Thursday, April 18, 2013

Carita | Indonesia

Carita is a beach town about two hours away from where I live and the chosen location for a photo shoot that I did for some friends. Though nothing like the crystal clear waters of the surrounding islands (thanks to a nearby power plant), it does the trick for a quick weekend getaway!  We hit the beach at sunrise and explored the surrounding kampungs where I caught a glimpse of the local lifestyle that I don't see quite as often, now that I live in the suburbs of Jakarta. The sun was shining and the local kids were precious. It's in quiet moments like these that I remember why I love living in Indonesia.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Songkran | Phuket | Thailand

In America, celebrating the New Year generally involves friends, fireworks and perhaps a little bubbly . This weekend, I discovered a far more satisfying way to ring in the new year than freezing in Times Square. Over here in Thailand, they offer everyone the opportunity to revert to the days of their childhood. Both the young and old participate and everyone is fair game. I am talking about the largest water fight in the world! Lasting for at least one day, sometimes two depending on where you are, Songkran is hands down my favorite festival in Asia!

I flew to Phuket to see this year's celebration. I began the morning with a loop around Pa Tong, just to check out what was going on. After being soaked twice on my motorbike in my short 20 minute drive, I knew I was going to have to bring out the heavy artillery. One roll of each plastic wrap and duct tape later, my camera was ready for action! In case you're wandering, this was a fairly successful technique. Aside from a few droplets which I attributed to the dense humidity in Thailand, my camera survived.

Tourists and locals alike took to the streets, soaking anyone within range, especially those who dared to make eye contact. Each store had a large tub of water out front for anyone to refill. Unfortunately, it has become a trend to place large ice blocks in those tubs which results in a frigid experience when you are hit!

Should you find yourself in Thailand for Songkran in the future, I have compiled some mental notes on how to survive to share with you.

1. Don't leave home without your gun and keep it filled. Be armed at all times. You will get wet and it's best for everyone involved if you can retaliate after being hit. You don't want to be this girl, who ran out of water.

2. If you are brave enough to drive a motorbike during on this particular day, use big trucks to your advantage! When approaching a water gang on the side of the road (or in the road), casually pass them using a truck full of people as your shield. Don't end up like these guys, unarmed:

In case the pictures haven't convinced you, you must add Songkran to your bucket list. Right now, go do it!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Marrakesh | Morocco

From Fes, we began an eight hour journey by train to the backpacking capital of Morocco, Marrakesh. After spending most of our time in Fes in the old medina, we wanted so see some nature. Our first stop was Le Jardin Majorelle. On the way, we got our first taste of Moroccan deception from what looked like a helpful local who offered to show us the way to the garden. Upon arrival, we gave him a tip for his assistance but of course, that wasn't enough. He asked for more than the amount that we paid for a day of motorbike rental for a five minute drive. After offering to fetch a member of the local police to settle the matter, he promptly backed away. We quickly learned to always be on guard! On a happy note, this garden is well-known for inspiring Yves Saint Laurent. This botanical beauty even features it's own shade of cobalt blue, Majorelle Blue, which is used widely within the compound and named after the original creator of the space.

Having enjoyed some time in the sunshine, we opted to visit another garden on the outskirts of town. This one featured olive and lemon groves. We even found some furry friends to show us around. Personally, I have never cared for olives, black or green. But, I had also never eaten one fresh off of a tree. They were absolutely delicious! 

The remainder of our time was spent in various markets and the old medina, as well as a lesser-known museum off the beaten path. My gps wasn't quite sure where Musee Tiskiwin was located and it took several locals to pinpoint it for us. Dutch anthropologist, Bert Flint, decided to share his personal collection of African artifacts with the world and though small, it is well worth the visit!