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Georgetown Festival

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks here in Penang firstly shooting for the fine folk at the Penang Heritage Trust and secondly Georgetown festival kicked off at the beginning of the month – with much in the way of live music, theatre and arts.

Once I´ve got the all clear, I´ll be telling you in full about the work I´m currently shooting until then enjoy a couple of images from the festival.

Japanese violin prodigy Nanaco has been performing on the streets is a fine example of  just one of the many free events that have been going on everyday this month. Other events include danced, exhibitions and Chinese theatre.

 

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    Lamalera Fishermen

    I´ve recently returned from some far off hidden paradises where electricity is a luxury and the Internet, well that´s some far off dream of the crazies. I love places like this the peace and tranquility, living in harmony with nature, farming in ways that have remained unchanged in centuries.

    One of those places is the small coastal village of Lamalera on the island of Lembatta in Eastern Indonesia. Here the whole village relies heavily on the fishermen, as they have done for as long as anyone can remember. Fishing here however is more extreme that in other places of the world, here they´re not happy with their catch unless they´ve caught something big, and by big I mean really BIG. Tuna is the stable fish and while these can grow to some impressive sizes they appear mere small fry in comparison to the village preference, what they really want to catch is whale. Yes whale, sperm whale to be exact although legend has it that once they caught a blue whale too. Exempt from the international whaling ban these sea hunters rely on whale meat for there survival. But when whale meat is hard to come by they rely on other large sea creatures like sharks, dolphins and who knows what else. Lamalera, for obvious reasons, is now facing tough opposition to this form of fishing.

    I´m going to keep my personal views on this subject away from my blog post, but I have made the decision to not include images that may cause distress to the viewer.

    This is my last day here in Indonesia, on what has been a very memorable trip, I´ve met some generous and extremely friendly people and it´s just a matter of time before I return. For now it´s back to Malaysia.

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      Postcard from Lembata

      There´s just enough upload speed for me to send you a quick postcard from the beautiful island of Lembata. I´m here to visit a very interesting fishing village, more on that next week when I´ll have a full account of every catch.

      Weather is nice, see you soon, wish you were here.

      Tom

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        KAWAH IJEN

        - I’ve been trying to get this uploaded for weeks now, it’s been pretty frustrating, it was actually written a couple of weeks ago and it´s taken me this long to process the images and find a suitable internet connection to upload everything, its pretty image heavy but I think it´ll be worth the wait.

        In the last 10 days I´ve climbed 3 different volcanoes the last of which, Ijen, I climbed 5 times. Why? Keep reading to find out.

        At the crater of the volcano lay vents that pour out sulfuric gases and drip burning hot sulfur onto the floor below. The sulfur hardens and becomes a sold bright yellow rock, which is broken up by the minors loaded into wicker baskets and carried 1km up out of the crater and then 4km down the steep volcanic path, where they weigh there load and load it onto a truck to be taken to a nearby village for processing before ending up being used in the cosmetic industry.

        Some minor carry up to 100kg each trip, most of them made 2 trips a day for 15 continuous days before having a day off, starting work in pitch black at 3am to avoid the heat.

         

        Sulfur miner on Ijen. Copyright TomBourdon.co.uk

        Sulfur miner in Ijen. Copyright TomBourdon.co.uk

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          Active Volcanoes and early mornings

          With the sunrising at around 5:30am here in Indonesia there have been some pretty early wake up calls, but none more so than this morinings when the alarm went off at 2:30, closly followed by another at 2:33 and another one at 2:38, by 2:45 I was out of bed wandering if I really needed to wake up at rediculous o´clock to get the shots I wanted. 2 hours, and a 5km trek later that question was answered.

          This image was shot  about an hour before sunrise with the shutter open for 30 seconds, hence the blue sky with the stars.

          The volcano is known as Bromo, not only is it active but it also pours out an incredible amount of ash and gas in a near constant state of …. well of activity I guess, and has been doing so for good many years. With Bromo being one of Indonesia´s most popular tourist attractions I was hoping to get something a little different than I had seen before.

          Just before writing this post (although it probably wont go online for a few days yet) I was lucky enough to see the red glow of the lava coming from inside the crater of Bromo, this is possibly one of the most amazing natural wonders I have ever seen.

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            Journey to Pulau Karimun Jawa

            I have recently returned from the stunning island of Pulau Karimun Jawa 7 hours off the North cost of Java in Indonesia.

            There is an option to fly to these islands, which I imagine probably only takes an hour or two, but where´s the fun in that. Personally I´m not a huge fan of flying for the simple reason that you never have much interaction with anyone else on-board, we all just sit there facing forward waiting in near silence for the plane to touch  down when we can all unclip our seatbelts in synchronisation and rush to collect our luggage. Well things are a bit different on a boat, I even got to have tea with the captain – I can´t imagine that on a plane.

             

             

             

             

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              Smoked Fish

              Just a few shots today, so I wont bore you with too much rambling text.

              These shots of fish being smoked were taken in the North Java town of Jepara, I was passing on a hired scooter and could resist stopping and meeting the locals.

              This one eventually became our lunch.

              More coming soon, hopefully before the weekend but no promises, Ok? :)

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                Wood Carvers and Furniture Makers of Java

                We’ll I’ve made it to Indonesia, the island of Java to be specific and so far all is good. I’ve met some great people and am starting to pick up a little of the language too. I’ve got a few things lined up here in Java before I head East.

                Java wood carvers - Copyright Tom Bourdon

                Meet Tomo. He, along with many others on Javas North coast, is a furniture maker.

                I spent many hours with Tomo and other furniture makers around the village of Jepara, North Java, watching in amazement as they carefully create wooden masterpieces from tree trunks. They produce all manner of furniture from picture frames to wardrobes all intricately decorative carved teak and mahogany that sells for hundreds of dollars in the USA and elsewhere.

                I was blessed with some really nice soft light during some of these visits, which really helped me out.
                Java wood carvers - Copyright Tom Bourdon

                Java wood carvers - Copyright Tom Bourdon

                 

                Java wood carvers - Copyright Tom Bourdon

                 

                Java wood carvers - Copyright Tom Bourdon

                 

                Java wood carvers - Copyright Tom Bourdon

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                  Paper Effigies – Penang Malaysia

                  Sorry for the blanket silence recently but I´ve been away on a remote island 7 hours off the north coast of Java, hanging out with fishermen and wood carvers – but more about them later. On my return I found out that my last post on the Clan Jetties of Penang did not go live when I expected it to, it’s all fixed now and you can read the post here

                  I´m lining up a few posts here so if all goes to plan and the systems in place work as they should there should be a few posts over the next week or so, even if I’m not near a PC. The first of which is about the paper model makers from Penang.

                  When I posted this months wallpaper, I told you back then that I´d give you some more details about what the canes in the image  were used for. I think I even mentioned me trying to produce video for you, unfortunately that hasn´t worked out and it seems video processing is not going to be possible on my laptop as things stand. So I´ve put together a few shots that should go some way to explain this fascinating art.

                  For over 30 years Koh Ah Bah has been running a workshop that creates the most intricate artifacts from nothing more that wooden canes, coloured paper, natural twine and glue to keep it all together. I stayed for hours watching as they listened to the radio working at great speed.

                  The effigies represent consumer durables such as telephones, cars, motorbikes and even houses and are burnt by the Chinese during a kong Teik funeral ceremony, with the correct rituals conducted by a priest, the souls of the dead are said to be pacified during their passage through limbo and purgatory.

                  While the replicas are clearly twentieth century in origin, the ceremonies and attendant beliefs have links to much older traditions.

                  Once I have fixed my laptop problem I´ll bring you a multimedia version of this workshop I promise.

                   

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                    Where in The world is Tom?

                    On 17th April I´ll set off on one of my mad adventures chasing festivals and the like through Asia and the Pacific. I´m bringing along my amazing girlfriend, Paloma who´ll keep me sane and focused, she´s also the worlds best light stand.

                    Anyway I thought I´d share with you a basic outline of our schedule, now I know from past experiences that on these long trips the route taken tends not to be the same as the one originally planned. There are several reasons for this, unexpected weather, learning of new events when in the area, troubles with local transport and of course making new friends and staying that little bit longer than planned. I can be pretty confident in saying that the next 8 months plus will be in South Asia. I’ve got some pretty excitting stories lined up, so stick around this blog is about to transform, once on the road I aim to post some thing at least 2 or 3 times a week, this depends on internet connections as we’ll be heading to some pretty remote areas – stay tuned.

                    I´m in Madrid now for a few days and heading back to the UK to visit my family over the weekend. The following weekend we´ll be flying into Malaysia before heading into Java, Indonesia from there on We´ll be travelling East through Indonesia before heading to Papua New Guinea, India and Thailand although possibly not in that order. I have pretty good knowledge of what festivals will be happening when and where and its a shame to say I´m not going to be able to make it to all of them this year.

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