A little photo essay of the phenomenal Gardens By the Bay in Singapore. I didn’t enjoy the luxury of entering either of the hot houses, but the general gardens were spectacular enough.
Whenever I’m abroad, I am reminded of just how incredible South Africa is as a travel destination. From high end tourist types to grungy, hippy backpackers and dreamy nomads, I find myself telling all types of people that I meet on my journeys just how wonderful my home country is, and how appropriate it would be as their next travel destination.
It’s not a conscious thing, I don’t actively promote tourism in South Africa for any particular reason (although the benefits of tourism to any country are real), I simply keep finding myself in conversations with people where they’re describing what they would like from their next adventure, and feeling like Mzansi can offer them all the experiences they’re yearning for, and more. I find myself getting so excitable and passionate as I regale them with elaborate descriptions of the opportunities awaiting them in SA, and I get a real thrill when I watch their eyes sparkle as my contagious enthusiasm for my country takes hold of them.
I have flights booked back to South Africa in December, and I’m so excited to be heading back to such a vibrant and unique country for part of the summer. Visiting home aside, I feel as lucky to be returning as I would to be travelling for the first time to any exciting new country. There’s always so much exploring and discovering to do in SA, and so many old favourites to keep returning to. The more I travel in the world, the more I learn to appreciate just how fabulous South Africa is. How lucky I am to love my country so much!
I recently got a whole lot of photos back from the lab, all of them taken back home. Yes, that’s right, I’m still shooting film. Going through the pictures reinforced these feelings, and reinvigorated my passion for exploring South Africa. Over the next few posts I’ll be sharing them with you, celebrating some of the little adventures I had in South Africa in the months leading up to my departure. I’m a fervent advocate of spontaneous or planned local adventure (read more on my views on this in my piece for Urban Times), and South Africa is wonderfully rich with hidden mysteries and intriguing gems waiting to be discovered; I’m really looking forward to popping in again for a little visit. Mzansi, ndiyakuthanda*.
*Mzansi, ndiyakuthanda is isiXhosa for ‘South Africa, I love you’.
Buses are a great way to travel in Tanzania; you get to see so much of the countryside, meet engaging people and observe interesting parts of everyday life along the way. It takes some skill and determination to find the right bus company and get a good deal on your tickets, but if you’re up for the challenge, it’s well worth it.
On our three week trip in Tanzania, we took four 10 to 12 hour bus rides on four different carriers. Our experiences ranged from a terrifying trip on a rattling, dilapidated tin can that was something out of Jurassic Park, to a cushy, spacious coach with an onboard magazine, television entertainment and a complimentary beverage. In spite of the variety in coach quality, the competence of the drivers was reliably consistent. Their frenetic hooting and violent swerving around the shoddy roads was alarming at first, but once we realised the sheer skill of these drivers, we learned to trust them completely.
The best part of travelling by bus in Tanzania is the bus stops; they’re such vibrant, colourful places. I love the contrasting energy of departing travellers waiting anxiously for their journeys to begin, and arriving travellers excitedly hurrying off to their final destinations, glad to be safely back on terra firma. And then there are the vendors, entrepreneurial traders, frantically peddling their wears, even banging on the sides if busses to get the attention of passengers, and running alongside moving buses with baskets help precariously above their heads. Samosas, cassava chips, cashew nuts and cold drinks, sunglasses and trinkets, bottles of cooking oil and hand crafted wooden spoons. Finally, there are the taxi drivers, waiting like vultures to catch the next arrival and seize the business of an onward journey. I like to just sit still for a while, and watch the never-ending activity bubble and simmer around me as I await the start of my own journey.
A few miscellaneous scenes from Stone Town; undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I haven’t done justice to the winding alleyways and romantic decay that is Stone Town. I think I was so overwhelmed that I failed to even try and capture the magic of the atmosphere. Stone Town is a bustling little place, yet its ambience is peaceful and calm. Layers of peeling paint and crumbling cement are punctuated by elaborate Zanzibar doors and strung together with swooping electricity wires. It’s one of those places that makes you incredibly aware of the tiny space in time that your life occupies; just how random it is that this place looks the way it does right now, and that you are there to see it that way. It makes the sometimes difficult concepts of change and decay feel like the most natural processes in the world.
I’m so excited about my new camera, but I really am going to need to spend some time figuring out how to use it well. I have yet to do some reading and research on how to make the most of it, and I have a free training course to attend in the near future too. In the meantime, I’ve been approaching my learning experientially, trying to figure some things out as I go along. My childhood home has lots of little treasures, so I spent some time playing with my camera around the house. These are some of my first shots with my new Canon.
For the past few years I’ve been taking pictures with analogue cameras; Lomography cameras to be exact. I’ve really enjoyed using film again, and having to wait a while before seeing the pictures I’ve already forgotten that I took. I’ve enjoyed the surrender of control over the light and the behaviour of the film, and the beauty that often emerges out of silly mistakes.
Recently though, as my enthusiasm for photography has grown, I’ve experienced more and more a frustration that arises in situations when my Lomo cameras are not at their best: in low light, when I see something interesting that I can’t get close to, and when I want to get more technical and not be quite so much at the mercy of my camera. It’s taken me a little while, because I’ve become attached to the culture of Lomography, but I finally bought myself a DSLR! I figure it makes a lot of sense, given that I’m going to be gallivanting across the world and can’t be sure to find photo labs that are still competent with film (although I’m sure I won’t be able to resist taking at least one of my Lomo cameras travelling too). Look how pretty it is.
I’m very pleased with it, and I’ve got a long way to go before I can say I’m taking quality pictures with it, but I’m sure I’ll learn quickly. I’ll also need to learn some basic editing, which is something I’ve obstinately avoided with analogue. Watch this space for some of my first snaps.