Tokyo Weekend

Imagine a city of wires, of networks and circuit boards. A city where the arcade chimes of prizes, the clinking of coins and metallic squeals of excitement echo around you, buzzing alongside an endless trail of shimmering lights. This city is electric, it hums quietly with the static of millions of lives. It pulsates.

This city is Tokyo, and it is the furthest East I have ever been.

From the onset you are infused in technology, of scanners and screen, automated gates, tickets and buttons. Everything happens in seconds, and you are gently pushed forward in a stream of information while you try get up to speed. As you race in to the city, you notice how clean and orderly everything is. The buildings stand millimetres away from each other in their own special place, the streets are so clean they glow. Everything is efficient, even the compact doorways and windows try to conserve as much space as possible. Things are vastly different here, but that calm, polite static pervades the city, never leaving anyone behind.

The first stop is Asakusa, the ‘old town’. Although there is an antiquated air to the spotless streets, even they have been fused with supersonic tech. Here, thick cables wrap around ancient temples, and multicoloured lights glow from within paper lanterns. A Maiko, an apprentice Geisha, shuffles past airbrushed graffiti.

Next up is Akihabara, the Manga centre of Tokyo. Here, the old is only drawn and laminated, portrayed in saturated comic books as fantasy heroes, veneered to the sides of buildings for a few months at most. This is a land of Lego, of plastic and pachinko games.

Dusk is the perfect setting for the next adventure; a short trip through Shibuya, the busiest (and probably most photographed) intersection in the world, before heading to the centre of this sprawling chandelier, Shinjuku. This is the hub of Tokyo, packed to the brim with bars ranging in size from three storey restaurants to tiny rooms where the bartender takes up half the space. Each room is its own universe, the decorations ranging from leopard print covering every surface in one, to a fake lobby to Hell in the next.

A morning in Harajuku contrasts the wild evening by dousing it in sugar. Hereis where you’ll find the famous Lolita paraphernalia, the sweet and mischievous characters in anime that are dressed a specific way. Here the people sparkle in high-school-sweetheart outfits, and an army of Hello Kitties rampage through candyfloss covered stores.

Across the way is Yoyogi Park, the place it is said that takes on a Cosplay sheen every Sunday. Although the chances of spotting an intergalactic superhero isn’t certain, a lazy summer day in the park does offer a pool of manicured natural beauty amongst the towering skyscrapers.

And before you know it you are being whisked back to the airport, eyes shining and mind vibrating from the pulse of this cyber city. As you rise up through painted clouds from this vivid dream you are immediately left wanting more, to go back through the looking glass for just a little longer.

Credits:

Music: d’ne, “Like Physical (I Do Not Love. Remix)”

Camera: Canon 5DMkII

Editing Software: Avid Media Composer

Christmas in Korea

A back post today, but considering the weather in some parts of the world it’s not completely off topic!

My first white Christmas, showing the train ride from Busan (부산) to Daejeon (대전) in South Korea on Christmas Day 2012.
Music: “White Christms” by Rigger (Otis Brown) *free download* https://soundcloud.com/riggermusic. | https://www.facebook.com/riggermusic
Shot using a Gopro Hero2

Filmed on the Mugunghwa (무궁화호) ‘slow’ train in South Korea, the cheaper but slower option to the KTX. From Busan station (the main station in Busan) to Daejeon station the trip was 3.5 hours, and cost around US$18. This train is much cheaper than the KTX if time isn’t of the essence, especially if you have some good company for the trip.

Merry Christmas and subscribe for more videos.
Bring on 2013, year of the Black Snake!

Beijing, China

The regal capital of the People’s Republic of China suits the icy grip of winter, a season that seems to bring the riddled history and fortified architecture of Beijing into sharp relief.

The journey toward the center of this grid-like city is much easier today than it was a few centuries ago, with the rigid square structure designed in such a way as to be nothing more than a series of gates. As such, you could quickly find out your social standing if you tried to make your journey to the Forbidden City, situated in the very middle.

At present, however, the area is a haven for hostels and great experiences of the city, ranging from Tiananmen Square to the Forbidden Palace, and a few notorious Hutongs (alleyways) thrown in for good measure. For a more contemporary side to this metropolitan powerhouse, head towards the 798 Art District in the North East of the city,

Cinematography and Editing:
Craig Groenewald

Music:
Inspired and the Sleep, “Sink”

Equipment:
GoPro Hero 2
Adobe CS6 (Camera Raw, Bridge, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Effects)

Great Wall, China

Roughly an hour by bus from the center of Beijing stretches one of the largest man made structures on Earth. The Great Wall of China is a fitting symbol for a country that in many ways has not eroded despite the onslaught of millenia, and is a place that is definitely worth the visit.

The journey to the Wall is fairly straightforward, and there are a few well advertised packages that will take you and your group to certain Sections of the Wall. I would recommend visiting the Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall in winter (December-February), as it is a little quieter in the winter season.

Cinematography and Editing:

Craig Groenewald

Music:

Umin – Concentr – panuminium mix (featuring Matthew Shelton on Array Mbira)

https://soundcloud.com/bad-panda-records/badpanda198

Equipment:

GoPro Hero2

Adobe CC (Adobe Brisge CS6, Illustrator CS6, Premiere Pro CS6,  After Effects CS6)

And we have lift-off…

Ahoy there, welcome to my blog! This is the first post of many that will showcase some of the amazing experiences that this world has to offer.

In this blog, I hope to document and share my travels, and to share my knowledge and experience with fellow travelers who wish to go to some of the places.

It is an over-used phrase, but I also hope to give my viewers a few tips and pieces of advice that I discovered along the journey. Things that I wish I had known in advance that would have made the trip cheaper, easier and more engaging.

Finally, I hope to use this space for collaboration and dialogue, so if you have any questions, suggestions, or anecdotes I would love to hear from you! I am also committed to exploring and sharing meaningful and poignant stories of any kind, so if you are working on a project or are in the same area/timezone at any given time, then drop me a message and we can unite forces!

Here’s to the next wild ride!
Just remember to…

Keep moving and travel light,
Because you don’t know where you’ll end up…

Credits:
Film and Editing: Craig Groenewald
Music: Yu5Aku, “Ataru Waits”
https://soundcloud.com/yu5aku | http://www.youtube.com/user/Yu5aku | https://www.facebook.com/YusakuMusic

IMG_20130126_115046

Koh Tao Scuba Diving, Thailand

The first underwater footage using my Go-Pro, filmed just off the coast of Thailand on Koh Tao island

Koh Tao (Turtle Island) is probably the cheapest place in the world to get SCUBA certified, with dive shops dotted all along the island. An overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani and a two hour ferry ride in the early morning will get you to it’s azure shore, from which you can immediately immerse yourself into some of the clearest, most diversely populated water this side of the Pacific.

Many thanks to Phoenix Divers for an unforgettable experience, as well as to an array of amazing individuals I met doing my Open Water course. I highly recommend finding and booking your course at Phoenix Divers.

Credits:
Cinematography and Editing:Craig Groenewald

Music: SMAUG, ‘Of Pain’ (Cogi Remix)

Equipment: GoPro Hero2, Adobe CS6 (Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Effects)

Guardians of Thailand

The Temples in Bangkok are some of the best places to see the intricate art that permeates Thai culture. These ‘Wats’ (as they are called in Thai) are filled with sculptures and artwork that serve to inspire, guide and protect those who seek it. Many of these sculptures allude to particular Bodhisattva’s, or Guardians, who are meant to embody a particular form of mercy, advice, or prayer.
This clip hopes to commemorate these guardians, not only in the metaphysical sense, but the guardians of culture, spirit and identity that can be found in a very real sense throughout Thai culture.

Music: Sad Soul Circus, ‘Colorful Lights’ (https://soundcloud.com/sadsoulcircus)
Location: Bangkok, Thailand (Wat Saket, Wat Pho, Grand Palace, Wat Phrakaew), January 2013
Film and Editing: Craig Groenewald
Equipment: GoPro Hero2 and Canon 5D Mk2

The eternal recurrence of human stories, and the Bodhisattva's put here to help guide us through them.
The eternal recurrence of human stories, and the Bodhisattva’s put here to help guide us through them.

Songdo Beach, South Korea

Songdo Beach (송도해변) is Busan’s ‘first’ public beach, and will celebrate it’s centennial anniversary in 2013.
The beach itself is close to the harbour, and although not as lively as Haeundae or Gwangali, it’s probably a lot closer to visitors arriving near Busan Station or staying around Nampo-dong.

From the Nampo-dong subway station, take bus 26 and you’ll see the beach after 10-15 minutes.
Cinemtography and Editing:
Craig Groenewald

Equipment:
Gopro Hero 2
Adobe CS6 (Premiere Pro)

Music: “Truth” by Dead Times
| dead-times.com | @dead-times | twitter.com/DeadTimesMusic
This song is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.