Zim Photography Blog

Duly impressed – the big heads!

Posted: 15 March 2012 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Ok, from my last blog you might have guessed that although I thought the island is pretty I really haven’t been moved by this Moai thing. Well all that has changed. Went to Rano Raraku today. Site of where they quarried all of the big heads and I am duly impressed. This was rather impressive. Prior to coming here I had a vision that there were more heads here than there are; like scattered all about the island, but this is not the case. Although this is a “small” island it is not as small as one might think; so 900+ heads scattered about still do not amount to seeing them everywhere. Furthermore, the ancients were clearly not stupid, the further they had to take the head the smaller they made them. So the first heads I saw were not all that impressive compared to other things I have seen in the world like the stuff in Egypt. Don’t get me wrong, they ain’t small and it WAS a pretty nifty feat to move these things as they did, it just wasn’t awe inspiring. And since the Europeans interrupted life here the Rapa Nui stopped taking care of the Moai and all toppled over; so what you see are those which have been restored to their standing position.

Again my ambivalent feelings changed today. This was worth the trip. The big heads closer to the quarry site were indeed impressive. I could have stood there and looked at them all day. I shot over 400 images on that site alone. This is where the most common pictures of the heads come from. I hope I’ve done them justice (below is just one quick sample).

The largest Moai ever moved weighed approximately 82 tons and was moved about 3 miles! Think about that. They had to make this thing with primitive stone tools, move it, build a base for it, then erect on said base. But the best part is there was a habit of putting Pukaws on top – that would be stone hat which weighed about 11 tons…which was fashioned from a different stone from a different location and then had to be put on top of this Moai which was about 33 ft tall. When I saw these larger Moai and did the calculation that’s when I got the HOLY COW moment. And holy cow it was.

And as much as I have written about how much vegetation there is here (ie. all the grass etc.) the more I walk this island the more I’m starting to think, this is a barren wasteland. In between what seems to be fields of grass are fist size (and larger) volcanic rocks. In most places it seems to be littered with this stuff. The grass have somehow made their way through this and flourished. There seem to be guava plants growing wild here now (I believe they were introduced in more recent times and probably it is the birds which have scattered the seeds all over the island). Everyday I fear tripping and falling this stuff because it is hard, sharp and nasty. I’m beginning to wonder how the ancients survived here. And then the ants… there are ants EVERYWHERE on this island.

Please note that at the height of ancient Rapa Nui only about 3000 men, women and children lived here and they were able to make these. And this statue? You are only looking at 1/3 of it, the rest is underground.

If this doesn’t give you a sense of the scale…

12 hour hike on Easter Island

Posted: 14 March 2012 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Today, I got up around 6 and out the door at 7 for the sunrise. Hiked up the tallest volcano on the island (500 meters – a total cinch compared to what I was doing this time last week in Patagonia, what a difference some experience makes!). Unfortunately there was no sunrise as there was cloud cover but it still made for some interesting images. From there you can see the entire island, and I was reminded again that I am definitely in the most remote place on the planet. When I visit a place like this I always wonder what it was like to live there during the time they built these structures. Although, as stated in the previous post, this island does not come off as a barren wasteland there is not much here and there isn’t much of a shore line. The coast is mostly cliffs against crashing ocean waves . What I’m getting at is that there wasn’t much to do here. Maybe some fishing, a little bit, like a little bit of farming and then there are the big heads. Although NOTHING has been proven about why these structures were built I think the answer is simple – BOREDOM! What else do you do with your time in a place like this? It’s been proven that due to the lack of resources (food and water) people tend not to procreate much (ie. have sex) so what would one do to fill that void? hmmmmmm lemme count the ways… oh, how about carving big stone heads out of really hard stone, with few tools, that way 50 TONS and then moving them several miles from the original location with little wood to do it with?

BTW, they natives didn’t seem to build big houses, as they did not have many resources to do it with. they are low structures akin to a cave but that seems to be it.

Although Rapa Nui’s ancient past is very murky, it’s recent past (about 300 years worth) is much more clear. After first contact with the Europeans things went down hill, from the disease they introduced to being kidnapped into slavery, to imprisonment on their own island and used as force labor (ie slaves) for various commercial exploits (ie. ranching). At one point the population of Rapa Nui was down to about 100 people. Today, the community survives on the tourism industry and subsidies from it’s mother country – Chile. It feels like the natives are still not the ones who benefit most from their own land and their own culture. I think I will stop my ranting there. (see “Statues That Walked”)

As for my visit, during my 12 hour hike up and then down the volcano today, I did get a chance to see the lesser known Moai. Although interesting I will look forward to seeing the largest ones tomorrow. It’s been a pretty long day.

West side of the island

First Moai

That’s me.

This is the result of my rather impressive application (or lack there of) of sunblock…OMG

did i mention?

Posted: 12 March 2012 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Did I mention in the previous bitching blog that I’m in Chile and headed to Easter Island? Poor me. I know. :P

For those who did not catch the sarcasm in my humor, this part of the world really is unreal. I came here because I got a chance to go to Patagonia on the Argentinian side about 18 months ago and just had to see what else there was on the other side. It did not disappoint.

Below are the missing videos. I’m currently at a Hilton Garden in where the internet connection is shhhweeet.

So this is the island of PINGUINOS:

This is the view from my Cabana in Torres Del Paine

Arrived back into Santiago for one night and am staying at the lovely Hilton Garden Inn; supposedly one of their lower end hotels but I have to say I really dig this place and the restaurant? Was a complete surprise on the positive side. But this place is like in the middle of NO WHERE near the airport and there is NOTHING here! check out the lovely room and then see what my view is! OMG.

Anyhoo, tomorrow Easter Island, the BIG heads. I can ‘t wait.

Bitching and complaining in Chile

Posted: 10 March 2012 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Ok folks, now the bitching and moaning portion of the trip. So yesterday, got up early again (6 am) with the intention of driving about 1.5 hours to the trail head of the most popular hike in the mountain to get a view of “Torres” this is the most distinctive feature of the park. With the early call it meant getting on the trail at about 8 a.m. and hopefully getting in front of the rest of the other crazies. But on the way the sun began to rise, and oh did it! Orange and gold unlike the day before when everything was blah due to cloud cover, so little me had to stop and shoot. Afraid that I would miss the shot it would seem that I stopped a little too soon and did not get to the perfect spot anyway! ARRRGHH.

Ok, got to the trail head, it’s now 9:30, bus loads are unloading onto the trail head. And although the forecast was for good weather I was still thinking about the weather from the day before which was a little bit cold and unbelievably windy. And I suddenly realize about 10 minutes in that I’m over packed and over dressed for this 9 hour hike. So back to the car to drop everything off. Now it’s 10. And it would seem I was just about the last person on the trail for the day and in the heat of the day – yes the weather took a 180 degree turn from the previous day. (I will admit it wasn’t all that bad). The hike was grueling it was a long distance with a lot of ups and downs, and because i got out on the trail so late, overnight hikers had already started their decent. What does it matter? Well in stead of just enjoying the great out of doors it was HOLA! every 10 minutes or so as hiker after hiker passed. Cause this is Chile and they are friendly that way. Then once all of the over nighters passed by, those who got out in front of me were now returning! I am so tired of saying HOLA to say the least! Really, it’s tiring after a while. But in the end it was rather worth it (see photo below). I was trully exhausted, so I had dinner at the hotel restaurant, instead of cooking myself. All I have to say was I should have cooked it myself – pasta and canned sauce would have been better than that meal. I think prison food is likely to be better than that; and to add insult to injury? it was expensive . Then again everything here is. Although my expectations were pretty low, that meal was worse than i could have imagined.

This morning thought I should get up for the sunrise again and now I know exactly where I need to be, so again up at 6 a.m. Things are honky dory, except that I am exhausted. Oh did I mention thatI have not slept well in 2 nights, because I have been so giddy about what I’ve been experiencing and seeing here at Torres Del Paine I can’t seem to shut down? As I put on the last of my clothes I open the door to double check the weather and guess what? Rain. Great that means no sunrise. Go back and rethink the clothes strategy. After that I decided to go out and hope for the best. There was no going back to bed at that point.

So I did do some shooting but I can’t say there’s much to show for it. For today’s hike I had to take a 30 minute boat ride to the trail head. That was all fine and good. The staff was very nice, they even helped my fix my tripod head, which required an allen wrench. But then there was this big bus load of tourist who got on the boat and who decided to use the upper deck as their own personal group stretching area. And then on my way off of the boat, idiot (that would be me) forgot said tripod head and monopod which was attached on the boat (good bye equipment).

Got to the trail, took a restroom break which lead to the other group getting on the trail first uggg. After about 40 minutes I finally caught up with them which felt good, and figured that they would have to stop for a lot of breaks and this may allow me to be in front, take shorter breaks and get my shots without dealing with people. As I was actually feeling good I was moving at a ridiculously fast pace… for 2 hours. It felt like I was working out really hard for TWO HOURS! and it was all I could do to stay in front of that group. And in the end I took only a couple of short 2 minute breaks, but for some reason they kept on catching back up. In the end they never did pass me but they literally showed up at the major resting point like 100 yards behind! Like what the hell? they were all old people too! I know I’m not in the best of shape but what the hell??

Ok, forward for another hour before turning around. About 30 minutes into the return, that group catches up and several their members pass. Here’s the thing, have you ever driven on a two lane highway and get stuck behind a slow car and you want to pass but it means that you have to get into the oncoming lane side? So you move over, and then back and over and then back again but you just can’t do it and you’re really stressed out? And then the guy 4 cars back comes cruising by you AND the guy in front of you? So these folks pass because I’m trying to get a shot and I start again just about 25 yards behind them (the rest of their group seems to have fallen off the face of the earth), and I decide I need to pick up the pace because they are an organized tour group which clearly wants to catch the last boat back like me, and they probably have things timed right. So if they all pass me I will know that I’m going to be sleep outside tonight. So I pick up the pace, and I’m huffing and puffing and I’m trying desperately to get to these folks but I just can’t do it, no matter what I just can’t catch them, but I can see that they are moving at a very very relaxed pace. WHAT THE HELL? The one guy is like 40 lbs over weight too!! And he’s just strutting along. I don’t get it!

In the end I never did catch them but my timing was just fine and I caught the boat. Unfortunately the nice boat staff did not find my monopod and no one turned it into the the folks at the boat launch either. OMG!

Tonight I get in to my nice hot shower only to discover why my feet hurt so much. I have a blister on the ball of my left foot and a blister under my toe nails (one on each foot)…JOY! I went to lance the visible blister and think to myself, no problem I have a surgical knife in my first aide kit. What? I’ve forgotten the kit for the first time in 10 years? really?

One more short hike tomorrow before heading back to Puntas Arenas. But will my feet be okay? Will I sleep tonight? Should I get up for the sunrise again tomorrow?

bitch bitch bitch. Thank you for tuning in.

Torres Del Paine – WOW!

Posted: 09 March 2012 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Drove from Puntas Arenas this morning to Torres Del Paine. WOW! So amazing and holy cow, so windy! When other people’s blogs said this place was windy they weren’t kidding. OMG. So just to make good use of the time and to get a feel for the lay of the land I went on a short 2 hour hike. This is supposed to be the easiest hike of the week with regards to lack of elevation and distance. But about 45 minutes in, the wind started to pick up. I have never experienced such strong wind before in my life. I was just glad I was not on top of some mountain waiting to get blown off! WOW!

Here’s some video footage of what that was like. That’s me trying to not to get blown down the trail.

This morning I got up around 6:30 and it was off to the hardest hike of the trip. Straight up hill for 2 hours and then back down again. Total it took about 5 hours. I had been very concerned about this hike as currently i’m so out of shape and carrying all of my camera gear (about 15 lbs worth) and my bad knees… however I did get some great trekking poles and boy what a difference. I was also shocked that after a few days of traveling and one day of hiking my body no longer feels the bag! So the reward for getting to the top of this this mountain is the view below.

This is me trying to not to get blown off the top of the mountain

And that’s me again at a different location – standing very strange so that I don’t get blown away again! I’m literally leaning against the wind here!


Los Pinguinos – Puntas Arenas!

Posted: 08 March 2012 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Arrived in to Puntas Arenas yesterday, drove around, found the local Unimarc – that would be the local big ass grocery store. Like other things in Santiago, it is certainly modern and clean and had everything I could have asked for. So why a grocery store? Well tomorrow i’m heading to Torres Del Paine, the big national park to see the real Patagonia (obviously the Argentinians would disagree because you can experience Patagonia from the other side of the border too!). And the problem is once in the park the closest grocery store will be about a 1.5 hour drive away. I’m going to be staying in a “cabana” that has a kitchenette so the idea is to have things like breakfast available and possibly dinner stuff too, as I will usually be out before the hotel on the property serves breakfast anyway.

So today it was a visit to the local cemetery, although the guide books do not talk this up I must say it is rather impressive and i got some great shots! There’s some really crazy topiary. See photos. So late in the afternoon it was onto a boat to Magdallena Island which is located on the Straight of Magellan. Why? to see los pinquinos! The trip starts at 3 is a 2 hour boat ride with one hour on the island and then 2 hours back. I must say a pretty heavy cost of time for very little return. Although it was cool to see the penguins.

So what were they like? well, they do seem pretty acquainted with the fact that everyday a boat load of people arrive , walk along a path to the top of the island, down again and leave. Some scurry away as you approach while others happily stand next to the roped off path (they know the humans are not allowed to cross) and seem to pose. Yup, they seem to look at you and then turn their heads and pose! It’s interesting, although I did not get any great shots of any penguins I did get some nice shots of the light house at the top of the island!

Oh, and why is the trip so late in the day? because during the rest of the day they are out at sea fishing or in otherwords, filling themselves up. And so once we arrive it would also seem that they are kind of in a food coma stage. Not doing much, just hanging out rolling around in bird poo (there were lots of seagulls around)


Tomorrow it’s off to Torres Del Paine and then 4 days of hiking and knee pain!

Touchdown Santiago, Chile

Posted: 06 March 2012 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Although I love being able touchdown in a new place and getting to it right away, I do have to say that red-eyes can be a killer if the person that is sitting behind you likes to play with the back of your seat ALL night! aaaak. this is at least the 10th international flight in a row where the person sitting behind me is  a complete baffoon! People, don’t you realize that there is a person, perhaps trying to sleep in front of you? PPPAAALEEEZ! And then there was the non working overhead light that kept on blinking on and then then off again on it’s own. So while I was sleeping the flight attendants thought they would do everyone a favor by reaching over me to my control thingy to turn off the light, in the mean time waking me UP! AND then discovering that, hey look, it’s malfunctioning! Aaaaaa did anyone think to tell their fellow employees so that the others would not take there turn at this??? OMG.

Ok, so it was a rough flight. I did manage to get a few good hours of sleep in. When I arrived at the Sheraton it was still early yet, about 9 a.m. and of course the room was not ready, but they did offer me breakfast, so they tried at least. Then it was off into town.

So what’s Santiago like? well it’s a lot more Latin America than Argentina was. There was definetely a feeling of warmth and it’s hard to describe, it’s just more latin. Don’t get me wrong about Argentina, the people there were great, but it’s not what you expect when you go to Latin America. Where as Argentina seemed to be a newer version of Europe, Chile seems like a newer version of Latin America. I can not call Chile a third world country by any means and it feels like it has come out of the second world as well, it really is very modern, and has all the trappings/conveniences of a modern country. Atm’s are all over place and people are using them. Credit cards are readily accepted by the smallest of merchants even. And along with all of this are high prices for everything!

As for the sights? I have to say a little bit of a sleeper, much like Buenos Aires, but I had anticipated this. I’m just waiting for to head south to Puntas Arenas and Torres Del Paine where I’ll get to see glaciers and cool things like that again.

Santiago Chile here I come!

Posted: 02 March 2012 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

It’s been so long since I’ve posted something here. Life is so busy it seems the only time I get to relax is at the airport! So here I am again at JFK . This time I’m heading south to Chile. First Santiago then Patagonia and then EASTER ISLAND. I’m anticipating A LOT of photo ops. At least I sure as heck hope so.

Fast service.

Posted: 15 November 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

So Hoi An was known as a trading town. Over the centuries the Chinese, Japanese,  and even Portuguese were among many who did business here. The result of this is multiple layers of cultural influence readily seen in the city’s architecture and food. Where as Sapa had decent food it was neither diverse nor particularly interesting, Hoi An offers a plethora of meal options and plenty of snacks. Although it was curious that many of the snacking options were only available during the day. The merchants here are also known for being able to tailor a man’s suit in just 24 hours. So I decided that I would have my camera bag altered. I had a previous alteration made to my bag in NYC and it cost me about 1 week’s time and $30. While this cost me $1 and about 10 minutes! Crazy. When I negociated the price the guy said, can you give me enough to have a couple cups of coffee? Fair enough!

Today I also got my friend’s camera fixed for $20, I consider it a rip off but at the end of the day his camera is working again!

But I didn’t kill it!

Posted: 14 November 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Was just thinking about an experience in Sapa with a little girl from one of the Hill Tribes. While roaming around the farms etc. I ran into these kids and asked if they wanted to come along. One girl did. While on this very long hike, I saw her pick up a grasshopper and rip off it’s legs. I watched with much curiosity and thought for SURE she would eat the thing. But then she let it go. So I asked, “Why did you kill it?” She responded, “But I didn’t kill it!”

aaahhh Hoi An!

Posted: 12 November 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Got to Hoi An after a very long day.  After the shinanigans at the airport we flew from Hanoi to Danang and got a ride to Hoi An. I really love this town. There’s just something really nice about it and it has some really kick ass food too! Although everywhere you go in Hanoi you find food, its just not like here. And the further south you go the more access to fruits you get. Although Sapa was great, the food there was lackluster at best (compared to this). And my hotel? The “Ha An Hotel in Hoi An” has really one of the best breakfasts around! Vietnamese and western stuff, and lots of it. My travel buddy had chocolate cake for breakfast this morning -hey, you only live once.

I spent the day exploring every street of the old quarter and some of the new quarter too.  And ran into these boys! It was their afternoon break from school. They were … well being boys and screwing around. They saw me sit down next to them and said nothing to me. So I said to one “how old are you?” The boy, looked like he had seen a ghost! He couldn’t believe it! He said, “10. Why do  you speak Vietnamese?” I replied, “because I am.” He said, “You’re Vietnamese?” None of them could believe it. I guess Alien from a distant planet would have sounded better.

After some chit chat I took out the Zim Air passengers and showed them! One boy asked if he could have one! Phew that was close! Almost lost some passengers!

Here’s a video from (obviously) the most popular sandwhich shop in town. Now this is fast food done right! Subway eat your heart out!

YouTube Direkt

Sometimes travel just sucks!

Posted: 11 November 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

So the conclusion for the Sapa portion of this trip is that it really is a remarkable place that one should see. But today I am writing about just the stuff I have been thinking about for the past 10 days. Many of you know that while in the US I am never mistaken for an American, and in Vietnam I am never mistaken for a Vietnamese! So as I was visiting the old village where the temple in Hanoi was located I could hear people saying out loud in Vietnamese – she must be Korean. I generally just ignore these comments and laugh. It’s always been a part of my Vietnam experience. So I asked one of the foundation staff members, “do you think that if i dressed more like a Vietnamese person, people might think I’m Vietnamese?” he said, “No.”  A few minutes later as we were walking and taking pictures we passed two women who were sweeping the street. One said very loudly, “OH I thought it was two boys, but one of them is a girl!” (mind you I am currently sporting a ponytail! So I said to my companion, “so now I’m neither Vietnamese nor a woman!” He laughed. People have often asked me how often I am “abroad” and my stock answer has been, “Always as I’m never a man!” I guess that’s not true, eh?

So this morning I arrived at the airport directly from my overnight train from Sapa. We are catching a flight to Da Nang where we will spend a few nights in Hoi An. The issues are many. I had booked a flight on Jet Star (the new economy airline from Australia). That flight and my subsequent flight have both been canceled – oh lovely. So I had my husband rebook our flights from his computer in NY for me. Got here and they wanted that credit card to verify the purchase! really? So they were like isn’t this the person you are traveling with? the answer was NO! This white guy I’m traveling with is not my husband. Seeing how I did not take my Irish American husbands name, things were not adding up. So next thing you know I have to go to a separate counter and buy two new tickets for my non spousal companion and myself (and they tell me it will not be a problem to get our already purchsed tickets refunded later – suuuuure). So fine, two new tickets, go back and check in the luggage.

What? what’s the problem now? Can’t check me in? What? My name on my ticket doesn’t match the name on my passport? what’s this? But I just got this ticket from you counter just 30 feet away! They were
responsible for inputting my name! Oh, it’s just missing the middle name? And this isn’t good enough???


Finally the supervisor smiled and checked both of us in.

After everything got checked in I had to go back to the ticket counter and buy another ticket for the other Jet Star leg that got canceled. I decided to tell the woman that the checkin clerk tried to reject the previous ticket that she had issued me because of the name issue; and that although my travel partner’s middle name was missing it wasn’t a problem. So she says, “That’s because most foreigners don’t use their middle name when they buy tickets like these.” I said “so why am I being hassled” she said the same thing. So suddenly I’m vietnamese with my AMERICAN passport?? I just can’t win. Oh the joys of a celebrity travel photographer.


Rain or Shine

Posted: 10 November 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Some of you may or may not know that I started a new business called New York City Photo Safari last year (newyorkcityphotosafari.com) and we operate RAIN OR SHINE. The reason is that when you are traveling on the other side of the world, no matter what, you are going to go out and do your thing. Today was one of those days. I started the day in a small village near Sapa called Ta Phin. As soon as the car pulled into the village we were immediately accosted by 6 of the locals trying to sell stuff. Here’s a shot of my travel buddy and these women.

Again they are from the local hill tribes, one of several. Overall they were very nice to us and followed us everywhere. And by everywhere I mean everywhere. I wanted to walk up the hills to find shots of the terrace rice fields. Unfortunately about 40 minutes in it started to rain (right after I took offAND stowed my rain jacket – duh). There was a house with an overhang that we tucked under to take shelter under, then it poured. Then we were invited into the person’s house. It was quite basic with a dirt floor and a fire pit. We sat to wait it out; and although they did not offer us tea they did not ask for money either. It was rather pleasant.

After about 20 minutes we decided to cut our losses and head out. Here are a couple of videos from today:

Sapa, Vietnam

Posted: 08 November 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

So I’ve now had a chance to explore Sapa. Prior to arriving here I have been hearing a lot about how the local hill tribe people are very aggressive about selling their wares. Thus far, it is mild at best. Although there is definitely a strong tourism presence here evidenced by all of the hotels in the center of town and all the “white” folks around, it doesn’t feel overwhelming. But then again most come for the weekend market and today is a weekday. So I don’t know. I think I also have “the look” – the look of “seriously, I’m not buying your stuff and I know your tricks!” look. Ever since Egypt I have noticed that street vendors don’t pester me nearly as much as the other tourists. All i have to say is it’s good to have the look.

Sapa is an interesting place. The local hill tribe people here are definitely sticking to their own kind. They do not speak Vietnamese but rather their own language. And despite the strong tourism trade (which they are benefiting from by selling their hand weavings and textiles) they still live on the farms. They don’t seem to have moved into the village here or are involved in the restaurants or hotels.

I watched the local police shoo them off the streets from selling their wares today. What a mistake. If they were not here I believe the tourism trade would dry up.

This is a photo of the Zim Air passengers wtih a local girl who tagged along wtih me for about 5 hours as I made my way through their farms.

Trains and Mountains

Posted: 06 November 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Last night I took an overnight train to Sapa which is north of Vietnam. The big attraction here are the mountains an the Hill tribe people who are also known for their jewelry and mostly their textiles – neither of which I am interested in purchasing. I have been wanting to go here for years and didn’t want to miss this opportunity on this trip to finally get here.  Thus far the weather is definitely cooler than down south and I’m enjoying the change of scenery and a change of pace. It’s much quieter here – Hanoi is more crowded and much less charming than I remember it 3 years ago.

The Life of a Celebrity Travel Photographer

Posted: 04 November 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

The life of a celebrity travel photographer

Today I continued my shoot at the temple. I am really enjoying discovering the rich history of this place.

Here is a video blog on site.

So after spending time PAINTING. I set up what could be called a catelog shoot. The temple houses some artifacts from a hundred to 6 or 7 hundred years ago and I got permission to shoot them.  SO EXCITING!

So in my life as a celebrity travel shooter I got to shoot things like shards of ceramic something or another.

Look ma, more….

and it did even escalate to these “amazing” plates! Oh yippie.

Look ma, bowls! God just kill me now.

Ok ok, there were a couple of interesting things. These were the ceremonial boots  (or what is left of them) belonging to some king who came to receive the blessings of the then monk before heading off to kill people (I think they call that… war). I think it’s over 500 years old. Very interesting.

Minor Celebrity Status!

Posted: 02 November 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

My first day on the job today went well. It was long and hard and tomorrow will be two hours longer. But that’s not what I want to write about tonight. Tonight I want to talk about my minor celebrity status here in VN. Yes ME! So the other night after I arrived at my crappy little hotel that I usually stay at in Saigon (only because of it’s location); when I arrived the guys there remembered me.  So one of the guys who brought my stuff up to my room he says to me, “You were on TV weren’t you?” That was like 3 years ago that I was on national TV in Vietnam! I was like wow – he remembers! So I thought not much more about that until tonight. Tonight, I stopped at one of my favorite street stalls to get snacks. Over the previous several trips I had gotten to know this person but it’s been THREE years since the last trip and I wasn’t so sure she would remember me cause I’m just one of a thousand customers right? And I have only spent time eating there (mostly); it’s not like I’ve hung out with her family or something. So After I bought my stuff she says to me, you were on TV weren’t you?” I couldn’t believe it! And then, AND THEN she even mentioned why I was on tv, so not only did these folks remember that I was on TV they remembered what it was about!! Holy cow!

Back in Vietnam!

Posted: 02 November 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Touch down Saigon. After about three years, i’m back. First a one night lay over in Saigon, just enough to get some dinner and some rest before heading to Hanoi in the morning. There I’ll start my project right away. I’m here to document the restoration of one of the most important ancient temples in Vietnam for the Vietnamese Nom Preservation Foundation. More on that after I get to Hanoi.

First up a visit to McD’s in Hong Kong. Gotta love it. Check out this item!

I guess the only way a multinational company can compete is to adapt to the local wants. I think this is a  good adaptation, don’t you?

I know the question begs, what am i doing at McD’s? I wasn’t! Although I have been known to go to McD’s while traveling I don’t usually head there until far into the trip and i need to break up the monotany(sp) of the local food – so back off people! So the long story was this, i had a 2 hour layover in Hong Kong and needed some food. I was really rather pissed off when I thought my only choice was McDonald’s or a place called Lousiana Popeye’s! I did eventually find a noodle shop!

But the airport food court was crowded so i had to share my table with three Chinese speaking women and guess what they were eating? 1 burger, 1 peach pie and 1 chicken drummets order (they have that at McD’s here!) and one of them pulled out this packet! So I stopped at McDonald’s and got me one!

(the zim air passengers)

Food or Photography?

Posted: 31 March 2011 . / Categories: Thoughts

Recently a someone wrote on my facebook page, in response to my blog postings from the Middle East, “I love your style of being a foodie…” I had started thinking towards the end of the trip that I had posted a whole lot about food during this trip, perhaps more than usual. There are many reasons for that. First of all I was in both Syria (a highly repressive government that monitors a lot of internet activity) and Egypt (where things were still volatile). So food was a very safe topic.

But please consider that the reason I blog is to share my experience. I have come to find that the best way to experience a culture is through your stomach! Food is about hospitality and enjoying life. You can tell a lot about a culture and people in how they prepare and care for food. Do they take time to make good food? Do they sit around and enjoy it? All cultures with great food also have great people in it.Ever had a party without food? Ever been to a great wedding with lousy food?

Some once asked me if travel came first or photography? My answer was food comes first. Ok that’s an exaggeration. I choose travel destinations based on whether or not I think I will find great photography opportunities. I have come to find that if a place doesn’t have great photography opportunities then there had better be some great food. Otherwise it’s a total disaster. And trust me I’ve had a couple of those. Here’s one, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – some of the best food on earth. Not so much to shoot. But I’d go back just for the food.

So the next time you hear me talk about some great food, know that there were likely some great people sitting and chatting with me too.

Home Sweet Home

Posted: 30 March 2011 . / Categories: Thoughts, Where's Zim?

Although it’s always nice to be home, I must say returning home from this trip felt better than most. Travel fatigue really hit me hard this time. I think a lot of it had to do with the bad experiences in Egypt. As much as I try to tell myself that the sites were amazing and there did seem to be genuinely nice people there, I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that I kinda got ripped off somehow. This morning I woke up lost, thinking that I was in a hotel somewhere and thought to myself, “Which way is the bathroom? Did I miss the sunrise? What am I going to shoot instead?” It took a moment to realize that I was home and that the pressure was off and I could lay back down and relax for a while.

In my final analysis of this experience and what is currently happening in the region, I fear for the Middle East and North Africa. From my very limited, outside perspective these are my thoughts.

I think Egypt has a chance of getting a real democracy, one that it deserves. But I think it is a long way from helping all of it’s people get out of poverty and this will continue to create unrest within the country. I believe much the problem is deeply rooted.

As for Syria? I fear that the country is headed to a bloody civil war. There are many in the country who seem to love their ruler, Asad Bashar. The current violence shows that there are many who do not. They will clash. As a whole, from the people peddling tourist junk to the cobbler, Syrians just nice seem to be nice people who understand hospitality. A civil war is beneath them and I hope they will find common ground.

In my few contacts with Christians in both Egypt and Syria, I came to this realization: if you oppress or even give the impression that you are oppressing a minority population (or any population for that matter) they will do what they can to assert their “human rights” and their “place”. Whether that is a religious or ethnic minority it doesn’t matter. We see it here in this country and I see it everywhere in the world I have traveled. Somehow, as a community we must figure out how to allow minorities to exist not only among us but among themselves. Minorities do not need to be like us to be a part of us; and do not need to be a part of us to be like us.

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