Pushkar | India

April 3rd, 2013

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After Delhi, I planned to head north to Kumbh Mela, a religious festival that happens every 12 years in India, and the largest human gathering on earth. But after my transportation with other couchsurfers fell though twice, and the stampede that killed 40 people, I took it as a sign I wasn’t mean to go. My new travel mate, Kate, and I made one last ditch effort to go, but in the end, we didn’t have the physical and mental energy to deal with getting there and enduring the massive crowds. I guess I can hit the next one… when I’m 40!!

So instead of heading north, we ventured south to the popular backpacker city of Pushkar. When we got off the bus, we had no idea where we were going to stay, so we gladly accepted an offer to check out “Bright Clean Rooms” a biker guesthouse on the outskirts of town (if you want to stay there, just ask for the “biker guesthouse”). The room was decent, with a pool and a rose garden, and cost us about $3 each.

Travelers, beware of a scam in which a local person hands you a flower while you’re walking through town and tells you there’s a “festival happening on the river RIGHT NOW!” It’s a set up to take your money. We went to the river to check it out, but we quickly caught onto the scam and didn’t cough up any cash.

Pushkar is completely walkable, and Kate and I enjoyed strolling around the town. Though everyone is trying to make a dollar, it’s aesthetically beautiful and I never got bored watching people. Here are some of my favorite frames Pushkar.

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photos by NYC-based travel blogger and assignment photographer erica camille.

Hauz Kauz | Delhi, India

March 29th, 2013

I didn’t photograph a lot in Delhi, partly because I was chilling with my clients, partly because I had an eye infection, and partly because I spent 90% of my time in Delhi eating at food festival across the street from my hotel.

But I did venture out one afternoon to meet up with my friend Sahil (you may remember him for the reality TV show Girls who Like Boys Who Like Boys). He splits his time between Delhi and New York City. Sahil texted me and said “you have to come meet me at Hauz Kauz, it’s like the east village of Delhi, and it’s the hipster gay area.” Well, this I had to see, and I dragged my new (queer by coincidence) friends (from Couchsurfing), Kate and Melly along for the ride.

Hauz Kaus is a mix of old and new; with crumbling cobblestone streets and hip boutiques and bars, reminiscent of Brooklyn’s Dumbo. The village contains a beautiful park, where we enjoyed walking and seeing some old monuments, peacocks, deer, and of course, people watching.

According to CNN, “In the last four years musicians, designers, travelers, foodies, readers of journals and little books, art and poster-collectors, map makers, social activists and the Delhi LGBT community have set up homes and shops here.” I highly recommend a stroll through this area, and bring friends along, so that you can stop at one of the many bars and get a tower of beer.

Traveler tip: Get some gelato at the gelato stand when you enter the village.

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and a few shots from the food festival

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i wanted a picture in front of this chicken place because i ate there about 20 times

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my clients…

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First Day in India | Delhi Contrast

March 28th, 2013

I was only planning to go to India for about 5 days to shoot a wedding, but I was inspired to stay for over a month. The first day I arrived, I went to the home of my lovely client’s parents, in a developing area of the Nodia sector. As I was getting acquainted with my surroundings, I became curious about a family living across the street.

“This is India, and that is India” said the aunt of my client, pointing to the family’s home-made shack (the structure with the blue tarp) literally across the road. We were standing on the balcony of their 3-story home looking down, which was a multi-layered experience.

As it turns out, the family across the road is a gypsy family. They move from place to place to work on construction sites, and at this time, they were working on my clients family home and various other projects. What I found most interesting was the way in which the two families interacted. Their children played together. The smallest child from the shack across the street (sporting an amazing pink fuzzy outfit) often wandered into the larger house to play, to eat something, or just to see what was going on. The mother of the children came over to do miscellaneous tasks, including cooking, for my clients family.

In the morning, the family across the street huddled around a fire, making food, brushing their teeth with sticks, and playing with stones. I had a chance to wander over and check out their space, (I forgot to take a picture because I was actually interacting and enjoying the moment) and not only was the family warm and welcoming, I found their home just as warm and cozy. People might ask, “how can they live like this? ” but honestly, the answer much of the time is, “they live just fine.” They live a life without privilege, and without luxury, but more often than not, they live happily, together, with full bellies and smiles in the morning. Can we say the same?

This is India, one small story, in a country woven with stories as far as the eye can see.

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Spicy Elephant Trek + Village Karaoke

March 11th, 2013

For the first leg of my trip, I got to travel with my best friend (also named Erica). It went so fast, but I’m extremely grateful for our time together. I always tell people, traveling is something you’ll never regret, even if it means taking personal and financial risks, and for Erica, this was a giant leap that involved careful financial planning and just as the old saying goes, “throwing caution to the wind.” For those that live pay-check-to-pay-check, international travel seems like a distant dream, but it doesn’t have to be. It is possible, but it means deciding to invest in experiences and not things. I’m so proud of my best friend for taking this trip with me, and I look forward to many more adventures.

Here’s a little peak at our elephant trek. Special thanks to Samart of Spicy Joe Bungalows who took the photos of us with the elephants. We ended the night and this leg of the trip as anyone should, with a little bit of debauchery at the village karaoke spot…

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Night at the Village | Spicy Joe Bunglows

February 14th, 2013

Because the water pipe was broken at the bungalows, we bounced from place to place every night for the week we were there. But despite the extra work of moving around, it ended up being so cool to see all the different parts of Samart’s land and community. On one of our final nights, we stayed in a traditional house in the local village. There seemed to be nothing around, and we spent the evening eating by candlelight, sitting around the fire, and looking at the stars.

It was beautiful.

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The next day and evening we spent in another village back near the waterwallI fell in love with this boy. I took many frames of him, here are just some of my favorites.

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photos by international travel photographer erica camille. follow me on facbeook.

Machetes and Waterfalls | Spicy Joe Bungalows

February 13th, 2013

After our first beautiful night next to the waterfall, we bounced around between Samart’s two sets of bungalows doing hard labor (volunteering). We used old school machetes to clear the land and chop down small trees to make room for a clinic that Samart plans to build for the local Karen Tribe villagers. We had a lot of fun with the machetes, as you can see in the pictures, and we got pretty damn good, but we paled in comparison to the local ladies who could machete a whole damn field in a skirt. After our hard days work, we went to the waterfall to bath, and once clean, engaged in our nightly ritual of cooking, eating, rolling local tobacco and turmeric, and gossiping.

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photographs by travel assignment photographer erica camille. follow me on facbeook.

Spicy Joe Bungalows | First Night

February 5th, 2013

Last year, I met Samart (AKA spicy Joe) through couchsurfing, and he invited me to his bungalows a few hours from Chiang Mai.
Little did I know before I arrived, it was an entire operation of volunteering, eco lodges, farming, cooking, and culture exchange.
Click here to read about last year’s experience.

You can stay at Spicy Joe’s Ecolodge either as a guest or volunteer (volunteer is cooler, you eat and stay free in exchange for working 6 hours a day). Either way, you can do treks, hikes, rafting at an extremely affordable rate. And you won’t find a more authentic Thai experience. You can also learn to cook for much cheaper than the cooking classes offered in Chiang Mai.

As I remembered from last year, the closer we got, the more adventurous the journey became. At one point, we had to unload a bunch of salt bags from the truck to reduce weight to make it up a stretch of road. We also had to back up to the edge of a cliff in order to get a running start. I looked over at Erica and she was praying (maybe for the first time in her life) with her hands clenched looking up at the sky. I just laughed and didn’t look back.

We arrived past sundown, and because a water pipe had broken at the bungalows, the group was staying at a nearby waterfall. We navigated our way on foot with our stuff for about 10 minutes before we got to the huts. When we stepped in we were greeted by Samart and a small group of travelers, freshly rolled local tobacco (with turmeric for a sour kick) and of course food and puppies! (not served together). It was an extremely cold night of sleeping, but the sound of the rushing waterfall was amazing white noise for dozing off.

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And in the morning, we woke up to this.

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photos by travel photographer erica camille. follow me on facebook.

Bamboo Tattoos + Strolling | Chiang Mai

February 5th, 2013

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On our second day in Chiang Mai, Erica decided that she wanted to get a traditional bamboo tattoo of a three headed elephant.
And then we pretty much decided we wanted to get matching tattoos.

But by the time she finished hers, we were exhausted from the day, so I decided to post-pone mine until later in my trip. It looks amazing, and she said it hurt less than all her other tattoos, and healed much faster.

Matt and I wanted to go get massages the Chiang Mai Women’s Prison Massage Centre, where the massages are given by women who have spent time in prison, but it was all booked up, so we strolled through the market instead. A word of advice for the saturday and sunday markets: it’s nice to go when they are setting up around 3 or 4 to avoid the night time crowds, or at least get a sense of what you want to buy, then go back at night. The best part of the market is the fresh waffles.

Yum. We ate too many.

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hhm, i’m looking a bit rough around the edges at this point…

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photos by adventure travel photographer and destination wedding photographer erica camille.
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Chiang Mai | Wat Doi Suthep

January 31st, 2013

I convinced my friends to come up my friends Bungalows with me to volunteer, but before that we killed a few days in Chiang Mai, one of the most popular traveler cities in Thailand. We all loved Chaing Mai (I didn’t get to spend much time there last year) and we especially enjoyed how walkable it is. We ambled around the temples, food stalls (especially waffle stalls), and of course, massage joints.

As most guidebooks will tell you, if you are in Chiang Mai, don’t miss Wat Doi Suthep.

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i really loved this old lady, and ended up running into a few days later again

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Bangkok (Again)

January 30th, 2013

My 2013 adventure is underway without a hitch. Well, ok there was a small hitch of missing my flight from NYC to Bangkok, but with a little bit of charm and only a $150 change fee, I arrived one day later than planned.

There’s no feeling in the world like stepping off a plane in another country. It’s a rush, and it’s inspiring. This is how I felt after my 15 hour flight to Hong Kong. Though I was jsut passing through, it was my first stop on my journey, and despite the long flight, I felt invigorated, grateful, and in-tune with my aliveness.

It was wonderful to be able to say in Thai where I was going, how much it cost, and to literally just walk through the door into a familiar apartment. It felt like coming home. Here are some photos from around the neighborhood from last year’s and a little background story.

Our first week was admittedly lazy, sunny days spent by the pool, eating, napping, and a little bit of wondering. I didn’t do a ton of shooting, but here are some frames from our first days.

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Photos by adventure travel photographer / nyc wedding photographer Erica Camille. Follow me on Facebook.

 

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