Thor's Photos


From 2007

Zhengzhou Photo Essay by students, 2009

1998 - 2000

China photoindex page
page 2 thumnails (Wuhan)
page 3 thumbnails (Wuchang district, Wuhan)
page 4 thumnails   (Hankou & Hanyang, Wuhan)
page 5 thumbnails (Central China Normal University, Wuhan)
page 6 thumbnails (Qingdao, Dalian, Beijing, Xiamen)
page 7 thumbnails
(Yunnan Province)


Bansong-dong Photo Essay ( Busan)
Scenes on the road to Unmoon Valley  (north-east of Busan)
Photos from Gyongsangnam-do (west of Busan)
Photos from Gyongsangbuk-do (north-east of Busan)
Haeundae in Winter (Busan)
Views of Busan City
Special ! The Virtual World Cup (Busan)
Visit to Daegu 
Gimhae - modern city, ancient Gaya culture - in Gyongsangnam-do (next to Busan)
Chungju photo essay (small mountain city 2 hours drive S.E. of Seoul)


Black & white prints, far away and long ago..

VIETNAM (1996)

Travels in Vietnam -  107 photos, south to north


15 Photographs of Phnom Penh, the capital

PAPUA NEW GUINEA (1985, 1987)

92 Photographs with links to contemporary stories

THE AGES OF MAN - THOR 2009 to 1945

Photos of Thor and some sundry ancestors

Thor with some of his students in Zhengzhou 2008


A few, mostly bush scenes from 1979

What are these photographs about ?

Some people have been puzzled by the ordinariness of things I have chosen to photograph on these pages. It may be as well to make my purpose clear.

The three main uses of photographs have traditionally been a) an album of family, friends or acquaintances; b) a checklist of places visited (usually favouring 'scenic' spots, as per designated by tourist bureaux; c) a medium of artistic expression.

Note that the photographs on this website are directed at none of those criteria. Rather, I have always had in my mind's eye this question : "If I were living in a country, say Australia or USA, knew nothing about other places, but was suddenly offered a chance to work in, say, some part of Asia, what kind of images would I like to see by way of a crash course?"

It seems to me that the answer is that I would want to see the good, the bad and the ugly -- the ordinary face of everyday life in the place that I might be going to. I would be only marginally interested in the kind of touched up postcards of temples and lovely panoramas that are the staple of tourist offices the world over. In fact, when I am thinking of visiting a country myself, it is exactly the ordinary vistas, the stuff of daily life which locals never notice because it is the soup they live in, that I can never find in books or on the Internet.

Some sets of photographs here, especially the Korean ones, include rural scenes. These are generally easy on the eye, even picturesque. However, the bulk of the stuff is urban. Cities the world over, and Asian cities in particular, are mostly ugly places. The public spaces in most Asian cities are downright awful, although there are signs of improvement here and there. (Australian cities have improved hugely with urban planning in my own lifetime).

This ugliness is partly the result of explosive growth, partly lack of resources, and partly the traditional focus of many Asian cultures which give little respect to public spaces and unknown people. Add to this an uncontrolled contagion of vehicles and roads, and you quickly have an environment of violent, smoke-filled concrete canyons, quite hostile to humans. I think (I hope!) that these nightmares of urban wasteland are a passing phase which people will eventually revolt against and reclaim. In the meantime though, I record what I see. My only regret is that as an outsider, I rarely have access to the private sanctuaries where the peoples of my host cultures express the best face of their cultures.

Finally, the captions I have added to various images may put a few people off. The captions are sometimes quizzical, or wry, or even critical. They are, of course, a purely personal reaction and may be ignored. My sense of humour tends to be piqued easily by paradox. These photo captions have occasionally been interpreted as a sneer. That is never my intention. I'm as imperfect as anybody else, and smile at my own stupidities as well as the crazy world. Cultures are often promoted like competing football teams, which you are either for or against. It is a poor metaphor. Any "culture" is a description of an average design for living by a certain group of people. Such living designs ALL have good points and disasters. (Also, the most interesting members of any culture are invariable at the margin, not average, not quite accepted, but the real agents of change).

So the pictures you see here, and the comments you read, are merely one outsider's vision of what you might expect to see and feel when you are suddenly parachuted onto the steets of a Busan or Wuhan, or wherever.

Have fun.
South Korea

writing & photography on this site is
   copyrighted © Thorold (Thor) May 2005
   all rights reserved,

thormay AT  
The Passionate Skeptic 
[and what this website stands for ..]

Doubt well, do what you can, then let it be. Presidents, priests, wage slaves, hustlers, men and women, kids, we all live by the grace of those we love to despise...

Direct Link to Thor's Aphorisms

©2005 Thor May