ticket on the sky train. The trains are air-conditioned and have televisions and clear route maps. Also, every stop is announced so tourists can’t get lost.

When you’ve had enough of crazy city life there’s only one thing to do — head for the islands. They are the best places to be if you want to relax and have fun.

Koh Samui has breathtaking beaches such as Cheweng, Lamia, Natien and Taling Ngam. The neighbouring small islands in the Mu Koh Angthong National Park are ideal for a day boat trip — or opt for a romantic, candlelit cruise on the Chao Phraya River with the Temple of Dawn in the background.

Oupa Nkosi travelled to Thailand as a guest of Thompsons Holidays

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Oupa Nkosi
Oupa Nkosi

Oupa Nkosi began taking photos in 1998 with a pawnshop camera, before enrolling at the Market Photography Workshop. He began freelancing after graduating and has since run community projects, won a Bonani Africa award, had his work selected for exhibitions in Zimbabwe and Japan, and been invited to international workshops. He began at the M&G as an intern and is now chief photographer. He also writes features for the paper and lectures at his alma mater.

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