The collected writings of a Renegade Tourist

Category Frozen Moments

Jizo Sancho Station, 9:34am

The zoom mechanism on my camera has become sticky due to the cold, my viewfinder keeps fogging up, and my fingers grow numb with the biting wind, but I don't care. There's a whole bunch of other tourists milling about, posing for selfies and blocking  my shots, but it doesn't matter. The landscape in front of me is one that triggers my inspiration and drives me to keep taking pictures despite the circumstances. I really hope my photos can do this place justice, but in case they can't, I have these words: They call them Snow Monsters;  trees covered on all sides by snow and ice, turning them into twisted irregular shapes. Hundreds upon hundreds of frozen pieces of modern art spread out all over the mountain side like a great big field of strange sculptures. The landscape feels almost alien, like I've somehow ended up on a distant planet. The only thing that detracts from that impression is the fact that there's a bunch of other people here. However, that doesn't stop me from continuing to explore as if they weren't there.

The Patio at Haggen, 5:50 pm

The rain is drumming on the parasol and the wind blowing through the trees is unusually cold for the season. The lake, just down the slope in front of me, lies flat and gray like a piece of slate, reflecting the dismal sky. The embers in the barbecue glow red, heating me up just enough to keep standing here. The summer shouldn't be cold and wet like this but the sun is conspicuous by its absence. Two steps to the side I would be miserable yet here, in this little pocket of dry warmth, it's strangely cozy; like sitting inside watching the rain through the window but somehow more acute. All I lack now is the typical barbecue beer...perhaps exchanged for a cup of hot chocolate. 

Skäret Harbour, 10:48 pm

The moon rises full and bright above the headland on the far side of the small bay, the jagged silhouette barely perceptible against nearly black sea and deep blue night sky. The moon is big and orange like it can only be in August, casting its light in a streak across water. Only four colours yet this simple beauty is nearly impossible to capture with my camera so instead I try to memorize the moment while the cool breeze swirls gently around me.  

Luoping Junction, 11:59am

Im sitting on a big boulder in the middle of the river just enjoying the moment. I feel the warmth of the sun drenched rock against my butt and the palms of my hands; I feel the cool breeze on by back; my ears fill with the thunderous rush of the river. Just beyond my feet, the crystal clear water swirls around the boulder as it flows past, and beyond that, a great conical cliff draped in green rising up towards a perfect blue sky. There's a feeling here that's difficult to describe, a sort of sensory balance that's almost meditative; the sun, the wind, the churning water that draws in the eye. Just a few moments more then I slide into the water and let the current carry me downstream, a rush of adrenaline before swimming back to shore

The Balcony, 3:10am

The rain is beating down so hard the noise drowns out all other sound. Down below preparations are going on for opening the market just like every morning; trucks of all sizes coming and going, boxes of fruit and vegetables being loaded or offloaded, and men shouting to each other over the droning of engines. Normally the sounds from all this would float up to me where I stand but this night they don't, nothing but the whoosh of the water. On a clear night you could see far from here, the lights of apartments on the other side of the city and the faint outline of distant mountains against the pre dawn sky, but tonight the pouring rain obscures everything, making the world seem small. It's like being in a silent bubble, surrounded by a curtain of water. 

The Choice Bar, 11:34 pm

A cocktail, not beer, not wine, not a splash of liquor mixed with soda, but a real fucking cocktail with some bite to it. They call it Apple Yam something or other, some strong liquor tasing of alcohol with a faint hint of sweet potato, mixed with apple liqueur and lime juice.  Almost nothing to dilute the alcohol, the full force of it hitting your system with every sip. It's expensive and fancy so you take it slow, one sip every few minutes, savoring the taste while pretending to read your book. You're not drunk...yet, but we'll on the way to getting there, and you have to go to work tomorrow. Life...is good

In The Mist, 12:57 pm

After a number of switchbacks the road straightens up and in the distance ahead of us is a wall of mist. Along both sides of the road are cherry trees, their bright  pink flowers clearly visible through the fog, the ground underneath scattered with petals. We take one last look at the cherry trees then plunge into the mist... A few minutes later we enter a tunnel that looks like something from a horror movie, all dark and gloomy with nothing but a milky white unknown at the other end. As we exist the tunnel the fog magically lifts and the world opens up in front of us.  The road dips downwards again and starts winding it's way towards the bottom of the valley. On the other side the green hills rise up toward a sea of clouds, misty waves lapping the hill hilltop shores, and in the far distance a row of jagged blue peaks, faint against the sky. It only lasts for a few moments before the fog comes rolling in and shrouds our world in white once more.

The Church Common Room, 11:12 am

The praying has started. The two old men to my side have clasped their hands in front of their stomachs and are shaking them up and down. One of them is mumbling something unintelligible, the other keeps repeating the words halelulululujah espiritusususu over and over again. On the wall opposite the two men is an old TV and the grainy picture shows the nave upstairs with the congregation. They have their backs to the camera so I cannot see their clasped hands, only their upper arms rising and falling rhythmically in time with the ululations of their prayers. The voices floating down from above sound like a ghostly choir on the howling wind. My young son's reaction to this is clasp his hands and shake them vigorously, a bright smile on his face.

The Market, 11:17 am

There are people absolutely eveywhere. They’re all around me, moving in all directions all at once. Each person has their own goal but together they become like ants, milling about frantically. Scooters mixing in with the people, normally so nimble, this crowd makes them feel big and clumsy, and they creep along at the same pace as the pedestrians. There’s noise all around, the omnipresent murmur of voices, the buzzing of scooter engines, and the shouts of vendors. I can see my wife ahead of me, but the sea of people has filled the gap between us. Beyond her, the … Read the rest

Xinlun Park, 2:36 pm

PLIMATES. The text is still clearly visible on the otherwise worn old paint bucket. It's being used as a temporary-come-permanent flower pot. There's nothing strange about that, except the location. I'm surrounded by greenery, to my left the park with it's bushes and trees, and to the right - just beyond the fence - lies the river, weeds growing on the banks and in the shallows, clear blue water gurgling past. For some unfathomable reason, there's a large collection of potted plants arranged in rows along the sides of the path. It's a haphazard mix of pots; old buckets, Styrofoam boxes, and actual flower pots in all shapes, sizes and colors; with just as varied a mix of plants growing in them. It's so strange to see them here, despite being real living plants they almost feel artificial - sort of out of place in the landscape. I've already taken a bunch of photos but I'm not sure they can fully convey the feeling. As I turn on my camera to snap a few more, one question is at the front of my mind: why would someone - clearly not the gardeners - bring a bunch of random potted plants to a park? 

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