Sunday, September 20, 2009

Roof of the world

I have a few big spreads in the current issue of Le Figaro magazine, one of France's prominent magazine. You can see it here. It's titled "les afghans du toit du monde", "Afghans on the roof of the world". Why Roof of the world? Pourquoi Toit du Monde? ... et bien voila: the Pamir, or Pamirs rather, as there are several, is the original Roof of the world. Here from Wikipedia: "The name Roof of the World was first applied to the Pamirs. The British explorer John Wood, writing in 1838, described Bam-i-Duniah (Roof of the World) as a "native expression" (presumably Wakhi)." Also fascinating: Pamir highlands is the nodal point of the mountain systems of Tien- Shan, Kun-Lun, Karakoram, The Himalayas and Hindukush, and therefore called the roof of the world. Here in full.
Ah: I am ready to fight for this one. I know it's a lost battle, but Roof of the World is the Pamirs, it's the traditional, original term, and people should know that Tibet or worth, Mt Everest, is a term borrowed to the Pamir... take that!

A view of the Roof of the world and the story behind:

That's an image shot from the Tajik Air flight bringing me from Delhi to Dushanbe in 2004, flying of the Pamirs. It was in the evening and beside me Russian passengers were doing the inevitable Russian thing: having vodka shots. We were sitting face to face, like in a train, no one wearing safety belt - they were none anyway. We played cards and ended up staying in Dushanbe at the house of the guy sitting across from us.
I planned the same route to get to Tajikistan in 2008 and found out in Delhi that the flight didn't exist anymore... Damn... "Not enough donors" told me the Tajik ambassador in Delhi. "We need people to donate, you should donate so we can fly Delhi-Dushanbe!!!" And then he charged us 620 USD (six-hundred twenty american dollars!!!) for three 3 months Tajik visa. What a steal... To try and find an alternative flight was a total nightmare, I had to pull all my skills as an impatient travel agent - we went through Dubai in the end. See the full story here on Mareile's Blog of our 2008 family trip to Tajikistan.

Hey: I AM BACK IN HONG KONG, CHINA, after 5 months on the road - gotta go back to dusting off the office...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Perpignan, Paris, Munich... et Hong Kong alors??

A major break on the blog front as I was running around Europe like a headless chicken the last 2/3 weeks.

A propos headless chickens.... do you know Mike?? incredibly, Mike the rooster lived for 18 months after his head got cut off. see that below? and read that... unbelievable but true!

Left Tajikistan on August 25th and after a few family days north of Montpellier, here is what happened:
- first there was Perpignan. Perpignan was great this year for me - my second time there: the first time, in 2002, a bit "green" out of school, was more stressful than exciting, I guess I was a bit too desperate to meet editors and "connect". This time, more laid back, I met some great people and just enjoyed the weird mix, vin blanc and passionate discussions.
- right after this, hitting the steel while its hot, I headed off to Paris and followed up on a couple of meetings, magazine editors, galleries, book publishers... My yearly round in France. It was jammed packed and quite productive: in fact, people are quite approachable. Among follow up on positive meetings, I will get an 8 pages in Le Figaro Magazine next week, coming out on this Saturday 19th 2009. Apparently, it's pretty major, Le Fig Mag as its known rarely does 8 pages anymore on reportage. So I am excited, it will be a great exposure in my homeland.
- after Paris, nothing better than a 4 days climb in North Italy, near Lago di Garda. I lead a few 6A climbs, I was aching, I am utterly out of shape... Tajikistan's heavy russian food is taking its toll.

Currently in Munich, Germany, I will be back in Hong Kong on September 18th, just in the path of a big typhoon that flooded our top floor apparently.

This month, I am also featured in Outside magazine (US), in the "your toughest shot" section. A picture shot in Siberia where I was left in a winter night and almost served as diner to the local bears - it was tough and so I called for mama.. click here to see the link.

Also just in: I will head out to Pakistan's northern areas - probably my favorite place on earth, on assignment. Can't talk about it for now, but an interesting story I have been thinking of for years. I am excited. I should be there the first 2 weeks of October.