Friends, next month my wife and I will be traveling to Thailand for a three week trip, our first to that country. For those who have been, I would appreciate any suggestions.
We are traveling with a group organized by Oversees Adventure Travel, a company that we used five years ago on a trip to India. They did a great job getting us to places we would not likely seen if not for their footprint there. And no logistical obligations was very liberating. I also enjoy traveling with others, even strangers.
The itinerary is essentially north/south, beginning in Bangkok. Given the flight time of approximately 24 hours, we decided to extend the trip on the way over, and will spend three days on our own in the capital, before meeting up with the group. After a few more days there, we will head north, visiting Kanchanaburi, Pan Phu Toey, Phitsanulok, Sukhothas, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, among other places.
After much deliberation, I think I will take the S (006) along with the 70mm, 35mm (new motor) and Zeiss 120mm. The other option would be the M9, which is due back soon (hopefully) with a new sensor. I used it with a variety of lenses on our India trip five years ago. When I nailed the focus and exposure, the images were wonderful. But I definitely bumped up against my own visual limitations and rangefinder skills which probably have probably deteriorated since I got my S two years ago. Indeed, I probably am quite out of practice and have not had the use of the M9 for four months while it was at the Leica spa in Wetzlar. So the idea of having auto-focus is a significant reason for opting for the S. I also realize, however, that I am going to be similarly limited, as I was with the M, when shooting in compromised light with lenses slower than my 50mm Summilux. But I have found that the the S files, even if seriously underexposed, can be brought back to life in post-processing. And there is always the option of conversion to B&W, which broadens the shooting envelope. I thought about getting a more capable camera for low light - like the CL or M10, but took a deep breath and exhaled much GAS. As a practical matter, neither camera is readily available. Which is probably a good thing. And I do not want to be learning a new box on such a trip. Moreover, the files from the S, even after two years, just continue to amaze me.
So a few questions.
First of all, for those of you who have been, how do the local Thai people respond to photographers. In India, I found people to be very accessible and willing. Indeed, many wanted to have a picture of their kids with us. But I was using the M, which is far less intimidating than an S. That can make all the difference, as well as the level of attention a large camera attracts.
Secondly, I do not plan to bring a tripod. A full sized one, that is. So I was thinking about a monopod with an articulating head. Deploying it as a walking stick, I could justify having it in places where a tripod would not be welcome. I also have a vintage Leica tabletop tripod, and have messed around with it as a chest brace. But that would be an unwelcome attention magnet.
Third, I am not bringing a computer to dump images on. I will have several 16gb SD cards and have also considered a big CF card for the other slot, as an internal backup. Is there any kind of portable hard drive that I could carry and dump images on at the end of the day. That would provided a comforting level of redundancy.
Finally, I have read for several sources, that it is an affront to Thai culture to take pictures of a Buddha statute or likeness. How have others addressed this issue in a respectful way.
Appreciate any helpful tips, especially from those who have visited this most extraordinary place.