The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

Archive for the tag “nature”

My Favourite El Nido Videos

There’s all sorts of videos out there about El Nido that range from the humdrum to the self-absorbed but there are a couple of gems that stand out. They manage to capture the spirit and expansive beauty of Palawan. Forget about the humans that grace the landscape, it’s the scenery that steals the show. Humans simply give scale and context.

I still get that ‘wow’ feeling when I think back to the time ‘the Chef’ and I were there. If you visit El Nido and open your heart and mind to the experience you just might end up feeling the same way.

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WPC: Symmetry

symmetry

Something magical happens when the air becomes still and the sun shines brightly above. Sky becomes water and water becomes sky. The forest becomes two and we are left to gasp in wonder.

To see how others interpret the word ‘symmetry’ visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Photos from the Shoebox: Overland From Kathmandu to Lhasa 1990

If you had a 35mm camera you probably have a shoebox full of pictures that you never got around to sorting and putting in an album. In this series “Photos from the Shoebox” I take them out of the closest and shine light on them once more.

Often the journey is as interesting as the destination. My best friend and I had been in Nepal for almost two months. We had done the obligatory mountain treks and explored the city and its surroundings to its extent. We started to get that feeling. You’ve probably felt it too, the feeling of itchy feet, the need to move. It was November in Kathmandu and winter would soon arrive.

Tibet

The Friendship Highway

“Why not journey into Tibet?,” we mused. We found a tour operator who had one last overland trip to Lhasa before snow made the highway impassable. Back then in the 1990’s you had to join an approved tour. There was no opportunity for lone, off the beaten path type of travel.

Tibet

Life along the highway

We spent days in line-ups getting our visas and cashing in some traveller’s cheques to join an eclectic group of geriatric Americans, mid-aged Brits, a pair of young Swedish female backpackers and a couple of mysterious lone travellers.

Tibet

The pass

The best place to sit in a bus? Front seats. From this point of vantage the windshield becomes your big screen TV. On one leg of the journey we drove for about seven hours over stark scenery that was beautifully barren and monochromatic.

Tibet

Curious nomad

What started out as a black dot on the horizon soon materialized into flesh and blood. A curious nomad left his herd to come and check us out. It was not often they came across foreigners.

Moonscape

The arid land looked like a moonscape

As hours and kilometres ticked by we had the luxury of immersing ourselves in personal reflection. It was the perfect condition for an introvert like myself.

Tibet

On the road again

Every Tibetan we came across greeted us with an excited exuberance, always laughing and asking for the same thing. They all wanted a picture of the Dalai Lama, forbidden by the Chinese.

Tibet children

Curious Tibetan children

The locals were peculiarly the same colour as the landscape – mottled shades of brown, blue and grey and often covered with dirt.

On the raod again

Life passes by

I can’t imagine living in this environment. It may be a simple life but it’s a harsh existence.

Tibet

Our bus took a beating

Our bus took a beating breaking two springs and putting up with a bunch of progressively cranky travellers confined inside its metal box.

Beautiful Yamdrok Lake

Beautiful Yamdrok Lake

On the fourth day the browns and greys gave way to a beautiful turquoise. We’ve made it to sacred Yamdrok Lake, one of Tibet’s three holy lakes.

Tibet

One last stop before Lhasa. Boiled eggs for lunch again.

Time always seems to pass slower as you get closer to your final destination. Patience is in short supply. Anxiousness takes its place. Finally, we reached Lhasa where a nice Holiday Inn greeted us with a hot shower, comfortable bed and decent food. After a long, tiring journey who doesn’t like a little pampering?

Photos from the Shoebox: Rafting on the Trisuli River, Nepal 1990

If you had a 35mm camera you probably have a shoebox full of pictures that you never got around to sorting and putting in an album. In this series “Photos from the Shoebox” I take them out of the closest and shine light on them once more.

My months long trip to Asia began with the desire to seek adventure. Back in the 90’s, without the influence of the internet, the world was still a huge mysterious place. The pages of the National Geographic, with its colourful, glossy photos sparked the imaginations of those seeking the exotic. And so, with my like-minded best friend, I left Canada to explore the far side of the world.

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A broken axle gave us the opportunity to hike ahead

One of those exotic places was Nepal. We thought a nice and easy introduction would be to take a white water rafting trip down the Trisuli River. We would plunge into the unknown with the help of a guide and fellow travellers. Getting out of Kathmandu was easy. Traversing the chewed up, pot-holed dirt road was another thing. Read more…

WPC: Cover Art

north

From the time he left Canada to go back to his native Germany, this tall, lanky teenager knew he would be back. Canada with its wild, natural beauty had left an indelible impression on this young, soon to be chef.

This love of nature is something we share. In the early days of our relationship, “the Chef” and I would jump in his van and drive north on ambiguously planned road trips to the nether reaches of Northern Ontario. Driving for hours, he would regale me with incredulous stories of his youth, his life and the antics that go on in the kitchens of restaurants.

Sometimes the stories were so incredible I wouldn’t believe him but they always proved true. I always tell him he should write a book.

To see how others interpret the word ‘cover art” visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.

WPC: Refraction

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Hike one hour on a moss-covered trail and you’ll reach a narrow canyon where Grouse Creek spills 35 metres over Mouls Falls. The roar of the water is seductive, drawing me in and encouraging me to follow a path that disappears behind the falls. Before continuing I stop to snap a photo of my friend’s son as the fall’s cool mist gently covers my face.

Wells Gray Provincial Park is in British Columbia and is known as the land of waterfalls. I was there in August 2013.

To see how others interpret the word ‘refraction” visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.

The Tree Hugger in Me

When I saw this video on the ‘time travelling‘ blog I was in awe of the pristine beauty of Palawan and fascinated by its indigenous culture. Then my heart quickly sank as the story unfolded. Read more…

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