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.
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.
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.
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.
A short boat ride from Sittwe in Myanmar’s Rakhine State lies Wabo village. The settlement is known as the “weaving village” and here you’ll see women working hard at looms in the sheltered areas located below the ground floors of their stilted homes. Wabo is famous for the design and quality of its longyis, the traditional, wrap-around garment still worn by a majority of Myanmar’s inhabitants. While walking around the village—it was in 2008—I came upon this school, and the kids had just been let out for a short spell. There was something about the school’s wooden structure and the children with their smiles, framed within a break in the surrounding lush foliage, that made this, for me, a memorable shot.
Mrauk-U differs from the older, regional temple-complex centers it’s sometimes compared to. Unlike Angkor Wat, it was never completely abandoned to the elements as it hosts a rural population who live amongst the remains of the past. And unlike Bagan, those local people weren’t booted out to make way for what Myanmar’s military junta thought a potential UNESCO world heritage site and tourist attraction should look like. Successive Myanmar governments have wanted World Heritage status for Mrauk-U and a decision was to be rendered this year. However in light of the current coup and violence against anti-junta demonstrators, that might well be on hold. Mrauk-U and this building (Shittaung Temple) are located within Rakhine State, a region that’s been in turmoil for some time. In 1977, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims living in the state were forced to flee for their lives after a brutal military campaign that targeted their villages. Thousands were murdered.
Synthetic rubber is readily available but, as the saying goes, there’s nothing like the real thing. This tree is very close to what once was Camp Carroll, an America artillery base in the Republic of Vietnam. To get there, I traveled along Route 9, the originally French-commissioned colonial highway located close to the former Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Vietnam. The base, run by South Vietnamese soldiers after the Americans downsized their force commitments, fell in 1972 to North Vietnamese soldiers. Closer to the highway, I encountered local people heat-testing the sap for quality and then, if satisfied, pouring it into large containers for transport to processing facilities. It was late 2017, and I was traveling from Dong Ha to Khe Sanh, site of the former American combat base. The battle there formed a prelude to the politically-momentous 1968 TET Offensive.