Traveling through Asia with my Leica M and a 50mm Summicron. 17 Oct to 6 Nov 2016

Woman with a lime green umbrella in Hong Kong

After flying to Hong Kong, noticed that we arrived 3 days after "Tropical Storm Aere" (one step below a severe storm) had passed Hong Kong, so it was raining and windy. However, the weather would only get worse as "Typhoon Haima" (one step above a severe storm) was descending on the city off the east coast. The taxi ride did not help as the driver swerved and sped across Hong Kong as it dropped us off at our Hotel.

A taxi arrives at Hong Kong Airport

My taxi driver sped across Hong Kong at 110km/h in 80km/h zones in the rain and was so aggressive it puts Sydney City drivers to shame.

The Dorset Hotel, Kwun Tong, Hong Kong

I took a trip to Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong and went down to the harbour. Below are a sample of the photos I took on the streets and around Hong Kong. 

"The Poissonier" at the Dorset Hotel

Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

The Peninsula Hotel

The Typhoon sets in at Victoria Harbour

The Typhoon eases at Victoria Harbour

The strong winds pick up and move the clouds enough for some light to peek through the clouds.

The view of Victoria Harbour and Kowloon Bay from Kai Tak Cruise Terminal

The view of Victoria Harbour and Kowloon Bay from Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, at night

At Victoria Harbour, I met a woman who had lost her phone. We talked and I offered to take some impromptu portraits of her to get her mind off her loss and to have some memories of her time in Hong Kong. Her name was Naidya and I immediately emailed the photos to her when I got back to my Hotel. Naidya was from Ukraine and was backpacking across Asia. Taking her portrait along the harbour was difficult with the rain, the wind and also because I gave her my umbrella to keep her out of the rain while I took shelter under a tree with my hand over my camera.

Meeting Naidya

The rain gets heavy so I give her my umbrella

Even though she lost her phone, it was nice to see her so happy

I boarded the cruise ship "Legend of the Seas" the next day and sailed away, heading towards the Philippines. Manila was the next stop 2 days later with a Cyclone/Typhoon not too far away. After visiting the historical city of Intramuros within Manila I was pretty happy with some of the images I took (one image was during a wedding I accidentally crashed as an ignorant tourist at one of the oldest churches in the Philippines,) but it was a very hot and carrying all my gear in 38C degree weather did not make me a happy traveller.

A storm forms in the South China Sea due to the effects of the nearby Typhoon Haima

Tug boats await our arrival at Manilla

The old world and the new world

The Rizal monument

A "vigilant" security guard

A mountain of vapour

San Agustin Church (the second oldest church in Philippines) - During a wedding

San Agustin Church (the second oldest church in Philippines) - rear courtyard

The next day, I spent a day at sea and then landed at Peurto Princessa, Palawan and went Island hopping across Honda Bay. There was a bit of a huge mismanagement by the Ship getting to Honda Bay but it worked out in the end. We visited Cowrie Island, Pandan Island and Luli Island before heading back to sea.

Palawan, Honda Bay, Pandan Island

Palawan, Honda Bay

Honda Bay

Honda Bay

Palawan, Honda Bay, Cowrie Island

Palawan, Honda Bay, Pandan Island

The water is so clear

Palawan, Honda Bay, Pandan Island

Palawan, Honda Bay, Luli Island

Palawan, Honda Bay, Luli Island

After 2 more days at sea, I got to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. I didn't join a tour but I did get to walk around the port city and the local market. It was a city that was pretty much a first world country in the edge of the developing world of Asia (much like Hong Kong) where the divide of rich and poor is harder to determine and the country itself is wealthier than its neighbours. This was made highly apparent when I got back on the ship and looked across the bay and saw an entire city of semi-shantytowns locked away on a seperate island, away from the hustle and bustle of the local Mall and Super Shopping centre.

I didn't photograph much of Malaysia. I tried to do some street shooting but as you can see, the shot that spoke to me the most was the concentration of their poorest shoved onto an island into a shanty town.

An island shanty town in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Back on the ship, I attempted to navigate the hundreds of guests to get a so-so kind of photo, of the bar show. Unfortunately, a rope barrier was in the way in one of the shots. I really like how the light hits the smoke. In another shot, I got lucky with the focus trying to shoot between a myriad of people from the deck 6 of the ship.

Some of the entertainment on the ship

Arial performance 6 floors up

The next day, we crossed the Equator and the ships crew made a "sacrifice" to Neptune by covering some officers with eggs, flour, pasta and pasta sauce.

A toga styled equator crossing ceremony

Presenting the "slapping fish" to the audience

After some relaxing days at sea, the ship landed at Benoa Bali. I didn't travel on a tour this time, instead I just visited the local market. From the ship, Bali looks like a very wealthy resort island, with speed boats and tourist activities and a swathe of resorts. After landing at port, Bali immediately showed me a struggling community. The market I visited RELIES on tourists buying their trinkets and souvenirs and because their culture is also highly competitive, the store owners really know how to follow and hound you for your business. I bought some items and paid more than I would normally, knowing that I was still paying less if I bought anything in Australia and it was a better deal for them in this country. 

Parasailing, Benoa Bali

A very confronting market

One of the welcome statues in Bali - there was a huge line of people who wanted photos with this statue

A gate deoration

As I left Bali, I relaxed for several more days before landing in Darwin where I took a tour to Djukbini National Park, along the Adelaide river and photographed some "Salt Water Crocodiles" which are really semi Fresh Water Crocs. I also got extremely lucky with some Hawks taking a few swoops of the boat I was in.

Jumping crocs in the Northern Territory

Right before the croc snapped at some meat

Australian Hawks swooping at the boat

Australian Hawks swooping at the boat

Australian Hawks swooping at the boat

The beginning of the wet season in the desert.

The red earth gets replaced with so much green when it rains here

I spent another 3 days at sea while the ship headed towards Cairns. When the ship docked, I got on a Catamaran and headed to Green Island where I got to wander the island, see some fish and took a very rare self portrait as I was able to lose some weight during the cruise (and still continuing to lose more.) It is not everyday I take care of myself but being able to mix work, health and relaxation together resulted in a very rare photograph.

Unfortunately it was here my Leica failed - it shot 10 photos which registered a click, and an image in the screen but nothing was recorded. Luckily I always turn my camera off between locations so I only lost 10 shots. What was worse is that I only found out about this when I got back to the ship and saw the images missing because the camera gave enough feedback to suggest the images were taken and I don't always chimp my photos. Disappointed.

A rare self portrait - Catching Pokemon at Green Island

An adolescent Sea Turtle

Feeding the fish

Seagulls kept us company as I rode the glass bottom boat.

This Seagull came within arms reach

This functional sea pylon is also a nest - among others.

The next day I arrived at Airlie beach and boarded a Catamaran to reach Daydream Island. There I met some new animal friends, trekked the entirety of the island rainforest and just relaxed as it was the last stop before disembarking at Brisbane.

A simple panorama taken while walking around Daydream Island

A rainforest walk at Daydream Island

This Kangaroo is so used to humans, it let me sit next to him

It got bored and began to groom

Getting ready for a Tequila shot

A spot lit waterfall

What I learned about traveling with my Leica is that after a month of intensive work, the shutter mechanism throws a lot of dust and sports onto the sensor. I spent a lot of work editing the dust spots out of my images once I reached Palawan. I also learned that I LOVE using my Leica camera for its size and responsiveness, but it is definitely NOT a reliable system to use.

What I also realised is that while I love using my 50mm Summicron lens for everyday work and the street, traveling with a 50 for landscapes is really hard. I relied mostly on stitching panoramas and being far enough to get enough landscape into my field of view. I wish I had the funds to purchase a 21mm or a 24mm lens that I could just dedicate for landscapes. If I had to take only one lens for traveling, I would have invested in a 35mm as it is a more social angle for group photos, shooting a dinner table and taking environmental portraits along with a decent landscape angle.

Sir Pepi

Posted on November 7, 2016 .