So, as you know I’ve been travelling through SE Asia for two months and I’ve met some amazing people and taken some wonderful portraits. Since wi-fi is very patchy I have a bit of backfilling to do on my blog e.g. the rest of my Laos images, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bali! But it will force me to be very selective which has to be a good thing for all! I am often so busy meeting people and taking photos that I find it hard to blog. I’m currently staying with kiwi cousins in Sydney and between “Bali Belly” and a nasty head cold, I’ve been forced to slow down a bit.
I arrived in Australia from Bali last week on the 28th of December and I felt a mixture of nervousness and excitement. Although I’d visited families in SE Asia and taken portraits of many people, I knew my real challenge was to actually find a host in Australia as per my original concept which is detailed in the About section of this blog.
I made sure to arrive in Bali Denpasar airport in plenty of time to make sure I didn’t miss my plane (that’s a story for another blog post!). Whilst I wandered around the shops comparing prices of various items just for the matter of interest, I struck up conversation with a young Balinese guy called Ogix. After telling him about my project he was keen to share photos of his family and wedding, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We also discussed some of the spiritual practices of his people, which I am fascinated by. As I was about to leave for my plane, a guy walked up to make a purchase from Ogix and spoke Balinese. I was impressed and told him so. He seemed like an interesting chap. A number of hours afterwards as I disembarked the plane this chap passed by with his family and as I could see they were a pretty cool family I asked them where I should head out of Sydney to somewhere a little more spiritual and relaxed. They suggested Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and I gave them my blog address to check out.
I stayed in the Flying Fox backpackers in Katoomba for two nights which was really lovely and had a great group of people. They were actually full but as I was pretty sick with a stomach bug from Bali, Ross, the owner kindly took me in. On the second day I received an email from Ayla, the daughter of the family I met on the plane, inviting me to stay with them on the outskirts of Katoomba and so I left the Flying Fox and stayed with what became my family in the Blue Mountains for five days and nights. From left to right above – Julie, Jarrah, Ayla and Nikhil. Enjoying life the Australian way eating dinner we made together on the decking with the sun setting across the wide open valley!
One of the repeating patterns I see on my travels is the quest by myself and my fellow travellers to have “individual experiences”. Certainly there are folk out there who are happy to turn up, see and do what everyone else sees and does e.g. going tubing in Vang Vieng (we skipped this as it’s mainly just a massive piss up and doesn’t add anything to the relations with locals who’ve seen their small scenic town overrun by western youths getting smashed and crawling out of the river like zombies every day), Angkor Wot which is the national pride of Cambodia but is so overrun with tourists that some time spent in one of the smaller temples is much more likely to be spiritually enlightening and many more attractions such as sunset from Phu Si above. You could actually feel the simmering mild aggression of camera wielding tourists who will jab you in the ribs if it means getting that perfect shot! I have to say it takes away from the experience indeed so I decided instead to be friendly to those around me and capture the “scrum” aiming at yet another sunset!