Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Crossing Bridges and Missing Them

Everywhere we travel, whether close to home or further away and abroad, we're bound to encounter bridges of some description. Some are spectacular, others are just simply scary whilst others have just been added for aesthetic purposes. Then again, bridges may not be an option and we have to then rely on ferries across the watery expanse. This is a photo journey of some (too many to show all in one post - will have to do a series of this post) of these bridges and ferries I've encountered on my travels. (Keep in mind that in some countries it's forbidden to take photos of bridges so here and there are a few sneaky shots.)

Famous bridges
World famous and sometimes mistakenly called "London Bridge"...
HDR photo of Tower Bridge over the Thames River in London, UK

Bridge over the Tiber River in Rome, Italy. St Peter's basilica visible against the skyline.
featured in a movie with the same name...
Bridge over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

not only humans use bridges...
3 brothers crossing a bridge in southern Queen Elizabeth National Park near Ishasha, Uganda
and then some only for use by foot...
Foot bridges across an alley/back street in Rome, Italy.
is this strong enough for an overland vehicle?...yes, it was - for me anyway!
Along the road between Kimpese and Luozi in western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
joining the old and the present...
St Louis in north-west Senegal
bridges for other modes of transport...trains
Railroad bridge at Barberspan in North West Province, South Africa
ferry across one of Africa's largest rivers - Congo River...
Ferry from Luozi in western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
then there's the small people ferries...
Getting to and from Togoville across Lake Togo, Togo (West Africa)
and there's the flashy...
Ferry between Athens and Santorini (and other Greek islands), Greece
another famous river - the Zambezi...
Two ferries operate here crossing between Botswana and Zambia (Kazangula Ferry)
the 'longer' bridges - walkways over wetlands in reserves...
Walkway in Rooisand Nature Reserve near Hermanus in the Western Cape, South Africa
just a good vantage point sometimes...
Bridge across the Bosphoruos in Istanbul, Turkey.
And such are the bridges we cross in our lives, both permanent structures and personal hurdles - we will never know what is on the other side till we cross by bridge or ferry...step out of your comfort zone!


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Why I travel and live on the road

Pre-departure to Zimbabwe to start West Africa expedition
OR Tambo Intl Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa
This is something I get asked a lot when asked about my travels and usually after I mentioned that I have no return date in mind. The replies and questions (accompanied by looks of shock) range from
"...but where do you live? ME: Where I sleep that night."
"...won't you miss home? ME: How can I when 'home' is where I am at the time?!"
"...where are you going to stay? ME: I'll figure that out when I get there."
"...you are mad! ME: Probably, I've been called worse than that before."

As a youngster I made myself a promise that I would never do anything I don't enjoy. So now in the event I reach the point I don't enjoy something, or realise I will reach that point soon, I pack up and go! Yes, there are things I do that might as a whole not be that enjoyable but I find the part of it that I do enjoy and focus on that - AND use it as a tool to reach or achieve another goal.

Now travelling is something that as a kid I always said I want to do especially being paid to travel. Since leaving school, my jobs have always had some form of travel aspect in it or as in the last 13 years - travel is an integral part of the job i.e. I'm living out my childhood dream which fuels my passion for travelling even more. But what in travel is it you're looking for you ask...well, it's firstly about getting out my comfort zone. Over time this has come to be the best part of it, from the planning through to the actual travel is to new places and/or via new routes and invariably, comes with new challenges.

You see, I don't do 'bored' and I need to the challenges - that's my drug if anything. Travel presents challenges all the time, it's about you approach and deal with them that makes the reward great. Just the planning for the next phase/trip itself presents challenges. This is one of the times that I'm at my happiest and most content and the planning just takes over my thoughts everything right up to D-day when there's at least a hint of butterflies in the stomach - that little addictive drug called adrenaline!

Chefferie display for Emir - Ngaoundere, Cameroon
The other thing is that I've always enjoyed learning new about new cultures, people and places - this is what travel gives you; whether you actually choose to learn from it is obviously up to you. I'm one of those travellers that seldom go and look up expats from my own country, not that I'm averse to it (they have some great advice and tips sometimes) but if I wanted to meet South Africans I could just stay in the country and not leave its borders.

Subantarctic Skua - Gansbaai, South Africa
Travel also feeds my other passions i.e. birding/wildlife, diving and photography. There's always something new to photograph, a whole new set of birds and wildlife to see and enjoy and then places to dive with different conditions, new wrecks etc. Whilst these passions can be fed, I'm as happy as Larry and not much will convince me otherwise. When I feel down in the dumps (yes, it does happen), these passions are the things that keep me sane. I'll go out and spend hours alone with my camera or, - dive and spend some quality underwater time with my own thoughts.

Then there's my life wish-list of places to go and things to do. This is the headline of it all pretty much; travel to see places and do things I've dreamt about and this will culminate in me indulging in my other passions of birding/wildlife, diving and photography. Mid-2011 was a big one for me as I did the solo trip from Zimbabwe to Mali through West Africa. This was a childhood dream come true and had been No 2 on my life wish-list - driving into Bamako, capital of Mali, at the end of that trip was one of the most incredible moments of mixed emotions. Sad that the trip was over, overwhelmed that I had just realised a childhood dream and thankful that I had made it one piece with no/little physical injuries or worse.

Klein Scheidegg with the Eiger North Face behind it - Bernese Oberland, Switzerland
Just remember, and this is what I believe, one only gets an opportunity ONCE - you don't take it, you will not get the opportunity again. Maybe something similar but it won't be that one plus you'll always wonder  What if...? A question I refuse to allow into my vocabulary - just No "what ifs"! Yes, there will always be risks, so what! There are risks when you cross the street, a substantially bigger risk than all the others we try and convince ourselves of. It must be about a half-full glass, not a half-empty glass.

So the moral of this little 'story'? Start doing what you enjoy, it will feed your passions and waking up in the morning will always be a happy affair (not referring to feel crap because you have a hangover or whatever) - happy because you're doing something you enjoy or is getting you to a long-sought after goal.