Chasing Light: Lost in West Papua

CHASING LIGHT – LOST IN WEST PAPUA

It was 5:30 in the afternoon and we were running as fast as physically possible up the side of a mountain, deep in the forest of West Papua.
‘Come on, come on!’ I yelled, almost to myself as I lost my footing in the mud. The local boys chattered to each other in Bahasa; I was sure they were saying something like, ‘What the fuck is this crazy white guy doing running us through the forest like this?’

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I could see it about to happen, the golden dappled dance of sun squeezing between green leaves was a giveaway. Soon white clouds would be bleeding red and the blue sky would bruise with it.
Mr Sugiono lowered his machete and stared at my sweat-drenched face.
‘Ok?’ He pointed over Wijaya Sentosa and I followed his gaze.
‘A little further?’ I asked. It was starting without me. The highest streaks of white had already begun to paint themselves for a ceremonious end to the day.
Sugi didn’t understand and he pointed out again, ‘O.K?’
‘No, NO!’ I snapped and pointed uphill. ‘A little further!’ He didn’t understand, but he understood, and conceded, faithfully. With a final ‘Ok.’

SUGI

And off he charged, sensing the rush in my voice. I followed, and so too did Mr Hanozono with my tripod, and Mr Ramat, (barely a Mr, and more an 18-year-old kid from Jakarta) our translator – hauling more of my kit.
But the forest didn’t break apart like I had hoped. It was wearing us like a glove. I pushed my muddy chest against a fallen tree, spun over it and charged on.

‘This is stupid!’ I thought to myself. ‘Someone (me) is going to hurt themselves, or break this gear.’
Even still, Sugi pushed uphill for me. I stopped and watched him move through the thick forest without the slightest of effort. Every brush of his knife artistically crafted for the next to follow.

I looked up at the orange burning blanket and knew we’d missed it. ‘Fuck.’ I muttered, out of breath and defeated.
‘Come on.’ Said Ramat.

camping-indo

I smiled at him. Just a kid like me, a kid from Jakarta without a clue as to what was so damn important about getting a shot of the sun going down that we needed to hock ourselves through the rainforest like .
He looked at me and asked, ‘Why do you stop?’ He pointed west through the trunks of the forest and said, ‘Come on, look – It’s beautiful.’
And it was beautiful. Broken and obscure the sky peeked through at us as it tried to decide which shade of magenta it would like to be and I sat down on the forest floor.
‘SUGI.’ I called. ‘SUGIONO…’
‘EH?’ He called back.
‘SUGI COME BACK.’ I yelled.
Ramat translated, yelling into the forest towards Sugi.
Sugi yelled back, Ramat translated. ‘He says, “Why – It’s beautiful?”’
I laughed, ‘Tell him we missed it.’

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Sugi ambled back down to us, the game now over. He slid his machete back into its holder and sat down beside me, saying something in Bahasa which I knew meant, ‘We missed it.’ His empathy was so profound; but I guess I didn’t miss anything at all. The beauty was there in front of me as we all sat on the forest floor and watched it burn.

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Sydney:Home

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Familiarity is what makes disorientation so exciting.  Exploring other lifestyles is what builds an appreciation for what’s yours. It’s only in coming home this time that I’ve really started to  notice this.

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Home is comfort. It’s an ease or a calmness in how you move about town, where you eat, who you see and what you talk about. It’s a list of people and places with memories attached to them, rather than a fascination with something new.sun

The trip home from Europe was just that – a trip. I said goodbye to one film crew, and walked straight into another. I think it’s better to keep the move, shoot, move groove going rather than stopping for a few days *(even though I don’t know what day it is, and tend to fall asleep at the strangest of times).

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With five days shooting at home before I jet again I’m on my tour de’ favourites – favourite people, places, food and coffee! It’s about getting the hometown fill, enjoying the things you miss when you’re away. Walking through the street this morning on one of Sydney’s finest spring mornings I couldn’t help but be grateful for the place I have to come back to, the place that’s mine; It’s always waiting for me to get home.

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It will always be familiar.

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Lost in Bilbao

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I’m tempted to not write anything about Bilbao; I can’t do it justice. For the first time in a long time I’ve felt lost lost. No one in Bilbao speaks English, and no one cares for it. Prague felt foreign, but Bilbao is rural. It has that small town glue that binds the locals together.dog-spring
Nursing one of the sorest heads I’ve ever had, I crawled out of bed with vague recollections of my first night in Bilbao. I remember pinchos, oversized gins, cobbled streets packed full of eating and drinking Spaniards, dancing with a blow up elmo doll, and a disjointed georgraphy conversation with two helpful foreign students on a bridge.Let’s just say itwas Bilbao 1 Lostboys 0 when I went to bed.stairs

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Avoiding the main city I just walked up. Bilbao is a bowl, with the center of town at the bottom. It was mid-afternoon, and I walked slowly, with no intention of stopping. I twisted and turned on mesmerizing backstreets for a while. Hundreds of people stood in the street and ate, so I did the same. I stood and ate a prosciutto roll in the Saturday afternoon sun, it was better than any KFC remedy I’ve had. It was like a saline drip.

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With a newfound exuberance I left the bottom of the basin and climbed a set of stairs off a side street. Old town Bilbao transformed into suburban Bilbao and the people stared at me and my camera. A drugged up teen chased me through a park, chanting Spanish at me and pointing to my camera. ‘Amigo…. Something… Amigo, amigo.’ I ran – no brainer. *The bag of smack and dark glasses were a dead giveaway. (NB: Pretty quick on the old pins, so no real danger) By the time my heart rate returned to a respectable pace I was lost, so I kept walking. But I couldn’t stop. Every time I decided I’d had enough and I’d take on one more block, I’d round a corner and the camera would be back in my face. It was an ancient looking church balanced dangerously on a cliff’s edge or an old stone archway, or a scampering set of stairs that drove the cogs in my legs to keep walking. By the time I finally gave in the light was gone, and I just let myself trickle down the side streets and back into the city.

Gug-stairs

My time in Bilbao is definitely the highlight of my trip. The food is to die for, the people I met are already close friends, and the city is intoxicating. It sucks you in, and traps you in small, stunning pools of activity, but then changes and traps you again before you’re even aware you’d moved.

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It’s definitely the most fun place to get lost with a camera, and should be noted in remedial books as a great hangover cure.

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Lost in Berlin

      ‘As the warmth of the sun leaves my back,
and these bruise coloured skies turn to black,
none of these faces look the same,
and not one knows my name.
I am a long way from home.
-Radical Face

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Thank you Radical Face, I couldn’t better describe the feeling of losing myself in the streets of Berlin today. It’s an eerie isolation being in such a remarkably visual city, but having no familiarity with where you are and no understanding of the language. The strokes of the street change ten times within the space of just as many blocks. Old is butted hauntingly against new. I found myself searching the faces of older men and women for a hint that they may have been in Berlin during the war. The city itself hides none of its past and is beautiful as a result.
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I managed to stop and take a few photos, despite my fascination. I’ll leave it with that, as some serious jet lag is pulling me towards the comfiest hotel bed I’ve ever seen! Thank you work – Regent Berlin rocks!
Best,
Timmy
Instagram: @the_lostboys
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The Manhattan Grit

I’ve spent the past four days on the streets of New York. I’ve sat in gutters for hours waiting for time to pass. I’ve watched the city move and moved with the city. If a city’s streets are the veins distributing blood to the body, Manhattan is constantly sprinting. When they move, the people are impatient and agitated. They wait for no one, because no one will wait for them – they yell and beep and push as they pump as one.

street

It’s a grit that I’ve never experienced before.It’s like a grit that running for a long time produces. It’s a toughness, an endurance, and I love it. With the few encounters I’ve had, I love the people the city attracts, and the people it doesn’t break.

light

I hired a bike today and took on the streets. *No helmet might I add, but I figure the guy sitting on the back of a garbage truck smoking as it bounces down 7th Ave at 60 km/h isn’t wearing a seatbelt, so why would I need a helmet? At first I was a liability, and stuck to the bike lanes. But before I knew it I was tailing a local as he weaved and dinged his bell, and slapped taxi bonnets all the way down Broadway. By the time he pealed off to SoHo I feltlike I could fake the ‘attitude’ and survive. It was a frenzy of lane changing, squeezing between cars, dodging, cursing and peddling, but I felt like I was an infinitesimally small drop of blood in the system.

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At one stage a fifty-year-old man in a brown plaid suit pulled out of one of the avenues onto a surprisingly clear Broadway. He was upright and pedalling his fixie effortlessly up the middle of the road in front of me. It was this point that I wish I had been able to stop my bike, (*sudden stopping almost certainly means sudden death) and snap him as he disappeared into the maze of yellow, because that’s the image i’ll see in my mind when I talk about New York.

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It’s been a blur of unfamiliarity that’s slowly diluting to hints of understanding. It’s been just that, a maze of taxis, subways, bridges, basement bars ten floors underground and hidden brick music venues. I watched the sun come up from underneath the Brooklyn bridge, and the sun go down from the 92nd floor penthouse of Spencer St.

night

My only regret is I didn’t take enough photos, but for the first time I really did just get lost with no intention of missing anything by stopping. I also have a funny feeling it won’t be long before I’m back.

imstagram: @the_lostboys