AFTER A REASONABLY mediocre trip around the Balkans, I’d had enough of travel, at least temporarily. Getting robbed didn’t help. Neither did a dangerous fall at the top of a cliff. Or….or…or…
So when you’re tired of travel, the only way back is to ease back in with something mild: India!
Pleasingly, the trip, through the hilly north-east states, went pretty smoothly. Better yet, I enjoyed it, lots. Plenty of wildlife, very good food, far-out locations, colourful markets, and some really first-class people.
Probably missed out on a few things and places that we’d wanted to see, but so be it. Better too short than too long when it comes to holidays.
That’s how I felt after my most recent and second covid-era trip. Like the lovable oaf in the Canadian Dry ad, something I loved – travel- just wasn’t working for me.
Our first trip, 2 months in Thailand was pretty good- lots of wildlife, friends, countryside motorcycling, food. The hot season did wear us out. So what did we do? Went to Europe in peak summer!
A few things went wrong. Crowds, smokers, heat, booking.com overload, sight fatigue. We did go to some pretty cool places and see some spectacular sights- pics to come- but the lure of the couch was strong.
Travel fatigue will pass. And to ease ourselves gently back into it, we will head back to India in 2023.
I never finally got around to finishing my last two galleries, from Siem Reap, and now I have truckloads more Thai pics and four Balkan nations to work through.
I APPLIED FOR A visa- permission to enter a different jurisdiction- and crossed over an actual border (complete with customs inspection) into a foreign land! Travel! A journey to the unknown! South Australia! Our first trip interstate on over a year was well over-due. A spot of bird-nerding at Gluepot Reserve came first. Then the main event, the Flinders Ranges, some of the oldest land on earth, some stunning hiking routes, and plenty of wildlife -euros, birds, yellow-footed rock wallabies. And, yes, we took to the air in one of those new fangled flying machines, as seen in the picture. Wilpena Pound, part of Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, from the air is pretty mind-blowing. Sadly, crossing an international border remains a pipe-dream, at least until the Cock-Womble In Chief Prime Minister has called an election. Fortunately, there are plenty of magnificent places to see in Australia, and, for the time being at least, we can visit them without fear of kissing the pangolin. For now, that’ll have to do.
WHILE IT IS TOO early to call “light at the end of tunnel”, perhaps the tunnel is not quite as dark as it was 6 months ago. Unless of course if you live in most of Europe, The United States, India and many other countries, in which case, it is still quite dark. Scientists, those underpaid, under-appreciated saviours in labs, have given us hope to get through this bullshit pandemic. Please don’t call vaccines “miracles”. They are the product of hard work and science. I still don’t think I’ll be travelling in 2021, although I did get about 250 kms from home, to Wilsons’ Prom’. Thankfully there are some nice places to visit nearby, but no cobbled streets with Ottoman era mosques or glittering spires across the rice fields. I’m half way through my Namibian pages. India is up. All of Central Asia. Some dodgy B&W stuff from Morocco captured on film. Work has been slowed as I turned inwards to books. Thanks to my local library, which made lockdown much easier. Rule #2: don’t forget Rule #1. Rule #1? Don’t get Covid.
Loving lockdown? Sounds weird, but, yeah, I reckon it’s alright. OK, so I’m not in Bulgaria or Zimbabwe, but you want me to stay at home all day doing nothing? OK. I can do that. I’ve read quite a few books and pottered in the garden. I’ve even read a few books in the garden. I long ago gave up any hope of travelling again until 2022. It’s out of my control, worrying won’t change it. And it -travel 2020- doesn’t look like much fun anyway. Book your visit to the Coloseum online for a pre-arranged time, move in one direction only. Cafes and stuff are closed. Spontaneity is dead. Borders are open today closed tomorrow. Quarantine. Nah, I’ll wait. What’s new here? Lots. I finished Thailand, Uzbekistan and Taiwan, three of the biggest jobs I had. A couple of smaller pre-digital destinations, Mongolia and Sri Lanka are up. Australia! Lots of bush and birds and bugs from the outback. And the themed galleries (people, culture, nature, man-madeetc) are getting bigger. 15 years of film has all been scanned, picked over and edited. Two years of stuff from Vietnam and Cambodia is a big body of work, probably the last to see the digital light of day. Others in the works include Namibia, Philippines, Morocco, India and Burma. Stay tuned. Stay sane. Keep drinking the bleach.
Well, that all happened very quickly, didn’t it? A virus jumped species, infected a human, and 5 months later, millions are infected, hundreds of thousands are dead, and billions live under lock down. Right now, I can’t go down the street for lunch, go camping or visit another city. It is actually illegal for me to leave my own country, and there are almost no countries that would let me in anyway. It’s pretty obvious I won’t be doing any international travel this year. When will borders open, and how? When will planes fly again, and how much will tickets cost? Will anyone ever set foot on a cruise again? So, for the rest of the year, it will be a journey down Memory Lane. With all my pre-digital pics scanned, there is much work to do. With about 25 countries to work through, 3 a month and I might be close by Christmas. Or not. In the last week or so, I have added my first Central Asian page, Kazakhstan, and my first South Asian page, Pakistan. Bangladesh, which I’d forgotten how photogenic it was, should be next up. And there a some new shots from a few places in the nature, people, culture and man-made sections, too. So the plan for the next half a year is a mix of smaller jobs (Morocco, Russia, 1999 for example) and The Big Projects, like Thailand, Taiwan, Burma, Namibia and India. While it is of course frustrating to be unable to travel (or do anything) it does make me glad that I did the traveling I did when I had the chances.
In the two months since I lasted posted here, I have scanned around 5,000 photos, from slide film, black and white, and colour negs. They covered at least 15 countries, 4 continents, taken on at least four different cameras. Most of them were from 1992 to 1995 in South East Asia, but I even managed to rescue some stuff from Papua New Guinea from 1987. Some of it is already up: Timor Leste (1992), Brunei (1993), Singapore (1992-3). These three went up first simply because the are smallest. I have over 1000 pics from both Cambodia and Vietnam, for example. As for Thailand, that file has grown by about 900 shots, from 9,000 to almost 10,0000! It’s a big job. There are also many new pictures through my themed galleries: people, culture, nature, and man made. And from my digital stuff, my Turkey galleries are up, along with UAE.
I bought myself a scanner, and have dug the Big Box out of the cupboard. Scanning a few thousand slides will keep me busy enough, and then there are the b&w and colour negs to get through. And THEN pick bits of dust off them and touch them up and and and….
There might not be much new stuff getting up here for a while. I have added quite a bit in the first weeks of 2020. Three galleries under “PEOPLE”. Photos from my exhaustive tour of Italy. Those whacky Japanese are out in force in the “ODDITIES” as well as under Japan. Some great wildlife encounters from Kenya. “MARKETS” has moved into Culture. Food was looking a bit lonely there. A few other bits here and there. Take a wander. Follow me on Instagram for the odd update, too.
Also new, I have four galleries up under the heading “Man Made” from all kinds of vehicles, to homes and places of worship. I’d like to counter that with the “Nature” group, but I’m not quite ready for that.
“Oddities” is one I am keen to get up. You see some weird stuff on the road, especially in Japan. Maybe if I get into my J-files, they’ll both appear soon.
I’ve put together a list of some of the great books that I have written read about the places I have been or dream about going. If you look under “Words” you’ll find it, with an A-Z of travel thoughts.
Lastly, if you worry endlessly about missing a new gallery, then follow me on instagram. Still learning to crawl through that digital maze, but I’ll post irregular pics and updates on abus2nowhere.