South East Asia

 

After spending a couple of months travelling on public transport through Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore in 2010, my friend Ailsa and I couldn't resist returning a couple of years later to explore some of Laos and Vietnam. I love this colourful continent, with its amazing food and totally different culture, but it seems a long way away at the moment. 

Behind the Scenery — Plastic Pollution and Some Small Ways to Help.

plastic pollution
An "Innocent" juice bottle and doomed goose barnacles.

 

Painfully brought to the public's attention by the genius series "Blue Planet II", plastic pollution has been a hot topic this year. As bloggers, photographers and general Planet Earth enthusiasts, it's easy to present the places we love as we wish they were; to crop out the ugly parts or direct our cameras elsewhere. This collaboration is an attempt to rectify the rose-tinted vision we have often portrayed. Nowhere is left unaffected by the plastic plague.

 

 

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Ewelina Wajgert - Illustrating Trash Hero.

Ocean children's' book illustration, Ewelina Wajgert
- from the Trash Hero book.
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Photographer Jason Wallien - living and working in Beijing.

night street photography rain Beijing

 

Jason has been living in China for almost as long as I've known him. I don't think he intended to be there for so long, but something about Beijing has obviously reeled him in. I first asked him if he would do an interview for me, about his life there and photography, on the 3rd of January 2015; between the two of us, we have managed to string it out until now... I think it was worth the wait. I particularly love his photos of lights and rain in the darkness and for me, his answers are a rare insight into a idea I once considered for myself. We cannot be everywhere and do everything in the same lifetime, so it's good when our friends can be some places for us. I hope you enjoy the read.

 

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Why and how we should be trying to preserve our Oceans.

 

Having spent quite some time ranting about the refugee crisis, I wanted to write about something else close to my heart, incredibly important, but not yet personal enough to make me shake with rage. 

Covering almost three-quarters of the Earth, holding 97% of our water, producing almost half of our oxygen and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, I can't exactly overstate how important oceans are to our planet's survival. Despite being vital to our economies and way of life, gone are the days when it was possible to believe the deep blue sea was simultaneously an infinite wealth of resources and an invulnerable dumping ground. 

 

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Storms, sea shells and sand boarding in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

Mui Ne beach, Vietnam

 

After over a year's waiting and saving, I'm soon setting off on another adventure. I couldn't be much further from travel burn out right now, but somehow this sprung to mind...

 

Trying to loop through the North of Thailand, floating along a portion of the Mekong, through Laos and down the entire length of skinny Vietnam in just a few weeks, had turned into somewhat of an ordeal. Vietnam is a beautiful country, with some of the most impressive sights in South East Asia, but after spending around one hundred hours trying to sleep on hard train benches, sweating on endless busses, occasionally getting shoved and ordered around by unfriendly men and fighting off moto drivers, the continuous traffic noise and incessant beeping was beginning to grate.

 

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Camping spots that make you wonder why we ever sleep indoors.

Sapphire Coast Australia
Sapphire Coast Australia

 

This collaboration of magical camping spots has taken an embarrassingly long time to put together, but I can't help but feel proud of the result. With some of my traveller idols, friends and even family involved, it's hard to decide if I'm more excited by the contributors or the places they have written about. If this doesn't persuade you that you don't always want to sleep with a roof over your head, then I'm happy to keep the wilderness for myself. 

 

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Finding our green fingers in Langkawi, Malaysia.

crab building in sand, Langkawi, Malaysia
A very busy crab.

Langkawi is actually a string of over a hundred islands not too far off the North-West coast of Malaysia. We only visited the largest of them, Langkawi itself, but with long, sandy beaches, jungle coated mountains and a rich variety of wildlife, it had everything I'd hoped for in a tropical paradise without the fringing of lobster sunbathers.

Although the coastline is stunning, we spent the majority of our time exploring the island's green interior. 

Sunset on the beach, Langkawi island, Malaysia
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Floating down the Mekong to Luang Prabang, Laos.

Mekong river slow boat, Laos, Asia
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Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields.

Original image- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ChoeungEk-Darter-9.jpg
Original image- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ChoeungEk-Darter-9.jpg
Travelling around Cambodia, it is easy to forget the country’s troubled past. In my experience, Cambodians are some of the happiest, most helpful people in the world, so it is difficult to believe that less than forty years ago, around 21% of their population was wiped out under the Khmer Rouge dictatorship. Pol Pot, the leader at the time, enforced the policy of “Agrarian Socialism”, which theoretically would have made everybody equal, as workers in the countryside. Unfortunately, his methods did little for the cause of equality. Evacuating people from cities and forcing citizens to work on collective farms and labour projects in rural areas, Pol Pot was so paranoid about being overthrown that he was prepared to arrest and murder anyone intelligent enough to identify the flaws in his plans.
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This site is written and edited solely by me (Katie). Please contact me if you find any typos or mistakes!

 

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Phone Credit For Refugees and Displaced People is a volunteer run organisation. I can't stress their importance enough - please click on the image below and join the facebook group to find out how you can help. If you are not on facebook, you can still donate here