Photographer turns wandering monk
He is an award-winning photographer who gave up his city studio for a cave in the mountains - at the age of 27.
A wandering monk in the tradition of the forest monastery of Thailand, Ajahn Cagino lived in the wild with little more than a cup, a bowl and a walking stick.
He did this for 14 years, covering more than 4,000km on foot.
'It was a tough road, but the right one - for me,' the Malaysian national said.
Now 45, the monk, whose birth name is Lau Yong Fang, has decided to put his feet up - at least for a while.
He is in Singapore to exhibit a series of photographs he took during his travels. Through the exhibition, he hopes to raise enough money to build an orphanage for the children in
Thailand's Mae Hong Son province, a mountainous region bordering Myanmar.
The exhibition, which began on Saturday, is at Studio 67, a private art gallery on Kampong Bahru Road. It ends next Sunday.
The sixth of seven children, the Ajahn - a term Thais use to address monks, which means 'teacher' - was a graduate of the Malaysian Institute of Art in Kuala Lumpur.
He found fame early in his career as a professional photographer, winning various competitions.
In spite of his success, the monk said he had felt increasingly at odds with what he was doing.
'My photos were beautiful, exciting, but I realised they held no substance,' he said.
'I felt that this life had no meaning for me.'
After five years, he left home to become a monk. He was first ordained in Penang, before travelling to Thailand to be a forest monk.
The Thai forest tradition, a branch of Theravada Buddhism, is known for its focus on meditation and a strict adherence to monastic rules.
Forest monks lead nomadic lives, pausing often to meditate for days in caves, on mountains or by waterfalls.
Most of Ajahn Cagino's images reflect this natural landscape, lit by golden sunsets behind russet-coloured clouds.
They were taken over eight years, with a digital camera that was a gift from his nephew, the Ajahn said.
Of his transition from photographer to monk, Ajahn Cagino said that he has found the fulfilment in life he was looking for.
'I am at peace. I have no worries. I feel completely free,' he said.