I was relaxing one day in a small, wooded grove that forms part of the Chiang May University campus. I had a camera with me since the grove abuts a medium small, perhaps artificial, lake and when the weather’s right, that make for interesting photos. It was more of a dreary overcast that day, so I decided to take a closer look at the trees and vegetation in case something looked interesting.
I’ve heard it said that these critters, though not dangerous to humans, take their toll on the vegetation around them and some recommend killing them. But I decided to leave this one be. It looked too cool for school.
A gem of a place, Sado Island is located off Japan’s west coast. One day, way back when, I rode my bicycle onto a ferry and spent a few days cycling around the island keeping to the coast for the most part. The picture below shows the view from Senkaku-wan on the northwest coast. After camping a few miles beyond that, I traveled onward to a small town where a gold mine—now a museum—once stood. Someday I’ll put a few more Sado pics on this site.
Less than a week ago I was camping a minutes walk down from these falls, said to be 154 feet high. Normally it’s a popular place to stop, but a combination of the pandemic, thunderstorms, mud and it being blackfly season kept many people away. The campsite was next to the stream the falls dump into from the falls, so it was easy to fall asleep to the sound of rushing water but harder to get up and leave. Not long after leaving I was drenched in a thunderstorm but no matter. My trip—a thru-hike of the 138mile Northville-Lake Placid trail—was coming to an end. Until next time!
This photo is from the Leh to Manali road and taken in 1995 or 1996. I’d spent a few weeks in Ladakh and decided to leave overland rather than fly in, as I’d done to get there. And, I thought the road more reliable since bad weather frequently means planes (like mine going to Leh) aren’t allowed to land in Leh and have to return to Delhi or Srinagar. The road was more than a bit hair-raising as there are long stretches where the steep cliff mean if you do tumble you tumble hundreds of meters. And when you look out the window you iften can see straight down which made many of us wonder how indented was the wheelbase. Nonetheless, it was an amazing journey. Initially, some travelers went rooftop, but they soon came back inside, maybe because if they dozed off and then fell off, they’d wake up in the afterlife.
To get here as a foreign visitor, I needed to be in a group of at least five people to secure an inline permit. Then we hitchhiked up from Leh and got a ride inside a truck. The vehicle had to crest the Khardung-la Pass at over 18,000 feet in elevation, making this road the world’s highest motorable one for civilian traffic. Nubra is incredibly beautiful and relaxed. It’s said that one can get both a sunburn and frostbite at the same time if you’re there in winter and sitting half in the sun and half in the shade. Cars that make this journey will sometimes have their engines cough at this altitude, particularly if they’re older models.
Back in the day when I used slide film, I was somewhat more careful about composition and lighting. But one can’t go wrong in Ljubljana or even in much of Slovenia. This looks to be “the” place in town to get your fresh herbs and spices without having to go to an ordinary supermarket. Much of the city seems like a living, outdoor museum, atmospheric and eminently walkable.
This is a small part of the view from Hasedera Temple in the Sakurai (Nara-ken) area of Japan. The original edifice dates to 686 ACE, and, while picturesque any time of year, it’s best in the fall and during winter. I’d often cycle here from a job a few hours away. Up from here is a dam and beyond that woods, field and mountain villages. Near the dam was a small open area I’d use for camping. Great place to see the night stars and flickering light in the distant villages.
I came upon this woman while visiting monasteries and markets in Ladakh, in the Indian Himalayas. Ladakh is pretty much a high-altitude desert and it’s one where you can get a sunburn and frostbite together, if you lose track of time and it’s cold enough, when resting partly in the sun and partly in the shade. Winter temperatures can go down to -40F and stay there. One way to keep your energy levels up during those frigid months, aside from staying close to the kitchen fireplace, is by drinking yak or dzo (half yak, half cow) butter tea. For me, that drink was an acquired taste. The woman in this picture, while past middle-age, looked vitally strong and happy as a lark.
After six months of hiking up and down hills and mountains, fording fast-moving streams, being rained on and losing over 20 percent of my weight, I could see the end of my journey coming into view one clear morning in northern Maine. The mountain in the distance is Katahdin, northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. In my thru-hike year of 2015, the trail stretched for some 2,189 miles from Georgia to Maine (or Maine to Georgia if going south). It took me six months to cover the distance and was an unforgettable experience. As with any such journey, there’s pleasure at having completed it, but also a bit of sadness that it was over. On the plus side, there’s always another journey to undertake.
When outside Bujumbura’s Musee Vivant in 2008, I heard drums being rhythmically pounded, so I went inside to have a look. These lads are members of the Akayaze Dancing and Drumming Troupe. “There are fifty-seven of us,” the head drummer said, “and we’re practicing very hard these days. We hope people like it and can support us with donations.”
The drums were large wooden cylinders, hollowed-out from tree trunks, with larger drums about a meter high. Artists had decorated one in the red, green and white colors of the national flag. Burundian drummers are well known and one ensemble, the Royal Drummers, tours the world. Focus on Cultural Life, a Burundian non-profit, formed the troupe in May 2007 to promote local culture and give orphans, demobilized soldiers, poor people and vulnerable youths a second chance in life.