Wednesday, 22 February 2017

On Travelling & Destinations

The journey is the destination, as the saying goes, and that essentially translates into that one should enjoy the travelling and to not impatiently wait for the final destination. But how do you that in a tube, at an altitude of 10 000 meters, with three guys in the row behind you who are just getting to know each other and do not seem to tire of sharing insights of the most dull nature possible? How's the weather in Switzerland in July? Difficult to say ... Indeed!
Sigulda, Latvia, July 2016

Many years ago, I embarked on a bus trip from Bangkok to Ban Phe where the pier to Ko Samet is located. I was with a couple from Munich who were seasoned travellers and fond of local transport.  This bus trip would be fascinating, they said, and fell immediately asleeep as soon as we took off. 

Of this I felt reminded when last summer I took the train from Riga to Sigulda. I didn't see anybody sleeping – the trip lasted not much more than an hour – but most of my fellow passengers stared at their mobile phones or at their notebooks. Why don't they stay home? I said to myself and felt determined to thoroughly enjoy the journey by contemplating the passing landscape. The problem however was that there wasn'r really much to see for there were only endless rows of trees in front of the windows. 
Jurmala, Latvia, July 2016

When I finally reached my destination, the Sigulda train station, I asked for the city centre. And was told that it was where I just happened to be.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

In Lat Krabang

Since my old Bangkok neighbourhood (the lower Sukhumvit area) underwent quite some drastic changes (the two hotels where I used to stay disappeared), I resorted to Lat Krabang, a suburb, with excellent connections to the airport rail link to town. Until recently, I did not see much of the place apart from the hotel and the shops and restaurants nearby. When however one day I stayed at another than my usual hotel I discovered a rather different Lat Krabang.
Back from a bath in the river on the other side of the street

A Thai lady in her sixties sitting in front of her house started to talk to me as I was passing by. She had lived in London for twenty two years and moved back to Lat Krabang twenty years ago. She was missing the English weather, she said. Much has changed here, she added, we used to go by boat to town. Nowadays the rail link is much faster and cheaper.
Flower pots between the highways

The next day I watch from a bridge over one of the canals a longtail boat approaching at high speed and then slow down. The guy steering the boat now gets up and examines a green sea of water plants (a plot of around 150 square meters, I'd say) that separates one canal from the next. He then moves the boat back to the middle of the canal, revs up the engine and off he goes at an impressive speed ... and makes it through the plants, accompanied by the sounds of splintering roots, in one go!
About ten minutes later, a seconds boat arrives on the scene. The boatman also examines the sea of water plants and decides not to try it. Too bad, for this time I'm quite certain I'd have the camera ready ...

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Baltic Encounters

Tartu, City Center, August 2016

My bachelor project was on soldiers, the young woman who works at my Tallinn hotel says. A visual project, she adds. Can I see it? She shows me her photographs on the hotel computer and elaborates: There are twelve ways human beings react to problems and show emotions. They might respond with, say, curiosity, sorrow or confidence. So I modelled ceramic figures expressing these twelve different emotions. Then I took photographs of the small figures and enlarged them. These large size pictures I plan to hang on a museum wall. And, I will place the small ceramic figures next to the photographs. I want to make it clear that the photographs are not the reality but that the ceramic figures are.

Brilliant, I say and she beams with pleasure but why do you call it soldiers? Because the media condition us to behave like soldiers.
Tartu, City Center, August 2016

Going by bus is terrible in Estonia, no space not even to stand, says a German student in a coffee shop in Tartu. You haven't been to Istanbul, smiles her Turkish colleague.

My own bus rides were pleasent but I was told that they definitely will be different once school starts.
Tartu, City Center, August 2016

She never felt at ease when on a plane, says my fellow passenger on my flight from Riga to Zurich, but then she decided to go parachuting. She jumped together with her instructor. She wouldn't do it again, she says, but since then she is not any more afraid of flying ...

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

What my camera helped me see

Holding a camera in my hand I notice what I otherwise probably would not notice or pay attention to. As Dorothea Lange famously said: A camera teaches you how to see without a camera.

The above pics were taken near Santa Cruz do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, in January 2017.