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Days 14, 15, 16, 17: Nepal: Lumbini and Chitwan

Crossing borders on foot often makes you thankful of how easy we all have it with airport borders. Crossing from India to Nepal was no exception but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Back in Varanasi, we had a train to catch. We were hoping to meet up with a French couple we had met earlier at the train station. We were dropped off an hour before our train was supposed to leave because the driver could not wait around any longer. Good riddance to him.

It was 11:30 pm and the train was going to leave at 12:30 am. We found a spot for ourselves and ran into our French friends who had been unable to book an air-conditioned coach and were travelling in sleeper class (like 3rd class but with no AC). We got wifi by borrowing someone’s Indian phone to get the activation SMS message and settled down to wait for the train.

The train was initially delayed by 35 mins, then 50, then an hour and 5 minutes. We suspected the cows walking down the rail track were partly to blame.

The train finally arrived at 2 am and we settled in for the night, this time in 2nd class AC which had only 2 levels of bunks and curtains! Quite the luxurious ride. The train was only 8 hours so we arrived at Gorakpur at 10 am and were only 3 hours from the border by bus.

As we hadn’t slept much and we were 4 people we decided to just take a taxi for a thousand rupees to the border. It was a bit shady as we had to pay for his petrol as well and we were still on the defensive due to our Indian experiences. In the end all was well and we were dropped off at the Indian immigration office.

The heat that day was pretty bad, (about 38 degrees centigrade) and with a lot of humidity so it was a long, sweaty wait for our passports to be checked and signed. Once we had checked out of India, we started the long trek across the heavily guarded border.

It was all one long line of trucks, stuck at the border for what looked like days. The line was over 3 km long and didn’t seem to be moving any time soon. We crawled through the traffic and found the Nepali office just past the border on the right hand side. If we’d walked on the left hand side, we’d be illegal immigrants right now.

The office was hot and the paperwork was way too thin for our amounts of sweat. Esther had also developed a splitting headache so everyone was in a great mood! We handed over our somewhat ripped forms, two photos and 50 pristine dollars (2 bills were rejected because they had minuscule tears on the edge, luckily I had brought spares) and we now had Nepali visas!

As Esther was not feeling great we headed straight to Lumbini in a local bus. It was hot, packed and as much fun as I remember. Esther, I think, wasn’t quite so enthusiastic but she stuck in there like a trooper and we arrived safe and sound.

At the hostel, we decided to splurge on an air-conditioned room. I felt that the bus and border crossing were enough discomfort for a day and Esther needed to rest. We had a relaxing evening and rested up.

In the morning we wanted some space so we rented an electric scooter and headed off to see temples. Lumbini is the birth place of Buddha and the international Buddhist communities have built big temples around the birth place. It was rather hot so we only saw the Nepali, Chinese and Austrian temples but there seemed to be no expense spared. The stupa which was built by the Japanese government is also nothing to sneeze at.

Lumbini only has sights for a day so the next morning we boarded another local bus to Chitwan. This bus was no fun. It had blaring music over the speakers but only had 50 minutes of music so after 4 hours we had more than enough. I put my headphones on and blasted Hamilton while Esther used earplugs to try to block it out. We thought we had it beaten and then the bus broke down.

We headed to the “garage” which was a dirt-covered lot with some bricks to lift up the bus a bit. After a while we realised we would be here for a long time so we headed to a nearby hut to drink some beer and eat momos. No point in stressing out about it.

After a change of parts, delivered by speedy motorbike, we continued on to our final destination. After one more bus and a tuk-tuk we got to a nice lodge and we booked our jungle walk and elephant safari.

Chitwan is a chilled, laid back community. We walked around the streets, ate some local fish and went to sleep early as we had a sunrise to catch.

Floating down the river in Chitwan at dawn, on an unstable log canoe is one of the scariest things I’ve done in a while. Every time I moved, the canoe would tilt and the water would lap up to the edge. We had crocodiles all around us and once they popped underwater, they disappeared. Jaws was a fucking rom-com compared to this!

Safely back on dry land, we headed off into the jungle and ran into a rhino. It stared at us from 5 meters away and I remember the advice of our guide. “If it charges, run up a tree”. I looked around and made the decision that I had more chance of launching the guide at the rhino to distract it than I had of ever getting up any of those trees.

Luckily the rhino decided it had better things to do and so did we. We walked in the jungle for around 2 to 3 hours and saw a few monkeys, a lot of insects and some scary tiger tracks. Overall really cool. We had also booked an elephant ride in the afternoon so it was time to go to the hotel and rest up for the afternoon.

Many things can be said about elephant rides, but I don’t think anyone has ever said they were comfortable. We spent an hour and a half on a lumbering beast with a kid that got very sick and another one that started playing video games on his phone. My legs felt like they were going to fall off and even though we saw some rhinos really close, I don’t think I’ll do that again.

We eventually made it to our hotel and went to do some shopping. On the way back we encountered another rhino near the road to the hotel. We pretended it didn’t bother us and bravely scurried along to our hotel. Having had enough for the day we went to sleep in preparation for our travels onto the calm shores of Pokhara!

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Days 10, 11, 12 and 13: End of India, Khajuraho and Varanasi!

I’ve fallen a bit behind on my posts so the next couple will be extra long, in an effort to catch-up to my travels!

We had left our brave adventurers (us) in Agra, on our way to Varanasi. We gathered our belongings, waved farewell to the shitty purple orchid Hotel and headed to our train. When we got to the station we had to say goodbye to Kuldeep. He’d been a great driver and I didn’t realise at the time how lucky we were to have met him. We said our farewells (after the mandatory tip) and boarded on our first class train to Khajuraho.

This was the best train experience we had, a first class cabin just for us 2. We could nap through the 8 hour train ride and someone even ran to the station to get us our lunch! Travelling in style.

When we arrived at Khajuraho it was dark and we headed straight to the hotel. This was the best hotel we stayed in during our stay in India, Harmony Hotel, if you’re looking to stay in Khajuraho, this is a great mid range hotel to stay in.

We booked a tuk-tuk for the next day to take us to the temples and we had dinner under the mosquito lamps. We went to bed early and got ready for another day of exploring.

Khajuraho is a great place for a chilled day of sight-seeing. All the temples are easily accessible by tuk-tuk and you can just walk around and see sculptures of voluptuos women and flexible men doing fun things to each other. We had lunch and good espresso at the Raja Cafe, saw the waterfall (not worth it) and then went to see the light and sound show. You can skip the show, unless you want to laugh at some very bad over-the-top voice acting.

We had a train to catch that night so we spent some time lounging in the hotel and then went to the station again. This time we travelled in third class with air conditioning and the experience was very different! We were in a coach with no curtains, stacked three bunks high. I couldn’t clamber in to my middle bunk so I switched places with an Indian girl and climbed in to the top bunk. I wasn’t too sure the chains would hold my sleeping mass so I felt good being the eventual squasher and not the squashed.

We arrived at Varanasi after little sleep and went to the ticket counter to get our tickets to Gorakpur and the Indian border. We ended up spending 2 hours there as there was a change of shift and the new worker had a rather loud disagreement with the lady that was working the morning shift about how she did paperwork… At least that’s what I gathered from 40 minutes of shouting in Hindi and pointing at ledgers and receipts.

We eventually got through that and went looking for our driver, who had left. We were intercepted by a very stoned looking guy that told us to wait there, he’d call the driver to take us to the hotel. This set the tone for our experience with the bunch of dodgy people that operate from the Varanasi Villa Hotel.

We had seen that this hotel was really far away from town and we had tried to change the booking but our travel agent assured us we would have a driver all day long for both days. I turns out there are 2 drivers that work with the hotel but they are shared with all the guests. Everything with this place was not quite what they told you it would be.

For starters the location on Google maps is false. It’s a lot further away from the town, in the middle of a field, you have to walk down a dirt path alley to get to it and there’s no way to leave unless someone comes to pick you up. Once we’d dropped off our bags, we were shepperded to a restaurant which was un by the same group of people. The food was OK but they did try to push the beers a bit too much, which I guess is where they make their real profit.

After dinner, our driver wanted to drop us off at the hotel but we told him we wanted to go in to town so he left and sent the other driver to take us. I had wanted to just wander around the ghats and see some Indian life but that was not to be. We were once again accompanied to see “the ceremony” which is 4 monks doing the evening prayer/blessing to the ganges. It was nice but very crowded and there seemed to be more tourists than locals.

I had hoped to have some free time after the show but alas all my hopes seemed to be shattering that day as we were taken back to the car through the swells of people and traffic and deposited at the hotel for an early night as we had a sunrise boat tour the next day.

Our alarm went off at 5 am and we crawled out of bed to go see the magical Ganges! We were grouped up with 2 other German tourists that were staying at the hotel and taken to the river. The driver offered us tea but we politely declined as we had spent the last 15 minutes talking about the German’s friend who had really bad food poisoning and was being violently sick. We decided to play it safe.

The river tour was a bit of a letdown. We were 12 tourists (many of whom we recognised from last night’s restaurant) taken up and down the river with little ceremony or explanation. It was ok at times but nothing too great. Kind of a perfect metaphor for our time in Varanasi.

We had breakfast at the hotel and after a nap met a Mexican guy who had been also roped into staying at that hotel. He had strangely enough been booked by the same travel agent we had in Delhi. We went to lunch with him to a nice but not too expensive restaurant. We had to insist to our driver not to take us again to that other place. Then we made him take us to Sarnat.

Sarnat is where Buddha first preached his teachings and there are some nice temples and relics. The museum is especially worth it. We had a train to catch that night so we headed back to the hotel and picked up some food along the way.

Our next adventure takes us across the border into Nepal and on to Lumbini, birthplace of Buddha!

Days 8 & 9: Agra, crazy town.

It all started rather normally. A long 8 hour car drive from Pushkar. I wasn’t looking forward to it but it had to be done in order to get to the highlight of our Indian trip: the Taj Mahal! Esther was very excited and I armed myself with patience for the trip.

As predicted, the trip was long and rather uneventful. As we were approaching Agra we saw droves of people dancing into town behind slow moving pickup trucks. The trucks had huge loudspeakers blaring what can only be described as techno-indian music.

Apparently we had arrived during a big festival day and tonight they had the big bonfire party to destroy the effigy of some villain from an old Indian story. I had 4 different people try to explain it to me and that’s all I got. In any case our driver Kuldeep promised to take us there that night.

We had some food and rested a bit in the hotel. This also allowed us to avoid the part of the festival we’re they cover you in coloured dyes as a “blessing”. That’s a blessing with a very good disguise.

We arrived at the festival and cajoled Kuldeep into joining us. As we are foreigners we got to go into all the VIP areas and wander around freely. I took full advantage of this and wandered as freely as I could. I played the good old tourist card and “did not hear” some requests to not advance into certain areas.

As a result I got really close to some of the pantomime acting and a bit too close to the fireworks. I now proudly display a burn on my lip from the impact of a stray rocket!

All this crazineess wrapped up around midnight and we crawled back to our hotel where we had a few hours before we were due to go see the Taj Mahal. Our hotel was in the middle of nowhere and one of the worst places we stayed in India but it was ok that night for a quick few hours of sleep.

I’ll cut to the chase and just say that the Taj Mahal is one of the most stunning things I have seen. There are few times when a well known landmark has managed to take my breath away. Michaelangelo’s David, Mount Fuji and the Taj Mahal. All the ones I can think of. If you ever have a chance, go see it. At dawn. Amazing

After the Taj Mahal, poor Esther was not feeling well so we spent a day resting at the hotel until sunset. When sunset came around we went to the other side of the river to get another view of the Taj Mahal and to bring out Esther’s secret weapon: the T-rex costume! Suffice it to say she gathered quite a crowd while she danced around in the setting sun.

Later, it was time for beers, shisha and conversations as we said goodbye to our driver Kuldeep. We’ll miss him on our journey but it’s somewhat nice to recover some independence. We had a good night with him but when we returned to the hotel it was time for a bit of misery.

There was a big party going on in the lobby with very loud music until midnight and we also still had no Internet in the hotel. To top it all off, after a night of barely sleeping, we had no hot water and the breakfast was sad,  to put it kindly. With this great mindset we prepared to spend 9 hours on a train on our way to our next destination: Kujaraho!

Days 6 & 7: Pushkar, Lassi(ez)-faire society.

The drive from Jaipur to Pushkar is not long but it is uneventful. It goes on for a while and then after sitting around doing nothing for some time, it is over.

This was a good prelude for what life in Pushkar is like. There’s a lot of sitting around in coffeehouses, drinking their Lassi. It’s quite special as you do get a lot of bhang for your buck. We spent a couple of days of relaxing and lazying around which gave me a lot of time to relax and think.

So I think now is a good time to do a little summary of my thoughts after my first week in India. A lot has happened and I think it will also help me process it all. Let’s start with what I’ve enjoyed so far and what’s gone right.

The things I am enjoying the most so far have been the monuments, the local markets and the normal people. Basically it seems I enjoy any moment when I can forget I’m a big white guy walking around India. It’s great to exchange a smile with a random stranger, take a look at a stall and not get dragged in for a tea and a sales pitch.

I also think that getting a car for this first section has been a good idea so far. We’ve seen a lot more than we would have otherwise and kuldeep is a great driver and guide, though a little stubborn at times. Overall I’m very happy we got him.

The last thing that’s gone very well is my camera/technology setup. Everything is working great and I’ve had no issues so far. The Radpower Filehub works great and I don’t think I’ll ever travel without it again.

Things that I could do without: the constant screams of “Hello, where are you from?” to try and sell you things. Random tuk tuks following you for minutes and strangers “just offering to help” when they clearly have an ulterior motive. It gets old very fast. Also Kuldeep has landed us in a couple of these situations and that was not too appreciated. Though we did end up buying something both times so maybe we did appreciate it?

I also could do without the constant shoes on/off parade. I don’t mind a little barefoot walking but these temples are surrounded by grime and dust and I don’t feel like getting my ugly feet dirty 3 times a day. Also having to leave your bags outside seems ridiculous. I feel very paranoid about leaving my camera anywhere.

Lastly here are a few things that have really surprised me:

  • Cows are not so peaceful. We’ve seen our fair share of cows getting annoyed at people and one even went for Esther!
  • People here litter a lot!
  • Road and speed signs are like short pieces of fiction. They describe an ideal world but nobody can live up to their standards.
  • A road will stretch to fit as many vehicles as want to pass by at the same time.
  • If a vendor, guide, tuk tuk driver, etc. tells you a place is closed, it is probably open.

These are a few thoughts and impressions from Pushkar. Next stop Agra and the Taj Mahal!!!

Fuji camera gear selection 2013 vs 2017 (part 1: lenses)

When I last travelled to Nepal the Fuji X system had recently launched and there were few lenses to choose from. I still agonised over what lenses to pick which seems funny looking back now as I had a lot less lenses to choose from back then.

So many choices!

I finally went with the following selection:

  • X-Pro 1 body
  • 35mm f1.4 lens
  • 18mm f2 lens
  • Sigma 100mm f2.8 macro lens (manual only)

It was a pretty well rounded setup as I had a wide angle, a portrait lens and a telephoto lens which I felt covered everything I would need. In the end the 18mm and the 35mm were clearly my most used lenses. The 100mm was used for one day only and was a bit of a waste.

Over the years since then I slowly transitioned to travelling almost exclusively with my X100S. I’ve grown very accustomed to my 23mm (35mm equivalent) field of view and I feel it covers most situations I run into. However for this trip I’ve decided to go back to a multi-lens setup as I will be travelling with my X-Pro2 and would love the flexibility of being able to swap lenses.

I know I will be taking the following items for sure:

  • X-Pro 2 camera
  • Rokinnon 12mm f2 manual lens
  • Fuji 23mm f2 lens

This has me well covered for wide angle shots and most travel photos. the 23mm can also be used as a portrait lens in a pinch but I’d prefer to have something longer for that purpose. I have though about also taking the 35mm as it is a very fast lens and great for portraits but I feel like the difference between that and the 23mm is not huge.

Now I need to figure out how to get these shots!

My biggest struggle now is covering the telephoto side of things. I plan on going on a mini safari during this trip and also going up to the Himalayas to see the sunrise so having a long-ish telephoto would be very useful. The possible options I have are:

Sigma 100mm f2.8 macro lens.

Cons:
Not the sharpest, not the fastest, no autofocus, a bit too long for portraits.

Pros:
It is relatively light and allows me to do macro work if the need arises.

Rokinon 135 mm f2

Cons:
Heavy, not very flexible use, no autofocus, limited portrait work.

Pros:
Tac sharp, very fast, that BOKEH!

Fuji 50-140mm f2.8

Cons:
Heavy, expensive, not the fastest lens

Pros:
Flexible, Image stabilised, can be used as all round portrait and landscape lens, very sharp.

As you can guess I am leaning towards the 50-140 lens. My biggest problem is the extra kilo of weight it adds. A kilo might not sound like much but when you’re lugging it up a mountain, it makes a big difference!

I’m still not sure which way to go so if you have any opinions, please let me know as I’d love some help!

In my next post I’ll cover the accessories I’ll be taking to help me get the images I need and also what I’ll be using this time around to blog while on the road.

 

 

New trip: India and Nepal!

It’s been a while since I posted on this site but I think now is a good time to let you all know that in just 3 weeks I’ll be heading over to India and Nepal for a one month tour through these two beautiful countries.

This will be my second time travelling to Nepal which is exhilarating for me as it is one of the countries that reignited my passion for travelling and where I really fell in love with travel photography. It’s also going to be a shock to go back to Nepal after the tragic earthquake they had in 2015.

Not all of these beautiful temples are still standing

As usual I’m not 100% sure of what I’ll be seeing and when but I’ll be keeping you all up to date on my progress. We will be landing in Delhi on the 23rd of September and flying back from Kathmandu on the 20th of October. All we need to figure out is how to get from one place to the other.

For this trip I’ll be taking the wonderful X-Pro2 and a small selection of lenses instead of the X100S. I feel like I’ll need a little more flexibility on this trip so the X100S might be a little limiting. I ahve also recently obtained the new 23mm f2 lens for the X-Pro2 so I’ll still have my trusty 35mm POV.

These are the kinds of views for which I’ll be needing my trusty lenses.

 

In my next post I’ll try to compare my travel setup on this trip compared to my last Nepal trip and see how my travelling has changed in the last 4 years! If you’re interested in reading my packing list from 4 years ago, you can read it right here. You can also read through my posts from that trip my clicking on the link to posts from September 2013.

How my life changed (part 2)

I have always been a creative guy. I play the guitar, I have a burning passion for photography and I love to write. I think the reason I enjoy it is that it is never the same. Routine and uniformity may be comforting to some but they are a big turn-off for me. Even working in the corporate world I always asked to be placed in the flexible spots, as being able to change focus often would keep me motivated.

When I was bitten by the acting bug I was at a crossroads in my life. I was starting to be successful in my corporate day-job, I was also loving my travel photography (funded by the day job) and I had just been captivated by the world of acting. Of course, I decided to do it all as intensely as I could!

During 2014 I worked long hours at work, travelled the world with my camera and also continued my acting training. For the first half of the year it looked like I could have my cake and eat it too! Of course, I got overly ambitious and it ended up taking its toll.

By October of 2014 I was working 50+ hours a week and also enrolled in 2 different part time acting courses which took up 4 of my evenings. I also kept on taking photographs of everything I could. It was rough going but I thought that I had to push through it if I wanted to achieve my goal. The fact that I had no idea what my goal was felt secondary at that time.

By the time 2015 came around, I knew I had to make a choice. I couldn’t keep up with everything I was doing as I could feel the ugly tentacles of depression creeping up on me. I had also started a relationship with a wonderful woman and wanted time to dedicate to that. So I decided to cut back on acting. I dropped out of one of the courses, kept on travelling the world with my camera (and now also with a wonderful companion!) and assumed that acting was just not in my future.

However, there was this little voice in the back of my head that would not shut up! Thanks to that voice I kept on saving money, though now I was saving “for a rainy day” rather than for acting. I think deep down I knew what that money would be used for but I just wasn’t ready to admit it to myself.

Mid way thought 2015 I finished my second year at the Gaiety School of Acting and decided not to enrol in the third and final year. My work was ramping up and I had some big photography expeditions planned for that year so I decided that I could live without acting. It seemed like an easy decision and I just went with it. Thus started one of the most frustrating yet enlightening years of my life.

How my life changed (Part 1)

Most life-changing events are spectacular and dramatic, they involve a near-death experience or some other sort of drama, mine was nothing like that. It happened in a well lit studio in the Gaiety School of Acting and nobody apart from me realised what had just happened. In late 2013 I was enrolled in the part-time performance year at the Gaiety School of Acting and I was working on a monologue which I would then show to the class at the end of the term.

Before I started training as an actor I was convinced that I couldn’t do intense drama pieces so my teacher chose a very intense piece for me to work on. I can’t remember the name of the play but it started with my character facing his abusive father. My character had tied him to a chair and was telling him about all the shitty things that he had gone through. I do remember that the monologue ended with “Now I don’t need to cry anymore, because now it’s your turn to do the crying”. Anyway, intense stuff.

I had built my character as well as I could but was having trouble getting into him. I could show the emotions externally but I wasn’t “feeling” them.  My teacher, Clare Maguire, asked me to do the monologue again, but this time surrounded by all my classmates. As I started my monologue, she had them slowly creep in to where I was, creating a very claustrophobic feeling.  Then something happened.

I was overcome by these sensations that were clearly not mine. A feeling of anguish, rage, despair, longing and so much more filled me and completely overtook me. I was no longer me, I was this desperate man, trying to reach out to his father while wanting to punish him.  It was terrifying and fascinating at the same time. Once I finished my monologue I was in complete shock, tears were coming to my eyes and I didn’t know why. It was the first time I had truly “acted”.

It was a moment that moved me and scared me. I wasn’t able to perform that monologue for the next couple of weeks as I was so scared by what had happened to me. Once I was able to process it and do it again, I knew I couldn’t not be an actor. I knew deep down that this was going to be a big part of my life from then on but I wasn’t aware of just how big it would become.

My first reaction was to want to drop everything immediately and chase this dream. However, after talking with many people wiser than I am, I realised that I still had a long way to go. But from that day my life had already started to change direction and a new category was added to my budget which was called: “Acting funds”.

Iran – Top 5 places I saw – Hardest list I’ve had to make

I’ve tried to cut the number down to 5 to keep the article size manageable but there is so much more to see in Iran. I might have to make a part 2 🙂

In no particular order, here are the top 5 places I went to during my stay in Iran:

Yazd

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Yazd is a 5000 year old city of just over 1 million people that is located in the middle of Iran. It is a fascinating and beautiful city, famous for its confectionery, gardens and very strenuous strength training techniques. I loved to wander around the city’s bazaar and all the little winding streets.

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I spent a while just sitting in a park watching kids play football. At first they were a bit shy but after a while their natural curiosity took over.  These 2 walked away with a print of their picture. 🙂

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I also loved the Dowlat Abad gardens. The engineering required to channel water from the far mountains into the city is amazing. Small qanats (channels) were dug by hand  by men who wore white shrouds in case they were buried alive. I’m struck by a mixture of awe and terror at the work they did.

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Isfahan

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Isfahan is a city in which I wish I’d spent more time. It is a city of around 2 million people and is home to the Naghsh-e Jahan Square which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The square with the mosques, bazaar and palace that surround it are enough to spend at least a day or two visiting.

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Once you have seen that, you have barely scratched the surface of the city. One highly recommended place to see is the Khaju Bridge. Local people gather under this bridge at sunset to sing and relax after the day’s work. I would highly recommend it.

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If you want to see something a little less typical, you can head to one of the city’s many pigeon towers. Pigeon guano used to be a very important source of fertiliser for the fields around Isfahan. The importance of the pigeons has decreased but some of the towers are still open and have been restored to their full glory. Worth a trip.

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Shiraz

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Ah, Shiraz, I will admit this is my favourite place in Iran and I don’t really know why. It has a certain vibe that makes me feel right at home as well as some pretty stunning architecture.

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This is the city where you can spend an evening in a coffee shop talking to the singer of an Iranian heavy metal band. It’s a place where the police ask if you need help finding your hotel and end up having a bite of your meal because you insist it’s really good.

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I feel like they are the Spaniards of Iran and that is one of the highest compliments I can give them.

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Persepolis

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Persepolis, home of Cyrus the great and Xerxes, this was probably the highlight of my trip. I have always loved the tales and stories of ancient greece. To think I was standing in the same spot where Xerxes probably planned the attack on greece.

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I walked around the site flabbergasted, having a hard tome taking it all in. It was also empty of other tourists which still amazes me to this day.

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And then when the sun was setting I was in the right place and I think I had a little nerdgasm.

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The Desert

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The city of Yazd is somewhat remote and you can go out and spend a night at one of the old caravanserais. These were the small forts where the caravans would stop to spend the night, water the camels and try to sell some of their wares.

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The setting is beautiful but what is stunning is the night sky out in the desert. Even with clouds it takes my breath away!

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Here it comes! – 5 reasons I will end up getting the X-Pro 2

As I mentioned in my previous article, the X-Pro 2 is on its way. I’ve decided that I will take the plunge and get it. After thinking about it for a good while and reading some online first impressions, I’ve come to the conclusion that the X-Pro 2 covers most of the X-Pro 1 quirks that made me stop shooting with it.

Here are 5 reasons why I’ll be getting the X-Pro 2.

Improved AF

After I bought the X100S, my biggest gripe whenever I picked up the X-Pro 1 was the speed of the autofocus. I do admittedly have one of the slower AF lenses (35mm 1.4) and the amount of hunting it does is frustrating, especially in low light.

From everything I have read, the AF has greatly improved and I’m looking forward to enjoying using a snappy camera again 🙂

Would have loved to get the focus on the eyes in this one!
Would have loved to get the focus on the eyes in this one!

Improved ISO

The new sensor has an improved sensitivity of 1 stop. That is huge!

OVF with manual focus

This is the one feature that has me really excited. The X-Pro 2, like the X100T, has a small window that can be enabled in the Optical Viewfinder (OVF) to allow you to see the focus through the EVF.

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This allows you to check manual focus while still seeing through the Optical viewfinder. This is a game changer for me and I am very excited to try this out!

Weather Sealing

I’m happy the the X-Pro 2 is finally weather sealed. I’ve never had an issue with my X-Pro 1 but the added peace of mind is great, especially living in a country as wet as Ireland.

Wifi connectivity

I know alsmost all cameras have Wifi nowadays but my cameras do not. I use a eye-fi MOBI card on my x100s to transfer pictures to my phone for posting on instagram (@photolographer) and sending to my Instax printer to give as a gift to people. It’s a nice little token that people really appreciate. Being able to quickly select pictures to send to my phone, or be able to take pictures while looking at my phone will open a lot of candid photography moments.

I could go on for another 5 more but I think I’ve covered the major aspects. Overall I’m very excited for this new camera. My next question is do I ditch my X100S to get a 23mm 1.4?