Monthly Archives: October 2014

Of Mountains & Sands – Portraits from Nepal & India

Portraits, something so simple yet sometimes so hard to achieve without looking staged or set up. My love for travel photography centres around ‘environmental portraiture’ – where I am able to capture not only the faces and expressions of my subject, but their surroundings and environment as well. This allows the viewer to better engage with the photo, and to understand and feel how the subject lives and exist. My go to lens is the Canon 35L on an FF body, allowing me to have a wide enough photo yet still maintain a high degree of depth of field.

Near the border and buffer zone between India and Pakistan, in the Thar desert region near Jaisalmer – I spotted an old goat herder. I asked to take a photo of him and he proudly posed for my camera, yet at the same time was quite protective of the girl behind him. His body language indicated that he did not want her to be captured at all. So I thanked him and walked back to the camp site.


A handsome local who rode up to our campsite to sell soft-drinks with his young son.


A photo and scene that will stick in my mind for a long time. During our trek in the Annapurna foothills, a local village boy ran up to us and constantly begged for chocolates. Unfortunately we did not have any to give to him. Such luxury goods are highly prized by villagers in remote areas.


You dont realize how fit locals are living in the mountainous terrains, until you see them carrying heavy loads on their backs – while smiling at you without breaking a sweat, up and down the steep trails.


The Boudha Stupa in Kathmandu is a place of significant religious value, but open to tourists, monks and those practicing yoga from all over the world. An elderly monk was praying and seeking alms as I took a photo of him.


Durbar Square in Kathmandu in the afternoons is the place to be for many locals. The destination to meet up with friends, buy produce from market stalls, or to simply sit back and soak in the atmosphere and people watch – particularly wide-eyed tourists who had just arrived in the country. This little girl was playing by herself using rocks and bottle caps.


A drunken villager who was celebrating with his family when we came by for a break from the descent from the mountains.


Tourism in the Rajasthan region of India is still growing strongly, with many resorts and hotels being built in the Thar desert, this was one of the workers at a resort site I came across.


The young boy who accompanied his dad on his own camel, coming by to sell us soft drinks in the desert.

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A shy boy who hid behind other boys and young men, when we came to visit their village outside of Jaisalmer.

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At the Epitaphs outside of Jaisalmer, local school boys came up to us out of curiosity and kept asking us for one thing, which we couldnt understand. It was not till a while after that we found out they were asking for pens and pencils…..


He was trying to explain to me the rules of this game, naturally our language barrier prevented me from understanding much. But from the time spent with him – it seemed very similar in ways to Chinese chess.


The morning after. Our guide cooking breakfast for us, before a herd of goats invaded the campsite and tried to steal food.


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The Himalayas to the Thar desert – NEPAL & INDIA

The name Chomolungma, or Sagamartha depending on which side of the Himalayas you are coming from; has resonated strongly with avid travelers like myself for years. Many yearn to climb her but only a few lucky ones will ever succeed. While many are simply content to stand in her shadows and see with their own eyes. Maybe one day I will attempt to summit the peak, but for now I was just happy to be in the same country as Mount Everest!

The main objective of my first ever visit to Nepal was to get a taste of what to expect for future hiking trips in the region. Due to our limited time in the country I opted for the Annapurna range via Pokhara upon hearing of its serene beauty – of both the town and the surrounding hills and mountains. With the first few days in Kathmandu for sightseeing and trying out different variations of the local delicacy ‘momo’ (fried dumplings) – we took the well worn 6 hour car ride to Pokhara.

Looking back, there is nothing I can write that hadn’t been covered before about Pokhara or the Annapurna. All I can stress the importance of is shoes! Looking back, everything else I planned for or equipped for was fine, except for the shoes. I have a nice pair of lightweight Columbia water proof trekking mid-neck shoes (not boots), and worn in enough from previous travels and activities etc. Making the ascent was fine, it was not until the descent that I realized the shoes fit a bit too snugly and my toes were hitting the end of the shoes with every step down. Times that by thousands and thousands of steps and suddenly you are in a lot of pain with no one to blame but yourself. Always buy hiking shoes/boots with room for your toes to slide or move a bit, you will be grateful for it. My fault:)

Then there was India.

This was a love it or hate it type of country. I loved it, but some of my friends didn’t. Our gruelling and tight schedule did not help either. For many years I had dreamt about visiting Jaisalmer and staying in the fort in the desert, and was adamant we had to get there somehow.

From Delhi to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, then to Jaipur, Jodhpur and finally Jaisalmer – everyday was roughly 6-7 hours in the car traveling to the next city. This was the most cost effective way with the short amount of time we had, as last minute trains and flights did not match to what we needed.

The colours, my gosh the colours of the Rajasthan region was breathtaking! You see it on television but to see it in person or through the camera lens was like looking through a kaleidoscope of vivid scenes. I love history and culture, and to see the famous forts in each city of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer – I tried to imagine myself walking through those narrow streets or battlements hundreds of years ago.

We wrapped up India in a relaxing, albeit slightly hot and painful manner. Camel riding in the Thar desert, and slept overnight on the sand dunes. A nice and surreal way to end what had been one of our most physically tiring trips so far, in terms of duration spent driving, flying and training it. Add in white water rafting, para-gliding and that unforgettable and arduous ‘little’ hike we did in the Annapurna. I hope to return as soon as possible!

Below are some images from both countries during the journey, enjoy:)


Our first day in Kathmandu, finding our way to Durbar Square and trying to get through the afternoon traffic.

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Local sellers in Durbar Square in the late afternoon.

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People watching in the local market – Durbar Square.




Young monks at the Boudha Stupa – Kathmandu.





I shot this of a fellow para-glider in front of me whilst up in the air, with Pokhara and its serene lake in the background.





Another shot of a para-glider skimming over the ridgelines near Pokhara. It looked a lot more cooler in person:)









The long and amazing ascent/descent/ascent etc to Panchasse village for the night – Annapurna hills





One of the most unforgettable nights I ever had on my travels around the world. Sitting around the village campfire getting to know travelers from around the world and sharing food with the local women who looked after us.





Stunning view of the Annapurna Range when the clouds lifted from our hotel room, with Diana in the foreground. We all rushed to take photos when it became visible.

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The ubiquitous Taj Mahal + crowd shot:)





There is a certain beauty in the aesthetics of Amber Fort in Jaipur, the flowing walls and layout made for a less imposing structure than another photo below in another city.




Mehrengarh Fort in Jodhpur the blue city. Atop the hill overlooking the city, its imposing structure stands at a vast contrast to Amber Fort in Jaipur. It has never been conquered by any army.

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The view of Mehrengarh Fort from our haveli. You can see why this is referred to as the ‘blue city’.

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Another fort, this time in Jaisalmer in which we stayed inside and was a highlight in terms of exotic locale and customer service. The city of Jaisalmer resembled something from the Middle East in some parts, you wouldn’t think you are still in India.





The camel ride out into the Thar desert, an hour outside of Jaisalmer. It was a painful experience for the guys, for obvious reasons:)





This was the moment we woke up in the early morning in the Thar desert.

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Inside our accommodation in Jaisalmer Fort. One word = colours!

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Borneo to Japan – Nov/Dec 2013

A few weeks after coming back from a stunning road trip of South Island in New Zealand, we were off to Borneo to see the Orang-utans, and for me to do a story on them and interviewing staff there. We had not been to cities like Kuching, Penang and Langkawi island so this was a good opportunity to knock them all off at once before heading over to the colder climate of a Japanese winter.

Kuching was a great contrast to the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur. We spent the morning at Semengoh sanctuary for Orang-Utans and I was able to interview several park rangers, and able to photograph the feeding time up close. But thats for another story for a travel magazine:)

Coming back to Tokyo was a moving experience. It was one of the two cities I had first explored when I begun my traveling in 2007, and to see old and new places again was amazing! My biggest highlight was masquerading as a foreign photographer and wandered onto the Pit area of Mt Fuji Speedway during a regional race – Toyota Vitz Endurance Cup. I had always been fascinated with this legendary race track from watching it on TV and through video games such as Gran Turismo series. But to actually stand next to teams making pit stops and race officials poring over race data was a surreal moment!


On a beach in Langkawi, overcast day and poor visibility meant it was useless for diving or any underwater snorkeling shots!

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Messing around in the water with Diana, shot with the Sony NEX5N in an underwater housing half submerged.

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Behind the scenes shot of feeding time for some Orang-Utans.





Back again, after 7 years since I was at Mt Fuji! Can you believe this was taken with my iPhone 5!? Use the canoes in the foreground to frame the volcano during sunset.

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One of my trespassing shots in the Pits area of Fuji Speedway. Masquerading as a foreign journalist, I was able to sneak onto the pit area and watched several teams change drivers during the Toyota Vitz endurance race.

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Track officials monitoring timing and conditions on their laptops. Nobody questioned me as I stood there without a badge during the race.

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I love the camaraderie of the racing teams at Fuji Speedway. Here are a group of women handing out free hot food to team members and officials and grid girls during the cold winter morning!

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If you know anything about cars, sometimes the parking lots of Japanese race tracks and drag strips is more interesting than whats being raced! There were plenty of awesome modded cars and quirky ones. But this is one of my faveourite. I had always been a fan of the FD RX7 and to see one that is a daily thrasher with street damage and all, made my day!

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A ceremony at the Meiji-Jingu Shrine in Harajuku, Tokyo. A lot had changed here since I first came in 2007. New and upgraded walking paths and new buildings seemed to have slightly diminished its tranquil setting in the heart of Tokyo.

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Someone famous having a photoshoot at the Meiji-Jingu shrine. We had no idea who we was but asked for a photo together anyway!

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