As a serial tourist and a point and shoot enthusiast I share some of my favourite photos and experiences in Asia. These are the snaps which inspired me to keep travelling and I hope they can inspire others to do the same. All that is needed is a plane ticket, a camera and a passion to experience the world.
1. Balinese Temple Celebration
This scene was from back in 2006 and was shot on my brick-sized Cybershot camera which had a fraction of the capabilities of modern day smart phone cameras. So this image not only inspired my travels but taught me that skill and fancy equipment is not necessary to take great photos, if you can click a button you can capture similar scenes. This bright and colourful ceremony was on the road to Batur Temple, the occasion was a temple celebration (Odalan) and the volcano backdrop is of nearby Mount Batur. To date this remains one my favourite travel experiences and it came completely unplanned and unexpected with travel in nearby areas. This temple is now a popular tourist spot but in 2006 it was completely tourist free making the experience more unique and valuable.
2. Thaipusam in Penang, Malaysia
This sensational festival was Thaipusam in Penang (2012) where Hindu devotees pierce and skewer themselves with all sorts of hooks, spikes and spears before embarking on a lengthy pilgrimage to a hilltop temple. This was in fact one of the less gruesome images of the day and was more intimate than most as the Hindu ‘Vel Kavadi’ is surrounded by family and friends outside a quieter temple in Georgetown. Coconuts are smashed and away he goes. For me it is just one example of many fascinating festivals and traditions of Asia and it has inspired to me to get out and experience more.
3. Snowboarding in Nanshan China
Travelling to Asia for the first time I had very little aspiration, or even knowledge, of experiencing snow. Now living in Thailand the cooler climates have quickly become a fascination as I look to escape the constant 30’c plus temperatures of daily life. Japan and Korea have always been on my radar but I find this experience in China where we travel independently to the Nanshan ski resort in China. This is also a rare image of me being active (not just eating and boozing) and for me it shows how travel can change direction and that experiences which I never expected to pursue can inspire me to keep moving forward.
4. Kolkata at Night
Early mornings often go unnoticed in Kolkata, a time where the city sits silent and still bar the occasional passings of a yellow taxi or the stir of homeless people and stray dogs. You certainly don’t get tourists on the streets and this is what makes the experience so unique. During day times the decay and desperation of this city go partially masked by busy street bustle but at night it becomes more apparent as it has nowhere to hide. Scenes are no doubt sad and grim but to be honest the streets don’t feel dangerous. This photo was taken at roughly 3am on Sudder Street in downtown Kolkata (Calcutta) following a heartwrenching taxi ride through the city centre.
5. Young Monks in the Himalayas
This is a photo of me ‘teaching’ young Buddhist monks in the Himalayas… or at least that is how it looks. I wasn’t teaching I was being nosy and somewhat intrusive as I stumble across a school of young Tibetan monks in a forest temple in Gangtok, Sikkim (Enchey Monastery). I think this image shows that similar experiences are easily accessible and what can look like a life changing experience to others can be little more than an intrusive pestering by myself. You don’t have to go on spiritual ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ journeys to experience the world. These are normal, everyday experiences which can be shared by anyone.