self portrait 2018


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Yichang to Maui

Just about anyone would be excited to visit Maui but most people would not be so enthusiastic about having to get there from central China. Door to door the trip took 30 hours. I know this because I counted. Keeping track of time and the various legs of the journey are important to remember and then ignore and then remember again in order to lessen the effects of jet lag.

 Traveling for so long is boring and the long bout of loneliness breaks away and euphoria takes over once I arrive. I think most world travelers feel the same way and so maybe the process of coping with long travel time helps make arriving that much sweeter. But I have learned to suffer less on the long hauls. The pain of long lines at border control can be lessened by listening to music. I don't count the minutes gone by. I count the number of songs I have herd. During a long wait at the security check, everyone is grumbling while I am funking out to Maceo Parker. On the plane, I have books to read and movies to watch as well as more songs to listen to. Most importantly, (and it seems that is should go without saying) I enjoy being alone with my own thoughts to keep me company. If I had fallen asleep, I often wake up with a sore neck. I keep a small container of camphor balm in my carry on bag. The smell is strong and quite opposite from being offensive to other passengers. If I have to rub it on my neck, I do so as we are landing. The smell is clean and revives the senses. 

My route to Maui looked like this:

9 AM to 5 PM train from Yichang to Beijing

5 PM to 7 PM navigate the subway system to the airport

7 PM to 10 PM eat, drink tea and wait to check in

11 PM to 12 AM drink iced coffee, run in place and do push ups at the terminal gate until I am tired.

Change clock to Hawaii time

12:30 AM until 10 hours later  = 5 PM. Avoid sleep at all costs. 

5:30 PM until 8:00 PM wait in Honolulu airport for transfer. Drink a beer.

8:15 PM to 9 PM fly to Maui

9:00 PM to 10:00 PM taxi to by buddy's house. Drink more beer.

I arrived in high spirits and had a great conversation with my taxi driver. As it would turn out, it was only one of two authentic conversations with anyone who could tell me about these islands and people of these islands during the whole trip. 

I arrived to the given address but no one answered the door. The rental cars in the parking lot and sleeping mother seen through the windows was indication enough that I was at the right place. I waited patiently in the driveway. About twenty minutes later, I heard a group coming and recognized a couple distinct voices. I met them in the road.

We had a happy reunion and returned to the house for drinks. Eventually we all went to bed. Matt, offered me the guest bedroom while the others had to sleep on lounge chairs, couches, or wherever they could. Still, I couldn't stay asleep for longer than a couple hours.

At 4 AM I was wide awake and knew exactly what I wanted to do while everyone else was quietly asleep. 

I have read articles about shooting the night sky. There are specific techniques involved. 

1. use a tripod

2. manual focus

3. turn off Image Stabilization

4. set the shutter release to a 2-second delay or remote control release

5. shoot in live view so that the mirror is locked up

6. through live view zoom in and find a star to focus on.

I took about 30 exposures. Once I found that sweet spot I got really excited. I managed to wake up Ian who was not excited at all. But I hardly cared. 

I came to Maui with two intentions, to attend my friend's wedding and to shoot. 

For the majority of the trip, I would wake up before dawn. I think this was one of the effects of jet lag. I wouldn't call it a bad effect as I had learned from my taxi driver, from the airport, that Hawaiians like to wake up before done and get the yard word and gardening done ahead of the daytime heat. I mostly enjoyed the quiet and cooked a slow breakfast.


Xishuangbanna (Southern Yunnan): Summer 2010

One Step Forward...One Step Back