A Meditation on Transit

Charlene journal 6 Comments

Singapore After seven weeks in New Zealand, Flemming and I returned to Singapore in early December, to the brand new Downtown Line on the MRT (metro) system. The best part? There’s a station right down the road from home. A five minute stroll from Mum’s front door, and I main-line it into the country’s urban heart, with a minimum of interruption and cross-over. Driverless trains sweep into swanky new underground stations anchoring a vast web of tunnels. We’ve come a long way from the 30 year old lines that run overground on elevated tracks, giving passengers a lofty view of the city rushing by. We’re now cushioned from the world above, plugged into our pocket worlds and chilled until we’re ready to be poured into …

Belgrade to Bar, and Back Again

Charlene journal, vagabonding 8 Comments

May 2016, Serbia to Montenegro “Are you looking for something specific?” the big, craggy man sitting next to me wanted to know, having listened to my camera schnicking away since he got in from one of the small towns near the border. “No,” I responded. “Just the scenery. It’s beautiful outside.” “It’s beautiful to you because you’ve never seen it before,” he said, waving a hand at the vista rushing by. “But I see it all the time!” Two weekends ago, Flemming and I took a very long train ride from Belgrade (Serbia) to the port town of Bar in Montenegro, and back again. The Belgrade to Bar railway makes it to The Guardian’s list of 10 spectacular rail journeys … that you’ve probably never heard of, Business Insider’s 10 spectacular rail journeys to take in your lifetime, among many others. There was …

The ticketing interlude

Charlene vagabonding 11 Comments

The first thing that hits as you when you enter the ticketing area of Belgrade’s main station is the smell of piss, then the sudden muting of the urban bustle just outside its walls. We walked in, didn’t see any signs we knew how to read, and decided to start at the information desk. “Hello,” I said to the lady behind the counter. “We want to buy tickets from -” “Ah!” She leapt to her feet, barked a string of instructions in Serbian, and gestured violently at one of the counters in the row behind us. “Tickets there?” we hazarded tentatively. Vigorous nodding. Her other hand joined in the gesturing for emphasis. Off we trotted to counter 18. Watched the pair of customers before us haggling about tickets they’d just bought, cutting off a crafty old fella who tried to …


Charlene journal 12 Comments

November 2015, Sri Lanka “Those carriages are from Romania,” said the little old man next to me. “They are fifty years old.” I’d scooted over on the long station bench to make room when he shuffled by. He sat between me and a man on the other side, birdlike, ancient, watching with interest while I took pictures of the carriages. There was a long scar that ran from just under his jaw, into his shirt. I found out later that he survived the rail disaster of 2004. The coastal train line that runs from Colombo to Galle that I am so charmed by, is at utter mercy of the ocean. “Where are you from?” he wanted to know. Singapore and Denmark, we said. He lit up at mention of the latter, bifocaled eyes magnifying the pleasure, eyebrows and ears lifting with …

The Fujinon XF 35mm F2 | A Lens With A Certain Flare

Charlene gear 71 Comments

I’ve had the new XF 35mm F2 lens from Fujifilm on loan for the last month, while Flemming and I were in Colombo, Sri Lanka. There’s nothing quite like taking new gear (to say nothing of the mind) for a spin in a fresh destination. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this lens. Plenty has been written about what a great lens the new 35 is, but new gear is usually met with a certain level of frenzy. I’m not a nit picker when it comes to gear, particularly since Fuji X-series gear is never bad. I already own the XF 35mm f1.4, which was for 2 years, the only lens I had to put on a camera. It’s endured some questionable treatment, and still works fine.  So I wasn’t …

Train station textures

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I have made the train journey from Copenhagen to Hannover and back several times in the past couple of years. Before this, I’d not travelled long distances on trains. I’m still in the thrall of this novelty – the iron clack of wheels (dampened in new trains), the ellipsis-and-comma rhythm of its motion, and time’s held breath common to transit, observed in the country that flashes by. Hannover HBF, Germany.