This week we have re-launched Nomadic Thoughts’ web-site. Like many other businesses around the world, we have found it a challenge, not least because the travel industry is awash with colourful and enticing web-sites. The challenge of appearing fresh, exciting and engaging has kept us busy for months as we chose which design format to follow and how best to present the spirit, ethos and all round vibe of Nomadic Thoughts.
We steadfastly retain the belief that our most important characteristic is that at Nomadic Thoughts we prefer to talk to our customers as opposed to simply offering them a seat/bed/car booking portal service. If someone is prepared to engage on a one to one basis, discussing, planning and ultimately booking their holiday in advance we can offer an efficient, friendly and reliable service.
It felt strange focusing on a web-site that wasn’t interested in a high Google ranking, or a slick online booking service. We have followed instead a rather ‘old school’ format, focused on producing a site that reflects the destinations we offer and the elements that most attract us to travel.
In short, it’s a shop window for those who are looking for a personalised independent travel service which specialises in arranging bespoke trips for individual discerning travellers.
In order to do this we have almost exclusively relied on our own individual photographs, collected over decades of travel. We have uploaded over 2,000 new images, over 99% of which come from our own cameras. Although time- consuming, it has been a hugely pleasurable exercise – not least as, in my case, I have looked through over thirty years of holiday snaps in the process.
We hope you have time to visit the site, and that it inspires you to contact us. In the meantime, here are ten of our website photographs, accompanied by text explaining the story behind them.
1. Performing Smoking Monkey – Kandy, Sri Lanka.
This is one of my oldest photos, dating from 1984. I have never published it before.
I was sitting on the pavement outside the Temple of the Tooth when an excited crowd started clapping and stamping their feet to this performing monkey, with his disabled owner. The owner banged a small drum with his right hand, while his left arm stump held the chain leading to a performing monkey. The monkey executed a well-drilled, fast, acrobatic collection of somersaults, high twists and back flips. It was all done perfectly in time to the drum beat, while smoking a cigarette as if without a care in the world.
The performance was so quick that I wasn’t sure if my lens had captured the split moment the monkey directly caught my camera gaze, until I finally saw a print of the photos over six months later.
I chose this image as one of our ‘Sustainable Tourism’ shots – as I feel it captures in one frame the vulnerability of everyone present. The monkey, the owner, the audience and myself the photographer.
2. Cycling Above the Sacred Valley, Peru.
I took this shot at the end of a day’s cycling in the Andes with Dante Concha a Peruvian friend of ours. In the late afternoon, my family, Dante and I were travelling across the sun-drenched plateau that runs below the Inca site of Moray, before you get to the Salt Mines that hug the route down into the Sacred Valley itself. The enormity of this high altitude 3,500m soft savannah landscape reminded me of the Canadian Prairies, as well as the open valley of the Nepalese Himalayas.
With so many clients looking for a combination of freedom, escape, challenge and wonder I believe this image encapsulates all four.
3. Quechuan Queso – Cusco Market …also Peru.
Food glorious food – such an important part of a holiday. Whether a self-respecting foodie, or just a person who enjoys good tucker, one of the most exciting elements behind experiencing another culture is embracing their cuisine.
I chose to include this shot in the website because cheese, a wholly international food, is produced across the globe in so many different ways. I took this early one morning in Cusco Market. The store holder had stacked over two hundred home-made cheeses across a vast battered wooden trolley. Cheese has never looked so inviting.
4. Tropical Beach Fish Bowl – Mahe, Seychelles.
One of the most enjoyable aspects behind working at Nomadic Thoughts is visiting exclusive hotels in some to the world’s most beautiful destinations. In this case I was visiting the Banyan Tree Hotel in the Seychelles. It’s an impressive property location with a classic, white sand beach set amongst swaying palms and crashing waves.
I was sitting in the hotel restaurant waiting for the Marketing Manager to show me the hotel when I noticed this simple bowl on the table in front of me. I placed it on the wooden balcony rail and admired the crashing waves below feeling like Alice looking through the looking glass.
I included this image in our website, not only for the simplicity of a beach scene in a fishbowl, but also because the tropical morning light gives it such a dreamy feel. It’s as if you could pick it up, put it on your work desktop and feel on holiday at any given moment. It is also one of my favourite ‘spirit of travel’ photographs.
5. Lalibela Pilgrim – Ethiopia.
One of the beauties of modern day camera equipment is the ability to auto-focus at the bat of an eye. For me this image of an elderly lady resting outside one of Lalibela’s most beautiful rock carved churches, captures the very essence of humility and devotion. It was taken during Easter week when pilgrims decamp around, in and nearby the churches. This lady, clad in traditional white robes like hundreds of others, happened to be sitting quietly as if she was the doorkeeper to this ancient shrine.
Not wishing to hold the camera up to my eye I squeezed the auto-focus on my camera at tummy-button height as I walked to begin climbing the church steps myself. I remember her appearing to be blind in one eye, yet taking in everything around her.
I have included this as it not only captures the magnificence of the ancient church, but also the fact that it is so revered today by the local congregation. I particularly like the small brass padlock attached the door, as it seems so inappropriate for such a solid stone building.
6. Bed of Roses – Dubai.
I took this photo while walking through The Palace section of The Royal Mirage Hotel in Dubai. I have chosen to include it as on the one hand it illustrates the time and trouble top hotels go to when setting out their stall, and on the other because I love the colour and simplicity of just one rose standing above a seas of petals.
The irony is that these rose petals were being exhibited in a hotel based in the middle of the desert, far, far away from where they would have been grown. The hotel itself is also unique in that it now sits on the beachfront, spread as a low-rise green gardened property right next to the enormous Palm Jumeirah development to the south, and huge towering seafront tower blocks to the north.
However much money hoteliers throw at new developments, the simplicity and beauty of nature, however small, always rounds off the spirit and ambiance of a property.
7. Dune Running – Wahiba Sands, Oman.
I am very proud of this photo. Firstly it is of my daughter Amber running across the high dunes of Wahiba Sands, Oman as the sun was coming up over the freezing horizon. We had driven through the darkness, up the tall walls of sand and popped over the top into a natural sand bowl – leaving our 4×4 vehicle completely stuck in a steep-sided sand bucket. Deciding to worry about the car after the sunrise we walked across the majestically soft and equally large dune-scape as the early morning light began to appear.
In order to keep the kids warm we made them run back and forth across the horizon. I took this photo about ten minutes before sunrise. I feel it encapsulates how anyone who has planned a good holiday trip, can enjoy being in the wild, away from civilisation at the most beautiful time of the day. You don’t have to be a polar explorer or desert survival expert to find this sort of a situation. It does however, help to know the likes of Nomadic Thoughts who can arrange such a moment.
8. Sadhu – Madurai, Tamil Nadu Southern India
India has always been very special to me, and Nomadic Thoughts have arranged trips far and wide across the sub-continent over the years. I lived in Tamil Nadu for a year as a child, and subsequently travelled for over a year in the country. I believe this photo highlights the majesty of the Sadhu priests, while showing the frailty of their existence. When you look closer, you can see that the gentleman is obviously suffering physically, even while he manages to keep up appearances.
I chose to include this image – which I took when walking through the Madurai fruit & veg market behind the Meenakshi Temple – in the ‘Sustainable Tourism’ section of our web-site. I hope it shows how as tourists we have to be ever-conscious of balance between visiting a destination and intruding into that destination’s environment and culture.
I took this photo with a 210-zoom-lens in a split second, while hoping not to intrude into the subject’s personal space. It was not until I looked back at the image that I saw how harrowed his expression was. He looks commanding and terrific in stature, yet exhausted and physically weak behind the make-up. I still question whether I should publish this shot. Any thoughts?
9. Jungle Lizard – Mahe, Seychelles
This photo, which I have included in our website’s ‘Wildlife’ section, I hope offers an example of how even the smallest and less obvious of creatures can play a part in the local wildlife and natural environment. It doesn’t always have to be the ‘Big 5’, enormous whales or grizzly bears.
I took the photo when walking through the inland mountain jungle areas of Mahe island. The sun was shining through the high canopy, and as I walked past a busy ants nest I noticed this lizard sunbathing on the rock. I watched him for about five minutes, as he gently moved across the rock with the sunlight.
10. High Above The Clouds – Austrian Alps
This shot is an example of how a dull-weather-day can change beyond all expectation. On the last day of a ski trip the weather closed in and you could hardly see through the pea-soup cloud that hung throughout the ski slopes. Deciding to give it a go, I took the lifts has high as possible for that one last run. It wasn’t until I popped out of the clouds, with the chairlift due to run out in 50 metres, that this view magnificently unfolded before me.
Needless to say I sat for several hours basking in the sunlight with Antarctic-esque landscape stretched out below. We have chosen to use the image as one of our main Home Page shots, as we believe it encapsulates the spirit of the mountains as well as how, when travelling on a Nomadic Thoughts holiday, you can ‘get away from it all’.