Posts Tagged With: People

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

One of the joys of working in Africa is interacting with the local communities in rural villages.  In South Sudan, local people, old and young, greet each other by shaking hands.  They are always curious as to the purpose of my visit.  Some would even stop by to chat with me asking about my country or other personal stuff like are you married, why you don’t have children etc.  Often I am mistaken as Chinese.  They greet me with Ni Hao (Hello in Chinese) or call me simply as China.

But what I like the most is when children excitedly shout Khawaja everytime they see me driving or strolling around the village.  Khawaja is the term that South Sudanese use to refer to foreigners particularly white people.  It is always a joy to hear children shouting Khawaja while waving at me with a big smile.  I am the only expatriate in my team, hence, I get all the attention.

One time, we passed by a primary school and students aged 4-7 were all waving at me shouting Khawaja.  On the way back, we decided to visit the school to conduct a mine risk education.  As soon as the car stopped, about a hundred children rushed towards the car all eager to see me.  I was mobbed by children all wanting to have a glimpse of the Khawaja!  Some even wanted to touch me and shake my hand.  Luckily the teachers came on time and asked them to go back to their classrooms. Before I left, I taught them how to do the flying kiss gesture.  Since then, everytime I pass by that village, children would greet me with a flying kiss.

However, in far flung areas, this is not the case.  Since white people are rarely seen in the area, young children are scared of me.  One time, we were mobilizing the community members for another mine risk education, when about 4 young children passed by.  I called them to join us.  As I approached the children, they were so scared that they started crying (shrieking actually) and ran away as if they have just seen a zombie walking.   The adults were laughing at me.

There was also one time where I heard one boy asking my colleague whether I am a man or a woman because I was in jeans and wearing a cap.   South Sudanese women always wear dresses, sarongs or skirts, rarely you will see them wearing trousers.

Children in the main town are more welcoming.  They are always excited to greet me usually asking me to take a photo of them.

So for these week’s photo challenge, I am going to feature photos that show JOY.  Here are some of the children I have befriended during my field work.  They were the ones who requested me to take photos of them and film them while they sing a song for me.  It was a joy to watch as they show off and pose for the camera.  They were so happy when they saw their photos and videos.





Here is the video I took of my little friends as they embodied life’s simple joys.

Categories: Africa, South Sudan, Wandering the Road Less Traveled: My Humanitarian Missions, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , | 17 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinite

Its been awhile since I entered a post for the Weekly Photo Challenge and I must admit I had a hard time interpreting this week’s challenge.  I am not sure how I understand the word infinity or whether my understanding is enough to interpret it visually.  According to Collins English Dictionary, Infinity is the state or quality of being infinite, an endless time, space and quantity.

I only know the word as associated with everlasting love as symbolized by the infinity necklace resembling a figure of eight.  But it is too cliché if I am going to interpret this one.

As always, I want to be different and so  I googled how other famous writers use the word infinity.  I found a number of quotes and put them together into a poetry (sort of!).  I looked at my collection of photos and found the ones that actually tell a story…almost related to the quotes I compiled.

All photos were taken by me at Cape Town in South Africa…truly my most memorable and happiest trip!!!

Here goes….enjoy!!



" I'm one of those people who think that infinity is big enough for us all--and eternity long enough."                                                                                    -  House Of Seven Gables by Hawthorne, Nathaniel

” I’m one of those people who think that infinity is big enough for us all–and eternity long enough.”
– House Of Seven Gables by Hawthorne, Nathaniel

And, like all fine arts, it must be based upon a broad, solid sincerity, which, like a law of Nature, rules an infinity of different phenomena. - The Mirror of the Sea by Conrad, Joseph

                         ” And, like all fine arts, it must be based upon a broad, solid sincerity, which, like a law of Nature,   rules an infinity of different phenomena.”

– The Mirror of the Sea by Conrad, Joseph

                     ” Through the glass of the little skylight you saw a square of blue infinity. “                                                                                                             – The Four Million by Henry, O.

” It gave you an awful sense of the infinity of space and of the endlessness of time. ” – Moon and Sixpence by Maugham, W. Somerset


” Then silence that passed into an infinity of suspense.” – The War Of The Worlds by Wells, H.G.

“The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me. ” – Pascal Pensées

” Was it being borne in that profound darkness through the infinity of space?” – Round The Moon by Verne, Jules


Click on the link for more information regarding the Weekly Photo Challenge

Categories: Africa, Cape Town, South Africa, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

An Arch Over a Passage

Last month, I took my holiday sort of ‘rest and recuperation’ leave after being deployed for 4 months for a humanitarian work in South Sudan.  I was contemplating whether to have a relaxing beach holiday in Mombasa in Kenya, have a safari/beach holiday in Tanzania or get lost in the craziness of Marrakesh in Morocco.  It was a tough decision but in the end I opted for the latter.

Why Marrakesh? Aside from it being in a different environment (though still part of Africa but more like being in an Arabic country than African), Marrakesh has always been a dream for most photography enthusiasts.  The chaotic, noisy and colorful souks are just one of the many reasons why Marrakesh is the place to go for a photographic journey.  Indeed, it was!

I found a hostel right in the old medina (old city) at the centre of the famous Place Djemaa el-Fna square.  Prior to my arrival, I planned to take loads of photos of the souks (market), crafts, food stalls, snake charmers, crowded square, vendors and local people…the way I expected to see at Marrakesh.  Indeed, on my first day, I found the old medina the way I expected it to be except for one thing…the Medina arches, the Arabic horseshoe arch design used in doorways and windows.

Ive seen different types of arches in Europe but mostly in historical old big buildings.  But I have never seen such kind of architectural design used in local households, street passageways, small businesses or shops and in market stalls.  It was so distinct that it is easy enough to be noticed everywhere you go in Marrakesh.  And so I made it a mission to take photos of different types of Arabic arches in and around the old medina.

Here are some of my collections:


Aside from the doorways and windows, Arabic arch is also used to design the exterior walls of a building or as part of the structure itself.  I also found several unique and interesting wooden doors and windows which are either square or rectangular in shape and mostly painted with bright colors which are great subjects for photography too.

arch 2

As I went around taking snapshots of these Arabic arched windows and doorways, I noticed that even the passageway separating streets have also an archway built at the entrance.  Instead of taking a photo of the structure alone, I decided to add some elements on my composition.

First, I added the scenes from behind the archway to get a feeling of where it is located making the viewer to imagine what is going on beyond the image.

arch 3

Second, I added the element of movement by capturing people walking through the arched passageway.  People walking can make the viewer look at the direction of movement and into your main subject – the Archway.  It also gives a sense of busyness of the street or passageway.

arch 4

And lastly, adding images of the local people into your main subject gives a different context, making it more interesting than just the plain image of the arched doors or windows.  In this case, the colorful traditional dresses of Moroccans and their soulful photogenic faces add dramatic and or entertaining story to the composition making it a picture perfect photo.

Here are some of my best shots and my favorites among hundreds of snapshots of Morocco’s Medina Arch.

arch 5


arch 7

arch 8

arch 9

arch 10

Categories: Africa, Morocco, World's Unusual Design of Ordinary Things | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Morocco: Heritage and People

Moroccans remain as one of the friendliest and most hospitable people in the world.  While primarily it is dominated by Muslim Arabs and typically regarded as an Arab nation, Morocco is best described as a nation of both Arabs and its indigenous inhabitants, the Berbers.  The Berbers which means “those who are not Arab” have generally settled in the countryside and mountains.  However, in the past few decades, more Berbers moved into urban areas mixing peacefully among the Arab and small Jewish population.  Due to the many influxes of populations in Morocco, the country has experienced many cultural influences mostly from Europe, Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Classical Arabic is the country’s official language while Berber are generally used as a first language mostly in rural areas.  French, is Morocco’s unofficial third language widely used in education, commerce and government.  Spanish is being spoken by majority of Moroccans in the northern part while English is being taught in all public schools.



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Categories: Africa, Morocco | Tags: | 15 Comments

On Understanding the Purpose of Life


As I depart tomorrow for a humanitarian mission in a high risk country, I am leaving you this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt.  Her words have inspired and motivated me to take on yet another journey to an unknown dangerous place

…a new beginning…another life changing journey.

Photo taken with People Living with HIV and AIDS in Southern Kalahari District, Botswana.

Categories: Africa, Botswana, Weekly Travel Quotes | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Gasm Travels’ Fifth Blogger Award Nomination


I took this photo during our HIV AIDS awareness training given to local coaches and youths in Botswana. Dubbed as the Coaching for Hope, said training integrates football as a tool in disseminating HIV messages. Aside from improving their football skills, local coaches learn also how to deliver HIV awareness and life skills sessions to young people in their communities.



very-inspiring-blogger-awardI would like to thank Joan Frankham for nominating me for    The Very Inspiring  Blogger Award last April 25, 2013.  In her blog, Retirement and Beyond, she narrates how she is spending her free time after retiring last year:  travelling to new places, taking a new hobby like photography, her passion for hill walking and golfing and many more.  Joan and I both love Zimbabwe and South Africa and this is one of the reasons I like visiting her blog.   Check out her adventures, from Africa to Europe – Retirement and Beyond

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Categories: Africa, Botswana, Unexpected Recognitions | Tags: , | 11 Comments

On travelling alone…

Eze France

Travel Quote of the Week: It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion. – African Proverb

Photo I took at a Cathedral on top of  Èze, a medieval village perched like an eagles nest on a rocky spur overlooking the Mediterranean sea located at the Alpes-Maritimes in southeastern France.
Although i often travel on my own, I still want to find a travel buddy as having a companion leads to a more meaningful experience. As the saying goes, “Life is better shared than experiencing the best moments of your life alone.”
However, in my experience, it is very difficult to find a travel companion who shares the same interests, have the same idea of ‘having fun’, have a sense of humour and a flexible coping mechanism.
Sometimes travelling with a close friend, a partner and or a family member, you expect that it will all be ‘perfect fun’.  Depending on the compatibility and the level of flexibility and sensitivity between travellers, a perfect trip may end up a disastrous trip.
Travelling is supposed to be enjoying the moment not bringing additional baggage from the past and or discussing issues or opening an old wound that may trigger a conflict or animosity between travel companions.  It should bring travel companions much closer together.
But when drama and negative emotions are mixed into a supposedly fun trip, than it becomes complicated.  Therefore, I would rather end up travelling alone than being with a bad companion.  Still, I am not losing hope in eventually finding a perfect travel buddy in the future.
How about you? Have you had experience travelling with a bad companion?

Categories: Eze, France, Weekly Travel Quotes | Tags: , | 10 Comments

On Travelling…..

travel quote

Travel Quote of the Week:  “I get to travel with me. I need somebody to bring me back to who I am. It’s hard to be alone.” – Leonardo DiCaprio.

A photo i took on Christmas Day at a countryside ranch in Surrey, UK.

I seldom travel with friends.  Why? I like the flexibility of having my own time exploring new places and doing things I like. I can change plans at the last minute without consideration of what others feel or think about what I want to do.   Also, when I travel alone, my journey turns into a self-discovery one where I get to know more about myself and learn to deal with challenges on my own. In short,  I only have myself to deal with…. NO drama, NO conflicts and NO complications!

However, travelling alone has its own disadvantages too.  It can get lonely and boring.  Some activities are more fun to do with close friends than doing it alone.  These include exploring the local nightlife, drinking in pubs, doing extreme adventure and outdoor activities and food tripping.  Moreover, you get to have loads of good pictures of yourself (you have your friends to take your photo!).

On the other hand, you can always meet and mingle with new friends if you prefer to travel alone.

So whether you travel alone or with friends, make sure to enjoy every moment of your holiday trip because at the end of the day, what matters most is how to make the most of your travels to create beautiful and unforgettable memories to bring back home.

How about you? What do you prefer — to travel alone or with friends?

Categories: London, United Kingdom, Weekly Travel Quotes | Tags: , , | 13 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime


I was dismayed when I learned last week that it is Phonoegraphy month for the Weekly Photo Challenge —meaning photos taken using the camera phones.  I seldom use my phone in taking photos….usually I do phonoegraphy only of myself or with my friends and family for fun shots. However, I often use my iPhone camera for food photography.

So when I saw this week’s challenge, I was excited to learn that the theme is LUNCHTIME — photos that show what you actually had for lunch, where you have eaten, with whom or what happened during your lunchtime.  Looking at my collections of my Food photos on my iPhone, I realized that there was nothing uniquely interesting to feature.  I wanted to show rare cuisines I have eaten and the most memorable lunchtime I had during my travels.  Good thing, Daily Post welcomes non-phoneographers to join this week’s challenge using their equipment of choice. Yehey!!!

Hence, this week, I am featuring one of the unique international cuisines I’ve ever eaten which gave me a different kind of foodgasm — the Pacific Island’s Aelan Kakai (local food).


A Feast of Aelan Kakai

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Categories: Fiji, Oceania, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , | 17 Comments

The Gondola Man


A gondola driver is called a ‘gondolier’.  In Venice, gondoliers typically wear a uniform outfit of black trousers, a striped shirt and a hat with a red sash.  They row standing up using a long oar.  Today, gondoliers work more for tourists than for Venetians as gondolas are no longer used as public local transportation.

Categories: Europe, Italy, Venice | Tags: | 6 Comments

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