Sunday, 2 November 2014

Papua: long walk to the mummy’s tomb

Tolaka and Lima walk to school for an hour through grasslands and forests
© UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Andy Brown
I was in Papua in March to document the issues facing children in one of the most remote and mountainous regions on Earth. With few roads and no horses, there is only one way for most people to get around – on foot. Children often walk for hours to get to school each day, and we wanted to document that journey.

It was our second day in the highlands of Papua, after arriving and meeting Yumelina the day before (see part one of this blog). We got up at 5am and drove out towards the Baliem valley, which is in the heart of the Cyclops Mountains and had no contact with the outside world until after World War II.

We drove out of Wamena over a wooden bridge, where one of our vans briefly got stuck, and continued on to park beside a wide river. Here, we left the van and continued on foot, crossing a rickety foot bridge made from steel wires and wooden planks. It swayed alarmingly and I had to watch where I walked so I didn’t put a foot through one of the wide gaps between the planks.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Talat Phlu to Wongwian Yai

Highlights of a photo walk from Bangkok's Talat Phlu to Wongwian Yai, including Chinese and Muslim communities, canals, temples and life along the train tracks.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Nepal: chariot of the monsoon god

In 2014, I revisited the old Durbar Squares of Kathmandu and Patan, both former royal capitals of Nepal. We arrived in Patan during the chariot festival of monsoon god Red Machhindrana, a ritual that has been performed every year since 1673. We were staying just off Patan square so on the last day I got up at 5:30am and wandered round for a couple of hours before breakfast.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

West of Eden: the unspoilt wilderness of Papua

A construction worker looks out to sea from Jayapura
© Andy Brown/Papua, Indonesia/2014
Along with Mongolia, Papua is one of the most remote places I’ve been with UNICEF. It’s a wild land of impenetrable jungles with deep valleys and high mountains disappearing into a perpetual ceiling of mist and cloud. Outside the towns, people still live a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle that has remained unchanged for centuries.

I’d previously been to Papua New Guinea, on the east side of the island, but didn’t have much chance to explore. This was mainly because violent is so rampant that you cannot safely walk the streets of Port Moresby, let alone wander off into the hills. I spent most of my time in a fortified office or hotel, or traveling between the two in a sturdy van with ‘UN’ painted on its roof in large blue letters so that it could be easily spotted from the air.

So I was excited to get the chance to visit rural areas in Papua, on the Indonesian half of the island. There are problems here too, but they’re less about crime and more to do with a long running conflict between an indigenous independence movement and the Indonesian army. Journalists are not allowed into this part of the country but we were able to get in as UN staff.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Cambodia: tuk-tuks and temples

The main reason to visit Siem Reap is the nearby temples of Angkor, relics of the vast Khmer Empire that stretched across South East Asia from the 9th to 15th Century AD. It’s something of a modern myth that the temples were subsequently lost in the jungle, and the civilisation that built them forgotten, until they were rediscovered in the 19th Century by French colonial archaeologists.