Once on the ground, the lovely and courteous Linda greeted me with a warm smile and expeditiously shuttled me to the hotel where I immediately disrobed, showered, shaved and felt the soothing, wonderful sentiment of being back in Asia fall upon me as I collapsed onto the bed.
I really can’t describe the feeling of just knowing that I am in Asia. Really, the action of just “being” here is quite something. The warm, robust air that fills the lungs; the smiling faces of people that pass by and light up simply because they know that you’re a foreigner in their land; the scents wafting through the roads from the food stalls – it’s all just so delightful and refreshing. And it is even more pleasing to know that I am back out in the world.
And this could never be truer than now, as I am finally emerging from probably the toughest succession of recent months for me. In just the last three months alone, I lost the love of my life to so sweaty, Guatemalan expat, faced tragedy on the home front, nearly got mugged in one of the most violent countries in the world and was forced to leave probably the best shot at earning a Ph.D. that was completely paid for.
On the other hand, I also had some amazing experiences in the last eight months.
Since May, I have lived in Taiwan, the U.S., Guatemala and back to the U.S. where I moved from Maine to Virginia. Then I had a visit to the Middle East and started a new chapter in Malaysia. And in the interim, I put myself through film school, visited five New England states, produced almost a dozen short documentary films, lived in the Mayan capital for the 5,000-year anniversary of the turn of its calendar, made some amazing new friends, published two ebooks and traveled around the world for the third time.
It’s been an eventful year. And even through some staggering losses and unimaginable challenges, I have resurfaced with new insights and am more sure than ever that I will be making this year one of my best ever.
My goals for this coming year are not so much numerous as they are important. I have started a new position teaching at a college outside of Kuala Lumpur. So while I am ecstatic about the idea of working back in the college setting and rekindling my love of instructing on the post-secondary level, I am also very sanguine about living in a place that I will be using as a hub for my photographic exploits in the coming years.
The first thing I would like to do is to finish editing my film from Taiwan. It should (hopefully) be released by the end of this month. But if I am not settled until later in January, I will have to move the release date back to February.
After that, though, I will be heading out on weekends and vacation times to get lots of footage of the best things to do in Malaysia. And I will also be bringing in a lot more travel tips, side tips and country-specific advice for travel in the region. People seem to like the shorts that accompany the longer films in-country.
For those who have been following my travel documentaries, I have had a lot of recent success with my doc on the Philippines and in Hong Kong and Macau (which now total more than 17,000 video views). But if you watch these films, they were produced before I went back to film school over the summer. So I plan on utilizing all the lessons that I learned this past year in creating better aesthetic, stronger composition and I will also be adding more of an “informing” feel to the narration.
I hope that my efforts will be rewarded by more views. This, to me, is the best success I could ever want. To know that people are genuinely enjoying what I am creating in an effort to share the amazing experience of travel is very gratifying for me. So in the coming months, look for my best work to come.
First on the list of new films (after Taiwan, of course) will be Malaysia. I will be hoping to get out to a new destination every other weekend. This means that, along with jaunts through the cities like Kuala Lumpur where I will go to the top of the famous Patronas Towers, I will also be going to amazing places like Penang, where the food and culture is like nowhere else in the country. I will go and be a part of the sacred Hindu festivals held within the limestone caves just seven miles outside KL known as the Batu caves. I’ll take in some sun and forget about time at the majestic Perhentian Islands. I’ll trek through the Taman Negara National Park where they have the longest canopy suspension bridges in the world. I will see the world’s largest flower and hang out in orangutan-populated primary rainforests in and around the Cameron Highlands along Peninsular Malaysia’s central mountain range. And I’ll even go over to Borneo where I will travel around Sabah and climb Mount Kinabalu.
I might even tackle a longtime goal of mine to go skydiving. I’ve already done a little homework, and it looks like the highest jump goes from about 12,000 feet, reaches speeds of 190kph and I can do it just about any day of the week for less than $400. The last time I was investigating it, I was too heavy to go tandem. But since I’ve lost about 20 lbs., I’m good to go! So maybe I will leave that one for my last segment of filming.
Whatever I decide to do, I will be making this next documentary an amazing one. It will be full of cool information, tips and advice and I will also have tons of additional footage that I will release after the film is produced. I will also be following it up with my latest book, Moving Stills Volume Five: Faces of Religion in Malaysia.
Beyond that, I will be able to do Singapore, Indonesia and possibly even East & West Timor by the end of the year. I don’t want to put too much on my plate, but I definitely want to leave something enticing for my wonderful readers to look forward to in the coming months.
So look for those to come soon and feel free to watch all the films that I produced throughout the year on my Youtube Channel.