Welcome to the Weekend – Phuket

Snazzy eh? ^^ 😉

I figured it was probably time to learn how to put images in words in Photoshop… voila! Google to the rescue.I spent the past three days in Phuket with the executive management team of Buffalo Tours – the same travel company that previously brought me to Om Goi and Cambodia. Their annual general meeting was hosted at Cape Panwa Resort, a beautiful hotel on the South Eastern tip of Phuket where we stayed for three nights.

I, was obviously not there for the meetings, but rather, to shoot interviews and footage for their internal Responsible Travel Tourism video that’ll be shown to update all employees on the coming environmental and social changes within the company. What’s unique about Buffalo Tours is that their employees REALLY DO care about making a difference. They’re all passionate individuals who enjoy what they do, love where they are and simply wish for others to enjoy South East Asia. (I promise that they didn’t tell me to say this). So, if you’re not from the area and are looking for a tour within Asia, look no further.

Picture

Half the time I was sitting in on meetings/filming

Picture

Picture

Picture

How the other 1/2 of my time was spent (no complaints here)

Picture

Picture

Picture

I somehow managed to accidentally delete 3/4 of all the photos I took during our cruise… so here are the ones that survived + screenshots from videos. woops!

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Our mini Loy Kratong celebration

old town phuket

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

gahhhh such a sucker for houses like these

Picture

Picture

Scavenger hunt (which we won, hurrah!)

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

The wonderful executive head team

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

The team in Phuket

A big thank you (once again) to Buffalo Tours for taking amazing care of me on not one but three occasions. The video will be out soon and I can’t wait to work with all of you again in the near future! 🙂

– JM
Last week in CM before back to BKK – T – 20 days till Europe!

Picture

Had my fair share of seafood in the South

Picture

BURMESE FOOD

Picture

Recently discovered a Chicken Biryani food stall kajhfahsf ❤

Picture

It’s been smoggy in Chiang Mai. Just a bit. To the point where if I go on a morning bike ride, my eyes start to burn from the pollution. Lovely.
Advertisements

Cambodia (I)

After a week in Cambodia and a few days catching up in BKK, I’m back in Chiang Mai!

I’ve split up my travels into two blog posts as there’s too much content to put into one. This one documents my first 4 days in Cambodia in Siem Reap (Angor Wat,  visiting the markets, etc.) and the next will be of the second half of the trip (in the village).

Buffalo Tours graciously flew me to Siem Reap 2 days before the school group arrived so I was able to explore the city with staff from the Cambodian office who kindly acted as my personal tour guides. One of these wonderful people was Vet or ‘Rock’ to his closest friends. Vet was the first person to greet me the moment I touched down at Siem Reap International Airport and was by my side for the entirety of my stay. He took me to the best local eateries, invited me along on a biking trip with his friends and even laughed at my jokes – basically, he was the perfect host.
Huge thank you to Buffalo Tours and American Pacific International School – the students, teachers and tour guides!

Here are some snippets of my Siem Reap. Video to come soon!
– JM

COUNTDOWN TO EURO TRIP: ONE MONTH (just booked our first hostel eeekkkk!)

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Several hours after I touched down, Vet sped me off to the annual Giant Puppet Parade that snaked through the heart of Siem Reap. This annual local children’s community arts project works with a number of NGOs throughout Cambodia to provide a creative platform for disadvantaged children to foster and promote self expression and confidence through art. It was awesome seeing how excited all the kids (and the adults) were to have the chance to parade around the town with their artwork.
To read more about the project: http://www.giantpuppetproject.com/

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Interesting to taste the similarities between Thai and Khmer food – local eats omnomnom

Picture

Also! If you’re looking to help out a unique organisation and also see an incredible showcase of talent, be sure to watch the Phare Circus the next time you visit Siem Reap. 100% worth your time and money. These amazing flame-torch-blowing athletes/actors/dancers  (yes, they do it all) not only transform the lives of young disadvantaged Cambodians but will also make you want to fulfil your childhood dream of hitching a runaway train and joining a circus ahem Water For Elephants.

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Bike ride to the ‘mountain’ with the gang.

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Also, selfies with DSLRs are a lot harder than I always expect.

Picture

Picture

Angkor wat

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Chiang Mai Documentary Arts Festival

Hello all!
I’m currently sitting in the Bangkok Airways lounge, watching the rain drip down the glass walls of the Suvarnabhumi airport as Roo Panes croons through my headphones. After having just polished off half of the free food in this wonderful lounge, I’ll now attempt to blog about the past three weeks rather than continue to absentmindedly stare at the rain outside. (Yes, indie music always has that effect and yes, I’ll also explain why I’m in Bangkok and not in Chiang Mai.)

(PSA to all Documentary Arts Asia interns: February is coming to an end so we can all take a giant sigh of relief.)

At Documentary Arts Asia, we put on two separate, yet intertwined photo documentary festivals in February.

Chiang Mai Documentary Arts Festival – only the first week of Feb., many events in the space of a week, movie screenings every night, more ‘intense’ festival for photographers/artists, distinguished guests, etc.

F/28 Month of Photography – The whole month of Feb., events are more (physically and time wise) more spread out in Chiang Mai, try to engage wider CM community rather than only prof. photogs., (ex: Instagram photo of the day challenge)

Might I also add that DAA completely relies on volunteer/intern support… meaning that we managed to put on a pretty stellar festival without any funding! And while there were definitely moments of frustration, it was still impressive that we pulled off a legit festival without any $$ large backing $$.

As all the interns have different roles and responsibilities, my ‘official title’ for the festival was ‘Media Coordinator’ – which basically describes the person who captures photo/video content from all events, manages and uploads this material, promotes it to no end on different social media platforms and also runs different social media accounts (insta., fb). Luckily in my position, I was able to use my creativity to find various ways to promote the festival and engage the general public. One of the ways I did so was by creating a summary video for every single day of CDAF (one week). This forced me to take decent footage everyday as well as organise and use it that VERY DAY. By challenging myself, I not only engaged and promoted the festival, but also improved my own time management and ability to work under pressure (videos down below) (Y)

If you take a look at the photos below, you’ll have a glimpse of everything that happened in a month.. which was quite a lot. There were amazing opportunities to learn and see incredible work as well as meet a range of world renowned and aspiring photographers, so thank you to everyone who participated!

Chiang Mai Documentary arts festival
(Feb 1-7)

Picture

Setting up different exhibits at 3 Kings Monument
Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Daily movie screening at DAA’s new center that’s under current construction
Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Photojourn exhibit opening with Q&A session with photographers

F/28
(month of feb.)

Picture

Annual International Photo Awards Auction with Hossein Farmani, founder of IPA and Lucie Awards
Picture

Q&A session with Philip Blenkinsop
Picture

Annual auction
Picture

‘A Street Odyssey’ by Philip Blenkinsop
Picture

‘Mountain Schools’
Picture

‘My Asian Heart’ movie screening
Picture

Video Drones workshop
Picture

IPA Awards
Picture

Skype Q&A session with photographer Noriko Hayashi
Picture

Skype Q&A session with’ Hounds of Hope’ photographer Julie McGuire
Picture

Print exchange
Picture

Opening party at Alliance Francaise – Paris Photo Prize & visual installation
Picture

Portfolio reviews by Ryan Libre
Picture

Portfolio Reviews by Korean Director Month of Documentary Photography
So why am I in Bangkok? (transiting in the airport?)

Well, turns out that the educational travel tour company that I traveled to Om Goi for really liked the work I produced, so they asked me to travel with them again but this time to Cambodia 🙂 I’ll be in Siem Reap and the surrounding countryside for a week, stopping in BKK for 2 days and then back to Chiang Mai. Very very thankful and happy to be able to travel, photograph and create new adventures without breaking the bank :3

Alright, probably shouldn’t miss this flight. Thanks for reading!
– JM

Welcome to the Weekend – Chang Waeng

Picture

After seeing numerous Instagrams of people candidly posing against a pink, violet and rose colored hillside, I couldn’t help but make last weekend’s plans based around seeing the Cherry Blossoms. There are multiple places one can go to find these mystical colorful flowers (that only bloom for 2-3 months) but I decided that the best bet for my mom and I would be Chang Waeng

Seeing as Chang Waeng is only a hour’s drive from Chiang Mai, the plan was to jump on a song taew early in the morn to pass the first wave of tourists. Great plan! Unfortunately, a 100 other Thai tourists conceived the exact same brilliant idea.

Getting there was A-okay, no problem. Unless of course, you’re terrified of speed driving up steep hill faces and in that case just skip the whole trip. Luckily, I had to acclimate to steep speed driving during my family’s perilous drive to Sikkim, India, where we endured two 6 hour drives (within 48 hours) on a incredibly rocky, cliff dangling, one lane road… yup, still figuring out how we survived that one.

The trees were in full bloom and the landscape was undoubtedly beautiful, but what ruined it for me was us – the people. And by people, I mean the masses of (I hate to generalize, but it’s true) selfie-stick wielding tourists attempting to take new FB profile pics. Half the time, everyone was on their phones, uploading photos or texting, and not actually paying attention to the natural beauty that immediately surrounded them. This might just be me… but why would you spend the energy and money to travel somewhere wonderful if you just end up on your phone the whole time?

Lesson learned – if you’re looking to photograph a place, especially landscape photography, put extra time into going somewhere more secluded…. or just be really really really patient.

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

What beautiful landscape with no one there to spoil it
Picture

I think I photobombed at least 20 photos #sorrynotsorry
Picture

Guy on the right exhausted from #overselfiesyndrome
Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

The only way to keep me sane

doi Pui hill tribe village

Mom and I also quickly stopped at the commercialized hill tribe village of Doi Pui village to grab lunch. We found that they had opium, hill tribe rental garb, and ridiculous photo opps for everyone to enjoy.
Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

gosh so close
Picture

Mom intrigued by le opium
Picture

2 hours later and you get a really unamused daughter
Picture

Pit stop at doi suthep on the way back

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

So far this weekend, everyone at Documentary Arts Asia has been PACKED prepping for Chiang Mai Documentary Arts Festival and F/28 Month of Photography! Without a doubt, I’ll be too busy here in Chiang Mai to take off for a day in the countryside, however I don’t mind as I’m incredibly excited for our festivals –> check them out here –>
cdaf.asia
f-28.org

Happy Saturday!
-JM

On the Northern Shores of Lake Huron

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

“So, how are we related again?”

Family reunions always begin a bit awkwardly. A car will throttle through the campground driveway, churning up clouds of dirt, and out will spill 4-5-6 smiling mid-western aunts and uncles who all immediately hug and slap the backs of older relatives running to them with extended arms. A couple of seconds later, the youngins will clamber out of the car, futilely kicking back empty bags of Doritos and other debris from the long road trip before being bombarded with hugs, cookies and questions about college and majors that they don’t know the answers to. All the while, you’re genuinely smiling and laughing, but you’re also scraping the back of your memory for clues. Hopefully they’ll drop hints on how you’re related before you must attempt to recall their name and whose kids they are (or what kids they have) or else it gets even more awkward. Who goes with which Facebook profile picture again? And who’s the aunt that tends to over share on Facebook and where’s second cousin that leaves the most bewildering comments on all of your photos?

When utterly lost, I just keep smiling and waving.

It seems to work.

We aren’t a small family. With my dad’s 6 brothers and 1 sister, I have a total of 19 first cousins. Overall with all of the extended family, there were at least 35+ of us streaming through the camp park. With so many of us, everyone openly jokes how it’s near to impossible to remember all of our family ties. I suggested creating a Games of Thrones inspired family tree that we could refer to. Another relative suggested flashcards that would include summaries and pictures from the past several years of each family member that would be sent out in batch emails for pre-reunion required reading. But perhaps that’s overkill. Next reunion?

It’s noon and everyone’s gathered for lunch. (It took a total of 10 minutes for the ice to be broken and for everyone to remember who everyone is again). Glancing around our campsite that’s dotted with tents, lunch tables and haphazardly parked cars, our set up looks similar to the middle school camping trips I used to take around Thailand’s national parks with my eco club (minus the mosquitoes, elephants and tigers). Everyone’s mingling and chowing down on all-Americana food, either lounging out on foldable lawn chairs or perching on small logs around the campfire. A pile of volleyballs and Frisbees has been casted off to the side for later on. Like all families do, we have our quirks. For one, the coffee stand was the first thing to be unpacked out of the van and set up on the first day and the last piece to be packed away on our final day. Secondly, we all share a common sweet tooth – originating from my grumps, or grandpa, who properly stocks his freezer with 4 gallons of ice cream at a time, puts butter on everything – by everything, I mean EVERYTHING, and is capable of eating up to 3 bags of popcorn on a nightly basis – with butter of course. Lastly, when packing up the early morning of our final day, my aunt nonchalantly brought out and played her bagpipes to entertain us while we broke down our tents. But rather then upset our camping neighbors, she actually attracted a small following who gathered to take videos and began to protest when she had paused to rest.

During the summertime in Michigan, everyone goes ‘up north’. It’s a Michigander concept that you probably won’t grasp but one that everyone in my family relates to. Basically, it didn’t truly feel like summer until two weeks ago when I was standing out on the front porch of my grandparents’ cabin, basking in the cool breeze coming fresh off the lake. The past 18 summers of my life were all spent with the rest of my 20+ family on the Northern shores of lake Huron and this summer was the first I had ever been away. So when I was able to snag 4 days away from my job in Washington State for our family reunion, I leapt at the opportunity despite having to travel half that time. My golden childhood summers were painted memories of dipping in the lake at sunset, roasting s’mores by the fire, catching minnows and fireflies at dusk, swimming out to ‘Fiji’ or ‘Milan Island’, sailing on sunny days, and happily licking ice cream on the docks. Our time together came and went just as expectedly as the seasons did – we always knew what to expect and never thought past them. But inevitably, time flies by, loved ones pass away, we grow up, and suddenly – holy cow I need to make money, find internships, travel the world and stake my own flag of independence! With a bittersweet realization, I eventually acknowledged, just like all my older cousins did before me, that our flags couldn’t always flutter on the shores of lake Huron where the winds have already been tried and tested. It’s become time to venture out and challenge stronger winds. And however bittersweet it is to already refer to our time in the Upper Peninsula more as memories than present reality, our heartstrings innately pull towards the North and I know that we’ll all reunite again – sooner than later. 

If you’re with your family tonight, hug them tighter for me. If you’re only your pets, still do the same. I really miss my dog. 

– JM

ALSO MORE REASON TO CELEBRATE – THE CONVICTION OF NEIL AND FERDI HAS BEEN OVERTURNED AND THEY’RE NOW REUNITED WITH THEIR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS! Finally.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/14/jakarta-international-school-teachers-to-go-free-after-conviction-overturned

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Queen’s Country – UK

Picture

We heard her before we saw her.

“Milaaaaaaan sisteeeeeerrssss!!!”

Popping out from the sea of early morning tube commuters was an electric neon sweater worn by a beaming, 4’8 Filipina, giggling and taking photos of us with her iPhone. After embracing and covering the basic ‘how-are-yous-and-the-parents?’, we slugged on our backpacker bags, committed ourselves to not domino-ing stray commuters over, and weaved our way towards the tube with the brightest crayon in lead.

Neila was one of my mom’s best friends from when I was in High School and perhaps her worthiest comrade of misadventures – a title not to be taken lightly. My basketball spirit night – half time – guess who decides to surprise everyone fully decorated in black & gold home coloured ABBA costumes, neon wigs, sunglasses and a full fledged dance routine? I can’t remember if I was more embarrassed or impressed by their confidence.

Back to London.
Like ducks in a row, we meandered through the tube, hopped onto a double decker bus, and toured through Regents Park before finally throwing down our bags on the Neila’s doorsteps at 221B Baker street*. (Ugh wouldn’t that be cool though). From there we were reunited with the world’s cutest kid, Neila’s youngest, Gabriel, who’s room we were stealing for the next couple of days.

The Fernandezes were the best hosts. Being able to meet up with them reminded us of how lucky we are to have friends and family friends in all corners of the globe and how important it is to keep those connections alive.

Besides the Fernandez family, Kat and I also met up with a handful of other high school friends now studying or also visiting London. If you grew up internationally like myself, you’ll understand how no matter where on earth you go, you’re bound to find friends or know a friend of a friend. It doesn’t matter whether I’m in Nepal, India, New York or London, I most likely have a friend who’d love to show me their city and make a meal out of it.
My classmates are scattered all across the globe and I love it.

My obsession with tea, BBC Sherlock & the actual classic Sherlock mysteries, Agatha Christie, Jacksgap, World war II books set in England, Fish & chips, and Downton Abbey were in full swing when we landed in Heathrow and have only increased since we’ve left.
I swear that dream flat in London will come true on day. 

Picture

Neila’s papparazzi attack
Picture

Picture

our ‘we’re so excited to see you and be here but we’re sleep deprived and crying from a 14 hour flight’ look
Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Nitrogen ice cream. Camden. Go.
Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Going to Hogwarts brb
Picture

Picture

Best friends from Bangkok!
Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Two Weeks in the Emerald Isle

Picture

(There’s a video attached below so don’t miss that!)

“Here’s another one for ye lasses.” John dutifully swigged back his pint, closed his eyes and began to bellow – “It’s a long way to Tipperaaary to the sweetest gal I knooOoOw – what the FECK?!” Just as two other voices joined in, their song was cut short with a blow to the back of John’s head by a flying beer coaster.

“SHATTAP YE FECKING EEJIT!” John swivelled round and met the stern glare of a red bearded, arms crossed figure who stood poised and ready to throw another soaked beer coaster across the room – Aedan, the barman.
“We’re closing up soon!” He barked, momentarily breaking eye contact to swiftly jostle empty pints of Bulmer’s and Guinness into the sink.

‘Closing up?’ I thought as I glanced around the room. A fire roared cozily in the corner, casting dancing shadows on the small clusters of people perching precariously from their bar stools, still sipping on half empty (or full?) pints. While the musicians and the foot stomping dancing had already retired for the night, I heard John and the lads behind me continue to wail on another love song about another sweet lass from another small village of in the south of Ireland. From behind the counter, the red bearded barman momentarily halted his relentless scrub of the bar’s counter to throw down his towel, give a small chuckle and shake his heard. The clock above his head read 2:00 am. Even he knew it – the Celts were far from closing time.

Ah, Ireland. The magical land that has captivated thousands of hearts all around the world. Girls mentally booked a one-way ticket to Dublin in 2007 after bawling their eyes out in ‘P. S I love you’ while men continue to use their 5% claimed Irish blood to thoroughly enjoy the holidays that excuse borderline alcoholic tendencies (excuse the stereotypes). Ah yes, the Irish. With their tendency for fun, articulate and rich literacy, leprechauns, and the fighting spirit of the underdog working class, the stereotype is almost too fun and good to be true. And while the grass may literally be greener across the pond, I couldn’t help but notice the unexpected debris that littered the parks and piled up on the streets.

Don’t be fooled. Our first night out at the Celts may have been a storybook beginning to our time in the Emerald Isle, but I quickly learned that unlike most stereotypes conceived abroad – Ireland is no perfect fairytale. For years I had been dreaming of what it would be like to set foot in Ireland. To escape to a fairytale land where leprechauns hid gold, all boys looked and sounded like Hozier, where crooked rivers would snake under moss ridden cobbled stone bridges and the thumping music from the local pubs would rise high above the thatched roofs and away into the pink-purple contrail streaked sky. With those expectations, how could I have not been expected to be shocked by reality?

(Funny to think that out of all the places I’ve been, my first true experience of culture shock was in Ireland)

I quickly learned that the country I had so longed dreamed of was not brand spanking spotless. Dublin wasn’t the jewelled city that I had envisioned it to be, nor did everyone smile and tip their hats to us as we passed by and never had I anticipated that I’d be running along the Cliffs of Moher coast, hunting down the swirling empty plastic bags of fertiliser that were close to plunging over the edge.

But once I admitted to myself that I had set unrealistically high expectations and finally overcame what I would describe as culture shock, I began to see Ireland through different lens. Perhaps it was the puzzling sunny weather magically bestowed upon us or my growing appreciation for high-quality beer paired with live music. Either way, I began to equally love Ireland for its rough edges and perfect cuts – It was raw, genuine and grand.

And isn’t that why we travel?

Right when we believe we’ve stepped far out enough of our comfort zones, we reteach ourselves all over again that there are always expectations to be shattered, room to gain new perspectives, and time to fall in love with strangers you’ve just met and places you’ve only arrived at.

The Emerald Isle does deserve its namesake. While there wasn’t one exact location in Ireland that I can honestly say I’d like to spend the rest of my life at, it’s the country as a whole that calls me to return. For reasons I can’t explain, there’s a raw and unique quality to the country that will leave an unexpected mark on you. Something will ingrain itself into your bones and make you feel at home. As you’re gazing out at and rising high above the green and yellow dotted horizon through your plane window, an unexpected pang of homesickness will rush through your body. Wait a month later and you’ll still be homesick for Ireland. I don’t expect for the feeling to withdraw any time soon.

And they don’t lie when they say that Guinness doesn’t travel well – guess you better get on.

(TLDR – look at the photos)

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Ring of Kerry Tour
Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Rock of Cashel
Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

The full works Irish breakfast complete with blood pudding (2 sausage-y looking things on the right side of the plate)
So what have I still got up my sleeve from Europe? WELL! I’ve finally come around to making a fun video featuring mostly my beautiful sister (I promise you won’t get sick of her face).Just click on the photo below and voila, you’ll see it!

Seattle’s treated me incredibly well for the past three weeks, but T-3 days until I leave for Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands to begin my summer job!
Here’s to eternal sunshine and summer vibes,
– JM