Nepal. Life lived out in the street. Families perched on their front step, eating meals and sharing laughs, soaking up the warmth of the sun to ease the chill of winter. Prayer flags, a gentle reminder of the spiritual dimensions to life. Women wearing the favourite color – red. Standing around delicious “Chia” or chai tea stalls and catch ups with friends. A sense of community built around shared joys and hardship, life endings and beginnings and journeys. Rugged natural beauty, narrow roads winding through snow capped mountain ranges.
Nepal. Emerging from a decade of conflict, this country has made encouraging progress in addressing it’s development challenges. Though Kathmandu is a bubble of tourist induced wealth and services, outside urban areas, the story is markedly different. Around 60% of the population still live on 1.25 per day. Access to safe water and sanitation is an enormous challenge without easy answers. Many areas are food insecure and cannot produce enough food for their family for the year. Women’s rights, capacities and empowerment is needed.*
I loved visiting this beautiful country. I was so encouraged by the time spent with many organisations that are working so wholeheartedly and with such dedication and personal sacrifice to address such challenges. At the community level there are beautiful glimmers of hope, and examples of groups working for change in their community, thinking not only of their own needs but of the needs of others. Their stories inspire and challenge me. I hope I will come back some day – Kelly.
Where possible, photos were taken with permission.
*statistics from http://www.ophi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Nepal1.pdf?cda6c1
About an hours drive from Aukland, in Muriwai, there is a spectacular Gannat Colony. It was beautifully sunny until a sudden downpour of drenching rain hit the coast line (and us!). We soon dried out with the heavy winds as the sun reappeared!
It was an amazing sight to see hundreds of gannets swooping through the sky on the air currents, ducking and weaving. In situations like this where there are lots of fast moving subjects, the focusing ability and fast lenses make getting the shot much easier, but it was certainly a challenge to capture their grace and agility.
At this spot, each year around 1,200 pairs of gannets nest here between August and March. Each pair lays just one egg and the parents take turns watching over their precious nest. As the chicks mature, they begin to exercise their wings in preparation for a single shot jump off the cliff. Once airborne, the young gannets leave the colony and cross the Tasman Sea all the way to Australia. Years later they return to the same place to nest again.
An overcast sunrise at Lake Tarawera in Rotorua, New Zealand:
Last weekend I had the opportunity to go flying with my friend Mark. Mark has his PPL (Private Pilot Licence) which allows him to fly a private plane and take passengers. We flew in a Piper Warrior III plane from Moorabbin airport to Echuca and back again.
Before take off, the pilot has to go through a checklist and radio the control tower to get clearance. Being a small plane, you feel every bump and turn in the air. The perspective from the plane is very different and the houses and cars look like toys. Overall it was a fun and new experience!
Below are some pictures of the plane and during the flight.
On our trip to the North Island, we stopped off at Rotorua. Rotorua is known for it’s geothermal parks and that ‘rotten egg’ (sulfar) smell. In between watching pools of bubbling mud, one of the things we did was to visit the Whakarewarewa forest. What immediately struck us as we entered the forest were the majestic Californian Redwood trees, the quiet and the welcome relief from the sulfur smells. The trees are absolutely huge! It is also very cool in the forest, beneath leafy canopy. There are plenty of different activities to choose from ranging from enjoying the walking tracks, mountain biking, horse riding and orienteering.
The redwood trees in this forest were first planted in 1901 and the largest Redwood in Whakarewarewa is approximately 67 metres tall and 169 centimetres in diameter. These can grow as tall as 110 metres in California, and are protected by their very thick bark. Fascinatingly these trees live for an average of 600 years, but can grow for over 2000 years old! For more information visit: http://www.redwoods.co.nz/
Cathedral Cove (Hahei) along the Coromandel peninsula was put on the map through it’s inclusion in the second Narnia movie – Prince Caspian. We visited as the seasons were turning from winter to spring, so it was still a quiet and sleepy place. Dinner options available during our stay were the local fish and chip shop open for two hours between 5.30-7.30pm or DIY options from the local store with it’s selection of three tomatoes, tinned food and frozen items.
Despite intermittent rain, we did have a few days of beautifully sunny weather which allowed us to head out for some walks to explore the coastline shaped by volcanic activity, and then into the bay for paddle in sea kayaks – which we loved! We enjoyed hearing about the Maori history of the area, and checking out stingrays in the crystal clear water. Here are a few photos from this part of our holiday:
We’ve just moved to Eltham, located in the North East of Melbourne. We are loving exploring this beautiful area and testing out the cafes one by one. We love that there are so many trees and birds. Here’s a picture from a recent weekend meander down by the Yarra River in Warrandyte. What a peaceful spot.
We recently spent some time in Canberra and were fortunate to be up for this sunrise over Lake Burley Griffin one morning.
Hope you enjoy the photo and have a good Easter!
Continuing on from our previous post about Torquay (view here), here are a couple more images from the Otway National Park region. The Otway’s have soaring Myrtle Beech and Blackwood trees with large ferns and moss covered rocks. Dotted through the area are numerous lakes, streams and waterfalls. The first image is of the 30 metre high Hopetoun falls and after a short walk down, we reached the waterfall and river where it was quite a few degrees cooler in the shade of the tall trees and ferns.
Many of these images are available to purchase as high quality enlargements, canvas and framed prints on RedBubble in our ‘Melbourne’ gallery (view here). Take a moment to browse through the galleries in our store.
I really like the sense of space and feeling of calm in this black and white image of a single tree.
Kelly and I recently spent a few days in Torquay which is a couple of hours from Melbourne, along the coast. It was a great holiday and chance to relax, read, go to the beach, sleep in and of course take plenty of photos.
Driving back to our accommodation ‘South Beach Haven B&B (which we highly recommend due to the beautiful accommodation, lovely hosts and incredible breakfasts!), we passed this picturesque windmill which was set atop a hill and overlooking acres of farmland. We’re always looking for new places to visit with interesting and beautiful landscapes and Australia is the perfect place for that!
We knew that we had to come back to the windmill at sunset to take some photos – and despite the wait for the light to fade, and we certainly weren’t disappointed! The rich warm tones of the fading sun along with the deepening shades of purple and blue of the gathering dusk made for a beautiful backdrop for the windmill and farmland.
Here are three photos we wanted to share with you of the evening as we prepared to welcome in 2012. Happy New Year!
I was recently in the North East of India for work. It’s a fascinating part of the world. The photos below are from a number of different states in the North East: Mizoram, Nagaland, and Assam. The city of Aizawl was the first place that I visited, with windy roads and houses impossibly perched on the sides of steep mountains. Everyone has a view. Thanks to jetlag, I was able to greet the world at 5am and capture some of the golden warmth and beauty of the suns rays over the mountains. It was a privilege to visit these areas which are quite remote and which few outsiders get to visit. It filled me with hope to see the community development work that is happening here, and hear the excitement as quite poor and marginalised communities begin to plan and dream and see these dreams realised. Though these photos do not show faces, this particular trip reminded me that everyone has a story, and that it is important to listen.
View standing on the roof of the Tcheminyu Town Baptist Church, Nagaland
Last weekend I took a short drive down to the coast. The weather was not so good, which meant there was limited time to take photo’s due to the rain, but it was nice to get away for a bit and relax. There were some interesting trees growing in the sand along the shoreline. At low tide could see the roots, but at high tide, they were half submerged in the water. The last photograph was taken inland – I like the sense of space and freedom the image provides.
The great thing about photographs is that they are able to capture a moment in time and you can look back at them, any time you like, and be reminded of the moments that are associated with that image. It’s one of the reasons we love taking photos for other people and the places we visit – it’s so that you can enjoy the the story that frames each image.
Looking back through the archives I found a few photos that I don’t think I’ve posted online previously. These images are from our last week in Cambodia, in a place called Kampot. After spending a year living in Cambodia and now settling back into life in Melbourne, there are many emotions, memories and things that we associate with our time there. The memories associated with these particular photos are ones of relaxing in Kampot by the river, going on bike rides along dirt roads through the country side and feeling the breeze on the riverside and watching life unfold.
Hope you enjoy this week’s “Friday Foto” – Something which we’ll try and do on a weekly basis so stay turned for more images every Friday.
A good snapshot stops a moment from running away. ~ Eudora Welty
Some panorama’s of the Great Wall of China. These have been stitched together with up to 13 images in some cases.
As part of our trip to China, we visited the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall was built during various time periods and was designed to protect the Chinese from the invaders who lived in the North. The Great Wall stretches for 6,259km and we walked approximately 10.5kms.
We visited a section called Jinshanling. This particular section of the wall was deserted at the time we visited, which was great! We had heard of stories where the wall was packed with tourists.
Up close, the wall itself is not that special. What is amazing about it is when you can see it stretch out behind and ahead of you for kilometer after kilometer, without an end in sight.
The wall at Jinshanling had a number of watch towers and defensive features such as side walls and horse walls which made it interesting.
Here are 4 images placed together of the different aspects of the wall.
Xitang is one of a few ancient water towns located East of Shanghai. It’s approximately 1.5 hours drive away or 30 minutes by train.
Imagine old stone cobbled streets, wooden boats floating on the small canals, stone bridges, tiled corridors and ancient buildings. It’s a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of modern Shanghai. It’s probably not as well known as some of the other water towns, but it is just as beautiful, if not more, as it retains a lot of the original architecture from the Ming and Qing dynasties. I believe the town itself is over 1,000 years old.
Ancient lanes intersect with canals and bridges as old men drink tea early in the morning and women wash clothes in the canals. At night, hundreds of red lanterns light up the town as people eat dinner. You could easily think you’ve stepped back in time a few hundred years. Apparently the town had a bit of a reputation for wine drinking or making wine.
Here are a few images of our brief time here – possibly more to follow.
A Cambodian man checking fishing traps in the morning on the river. On this particular day, the river was very still and smooth during, making for great reflections in the water. Location: Kampot.
We spent the weekend relaxing by the river, eating, reading and enjoying the views – a very productive weekend!
This particular image is composed of 3 photos stitched together.
Rose City Condominiums – US$70 million construction project start in 2008 and scheduled to be completed mid 2011. Although judging by the current state of construction, I don’t think it will be finished on time. 29 stories high and located near the Sofitel hotel, it sticks out high above the rest of the skyline in Phnom Penh.
From a recent trip to Kampot. A couple are of the old buildings in the town and the rest are of people fishing from the river.
40kms north of Phnom Penh is a town called Oudong. During 1618 to 1866, Oudong was the capital of Cambodia until it was abandoned by King Norodom who moved the capital to Phnom Penh. It was heavily bombed by Americans during the Vietnam War and a site of intense fighting in 1977 between Khmer Rouge forces and Lon Nol forces.
It’s a good day trip out of Phnom Penh and takes about 1.5 hours in a tuk tuk.