The Icelandic photographer Gísli Hjálmar Svendsen has spent the last two years, on and off, in Thailand where he follows a group of self titled ‘ladyboys’ and photographs them in their daily lives. He means to publish the photos in a book and thereby diminish the prejudices that they experience in modern society.

“No, they don’t find the term insulting and actually use it with pride,” says Gísli when asked if the members of group he’s been photographing find the English term ‘ladyboy’ degrading in any way. As a matter of fact he says that they use it to stress the fact that they’re sex workers and also as a way to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Kathoey (a Thai term used collectively to describe individuals assigned male at birth, who may transition or take on a female gender identity or expression). Even though ‘ladyboy’ is often used collectively over the Kathoey.

“It’s so sad,“ Gísli says about the circumstances of the Kathoey in Thailand in the last few decades or so, referring to a group known in English as ‘lady boys’ or simply ‘ladyboys’. “In buddishm trans people and effeminate gays, the Kathoey, have a special place and were considered almost holy. That tradition lived for hundreds of years but in the last decades, as Thai society tries to become more westernized they are experiencing huge difficulties. They have become outcasts instead of sacred beings. I know that my photos are not going to change that, but I do hope that they will make people understand a little what it means to be a ‘ladyboy’ in Thailand.“

“Somewhere down my list was this idea about photographing ‘ladyboys’ … I had no idea what I was getting myself into.“

Gísli‘s quest started two years ago, almost by accident. He went to Thailand to take part in a workshop for photographers, where the participants had to find a subject for a photo series. A subject that showed the daily lives of the inhabitants. Originally Gísli wanted to do a photo series which would depict the huge difference between the rich and the poor in Bangkok, but his teachers considered the subject too big for him to be able to do it properly. “Somewhere down my list was this idea about photographing ‘ladyboys’ and as the other idea didn’t work I settled on that. I had no idea what I was getting myself into,“ he says.

In order to gain access to the group Gísli contacted one of them, Nancy, who eventually became his friend. Since they met she has been diagnosed with a severe disease and has not long to live, which prompted Gísli to take her story out of the original equation and make a separate photo series about her. “She is one of the most remarkable persons I‘ve ever met,“ he says. “She grew up on a farm, like so many in the group, and took it upon her self to go to the city to work as a sex worker to provide for her family. Her brother did not agree with that and doesn’t speak to their parents anymore, which of course causes their mother great sadness. It’s not talked about within the family but I could sense that her mother does not like Nancy’s profession. However it‘s the only way for her to get enough money to keep the family going, so it‘s a hush hush subject.“


Having gotten friendly with Nancy, Gísli gained access to the inner circle of the group and has spent a lot of time with them for the past two years. Aren‘t they suspicious of his motives? “They were in the beginning,“ he admits. “I am very similar to their average customer; a white, western, middle-aged man. So many thought I had some ulterior motives. But now I‘m just their weird friend who likes to hang out with them, taking photographs. I think they hardly notice me anymore.“

It‘s one of the things that made me want to publish these photos in a book. To try to make the people who look down on them see them as the lovely human beings that they are.“

Gísli has witnessed first hand that the life of sex working ‘ladyboys’ is no walk in the park. Even though they rarely get assaulted by their customers, according to him, the competition within the group is fierce and he has witnessed many violent brawls within the group. The police is also coming down on them with full force as the new military government wants to eliminate this angle of the sex trade in Thailand. A lot of the girls are on drugs, some organize robberies of their customers and on the whole it‘s a violent circle. But Gísli insists that most of them are just bewildered lovely girls, often driven to sex work by their families. “However

in-between there are also young pretty boys who just dress feminine, grow their hair long and wear make up. They’re not actual ladyboys. But that‘s what a big percentage of their western customers are looking for and the market of course provides what the demand asks for.“

He points out that ‘regular ladyboys’ are therefor getting less work and it‘s all spiralling in a very bad direction. “I‘ve seen a great decline in their surroundings and the general attitude of people towards them in these two years. It‘s one of the things that made me want to publish these photos in a book. To try to make the people who look down on them see them as the lovely human beings that they are. I hope at least that it will open some eyes. That would make me very happy.“

It‘s not yet clear how Gísli will go about publishing the photos, he is still gathering material and is in fact going back to Thailand early in the new year. He says he does not want to approach publishers yet, first he has to decide how to present the subject. Already he has hundreds of photos of the group, both studio photos and photos of them going about their lives, but he does not consider that enough. “To really make it outstanding I need lots more and I‘m in no hurry to publish. Maybe I will crowdfund the book and publish it myself when I‘m ready, I just don‘t know yet. My main goal is to really get to the essence of these girls and make people really see them. Until I have reached that goal I will keep going to Thailand with the camera a few times a year, and hopefully I can also make a documentary film from this material in the future. It all remains to be seen.“

Photos: Nancy, Gísli’s friend, can be seen in all of his photos here. In the main photo she’s with her friend Sukjal. And at the bar she’s with friends Anurak and Woraqhum.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.


Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.


    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

        Your Name (required)

        Your Email (required)


        Your Message

        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.


        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.


        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us

        Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.