The Pictures that Inspired BBTB
Welcome to my mini photo album. And, when I say mini... I mean mini as I have hundreds, and hundreds, of pictures of my time in Southeast Asia. Whenever I write, my travel diary, as well as my pictures are an integral part of the process to ensure I've captured the essence of what I'm trying describe. Please see below, for a sneak peak of how my pictures and experiences made their way in my book and the 'just becauses' because they helped ignited my creativity.
One of my favourite things to do when I travel, is at the end of the day make sure I have myself positioned for an optimal view of the sunset. When I was in Laos, I was fascinated that I could sit on one side of the Mekong River and see Thailand so tantalizingly close on the other side. For the Hmong who fought against the Viet Con, after the Vietnam War ended many crossed the Mekong in search of refuge—just as Bao’s Grandmother did. For the non-swimming hilltribe people, this crossing was no easy feat especially during the monsoon season and with guns firing at your back.
Just because I love them I’ve thrown in a few other landscape shots of picturesque Laos and the Mekong River Delta in South Vietnam.
Anyone who travels will tell you it’s all about the encounters with the local people, so I’ve included various pictures of children from two of the countries featured in BBTB—Laos and Vietnam. In my novel, I wrote about the children at Siem Reap, Cambodia (by Arunny's family restaurant) who target the tourists to earn a little extra money with their game…Where you from? I know the capital of your country? Why???? do I not have a picture of this…ahhh!
And, then there are the monks. I don’t know what it is…but I AM FASCINATED by monks so much so one of the narrators in my novel is a monk. For a more in-depth exploration about this fascination please visit my blog on June 7, 2018 when I blog about a special monk encounter I had in Laos.
I debated about putting this picture in because it is SO unflattering of me (you will know which one I am referring to as soon as you see it), but I’ve erred against my better judgement because I wanted to share how tiny the tunnel entry is into the Ho Chi Minh trail (elaborate trail which winds through the mountains and jungle and was pivotal during the War for moving the Viet Con and supplies from the North into South Vietnam).
I had to throw this photo in—just because—anyone who has toured through Asia will tell you the motorcycle traffic is something else. Can you believe it?! I was terrified crossing the street in Vietnam. How did I do it? Answer: I found an old lady and crossed with her (seriously, 100% true).
The War was not confined to Vietnam it’s impact was very much felt in neighbouring Cambodia and Laos. When I travelled, through Cambodia I went to The Killing Fields; this sequence of pictures is taken from this visit. The Memorial on site Choeung Ek stupa is filled with the thousands of skulls of people who were killed by the Khmer Rouge, the building (S21) was a high school turned prison where many Cambodians were tortured by the Khmer Rouge. And in the last picture, you will notice the indents in the ground—these are mass graves at the Fields. Visiting these places was very emotional and you can still feel the heaviness of what went on during the Khmer Rouge’s Reign of Terror. I was shocked that I was not aware about one of the largest genocides to ever occur and this served as inspiration for writing the novel.
Another just because…the Pak Ou Caves overlooking the Mekong River near Luang Prabang. I LOVED this sacred cave which houses over 4,000 Buddhas in different positions. It’s places such as this that inspire.
And for my last because…because the title of the novel is Beauty Beneath the Banyan—here’s me and a banyan.