After Garze, pass the guru praying in a field then navigate through a large temple with dozens of young men running around in yellow and red robes. Exit through the back gate they will unlock for you, ride your bike for a couple of kilometers along a single track of dirt and past a stupa. You will find a tiny and ancient temple set into the mountains, where an old monk resides with a lama and a couple of nuns. After purchasing eggs, as the nuns led me the long way around the temple to continue traversing clockwise along the outer wall, I return to my room upstairs.
The horses are below me, the other monk is the room next to me reading ancient texts and reading…I can feel the breathing of the walls all around me. Standing in cheap purple Chinese thermals, barefoot, teeth chattering and my arms wrapped around me. I have no other clothes as everything is wet after tipping head first into the hot springs a few hundred meters away. Silently, I slowly move my body along the concrete covered wood planked floors with my eyes examining every brush stroke along the walls. Reaching out to touch the colors and shapes, my finger tips feel the cold walls and the story begins to come alive in front of me. There are magical beasts, great spiritual figures, symbolism that seems familiar but from where…and when. I sense synchronicity with all the inanimate around me. Everything seems so quiet, yet so vivid and lucid. Am I the only one that can hear this…surely not…
"Hey…you" is whispered from a hatchway in the roof. Grounding myself, I look for Brandon, a cyclist from San Francisco I had met a week earlier in a remote Tibetan town, also on a Saga. I climb the rungs feeling every grain of bamboo in my arches and I am now at one of the highest points in the valley at the base of glacier topped mountains.
We say nothing, stand silently, faces turned upwards to the heavens. I begin to see the first stars of my own constellation. It would take years and thousands of miles to finally make out the Lone Huntress with her faithful chiru at side…eternally traveling northwest, the direction of the unknown.
Sitting with 8 siblings in a small living area, lit with one bare fluorescent bulb, that smells of human spirit, animal pelts, and unpasteurized milk and cheese, there is the thunderous rumble of a machine outside. The excitement in the home grows; the smiles turn into laughter and the old rickety door is nearly thrown off it’s hinges as father comes through the doorway as blustery as a gale-force wind.
Mother begins to laugh from the corner where she slices old wilted vegetables with her dark brown fingers that appear as dancing twigs from an old weeping willow tree. He’s a man of great stature, gentle composure, and the grandest smile that makes wrinkles appear at his eyes like the most exotic fish tails you could ever envision. The children run to him and embrace him tightly; countless arms wrapped around his massive body and I have to refrain from running to him as I’m overtaken by the simple joy, love, and harmony all around me. He removes his thick animal pelt to keep the frozen Tibetan air from freezing his bones on the blustery evenings and sits to enjoy the evening with his family.
Each and every child, all 8, took turns sitting next to him, sharing stories of their day, explaining who the awkward foreigner was in the corner grinning from ear to ear…she must of looked as if in ecstasy.
These are the moments, the memories, the dreams I roam with through this life….etched into my memory that I will never be able to convey with images or words.
The family’s living quarters, still chilled from the previous evening, the eldest of the 8 siblings helps her younger sister dress in the sunlight coming through the large windows facing east. The men and boys are outside loading the tractor with supplies that will be sold and traded will the women prepare foods and other domestic goods for travel.
The sisters speak with one another quietly and humbly; sensing a great respect each has for the other. When surrounded by compassion and love, you forget about the freezing hands, aching body, empty stomach, and what the future may hold. There’s no meaning of time and really nowhere else to be…
Standing next to a cliff with fresh ice melt trickling into a stream, weaving between hundreds of animal skulls and pelts; the smell of the rot is overwhelming. I carefully, and respectfully, walk away from the site while never turning my back upon the site of ancient rituals and magic. A small group of Tibetans greet me and there is a community of three or four families living in permanent, mud packed structures. I watch her laughing to herself as she marches along the perimeter of a mad packed wall. Walking towards the stupa, she slips her hand into my palm. Closing her tiny, weather worn fingers around my hand and we look at each other and smile with a child-like gaze. No one is leading nor lagging; traveling together in unison and harmony; souls complementing one another. The touch reminds me I’m human, with all my insecurities and fears; overwhelmed with the innocence, imagination, and purity of the child’s love. We play with the horses, laugh under the prayer flags while inspecting and investigating everything that sparks our curiosity. She falls over with giggles after watching my attempt to milk the goats, even after her excellent hands-on instructions. She is flying around all of us, feet barely ever touching the ground, buzzing with energy and joy. Her brightness and warmth glows as intense as the last, and single ray of sunshine.
Modern day society has no place for those of us who have no desire to be leaders and refuse to be simply led. There are a few places left on this earth that allows us curious wanderers and rejects of the world to be free and live anonymously to learn and develop our true self and accept one’s purest form of identity. We can only have one perfect relationship in life, and that’s with ourself; once we’ve learned to accept and love all our imperfections. Not enough love in the world these days, folks…to all my fellow loners, misfits, and dreamers…it’s time for a revolution of consciousness.
"Just choose one, Moseman…both will you lead you somewhere". At a crossroads where I don’t have a legal permit to be, only 2 buses passing a day, 1 liter of water remaining, eating emergency food rations, and extended time at that altitude was causing horrendous physical effects, I was predicting my demise…you don’t have time to sit at a crossroads examining the paths to see which seems to show a history of more travel or kicking dirt around trying to forsee what will be at the end of each road. It’s not about the path we choose in life, it’s about making a choice and then cycling through with conviction, passion, dedication, free thought, and open heart. It’s not what route you choose that matters, it’s how you live through the journey that you felt was the "right"one at that moment. People say they are "lost", no, they aren’t…they have chosen not to choose…they haven’t yet begun their journey. How can you be lost in life when you aren’t even living? This ain’t the gospel…just the inner-ramblings of a long-distance-lunatic-cyclist on a saga with skies in the eyes and a fiery heart that rules my journey.
Hours spent sitting along the banks of Namucuo, the highest (alpine) lake on Earth, watching the current bring the most crystal clear water to my feet. Complete silence except for a single heartbeat, the pulsing of my own blood, and the water gently rolling and crashing to accompany the beat of my own rhythm. No one around for as far as eyes could see, small schools of fish in the water, massive coal black ravens along the bank tending to themselves, and insects skimming across the surface. The waters and skies merging into one along the horizon, no longer able to differentiate between earth and the heavens. We are one and at the mercy of it all.
Speaking to the neighbors during an evening stroll through the gardens along the edge of the Pamirs, before breaking fast for Ramadan.
In Tajikistan, you can encounter villages predominately of women and children, as many men are working out of the country such as in Russia. I’m not sure if there many other places I’ve felt so safe and welcomed, by all.
Earlier in the day, this older woman had insisted on giving me a bath. As I’m standing in the mud packed wash room, modestly with all my undergarments on, she insists I take EVERYTHING off and get in the tub. I’m always up for an adventure and experience and this surely was…and will never be forgotten.
Later the women, children, and I would dance in a room together and that evening I would share a room with her and the youngest boy in this photo.
"Gonona kathi", the Bengali name for the ancient tally counting system, being used on a ship carrying cargo along the Jamuna River in Bangladesh.
A tally (or tally stick) was an ancient memory aid device used to record and document numbers, quantities, or even messages. Tally sticks first appear as animal bones carved with notches, in the Upper Paleolithic; a notable example is the Ishango Bone. Historical reference is made by Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79) about the best wood to use for tallies, and by Marco Polo (1254-1324) who mentions the use of the tally in China. Tallies have been used for numerous purposes such as messaging and scheduling, and especically in financial and legal transactions, the the point of being currency.
Principally there are two different kinds of tally sticks, the single and split tally. A common form of the same kind of primitive counting device is seen in various kinds of prayer beads.
Men load fertilizer along the banks of the Jamuna River in Bangladesh. March 2014
The Jamuna river is a braided river and is highly susceptible to channel migration and avulsion. Every rainy season, the sandbars are destroyed and new ones are formed. This makes navigating very difficult as the route will change from year to year. It takes about 3 days for a ship to navigate from Chittagong to the port of Baghabari Ghat.
Zorna stands next to her husband in a slum camp developed for garment workers near Dhaka, Bangladesh. February 2014
This young woman is approximately 25 years old and has resided here for the last 10 years. The young couple has one son together that lives with extended family in their hometown of Jamalpur-Sherpur. I was told that the two must reside in separate quarters of the camp, as men and women are separated to prevent problems from arising.
This portrait received an Honorable Mention from the 2014 Professional Women Photographers Open Call.
A 10 year old Bangladeshi girl holds the hand of her little brother in the slums that were built to house the workers and their families of a garment factory near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
These two, with their 2 older sisters and parents have resided in this worker camp for over 5 years. Children will become adults within these squalor conditions, with no educational facilities, to break the cycle of poverty.
More than likely, these two will eventually become employees of the factory, marry a fellow employ, and spend the remaining of their working years here. Generally, garment workers can’t physically work past the age of 40 because the detrimental effects the work has on them.
It’s not only in Bangladesh that people live in conditions like this, and unsafe factory conditions. It’s a worldwide problem. Bangladesh currently has a lot of organizations, volunteers, and NGOs trying to make it better and to help. Some worker camps are starting to see some sort of educational and health facilities. Hopefully, over time and with awareness, we’ll see positive changes.
I want to thank all of my new followers, it really means a lot and encourages me to continue this work I’m passionate about. This work is all self-funded but it’s the love for humanity that keeps me going. Again, so honored and gracious for the new 500 followers! You can follow me at www.facebook.com/adventurer.photographer to keep up to date with future projects and shenanigans.
Rokiabezom states she is approximately 30 years of age and has been separated from her husband and one son for over 7 years, as she is living and working at a garment factory near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
There is something about this woman and her sari that reminds me of my own mother 30 years ago. As a child in the United States, my mother used to have a robe she wore around the house of almost an identical print and I remember pulling on it and wrapping myself up in it.
Race, nationality, religion aside…this woman’s face speaks for the millions of women around the world that make personal sacrifices every moment of their life, in hopes to provide for their family.