Unbleached

One night a few days ago, I sat up abruptly in the middle of the night, and three words flashed into my mind, out of nowhere, unhinged, derailed, bleached. Obviously, I’m not in the best of mental states, but whatever…. it is what it is. Bleached I did come across though a few days later, on the way to visit family. The landscape, all the colours. Everything looks like an old photo from the seventies, having lost its original colours through some lousy application of chemicals, or simply time. Supposed to be one of the best landscapes around here and never even thought of reaching for my camera. So devoid of life and excitement and all. But at least it didn’t make me sad or anything, I was just quietly observing things for now. I’m point blank refusing to think about or plan for anything beyond the next couple of months.

Still waiting for the other two words to make themselves more clear, though there may be no specific reason here beyond the obvious.

Well, at least one thing I’m enjoying here at home are all the bland, “bleached” flavours of my childhood. I don’t miss any of this stuff here that I enjoyed taking photos of.

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Celebrate the light

It’s not really November full moon at the moment, but holidays and festivals always make me think, and today I was thinking about loy krathong. As I’m trying to graduate from fearful to fearless, and rise to the challenge of raising my son, I’m asking myself too many questions again.

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I come from a family where we cannot and do not celebrate anything. When I first went to Asia, I was instantly captivated by the completely over the top, outrageous, colourful and boisterous and flavourful and insane festivals.

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I was swept away by the community spirit, the openness, the emotional highs and lows. I had to learn how to celebrate things. Not just take photos or run for dear life when firecrackers are hurled into the thickest crowd, but also to think about their meaning, to connect with them, and make them my own. Hiding and pretending that nothing is happening is simply not an option.

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So, now it comes to the point that I have established loy krathong rituals for those November full moon nights, but I still have no idea whatsoever what to do about Easter. But I would guess most people don’t. These original ideas of sacrifice and death and resurrection and forgiving and salvation are just way too serious. And somehow spring is not really around most of the time anyway. There is no community, most rituals and customs are tedious, people just seem to run these errands and feel relieved when they are over. I cannot feel that overwhelming joy that is in every lantern, every song, every candle or flower in any Asian holiday.

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We just don’t have the spirit here. I feel blank. I have no idea what heritage and traditions I can pass on to my son. I hope the colours, songs and joy of Asia are in his blood already. And then we’ll figure out the rest together as the years go by.

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Congratulations to damn wordpress about the new editing surface. I see a 3-centimetre strip of my photos and text, and have to painstakingly edit either code or these nearly incomprehensible cross sections of material just to make sense of my own post and pictures :-(  Fuck you all. Just to keep the holiday spirit. :-(  Way to motivate me to make the effort to try to post regularly, too. My mood is completely ruined and my blood pressure is up.  :-(  

Dazzling whites

I believe last year I skipped whites from my colour series. In the tropics, it is really easy to overlook, put it down as a conspicuous lack of colour, but sometimes in the strong and dazzling December sun, even the whites dance and shine.

The elaborate dragon motifs on the temple roof are Chiang Rai’s famed White Temple, and most of the flower photos were taken at the New Year flower festival on the same day, among the million reds, oranges, pinks and purples – still one of my favourite events in Thailand.

Bonus photo at the very end: my sister’s snow white deaf cat (one blue eye, one yellow eye, still hoping to take a good photo of him one of these days soon).

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2011 dec chiang rai 236  2012 Feb Chiang Mai 122

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May in the garden

Nope, I haven’t been entangled into a time warp, unfortunately; these photos date back to my first spring with my first ever digital camera. All of them were taken in our garden. At the moment, in real time, it’s just the first shoots, buds and leaves, and a carpet of violets, which is pretty but doesn’t really translate to a photo, so I really wanted to remind myself what is still coming.

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Vibrant colours

Feels like I’m super busy and super tired, though all I’m doing is growing my son, bouncing back and forth between doctors and their stupid documents, cooking the occasional meal, and watching stupid movies…. there are storms of tropical proportions in my heart and mind, and it takes heaps of energy to try to keep up at least a semblance of sanity.

These tropical lights are difficult. Harsh and unforgiving during the day, no escape, but you still want to capture those moments dear to your heart. Giving you that golden hour at dusk, when you wish your entire being was a huge camera, able to absorb and reflect back all those lights. Stunning you out of your senses when the clouds roll in.

I don’t know why my destructive, overwhelming, unbearable attraction to the dramatic and over-the-top. Places, colours, people, experiences. Even to me, it does not seem to follow naturally from my personality. Still a mystery. But it is what it is. My life blown to pieces, my heart still yearning for those glimmering lights and colours that make me feel alive.

It’s gonna be fine, but being stuck this way, halfway, between two lives, just waiting… it’s sometimes more than I can take….

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Market day in Moni

This post is dedicated to David, who is a fan of the Asian market experience ;-)

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Moni is a tiny village serving as “base camp” for trips to the famous colour-changing Kelimutu lakes. On Mondays, people from the nearby mountain villages as well as the seaside fishing settlements come to trade fish, vegetables, fruits, and general household items. Definitely no supermarkets around here. But everything is super fresh, and you definitely won’t get sick of pesticide overdose here.

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I wonder how many years before these handmade ikat sarongs and blankets, which take weeks to to weave, will be completely replaced by cheap Chinese junk.

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For half a day, the village is complete chaos and mayhem. Not really for lack of space, more like lack of common sense, they also block the main road of the island as well. Way too many people in way little space. But it’s a nice experience. Even a shabby place like this is exploding with colours. The thing I miss the most now that I had to come back to Europe after 12 years of Asia. All those colours…..

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