One of the things i have learnt over the last 30 years of travel is to go with the flow, yes of course a plan but always flexible, those unexpected detours, destinations have often been the best journeys and memories. Earlier this year while in India with purpose to shoot for Alongsiders Org, I made sure I included a few extra days in-between shoots, My intention was to go up to North and greet the mountains! Chatting to a few peeps from Alongsiders, turned out that a one of the guys in Visakhapatnam was from Chandigarh which was half way to my destination, how awesome, they asked if I would change my second shoot from Delhi to Chandigarh!!!! Ummmm yes, they were amazing I was picked up from Delhi airport, thank God for that, too much city for me and would not visit otherwise, a 5 or so hours to Chandigarh. So I met a very cool pastor and a few others who more than happy to help, given only a couple of days I have to make a choice, I love that he looked at me and said “Dharamshala! you will love it, there are so many hippies” how did he know lol. They were amazing, organised my bus and dropped me off at the station. 6 or so hours later!!! But I met one of the most sweetest young ladies on the way, with a story to share……I love that complete strangers can share what they might not share to those closet to you, including myself…..What I didn’t know was that The Dalai Lama has a house and yes he was in the house, I did go up the the high security doors to see if I could meet him of course I knew I needed an appointment! hey if you don’t try at least the answer will always be no! A very cool young taxi driver who saved the day a few days earlier, dropped me off, I had a few hours to kill before my bus back for my 3rd unexpected shoot, a humble village in Punjabi…..and the journey continued, So very blessed, especially when things turnout better than expected!
All oiled up after a massage, yes that hike left me a little stiff, oh look there he is, I asked if I could take a photo, climbed up on the chair, trying not to fall, the ultimate selfie!!!!
By far my favourite place in Bhutan, a small village closer to India, where beautiful people go about their day to day life, for a traveller like me, extraordinary moments. Meeting locals will always make a place I visit extra special.
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3 Silvers and a huge smile.
Sweet little nun in Yangon, Bogyoke Aung San Market.
Is this the most incredible smile or what?!
Nothing grabs my attention faster than a beautiful heartfelt smile. These are the kind of smiles that let me know i am in exactly the right place and time. The first thing i noticed about the Burmese people is their wellness to smile, some just go for it, others will wait until they have caught your eyes, looking a little shy, woman and children will often wave at you as you pass by in a tut tut, on a train or anytime they feel like it as a reaction or they go first. Even the blokes will give you that smile that gives you that universal “welcome” Really lovely people, kind polite and all but ready to help.
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Standing proud in the middle of a small, artificial lake is Kyauk Kalap, Hpa An, Myanmar, a tall finger of sheer rock mounted by one of the most unlikely pagodas in Myanmar. It is a working monastery and is closed every day from 12pm to 1pm to allow the monks to meditate. From the top you can see great views of Mt Zwegabin, a great place for a sunset.
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A great way to end another amazing day, this time no pagoda climbing, but up the view point tower in Bagan, Myanmar, 360 degree view and not overcrowded. An orange glow on all smiley faces watching as the sunsets …
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What an amazing way to welcome a new day! Sitting on top of just one of the 2000 or so Pagoda’s in Bagan, Myanmar. A few days in so I was still on Melbourne time and easy enough to get up, I woke up one of my girls, yes the one that will venture out with me with her eyes closed. A little scary getting up while it was still a little dark, everyone excited waiting for the hot air balloons and sunrise. Truly amazing sight, rumour has it that the Prime mister was on board the first one released on this day.
You can purchase this image here.
You can purchase this image here.
You can purchase this image here.
You can purchase this image here.
The more i listen to people, the more i realise how much i value my humble life.
I adore simplicity.
Don’t panic, I have the perfect gift for out family which can’t be put under the tree 😉
For a few weeks now i have been asking my girls what they want for Christmas and the reply is the same, “i don’t know” seriously i feel like wrapping up three boxes with the words I don’t know. I also have been asked what i want, I reply with “I don’t know, a massage?” Well when i think about it, i try and have a massage once a month as treat for me and a necessity, but what I really want is quality time with them, those I love and value and those that love and value us. I do not like to waste our time, time is so very precious.
I don’t feel I have every really been materialistic, but I do save for things that are important to me, quality stuff that I use for myself, us and my work. Occasionally buying stuff we don’t need, that is also changed for the better, nearly 8 years ago when our family situation changed, there were times that my little one would ask for a toy that would end up on the floor within days anyway, if i purchased it, I would ask, “do you really want that toy or should we save it and go on family holiday when I save enough?” thankfully she answered holiday, even as little girl she was preferred a holiday, asking if there would be a pool or the beach, lol yes! And we have been on many adventures around Australia and beyond, quality time to explore and just hang out, minimal cooking and cleaning, bonus.
In the next few days I plan to once and for all delete my Facebook account, while once it was fun, and a great platform to advertise my work and services it is no more, some of the replies I have had were, “oh that’s sad but I respect your choice”, words used like i will miss “tracking” you and following you, while I know there is no harm intended in those words but tracking is for dogs….while sometimes they have engaged in posts that I share, others come to peep through the window but never knock on the door.
Another reason why it’s gotta go, over the course of time I feel I am losing the connection with my girls, hiding out in there rooms using instant gratification as a form of entertainment, yes I know we all need space and time out and I know they are doing their homework etc as it shows in their results, I miss the bubble we created and I know they are growing up, we all need space, but isolation I am not fond of. In a time I had to figure out how to pay the bills and put food on the table with the threat of losing our home, God knows how many rivers I cried, a time when we had only each other and it was beautiful. Less truly is more, I am constantly hearing “but that’s just the way it is now”, well why do I have to accept it? I love a tangible and tactile world, where people come together and just enjoy.
Social media hey, not in the real world. I am simply overwhelmed by media overload, marketing, buy, buy, buy, download this and that and I will make you a millionaire, crazy talk, negative posts, posts that save the world while they sit in the comfort of their homes and I think the nail for me was reading the diminishing of another human being recently, it made me sick. Tall Poppy Syndrome, yuk. I know what I want in life, for me it’s simple, I know who I want to be surrounded by and who I can easily walk away from. Freedom to enjoy the good “stuff”.
I rarely share personal pics anymore but yes I have, in moments of joy, we all love our kids and their accomplishments, proud and want to share.
While I truly admire people that have made their money and give back to charities often creating their own, what I truly admire is the ones who give what they can at any point in their lives. Scrap that mentality that we have to make our fortune first, every small gesture of kindness can change the world little by little and also change you in the process. And if you really feel you have no money to spare, then give your time, to help others. Scrap those words, I don’t have ANY money etc I don’t know maybe replace it with it’s put elsewhere, priorities maybe? And please, please don’t use it to get discounts! Give to givers, pay it forward.
So now my last point the assumption that I am rich, that’s how i/we get to travel, well depending on how you look at it we are.
So here goes.
.I use my credit card for everything, i have frequent flyer, many trips have been purchased with points, paying only taxes.
.I don’t stay in a 5 star hotel, they are full of the wrong kind of 5 star people i am interested in. All I need is a clean room, shower in the right location.
.We have a money box that we put our gold coins in, my girls just recently counted it up, i think it’s about 2 years now, we had $630 not bad for money easily spent on crap.
.I shop and cook most days of the week, occasional takeout. I have meals prepared for busy days. Weekly meals are planned with minimal waste.
. I do like a pub band every so often but don’t pointlessly drink and piss up my money against the wall, a couple of ciders are enough for me.
.We buy what we need, this i love, I don’t feel guilty if one gets a new pair of jeans and the others don’t because they get what they need and different times and no jealousy either, huge bonus.
.I don’t go out a lot, preferring to catch up with friends for lunch or dinner, a connecting catch up, during winter I become a bit of a hermit, great time to edit and create, watch movies, snuggle and of course save for the warmer months.
.Yes I am a gift giver, and never a tight one either, but its been narrowed down to less people, little people and my folks. Did you know that World vision has $12 a month charity?
. Photography gear is only purchased with money I make from my love trade.
.I plan my trips well by research.
.I book my own flights and accomodation and usual book tours when we arrived or mostly get there myself, oh the tourist trap, eeeeek
.Sometimes i sell stuff we not longer need, sometimes I give it away.
. I don’t buy souvenirs, maybe some artwork, or recently scarves from India, yes I got sucked in!
. My souvenirs are the images I create and the moments and memories that live in my heart, soul and mind.
. Sometimes I trade photography services on my travels, that’s always a great one.
If I, a single mum, 4 of us to provide for, including myself, on minimum wage with no support can do it, anyone can if they really want it, there lies the key, you get what you focus on, then work your arse off to get. Just get creative.
. Mostly the mindset of what I want to do, you get what you focus on, by making a choice that makes your heart skip a beat then focus on how the funds will arrive later and always just in time.
So what do I really want for Christmas? Quality Time with my girls most of all, family and friends that speak of what they want, rather than what they don’t want. Dreams in their heart that make their eyes light up. A small group on encouragers. 10 minute venting is allowed lol Those 10 minutes friendships of those I meet on my travels close to home and far away.
Travel and photography, grateful for our beautiful home and great car, food on the table, clothes on our back, bills being paid on time. A simple life, of lots of love, laughter and snuggles.
For me it’s not the thought that counts rather the thoughtfulness for others, everyday, not just for Christmas.
I don’t feel we are missing anything, we truly have all that we need and plenty that we think we want.
Here’s to an amazing 2017 filled with what really makes us happy with space to be grateful for it.
Merry Christmas everyone! and God bless.
Sometimes you just go with it, then you realise, huh? 25 hours?! train from Varanasi to Jodhpur which actually turned into 29 hours, but what an adventure it was!
I finally figured out which carriage I was in and as I stepped into towards my booth, I hear “Hey!!!!!!” a very excited polish guy who was happy to see another foreigner, for a moment I’m thinking do I know you? I just laughed, I hear you. It didn’t take long before we got chatting, sharing tips and tricks of travel and just basic chit chat. I can’t remember if this train was delayed from our starting point or not, it all seems like a bit of a blur now, what i do remember is there was a fruit stand right outside my window and I’m thinking I really feel like a banana, so i ask the guy “how much for a banana?” well I think I could have got 12 of them for that price, you gotta laugh, so I said “I just want one”, but no, he wouldn’t budge, next thing I feel is a tap on my arm from David and turn to see a lovely lady pull out some bananas and offers me one, huge smile on my face as i graciously accepted, with a big smile, laughing, so i I call out to the fruit guy, ” “hey dude”, look and wave the banana at him through the window, the look on his face was priceless but he couldn’t help but join in with our laughter. 29 hours on a train, you will see lots of people coming and going, at one point I woke up to find someone asleep on the floor in the middle of the seats, it’s doesn’t take long before it becomes the norm. Another lovely moment was when a group of children then later the woman joined in, just standing at my window, we just smiled at each other, some asked for a selfie with me and once little girl was just so happy looking at me, I couldn’t help but put out my hand and touch her face, “Beautiful” she just repeated, “no you are”, i said, “very beautiful. And she really was, bursting smile with so much joy, I was just taking my phone out to take a pic and as the train starts moving, all at the same time they start shouting and waving bye, bye, they were so excited following the train waving us off, my whole soul lit up, the energy I felt from them was just incredible.”
There is way too much to write about this train ride, It was long but highly entertaining, even managed to get some sleep in between.
I finally arrive at Jodhpur and 2 kms away a tuk tuk ride to my guest house run by The KK Family, The staff are friendly and helpful, a quick walk up to the roof and large bottle of water that went down in seconds, went to my quirky room and basically crashed out.
These images were taken on my last night, I didn’t see the night view of the fort when I arrived as they turn off the lights around 9.30pm but I did see it at sunrise, and blown away just gorgeous. What a perfect way to start the day, they provide a great breakfast and the view just speaks for itself. Up bright and early off to explore the town.