Jan 032017
 

As we kick off the 2017 working year, it seems fitting to post a photo of the lady that got my Vietnam trip going for me. As I was sat, tired from the long journey, and queasy from the small boat I was in on my first day in the Mekong Delta, my mood was lifted by my first Vietnamese coffee. It was delicious and gave me a jolt of caffeine that set me up for the day. It also resulted in me talking non-stop for the next hour, as my travel buddy can attest.

The coffee is being served by the lady in the small boat in the middle of this picture, who stopped to deliver her wares to each boat at the market. She had everything she needed to make hot or iced coffee on board,  and blend it with super sweet, condensed milk. I’m pretty sure my face looked a lot like the kid on the left before I had a cup too.

boats heading to market in the mekong delta vietnam

Jan 062016
 

Shortly before stumbling upon the store full of hammered metal lamps featured yesterday, I found this guy working on making drums… except on closer inspection I realised that the things he’s making have nothing to do with the drums behind him. I never managed to find what he was actually making. They’re like little tiny table legs. There was nothing of the sort in any shops nearby.

morrocan-wood-turner-in-marrakech-souk

Jan 032016
 

The full moon festival at Hoi An is quite the experience. At first as I wandered through the throngs of people on previously tranquil streets, I wondered if it would have been best to avoid the festival all together. The lanterns on the river were nice and all but the influx of tourists, and vendors thrusting lit lamps in your face, was a bit overwhelming at first. The brightness of the lamps versus the darkness of the city was even pretty disorientating as my eyes struggled to adjust.

During the festival, all electric lights in the old town centre are turned off and the city is lit by nothing other than paper lamps. After the initial shock it didn’t take long to get into the swing of things. I even managed to find my travel buddy who I thought I’d lost to the darkness at one point.  Wandering through the town I discovered it was about a lot more than just seeing the town lit as if in olden times. There were traditional shows going on (including some strange singing I couldn’t quite get into) and people dressed in traditional clothes, that just seemed to be enjoying the night. Each street you turned down seemed to hold a new surprise. I especially enjoyed watching these old guys playing a game I’d never seen before.

A quick Wikipedia search has let me know that it’s a chess like game called Xiangqi. It includes a piece called a canon that has to jump pieces to take them, generals aren’t allowed to face each other, and areas of the board are denoted as the palace and the river, restricting the movement of some pieces and enhancing the movement of other. I think I may need to get a set and give this a try.

 

two older men in traditional dress playing xiagqi vietnamese board game at hoi an full moon festival vietnam

 

Nov 242015
 

I went on a really good food tour in Marrakech. We tried all sorts of food from lamb cooked underground for hours to amazing sardine-ball sandwiches. As a bonus we also stopped off at some interesting spots, including the village bakery, where people would bring food in to be baked in the oven to be picked up later in the day.

If you’re ever in Marrakech I would definitely recommend it! You can find their website here:

http://marrakechfoodtours.com/

Our second stop was at an olive stand, we were allowed to just eat all the olives that we wanted off the stall. The seller seemed to have an endless supply of different types of olives.

Moroccan-olive-seller-in-marrakech-market

Mar 102015
 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a photo, so here’s one of my favorites.

To visit the amazing caves at Phong Nha town it’s typical to hire a dragon boat at the river bank in town. They then whisk you up river and a good way into the cave. There, they drop you on a beach inside the cave once used as a military hospital during the American War. On the way back I saw the sun’s rays breaking through the clouds and managed to snap this picture. It was a bit tricky though, I had to fit my head through the slats in the top of the boat, then raise my camera with my hands reaching through two different gaps. It took a couple of tries but eventually I was in. I had a brief moment of panic afterwards as my head appeared to be stuck.

dragon boat pilots on the back of their boat in front of the mountains at sunset

Jan 112015
 

A wander through the market always yields interesting sights, such as this lady selling a huge pile of yellow flowers.

On this day we went in search of what our guide book described as a local delicacy, tiny preserved tangerines. We were supposed to find them in amongst all the woven baskets inside the market building. We wandered through without having much luck. We were being mobbed by locals asking what we were looking for, making it difficult to scan the stalls for the little delights. Eventually, Shannon decided to try to explain what we were after. She was less than successful in this endeavor, but it took the attention off me and I was able to scan a stall carefully. Then, I saw a plastic jar, tucked in amongst everything else, full of gooey little orange spheres. I knew I had the right thing when I noticed the picture of tangerines on the label.

The lady gestured that I should open the jar. Upon doing that, I was hit by a strong citrus smell. They smelled delicious and I was instructed to taste one. At this point, things took a turn for the worse. They were horrible, bitter, chewy things smothered in a sickeningly sweet gloop. After the ladies hospitality we wanted to buy something, but we did not want a jar of those tangerines! Eventually, we remembered some delicious coconut cracker things we’d wanted to buy. The lady didn’t have any but quickly ran off somewhere, returning with a whole case. They became our long distance bus journey snack of choice.

flower lady in conical hat in hoi an vietnam

 

Jan 042015
 

I’ve never been good at photographing people in my travels so made a conscious effort to do this more in Vietnam. When I saw this girl in Hoi An I had to push the limits of my camera to get this picture.

She’s selling lanterns for people to float down the river during Hoi An’s full moon festival. We didn’t have a set plan for most of our journey around Vietnam, but made sure we were going to be in Hoi An for the festival. Funnily, I think I preferred the place when the festival wasn’t on but it’s definitely something worth seeing. They turn off all of the electric lights in the city so the only light available is from lanterns strung up around the streets. There are loads of people around, tourists mixing in with the various local vendors. There’s so much going on that as you approach the water it’s a bit disorienting at first. Lanterns are thrust in front of you in the hope you’ll buy and your eyes struggle to switch between the intensely bright flames and the dark city streets. Eventually though, you make your way to the river where everything calms down and you can watch the lanterns, released from the bridge, slowly drift away.

girl selling lanterns at Hoi An, Vietnam full moon festival with lanterns and water in background

Jan 012015
 

Happy New Year everyone. So, last year’s attempt to post a photo every day fell flat about half way through. I didn’t do a lot of traveling in early 2014, and when I did it was because I got to go to the World Cup in Brazil. There was too much distraction at that time for me to take a lot of pictures!

In November I finally got to set foot in Asia with a three week holiday in Vietnam. I now have a fairly sizable stock of photos to show you!

This first one is of Hoi An, an ancient trading port on Vietnam’s coast, known for the abundance of tailors and original French colonial architecture.

Night time photo of Hoi An, Vietnam with lights reflecting in the water and women on boats.

 

Mar 252014
 

You may have noticed that I’m scrambling to get backdated posts up. I started running low on new photos and may only have photos of Guatemala left to process. So to keep up the variety I’ve looked back to some of my earlier photos. Today’s picture is from about 10 years ago and was taken on my first adventure where I caught the travel bug and got interested in photography.

This is a Quechuan weaver at work. We’d travelled from Sucre to a native village that was just beginning to open up for tourism. An American man was our guide. He had been living with the community assisting them in developing revenue streams beyond farming. He was fluent in the Quechuan language.

When we arrived at the village they were very excited to have their first group of visitors and put on all sorts of displays for us, including a rather terrifying man dancing around wearing a goat’s face as a mask. The children, in particular, followed us around in a big excited swarm.

This photo was taken on a small point and shoot camera made by Olympus. That little thing was rugged and managed to survive 5 treks, ice climbing, walking through the jungle with a puma, sand dune boarding and numerous drunken nights out.

quechuan lady weaving on a loom kneeling with sandals off and compeleted work on another loom next to her

Mar 242014
 

This water fountain in Rome is right next to the Pantheon. I had set this photo up exactly as it is and was just going to take a picture of the taps. Then, this woman walked up, acting completely oblivious to me, and positioned herself perfectly in the frame.

woman using water fountain in rome to fill her bottle near the pantheon