Tag Archives: Photography
The three brightest stars in the sky above Kuta Beach are not stars at all, they’re aeroplanes. They orbit the sky, once, twice, before descending. I watch as they approach, becoming larger and more fanta-coloured as they draw near.
The aeroplanes drop like muscular angels to the earth, chasing one another up the runway, lifting the skirts of their wings like frisky schoolgirls, teetering on the narrow lip of land that separates runway from sea. Finally, they come to a standstill before the crooked elbow of the disembarkation ramp, disgorging another fat helping of tourists into the swollen body of the Denpasar Bali airport.
To balance out the equation, three aeroplanes take off. They enact the dance in reverse, lifting their gaze to the horizon, hunkering down, and launching themselves at the sky. As they claw their way up into the stratosphere their blunt bodies shed vortex after vortex of spent air molecules. The sound falls like a meteor shower on my head, mingling with traffic to create a peculiarly Balinese symphony. The change in air pressure as the planes fly overhead leaves me flattened and subdued.
In contrast to the antisocial airport, the beach is full of human-friendly shapes: surfers, mandorla shortboards and the pleasingly symmetrical silhouette of traditional Balinese fishing boats, jukung. Lifeguards in Baywatch buggies ply the shoreline. Dogs on leads buck their owners in a comic play of walker and walked, whilst higher up, on the tree-line, the well-heeled make ready for a performance of gamalan, sipping cocktails with names more redolent of the Carribean than this overpopulated strip of beach that lies terrorised and trembling under the flight path of the Denpasar Bali airport.
The human magnitude of the beach is astounding: surfers and their girlfriends; honeymooners; gangs of local youth who have come to perve on bule in bikinis; hawkers selling beer; photographers; wedding parties; families; schoolgirls. Amongst the masses there are tetchy parents, who at this late stage in the day have surrendered, like cornered sloths, to the devilish antics of their children: I watch as one embattled father pivots in the sand, permitting his 2-foot son to fill his pockets, hair, underpants and ears with as much sand as his eager hands can gather. Continue reading
To see some more photo galleries of Angkor Wat check our Richie’s blog
MUM’S VISIT TO DALI
RICHIE AND PAUL’S MUSICAL EXPLOITS
In spite of its central position in the country, and proximity to Rome, few people who visit Italy have ever heard of Molise. One of the smallest and most sparsely populated provinces in Italy, Molise is home to 400,000 residents, and one third of the country’s endemic species of flora and fauna, including small populations of wolves, bears and chamoix. Its three national parks encompass an area of 3,350sq km, making Molise a green and pleasant place to escape the noise and congestion of Italy’s major cities.
When Richie and I arrived in Italy on the 12th of April we had never heard of ‘Molise’, and when we exited the country on the 30th of June, we’d spent a total of almost half our time there.
This is the story of how we ‘discovered’ Molise…
After seeing the high standard of work Richie was turning out for his Permaculture Diploma, Angiola, our host in Rome, suggested we visit Molise to stay in her family’s villa, explore the countryside, and make some suggestions in the garden. We weren’t sure if we were being invited to have a holiday, or to implement a permaculture design. Either way, the enticement of free accommodation in a restored stone stable was enough to tempt us into the heart of the country – to the very navel of Italy.
In Campobasso, Molise’s capital, we were met off the bus by Angiola and her sister, Maria-pia. Angiola was on her way back to Rome but invited us to stay as long as we wanted, so long as we spent the first few afternoons of our visit helping her sister and brother plant 200 pomodoro (tomato) plants in the garden.
The variety of pomodoro that Maria-pia and Michelangelo favoured was a native of Montagano (the the closest village to where we were staying), and was without doubt “the best tomato in the world.”
Unfortunately for Maria-pia and Michelangelo, not even “the best tomato in the world” will grow to a ripe old age if the conditions for living aren’t right. On arriving on the scene in Faifoli Richie and I were greeted by the sad spectacle of over two hundred pomodoro seedlings wilting with stage fright under a relentless blue sky in a dry barren patch of recently rotovated earth. It was tomato genocide!
Unless you’re ancient Roman, or you’ve studied Latin, the word ‘Volubilis’ sounds strange in the mouth. Richie and I tried it on for size as we made our way on foot from Moulay Idriss to the ruins; spitting the word out, drawing it back in our mouth, gargling it with laughter and chewing it up with irreverence. No matter how we said it, it didn’t sound right. “It’s like a combination of ‘globule’ and ‘voluptuous’.”
Our first glimpse of the ruins was from high on a ridge above the valley. From up there on the plateau the site looked extensive but not significant: a pile of toppled rocks (‘crumblies’ – as our friend Milton calls them). As we drew closer it became apparent that what had appeared at first as a diffuse and haphazard collection of buildings was in fact a large and concentrated area of dwellings, paved roads, temples and civic buildings. In its heyday, Volubilis occupied a space of 42 hectares and was home to some 20,000 residents. These days, however, the only beings who live there are a handful of storks and a family or two of house martins.
As there are no grande taxis from Meknes, the best way to reach Volubilis is to catch the bus to Moulay Idriss, a small town some 30km north of Meknes, and disembark at the junction where the road to Moulay Idriss leaves the N13 – which is what we did. From there, it’s a pleasant 3 kilometres walk. The approach is through olive groves and hedges of cacti.
In our stubbornness we refused to adopt a local guide, preferring instead to make our own baffled inspections of the stones and mosaics. Richie was fascinated by the remains of a vast system of drains, baths, aqueducts, fountains and cisterns, whereas I was drawn to other details: a faded mosaic of sea animals, a lone Corinthian column, and a highly polished stone phallus!
The foundation stones of several olive presses lay exposed among the ruins. Minus the perishable components of the apparatus the stones looked incomplete, dumb. Deep channels designed to draw away the precious fluid lay dry and inanimate. They hadn’t flowed in centuries. No balm. No grease. No oil. Continue reading