From the verdant hillsides and rolling tea plantations of Ella and beyond to the temples and lakes and busy streets of Kandy, there isn’t much about this part of Sri Lanka that hasn’t been written about before. I was lucky enough to have some time for a quick stopover earlier this year on my way to an assignment in southern India. These tourist trails are well-worn and at times a bit worse for wear, but the overall sensation of being in the mountains is still overwhelmingly positive. The air is cooler in tea country and the sun just a bit more golden in the early hours when it crests over the distant horizon. It’s almost enough to make you forget about the 8-10 hour standing room only train ride up from Colombo.
This isn’t much of a narrative post. There are plenty of other blogs that can tell you about how to travel in Kandy and Sri Lanka. It’s an incredible country, but one that defies easy description, even in its most innocuous and traveler friendly form. So in lieu of any grand statements or ponderous observations, I’ll leave you few viewers with a few photographs from the trip. The world is a beautiful place, and I’ve always had an easier time of showing than describing it.
A few months back, I traveled to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand to work on a story about betterment and meditation and health for Lufthansa Magazin. I spent three days walking the old town, visiting temples and eating delicious food and meeting a large cast of characters–both teachers and students–responsible for giving the town its new claim to fame as a healthy, hip, nomadic travel destination.
From Muay Thai to meditation, from massage to manic displays of freeform dancing, I tried to document as much of this alternative travel culture as possible. Vegan restaurants, energy harnessing workshops, and transcendental meditation classes were everywhere it seemed. Yoga retreats miles and miles away from anything. Dreaded men hula-hooping on quiet streets at dawn. And it’s easy to get down on western travelers coming to Asia to find a part of themselves or to capture some kind of fleeting bliss in a holy house on a mountaintop somewhere, but there’s another part of it that’s kind of endearing and completely without cynicism.
It was a pleasure meeting all of the people I photographed for the story. They believed in what they were doing, and they believed in Chiang Mai. Whether they had grown up there, been in the region for years, or just arrived, they were passionate and thinking about the future, for themselves and for those that showed up on their doorsteps, day after day, inquiring within. And in the end, what more is there?
As an addendum to my Things in Japan post, here’s another small little photo essay from Hong Kong. I’ve been enjoying walking around more in the cities I travel to. I used to do nothing but walk, but I’ve lived in Asia for 10 years now and things start to normalize after a while. You lose your sense of wonder and become detached. You watch more television and instead of going and exploring, you sit in front of your computer and answer emails and worry about your income over the next three months. The small things that gave you pause now feel simple and routine. These aren’t good ways to be. So there’s always this push and pull with creativity. You’re always battling yourself and your own worst impulses. So in Hong Kong I walked. Sometimes I would end up in familiar neighborhoods, and at other times I would find myself in a completely new area of the city. I tried not to check my phone. I tried to just wander, with the thought that if I found what I was looking for, then great. If not, then great. So here are a few quick images. Simple things. I was looking at patterns and density with small glimpses of respite within. Nothing much more.