View Poll Results: Where in the World Should I Go? [help me choose my 6 month+ travel launching point]
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A young man's first international adventure - Please Help!
So, I'm 27 years old and have been a subscribing member of this forum for about a year and a half. I recently have been given the oportunity to travel anywhere in the world I want (though with a somewhat limited budget) and am anxious to have some suggestions or (finger's crossed) a host household to start off my journey.
I have traveled a fair bit around Canada, the US and Mexico but have never been overseas. I have nothing holding me here at the moment and am at a bit of a loss regarding where I can go with this wonderful practice of film photgraphy in my small city of London, Ontario. Basically I need a fresh perspective and am very interested in your ideas on where to turn. The condition of the quasi-grant I'm receiving is that I must leave the continent, and preferably cross an ocean.
Documentary photography is a passion of mine and while I enjoy wandering the streets of my home town taking photos of people, shops, and architecture I feel I am in need of something more - I feel worldly in my heart but, until now, have not had the chance to venture out on my own to experience new cultures and landscapes.
Out of highschool I worked as a commission-based portrait painter through the insistance and guidance of art teachers. About two years ago I ended up at a camera show in Toronto, Ontario and my eyes widened - I knew nothing of any film format other than 35mm and since this time have been shooting exclusively in MF with a Bronica SQAi, then ETRSi and most recently a Hasselblad 503cx.
I am a pedestrian without a drivers license so an urban environment is appealing to me although I feel the need to be taken out of my comfort zone with this trip. I am completely unaware of what it takes to become a photo journalist or documentarian but am constantly inspired by the work of such professions. Needless to say my recent discovery the Magnum group amazed me.
I am at a loss. I don't know where in the world I should go but I know I am easily enthralled with new experiences and take every chance I can to put myself in powerful situations - I enjoy high-energy environments.
I am hoping to start my journey in June of this year although the preparations required are at this point still daunting. I am trying to decide, for instance, what equipment I should have with me - I am selling off most of my Bronica equipment to put a little bit of extra cash in my wallet for new, lighter, gear (perhaps a Mamiya 7) - so I could use your recommendations here as well. Please note that if you make equipment suggestions I will have to pack everything I bring with me into a backpack (a rather large backpack, most likely), so though I really want to bring my Hassy I don't know if I'll end up doing so.
This is going to be a long trip - 6 months perhaps or longer if I can find a way to maintain a monetary balance. I also want to move around quite a bit in this span of time so I would make sure not to wear out my welcome should anyone care to lend me a couch to sleep on for a time.
Thank you so much for reading through this - again I am just beginning my plans so any and all suggestions are welcome. I was rather blindsided by this oportunity and it does have a time limit so my plans have to be made quickly.
Once again thank you for your help, I'll post here again soon and though I may be out of 'internet range' for a day or two I will certainly take all advice to heart and update this thread with whatever decisions come about.
I'm sorry if this post is a little scattered but that's where my head is right now until I begin to piece this all together.
And thanks again to APUG - you've been a key component in my renewed pursuit of photography!
James -- I can't recommend you come to where I am now -- Saudi Arabia -- but I can recommend where I was before that: Paris, and Europe in general. Not having a drivers license isn't a problem because the train/rail network is so extensive, and urban transport once in a city is easily available. There's so much to see outside the cities, however, that I'd hate to think of you being in France or some other country and be stuck in just urban environments. But at least those urban environments have a great deal of interesting things to assimilate and enjoy. Depending on how much gear you're going to travel, you could easily bicycle to many locales once you got off a train, or take a canal boat trip. You could accomplish a lot in six months in this manner. Only problem is the relatively high value of the Euro vs the dollar, but you can actually eat and sleep inexpensively if you can adapt to less than 5-star standards.
I should mention as well that I realize there are many variables and conditions that I haven't mentioned in my first post - I am a mono-lingual but do not mind at all if I cannot speak the language of my destination country/ies - also I'm not entirely certain yet what my budget is going to look like but I will have a better idea of that soon (and I'm quite frugal and do not mind sleeping on the ground with my backpack as a pillow
: Europe. Start with Italy, Rome. Than go in Pisa, Florence, Bologa, Venice. From Venice up to Vienna, than in Bratislava so you can see at least one ex comunist country. Maybe go in Crocow - after that - if you will have money/time: Munich, and from Munich you have fast trians to Paris, after France - Spain.
Imho: when it comes to architecture: there is nothing like Italy (I am not Italian ).
For my money, it would have to be New Zealand - They are very much geared towards budget conscious travelers, not so many people though.
Chittagong in Bangladesh, and the mountain railways of India are both areas I would like to explore.
Regardless of where you end up, travel light.
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Ah, to be young again.
If you like Art and are schooled in it, and it sounds like you are from your post, then a tour of the great museums of Europe might fit the bill. London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Florence, Venice, Vienna, Prague, St. Petersburg, Madrid, Barcelona, Balbao ... An airline ticket and a european rail pass and you are on your way. And my post only hits the high points. There is some pretty interesting architecture along the route as well. And each city has many opportunities to do people photography. Hostels are your friend. With the rail pass, you can always spend the night on a train to save money. Take a train away from your city for 4 hours, get off, switch to a return train and wake up back where you started from. This is not recommended for night after night, but it comes in handy on those nights when you can only find a bench to sleep on.
close your eyes. Breathe out, clear your mind. The first int'l country that pops into your brain, go there. As long as it isn't all that "harmful" or "dangerous" to Americans/Canadians, like Saudi Arabia(not that its bad, but I wouldn't go alone personally). If you don't want to do that, look at southeast asia. There's lots of great opportunities there, and the exchange rates help extend your dollar even further. NZ would be a great choice too.
one question though: Do you HAVE to be pedestrian-only? Can you get a driver's license before your trip? It might open some things up a bit more.
definitely travel light though. Light as in you can run with ALL your things(camera(s) included) if needed.
Consider South America. Not only will the prices be surprisingly good, but you also have a chance to see many things that many Americans never do (as opposed to Europe, which has a steady stream of young american tourists in the summertime). There are so many attractions, it's hard to begin to say what you should consider, but I went to Peru as a young fella and it was spectacular in every way. Of the places in South America I'd still most like to visit, I'd say Patagonia. A friend went all the way down to Antarctica and left me intensely jealous.
As for pedestrian only, well, the first manual-shift car I drove was at a rental place in northern Norway. I was pretty young and by myself and just had to get out into that countryside! I told the story in my APUG blog here.
I cannot tell you where to go...but I can say that if I were given this opportunity, I would go to Iran or Afghanistan.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
See the red earth/blue sky of the Outback, the sparkling blue of the Great Barrier Reef, deep green glooms of rainforest down south and up north... even go surfing!
You can hitch it easily or by Firefly/Greyhound or other buses right around the nation here, even into the heart of the Red Centre, but a licence/car for personal use would be one of my priorities. After Australia, head east to New Zealand and spent 2 months there; your timing would I reckon correspond to winter in both places, but depending where you go and how well prepared you are, the NZ landscape is much more challenging photographically (and physically!). But it delivers.
Plan and experiment for the load you will be carrying; getting all excited with oodles of camera gear can be your point of undoing when you're carrying all your worldly gear on your back. Load/unload, pack/unpack, walk around and throw the pack around — with cameras in it — to get a feel for what 6 months on the road will be like. Any additional camera gear you fancy can be collected along the way assuming you can carry it effectively and securely.