Qatar was a tough place for us, with the Ratcliff Family hitting an all-time low. I was pretty sick, and actually still am while editing this together on the 6-hour flight to Rome. Ethan was quite sick and spent over 24 hours in bed eating soup and smelling like old soup. He’s a bit better now, so that is good… my cough and runny nose lingers like the memory of mounting a camel. That sounds bad…
We started out with a morning desert safari that included some awkward moments on both camels and trucks. The dunes here were, even more, extreme than Oman, so the girls were, at least, ready for it. You can see more in the video for sure. Tina sure was screaming when she got on that camel… all of them were. Ethan had quite a grumpy camel, which did nothing to help his mood.
And then we had an incredible cooking class from an amazing chef at our hotel at The Ritz-Carlton Sharq Village named Evangelos Liakouris. He was like a Greek Vic Gundotra that can cook. It was over two hours long and the girls went nuts, especially with the “Deconstructed Black Forest Cake.” From there, we went to another epic dinner at the other Ritz-Carlton in Doha at an Italian restaurant called Porcini where the kids got to make some pizzas. Once again, another day of non-stop eating!
The city of Doha glistens in wild colors at night. Most of the buildings cycle through various LED color states.
It’s a huge city and Tina was surprised at the size of a city she had never heard of before a few months ago.
Here’s an incredible restaurant we found in the souq called Parisa.
The last call to prayer for the evening at a mosque.
Photogenic camels in the desert.
Here’s one of the three pools from the Sharq Village that had no sharks, thank goodness.
A gentleman at the camp were we got the camels.
The family gets their first feel for how strange it is to get on a camel for a ride.
I join them, but have great trouble holding both the Osmo and the camel.
This is a place the falcons, the National Bird of Qatar, would come and perch.
A beautiful amphiteatre at night.
Two ladies go in a different entrance on the left.
After the dune bashing it was time for dune-sliding!.
I hope this captures the massive size of the dunes that we slid down then climbed up.
Here we are on the border of Saudi Arabia, which was about half a kilometer away at one point.
Scarlett walks through a portal to explore the sea on the other side.
The family with another camel friend.
Isabella loves all animals, and she came to visit Jamilla here at the Sharq Village about seven times!.
A pair of Muslim women walk home for the evening across the entrance to The Pearl.
The beginning of an amazing 2-hour cooking class.
Daily Photo – Artificial Islands keep growing out into the sea as Doha expands to every horizon.
Now available for download in the store… and I think you’ll really love it.
In case you didn’t already know, I’ve got a new eBook! It’s called “Light Falls Like Bits”. I’ve been working with Goff books for two years to create it, and I’m super excited for you guys to read it!
I’ve thrown a curve ball out there in the E-book world, in which the articles about me… aren’t actually written by me. Some of these essays are by Maura Reilly, Michelle Bogre, and Erik Davis. There’s also an interview by Jordan Crandall in there that you will enjoy.
AND it’s filled with a whole lot of my photos (over 100!), all the captions for those photos I did personally write, which was a lot of fun getting going back and re-living all of those amazing moments / bizarre situations that went into capturing the images. I’ve also recorded a whole lot of audio captions that you can listen to if you get the iOS version, which people seem to be enjoying.
Photo Tip – Shooting from Planes or the Air in the Daytime
My technique for shooting from the air is pretty simple. It actually took me a while to arrive at this formula, but it always seems to work. I go into Manual mode and then force my shutter speed to be extra-fast… maybe 1/1000th of a second. This ensures there is absolutely no blur. And then I let my ISO float and auto-adjust… I’ll often get my F-Stop as low as possible too so all the dirt and smudges on the window disappear. It works like 98% of the time! And, well, like the title says, this method only works in the daytime… night is a different beast.
Daily Photo – Flying home between Wanaka and Queenstown
The flight into Queenstown is maybe one of the most beautiful flights in the world. This is the Crown Range here, and you can't quite see it, but there is a road there that connects Wanaka and Queenstown. It's actually the highest road in New Zealand! It gets A LITTLE icy sometimes in the winter, and they often close it down… but when it's open, the view there is as pretty as the view from this plane window!
I got a nice invite to visit an incredible looking Lodge in Oamaru called Pen-y-bryn — It turns out the owner is a fan and really into photography! Sounds like its a must-visit!
Daily Photo – Pretty Colors in Queenstown Park
I have joked before about starting a second blog where I just put up the “other” photos that I never publish. I honestly actually produce over 2,000 photos a year that are, at least I think, somewhat interesting. They're not all winners by any means, but sometimes there's a little bit of awesomeness in there! Anyway, since I only publish 365 a year here on the blog in the daily post, that means I have thousands of rejects! This is one of those “rejects” that I still kinda like. I don't know what to do with all the others… maybe I'll make a Tumblr or something that is called “Trey's Rejected Photos!”
Day 18 – Adventuring in the deserts and seas of Oman.
Wow, Oman is a secret treasure in the world!
Everyone was warm, kind, and inviting. The landscapes are like nothing I’ve ever seen, from curious canyons to sharp-ridged mountains, to huge epic mountain ranges, and everything in between. Parts are green and other parts are 150km of nonstop desert where it takes 6 days by camel to cross.
We did a ton of stuff just in our short time here… enjoy the video!
A beautiful sunset.
A beautiful sunset along the beach in Muscat.
About to board two catamarans for a sunset sail.
Hardcore Souk Shopping.
Beautiful colors in the mosque.
Inside the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Al Bustan Palace.
Ladies walking on the beach.
My friend in the desert.
My new friends exchange Instagram information at the mosque.
The family visits the Grand Mosque.
Scarlett is constantly throwing sand for no reason I can discern.
Here’s the chandelier in the Grand Mosque from below.
The Girls Take a Rest after a long walk in the desert.
The end of the Mosque where the colors glowed.
The Grand Mosque around midnight.
Visiting the Bedouin home.
The girls walk through the massive desert — if you look in the middle, you can see a group of people about 5km away.
Daily Photo – The incredible interior of the Grand Mosque
I had my Phantom repaired just before this trip because one of the rotors was a little wonky. Well, I guess it wasn’t fixed too well because the whole thing went haywire on a flight over by the ocean here in Namibia. I got it about 100 meters off the ground and then it did a SEVERE tilt and started heading to sea. There was nothing I could do to stop it! And it must have been going 150km/h when it hit the water… so crazy and dangerous! It makes me not to want to get them repaired again… if it has a bad rotor, better just to throw it away, I think.
Daily Photo – More Explorations in the Ghost Town
I know yesterday's post was about how cold Namibia was, but this area here on the coast was much warmer. Thank goodness! Here's another one of the amazing ruined houses from that ghost town where sand dunes invaded. They said that back in the day, when this area was discovered, that people could just bend over and pick up diamonds off the top of the sand. Crazy!
Day 16 – Quadcopter Crashing in Kerala and Farewell India
A lot of Quadcopter drama as we leave India! But I’ll get to that. BTW, check out my DJI Phantom 3 Review here on the site to see more about what I fly.
We started out in Kerala, a beautiful area of India that has thousands of little canals. We stayed on a houseboat for a while, drifting around like houseboat people. This is where Quada, which Scarlet calls the Quadacopter, had its last journey. We had countless successful flights with it… and you can see how Ethan launches it from the front of the boat… no problems there. But one time, a rotor would not turn. We got a “Rotor Obstructed” error message. Strange, because I couldn’t see anything. I did notice one rotor would make strange noises at startup, but when it started spinning, it was fine. Then it asked me to do the old 10-minute IMU calibration, which I did and was successful. We had 2 great flights, launching from the front of the boat and Ethan catching it on landing… no problems and we were smooth as silk. Then, on the next flight, It got up to about 40 meters and was only 20 meters from us and I saw the rotor lock up in the air! It tumbled down into the water for a major splashdown right by the boat. Everyone screamed and it was very dramatic! There was no recovery… it sank to the bitter depths… and all that awesome footage is lost foreva! It’s okay… the universe decided it was time for Quada to move on… So that meant I had to go to the camera store to buy another one… I just hope they let me take it to Oman next!
Okay, well, what else happened towards the end of our India trip. You can see more in the video here of course, but here’s a few things. We ended our train trip and went into the India Asha Niketan foundation, a special place here built for people with intellectual disabilities. The whole family spent some time here with the team helping out. It was especially great for the kids! Ethan played the guitar and we spent some time there together.
After that, we went back to Rivas at The Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore for an Indian cooking class from a Michelin star chef. Amazing! And not only that, but then we ate everything that we cooked… we are eating so much it is crazy… but Ethan and Isabella have really gotten into Indian food, which is great. Scarlett, not so much.
And then it was time to cap off our India experience by going full Bollywood! I actually love Bollywood movies from the first one I saw in Mumbai about 8 years ago when I saw Om Shanti Om! I had a small crush on the gal that was in that movie, and it turns out she’s in the hot new movie everyone demanded that we go see, Bajiao Mastani — so we headed off to the shopping mall in Bangalore to see if we could find it… we did and it was great, even though the whole thing was in Hindi. Scarlett and Isabella loved it. Ethan, not so much.
Anyway, a fantastic trip to India… the whole family is now boarding the plane to spend time in Oman and Qatar!
A strange sight to see these two symbols side by side.
A Final dinner on the coast of India.
Beautiful colors in Cochin.
A woman washes herself in a canal in Karela.
Five Indian Dudes that may have been a boy band.
Communist Propoganda can still be seen all over Kerala India.
Indian Beach from Above.
Houseboats in Kerala.
Last day to be on the Golden Chariot.
The awesome bar on top of the Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore called Bang.
Pulling into the Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore.
Visiting the West End hote.
Daily Photo – One of the last nights on our moving hotel
If you haven’t seen this new show on Amazon Prime, I really recommend it. Most people already know I’m a hardcore Phillip K. Dick fan, and this was always one of my favorite books. The show itself is quite different than the book, but that’s totally okay. I’m not one of those people that gets all huffy when a movie is different than the book… just another version of a nice story!
Daily Photo – A Misty Evening in China
I love these karst mountains so much. They look good almost any time of the day, but perhaps they look best when there is a touch of fog or mist in the air. The whole place is surreal enough, but when it hits this state, the fantasy level just goes off the charts!
Day 14 – Sunrise at the Southern Tip of India where three seas meet and Madurai with the Meenakshi Amman Temple
It started with a 4 AM Wake-up in our train car, now parked in Kerala, then loading up for a trip down to the beach. But this wasn’t just any beach, this was at the Kanyakumari, the meeting place of three seas: The Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea. I thought I might be the only one there at 5 AM, but boy, was I wrong! See more on the video!
And another amazing set of temples at Madurai, one of the oldest cities in the world. These temples at Meenakshi Amman are INSANE. I was not allowed to bring my regular cameras or Osmo (see Osmo Review), so I only had my Android Nexus 6P for photos and videos, which is mega-fine. I loved these temples so much… I’ve never seen anything quite like them. There are 14 colorful goporums (gateway towers), all brightly colored with Dravidian-style Hindu gods.
Then you can join me on a little train tour before ending up at a confusing night-show at Tamil Nadu. I was sitting by a woman who is an oral surgeon in Detroit. Halfway through the show, I asked her if she had any nitrous oxide.
The Sea Smashing Before the Game of Thornes scene.
A Pilgramage of Red.
An Eerie Light Show that still confuses me.
Our Train Pulls into the Station.
Assembling at the Temple.
Painted Ladies Walking.
This train had all kinds of people on it from all walks of life. Here’s me with the Greek Ambassador Tassos Kriekoukis exploring a Hundu temple..
Daily Photo – Sunrise on the southern tip of India where the three seas meet
Every week, they make me a new playlist to discover called, intrepidly, “Discover Weekly.” They put songs in there I’ve never heard of but usually enjoy. I have strange tastes in music… so how-do-it-know?
Daily Photo – The Volcanoes in Bali from Above
Here's a cool photo I got with the Inspire on a surprise flight. I didn't expect to fly at this exact spot… we kind of randomly pulled over in the middle of the island and decided to take a flight. This was one of the only volcano views I got while there… I didn't get too close to them at all, and there weren't a lot of views I got from the roadside. So it was really cool to get up above the trees and get to see them like this.