Change is good right?
I don’t talk a lot about personal things here on the blog, but there is a story that I wanted to share.
Back in March of this year, my wife Natisha and I finally went on our honeymoon to Thailand. We spent the month backpacking across the country, staying in $8/night guesthouses, eating amazing foods, sweating non-stop, diving in the ocean, meeting new friends, and more importantly, getting to know each other a lot better. Not having to worry about the daily grind for a few weeks really helped with this, and although we’re back at it again, we vowed to make some changes when we got back.
While spending a day in Phuket town walking around the city, we passed by a small store, and the sign for passport photos caught my eye.Â I remembered that I was suppose to get passport sized photos, as the next day we were going on our live-a-board for 5 days, and I needed the photos for my Advanced Diving certificate which I was going be taking on-board. Â We stepped inside an empty shop, but the owner quickly came running into the store. HisÂ EnglishÂ wasn’t great, but neither was my Thai. I managed to explain that I needed passport photos by pointing at the sign. He told me the cost, and I agreed, to which from his drawer he pulled out a old Kodak digital camera (maybe from 2003?). He then told me to come upstairs.
Upstairs? I thought we’re taking passport photos. Put me infront of the white screen, snap 2 photos, and be on our way. No? Okay fine, lets go upstairs.
From the time I walked up those stairs, I could NOT remove the grin from my face, and to this date, that same grin shows on my PADI card.
Upstairs was the most amazing yet antique studio I think I’ll ever see. The paint was an algae green color that was probably painted well over 60+ years ago.
As we walked around the corner, he had an “old-school” studio setup. No flash, but simple hot lamps covered in cobwebs. He sat me down on a ratty old chair, and walked over to the wall with the huge breaker switches which he turned on one by one, as each light fired up. Its Thailand, and its hot. The lights made it even hotter. I didn’t care.
He took a brief look at me, and noticed the sweat pouring off my forehead, so he showed me to a section of the studio where there was some tissue paper.
After ‘trying’ to remove what sweat I could before it reappeared I sat back down in the hot lamps, and he proceeded to take photos of me. His attention to detail and my exact pose was unlike any I had seen for passport photos. But only after take 5-10 photos, his camera died, so he had to retreat downstairs to get some more batteries. I got up looked at Natisha and said ‘can you believe this!?’. I grabbed my camera and snapped some pictures of the place, then he returned back upstairs. I sat back down (after wiping my forehead once again) and proceeded for my second set of photos still with the silly grin on my face. After we were done, I asked if I could take some more photos and look around, and he wasÂ pleasantlyÂ okay with this.
Over on one of the walls I noticed a frame with wedding photos.Â DefinitelyÂ not the style of wedding photos today, but ‘memories’ nevertheless. I explained to him that I took wedding photos myself. Probably by the look on my face, I think he knew. Everywhere I walked and looked I was in a constant state of amazement. The light that was entering the room was simply amazing, and there were some old chairs in the room that would sell for thousands in designer stores back at home. I’m sure if I asked, he would have said to take them. As I looked around some more, I noticed him walk to one corner, and stacked on several shelves were hundreds of boxes. Film? Most likely. So I walked over, as he grabbed a few boxes and opened them up.
Glass slides. Hundreds of them. He pulled one out and passed it to me. I wiped my sweaty hands and held it with care. I’ve never touched a glass slide before. Not one this old at least. It was of a young male. As I passed it back, he motioned for me to keep it.
Not wanting to overstay my welcome, we soon proceeded downstairs for me to pay for the photos. He said he would drop them off at our guesthouse later that evening.
As I pulled out my bhat to pay as he pulled out another box. Inside was a larger glass slide. He passed it to me again offering me to keep it. The slide was that of a couple on their wedding day. The etching on the side said 18.5.54. Yup, May 18, 1954. The couple was dressed their best, and they were sitting on one of the chairs that I had seen upstairs. I wasÂ literallyÂ speechless.
I’m not who often takes photos with other people (I’m usually on the other side of the camera!), but I asked Natisha to take a photo of me and him.
Him. No I didn’t get a name. But I have a photo with him. More importantly, I have thisÂ experienceÂ that even after 7 months feels as real as when we were there. The next two weeks were spent treasuring these glass slides on the top of my camera bag, doing everything I could to make sure they wouldn’t break. Luckily I still have them intact.
Where am I going with this? Why Part 1? Well Part 2 will come shortly enough and should fill in the details, but I’ll end this post with images from this experience. Thanks for reading.