My Best Photo in 4 Months

Charlene journal

It was one of the rare occasions that I had a full hour to hang around and just watch Buthena attend to her clients. Everyone was a little unsure about the cameras at first but I was there for so long that they got used to it and stopped paying me any attention.

That, for me, is always when the magic happens.

On returning home

Charlene journal, vagabonding 2 Comments

Singapore Home is so often the hardest place to return to. As I celebrate 4 years on the road, I’ve noted feeling something suspiciously akin to gladness at being in Singapore. This is unusual for me, given the isolation of coming back to empty spaces of friends and family who have left, sets in too quickly, and by the time I’ve been here 2 weeks, I’m desperate to leave. I arrived at the start of December, this time around, and it’s been different. December and January have been exceptionally rich months with the important people in my life. I got to see both my sisters in short order of each other, which is incredible, given one lives in Malaysia and the other in the USA …

Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef

Charlene journal 7 Comments

Bryce Canyon National Park was the first proper post-jetlag, now-we’re-getting-sleep-and-have-balance hiking we did. We walked around for hours among the hoodoos and great towering cliffs, breathing deeply, lucky to be there at this point in time, enjoying the magnificence of the reserve. Capitol Reef National Park Another first. I hadn’t actually heard of Capitol Reef before this trip, a reserve built around a wrinkle in the earth called the Waterpocket Fold. We spent no time save a cursory drive through, on our way to the other side. I took the opportunity to make a picture or two of our rental for the month – a silver Toyota Camry, which I found myself really, really enjoying. It’s a sure sign of age when excellent fuel economy, space and comfort become distinct pleasures. My …

Valby to Vegas

Charlene journal 12 Comments

The grey ended in spectacular fashion, during my last week in Denmark. There was glorious sunshine, and Flemming and I got back to Valby (a suburb of Copenhagen where his sister, who kindly hosts us gypsies, lives) in time to catch the trees aglow in Søndermarken. I’ve never been in Denmark so late in the year, and I was agog the entire time, still not believing that trees do this – turn a colour so incredible I have no words for what it does to my heart. I was reminded of the only other time I experienced fall colors at scale, two years ago now. Flemming and I toured the western half of the USA in late 2014, clocking up 10,000 miles on the rental car during the 3 months we were there. I blogged about …

The endless grey

Charlene journal 7 Comments

Nordjylland, Danmark It’s been about two weeks since I’ve seen any sun. The sky has been a flat not-quite white which fades to black at night, and lightens to an evening shade of grey when it becomes day. It weighs more when a drizzle wanders in, but that is all the change there is. Fog and mist and rain are a hair’s breadth from being the same thing. Shadows are barely perceptible, but the trees that have their leaves are a deep green, and others shedding their foliage are unrepentantly gold. The passage of the season is clearer to me right now than that of a day. The light never shifts except to evaporate at night and coagulate again in the next morning, washing the world dimly. Time is seeing a dark cloud in the great grey. That at least, …

One night in Copenhagen

Charlene journal 2 Comments

I walked around the center of Copenhagen for hours today. And realized with a jolt, that after all the time I’ve spent here – every summer for the last 3 years – I’ve never been out in it on my own. This being Flemming’s home city, I’m always with him when we’re here. But today I padded around the city in the way I’ve done in so many others as long as I’ve lived this travelling life: Alone, allowing its rhythm and melody to settle under my skin. Made some pictures. Lots of crap, as always happens when I am somewhere new (and Copenhagen might as well be new, for all the attention I haven’t paid it until now). There might be an award winner …

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 2 Comments

It pissed down all day, the skies soggy like my feet. St. Sava Church, monumental in the true scale of the word, a veined marble behemoth calmly dwarfing the surrounding urban motley. The church of St. Sava has been under some stage of construction since the society was that was created for this purpose, was founded in 1895. Wars, I hear, get in the way of such things. Its exterior was completed around 2009, but its interior is bare hulking bone, a cavernous jangle of protective sheeting, studio lights and an infestation of TV cabling – the high-speed IV for that night’s service broadcast. On its rough-hewn stone floor, oblivious to the production in progress, devout and day trippers alike busied, lighting candles, taking snapshots, selfies, and shelter from the rain. We slipped back out into wet, chased by reverberations from the rehearsing choir, …

Belgrade Day 4: No rest for the wicked

Charlene journal 1 Comment

Some days I succumb to fatigue and leave it to do with me, what it will. Thoughts are dark, dreams of even less light. Just walking out the damn door is a challenge. I see-saw at that inside-outside threshold like a wary animal. Outside there is noise and bright light and people who will look at me and might even talk to me. Every brush with another human being is a collision (to plagarize May Sarton). The ones I long for contact with are out of reach; we mutually understand that evidence of the things we most need to speak of, must be destroyed. Sometimes the truth of why I keep move is self evident. Sludge under a footfall. Unable to wake, gripped in a long scream.