Overseas

The Himalayas

The Himalayas are so beautiful. I've seen them in different spots and they've never disappointed me. Traveling in them though can be nerve racking as the roads aren't the best--very narrow and people can drive fast and crazy. But they're still beautiful to look at. :)

One day I'd love to travel to Nepal and do the Annapurna Circuit, which is a hiking trail that goes through a section of the Himalayas. It's a beautiful area, but it'd definitely require me to start getting in better shape! Apparently you can choose what sections you want to do (so you don't have to do the entire trail), but even then it would require for my legs to be stronger.

Do you like to hike? What's your favorite trail and why?

Have a great weekend!

-Ashley

Connecting with People

One of the things I love to do when I travel is connect with people. I think it comes more natural to me than it used to; in the past I was afraid to approach strangers, but I've grown in that area (although sometimes I still get scared). The fear that I feel though is generally washed away once I begin talking with people--I genuinely love meeting new people and hearing about their lives.  Like for example, this family I met in Thailand when I was there last year.

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These two women are sisters, and their family has been running this small restaurant on the side of the road for a very long time. The sisters make the delicious food and take care of all the customers and their parents as well who live with them in their home that is attached to this restaurant. 

Going to the back of their restaurant was pleasurable--we chatted while they cooked and I took a few pictures. Unfortunately their English was limited and I have no Thai language abilities, but we were able to small talk some and it was an enjoyable experience for us both.

People are willing to connect with you if you just try to understand them; try to relate with them on some level about what they do, their lives, where they come from, what they believe in, etc. I know for me, when others ask me about my life and experiences I feel honored and loved--I hope these women did as well. If I ever get back to where they are it would be fun to visit them again!

-Ashley

Surprising Moments | #ThrowbackThursday #tbt

It was a nice sunny day as we stopped to hike a trailhead that someone recommended to us. It didn't look like much, but the bright green trees, colorful vegetation, and fresh, clean air was calling our names, so we didn't even care if the views were nice wherever we were going. It was just nice to be outside in nature for a change (rather than a dusty, dirty, big city). As well, we were with great friends, which made anything we did that day worth it. 

As we neared the top, we began to see a wide opening in the midst of the trees and the view was absolutely amazing. We stayed their a while, looking out at the small quaint town talking while the kids played nearby. It was an amazing sight, one that we couldn't have anticipated (or at least I didn't know what I was walking into!). I really appreciated it though and as I look back at this photo I'm reminded of the enjoyable moment I spent with my friends on that hilltop.

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What's been a surprising moment for you lately? I feel like sometimes we have to stop what we're doing and recognize that it's a special moment, otherwise we miss it. Fortunately I was in the position to just take in the beauty around me in this moment, but that's not always the case (and beautiful places that catch your eyes like this one does don't exist everywhere!). But I think there is value in noticing the beauty in the things around us. I know for myself, learning to slow down and appreciate what's around me is something I'm still working on. What about you? 

I hope that you have a surprising moment today that is encouraging to you!

-Ashley

By the way, for those of you who are wondering, this image was taken with a 24mm f/2.8 on my Canon 5D Mark II. This lens is a great one to have in your bag, especially for landscapes or tight squeezes, although you have to be careful of lens distortion. I'll share more about this another time. :)

New Territory | Personal Post

Living in a new country is always a learning curve--What gestures are appropriate? What do people find interesting to talk about? Where do you buy groceries--and what do you have/lack and what do you have change in your diet to go with what you can find? What do you wear? What's in fashion or what is inappropriate to wear? And so forth! The questions are endless.

Learning a new city is also an interesting experience. Some of our new finds include a local coffee shop that makes excellent coffee. We also found a bubble tea shop--something I haven't had in a long time (that was an exciting discovery)! We also have found that a lot of local places are closed between the hours of 1pm and 4pm. Larger grocery stores and shops are fine, but if you want to go to a market, don't plan to go at that time (we heard about this, but then forgot and learned the hard way--oops). You actually probably wouldn't want to go at that time anyway because it's so hot! Also the work week here is Sunday to Thursday with Friday and Saturday being the weekend. 

So we are in new territory folks--learning a lot and realizing also as we learn how much we don't know about life. It's interesting living in other cultures as it teaches you so much about the creativity of God and how different life can be done. I think every person should live in a different culture than their own for at least some season of their life--it teaches you a kind of respect and perspective that living in your home culture doesn't. Not to say that in some cities you can't get that "international" experience that I'm talking about; I'm fully aware that pockets of many nationalities exist in major cities. But for whatever reason, immersing yourself in a new environment and having to learn how to appreciate differences (because you can't change what's around you or escape from it) is a character building experience. :) 

 October 2017 - This new place is starkly different from South Asia. So much space and no people to be seen. It's very different and taking some getting used to.

October 2017 - This new place is starkly different from South Asia. So much space and no people to be seen. It's very different and taking some getting used to.

The other day while looking for homes, we were invited into someone's home and we had the pleasure of experiencing their hospitality. After cardamom-coffee, dates, somosas, fried fish, other-unrecognizable-items, and juice (remember this was a spontaneous house visit--they were prepared!), we left their home grinning ear to ear, very honored, and stomachs full. Our host was very adamant that she show us hospitality and how they do it, relaying to us every detail that goes into serving guests in our new city. They were very proud to be the first locals to invite us into their home and we enjoyed it thoroughly. It was actually recognizable in a lot of ways from our previous place of residence. 

I look forward to more of these experiences as I have much to learn in this new place.! Follow me to hear more about it. :)

-Ashley

Shameless Sunset Share | #ThrowbackThursday #tbt

 April 2017 - Istanbul, Turkey

April 2017 - Istanbul, Turkey

I know that countless sunsets fill up the internet, but why not clog it up more with one I saw earlier this year! :)

Last April we had the chance to visit Turkey and we happened to be crossing this bridge right at sunset. It was seriously amazing and I took way too many photos! Seeing this again makes me remember the incredible feeling of viewing it firsthand, thanking God for being such a wonderful creator. It is seriously breathtaking! 

Hope that you are inspired by something in your day today that brings you encouragement and thankfulness. Have a good one!

-Ashley

Settling In | Personal Post

So with our recent move we've been house hunting and trying to figure out where to live. It's been quite a journey. With viewing 19 houses already I feel like a pro! I definitely have my list of what I do not want and what I do want very defined since we've seen so many places. 

I do have to say I am ready to be settled. After four years and four international moves under my belt, I'm done with packing, selling items, and saying goodbye. I have to say though, even with all of these moves, this last goodbye was the hardest for us. The day we left I held one of my closer friends for 10 minutes while she bawled (and I was too, I must confess!). It was unnerving, especially since I don't know if I will ever see her again. Yes the world is changing and globalization is happening, but she is very poor and I don't think she has ever left the country...or ever plans to. I'm thankful for the time I had with her and I hope and pray the best for her and her family (and everyone else we met).

 October 2016 - My friend teaching me how to make Biriyani. 

October 2016 - My friend teaching me how to make Biriyani. 

Sorry for that somber bit! I am excited that we are here and that I will make new friends--just sad about what we left behind. Joshua and I feel that we'll be here likely the next three years, so we feel we can make roots a bit more and actually be a part of our community than previously. There are some photographic societies that I hope to jump into here and who knows where that will take me! I guess time will tell. :)

So how do you handle transition and change? Do you embrace it or run the opposite way screaming? :) I think I can say that I'm embracing it this time and trying to keep up with everything that's happening. There's a lot going on so time will tell to see how we do. :) Pray for us! 

Have an awesome day and be on the lookout for part two for my master's project!

-Ashley

New Aspects of Culture

One fun thing about living in another culture is being able to experience new aspects of that culture which are very foreign to you. Such as this man above, selling powder to make beautiful designs. I had never seen this before! The circular looking items to the right are stencils that help you create the design almost flawlessly. 

I learned that these particular designs are called, "Rangoli", and is used during many festivals here. The powder is made from rice (or other materials, like flour) and you can find many colors--all being very bright! 

I thought they were really beautiful. Many of the shops we passed actually had designs like these on the side of steps in front of their building. I don't understand all the cultural meanings or implications, but it was something very unique for us to discover while we were out shopping the other day!

I sometimes wonder about what I think is normal in the State's that other cultures would consider fascinating. Just like Rangoli designs, this is something they do on a yearly basis--so while it's probably special, it's still common enough to know about and to not think of it's uniqueness. I imagine if I thought hard enough, I would be able to come up with many holidays, customs, and events Americans perform that would be strange or unique to other places.

All this to say, you don't have to live in an "exotic" place to capture interesting photos. I encourage you to go out today and to think critically about your life situation. What is unique? What is special? What do I think is "normal" that other places would see as interesting? Capture those photos and see what comes of it! Send me a link in the comments section if you go out--I'd love to see your work.

-Ashley

Life Happened

I've been slightly avoiding this initial blog post after my hiatus, as I knew it had been an incredibly long period since I had written on this blog. I went from updating from 4-6 times a week to nothing for two months! What happened?!

Let me tell you--life has happened. Not only did I move across the world during this time, but visited a few places in between and have been more busy than I ever could have anticipated! Between setting up a home, getting used to living in South Asia again (which includes figuring out how to not talk in English!), and trying to get into a routine--everything else has paused whether I've liked it or not. And unfortunately I'm far from finished with the above things.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to post like I was previously for now, but I do hope to post at least a few times a week, as I have many exciting things coming up in the future in regards to photography. I'll explain those more in another blog post (believe me, super exciting)!!

For now, I just wanted to say, "I'm alive and doing well" and post some long overdue photos, which I had planned to post in July (...such as the 4th of July fireworks). Such is life.  Better late than never! :)

 Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm f/2.8  |  f/22, 1/80 sec, ISO-640  |  Koh Samui, Thailand

Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm f/2.8  |  f/22, 1/80 sec, ISO-640  |  Koh Samui, Thailand

This picture was taken last year some time on a trip to an island in Thailand. It is a beautiful place and I recommend everyone going, especially if you like to dive! I wouldn't know, because I didn't dive on that trip, but I'm told it's stunning. I'm normally drawn towards color, but I liked the change to black and white for this photo, as it accentuated the texture of the sand and the light on the water. :) 

Happy Friday!

-Ashley