Earlier this week I went on a work trip eastward to Kayin (Karen) State. A significant chunk of it was spent in a car, about 6 hours each way. Apart from being reminded of how big and diverse Myanmar is, traveling on land is also a good reminder of how dangerous roads can be. Myanmar is the only country I can think of where the majority of cars are right-hand drive (steering wheel on the right) driving in a right-hand traffic. So whenever someone attempts a takeover on a 2 lane highway, it isn’t really supported by the driver’s view of the oncoming traffic.
The drive nonetheless was scenic in parts, especially as we got closer to the capital Hpa-An. It’s surrounded by grandiose tall beautifully shaped mountains. We were crossing a bridge during sunset on the approach to the city when a view opened up with great colors and mountains stretching across the river. People weren’t allowed on the bridge, however, so I had to shoot out of a moving vehicle, across the seat through a window with the camera aimed in between window stickers and bridge support columns. To my own surprise a decently framed shot showed on my camera screen as I looked down expecting a picture of a blurry metal columns. Next time I hope for more time on foot.
Thinking about what to do over the weekend I got in touch with an old friend of mine. He tells me he has a 32 year old collector’s bike in his garage. It’s a funny old bike but with a barely touched 500cc engine. He obviously knew what my response would be. It’s been raining nearly everyday since I’ve been back. Luckily for us it was a clear November day so we took the bikes up north into the mountains, to the roads I can ride with my eyes closed. But why would I close them with breathtaking views like these. I forgot how beautiful these mountains are and riding these curves again is truly surreal. I took the photo on the way back almost in Vancouver with a few wider spots with viewpoints to stop and stretch. Perfect time too with the sunset.
This is once again the Gobi desert. This time across the border on the Chinese side. I’ve mentioned in one of my earlier posts how much of a difference that border makes. Sand dunes on the Mongolian side are a challenge to get to and when you do you’re completely alone for what seems like miles and miles. These particular dunes in Dunhuang are a tourist attraction. There’s a bus that takes you to the spot and once you’re there, believe it or not, you pay an entrance fee. I found it completely ridiculous but have folded given the time constraint. Later on my trip I’ve met a number of people who just walked far enough from the “tourist area” and went around the wall/fence to get to the dunes.
Once inside the gates there’s a little oasis with a wealth of activities for tourists to pay for: camels, ATVs etc. You can even rent “sand proof” boots. I felt like the entrance fee had already left a big enough mark on my pocket so I opted for my legs to carry me around. I wanted to get away from the gates as far as possible and see where it’d take me. The dunes were high and even if I thought I knew what was behind each dune I had an idiotic curiosity and urge to see which dune’s higher and what’s behind. En route to the dunes I’ve met 2 Chinese students, and a 70+ year old Dutch traveler on a mission to cover the silk route. The old man was quite a character. He carried his LIDL supermarket plastic bags all over Asia, which he justified as a safety precaution. He thought nobody would rob an old man with a plastic bag. The 2 students gave up quite early but the old man kept following me around the dunes dragging hit plastic bag. He looked exhausted, very out of place but kept going. I tried to convince him to stop but it’s like he was trying to prove something to himself. At some point I thought I should stop before the man collapses, but luckily he went back by himself.
As usual. Click the pic to enlarge, share and like 🙂
I’m gonna do something new today and post a photo from my phone. It’s incredibly how much camera phones have improved in recent years. A bit of colour editing and you get a wonderful image like this. It’s not of great quality and won’t do for a big print but it’s still a pleasant photo. This view is part of my daily commute and after nearly two years I’m still not tired of it
Montjuic is a hill in barcelona, originally not the part of the city but the growing population and expansion of Barcelona has absorbed it. Montjuic has an interesting role in the city’s history, from the time of when it had to defend itself in medieval times to the times of the Spanish civil war. Nowadays, apart from its many attractions it hosts an open air movie theatre during the summers. I snapped the photo on my way to the viewing of a movie. You can see MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) in Plaça d’Espanya on the left corner of the photograph.