Archive for the ‘photos’ tag
My flight in to Myanmar followed Air Force One in from Bangkok. President Obama was in the region for diplomatic events in Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia. The major routes around Yangon University were packed with people were out on the streets waving US flags and covering themselves in red, white and blue face paint.
Myanmar (or “Burma” as it’s historically been known) is a country going through a huge transition…
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I just returned back to Vancouver from 4 weeks of traveling through Bhutan and Myanmar (Burma). I also made some short stops in to India and Thailand where I lucked out a bit with timing, as I had a 42 hour layover in India during Diwali, and a 42 hour layover in Thailand during the Loi Krathong Sky Lantern Festival.
Western Bhutan is a difficult country to get in to, but at least they have a functioning airport… even if it is rated as one of the world most dangerous. To get into Eastern Bhutan you need to drive to the border through Assam India, particularly through an area that is known for separatist rebel violence. It’s legal to drive through this part of India with Bhutanese license plates, but it’s not exactly practical. The Bhutanese army has been fighting to flush these rebels out of it’s southern forests for years, and for a few years rebels have been targeting and burning Bhutanese vehicles along the highway. The Indian government sponsors a “complimentary” military convoy to protect vehicles in this region, but it’s slow and only runs certain days if the week.
Despite the issues along the border, Bhutan is a remarkably peaceful country. Driving North into the foothills of the Himalaya, Bhutanese prayer flags begin to raise u
p and litter the sky with colors as they flutter in the wind. Roofs run bright red as hot chilies (a staple ingredient in every meal) are laid out to dry all day in the sun. Monks sip butter tea in immaculate monasteries that were built into rocky cloud level cliff-sides centuries ago. It’s a sort of fairy-tale like place that you’d think couldn’t possibly exist.
Bhutan is interesting in another respect. Democracy is a new concept in the “kingdom” and it did not by the will of the people, but rather by the will of the king. In a very backwards way of thinking, many of Bhutan’s people would rather continue to be ruled by the Monarchy than elect their own officials.
While most countries across the world gauge their success on their annual GDP, the 4th king of Bhutan coined the term “Gross National Happiness” to be the kingdoms measure of success.
The past few months I’ve been able to get quite a bit of adventuring and surfing in up and down the coast of California, Oregon and BC. I’ve been doing a lot of living out of a snug (but unrelentingly , sandy) sleeping bag. Ben Howard’s “Old Pine” sums up the vibe pretty well. I’d entirely forgotten about the show, so I was pleasantly surprised to get a last minute photo pass. It came complete with a 3 girl brawl, a Coachella hitchhiker reunion and a free beer.
A few photos from a last minute overnight trek to Garabaldi lake and then up Black Tusk. Asides from a minor chili explosion on a Macgyvered meth stove fashioned out of a beer-can/wire coat hanger, it was an awesome beautiful trek (as always). Temperatures dipped well below freezing overnight and there was fresh snow /ice on the cinder cone.
…so long summer
The amazing exceptionally multi-talented live jazz singing, dancing and stripping burlesque troupe Pandora and The Locksmiths (w. August Wiled) asked me to come down to their risqué burlesque night at Guilt & Co in Gastown.
It really didn’t take much convincing.
As always they put on an amazing, hilarious, flirtatious, and very sexy show. You can catch them downstairs the 2nd Tuesday of every month. Next show is July 10th.
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Walking through the Thai-Khamer border into Cambodia a sly Cambodia border official tried to trick me in to paying him extra to get my visa… despite the sign directly above him stating the standard $20 USD rate. After 10 minutes of haggling over what the “official” fee was he gave up and stamped my passport. There were easier targets coming in the bus behind us.
The hustle is understandable though, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world. After enduring years of the Khmer Rouge’s brutality, it is once again finding it’s feet and moving forward, but scars from the regime still remain. Despite clean up efforts, land mines continue to severely injure and kill people across the country. Because the country is so poor, living and traveling through Cambodia is cheap. I stayed in a nice hostel for just $1 US per night, where Angkor Beer was served for the steep tourist price of 50 cents a can.
Fascinated by the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and how nature was slowly digging back in to them and taking them back, I rented a bike for a week getting lost in what seemed like an epic..ly slow moving struggle between civilization and nature:
After spending a few weeks in Nepal, and realizing how close I was to Tibet I figured “Well I came this far… I may as well make an unscheduled trek across The Roof of The World.” After 2 and a half weeks of waiting on a Chinese visa in to The Tibetan Autonomous Region, I was almost ready, but first I needed to suit up in a counterfeit North-face jacket and some warm gloves. In a back room of seemingly every trekking shop in Thamel there is a Nepalese guy sewing a ream of “North Face” patches on to outdoor apparel). It was now December, and I was heading to one of the coldest places on Earth with a bag full of board shorts and sandals, so I was hoping this “quality” gear was going to do the trick (it only had to last a week). At the border crossing in to Tibet we were thoroughly searched and reprieved of any materials mentioning The Dalai Lama.
We spent 7 days driving over Himalayan ranges and mountain passes, reaching elevations as high as 5,260m (17,257 ft.) above sea level over the Gyatso La pass. At those elevations the altitude starts affecting you in terrible ways, and I was hit pretty hard with the feeling of a chronic hangover, general malaise… and the squirts. We actually drove right past Everest base-camp, but weather didn’t co-operate, and the mountain was boxed in my thick and violent cloud cover.
My guide was a local Tibetan who was surprisingly open about describing atrocities that the Chinese government had and continues to purport on the people and culture of Tibet. I thought he would have been worried about badmouthing the government, and I think he was, but he wanted to get the word out to as many foreigners as he could.
When China invaded Tibet, soldiers would force Tibetans to disavow The Dalai Lama, if they didn’t their children were forced to shoot them dead. These children would later receive a bill for the wasted bullet that was used to kill their parents.
Today China continues to push into Tibet with a strict military curfew, restricted travel, and restrictions on religious practices. A high-speed train continues to flood the plateau with Chinese immigrants in an effort to indoctrinate Tibet with Chinese culture.
From time to time I’ll get an email about some interesting new show or event that is happening somewhere in Vancouver. I never really know what to expect, so I usually encounter a surprise or two along the way. This time the show was at The Rio, and the surprise was that it consisted of a series of choreographed wardrobe malfunctions and featured a wide variety of thematic nipple tassel and pastie designs… it was a great show.
Visit the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival website for a full schedule. And check The Snipe for more photos
Coachella didn’t disappoint, in fact this year was somehow even better than last year.
I didn’t lose anything (actually I found waldo), witnessed 2pacs resurrection and my friend Amy crocheted a bunch of us an amazing hand made beer coozies. All in all a great success. The music was pretty damn good too. I managed to get my camera in to the festival one night to take a few photos: