It was American author Henry Miller who said, "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."

I still remember years ago, getting up in the darkness to make my way to Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise over its iconic temple. I remember even better the shattering of the expected tranquility of that moment by the sudden and then continuous flash of cameras from people all around me, illuminating the darkness the second the sun began to peer over the horizon. It was that moment I vowed to stop taking photos of my travels, as the more places I went, the more convinced I became that people no longer experience the places they are in, but rather photograph them so they can actually experience them at home. As a result, most places are now seen through the ubiquitous filter of the screen of the digital camera, which allows the almost obsessive documentation of every second of a trip, to be enjoyed later when it is over. 

In fact, I stuck to my guns for several years, until the ease and unimposing nature of the compact digital camera, and later my iPhone, seduced me back slowly to photographing my trips. I still don't see much point in photographing iconic places, when there are so many better pictures than I could ever take already out there; my purpose is never to document the place I visit, but my personal experience of it, and the things which stand out to me. After 20 years of travelling, I thought it was time to collate the ragtag bag of images, formats and filters from hard drives and photo libraries together into one place, and this (in some ways sadly) incomplete collection is what forms the content of Turas: a portal to store and share a photographic record of my travels, shot on camera and phone, which form a far from perfect picture of at least some of the places I have been.



BARCELONA

Since spending a balmy summer sangria-soaked month there while taking my TEFL certificate, and visiting it several times since, I have laways had a complete understandable fondess for Barcelona. Perhaps it is the football, the fierce sense of independence and cultural integrity, the effortless historic mix of languages and cultures, the wonderful free-flowing food and drink, the laidback and relaxed atmosphere that pervades the city, or the treasure trove of iconic art in public and private spaces. More liklely it's a combination of all of these things. 

All photos were shot and edited on the iPhone6.

BIBLE LANDS

For all the stereotypes with which the Middle East and North Africa is painted, from Morocco to Lebanon to Yemen I have never travelled anywhere as welcoming and friendly. The images here were made on different trips through Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. 

BEIJING

The Chinese characters for 'bei' & 'jing' translate as the 'Northern Capital', and the prospect of having to leave my adopted Tokyo (the 'Eastern Capital') for an intensive four day course in its polluted, sprawling cityscape filled me with dread. My previous two visits had left me with little love or further fascination for the Chinese capital, but what I found on my third visit, seven years after my last, was a much more vibrant and appealing place than I had remembered. Admittedly I only experienced the dreaded pollution through the stories of my course colleagues resident there, and only had to grapple with its choking road traffic on one evening out of the five, but the grey, spartan, communist-style city I remembered from my first visit 15 years ago seemed like so much more of a distant memory. 

All photos were shot and edited on iPhone6.

BURMA/MYANMAR

Much has been written about Burma, that is far more eloquent than anything I could pen here. I read the incredible Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin, and it instantly inspired me to visit at a time when the political situation in the country was finally changing dramatically from the depressing status quo which had existed for many years. I found a fascinating country, largely untouched by tourism, and somewhere that (at least in my own mind) I imagined reflected other countries in the region like Thailand around 30 or so years ago, before mass tourism had hit. You could undoubtedly feel the scars of the past, and the nervousness about the future for sure, but the Burma I visited was undoubtedly a place in irreversible transition.

All photos were shot and edited on iPhone6.


ICELAND

I spent a magical summer in Icleand which I will never forget: living in Reykjavik, driving Route 1 around the island, and exploring its highlands in a Dodge 4x4 on 'roads' that only open in summer. Iceland is by far one of the most diverse places I have been in terms of the sheer variety of landscapes and how they morph and merge seamlesly into one and another, and a truly breathtaking destination.

All photos were shot and edited on the iPhone6.

JAPAN

I lived more of my life in Japan than in the country of my birth. Many thousands of words have been written, more skilfully than I ever could, about the contrasts and contradictions of modern Japan, of which this small selection of images barely scrapes the surface.

All photos were shot and edited on the iPhone5/6.

KRAKOW: AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

All photos were shot and edited on the iPhone6.

LUANG PRABANG, LAOS

What the Lonely Planet guidebook refers to as 'a lonely backwater', CARE lists as still being one of the most mined countries in the world. Even a week in the old French colonial jewel of Luang Prabang was enough to confirm it as easily one of the most, if not the most chilled places in Asia, with none of the frantic selling, haggling and endless attention-seeking that is so much a feature of travelling in the better beaten paths of the region.

All photos were shot and edited on the iPhone6.

SEOUL

Seoul could never replace Tokyo in my heart but the similarities are many, and its proximity - less than 100km - from the DPRK brings a unique dimesion to its very existence. It is a fascicnting and overpopulated melange of technology, materilaism, Christianity & Buddhism and kind, warm-hearted people. 

All photos were shot and edited on iPhone6.

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

The jewel in the crown of Cambodian tourism, nowadays Siem Reap seems to simultaneously embody timeless temples with apparently relentless economic development.

All photos were shot and edited on the iPhone5.

TAIPEI

Following the arc of the Okinawan islands south from Japan, I was always curious about visiting Taiwan. Although I was based only in Taipei for a few days, it did not disappoint to me. It seemed in many ways - at the risk of oversimplification - the perfect fusion of so many of the good things about living in a large Japanese city
with the food and culture of China. 

All photos were shot and edited on iPhone6.