Thailand

Every time I travel, I’m often reminded of how truly small I am in the world. I meet people on a daily basis that have a life that is completely different and foreign to what I know. It gets me excited and it gets me out of my comfort zone and thrust into a foreign land with people I don’t know and a language I don’t speak. The world is a huge and small place all in one, depending on your perspective. The one thing that always rings true for me when I travel is how genuine most people really are. People are interested in who you are and the feeling is always reciprocated; I’m interested in other people’s cultures and customs. What makes them tick? Why do they do what they do? Why are they so welcoming to a stranger? This attitude that I see so frequently when traveling rubs off on me and makes me want to return the favor to people visiting my own country. It really is a wonderful opportunity to get to travel and broaden your mind and your horizons. What an exciting day and age that we get to live in.

I had the incredible opportunity to visit Thailand this February with my brother. We decided that adventure in our eyes as traveling brothers typically involves motorbikes or some form of 2 wheeled transportation, so we decided to rent motorbikes for the first leg of the trip. We ended up renting our bikes from Bangkok Scooter Rental who were an incredible resource. They provide us with 2 Honda CRF250′s that performed flawlessly. We packed all of our gear into our trusty Wolfman luggage and hit the road. We started our journey in Bangkok, traveled along the AH2 / Route 1 and landed in Chiang Mai. We saw a plethora of incredible Wats (temples) along the way, which gave us time off the bikes and time to reflect on the culture and religion of the Thai people. From Chiang Mai, we heard through word of mouth that we should visit a sleepy town called Pai. Traveling about 150km on winding roads through small villages, valleys and mountains we ended up in the hippy-friendly community of Pai. I never got quite used to riding my motorbike on the road and seeing elephants right beside me as I drove by; such a surreal experience. I ended up walking along the street markets at night sipping on an extremely cheap Chang Thai beer and enough Nutella crepes to make even a 5 year old sick. My brother and I rented a quaint hut alongside the Pai river where we were able to relax and watch the sunset. After leaving Pai, we made our way back down to Bangkok, parked the motorbikes and flew to Phuket. We quickly decided Phuket was a little too crowded and touristy for us, so we rented a car and made our way along the coast to Krabi. Along the way, we chartered a long tail boat for the day and were able to see the Ao Phang-nga Marine National Park. It was a beautiful day of riding inside the bay of the Andaman Sea hoping from one rock formation to the next. We ended up seeing the James Bond Island, Khao Phing Kan from afar, but decided the hefty price to get off the boat to see the rock formation on an island teeming with sun-burnt tourists wasn’t quite our cup of chai tea. From here, our long-tail boat driver dropped us off at Koh Panyi which is a really neat floating village occupied by a Muslim community. We continued our journey further into Krabi and ended up at Ao Nang which is a bit of a touristic beach town, not too dissimilar from Panama City Beach, Florida. After having a relaxing break and having a Chang beer on the beach, we decided to jump over to Railay Beach via long tail boat. All of the beaches are connected to each other with long tail boats that cost a few hundred baht each. Once we arrived at Railay Beach we watched a beautiful sunset over the ocean and I indulged in a Thai massage. If you ever get the chance to have a Thai massage, I cannot recommend it enough. At times it can be a little painful, but the end result is you in a puddle of feel-good soup on the floor. I ended up meeting and exploring with my buddy Joel from Atlanta Georgia who was on his yearly vacation with the Clark Howard crew. The following day, we booked a snorkeling excursion in which we visited multiple rock formations in the Andaman Sea, jumped off cliffs into the ocean, had a lovely evening BBQ on the boat followed by a night swim with the bio luminescent plankton (which actually can sting you quite a bit!) We continued to explore caves and epic mountaintop views the following day and I was soon learning why Ao Nang / Railay Beach is a travel destination for rock climbers. I would love to come back and spend a few weeks being a little monkey on the rocks! After our time in Krabi we decided it was time to head back to Phuket to travel home. On the way back, we stopped at my favorite Wat of the entire trip, Wat Bang Riang.

After we landed back in the states I was still in shock that I was able to experience such an incredible country. Next on the list is Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Mynanmar (Burma) and Malaysia. Motorbikes will not be optional in these countries either, if I can help it. The travel bug has completely bitten and embedded itself in me and I think I’m infected for life. :)

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to do so in the comment section or send me an email directly at kyle.hale (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sit back, relax, pop open a Chang beer if you have one laying around and most of all, enjoy!

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Incredible India | Part One

India.

The people. The colors. The food. The smells. The noise. The raw, in-your-face glimpse into an alluring culture that couldn’t be more polar opposite from Western society. There’s very good reason why the adjective ‘Incredible’ has been ascribed to this country.

At the beginning of January, I embarked on an epic 45 day long motorcycle journey across the northern region of India that included Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab. To say I was nervous to ride a motorcycle in India is an incredible understatement. I’ve read the stories from motorcycle forums, but nothing could prepare me for what I experienced. I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was a kid, and have been riding on the road as an adult for over 10 years. Riding a motorbike in India, well, this was a completely different animal. To give you an idea of what it was like for me, think of riding a motorbike in India like the movie Mad Max… there are no road rules, everyman for himself, and you better always be on your guard. You can imagine how much this could stress someone out, and how tired I was at the end of each day from the constant worry that I was going to wreck. At the end of the trip, I can proudly say I did not wreck once. The only snafu that I managed to experience was a monkey that tore into my motorcycle seat at the top of a mountain.

But, enough about motorcycles.

I want to share with you my photographs from this once in a lifetime opportunity.

I want you to go slow here. I mean, really slow. For just a little while, I want you to escape the mindset of Western culture that is always go, go, go. Grab some coffee and relax. Don’t let your phone distract you, turn it off or put it face down. Take your time. Don’t fly through these images like a marathon. Viewing all of these images is going to take some time out of your day, but I hope that you find this investment of your time to be worth it. To get a glimpse into a culture so unfamiliar to you. I want these images to invoke a feeling or perhaps many feelings inside of you, whether it’s awe, excitement, wonder, anger, compassion, empathy, sadness, or gratitude. Honestly, I wish I could see your actual reaction and experience your feelings in person, rather than via text through a computer screen. Because that’s what it means to be human, to have feelings and emotions and share that experience with others. That’s why I got into photography in the first place; it stirred my emotions and made me feel something. It made me want to connect with humans, with nature, with my surroundings.

My hope as a photographer is that these images will inspire you to see the beauty in the world outside of your own familiar surroundings. I hope that you’ll want to travel to India and experience this incredible country as I did. If you feel inclined, I hope you would share this post with friends and family. If you would like to order any prints from this collection, please reach out to me at kyle.hale@gmail.com.

This is the first installment of my India photographs. I hope to show another installment in the not too distant future.

All of these images were edited with VSCO Film. This company is doing incredible things for the photography industry and I highly recommend checking them out for editing photos.

And as the old saying goes in India,

Namaste.

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Ashley & Chris | Cabbage town engagement

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