Wednesday, November 9, 2011

365 days

A year ago, two of my friends and I boarded an early morning flight to Sydney. I had gone through the token break up and decided to change everything about my life. On a whim we bought a super cheap flight and we were just going to test the waters.

My goal was always to travel, and since then I've been to:

Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, United Emirates, Singapore, Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur, France, Czech Republic, Hungary

I can't even describe the things I've done. I don't have photos for most of the really, truly memorable things because sometimes it's nice to just let yourself fall into the moment... but if I had to list a few things that will be with me forever:

The way I first felt when I walked out to Patong beach in Phuket, just after arriving, it was like paradise and I had no idea how much more there was to come. Cuddling elephants at midnight while counting shooting stars. Cruising down the river for two days traveling between Thailand and Laos. Judging the drunk Australians who were tubing in Vang Vieng, only to be even worse than them the following day. 36 long hours on two buses with three incredible British friends. Ha Long Bay particularly kayaking at sunset and the glowing fishes on the private island. The rainbow lights around the lake in Hanoi. Biking around Hoi An, having shoes made there and eating too much food at Cargo. The streets of Saigon - there's nothing better than sitting on the back of a motorbike. The dirt red roads of Cambodia. New Futures Organization and all the wonderful kids who stole my heart. The wonderful volunteers I met there and will always treasure. Angkor Wat (both times I visited). The weekend we spent on Rabbit Island (with the glowing fishes). Crazy India, the place where my heart broke a million times and the people showed me nothing but kindness. That feeling when standing under the tallest building in the world, in Dubai and feeling so much perspective.

The madness of Singapore, the smells of little India and sooo much food with some lovely Singaporians. The sunrise on Gili T. Being stabbed in Kuta, Lombok, but surviving and being okay. Being taken to a local village by a random local guy who I met outside the restaurant he worked at. Meeting all his families and being treated like a very special guest. Hanging out with some awesome americans in Yogji, waking up early to enjoy Borbodur alone. Taking a train from Yogji to Jakarta and breathing in the madness there. Landing in Singapore and enjoying the familiar. Meeting up with two guys from my Singapore hostel in Kuala Lumpur and staying up until 5am talking about everything. Waking up 2 hours later and waiting for hours to go up to the stupid tower, only to be denied. The views from Skybar. Deciding to just to go to Cambodia because I wanted to hang out with the cool europeans more. Cambodia, in itself. Angkor Wat in the rainy season. Taking a Tuk Tuk all the way to Takeo only to jump out of it while still moving and running into Mary's arms. Seeing all my babies again at NFO, even if only for the day. Riding around on the back of a motorbike in Saigon and going to the most expensive beauty salon I've ever been to (so good though!) and flying to Hanoi in the same day. Ha Long bay, again. Kayaking around Ha Long bay, again. Disappointing night trains to Sapa with three wonderful souls. Sapa, gorgeous Sapa. Crazy tuk tuks around Bangkok and too much time spent in malls waiting for suits to be made. Sad goodbyes. Going to seedy Pattaya only to discover it wasn't as seedy as I thought, and the view from my friend's balcony was quite beautiful. Back to Cambodia, back to Takeo, back to them. More sad goodbyes, back to Kuala Lumpur only to fly to Paris, for a day. Then Prague, then on to Pocatky - with a wonderful family.

I spent a little weekend in Budapest, spent a little too much time boozed, and was without my camera, so I think I'll have to go back. Last weekend I had way too much fun in Prague - managed to crash a Czech wedding party, my outline was traced onto the wall of a random Czech bar, and I went to a cute little tea house, had delicious snickers vodka and saw a very strange comedy show. Prague is my favourite :) This weekend I find myself going to Berlin to apply for a year long visa, so I can stay here longer, because it feels right. Coming to Czech Republic always seemed to feel right, even if it was decided last minute.

So that's my year in a nut shell, coupled with photos of my right-now. After writing that all out, I took a deep breath, because without a doubt this has been the most wonderful adventure of my life and I love that I'm still "in it" - still in the thick of traveling, discovering and learning. I can't wait to see what's to come... :D

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

National Geographic/ World Nomads

So here are the five photos I've narrowed down to for this competition. I'm not sure if I have any shot of getting anywhere near the finals, but it's good to try and get involved in the community. I'm considering cutting out the second one, thoughts? :)

Any suggestions/improvements etc are welcomed :D

Ps. This is why I selected each photo:

1) Traditional meets modern - the powerlines gradually intercept this photo, which to me represents the way that the modern world has injected itself almost everywhere - even in remote Sapa, Viet nam.
2) The difference between a local and a tourist: She seems to be at one with the nature, taking some time to soak it in, while, in stark contrast, the fellow trekker seems to be running past, not taking anything in. I found it ironic considering the girl sees this landscape every day, yet she's indulging in it more.
3) I love this photo, I love how again the tourists are not really taking the time to appreciate the nature, while the local girls are brushing their hands through the grass.
4) This photo shows the closeness between a mother and child.
5) And this final photo shows the interaction between young local and tourist. there's such pleading and desperation in her eyes. while by international standards she's probably not on the poverty line, her future does depend on how much she sells and it's so clear by her expression.