In early 2004, I made a trip to China with a few photographer friends. I had quit my IT job at a local bank 2-3 months back and was searching for something more meaningful to do with my life and figured that some travel might do me some good.
It was my first time in China and the first time I traveled with the main aim of taking photos. We traveled mainly to Tibet after which one of the guys and myself extended our stay in China by another 2 weeks to visit a few places in Sichuan and Yunnan province. Armed with 2 Leica M6TTL film bodies, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm lenses, and around 90 rolls of black and white film, I set out on a journey that has changed my life.
I never wanted to go to China having grown up with an intense dislike for the Mandarin language. It was something that I was terrible at and struggled greatly with during my days in school. The many stories I heard about the cleanliness (or lack of) in China also put me off but the thing that pushed me over the edge to just go was Tibet and Photography. I am glad I went. The trip somehow changed my perception of China and its people. Surprisingly, I did not mind the dirty toilets that I came across, the spitting, and the rough and loud manner of many people that I encountered. At the end of the trip, I felt that I could and would like to return to China for future visits. With this changed mindset, I returned to China six months later in 2004. I also spent a total of 5 months in China in 2005 much to the amazement of friends who knew me well. To them, me in China was an unthinkable thing. That said, it was during one of my stays in China in 2005 that I met my wife Laura who was there working for World Vision at that time! The circumstances of our meeting made it such that it was really a one in a million or even billion chance. I can only attribute our meeting to a match made in Heaven as it was highly unlikely that we would ever have met in Singapore, let alone China.
I have just re-edited and uploaded the Yunnan gallery. Compared to the old version of my website, I have expanded the number of images from 15 to 24. Most of the images were taken in a little town called Lijiang (home to the Naxi minority group) and the areas surrounding it. At that time, the old town of Lijiang was fast becoming commercialized with tourist shops sprouting up everywhere. During my second visit 6 months later, there were many changes visible in the landscape of the town and I had to go further and further away to escape the flag waving tourist groups. Groups of farmers were also leaving their harvest fields to tap into the tourist dollar by offering horseback treks to tourists. The various people (e.g. Bei Bei and her family) that I have come across as well as the things that I have seen have left me with many fond memories of Lijiang. I hope to return there one day with my wife for a visit and hope we will still be able to see areas that have not been affected too much by tourism.
The following are some selected images from the Yunnan gallery. Do check out the gallery to view all the images. I am aiming to have the Sichuan and Tibet image galleries up and running next.