Monday, April 14, 2008
Before I started doing this professionally, ie when I was just a bum backpacker kicking my way around the globe, I didn't really plan anything. I always had a rough idea of places I wanted to see but I was terrible at actually reading up on places and making sure I knew the not-to-be-missed bits. I dread to think how many wonderful sights I missed out on through simply not knowing.
Now I plan everything meticulously. Mainly because the trips are shorter (and somebody else is paying!) I need to make sure I come back with some nice images. So I get on to google maps and check which direction buildings are facing (so I know what time of day to photograph them). I write up schedules of where to be when, what's open on what days and what I really should get a photo of. I know if there are going to be some fun festivals happening, what time the sun comes up and learn how to say 'can I take your photo' in 20 different languages!
It may sound like a chore but I thorougly enjoy it and love finding out about new places and people and cultures, and the stuff I learn before I go is one of the most important things I do.
But when I hit the streets I still rely on those bumming backpacker instincts and let a little seredipity into what I do. If I walk past a narrow, empty street I can't help but wander down and see where it goes. If I hear music coming from somewhere a few blocks away I have to go and see what it is. And if I see an open gate to a Bangkok temple that my guidebook tells me is only open on a full moon when the stars are aligned perfectly in the heavens and Buddha allows it (ie basically never!) then I'm definitely going in no matter what my schedule says.
That's what happened when I walked past the gates of Wat Bowoniwet in Bangkok, Thailand. To be totally honest I was a bit templed out by this stage but this one particular image is one of my all-time favourites. Something about that combination of cold grey-blue stone juxtaposed against the gorgeous yellow garland of flowers. That in itself would be enough, but the glorious grin on this happy little fellow almost seems to be whispering to me, ' don't forget to listen to those inner instincts and the Gods of serendipity will reward you.'