In 2009 I went on an extensive trip for ANWB REIZEN Magazine to discover Vancouver Island. One of the treats, besides insanely good weather, was a roundflight by Tofino Air. As most of my friends know I’m totally crazy about flying (even though I get more than my fair share of it) but this one really was one of the best ever. Taking off in a floatplane from Tofino and cruise over the wilderness below is a sight to behold. I can only recommend everybody to do this just once, it’s worth every penny!
Flying over Paradise Lake before landing there, watch video!!!
“Do you know how we call English people?” Asks Vijay, our guide, referring to their secret tour-guide language. “We call them Ulu Kinabatangan, you know U.K.”. “And for Germans we do this”, he says while stroking an imaginary mustache. “The Dutch, however…” and bursts into laughter while pointing to his nose. I immediately understand what he means because half an hour ago I was face to face with one of the most bizarre inhabitants of the Malaysian rainforest: the Proboscis monkey. The animals, with their huge noses and bellies, looked so much like the well nourished Dutch colonialists that they nicknamed them ‘Dutch monkeys “. If you’re somewhere in the Malaysian jungle, and a guide rubs his nose, you know why.
Now the chance of watching your guide while in the jungle of the Kinabatangan River, is about nil. Everywhere you look, there’s life that is much more interesting. Every hundred meters or so there is a special bird to admire, from tiny bright blue kingfishers unwilling to pose for the camera to the hornbill with its impressive yellow beak that skims over the treetops. We are five of us in a boat going slowly over the brown waters of the river. Closely we keep an eye on the riverbanks, hoping to see a saltwater crocodile. The tired look of our captain speaks volumes: not every piece of floating wood we enthusiastically mistake for a crocodile is actually one – quite the contrary! We should better look out for monkeys, at least you can hear them before you see them!
The nice thing about Malaysia is you never have to search very far for them. It is funny to see that all boats with tourists stop at the first group they encounter. If you wouldn’t know better, you’d think every camera nowadays comes with a huge telephoto lens. A boat like ours, to the brim with Chinese and equally impressive-looking photographic lenses, is leaning dangerously when the cameras suddenly point the same small piece of jungle. I mumble something silly about “watching monkeys” and suggest we look elsewhere. Plenty of Monkeys to go around here!
“These tracks are just a few days old,” says Vijay a little later after we quietly enjoyed another troop of monkeys. He points to a muddy patch on the side of the river. “Traces of Pygmy elephants, maybe a week old” he says, “I’ve heard they are upstream now”. “If you want help out with paying for gasoline, we can see if we find them, I give it about 50%”.
Despite the long sail, we are not alone and boats appear out of nowhere all over the place. After some waiting one of the guides points to his ear and imitates a trunk with his other hand. He heard something! Everyone is silent immediately and not before long a scene from Jurassic Park breaks loose: all around us we hear trumpeting sounds: intrusive, scary, loud and very aggressive. It’s strictly forbidden to go ashore to approaching the animals, we now understand why. This type of elephant doesn’t trample you but makes a run for you, turns around and delivers a deadly kick. Definitely not an attractive prospect.
Suddenly, a tusk appears out of the thick bush, it’s a young male followed by his mother and five other elephants. The animals barely visible, only their backs stick out above the tall grass. Why they are called Pygmy Elephants is a mystery, the animals are huge and eat at a phenomenal rate. With the grass almost eaten Mom and son are briefly visible, playing with their food. Endless clicking of cameras breaks the silence, followed by many “ohh’s and ahh’s”. And then, just as quickly as it began, it is over. The sun is nearly down and what remains is the long journey back across the river. Our smiling faces speak volumes, this is really something to remember and now I understand why everyone here with such excessive cameras around.
Exactly a year ago I set out on a trip to two small islands near the Northern coast of Holland; Schiermonnikoog & Vlieland. As most people know, cycling is hugely popular in our country and these two islands are no different. So I went out for a week to produce an article and photos for the cycling special of ANWB REIZEN Magazine, a very popular travel publication. I hadn’t been to the islands sinds I was a high-school kid, aeons ago, and boy was I in for a treat. Some nice autumn weather, windy but not cold and the occasional raindrop just suited things perfectly. Autumn set in late that year so there were still loads of colored leaves on the trees.
Just the small scale of both islands, their loveliness and abundant nature will have me come back again very soon. I guess I have re-fallen in love again with the place. The feeling of being able to cycle around an island in an hour, or two for Vlieland, is just too good to be true. Add, centuries old houses and miles of unspoilt beaches and not too many tourists and you’ll see what I mean.
One of my favorite views has got to be the top of the Roque Nublo, or the “Cloudy rock”. One of the highest parts of Gran Canaria, one of the Spanish Canary islands west of the Moroccon coast, can be reached with a pleasant 45 minute hike. Just stepping onto the plain top with the two massive volcanic remnants is amazing. They still look so small but after walking the last bit you just are in awe because of their sheer size.
I hope this photo does it justice.
As I just got the go ahead yesterday for a new trip to Oman in April, one of my favorite countries to photograph I though it fitting to finally upload this image. As a billboard, up to 13×7 meters (39×21 ft.), has been running on and off in the Netherlands for quite some time now and it feels amazing to see it along the highway in this incredible huge size.
Click here to see more Oman images.
Fresh from the press: a new article on Fly&Drives in Northern Thailand in the november issue of ANWB REIZEN Magazine:
I’m very happy with the new Duikamagzine (Dive Magazine) that just came out, a four page article on one of my favorite subjects of 2008: the Turtle beach at Ras al Jinz (check here for an earlier article on this website in English ).
Just a lot of photo’s to enjoy from the “Plazas of Barcelona” article for ANWB Reizen magazine. Full gallery here or start the slideshow.
This has got to be my favorite square in the town: St. Maria del Mar. The church is amazing but the square is empty and boring… that is: until a wedding starts and usually one doesn’t have to wait long for that to happen.
In the June issue of ANWB REIZEN (Travel) a ten-page article on the best squares of Barcelona with some nice blow-up images. The opening spread is one of my favorite images from last year, one thet I really had to crawl into the crowd to get: the wedding ceremony with all the rice. Next week I hope to find some time to upload all the images from this shoot, one of my favorite ones by far as I really tried to get up close and personal with my subjects.
Text: Femke van Welsenes
Photography: Fotograferen.net (except the nightshot of the fountain).