Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

February 2013

Photography and TravelThursday, February 28th, 2013, (4:31 pm)

I took this picture way back at the start of 2012 while touring through the South Island of New Zealand. Open roads snaked a drivers dream through the rolling green hills and sun-soaked countryside. I wanted nothing more than to dispose of my rented camper-van and exchange it for an open top sports car.

The road ahead

I didn’t publish the picture back then because I chose to publish a picture of a sleepy seal instead. However, I liked this shot because it kind of represented not just the road ahead, but my entire year ahead. I had no plans beyond the seeing the Malaysian Grand Prix that March. Beyond that, I knew that the road ahead would be a winding one, but that was about all.

That was a pretty exciting and somewhat scary prospect. Most of us can look ‘down the road’ and see, or at least guess, what’s ahead. Our daily routines and commitments dictate much of what the future holds, so when you take those elements away the future begins to look a little less predictable.

It’s very much like driving on a road with nothing but those vague signs to tell you what to expect. The unpredictable nature of that ‘road’ can be exhausting and scary, but there’s no doubt that it’s exhilarating and exciting too.

So here I am, coming to the end of another Australian summer, and once again looking down a ‘road’ that quickly bends out of sight. I have a ticket to the Malaysian Grand Prix, then I’m going to spend time with friends in Singapore. I’ll spend a week in Vietnam before going to Shanghai in April for the third Formula One Grand Prix of the year, and that’s where the ‘road’ bends out of sight.

So this is the final post in the series of previously unseen photographs from 366 Pictures. I’ve enjoyed looking back on the year and sharing this ‘bonus material’ with you, but now I’m looking forward to the rest of 2013 and all the curves and swerves ahead.

Stay tuned!

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Photography and TravelWednesday, February 27th, 2013, (10:38 pm)

After visiting 19 countries across the world, the South Pacific island of Fiji was the final country I went to before returning to New Zealand, where the year, and 366 pictures began 12 months earlier.


I arrived in Fiji just hours after cyclone Evan ravaged the country, wiping out homes and causing widespread damage across the island. The 300 mile (480 kilometre) wide cyclone had claimed the lives of fishermen in Samoa and was the worst storm to hit Fiji in more than 20 years.

Fortunately, thanks to early warnings, there was no loss of life in Fiji, and while damage was widespread, the island actually withstood natures fury quite well given the severe pounding it took.

After such a storm the last thing I expected to see was white sandy beaches reaching into clear blue tropical warm waters, but when I went for a drive along the Coral Coast that’s exactly what I got.

I love beaches, and tropical ones like this are always a treat. I hadn’t really expected to find myself on a South Pacific island in late 2012 so it was a thrill to look out at a scene like this and the one which I featured on 366 pictures for that December day.

Photography and TravelTuesday, February 26th, 2013, (10:22 pm)

Back in June I visited the Angkor region of Cambodia, famous for its incredible temples that date back to the 12th century. There really was no question in my mind that the picture of the day would be of one of the great temples that have been crumbling over time.

Children selling drinks

My friend Will and I had hired a local moto-taxi rider to be our chauffeur for the day, and he dutifully took us around the various sites (though in the end we did lose him!).

At one point we returned to the moto-taxi and found ourselves surrounded by these children desperately trying to sell us cold drinks. They ran up to us and immediately started talking all at once to us. It was a pretty hot day and a cold beer seemed like a good idea, so I bought two cold beers for my friend Will and one for our driver too. The older girl was very upset that we didn’t buy anything from her and she had the disappointed look down to a heart wrenching performance, so yes, we got a drink from her too!

The picture that I published that day showed the awesome Bayon temple, but really this was one of those days where just showing a single picture felt like a terrible limitation.

Photography and TravelMonday, February 25th, 2013, (3:17 pm)

Maybe it’s because I grew up in the 80’s, but whenever I look at this picture I see the video for “Like a Prayer” by Madonna. Of course, I didn’t take this photograph on the set of a 1980’s pop song, but rather in a grave yard in Macau’s old town.

Macau prayer

Having featured so many Buddha’s on 366 pictures I felt their was an opening for another religious icon on the site. Back in the Philippines Christ himself narrowly missed out on become picture of the day no less than a trinity of times. In Bali some kind of Hindu God was beaten to publication by a rice paddy, and in Singapore I tried to take a picture of an interesting Mosque but I just couldn’t get a good angle.

Of course, in the end the praying angel didn’t get published. The picture I chose that day was taken from another angle of the moral compass at a somewhat risqué show called Taboo. Surrounded by actors in various stages of undress, I snapped a photograph of singer Jenlee Shallow performing under the theatre lights, and while I liked the praying angel, I simply liked the photograph of Jenlee better.

Photography and TravelSunday, February 24th, 2013, (11:36 pm)

When I looked through my pictures at the end of this particular day last year, two things struck me about this picture.

Singapore Grand Prix party girl

In September of 2012 I was once again in Singapore for the Formula One Grand Prix. The city transforms for the event which takes place at night under lights on the streets of the city state.

In order to stop the crowds rushing too the gate too fast the organisers laid on off-track entertainment after the Formula One track action on both days. There were dancing girls, drummers, and other entertainers wandering around slowing the mad rush for the gates. They would play their music, dance, or whatever, and people would stand and watch them. Their presence added a real Mardi-Gras atmosphere to the nights.

I wanted to use this picture for two reasons. The photograph has great movement and, to be frank, that girl has great boobs! (Ah come on. If I hadn’t written that you would have thought that was my reason anyway!)

While I do like this picture, I think the one I ended up publishing that day was better. It featured a drumming group who banged water soaked drums loudly much to everyones enjoyment.

Photography and TravelSaturday, February 23rd, 2013, (9:58 pm)

I took this picture in Hong Kong at the end of August. However, this was not the first time I took this picture. Back in 2009, when I made my first visit to Hong Kong, I took pretty much the exact same picture, so when I went to the same place in 2012 I knew the scene would make an interesting photograph.

Hong Kong life

If you live in Hong Kong you’re used to confined spaces. A typical apartment in the city-state is tiny by most western standards. The living room of the apartment I stayed in barely had enough room for the small two-seater dining table, motorized massage chair, and flat screen TV. One side of the room there was a large window and air-conditioning unit, and on the other was the small kitchen.

The building pictured isn’t the apartment building I stayed in, but it’s very similar. I asked Catherine, my couchsurfing host, how well she knew her neighbours. “I hear him sometimes, and I occasionally meet him in the lift,” She told me as she pointed to one wall. “He is nice. His name is,” She paused for a few moments, looking up in though, then she concluded. “Actually I don’t know his name.”

I can’t really cite that as something to decry though. Back in the UK, I only knew that the neighbor to my left was called Dougy. I had heard he was an artist of the unknown variety and I knew that he was not particularly bothered by the sizable holes in his roof. (Holes that allowed rats to get into my roof!) But beyond that I knew nothing of him.

This picture didn’t make it onto 366 pictures in the end. Instead I chose one of the Ngong Ping cable car that took me into the clouds on my way to the big Buddha statue and the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island.

Maybe I’m somewhat strange, but I find the picture of the apartment building quite captivating. The sheer number of uniform windows is almost overwhelming in its monotony, but still I search them looking for something to break the visual drone of concrete and glass. It’s a picture that is limited by the computer screen because I think it will work so much better when blown up to a large scale.

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