Far/Back

Travel Stories & Original Photos by VJ Singh. Adventurer, Experience Catcher, Intrepid + Hedonistic. My adventures far away and reflections when I am back.

© VJ Singh 2004-2014. No photos or stories may be reproduced without credit and link to this site.

Far/Back: tmblr.co/ZeR3hw1D9nCI2 Far/Back: tmblr.co/ZeR3hw1D9nCI2 Far/Back: tmblr.co/ZeR3hw1D9nCI2 Far/Back: tmblr.co/ZeR3hw1D9nCI2 Far/Back: tmblr.co/ZeR3hw1D9nCI2

Remembering this day, last year, when my fellow Bostonians rallied to support one another, unified behind a common purpose, and inspired each other with their strength of mind and resilience of spirit. Indeed, Vice President Biden, we own the finish line! #WickedTough #BostonStrong.

“On the turn from Hereford to Boylston Street, I will see the vision of the finish line and the beauty of our city. I will realize once again that we are, always have been, and always will be, Boston Strong.” - Sandy Xenos, 61, who will run this year. 

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Answers to my Question: What are you afraid of during travel?
First, “naming” a fear is in itself a way to overcome it. So, special thanks to jtem and mimeomeow for their responses.
We all fear the “worst-case scenario” - after all, there’s a whole insurance industry built around that. When you travel abroad, it’s useful to have your embassy contact numbers and a global assist hotline number (American Express has one). 
As for the fear of missing your bus and having no money left, I think we have all - at some point - had that nightmare of getting to an exam and forgetting all the answers. In other words, it has low probability - but if it did happen, you’ll surely have an adventure to remember. 
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." — Mark Twain

Answers to my Question: What are you afraid of during travel?

First, “naming” a fear is in itself a way to overcome it. So, special thanks to jtem and mimeomeow for their responses.

We all fear the “worst-case scenario” - after all, there’s a whole insurance industry built around that. When you travel abroad, it’s useful to have your embassy contact numbers and a global assist hotline number (American Express has one). 

As for the fear of missing your bus and having no money left, I think we have all - at some point - had that nightmare of getting to an exam and forgetting all the answers. In other words, it has low probability - but if it did happen, you’ll surely have an adventure to remember. 

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." — Mark Twain

Poster by Amy Rice, who said: “Last winter I bought an antique letterpress (technically a sign press) at an antique store. I found a stack of antique atlases the very next day at an estate sale. I heard “You Can Go Your Own Way” on the radio on the way home and it was one of those giant light bulb moments.”
I have an antique letterpress-created poster on an antique map of Boston - by Amy Rice - that says: “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You”. Posters are available for sale at Etsy.
I hope you choose to go your own way.

Poster by Amy Rice, who said: “Last winter I bought an antique letterpress (technically a sign press) at an antique store. I found a stack of antique atlases the very next day at an estate sale. I heard “You Can Go Your Own Way” on the radio on the way home and it was one of those giant light bulb moments.”

I have an antique letterpress-created poster on an antique map of Boston - by Amy Rice - that says: “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You”. Posters are available for sale at Etsy.

I hope you choose to go your own way.

(Source: far-and-back)

Answers to my Question: Where in the World?

"If you could be in any place in the world at this moment, where would that be? Why?"

Thanks to all of you who responded! The answers varied - from Australia and New Zealand, to North East Asia (Korea and Japan), to the Arctics (Iceland and Finland), cool cities like Hong Kong, NYC and Prague, spiritual places like Mecca, and  and a farm in Utah (thanks, cosmopolitancouple)!

Most creative - Back to ‘mom’s belly .. want to grow up all over again!

And my favorite - “In El Vallecito - Merida Venezuela - with the crickets all around me" (From in-tangible-infinity). Sounds like a wonderful place! Hoping for peace in Venezuela soon!

Where do I want to be right now? April is a tough in-between month in the North-East of US where I live - lots of “April showers”, still-cold days, and the-promise-of-warm-weather-but-needing-a-puffy-jacket. My best April trips have been to the Caribbean. This is the month when a perfect blue ocean view brings happy thoughts. 

Maybe Puerto Rico or St. Barths?

Puerto Rico | VJ Singh

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Bay of Storks. Lang Co, Vietnam, December 2011.
This gritty shot of Lang Co fishing village (on the road between Hoi An and Hue) has always made me pause. The scene looks positively otherworldly, and not just because of my badly executed shot. You can’t see them in the photo - but out toward the horizon were a group of fishermen wading through chest-deep water as they carefully swung their fishing net into position on the water like a giant bed sheet. The round cereal-bowl-like basket boats baffle me even today - how do they keep them balanced and steady vs. spinning in the water? 
Lang Co means ‘Village of Storks” - not sure why, but the fishing nets do look somewhat like a bird’s beak. 
The Banyan Tree Lang Co was being constructed when we visited, and I wondered about its impact on this sleepy, idyllic village - I have been a Banyan Tree fan for a long time, and trust that it has remained true to celebrating the heritage of its location. Try their “Be a Fisherman for a Day” program, and perhaps you can figure out the secret to maneuvering the round boats. 
Photo and text by VJ Singh | Far/Back

Bay of Storks. Lang Co, Vietnam, December 2011.

This gritty shot of Lang Co fishing village (on the road between Hoi An and Hue) has always made me pause. The scene looks positively otherworldly, and not just because of my badly executed shot. You can’t see them in the photo - but out toward the horizon were a group of fishermen wading through chest-deep water as they carefully swung their fishing net into position on the water like a giant bed sheet. The round cereal-bowl-like basket boats baffle me even today - how do they keep them balanced and steady vs. spinning in the water? 

Lang Co means ‘Village of Storks” - not sure why, but the fishing nets do look somewhat like a bird’s beak. 

The Banyan Tree Lang Co was being constructed when we visited, and I wondered about its impact on this sleepy, idyllic village - I have been a Banyan Tree fan for a long time, and trust that it has remained true to celebrating the heritage of its location. Try their “Be a Fisherman for a Day” program, and perhaps you can figure out the secret to maneuvering the round boats. 

Photo and text by VJ Singh | Far/Back

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Ease of Mind. Casa Palopó, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, December 2010. 
It takes three hours of travel from La Antigua Guatemala on broken roads to get here, but it’s totally worth rattling my bones. Lulling views set high above what Aldous Huxley described as ‘Lake Como, with the embellishment of volcanoes’.
The Maya tribes of Lake Atitlan are an interesting mosaic of sub-cultures. They live at the foothills of the volcanoes surrounding the lake, and have cheerfully accepted all kinds of Western influx into their little societies - the Spanish, Franciscan missionaries, hippies, New Age followers, curious tourists - and managed to hold on to their Mayan shamans alongside Christian saints. 
For a view of three volcanoes from a private balcony, stay at Casa Palopo, a hillside villa owned by a wealthy Guatemalan businessman, who decided to convert his holiday home into a tiny boutique hotel. My first floor suite has bright blue walls, hardwood floors, antique knick-knacks and a Turkish bath. Floor-to-ceiling windows open to the gorgeous Spanish tiled balcony. The perfect place to watch an Atitlan sunset over the lake, the prevailing sentiment being ‘an ease of mind, like being alone in a boat at sea' (W. Stevens). A peaceful sea, I should add. 
Photo and text by VJ Singh | Far/Back

Ease of Mind. Casa Palopó, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, December 2010. 

It takes three hours of travel from La Antigua Guatemala on broken roads to get here, but it’s totally worth rattling my bones. Lulling views set high above what Aldous Huxley described as ‘Lake Como, with the embellishment of volcanoes’.

The Maya tribes of Lake Atitlan are an interesting mosaic of sub-cultures. They live at the foothills of the volcanoes surrounding the lake, and have cheerfully accepted all kinds of Western influx into their little societies - the Spanish, Franciscan missionaries, hippies, New Age followers, curious tourists - and managed to hold on to their Mayan shamans alongside Christian saints. 

For a view of three volcanoes from a private balcony, stay at Casa Palopo, a hillside villa owned by a wealthy Guatemalan businessman, who decided to convert his holiday home into a tiny boutique hotel. My first floor suite has bright blue walls, hardwood floors, antique knick-knacks and a Turkish bath. Floor-to-ceiling windows open to the gorgeous Spanish tiled balcony. The perfect place to watch an Atitlan sunset over the lake, the prevailing sentiment being ‘an ease of mind, like being alone in a boat at sea' (W. Stevens). A peaceful sea, I should add. 

Photo and text by VJ Singh | Far/Back

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Sunrise in Navajo Nation. The View Hotel, Monument Valley, Utah, April 2012
The land is all red sandstone and the sky is all azure blue – in case you are wondering. It’s simple, stark and unforgettable. We reach late at The View Hotel – built, owned and run efficiently by people of the Navajo Nation – because we are unable to tear ourselves away from the scenery on the drive over. Dinner is being served as we check in – corn bread and a hearty mutton stew. I’ve arranged for a Navajo guide to meet us at midnight for an hour of photographing star trails.  
The next morning I wake up to this sight. All the rooms have balconies overlooking these square buttes which jut out from the sand like giant mittens (‘The Mitten Buttes”). Today, our guide regales us with stories of his land – a mixture of Navajo legends, childhood memories and daily rituals. Of delightful names of arches and totem-poles - like “The Three Sisters” and “Ear of the Wind”, of the people who live here, and of the mischief that he and his brothers got up to as kids.
And I learn why every Navajo blanket must be woven with a pathway (pulled thread) in the border … to keep the weaver’s spirit from being imprisoned by the blanket’s beauty. 
Photo and text by VJ Singh | Far/Back.

Sunrise in Navajo Nation. The View Hotel, Monument Valley, Utah, April 2012

The land is all red sandstone and the sky is all azure blue – in case you are wondering. It’s simple, stark and unforgettable. We reach late at The View Hotel – built, owned and run efficiently by people of the Navajo Nation – because we are unable to tear ourselves away from the scenery on the drive over. Dinner is being served as we check in – corn bread and a hearty mutton stew. I’ve arranged for a Navajo guide to meet us at midnight for an hour of photographing star trails.  

The next morning I wake up to this sight. All the rooms have balconies overlooking these square buttes which jut out from the sand like giant mittens (‘The Mitten Buttes”). Today, our guide regales us with stories of his land – a mixture of Navajo legends, childhood memories and daily rituals. Of delightful names of arches and totem-poles - like “The Three Sisters” and “Ear of the Wind”, of the people who live here, and of the mischief that he and his brothers got up to as kids.

And I learn why every Navajo blanket must be woven with a pathway (pulled thread) in the border … to keep the weaver’s spirit from being imprisoned by the blanket’s beauty. 

Photo and text by VJ Singh | Far/Back.

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Mini-Tour. smallcarBIGCITY, London, UK, December 2013. 
I once owned a MINI Cooper. That was before I moved to Boston, the quintessential walking city. But my love for the iconic British car has never waned. On a recent trip to Morocco, I had a l-o-n-g layover in London between planes at Heathrow and Gatwick. So I organized to meet my charming chauffeur of smallcarBIGCITY at Paddington Station for a personal tour of London in a vintage red Mini. 
I may have been jet-lagged but I remember the Beatles blaring on the stereo. And of cruising through St. James Park as sunlight broke through the morning fog. A scandalous story about why Green Park has no flowers. Quirky bits of history. Narrow, cobbled streets that only a Mini can negotiate. Crowds outside Buckingham Palace. The legend of the Noses of Soho. Saturday markets. Floral Street in Covent Garden. Whizzing past sparkling new Routemaster buses. The story behind “London Bridge is falling down”. And my favorite view of London from inside a Mini on Westminster Bridge.
All the while, passers-by waved, smiled and photographed us. I felt like a mini celebrity! At the end of the two-hour tour, I was dropped off at Victoria Station in time to catch my flight. By then, I felt like a local. 
Photo and text by VJ Singh | Far/Back

Mini-Tour. smallcarBIGCITY, London, UK, December 2013. 

I once owned a MINI Cooper. That was before I moved to Boston, the quintessential walking city. But my love for the iconic British car has never waned. On a recent trip to Morocco, I had a l-o-n-g layover in London between planes at Heathrow and Gatwick. So I organized to meet my charming chauffeur of smallcarBIGCITY at Paddington Station for a personal tour of London in a vintage red Mini. 

I may have been jet-lagged but I remember the Beatles blaring on the stereo. And of cruising through St. James Park as sunlight broke through the morning fog. A scandalous story about why Green Park has no flowers. Quirky bits of history. Narrow, cobbled streets that only a Mini can negotiate. Crowds outside Buckingham Palace. The legend of the Noses of Soho. Saturday markets. Floral Street in Covent Garden. Whizzing past sparkling new Routemaster buses. The story behind “London Bridge is falling down”. And my favorite view of London from inside a Mini on Westminster Bridge.

All the while, passers-by waved, smiled and photographed us. I felt like a mini celebrity! At the end of the two-hour tour, I was dropped off at Victoria Station in time to catch my flight. By then, I felt like a local. 

Photo and text by VJ Singh | Far/Back

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