I Capture People! This is how I do it…

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”     – Robert Capa

There is no other way of putting it.

Sitting somewhere with a massive zoom lens taking photos where you are completely removed from your subject, is nothing to write home about. You share nothing special with your subject and you don’t get to witness the magic in a person’s eyes when you’re not up close and personal.

Somewhere in 2013 I decided to start photographing people. After all, if it weren’t for the people, different destinations would get boring at an alarming pace.

No words were spoken. Bangkok, October 2013
No words were spoken. Bangkok, October 2013

At the time I was shooting a Nikon D5100 with an old school 50mm manual focus lens. For the not so camera savvy ones out there, that means that I have to turn the focus ring with my hand. No auto – focus. It is pretty challenging to get a person in focus when you only have a few seconds to capture the initial surprise of a ginger photographer jumping in front of you, pointing a camera.

My girlfriend, Brenda and André the Dutchman. We've bumped into him on three different occasions in three different places in Thailand. He's always very drunk and very outspoken. This time he told me exactly what he thought of society. Even got it tattooed. Khao San Road, Bangkok, December 2013
My girlfriend, Brenda and André the Dutchman. We’ve bumped into him on three different occasions in three different places in Thailand. He’s always very drunk and very outspoken. This time he told me exactly what he thought of society. Even got it tattooed. Khao San Road, Bangkok, December 2013

Needless to say, hundreds of the first photos came out blurred or horribly over – exposed.

It took months of practice to perfect the focus, and I feel now that I’m very close to conquering that lens.

This guy was standing at a bus stop when I passed. I didn't have much time as  his bus was speedily approaching. I took two  shots and he said he had to go. He jumped on to the bus, waved goodbye and I never even got his name. Bangkok, 2013
This guy was standing at a bus stop when I passed. I didn’t have much time as his bus was speedily approaching. I took two shots and he said he had to go. He jumped on to the bus, waved goodbye and I never even got his name. Bangkok, October 2013

I learned that it’s better to approach people and ask them if they would allow me to photograph them, than scare the living daylights out of them and have blurry photos of people screaming or trying to slap me.

Talking to them first would set them at ease and they would allow me to take a few shots, in case I blurred some of them. It would also allow me to form a bond with my subjects. Having something in common, even if it’s something small, makes your subject’s eyes shine like midnight – bonfires!

Such a classy smoker. Teeraphon was the best model ever! He smoked two cigarettes while I was struggling to get the light right. In the end he gave me a cigarette and we had a quick chat. Bangkok 2013
Such a classy smoker. Teeraphon was the best model ever! He smoked two cigarettes while I was struggling to get the light right. In the end he smoked one more and we had a quick chat. Bangkok 2013

If you don’t ask, people usually assume you’re some kind of pervert and you end up getting screamed at or smacked with a handbag!

I adore photography. Simply because it enables me to freeze time. It enables me to stop everyone and everything in their tracks and look at that moment forever without it changing. Photography gives me the power to capture emotion. Something that you can’t really bottle, or cage. It’s like sitting with a TV remote and pausing the scene, forever…

Going through my photo collection and recalling intricate details about every person is like drugs to me.

I’ve always been fascinated by people. What’s her name? What obscure town is he from? What weird job do they do? Has she got tattoos in naughty places? Wonder where he got that scar? What’s her favourite band?

“I wonder how many times you’ve been had and I wonder how many dreams have gone bad. I wonder how many times you had sex and I wonder, do you know who’ll be next?” – Sixto Rodriguez, I Wonder

They've been best friends forever and this was their first time outside the USA. They'd been in Thailand for one day and couldn't be happier! Bangkok, 2013
They’ve been best friends forever and this was their first time outside the USA. They’d been in Thailand for one day and couldn’t be happier! Bangkok, November 2013

I would sit at coffee-shops or bars and watch the world pass by. I’d rather choose bars because people at bars usually have dirty little secrets or heart – wrenching stories. Coffee shop patrons bore me. They always share the same basic story about their cute kids or their big house with a pretty white picket fence!

I made up an alter – ego for every interesting person that I saw and tried to get the character as fitting to their appearance as possible.

He definitely didn't need me to make up a character. People broke their necks off staring (like the girl in the background) so I went up and started a conversation. I showed him my tattoos, he showed me his and I asked him for a photo. No neck breaking required. ANd now I will forever remember him. Bangkok, 2013
Bang definitely didn’t need me to make up a character. People broke their necks off staring (like the girl in the background) so I went up and started a conversation. I showed him my tattoos, he showed me his and I asked him for a photo. No neck breaking required. And now I will forever remember him. Bangkok, November 2013

I later found that I don’t even have to make up characters. I just have to walk up to the person and talk to them.

Every person reminds me of a part of my travels. I tend to use photographs of people as checkpoints. When I look at a picture I can recall most of what happened before and after that picture, where it was taken, what I was busy with and my mindset at the time.

It’s incredibly satisfying to look at these photos and be transported back to that exact time and place.

Takiab (Thai word for Chopsticks) has no front teeth. He said I could photograph him, but he wouldn't smile. We shared a few laughs over a beer. Khao San Road, Bangkok, November 2013
Takiab (Thai word for Chopsticks) has no front teeth. He said I could photograph him, but he wouldn’t smile. We shared a few laughs over a beer! Khao San Road, Bangkok, November 2013

I’ve included some of my favourite photographs that have been taken over the past 10 months that I’ve been living in Thailand.

Some of the names have been erased from my memory, but I’ll never forget the electricity in the air when you show a person their picture and they love it!

Be Happy, Be More

Furter Buys

Non English speaker. I gestured that I wanted to photograph his mustache. He stood still for a few seconds and then continued packing boxes. Bangkok, November 2013
Non -English speaker. I gestured that I wanted to photograph his mustache. He stood still for a few seconds and then continued packing boxes. Bangkok, November 2013
A French girl named Fleur. Aaah, French girls...
A French girl named Fleur. Aaah, French girls…
Bangkok has loads of tattooed people. She asked me if she could see mine, so I said yes. In return she gave me a beautiful smile. Bangkok, October 2013
Bangkok has loads of tattooed people. Cartoon (yes, that’s her name) asked me if she could see mine, so I said yes. In return she gave me a beautiful smile. Bangkok, October 2013
Bass plays the bass in a Thai band. Can't remember the band's name though. Bangkok, October 2013
Bass plays the bass in a Thai band. Can’t remember the band’s name though. Bangkok, October 2013
I think it was Ali from Oman I'm sure about Oman, not about Ali. Bangkok, October 2013
I think it was Ali from Oman I’m sure about Oman, not about Ali. Bangkok, October 2013

A Scout Camp – Capturing Innocence

I love camping!

Especially if it’s with my girlfriend on a barren beach in a one man tent that couldn’t possibly fit one man!

I went on a scout camp with some of my students last week. The setup was exactly what the first line suggests: super-cramped and overloaded with terra-firma.

I am an English Teacher and thus didn’t have to do ANYTHING on this camp. I assigned myself the position of Head – Photographer and I think I’d be able to run a scout-camp-photography-course after my endeavours.

I woke up on Tuesday morning and quickly threw a few stuff in a backpack. The most important thing on every single trip I take is my camera and gear, so I checked and re-checked that, filled the scooter up with some zoomjuice and hit the road!

An hour later I parked the scooter under some pine-trees. I had windblown hair and bone-dry eyes. I usually have to Vaseline my eye -sockets after a long scooter trip, just to get my eye-balls lubed and ready to go again!

I grabbed the closest two boys by the collar and had them set up the tent. You see, I learned the art of delegation at an early age.

Where we camped
Where we camped
Our camp...
Our camp…

Having settled in, I grabbed my camera and started shooting the kids (no need to call the fuzz, nobody has really been shot)

At first I struggled to get the students exposed properly. Thai sun is extremely intense and if you have a little photography experience you’d know that very bright sun =  very difficult exposure.

After a while I found the perfect exposure and got into my picture groove.

Smile

On the lookout
On the lookout

I got lost in the square that is my viewfinder and before I knew it both my memory cards were full and I was suddenly caught in every photographer’s nightmare!
When you’re stuck in a place without any means of cleaning memory cards, there’s only one way to sort out an overloaded memory card:

DELETE PHOTOS

This is something I very much dislike, because I feel that every photo has it’s own bit of savoir faire. Even if it’s a very average photo, it carries a piece of the place/person I photographed with it.

After a painful picture discarding session I was back on track and ready to shoot some kids. You know what I mean!

The results were astonishing and I absolutely adore the pure joy and utter innocence that shone from their eyes.

Rare beauty, captured...
Rare beauty, captured…
Strike a pose!
Strike a pose!
Brother love...
Brotherly love…
Future Calvin Klein models
Future Calvin Klein models

Salute!

While capturing these photos I came to a peculiar realization. This awareness is shaped by the way we were brought up and the influences our cultures have on us.

I saw these kids do exactly the same things that I did when I was young.

  • One would write on another’s back and the latter would have to guess what the first had written.
  • The boys would throw the girls with buckets of water.
  • One little guy had a pretty rad mask obviously for late night scream evoking. (The innocent kind)
  • Firecrackers would erupt in the middle of the night! There’s nothing as exciting as disrupting the sleep of every single person in the camp, is there?
  • When any of the girls spotted me with my camera, an alert would be sent out and every single girl would strike a pose that belongs in a Cosmopolitan.
Scoutfits! Get it? Do you?
Scoutfits! Get it? Do you?

Being there with my camera, almost invisible, brought me to the realization that humans aren’t that different after all!

In one hemisphere we grow up with obesity-inducing burgers and atrocious TV programs, game consoles and horrible pop music.

In the other we eat noodles with chopsticks and work on rubberfarms or ricepaddies after school. We spend our breaks at school playing marbles and Kissing – Touchers.

The connection gets established at the point where our cultures intersect. We are all human. We all have basic frameworks that get shaped by the things we see, hear and do.

The way that our cultures approach everyday banalities have a monumental influence on the way we will view the rest of our lives.

Working with these kids, I realised that we’re all the same. White or black, fat or thin, extremely rich or agonizingly-poor. The only thing that differs is the angle from where a subject is viewed.

Travelling often forces you to see things that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It forces you to observe with different eyes than the eyes you usually use for looking.

Being a foreigner in Thailand reveals the utter obscurity and vapid floundering that exists in Western culture.

Everything revolves around image and possessions. Nothing truly worth doing gets done. Facebook statuses are updated with cats playing keyboards. Celebrities are mindlessly followed and often become god-like symbols to the empty headed youth.

Still, in spite of all this vapid screwing around, we’re all people and the one thing we want is to be happy.

Why then, if we’re all so alike, is there so much turmoil and hate going around?

Why don’t we just enjoy life and appreciate the simple things in life?

Simple things like a smile, a kiss, a hug, a high-five.

Be Happy, Be More

Furter Buys

Bird's eye view. Get it??
Bird’s eye view. Get it??
Another model
Another model
Ready for some prima -donna action!
Ready for some prima -donna action!
Brothers
Brothers

Deserted and alluring – a photo essay

A few weeks back I got on my scooter and went driving into the endless rubber-tree plantations all around my home.

This is all I can see, for miles around.
This is all I can see, for miles around.

I wasn’t searching for anything specific. I was just taking time to appreciate my current position on a GPS.

I explicitly wanted to remind myself that I live in rural Thailand and that it is completely in contrast to previous places I’ve stayed.

These plantations have a way of hiding extravagant places known only to the local people. Sometimes these places leap out from behind a tree. Other times you accidentally stumble upon it and it makes you feel like Marco Polo or Indiana Jones!

I found this deserted cave temple, Khao Pina, and it took my breath away! It was filled with dust covered statuettes of old monks and the main chamber housed a breathtaking reclining Buddha.

Let the photo’s do the talking.

DSC_6202
Warm welcome…
Found this guy outside. Someone recently draped him with that cloth. Must be for sun - protection.
Found this guy outside. Someone recently draped him with that cloth. Must be for sun – protection.
monk statuette
Keeping watch
bell
Close-up of a bell. Guess it was used to summon monks?
The place was scattered with these!
The place was scattered with these!
Creepy as hell!
Creepy as hell!
House of Wax can get some tips here.
House of Wax can get some tips here.
Another photo of the bell
Another photo of the bell

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

A close up of the head.
A close up of the head.

Buddha 1

The peeling paint reminds me of the fleeting lives we lead.
The peeling paint reminds me of the fleeting lives we lead.
I love the look of total peace. I felt at total peace while photographing this. Nirvana.
I love the look of Nirvana. I felt at total peace while photographing this. 
Does anyone know the meaning of the writing?
Does anyone know the meaning of the writing?
Reclining Buddha Khao Pina
A wide view of the inside of the cave. Well, as wide as a 50mm lens would allow me.

The knowledge that there aren’t many travellers who have seen this place inspires me to keep searching for places that speak the wisdom of a thousand years. Places that stir up old ghosts. Places that aren’t in guidebooks and won’t ever be.

Have you stumbled upon hidden gems? Share your stories of diamonds in the rough with me!

Be Happy, Be More

Furter Buys

Koh Jum – Introspection

As the sun was slowly drowning itself in the vast ocean, I came to a complete standstill. I was on that beach, a lone being, devouring the splendor and majesty of being in that specific place, at that specific time.

The longtail boat dropped me off on the beach, right in front of the backpackers hostel and I felt like I’ve always wanted to.

Alive!

This place was like something from a pirate novel! And I was Blackbeard, here to dig up some long lost treasure. Little did I know I’d be digging up some gems from within myself.

I dropped my backpack, grabbed my picture-machine and headed straight for a tiny bar built on top of the rocks. It was hot and I was parched and a glacial beer was the remedy I needed.

Rock bar
Stuck between a rock and a hard place

On arrival at the bar it seemed totally deserted. I climbed up a dilapidated-driftwood ladder to get onto the platform where the bar was built. There was no-one in sight.

I called out to see if anyone was hiding somewhere, waiting to serve me a beer and after a few more desperate cries I saw a shiny head rise from behind the bar counter.

The barkeeps eyes were glazed like cherries but he was able and willing to serve me the coldest beer I’ve ever had! I gladly accepted and sat myself down to breathe in my intricate surroundings.

My main man, Maan
My main man, Maan

All I could hear was the gentle lapping of waves (Thailand waves mind you, more like ripples) on the rocks and some Thai Reggae blaring from a tiny radio.

On a bench, at that bar, I sat for hours and allowed my mind to wander uninhibited.

I asked myself why this beach was any different from any other place I’ve been before. I thought of home and my purpose for breathing. I wondered why I was so utterly content at that moment?

Some reasons are very apparent. Others are obscure feelings or thoughts. They hide away inside my mind and avoid being dissected. Even though they are yet to be figured out, they motivate me and keep me wandering!

Cool light fittings...
Cool light fittings…

The apparent reasons are as follows:

1. There was absolute tranquility here. No traffic. No screaming children. No beggars. No assholes.

2. This place seemed to give me all the time I needed to ask and answer all my deepest questions. At home there never seemed to be enough time for introspection as I was always busy trying to find peace in the wrong things.

Here I was seated in the lap of peace itself.

3. Nothing was pre-occupying my mind. Except the thought of living life the way it was meant to be lived. There is no yesterday. There is no tomorrow. Only now. And that’s what travel makes me feel like all the time!

I never realized it but the music had died out in the background. I heard a chanting of sorts being carried over the sea by a gentle inland breeze.

Prayer-time had come for the Muslim -inhabitants of Koh Jum. I felt strangely connected to everything around me and I might say, I even felt something spiritual, even though I know very little about the Muslim religion.

I was sitting on the beach, filming a tiny crab rolling sand-balls. It filters the sand looking for something to fill that horrible empty spot in its stomach.

A tiny crab did some very hard work. I added some finishing touches :)
A tiny crab did some very hard work. I added some finishing touches 🙂

I asked myself what it was that make humans feel alive?
What’s the one thing that gives meaning to our insignificant lives?
What things do we need to filter from everyday sand to fill our empty souls?

Is it spirituality or maybe something more tangible?

“We’re nothing but hollow vessels, in search of what makes us alive…” – Underoath

The only thing I could think of was this:

We’ve received one chance at figuring this life out. We’ve got a few decades at most to experience and perceive as much as possible. Only one cup of life to fill to the brim! Only one set of organs to exhaust!

We can choose to spend it in one of a few ways. Happy or unhappy. Alive or stagnant. Adventurous or accepting. Open – minded or sheepish. Collecting a myriad of things or free as the wind.

My favourite picture from this island.
My favourite picture from this island.

I liberated myself and I haven’t been happier since! Yes, there have been a few days where I felt my compass was broken, but in retrospect those days have only reinforced my will to stay on the road, doing what fills my cup of life!

We need food to stay alive. Our souls have to travel in order to breathe! The mind cannot grow if it does not experience. Being stagnant, stuck in one place, doing one thing causes your brain to die and turns you into a sheep.

It saddens me deeply to think of all the empty souls ingesting the same crap for their entire lives. Filtering sand and not taking anything from it.

It breaks my heart to know that so many of my co-inhabitants on this planet won’t ever feel the same feeling that I feel every single day.

The incredible feeling of being truly alive!

What makes you truly alive?

Be Happy, Be More

Furter Buys

These are used to roll smokable things.
These are used to roll smokable things.
Eyes glazed like cherries...
Eyes glazed like cherries…
Put these on, you'll be amazed what you can see!
Put these on, you’ll be amazed what you can see!
Filling up the lamps
Filling up the lamps
Very cool decor!
Very cool decor!

The fogginess complimented the mystical feeling perfectly!

The fogginess complimented the mystical feeling perfectly!
The Rock Bar at night...
The Rock Bar at night…

Travel Necessity Number One: Friendship

My friend Ruann at Solo Travel Uncut and I are busy discussing the intricacies surrounding his arrival in Thailand.

Having a compatible travel partner is a crucial part of a trip. If you get stuck with an asshole it could potentially desecrate the majesty of Mount Everest!

The right travel-buddy can boost an experience magnificently and could lead to a lifetime of memories.

The whole trip will be a shared venture and that comprises of sharing meals, beds and sometimes even underpants (say yours get stolen or something like that).

People seem to believe that they are the best of friends until they spend a few weeks or even months together. They tend to forget that little mannerisms and ways of doing certain things can have a massive impact on a relationship over longer periods.

We were always connected in a very strange way. We just seemed to understand each other to the fullest extent.

In the embryo stage of our friendship we moved in the same circles.

Sometimes discussing substantial subjects like religion or the current situation of the world or Justin Bieber’s new hairdo! We would often be found in each other’s company listening to and heavily discussing music.

Other times we’d be buying each other shots while rocking out to live bands!

He once cut my finger with a beer bottle and to this day the very tip of that finger has no feeling. What a reminder!

We attended a massive music festival in South Africa, Oppikoppi, together twice and shared many a drunken night as co-revellers!

Still we weren’t blood-brothers. We weren’t the type of guys they make movies or console-games about! We weren’t Starsky and Hutch or Mario and Luigi! We were just two harmonious guys who got high on each other’s minds.

Yet, just before we went our separate ways in life there seemed to be a spark! Something that I don’t think either of us ever anticipated, but it was an inter-connectedness, a like-mindedness that grabbed my attention.

Both of us had an intense and excruciating urge to travel and both of us would leave no stone unturned to get to our goal of seeing the world!

Even though we weren’t really in contact at the time we still met up in South Africa right before he left for Korea to have one last beer for an undisclosed amount of time. 2 months later, I moved to Thailand.

Now, almost a year later, the next meeting is upon us! A new chapter unfolds and I guess we’ll be co-writing this one!

While busy discussing the possibilities of our endeavours, I got an intense feeling of child-like excitement! I am always ready for new things and this is the ideal opportunity for me to experience travel from someone else’s perspective. Especially another travel blogger and a close friend.

It’s a weird indescribable feeling…

Everything currently surrounding me seems to be getting bland at an alarming pace! Everyday things like rubber plantations seem to become even more monotonous! I’m constantly trying to convince myself that I’m the cause behind this obscured view of things, but to no avail.

The thought of heading out, without a map, armed only with backpacks and cameras, is a very exciting prospect! It completely overshadows everything else!

All I want to do is get to the airport and welcome my soul-brother and finally embark on this epic adventure. It’s like the night before Christmas when you have to go to bed, knowing that those darn presents are right outside the door, but you’re not allowed to open them!

The pure excitement of travelling with a close friend and sharing these bold endeavours is enough to induce insomnia!

Travelling tends to yield immeasurable experiences and sharing those times with a close friend is the closest you could possibly come to having life figured out!

Our exploits are bound to deliver endless writing material and hopefully our stories will inspire you to undertake your own adventures and be the narrators of your own epic tales!

What is the craziest, coolest, funniest, most touching moment you’ve shared with a friend while travelling?

Be Happy, Be More

Furter Buys

20140220-185735.jpg

I’m content with being happy

I’ve been unhappy in my lifetime.

Unsatisfied with myself, my surroundings and the people I was sharing my life with. I was sick of being forced into things that I felt uncomfortable with.

That is until now.

A few heads were bobbing up and down in the crystal clear water and I was sure the brains that they contained were fried by the blistering sun.

There were enough lobster-red sunbathers on the beach to supply a seafood restaurant for at least 2 months.

Every now and then someone ran over the scalding sand in search of a spot of shade, trying to escape the apocalyptic sun.

Snorkelers were devouring the reef, taking in all the beauty and splendor that Koh Mook has to offer!

The bay harbored a dozen extravagant yachts, each filled with unchained sailors searching for exactly the same thing that everyone on the beach was:

Happiness.

As I rocked my hammock back and forth, sipping on my frosty beer glass, breathing in the magnificence of this island, an old question came creeping back into my mind.

A question that wasn’t being asked for the first time.

An exhausted question that many people stopped asking when they chained themselves to their desks in their offices.

What is true happiness?

I asked myself this question for the millionth time.

Lying there in my hammock, sipping that beer, I knew that I was at the pinnacle of human – happiness.

Bunk-hammocks, ultimate luxury!
Bunk-hammocks, ultimate luxury!

But I wondered what other people’s view of happiness was?

Some people I know act like they are totally content with their current ranking in life.

Some people can admit that they aren’t totally happy but don’t seem to want to change their situation.

Others are utterly unhappy, but are too damn scared to make a change and be happy!

I see dozens of tourists flood this gorgeous country and leave just as quickly as they came here. They seem to be so pre-occupied with the thought of their next destination that they fail to see the source of happiness right in front of their eyes.

I used to be like that, until I realized that true euphoria is a product of your own mind.

Pure joy comes from within. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a tropical island or in a Californian forest, snowboarding in the Swiss Alps or sitting at home, ONLY YOU can make yourself happy!

I walked, kayaked and swam around Koh Mook with my camera, capturing everything that made me thankful to be alive!

Ultimate happiness! And sunburn :/
Ultimate happiness! And sunburn :/

The simple smile of an old man intricately illustrated the true happiness to be found in humble habits, as opposed to the obscure, people-pleasing, self-enriching lifestyles of the concrete jungle.

He was sitting on his porch, smoking a cigarette and I could see that he was totally content with his choice of drug.

A little boy with a snotty nose ensured my camera – shutter plenty of work. He was playing in the sand, hunting for crabs, the quintessence of contentment.

Snot-Factory
Snot-Factory
Be cool...
Be cool…

I started taking photos of him and he convinced me that his life calling is to be a model. He posed for numerous photographs with so much confidence that it seemed unfair not to be paying him for his modelling. I compensated him with a few high-fives!

The freedom of being able to swim with schools of fish makes you rethink your old view of happiness. It proves that there is a perfect society that functions entirely apart from what people see as happiness or success.

Why, as humans, do we feel forced into a lifestyle that is only a replica of someone else’s ideals?

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

I used to think that an expensive car and a massive house and lavish holidays were the birthplace of happiness. I proved to myself that you don’t have to spend money on material things to breathe the joy that is life.

In fact, you don’t even have to spend money.

My gorgeous girlfriend, shining!
My gorgeous girlfriend, shining!
Mommy, there's a funny man constantly taking photos of me
Mommy, there’s a funny man constantly taking photos of me

I went out and saw the beauty and splendor that was displayed right before my eyes. I saw past the package holiday – deals and the fancy hotels, the expensive food and rental jetskis. I took every moment and saw it through the eyes of an island inhabitant.

A simple life is the foundation of happiness.

No clutter to cloud your comprehension, no belongings to suck the life out of you.

What is it that makes you truly thankful for being alive?

Be happy, Be more

Furter Buys

Still taking photos Mom!
Still taking photos Mom!
These boat motors keep amazing me.
These boat motors keep amazing me.
Building a boat on the beach.
Building a boat on the beach.
A Beautiful soul...
A Beautiful soul…
Happy mom with a very sad baby
Happy mom with a very sad baby
My first portrait of the weekend.
My first portrait of the weekend.

The Hunt for Awe OR Uncovering Gold (Part 2)

After the semi awe-inspiring experience of The Dragon Temple, I remounted my steed and continued on the path to enlightenment (very dramatic, am I not?)

The road between river and mountain kept snaking along and I passed wooden homes and little Thai-style restaurants. All the way people kept jumping in the road just to get a look at this fiery redhead on his iron horse!

I tried explaining what I was looking for, in the broken Thai that only foreigners are capable of speaking, and they gestured that I keep going on this road…

The homes and eating-establishments grew less and the rice paddies engulfed the countryside. Everywhere I looked I saw luscious green fields filled with avid workers, harvesting the day away!

The road made a wide bend and in the distance I spotted the sharp peaks of a temple piercing the sky.

Temple on hill
The fortress on the hill

I knew I had found the exquisite gem I was looking for!

Filled with child-like excitement I turned my scooters ear as far as I could and sped through the paddies to the parking lot of this majestic temple.

Situated on a hill, this fortress overshadowed the luscious green fields like Goliath belittled David.

Furter Buys
No tourists! Ultimate joy!

The parking lot had only a few cars parked, so I knew the tourist – plague hadn’t penetrated here.

I ascended a green, yellow and red stairway to heaven and what was laid upon my eyes when I reached the top belongs in a fantasy novel like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones!

A colossal golden Buddha statue was the centerpiece of the temple grounds. Constructed all around this image was smaller shrines, temples and towers, each one unique and stunningly beautiful.

Golden Buddha

A feeling of immense calmness and deep spirituality clouded my thoughts and it felt as if I’d wandered into a holy man’s mind!

None of the visitors made a sound and everyone seemed to be experiencing exactly the same thing I was.

Every brick seemed to emit awe and tranquility.

Every yellow tile on the dome around the Buddha statue shone with the power of a tiny galaxy.

Every aspect of every building was pure perfection!

I wandered around for at least two hours. The only sound I heard was my camera – shutter as it opened and closed, capturing every detail of this imperial place!

I went to the threshold of the temple grounds, behind the big Buddha and uncovered a scene that belonged in a BBC documentary.

Far below me was a green blanket of rice, blowing gently in the summer – breeze. The scene was impeccably  wrapped by misty mountains in the distance.

I stood there, taking dozens of photos, trying to capture the essence of what I was so utterly privileged of seeing!

It was an arresting view!

view of rice
Overwhelming…

“Floating neither up nor down, I wondered when I’d hit the ground?”White Lies, Death

This sanctuary on the hill filled me with a sense of wonder and absolute perplexity! Like nothing I’d ever experienced before.

Whenever I think of that day, I realize again why I breathe.

I breathe for culture. I breathe for experience. I breathe for nature.

I breathe for one indescribable thing:

Travel…

Be Happy, Be more

Furter Buys

A Bird's eye view, sort of.
A Bird’s eye view, sort of.

Temple fisheyetower DSC_0570-2

A doorway within a doorway within a doorway!
A doorway within a doorway within a doorway!

Tower 2 DSC_0498-2 WIde angle

Concerning Dragons (Part 1 of 2)

Temples, shrines, and other religious things had become an everyday sight and had lost the magic and charismatic charm that they seemed to emit when I first came to Thailand.

Very few temples were truly awe-inspiring anymore. The most were neglected and downright boring. The few that were charming or intriguing, like Wat Pho in Bangkok, were infested by tourists!

I decided that I’d go look elsewhere, as all the esteemed temples seemed to be hiding in the countryside, or somewhere I haven’t been yet!

My awe-hunt started on a Friday afternoon in Bangkok. I had heard murmurings of striking temples scattered over the outskirts of Bangkok, so I jumped in a van and headed for the serenity that is Kanchanaburi.

Braving my way through Friday afternoon Bangkok traffic, semi-flooded roads and vivid blue, white and red protest areas, I finally arrived in Kanchanaburi.

I had a great welcoming dinner in the form of a 50 baht cheeseburger. Something I hadn’t eaten since coming to Thailand!

It was piping hot out and my throat was parched like a piece of Sahara desert, so I followed some revelers to their watering hole.

A massive party ensued which left me with a blank shelf in my archives.

The next morning I decided to go look for a hangover cure! I grabbed a beer (the best hangover cure) and rented a steady motorcycle with a full tank of petrol! The intoxicated revelers had told me tales of a Dragon Temple that was made up of pure admiration and was something that had to be experienced!

I left the hustle and bustle of the little bohemian town behind me. I traded the sights, sounds, smells and smiles of the town for a hilly road running between the river and a forming mountain.  I kept going on this road for a long time as I’d been told to follow the road until I spotted the dragon scaling its way down the mountain!

After a few kilometers I stumbled upon an insignificant archway leading into a little dirt road. The drive in revealed an extraordinary staircase leading all the way up to, wait for it, the mouth of a dragon!

Dragon steps
Headed all the way up there!

It was a scorching 40 degrees out and I’d already lost at least 5kg’s from excessive sweating but I decided to brave all the steps to see what the rumblings inside the dragons belly was all about.

30 photographs later I was standing at the dragon’s mouth. I mistook the few steps leading up to the mouth for a casual stroll, but it proved to be the beginning of a serious workout. Something I hadn’t done since my last time behind a Playstation remote (Gaming is working out right?)

I entered the big mouth and laboured up another 100 steps to the entrance of a grotto (just had to use this word somewhere)

The insides of the dragon were filled with hand-painted pictures telling the story of the temple and the region and its people.

It was so humid that I had to clean my camera’s viewfinder after every second shot, as it kept fogging up from the heat of my eye.

The inside of the cave was even hotter, but it was magnificent!

A 15 meter high Buddha statue radiated awe for me to breathe in.

I spent a few tranquil minutes inside the cave, soaking up the silence, feeling the calmness and having an intense spiritual experience! In retrospect it might have been all the incense that made me high!

Exiting the cave was a spiral staircase leading even higher up the mountain. I felt like Frodo and Sam, braving the mountain barefoot as I left my shoes outside the cave! It was so hot outside, I thought I’d found Mordor!

I then continued up the mountain in the blistering sun for another 30 minutes. My legs were aching and my throat was begging me for some relief.

Finally reaching the top, there was nothing but a viewpoint.

 I had climbed at least 500 steps to reach a dilapidated roof with a broken water dispenser.

At least there was a beautiful view of the tiny temple at the foot of the mountain. I completely overlooked it as I was too excited to find something truly awesome!

Temple
The tiny temple…

Where would I find the exquisite temple I was looking for?

Find out in Part 2 of this post: The Fortress on the Hill

Be Happy, Be More

Furter Buys

Spiral Staircase
The Spiral Staircase, obviously…
DSC_0412
“You must enter the Mouth of the Dragon…” Said Mr. Miyagi

The Writing’s on the Wall (Bangkok’s Beautiful Graffiti)

Some people are firmly rooted in the belief that graffiti is a crime.

They see it as vandalism of someone else’s property. They label the artists as scumbags and degenerates.

Yet they fail to see the blatant beauty and sometimes shocking social statements that these artists choose to exhibit where everyone can see them. On buildings, street signs, phone booths. It’s EVERYWHERE!

And it can’t be ignored.

Humans tend to overlook the obvious. They don’t want to see the truth. If it’s by choice or not, if you love or loathe graffiti, these artists are very bold and can’t be missed!

These artists don’t want you to see they want you to look!

So I looked…

The mural that I so briefly saw from the train...
The mural that I so briefly saw from the train…

“Speak softly, but carry a big can of paint.” 

― Banksy

The first time I saw this massive mural I was on the BTS Skytrain in Bangkok. We passed by it so fast that I barely got a glimpse, but I instinctively knew it was something that I needed to go photograph!

I’d only been living in Bangkok for about two weeks, so my mental map of this colossal city was pretty useless. It proved quite impossible to describe to Thai people what I was looking for and Internet searches gave me millions of results, none the one that I was looking for.

One Saturday morning I decided to get on my bike and go out looking for this splendid wall!

A scary prospect as I don’t know ANY roads in this metropolis.

So I grabbed my camera-bag and tripod, slapped some sunscreen on (I’m a ginger) got on my bike and started getting lost!

I immersed myself into the insane traffic and uncovered a treasure of splendid street – art all over this massive city. It took me half the day to get back home, but it was undeniably worth it.

I stopped at every single bomb or tag or mural or sticker I saw and took a photo of it.  I was trying to get a new perspective on graffiti, as I grew tired of the same old photos of graffiti.  I ended up with about 4 GB worth of graffiti photographs on my laptop.

Below  is a collection of my favourite photo’s from my cross -city chase after the most exquisite art!

Be happy, Be more…

Furter Buys

Don't be a square...
Don’t be a square…
I like contrast.
I like contrast.
In the bottom is a guy busy with some spraywork
In the bottom is a guy busy with some spraywork
Reminds me of home...
Reminds me of home…
A Fox skateboarding...
A Fox skateboarding…

“Graffiti is beautiful; like a brick in the face of a cop.”

― Hunter S. Thompson

DSC_0039
Masterpiece
DSC_0041
Bangkok in a mural…
DSC_0104
One of my favourite photos. My best friend and keeper of my heart as well as photo buddy, Brenda!
DSC_0126
Great placement.
DSC_0114
Bringing some nature into BKK…

DSC_0182 DSC_0192 haasoor-2 DSC_0067 DSC_0078 DSC_0079 DSC_0088 DSC_0132

Taking mushrooms with a senior citizen

I hadn’t taken any psychedelics for ages.

Then I wondered if I’d be able to refuse the kaleidoscopic – potential and sheer charm this little wooden bar presented me with.

Tie-dye hammocks were suspended from the trees like multi-coloured banana-peels.  The wind was gently sweeping through the bamboo chimes.

There were neon paintings of Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison on the walls. Jellyfish-like lights hung from all around and when the wind blew through their tentacles it looked like they were encouraging me to come join them. (Note: no mind-altering substances had been taken. Yet.)

Jellyfish lights
Come, join us…

So I went in.

“The Fungal Proprietor” was the title I instinctively came up with when I saw the guy behind the bar!

I had received reports from highly credible sources that “Happy Shakes” were being served all around the island. I simply couldn’t pass the opportunity by to try it. After all, this establishment was cut out for introspection.

I ordered one giant stainless steel camp mug, filled to the brim with mushrooms and tea.

As Mr. Mong, “The Proprietor”, placed the mug in front of me he proclaimed in broken English: “You see Pink Elephant on Moon!”

Roughly an hour after finishing my tea an aged English gentleman parked his motorbike next to mine and came strolling into this hippie-haven.

He offered to buy me a beer and I gladly accepted (can’t turn a beer-offer down). We struck up an astonishingly intimate conversation as soon as we sat down. I was sure I’d met this man before, somewhere.

He told me that he was on his way to visit his youngest son in Malaysia. He came by boat because he’s not an avid flyer (oblivious to the fact that I was rapidly making my way to the moon, or so claimed Mr. Mong.)

We discussed religion, sailing, music, poetry, the weather, smoking and a myriad of other topics.

Bill (the old bloke) and I got along very well and I sensed a pure connection even though he was 42 years older than I was. We even confessed our hopes and dreams as well as past failures.

My new friend, Bill
My new friend, Bill

This kinship seems to be interwoven between people who left their loved-ones behind to roam the earth in search of ultimate freedom.

A universal consciousness.

Psychedelics tend to create an illusion of connectedness. It’s up to you to seize this connection and add significance to the oneness felt between two spirits.

The psilocybin in my system obviously exaggerated my perception greatly, but the exchange felt genuine and utterly unique.

Discussing oceans and mountains with a stranger offers you a brand- spanking new outlook on life. It also reminds you that there is always a phenomenal experience somewhere waiting to be lived!

When this stranger resembles a family member or friend so clearly, it proves that every human is connected, sometimes in strange ways.

Whether it be on your own, or with family and friends, make sure you notice the beauty and simplicity that everyday experiences offer.

Here I was stalking pink elephants on the moon and I ran into someone I’ve never met, but already knew very well! As if we’d lived the same lives thousands of kilometers apart and in totally different era’s.

Embrace every chance to get to know someone, for this experience has changed my perception profoundly. It has enabled me to see through the clutter of daily life straight to the things that make breathing worthwhile.

Be happy, be more!

Furter Buys

Snails and mushrooms
This way…
Some other mind - altering substances for sale.
Some other mind – altering substances for sale.
You might want to strap one of these on...
You might want to strap one of these on…

Meaningful Movement on Mother Earth

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