Yesterday was 28 July, which marks both our 9 month wedding anniversary and the end of our 4th month travelling. So far we’ve covered 5 countries and about 21,000km by train, bus, motorbike, bicycle, boat and plane. It’s impossible to convey all the experiences we’ve had, from the thunderous roar of a helicopter landing to the quiet peacefulness of a summit in the Himalayas and the fury you feel when someone takes advantage of your lack of knowledge, nor how grateful we are for those reacting to Franzi’s and my musings.
Looking through the photos we’ve made since leaving London I thought to summarise our trip so far in 10 photos. I failed. I couldn’t even get it below 30. So instead I’ll give my top three with some background, as well as the full shortlist of photos. We’d love to hear your three favourite photos and/or any stories they remind you of. Photos are in full resolution so best viewed on a device with a larger screen like a tablet.
All the best from Kuala Lumpur and happy Sunday!
Hoi An, Vietnam: Shopkeeper covering her goods from the rain
When we left for Asia we knew we’d be hitting monsoon season, and lots of rain would hit us in return. I was looking forward to see how that would play out for the lantern city of Hoi An. The city is prone to severe flooding (think Venetian levels) so it could mess things up or create wonderful reflections. During our first evening a monsoon storm lasting several hours thundered while we were in the city. The amount of water coming down was immense, and streets turned to shallow rivers in half an hour. Even the pavement was covered in streaming water. While shooting in the pouring rain I spotted a shopkeeper adjusting the rain cover for her shop. The lanterns of her shop reflected beautifully in the wet pavement, whilst the street lanterns provided some further colour to an otherwise grey evening.
Thailand: Elephants relaxing after wandering about the jungle with us.
In Thailand we visited Elephant Haven Thailand, an elephant riding camp turned retirement home. 7 elephants live here now and spend their days being fed snacks by tourists, eating in the jungle, mudbathing and swimming. It was one of those mixed-feeling experiences. On the one hand the elephants are still performing a show for tourists, but they do experience more freedom and better treatment. Assuming the park owners have good intentions (a big if!), the key thing they ought to do is limit group sizes. On our first day there were only 2 other visitors besides us, but on the day before and after that there were about 40, causing visible stress to some of the elephants. On balance though the elephants appear happy enough, and the handlers know their friends well. On a separate note: the overnight stay is not worth it.
Nepal: a helicopter departs from disused Syangboche Airport near Namche Bazaar after dropping off construction materials.
Nepal has left a lasting impression on both of us, but for different reasons. For me it was the peacefulness of the Nepali, who are modest and respectful, even when faced with the hardships of life in the mountains, threatened by bad water, flash floodings, land slides, avalanches and earthquakes. Communities and family are everything, and together they pull through. In fact, without connections you don’t get anywhere, as evidenced by our helicopter flight into Lukla. Another indicator of the difficulties of life in Nepal is illustrated in the photo. whilst many supplies can be distributed through the region by donkey, yak or porter, some things, like building materials displayed above, can only be transported by heli. The disadvantage is that this adds to the cost of building schools, houses or recycling centers, as well as potential delays if the weather is poor. The heli shown just delivered a few thousand kilos of construction materials, and is just taking off. The dust swirling up due to the rotors turning, the mountains surrounding us, the locals offloading it as quickly as possible, then loading it up with waste (each walking back and forth several times carrying empty 13kg gas canisters in each hand) made a telling testament how things are different. The landing was more impressive as the heli came towards us, but unfortunately I was in a teahouse and not at all ready.