Nam Ou River, Laos, 2006
It’s been a couple of weeks since I made a blog post. That’s because this is the busiest time of the year at my office and I’ve been busy working overtime (both weekdays and weekends). Another reason is that when I haven’t been at work, I’ve spent a lot of time watching the Mets.
Yes, indeed, the New York Mets baseball team. The last time they were in the playoffs and played in the post-season was in 2006. The last time they won the National League pennant was in 2000. The last time they won the World Series was in 1986.
Well, they’re back in the post-season this year, one win away from beating the Chicago Cubs to win the National League championship and going to the World Series – and I have been enjoying it! After so many years of sticking with the team, we Mets fans deserve to enjoy it!!!
Still, as you can tell from the title of this post, the Mets are not what I aim to write about. That subject would be Asia – or, more specifically, when to travel to east Asia again.
The Lollipop, Pakmong, Laos, 2006
My first trip to east Asia was in 1989, when I went on a three and a half week trip to China and Hong Kong. I was there during the student protests that year, and I was still there when the tanks moved in to forcibly move the students out.
It wasn’t until 15 years later, however, that I began to visit that part of the world in earnest, with my first of three trips to Japan. The reason I went to Japan in 2004 was as a reaction to having photographed quite a number of nude models in a relatively short span of time – about eight models in four months, and not just here in New York – and I just felt the need to do something different.
The idea caught on with me, and in the ensuing years, I visited Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Tibet, too. My last trip was one to Vietnam in 2011.
Pavilion at the Royal Palace, Luang Prabang, Laos, 2008
Why now am I thinking of Asia again? A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Friends Without a Border benefit photo auction, which raises money to fund children’s hospitals in Cambodia and Laos. While I was there, I had a conversation with the American doctor who’s in charge of the hospital in Luang Prabang, Laos. I’ve been there twice, in 2006 and 2008, and it’s a beautiful, quiet, contemplative town filled with many Buddhist temple (in fact, it’s a UNESCO world heritage site), and talking with the doctor got me to thinking of going back for another, more extended visit.
The question now is, “Why haven’t I gone back after 2011?”
There are two primary answers to that. The first is that I have only so much money and vacation time to spend on travel and photography, and it’s usually a choice between going to a place like Asia or taking models on an art nude photo expedition. For the past few years, it’s been art nudes: a big trip to Canada in 2012, a big trip to Iceland and a short trip to Canada in 2013, and a longer trip to Iceland in 2014.
Another factor in my decision making was this: work. All of my trips to southeast Asia have been made in the winter, as it’s too hot and humid there in the summer and I can’t get away in the fall. A few years ago, however, management in my office changed the rules so that a person could only take off one week at a time during the winter and most of the spring. This was really frustrating – not to mention unnecessary. How then could I go to a place like Asia for only a week?
Wat Phra That Luang, Vientiane, Laos, 2008
Still, my conversation with the doctor at the auction really did get me thinking of going to Luang Prabang for just a week – to just stay there and take in the beauty of the place slowly, rather than at the pace of a group tour. Then again, it takes about 30 hours by place to get there and back – each way – so would I want to go for only a week?
The story doesn’t end there, though. I found out recently that the rules for taking time off at work have changed again. Thanks in part to some input from our union, people can now take off two weeks at a time during that time of the year. Obviously, having two weeks to travel is a lot better than having only one, and places that I thought I could only visit for the first time in retirement are now more of a possibility, sooner rather than later.
Of course, having more options means having to make more decisions. Should I go to places like Myanmar (Burma) and India that I have never visited before, or should I go on more art nude trips which I’d like to go on, to places like Iceland and Canada (or perhaps even the U.S.)?
As going back to Laos remains a possibility, here are some photos that I’ve made during both of my trips to that country.
Buddha Figures at the Pak Ou Caves, Laos, 2008