Friday, 24 December 2010

Chalit finds bliss behind the camera

As a photographer, Chalit Chawalitangkun is kept busy in the northern city of Chiang Rai snapping feature stories for glossy lifestyle magazines. Often this is of local artists, given the burgeoning artistic community up there.

Other than people there's a lot of nature, history and architecture to photograph. "Chiang Rai has a very long history and traditions that can be traced back into hundred of years. Its border connects  with Laos and Myanmar. Geographically, we have lots of hills and mountains," he says with a slight American accent, picked up from studying photography in Tennessee, USA. 

His birthplace, Chiang Saen on the Mae Khong (Mekong) River, has even more visible history, with chedis and city walls dating back to the 1200s. It's a popular place for tourists to take boats across to Laos or just sightseeing up and down the mighty river.

When not behind the camera, Chalit -- who farangs often mistakenly call Charlie -- tinkers with building valve amplifiers (he studied engineering before realising it wasn't what he really wanted to do), listens to music, watches movies or reads books.

"Life here is leaning toward slow going pace," he says, understatedly. Maybe that's why his studio is called Bliss.But he loves northern Thailand ...

"I prefer it over others because I evolved around this part and there's nowhere like home. The climate of this area has a lot to offer. The air is cleaner compared to bigger cities, there are more trees here for you to feel getting close to mother nature. Most important of all, I think the real beauty of the north lies within the people. People are kind and friendly. There's smile every where you go."

Chalit captures his Northern Thailand Top 5 travel tips: 

1/ Doi Tung: "Started off as a development project of Royal Forest Department, now Doi Tung is a very famous attraction point for tourists. It has a big floral garden which changes every season. It has a museum for educating those interested about Doi Tung."

2/ Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai: "A beautiful and unique white temple, worth checking it out. It also has a gallery showing Chalermchai Kositpipat's works. He's a painting artist and a builder/designer of this temple."

3/ Golden Triangle, Chiang Saen: "Used to be known for opium producing area. This area is adjacent to Myanmar and Laos and separated by Mae Khong river and form a triangle, hence the name."

4/Hall of Opium, Chiang Saen: "For deeper understanding of the Golden Triangle during its peak, this museum offers in-depth knowledge about drugs in this area. Incorporated with knowledge about opium traced back to China, makes this museum worth visiting."

5/ Slung Kham restaurant, Chiang Rai: "The name means 'golden bowl' in English. This restaurant is famous for their authentic Northern Thai food." No English sign. 834/3 Phahonyothin Road, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Rai.  053-71-7192

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