Asia, Nepal

Returning to Nepal

September 7, 2013

Namaste to Nepal

It was night when I landed in Kathmandu, in mid-May this year.

It had been a long eighteen hours from Sydney via Guangzhou with the cheap, cheerful and overheated China Southern airlines. The weeks before the flight had been even longer. I’d wanted to be somewhere far, far away, and the Himalayas fit the bill. The trip to Nepal was about as last minute as you can get, planned and booked ten days before my departure.

You miss the views, of course, during a night time descent into the Kathmandu valley. But emerging onto the tarmac, into the sticky almost-wet season heat, breathing in that heady mix of smog and spice and incense and moisture, I knew that the mountains were there.

Although it was approaching midnight and the rest of the city was closed down behind heavy roller shutters, the usual airport arrivals crush was there. Taxi touts chased me across the street. I knew this place. I’d done this before.

In the car on the way to Thamel, we dodged potholes, stray dogs and sleeping rickshaw drivers. The power was out, the room in my guesthouse lit by one lonely, weak bulb. In a few days, I’d be walking in the Annapurna region, high above sea-level, high above home, approaching the Thorung-La, which lay under deep, unseasonable snow.

I didn’t know that yet. I just knew that it had taken me too long to return to Nepal.



The writing on the rock in Kakadu NP

August 19, 2012

One of the things that people (usually Australians, and usually in an argument as to why it’s so much more interesting to travel in Europe than in their own country) often note about Australia is that it’s so new. A young country. And with only just over 200 years of inhabitation (or occupation, depending how you look at it) by Europeans, compared to say, Britain’s zillion, it’s sort of true.

What many people don’t consider is the tens of thousands of years of history not recorded in books or newspapers or in the foundations of sandstone buildings but written on the land by the continent’s Indigenous population, long before the arrival of the First Fleet. Sadly, it was considered they weren’t quite using the land ‘properly’ and that, coupled with the fact that Aboriginal history is passed down orally, means that it is often forgotten.

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Australia, Create, Northern Territory

Testing the Canon 650D in Australia’s top end

August 9, 2012

Bird drying out, Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu NP

Drying out in the early morning on Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu NP. Canon 650D.

For a year I travelled with my Canon 50D, several lenses that weighed almost as much as the body and a 13″ iBook. Packed separately to my main backpack, the bag was heavy and it was my priority. On buses and trains it sat on my lap. I rarely let it out of my sight, and certainly never let anyone else carry it.

One afternoon partway through my trip I arrived in the Indian city of Pushkar. The maze of whitewashed alleyways were confusing and I was completely disoriented. I had no idea how to find the guesthouse I was looking for. I sat on my big pack outside a bakery and, using my trusty and cheap Indian SIM, called the owner of the hostel.

He was there in ten minutes to pick me up on his motorbike. He gestured for me to give him my smaller pack, so I could hop on the back, my hands on my knees as I tried to balance under the weight of the bigger pack. I reluctantly handed over my bag of tricks and just as I went to get on the bike, he began to drive away.

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Australia, Northern Territory

Discovering the remote in Australia’s top end

July 22, 2012

Nawurlandja Sunset Kakadu NT Top End

I love big cities.

Hong Kong. London. New York. Bangkok. Losing myself on a crowded metro, people watching in cafes and bars. And on my travels, I’ve made it a point to spend a lot of time in them.

But eventually, if you’re really honest with yourself, they do start to get a bit same same. A big statement bridge. A central square. A high street. A dilapidated (or futuristic) metro system that locals love to hate and confounds tourists despite the fact they’re the same the world over. Galleries, museums. A red light district. They’re not entirely unpredictable and in a shopping mall, you could be in Bangkok, Dubai or middle America.  

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Australia, Northern Territory

The top end on Instagram

July 15, 2012

Pretty much as soon as I arrived home from my recent photo safari across Australia’s top end I was struck down with the killer flu that’s been making its way around the country. Barely able to get out of bed, I haven’t yet been able to organise my thoughts or images from the trip.

Rest assured that’s coming – in the meantime, here’s a snapshot of my six days in the top end.

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Australia, Northern Territory

An amazing day in Australia’s far north

June 30, 2012

This is another dorky blast from my past!

When we were kids, in the day before highway bypasses, we did a few looonnggg car trips every year. In order to help pass the time, my parents would play us John Williamson tapes on the car stereo.

His website calls him ‘Australia’s true blue balladeer’ and he sang at Steve Irwin’s funeral. I learned a lot more about Australia than I ever realised about the time and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised the girls he names in the video above are the names of towns in the Northern Territory. Whenever I hear it it reminds me of those epic landscapes and frontier-style towns that make the NT what it is.

Disclaimer: My upcoming trip to the Northern Territory is being supported by Tourism Northern Territory and Canon Australia. All views are my own.