Alone and Dejected in a Strange Place

I sensed a profound sadness in him. He was totally alone, seemingly waiting there for someone or something. I’ll never forget it.

His name was Marzouq. He was nice and solemn. As we talked I certainly felt an emptiness there with him. I’m not sure what it was, but it was like there was something wholly unrealized in his life. While we talked, he looked at me strangely at times, a look of not knowing what to think of me and accepting me at the same time. It was comforting, and he was nice to talk to. He created the distinct impression that he was thinking about my questions before answering.

We were there, totally alone, in an unexpected rear corner of a Moghul monument. I always like to go around the backside and try to see the things that are not obvious.

After sitting to rest and talking a bit, he motioned behind him with a quick glance and raised eyebrows, and said cheerfully, “Want to see the bats?”

I said, “Are you kidding? Let’s go.”

Marzouq ducked down about ten feet from a smallish door with hard black shadows shooting inside. He began a near crab walk even while approaching the tiny door. I ducked my head too, which felt strange in the open air. Maybe he was afraid of bats streaming out, which I suddenly realized, causing me to duck down a little more than him.

He made little grunting sounds and kept waving his hand to the side for me to follow. After entering the door, a short walk, and a few turns, we ended up in what felt like a chamber. It could have been darker in there, but I don’t know how. He grunted in a way like “watch this” and he flipped on a flashlight, shining it up into the half-domed room. There were hundreds of bats hanging there, totally silent. It was eerie as heck. I set up my camera but it was way too dark even with a slow shutter speed… and I didn’t feel like light-painting with the flashlight because I thought it might look stupid and not really capture the mood anyway. We sat in there for a while handing the flashlight back and forth and making little grunt sounds. It was very strange, but entirely delightful.

Alone and Dejected in a Strange Place (by Stuck in Customs)

Alone in the Bhagavad

I feel like I end up walking alone through the epic book of the Bhagavad Gita. These mythical places are made manifest in unexpected ways as I look around. It feels somewhat empty inside, like it needs to be shared with someone. The only devastated remnants I have are these little pictures, which seem a poor substitute.

Alone in the Bhagavad

Young Buddhists about to endure the rites

Away from the main temples of Angkor, this temple rests about two hours from Siem Reap through thick jungles and a sketchy road. As I made my way through the stone halls and entrance ways, I emerged onto this scene of a bunch of young Buddhists preparing for the next phase of their rites.

I think I ended up talking to almost a dozen different monks in and around Angkor. It was very interesting to hear their version of what happened with the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, and that whole mess. They killed over 1 million Cambodians after the US pulled out of Vietnam, eliminating anyone with “involvement in free-market activities”. I was a little afraid to tell anyone there that I sometimes speak at Libertarian conferences, in case there were a few rogue Khmer Rouge agents roaming the jungles!

Some of the stories are a bit sketchy to be reprinted in this format, so if we ever meet for coffee some day, I’ll be glad to tell you… but there is some messed up stuff around there.

On a lighter note, I’m headed to Vegas next week for just a day and a half. I have a little speaking engagement, but I’ll be spending every spare waking moment living with my right brain and seeing what bits are appropriate to capture for you all! :)

Young Buddhists about to endure the rites (by Stuck in Customs)

Reaping the Storm

See that tiny storm on the left? See those tipis there on the right? That’s where I slept all night through the storm!

So, a word of warning… you may not want to travel with me. I come up with good ideas like sleeping in a tipi in the middle of the stormy season in Montana like this. There are a lot more good ideas where that one came from. At least I can promise it will always be an adventure… and you won’t get much sleep!

By the way, this is not a traditional HDR photo… I used LucisArt 6.0… working on a new tutorial for it!

Reaping the Storm (by Stuck in Customs)

This is an Avout

I found her after taking a few wayward turns in some confusing corridors in the main temple of Angkor Wat. She was a Buddhist bolt, but lighting incense at the foot of a statue of Shiva, the Hindu god. It turns out that she, and others like her, are from an interesting sect that bridges two of the big religions. I always enjoy talking to people about this sort of thing. It doesn’t really bother me one way or another, but I just find all the thought processes to be interesting.

She’s one of the billions of people alive (and possibly re-alive) that draws into the splinters of the original Vedic Brahminism. She didn’t speak a lot of English, so there were a few pieces missing in our conversation, but I filled them in later after talking to many other monks and worshipers throughout the complex.

This is an Avout (by Stuck in Customs)

The ghost town just outside of Brenham, Texas

I left Brenham early on Sunday morning after crashing in a tiny roadside motel. The motel was pretty sketchy, but sometimes I like that style of drive-up-to-the-door, ditch my camera stuff in the room, crash for 6 hours, then leave in haste to catch the sunrise. Sunday morning turned out to be rainy and freezing… pretty horrible for a lot of outside photography. So I ate in downtown, read a few chapters of Ananthem, drank a lot of coffee, chatted with a waitress who was an aspiring photography student and gave her some golden nuggets of truth, then drove on to Houston.

Several miles outside of Brenham, I saw this strange collection of houses and stores that were all brightly colored but recently abandoned. It was still raining, so I put it on my list to hit on the way back later in the evening. Luckily, the weather was dark and moody when I returned. I spent about an hour walking around this old abandoned place, shooting a bunch of cool and creepy things. I have no idea why everything was boarded up and empty… there might have been some squatters in one distant house, but I was kind of freaked out by some strange music coming out through some of the boarded-up windows, so I decided it was time to leave…

I’ll post more shots of this place later… it was very strange… reminded me a little of a mid-80′s Texas version of my visit to Pripyat (the little town right by Chernobyl that was also abandoned).

The ghost town just outside of Brenham, Texas (by Stuck in Customs)

Welcome to STUCK IN CUSTOMS Welcome to my travel photography blog!
Enjoy the daily photos, tips, tutorials & more!
Newsletter Sign Up
The Most Beautiful Newsletter Ever!


x