It’s still January right? I can still reflect on last year and highlight my Best of 2016?
Actually, this started out as a post about my Best of 2016 until I realized I was choosing photos for which I hadn’t yet published a story.
Why not? Sometimes it was because the story wasn’t big enough and the photo was all there was of the telling. Other times, it was because the story was too big and I wasn’t up for the telling.
In any event, here are some of my favorite photos of 2016 and the stories that were never published.
Omoide Yokocho in Tokyo
Omoide Yokocho or “Piss Alley” is a small, iconic bar district in Tokyo.
It’s not the most friendly place. In fact, one of the bars on the outskirts has an explicit “No Tourists” sign (written in English for those pesky foreigners).
However, further inside the boundaries where the yakatori stalls are cheek to jowl with the izakaya bars, the hosts are friendlier and the atmosphere more welcoming.
I was waiting on my kushiyaki plate and fiddling with my camera, when I noticed this gentleman across the alley. A quick nod was all I needed to take this shot.
Tokyo, Japan. January 2016
MAG marker in Laos
In Laos I learned some new words.
MAG. UXOs and Bombies.
Mines Advisory Group. Un-eXploded Ordnance. Little bombs.
During the Vietnam war there more than 580,000 bombing missions over Laos. That’s equivalent to one bombing every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years. Thirty percent of these bombs did not explode. They remained dormant but live and were (are) hidden dangers to civilians years after the war had ended.
Walking through Laos we learned very quickly to stay on MAG cleared paths. Random rambling could be deadly. UXOs are still being found today.
These little blocks indicate MAG cleared safe zones. They seem so innocuous. Faded rocks on well trodden foot paths. Stepping stones on quiet streams. Gentle reminders that bucolic rice fields were once war zones.
Plain of Jars, Laos. February 2016
Border Guards at the DMZ South Korea
Our coldest and wettest day in South Korea was spent at the DMZ/JSA. It was appropriate weather for visiting a site that was bleak, dark and overwhelmingly desolate.
The tale of border patrol between North and South Korea is sad.
On the North side of the Joint Security Area (JSA), there’s a heavily armed soldier aggressively watching the border for South Korean attacks and North Korean defections.
Behind him, a heavily armed soldier aims a gun at his head, aggressively watching him for his possible defection.
On the South side of the JSA, the ROK guards maintain a constant intimidation stance. They watch the North and South side of the border.
Across an expanse of about 500 meters, the South Korean guard stares down the North Korean guard.
It’s a stare down that’s been on going since 1953.
Panmunjon, South Korea. May 2016
Hometown Burger & Fries
After a photo crawl through Toronto’s Graffiti Alley we took a break in a nearby Queen St diner.
It had been a perfect summer day.
Warm but not hot.
Fresh Canadian air and brilliant sunshine.
Vivid street murals which had popped with vibrancy and life.
It was a visual respite to hide out in a cool and dark diner.
And the burger & fries were excellent!
Toronto, Canada. July 2016
Hong Kong Red
The first time I visited Hong Kong was after a year of living in Beijing.
After the rough and tumble turmoil of China, I remember wanting to drop to my knees and Thank God for my return to urban sanity, order and control.
Since then much has changed. I’ve lived in and visited better and worse cities. But I will always have soft spot for Hong Kong.
For me, this photo captures the city’s essence. The mural’s wild graphics and kooky clown portray Hong Kong’s frenetic energy and character. The blur of the pedestrian adds the feeling of motion, a constant in this city that never sleeps.
Hong Kong. November 2016