Journal 53: The end of my Southeast Asian Travels


Well, this journal ends almost three years of wonderful travels throughout all but one country in Southeast Asia.  In order, I have visited Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, Borneo-Malaysia, Brunei Darussalem and the Philippines.  In the fall, I will be headed out to East Timor to begin my video trek which will bring me east and then north as I make my way up to Myanmar, the last country on my documentary goal of hitting all eleven countries on one shot.

In a way, this blog marks the end of a period of wonderful memories in my life.  It also stands as a series of lessons that I have learned.  It also resembles the broadest expansion into my photographic and journalistic efforts.  And through it all, I have been able to do enough in-country studies that my documentaries at the end of this year are sure to be complimented by experiences throughout these great countries.

All told, I have collected more than 10,000 fully edited images (almost half my career total); created a feature length documentary along with many outtakes, interviews and shorts; two published books on research from two separate countries in the region — and about to publish my third; eight manuscripts awaiting publication ranging from the religious and cultural, to the traditional and historical aspects of the diverse micro-societies in each nation; traveled nearly 14,000 miles; and lived and worked here the entire time.

But while seeing all this in my rear-view mirror might inspire pensive appreciation, it is the future that brings me more joy.  As I look with anticipation to the year ahead, I know that it will be just as memorable and meaningful as these many months in my past.

Coming up this year is a full lineup of some really great things that I plan on incorporating into my focus for the blog, for my commercial website, cyleodonnell.com and for my travel lust.

Firstly, I will be releasing tons of new books.  I have been writing for the last eight years (as you know) throughout my travels about all sorts of things.  And in the last year I have been able to bring many of them to completion.  So in the next year, as more of my works become completed, I will be releasing ebooks in droves.  These will mostly be articles that I have written for magazines, articles I’ve written for myself and the enjoyment of my close friends and, of course, this blog.

I have also written several full length novels.  And as soon as I am more settled, I will be sending them off for professional editing and then publication.  But I wanted to release all the smaller works first so that by the time the larger works arrived, I will have established a wider reader-base and hopefully a larger audience.

I have also been working with designers for a few ideas that I have had to incorporate my photographic and video exploits into apps for the iPhone, the iPad and Android phones.   I won’t ruin the surprise, but they should be finalized soon and I will be really excited to see them come to life.  It will provide a lot of people access to the photography that might never have knew that travel photography could be so interesting.

Additional books planned for release on the iPad, Kindle, eReader, and others, are photo books of specific regions that I’ve gone and taken some amazing images.  These photo books will be available in hard copy, but the primary mode of publication will be within the obvious future of book publishing — electronic copy.  So look for those to start coming soon.

Also, because I have been spending a lot of time filming for my most recent film, Travel Geek: Documentary Taiwan, I will be releasing snippets and teasers of that in upcoming blogs.  It will be really exciting to finally release that.  The date, by the way, that I have slated to release it is set for May 10th.  If I can get it out before then, I will definitely do that.  But because I will be going to Macau and filming for the Hong Kong/Macau documentary and editing double-time, that might not be possible.  But, again, I am working on it!

Here in Taiwan, they have some really strange holidays.  For instance, every year in a new place the entire town dons protective gear and has an all-out fireworks war where they shoot each other with flaming, exploding firecrackers.  Some people stand atop huge pires of billowing flames and rockets shooting out all around them.  Some people spin in circles while swinging enormous ropes of M-80 fire crackers blowing up as they move and filling the streets with huge pockets of smoke.  It’s really amazing.  And that is the type of thing that I have traveled all over Taiwan and filmed for this latest one.  It’s going to be pretty exciting.

And finally, the big one:  For the last six months, I have been preparing for the grandest of all my exploits.  Over the summer, I will be returning to the states and take a refresher course in film studies.  Then, when I have finished the intensive (and expensive) six-week course, I will be putting the hands-on studies to the test.

This fall I will be headed back out to this are of the world to complete four months of filming documentaries in all eleven countries of Southeast Asia.  I am slated to start my journey in the country that I missed on the first run, East Timor, and then make my way west and north until I reach Thailand.  Midway there, in Malaysia, I will be flying out to Borneo to tackle both Indonesia and Malaysian island life, but also to Brunei Darussalem which I wanted to see more of the last time around.  And then after a run through the southern islands of the Philippines (which I sourly missed this last time) I’ll continue my trek back through peninsular Malaysia.  Once I’ve reached the mountains of Chiang Mai, Thailand, I will be headed over into Laos, south to Cambodia, east and then north through Vietnam and then straight over to Myanmar.

Because visas expire and require careful planning, I have chosen to do Vietnam and Myanmar back to back.  So that will be the end of my trip.

After this trip I will likely be settled in Thailand while I edit the content for the videos, tackle the gargantuan task of compiling the library of photos from the trip and updating the website, completing the journal entries and begin marketing the release of all these materials.

I hope that by the time I am finished with the films I will have enough support with ad sales and book purchases that I can simply release them for free right here and everyone can enjoy them.  But not everything works out the way we hope.  I have been keeping this blog for more then 7 years and have even transferred an old blog that I used on Blogger to import it into the new and improved WordPress format.

But in all that time, it’s never been quite as expensive a hobby as it’s become in the recent past.  So I am asking all of you who enjoy this blog to visit as often as you can, to spread the word to others about the site and to bring the site stats up so that I can offer advertising and help replenish the expenses that have gone into the content that you see here.

It won’t cost you anything to come back and visit, read through and click on all the photos.  It’s free to send a link to friends who might enjoy the blog.  And I have never charged for any of the content I put up.  So return the favor and keep the blog alive by visiting everyday and spreading the word around.

Hopefully I will get enough followers that I can move to a bigger site that will support more traffic and I will be able to keep blogging as more than a hobby — a passion that pays!

Below is a video of my fond farewell to the Southeast Asia Journals and the welcoming in period of this year’s coming projects from other parts of the world.  I also discuss my slated return to the region to compile several more Travel Geek Documentaries.  Exciting stuff!

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