Finding Shambala… Eastern Tibet

In 2008 I led a student cultural trip with a great friend and teacher to a place that is very special in his heart and soon became firmly planted in mine. Kham is the region, Eastern plateau of Tibet where Buddhism is alive and watching it practiced you can’t help but be moved. I still remember the sounds and emotions I felt watching the devotion people showed – it was a complete privilege to experience.

While there were many moments on this trip that made me speechless, there was one in particular that moved me to tears. We arrived in a village at a special time when a lama (high priest) was in the small town and this had brought many people into the sleepy town from the surrounding countryside. The faces and prayers going on with the prayer flags on surrounding hills and around the meeting grounds created a calming and  scene.

Prayers flags sending messages

Prayers flags sending messages of  peace and harmony out into the world

At Mani Gompa, near Tagong in Kham (Eastern Tibet) we had just stepped out of he car and we were faced with 15 nuns coming down the road towards us. The sound, movement and up down motion was incredible to watch and as we watched them slide on their chests fully committing themselves to the process and hard ground surrounding the monastery.

The Nuns coming down the road

The Nuns coming down the road

The nuns were doing a wide kora (circle) around the monastery in preparation for a six month journey, prostrating all the way, to Lhasa (over 1500km). Up hills, down dusty rocky banks and hard roads… nothing slowed them up even as one almost disappeared over the side of the bank.

Here is the video footage Rishi shot while I was busy clicking images…

UP and down

Up and down

The sound of their wooden planks attached to their hands and the robes scrapping on the ground signalled the dedication to their pilgrimage and true conviction to their religion.

Sounds of them scraping across the ground

Scraping and sliding across the ground

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No race here… just dedication

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The gathering in the center of the village to hear the visiting Lama

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A woman shows us her prayer wheel

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Monks heading up to the monastery

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The nuns continue prostrating their way across the hill top

Motion

Dedication in motion

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Sliding down the hill

Sliding down the hill

Rishi's beard was a main attraction

Rishi’s beard was a main attraction with the locals

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People circling the monastery

The nuns coming into the monastery

The nuns coming into the monastery

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Wanderlust… travel… adventure…

Why do I travel? To make the world a smaller place!

“I haven’t been everywhere but its on my list” – Susan Sontag

Botswana

Botswana

Wanderlust: An irresistible desire to travel to understand ones very own existence

Burma

Burma

I’m in love with the cities I have never been to and the people I have never met

DRC

DRC

“We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us” – Anonymous

Namibia

Namibia

“Not all those who wander are lost” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Rwanda

Rwanda

And then I realised adventures are the best way to learn…

India

India

“Travel. It leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller” – Ibn Battuta

China

China

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
– Lao Tzu

Tanzania

Tanzania

“I would rather own little and see the world than own the world and see little of it”
– Alexander Sattler

Tibet

Tibet

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving”
– Lao Tzu

Burma

Burma

Travel: The one thing you buy that makes you richer.

India

India

“Happiness to not a state to arrive at but a manner of traveling”
– Margaret Lee Runbeck

India

India

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

Peru

Peru

“People don’t take trips. Trips take people” – John Steinbeck

Uganda

Uganda

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”
– Gustave Flaubert

Thailand

Thailand

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” – Anita Desai

Sri lanka

Sri lanka

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself” – Danny Kaye

Nepal

Nepal

“A nomad I will remain for life in love with distant and uncharted places”
– Isabelle Eberhardt

Bhutan

Bhutan

“We lean forward to the next crazy adventure beneath the skies” – Jack Kerouac

When your friends have kids…

I love having friends/ family to shoot spontaneous pictures of their children for them. I have no ability to direct a photoshoot so pretty much gave up on that idea after one attempt of that. I do love it when friends are just playing and enjoying their kids – thats when the magic appears!

P.S. I love B&W

Growing up on  a farm in New Zealand is the life

Growing up on a farm in New Zealand is the life

Family fun

Family fun

Bubbles & Mum - bliss!

Bubbles & Mum – bliss!

Water play in the Philippines... its hot outside

Water play in the Philippines… its hot outside

The best smile in the world... this guy

The best smile in the world… this guy, Rwanda

This boy has some serious style

This boy has some serious style, Mr Rwanda

Heroes come in all sizes

Heroes come in all sizes

At the beach in Hong Kong

At the beach in Hong Kong

Windy Hong Kong day

Windy Hong Kong day

Musicians in India

Musicians in India

Fun on the farm, New Zealand

Fun on the farm, New Zealand

A kiwi summer

A kiwi summer

2014… its been a journey

When I look back on 2014 I realise just how many opportunities I have had, amazing people I have met, the new friends I have made, and lands I have walked. Always feel super privileged to see and do all of it…. not without some challenges but these are character building and make 2015 another year to look forward to. Get out there and see the world, meet people, break down stereotypes and change peoples views!
Adventure is out there waiting!

The year that was 2014

The year that was 2014

My home in New Zealand

A beautiful evening on the beach at my hometown in New Zealand (January 2014)

View from up Mount Maunganui looking down over the beach, New Zealand

View from up Mount Maunganui looking down over the beach, New Zealand (January 2014)

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Children in peak out of a makeshift school tent following Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines (February 2014)

Roofless, Homeless but not HOPELESS, Tacloban Philippines

Roofless, Homeless but not HOPELESS, Tacloban Philippines (February 2014)

Rodolfo (73) sat with his wife Guadalupe outside their newly built home and explained to me how he survived Typhoon Yolanda. With his wife away visiting family in Manila, he stayed in their home only 30 meters from the shoreline until he saw the water level rising too high and then evacuated to the Elementary school. During the typhoon he tried to wade back through waist deep water to save some rice and supplies from his house but saw his house was flattened by coconut trees and under water. Thankful for the support to rebuild their home from external donors & a community effort led by Marie Ann Corsino they were surround by family and happy to still have one another Luan Village Leyte, Philippines.

Rodolfo (73) sat with his wife Guadalupe outside their newly built home and explained to me how he survived Typhoon Yolanda. With his wife away visiting family in Manila, he stayed in their home only 30 meters from the shoreline until he saw the water level rising too high and then evacuated to the Elementary school. During the typhoon he tried to wade back through waist deep water to save some rice and supplies from his house but saw his house was flattened by coconut trees and under water. Thankful for the support to rebuild their home from external donors & a community effort led by Marie Ann Corsino they were surround by family and happy to still have one another Luan Village Leyte, Philippines. (February 2014)

Small things make a huge difference. Children celebrate receiving new shoes after Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines (February 2014)

Small things make a huge difference. Children celebrate receiving new shoes after Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines (February 2014)

Testing out a camera with children at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Testing out a camera with children at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Happy faces at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Happy faces at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Shy schoolgirl hides her smile, Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Shy schoolgirl hides her smile, Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Hong Kong Harbour as the sun goes down (iPHONEOGRAPHY) April 2014

Star Ferry crosses Hong Kong Harbour as the sun goes down (iPHONEOGRAPHY) (April 2014)

Two of my favourite boys kicking back having a laugh, Rwanda (June 2014)

Two of my favourite boys kicking back having a laugh, Rwanda (June 2014)

Back at the No.41 House (check them out www.no41.org) Rwanda (July 2014)

Back at the No.41 House, Rwanda (July 2014)

Check out No41 here www.no41.org

A sweet young girl who came walking up all curious outside a local school (iPHONEOGRAPHY) Rwanda (July 2014)

A sweet young girl who came walking up all curious outside a local school, Rwanda (iPHONEOGRAPHY) (July 2014)

The sun goes down over the land of 1000 hills, Rwanda (July 2014)

The sun goes down over the land of 1000 hills, Rwanda (July 2014)

I first met Scraggles and fell in love with her, my street dog in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (August 2014)

I first met Scraggles and fell in love with her, my street dog in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (August 2014)

Check out her transformation story, photos & video here… https://strengthinvulnerability.com/2014/11/17/scraggles-her-transformation/

Four friends at a school in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Four friends at a school in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Peaking out, schoolgirls in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Peaking out, schoolgirls in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Juggling down the beach, Zanzibar Tanzania (October 2014)

Juggling down the beach, Zanzibar Tanzania (October 2014)

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Friends help with smiles, Ethiopia (November 2014)

And as the sun goes down on 2014… I finish the year back home in New Zealand with friends and family before heading back to Ethiopia in a few weeks!

“Not all those who wander are lost”

And then it was DECEMBER

Another year has flown by and we are into December already!

The last picture on the calendar was taken in Kenya at a school supported by Hope Global a team from Australia who do mission work around different countries in Asia and Africa. Just a photoblog here with some photos from time spent in the classrooms at the school with some kids who love learning!

 Humanity… embracing that we all have the same basic needs

At the end of the day we are all human and I believe we all want/ need the same basic things in life… To be happy, safe, healthy and have an opportunity to be all we can be!

I haven’t created a Calendar for 2015 but Hope Global has with a few of my images tucked in there too… sales support a great cause so have a look here!

Humanity...

Humanity… embracing that we all have the same basic needs

Friends

Friends

Learning is fun

Learning is fun

And more fun

And more fun

Engaged

Engaged

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Hope Global 2015 Calendar

I spent some time last year volunteering with Hope Global on their projects in both Kenya and Rwanda. They have groups that work with locals on the ground in many countries across Asia and Africa.

You can check out my Seeing is Believing blog which is about the time spent in Kenya doing eye screening and surgery.

This year they are selling a Calendar to help support their numerous projects in these countries, which I have been fortunate to witness first hand and see many children, teachers, families and others benefit from access to improved education and medical care.

A few of my images are part of the Calendar for 2015 – one shot even made the front cover!

You can make your order here, Great for Christmas gifts, while supporting children around the world!

http://www.hopeglobal.org/announcements/calendar

Hope Global Calendar 2015

Hope Global Calendar 2015

Below are some images from my time at Hope Global projects in Kenya and Rwanda.

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Beautiful happy student, Kenya

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Loving being in school, Kenya

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Checking out the visitors, Kenya

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Fruits of Hope School students, Rwanda

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Fruits of Hope School, Rwanda

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Fruits of Hope School, Rwanda

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Eye screening, Kenya

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Eye screening, Kenya

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Education, Nairobi Kenya

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Education, Nairobi Kenya

 

Scraggles & her transformation…

I was going to write about my lack of understanding of how people could bring a dog into their home, love it for a while then dump it onto the street and leave the country. Instead this is a happy story of a sweet dog and her shaggy coat getting a trim.

Here is her transformation video & story with photos below!

We have loads of street dogs here in Addis Ababa and there is no ‘official’ program to try to control the issue. However, in our neighbourhood the street dogs are generally in great shape. They have worked out where the best locations are to find love and be fed by locals from construction sites, schools and restaurants. They are in general good health and friendly but this isn’t the case in all places around the city.

The first time I met Scraggles

The first time I met Scraggles

Scraggles (the name we gave her) has lived on the street for around 6 years. She has her own grassy knoll she has claimed between the school gate of a local school and some shipping containers. She doesn’t move far from there its her home she found but she is happy there and while she won’t let you pat her… if you approach her she jumps up and her tail starts wagging!

A scarrgly mess

A scraggly mess

This is her short story from the last few months…

Vet Dawit trying to capture Scraggles

Vet Dawit trying to capture Scraggles – highly recommend him. Patient, calm and kind nature with her.

Took a lot of work & people but we finally got her to settle

It took a lot of work & people but we finally got her to settle

Sedated so we could trim her

Sedated so we could trim her

It took a team to complete the trim - this was just a few of the many people who helped

It took a team to complete the trim – this was just a few of the many people who helped

Dreads and trim almost complete

Dreads off and trim almost complete

One of the dreads - super thick, stinky & heavy

One of the dreads – super thick, stinky & heavy

Some of the community who helped - while Scraggles is back on her grassy patch to wake up

Some of the community who helped – while Scraggles is back on her grassy patch to wake up

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She has a tail which is now up most of the time she runs around

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Still cute as anything

Before & after

Before & after