Categories
Travel

Throwback to the Monkeys

Exactly a year ago, I was on sabbatical in Borneo, floating down rivers and trekking through jungles. Last year’s solo trip now feels surreal – what better time to revisit it than during an extended forced period at home.

When I decided to travel to Indonesia and Malaysia, one of the things that attracted me was the chance to see a range of primates – both in the wild and within protected areas.

I ended up being fortunate to experience many monkey sightings, whether boating along a remote waterway or walking through spaces like Ubud, Bali’s Sacred Monkey Forest – where you’re warned not to wear sunglasses or carry any food on you, lest the cheeky monkeys steal your stuff – or the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, where a rather large monkey took a giant leap and landed a foot away from my face. (I was… startled.)

Here are a few visual highlights of the creatures I saw, including long-tailed macaques, silver leaf monkeys, proboscis monkeys, and the elusive orangutan.

Categories
Food Travel

Pasar Ubud

When I was planning a sabbatical trip to Southeast Asia, I looked around to see if there might be any photography-related excursions along my route. I stumbled across a morning market photo tour in Ubud, Bali, that sounded intriguing. As it turned out, not only did the person offering these tours run them on a donation basis – with money going toward local animal charities – Mark Chaves is also a WordPress developer with a site hosted on WordPress.com! It seemed meant to be, so I signed up for a tour and hoped for clear weather.

When Mark asked ahead of time what kind of photography I’d like to focus on, I mentioned that I’d like to get better at street photography, but tend to feel shy about taking photos of people. He said this was a common problem, and that he’d compile some tips in a blog post. Within a few weeks he made good on his promise, and I found the post about how to approach “making” photos in public places extremely helpful, even inspiring: Strangers Are Friends We Haven’t Met Yet. I vowed to put into practice what I learned.

♦ ♦ ♦

It was my last day in Bali and I met Mark at 7am outside the bustling Pasar Ubud. While I’m far from a morning person, I knew it would be worth it!

Mark seemed to intimately know every nook and cranny of the market, pointing out details and interactions I never would have noticed on my own. He encouraged me to take lots of photos quickly, which helped me avoid overthinking and capture more spontaneous shots. He knew many of the regulars working the market, and made people smile when he asked if it was OK for me to take photos. We even stopped to greet some of the resident stray dogs and feed them the treats he’d brought along in a small plastic container.

Mark feeds a local stray dog

I’m so glad Google led me to Mark’s site that fateful day. It was a memorable experience, and I love the photos that resulted.