An encounter on the highway

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A monk walks on the highway to collect alms as it just rained. Buddhist monks must, as one of their obligations, go every morning to collect alms and food from the people who believe they make “merit” feeding them.

This picture of an encounter on the highway was taken by pure chance, one day, as I was driving towards Hua Hin. It was in the surroundings of the province of Phetchaburi (where there are salt pans, but that is another story).

A flaming dawn

It was between 4 AM and 5 AM, it had just showered, the road was glistening with the water, and behind me, there was dawn showing its flaming colors through the clouds. I was doing around 100 kph. I saw a first monk walking on the highway, but the time  the picture made its way to my  head, I had gone too far away.

Luck was with me however. I saw in the distance a second monk walking on the highway. This time, I slowed down, and as luck would have it, there was a gas station right up ahead. I stopped there, got out, grabbed my gear quickly and rushed to be in position to capture the monk.

Taking the shots

The first shots had no dramatic effect, as the monk was too far away and I used a zoom. Perspectives were compressed, it didn’t give the mood that was right. I let the monk come closer and when he almost filled my visor, I snapped two to three shots. He looked at me and cracked a timid smile. I smiled in return, and despite the fact that neither knew the language of the other, we understood each other. Maybe that’s the best gift of photography. Even when you don’t know the language, photography is a language in itself.


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