Friday, April 13, 2007

why we travel

As part of the NYT online Why We Travel series, here are some of the most recent photographs of travelers, who explain briefly what brought them to the place where they're visiting.

ON THE GREAT WALL AT SIMATAI, CHINA, At Sunrise, Sept. 21, 2006 Richard Brackett, 43, a freelance photographer from San Leandro, Calif.: “I haven’t had a calendar or a watch for the last year and a month. I don’t need a whole lot of money to travel. In Mongolia, I spent $80 in two months. I start walking and hitchhiking and whatever happens, happens. Nowadays, travelers aren’t really meeting people or opening up. Everyone’s following each other with their laptops, waking up late, missing out on the good sunrises. The night before this picture was taken, I slept on the uneven stone slab floor of the highest fortress so I could wake up early and experience the dawn glory. The wall stretches out forever, I mean like, man, it’s infinite. I kept wondering why they didn’t build it across the ocean.” As told to Seth Kugel

ENJOYING THE VIEW FROM 15,771 FEET, MONT BLANC, FRANCE, Sept. 22, 2006 Felix Strobel, 24, a law student from Freiburg, Germany: “My family and I started hiking the Alps maybe 10 years ago, and after a while it became a dream of ours to hike the highest mountain there, Mont Blanc. It took us two days, and on the first night I got elevation sickness. When we woke up at 3 the next morning and started to climb, I really wasn’t in good condition. Each step was difficult; I felt powerless; I had a headache. But when I reached the top, the sickness and the pain were gone, and I was just happy my whole family had made it. It was a clear morning — the sun had just risen a couple of minutes before. There were clouds beneath us, and you could see for hundreds of kilometers. Sometimes it was freezing on the way up, but when you’re at the top, suddenly you stop freezing because you’re so happy.” As told to Austin Considine

AT THE PERITO MORENO GLACIER, ARGENTINA, Nov. 21, 2006 Kathleen Kao, 26, a recent University of Texas law school graduate from San Antonio, Texas, visiting the Parque Nacional los Glaciares in Patagonia: “I had just graduated from law school and was scheduled to begin working at a law firm in New York. Instead, I decided to take a year off and travel while I figure out what I’d really like to do — which involves traveling and writing more than going to court, I suppose. In the picture with me is my friend, Huw Whyment. I met him and his girlfriend, Dellie, in Rio. They convinced me to go to Patagonia with them to see the whales and the glacier. The photographer took this photo right after a huge slab of ice detached from the glacier face in front of us. Huw is trying to capture video footage of more ice sloughing off. I am freezing my butt off.” As told to J. R. Romanko

ABOARD THE TRAIN FROM DAKAR, SENEGAL, TO BAMAKO, MALI, WEST AFRICA, Feb. 7, 2007 Julia Otis, 25, of La Jolla, Calif. “I was in Dakar for about seven months on an internship with Human Rights Watch, then left to take this crazy loop through West Africa. The train ride was the beginning. It was like a ghost train. It went about five kilometers an hour and would stop in every frontier town with a population of five and some lady selling bananas. In the photo, I was trying to get a breath of fresh air and a little space from my seatmate, whom we had dubbed Madame Crazy. She had some strange habits, including scratching flakes of skin off her feet and brushing them onto me. We had a very intimate time together, Madame Crazy and I, sleeping curled up next to each other like kittens. Despite the filth and the heat, it was a great way to start off the trip: 48 hours with absolutely nothing to do but think about what I was embarking on and stare out the window watching the baobab trees go by.” As told to Seth Kugel

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