Sunday Heyday: 'Delicious' travel moments!

This post marks the start of "Sunday Heyday" blog posts. I'm hoping this will continue as a weekly affair for as long as I can keep it up. I was initially thinking of calling it "Sunday Funday", but thought it was an overused catchphrase. Hope it catches on ;)

This week's post is dedicated to my long-time primary school friend, Sasha. Sasha and I met for breakfast today and our 3 years catch-up ensued. We shared  our current situation, a travel reminiscing therapy session and a great many laughs. The 2 hour breakfast flew by in no time. At the end, what resonated most with us was that moment when traveling abroad and that stop-you-in-your-tracks, awe inspring moment hits you!

It's that epiphanic moment you realise, this is the reason why you're traveling abroad. In that moment, you get to share it with just yourself or with a close travel partner(s) (of whom you may have only just met for a few hours/days) and no one else. Let me reiterate, no one else... An intense existential moment that affirms you as a person and any doubt you had on your expedition fades into the abyss. The idea that you are lucky enough to be experiencing this moment and pocketing it into your life-story, stifles you into a grunting flail of "O's" and "Ahh's" when attempting to describe it to others (cue Sasha's grunt and flail at breakfast).

Not to sound snobbish, but during the 6 months traveling through Asia with Martina, these moments happened a lot. Not because of any self-righteous ideologies. But rather, that dreams that had been dreamt upon are now true. Sometimes, these 'moments' aren't likely to be viewed as grandiose, but they are to you. In that instance, that's all that matters.

One such moment happened on the 30th of May, 2014 at the 3rd observatory point car park of Lake Mashu, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan.


After Martina and I had eaten dinner and bathed at the onsen of Hotel Kitafukuro, I decided we were to sleep at the carpark overnight in our campervan to view the lake early in the morning before we continued our travels. The ulterior motive for sleeping in the carpark was its elevation. Given the fact that Lake Mashu is a volcanic lake and the road leading to the lake was windy, I assumed it may be a prime location for some night/star photography.

Mazda Bongo hired from  Japan Campers , parked in the carpark. Martina sleeping inside.

Mazda Bongo hired from Japan Campers, parked in the carpark. Martina sleeping inside.

I had just read another article by Photography Life regarding Star photography (a.k.a. astrophotography) and was buzzing to try it out. After a few successful but compositionally dull shots taken of the stars, I turned my camera to the town we just came from. During all of this, let me tell you it was super cold, windy, Martina was already asleep and in the background the roar of engines was a looming presence. A faint noise had been building up ever since I got out of the car. After awhile it became recognisable as car or motorbike engines. Despite Japan being known for its safety, our safety became a concern for me. Even if they happened to be a friendly biker gang or group of drifters (Tokyo Drift!), the noise of their engines would make it unbearable to sleep if they climbed all the way up the mountain.

So I hurriedly composed and shot the picture before quickly returning to the car to prepare for the possibility of needing to move location. And this is the shot it produced:

40 sec, 17mm, f/2.8, ISO1600. Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8 (sold the lens now).

40 sec, 17mm, f/2.8, ISO1600. Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8 (sold the lens now).

For one of my first shots for star photography, I was pleasantly surprised. I feel like the picture encapsulates the moment of being on the mountain top, looking at the across to the stars. The lights of the Kawayuonsen town can be seen in the background. In the foreground, the headlights of the motorist gang/group can be seen. All of which was blanketed by a thick fog. This has to be one of my favourite shots taken during those 6 months. Despite it being too noisy (grainy) for my liking and not bright enough. This picture conjures those feelings of elation at the sight of what I considered a great image and the fact that I was in that "moment"!


Till next time...