Istalif village in Afghanistan is high up in the mountains, and surrounded by pleasant lands. It’s also rather famous for its colourful and somewhat rustic pottery. I bought a few pieces of pottery here 10 years ago. The people then were very happy to have their photos taken and to show-off their pottery. The village itself has been through quite a few traumas over the years, and its heritage and livelihood are at risk. Construction and security can certainly help, but it needs visitors, or a way to get its pottery to a wider market. Here, a young lad took me into his store and was very keen to show me the brightly coloured ceramics.
Early in the morning, a large number of Buddhist monks arrive to enter the Ananda Temple in Bagan, Myanmar (Burma) during the Ananda Pagoda Festival. It’s a good idea to get there well before sunrise. Here, an older monk is sporting a look rather different than your average monk. Photo taken in January 2014.
Sossusvlei in Namibia is graced with some of the highest sand dunes in the world. Amongst the rust-coloured sands, some small shrubs and trees manage to survive. And, of course, there is the eerie Deadvlei littered with the desiccated remains of trees from several hundred years ago. Not quite as old, here are the dried remains of plant material, perhaps from some tall grasses, shrubs or trees that I photographed whilst walking through the sand dunes. The wind had carved out some intricate ripples in the sand, and the light from the sun created interesting shadows and colours. It was a good way to end our final evening in Sossusvlei before heading north.
I had an awesome time in 2006 travelling around in the heat of the Atacama Desert and the coldness of Patagonia. A visit to Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego, Argentina), and the surrounding areas, brought home the remoteness and harshness of Patagonia. It was in Ushuaia that I became aware of ships heading to the Antarctic, and I’d made a mental note to someday visit the Antarctic. In 2007, I’d made that note a reality by embarking from Ushuaia to the Antarctic across the Drake Passage. But in the meantime, I was discovering delights such as that shown in this photo of Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse in the Beagle Channel near Ushuaia.
The sand dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia were formed around 5 million years ago, and are some of the highest in the world. The rich orange and red colours of these dunes owe much to the iron content of the sand. Here, embedded in the foot of one of these giants, stands a tree next to a fallen comrade. That the tree has grown, survived, and even thrived in such a harsh environment is testament to its hardiness. You need to be tough to survive in these desert conditions. Certainly my camera gear put up a valiant fight against the sand, with tripod legs being particularly susceptible.