Another year of change
This is a year of change for me but then again, I can say that about pretty much every year in the last decade. I’ve come to realize that unlike the saying that “change is good”, change is just that… change. It’s neither good or bad, moral or immoral, happy or sad, or any other positive or negative connotation that you can give it. It can be some of these things, none of these things, or all of these things. Over the years I’ve learned that it is better to accept and embrace change when it happens rather than fight it. I find that when I do this, good things tend to happen.
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy
So you’re saying, hey Ken, what does that have to do with Myanmar?
Oh, you read the title of this post. Good for you! :-D
Truth is, my first trip to Myanmar was one of my favorite work trips of my life. It was also one of the rare trips in my life where I had time to myself, to think, contemplate the future, reminisce about the past, make some big life decisions, contemplate the big changes of the day in my life and even relax a little bit. Having this kind of an experience was unique and special especially considering the fact that this was a job trip and not a vacation.
Today, after a couple of years of rather drastic change in my life I wanted to find a way to relive these kinds of moments on the road. The question was, how?
The answer was right in front of me. The majority of my time these days is spent on developing and running photography tours and some of my favorite places in the world. If Myanmar had offered me such a special time on my initial trip there, it became obvious to me that other people with a passion for travel and photography would also find a trip to Myanmar as extraordinary an experience as it was for me. I’ll be honest though, it took the encouragement of one of my guests from my Jordan tour to motivate me to build my new Myanmar photo tour. (Thanks Alan!)
“Beauty and ingenuity beat perfection hands down, every time.”
― Nalo Hopkinson
I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my work, which is not necessarily a good thing for me but I’m hoping that it is a good thing for my clients and the guests on my photography tours. I’m extremely critical of my own photography work and always want things to be better. I also want the very best for my guests on my tours. Their satisfaction and enjoyment mean the world to me. The look of awe on their faces when we arrive at the locations that we’re photographing and the smiles that I am fortunate to witness as they savour new foods, overnight in awesome accommodations, and delve into the local history and culture truly motivates me to continue exploring new destinations so that one day I can share these new places and experiences with them. It may sound corny, but I’d like to think that part of my job these days is as a happiness facilitator.
So what made Myanmar so special for me? For one, it’s a bit like stepping back in time. Progress, for lack of a better term, is something that no one can stop and while there are signs of western influence in the cities like Yangon and Mandalay, in the outlying regions Myanmar has remained rustic and true to local traditions, customs, and culture. The people have a sincere kindness in their eyes and while some of the people we met could be very reserved, many, including most of the children I met were only too happy to greet me with open arms and a warm smile.
The history of the region is also rich and deep. Bagan, in particular, is just simply breathtaking both in its scope and in the ethereal feeling that washes over you as you watch the sunrise over the countless (and I do mean countless) temples and stupas. The initial work trip to Myanmar that I took was for a river cruise company and the experience was excellent. However, in order to truly explore the country, I looked into ways to combine flying, driving, and river cruising for my tour. This way, we’re going to get the best of all worlds, see more of the country, experience more culture, and even stay in some pretty swanky and decadent hotels.
The reason I travel these days is different than when I began to travel ten years ago. It started out as a matter of necessity to some degree and honestly because I really wanted to see the world. I threw myself into the travel headfirst and didn’t look back. In hindsight, that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken in my life. There have been lots of ups and downs but the fact remains the travel has opened up my eyes to just how wonderful this world is. Being able to capture photographs of so many special places only adds to the extremely fulfilling travel that I get to do these days.
In my head, it seems like everywhere I travel to as well as everywhere I wish to go to dances around in my brain as one more potential destination for another photography tour that I can put together. If only there were 36 hours in a day and 9 days in a week, I just might be able to put all of these tours together. Like so many other things that I started to do as a job, I’ve developed a sincere passion for this work. After all, I can’t think of too many other jobs that I’m qualified to do, nor can I think of any other work that would offer me the possibility of exploring this beautiful planet and sharing those experiences with some very special people.
“A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the best things you can be.”
-Winnie The Pooh
I’ve made some wonderful friends over the years leading tours. To me, this is a business that thrives on passion over profit (or should), and I love the fact that I get to live some of the best moments of other people’s lives with them. I’m busy planning more best moments right now and looking forward to sharing them with a whole bunch of new friends very soon.