Once upon a time is how many adventures begins. This one starts now (or well it started Tuesday after many preparations). Day Zero. Time is reset as I leave Danish airspace destination Nomadic life, first stop Bangkok.
The flights are turbulent. First one to Amsterdam is physically turbulent as we pass through a major rain storm. Second one from ‘Dam to Bangkok is emotionally turbulent. This is huge. Hours earlier I said goodbye to my two best friends. Now raw electricity shoots through my veins. Goose bumps. Heart races. Into the Wild, the wild unknown. Leave it all behind. New life. Reset time.
Bangkok – alien in Ramkanphaeng
Immigration and luggage is a breeze and I find my good friend Kai – he worked with us on the Malaysia and Borneo expedition in June. We get a taxi to his suburb Ramkanphaeng. Part of the fun and challenge of travel is knowing nothing. This is at the extreme end of that scale! Ramkanphaeng is a large uni suburb, mostly students or people who work at the uni. Kai speaks very good English but no one else does and everything is written in Thai. For 3 days I do not meet any other tourists. Not a single whitefella actually. I cannot read and only Kai understands me. I eat at the street kitchens where I point to food and handover money not understanding the price (does not matter anyway is lunch is something like 30 bath = 1 US dollar). This is actual true Bangkok life, no touristy Khao San Road from hell and it is incredible fascinating to experience this. More Ramkanphaeng stories to come, here are a few snapshots from the streets and markets.
Main road of Ramkanphaeng, add some rain and this is Blade Runner! Very busy street, even more so at night.
Fresh food markets, a symphony of colours and smells:
A typical street kitchen on the small road where I stayed. This is away from the main road and a charming neighbourhood of real life.
My Hood – kitchens and shots on the street where I stayed.
- As I am ordering lunch from a street kitchen using my special pointing technique a guy asks me in English “oh you know and like Thai food”. “Yes”, I say surprised, “Love it”. Turns out he is from the Philippines and when I reveal I am Danish he promptly speaks to me in Danish. He used to have a Danish girlfriend. Small world at times or weird coincidences surely!
- I did spend a few hours in the city centre and saw Khao San Road which is hell on Earth. A disgusting terrible tourist trap backpackers from hell street of nothing but pubs, restaurants and shops pushing crap to tourists. Interesting to see, a completely different world to Ramkanphaeng.
- Naturally as time is being reset some weird glitches occurs in the ‘Matrix’. In ‘Dam airport a young Brit two meters from me is arrested by the Police and he then promptly proceeds to regurgitate the drugs he is smuggling. On the plane to Bangkok I actually sit next to a couple from Finland named the Harkonens! (read Frank Herbert’s Dune).
The Mindil Beach Market is in every Darwin tourist brochure so you might think it’s overrated and over packed with tourists. But it really is good fun and in a way it’s what Darwin is all about in one little (not so little; about 190 stalls) market. It’s a big multi cultural melting pot of tourists and laid-back locals enjoying the atmosphere, checking out the many food and craft stalls, grooving to the bands, artists and well downright crazy performers performing – and everyone worshipping the sun drop straight into the Timor sea while eating $8 meals cooked by chefs like my mate on the right (yeah that’s right! I shot a photo of a non-landscape subject!). Everyone is friendly and determined to have a great time and the people are super entertaining. Tropical lifestyle at it’s best!
I still felt tired and lazy and couldn’t be bothered walking the 4 kilometres to the beach in the tropical heat…so I hailed a taxi. Taxi driver was a character all right; sees my big camera backpack with tripod and asks “Off to shoot the sunset? You’re a photographer mate? Professional?”. “Yeah. Well semi-pro” I say. He asks “I got a digital camera too, how big is your memory card? I think mine can shoot like a thousand photos!”. “Hehehe, well mate” I say “I have about 40 gigs of CF cards, 320 gigs of external HDs, 1 laptop and blank DVDs. I don’t really plan on running out of memory!”. He shifts conversation to food and says “So much good food at the market, you like Indian food?”. “Yes I do” I say. “It’s SPIIIIICYYYYY” he then shouts like Jim Carrey in The Mask. Like I said, wildly entertaining people at the market and also driving you to the market!
It’s hard to capture the atmosphere of the market in a photo. I’ve included a few quick and dirty edits from Lightroom with blown highlights, halos and everything! But they do sort of show you the blur of people walking back and forth between the stalls surrounded by palm trees and tropical sunset light. To see the sunset itself – read on.
Crocs on Main Street of Darwin!
Just had to throw in that headline. Since Crocosaurus Cove opened in the middle of Darwin a few months ago this headline has been featured everywhere! Crocosaurus Cove is a huge new croc zoo right on Mitchell Street. It is worth a visit, it’s really well made with some beautiful crocs in huge pools that feature super design. Like in some fish aquariums you can walk underneath the pools and see the crocs from all angles. Impressive, haven’t seen that before. Mitchell street is also backpacker hell with all the big backpacker hostels and therefore also all the big pubs. I reckon they should let the crocs out at night, cull the drunken backpacker population a bit!
Sun drops into Timor Sea! – and Australia and GND filters
I don’t really use a lot of filters. I sometimes use a neutral density filter in Copenhagen to cut light for longer exposures. The ND filter you can just stick on and forget so it’s easy to use. Doesn’t get in my way. I rarely use a graduated neutral density (GND) filter in Copenhagen as the soft pastel light means I can manage without it and I find GND filters annoying to use. I’m not really that keen on tripods either. Or cameras for that matter. That’s why I loved the 617 viewfinder so much. I want as transparent a creative process as possible concentrating on composition and shooting many angles and hate anything that gets in the way. I would love to just swap one eye for a 50 megapixel 14-bit sensor with 2:1 aspect ratio and shoot by blinking!
In Australia the light and colours can be so intense even after sunset that a GND filter really is needed. A GND filter has a gradual cutoff meaning half the filter cuts exposure by for instance 2 stops while the rest of it is transparent. Means you can even out the light between the sky and the beach or sea for example. I still find GND filters a right bloody pain in the behind to use. Can’t see what’s going on, have to keep adjusting every time I change composition. But it means you can capture Mindil Beach dusk shots like the one above and this one (again, just quick exports from Lightroom)
I am very fascinated by aboriginal culture and have by now seen a lot of rock art and paintings all over Australia. Darwin has what I consider the best artists and the best art galleries. The traditional old x-ray style of Arnhem Land in Kakadu National Park here in the Northern Territory, the Oenpelli region, is my favourite style; the style most people know are probably the new dot-painting style. There are several large and gorgeous aboriginal art galleries in Darwin, the Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery is outstanding and features some of the best Arnhem Land artists. Djawida Nadjongorle is one of the famous Arnhem artist and his outstanding work can be seen here. If I had $6500 to spare the huge Mimi Spirits Hunting painting was coming home with me!
I’ve gone bush!
Finally; now the real work can begin; the real photography! I am fully normalised, sleep fine again and Wednesday sees me on a 14 day outback trip through the magnificient Kimberleys. I have very high expectations; hope to get some fantastic outback landscapes to add to my portfolio. I won’t be online for a while so see ya on the other side! I’ve gone bush!
Posted in Australia, Darwin, Panorama, Photo, Photography, Travel
Tagged aboriginal, art, crocodile, filter, market, mindil, mindil beach