South East Asia Photography

Discussion in 'Travel' started by anne_kerr, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. I read in travel forums that pick pocketing and general thievery is common in SE Asia, particularly in the Philippines. I wonder what other photographers' experience was like, considering they have to walk about with a big bag and a big camera?
    Is it dangerous? Will I likely be mugged?
     
  2. It depends a lot on where you are going. Where are you going?
    Big cities are worse, obviously. Touristy areas where rich folks travel can also be bad.
     
  3. Well, i havent decided but itll be a long trip. Hong kong, Singapore, ruins in Cambodia, maybe Vietnam, Laos and
    Philippines.
     
  4. considering they have to walk about with a big bag and a big camera?​
    Is this a rule? 'cause I'm shooting with small cameras and no bag, most all the time.
    Is it dangerous?​
    Not that I noticed and I've been around SE Asia often enough. Singapore, Laos and HK must be in the top five safest places in Asia. Vietnam and Philippines are relatively worst, but still safe compared to N. America.
    Will I likely be mugged?​
    There's always a possibility...I feel safer here than the majority of cities in N. America.
     
  5. Leslie,
    Since it seems you live there, is there any advice you can give me that you think I should know?
    My camera is not what I would consider small. It's not very large, but not small either (Sony A390). Also, if I used a 200mm, I think I would stick out a lot.
    I'd be interested in doing night shots of stars, some shots of people and some general "vacation" shots of landscapes and that kind of thing. I understand there's a place in Laos (?) where Westerners go to get drunk and throw themselves in a river. This is not what I'm interested in. I would like to go hiking, if possible, and see temples, ruins, strange animals I haven't seen before. That kind of thing. I read in some forums that there are places where if you need money, you should store it in your shoe or risk having your purse snatched, and this worried me because if I take my camera bag, I'd be walking around with $1,500 worth of stuff that I probably won't be able to replace until I get home...
     
  6. Anne, will you be travelling alone, and is this your first overseas trip?
    I don't think anyone can advise you of accurate specifics. It's a bit like Asians planning a visit to the U.S. and hearing horror stories about random crime.
    Apart from basic common sense when travelling abroad, the best course of action is to find a local guide if you want to visit places not normally considered tourist attractions. Your hotel desk can help with finding one who can also offer destination suggestions, or you can scout for potential destinations prior to your departure.
    As for valuables and money, it's generally a good idea to behave inconspicuously anyway, even in ones hometown, but you will feel more at ease if you have a local guide who can advise you through your travels.
     
  7. I live in Southeast Asia. Although I can not provide any advice on the Philippines or Hong Kong, I have traveled in Lao, Cambodia, Singapore, and Vietnam. I have never had a problem with crime. In general, the areas are safer than the USA. However it does not mean that a tourist should not remain vigilent or cautious. I usually am with someone - my wife and I would recommend traveling with someone. Someone could be a guide or another fellow traveler. I also recommend that you strive to fit in with your local surroundings - no expensive or provocative clothing, no jewelry, nondescript luggage and camera bag. Don't do foolish things like going out alone at night, getting drunk, and walking back to your hotel through unfamiliar territory. Do not use any illegal substances. Relax and walk about with confidence.
     
  8. I understand there's a place in Laos (?) where Westerners go to get drunk and throw themselves in a river. This is not what I'm interested in.​
    Vang Vieng banned alcohol and tubing together I read, but not each on their own. There is an organic blueberry farm where you can volunteer, if you are into that sort of thing. I haven't been there since '08. It's a gorgeous little hide away, not to mention the Blue Lagoon. The setting is similar to Halong Bay, but on the tiny Nam Song. If you going to China, it's like a small Yangshuo surrounded by karsts.
    you should store it in your shoe or risk having your purse snatched, and this worried me because if I take my camera bag, I'd be walking around with $1,500 worth of stuff that I probably won't be able to replace until I get home...​
    Your sony A390 won't stand out in Angkor Wat, every Chinese tourist, young and old, guy or gal has a dslr around their neck...A thief would want a Nikon or Canon:)))
    Allen and Michael give good advices, but you'll have to visit. Reading books and net forums only get you so far. There's nothing like physical presence..My advice to you is go to Myanmar. It's changing pretty quick. Second, unless you are wealthy, don't spend more than, say, three days in Singapore or HK as they are expensive, you are looking at 2-4x for a similar room than elsewhere in SE Asia. Every country has a different personality imo, my takes of them maybe different than, say, Allen's...
     
  9. Here are some Cambodian sites of interest:
    http://anjali-house.com
    http://www.grovesphotography.com
    http://volunteercambodia.org.uk
    My site from mostly Asia:
    http://inluvwithluz.com
    Cambodia is my favorite, if I had to pick one...But there are great locality all over...
     
  10. it

    it

    I have been living, working and traveling in Southeast Asia for 20+ years. i go everywhere with my gear and don't worry about it. I have never had a single problem, and that includes living in Cambodia for six years during the nineties. (And where i am shooting at the moment.)
    The only place you have to be really on your toes is around touristy areas, where I don't trust the locals or the travellers. (e.g. Khao San Rd in Bangkok, Phạm Ngũ Lão in Saigon) Saigon and Manila are the two towns where I pay a bit more attention overall.
    Don't let it ruin your trip, just go for it.
     
  11. Listen to Ian and he has some
    expensive equipments and some great
    pics:)
     
  12. On the other hand, Ian probably has familiar local contacts, speaks some local tongue, and familiarity with local customs, etiquette and geography. It all helps with perception by locals. Let's also not ignore Ian's don't-mess-with-me nice guy look! :)
     
  13. Sure, Michael, but in that case being a
    Caucasian male is different than a
    Caucasian female, or me an Asian
    male. People treat different people
    differently due to nuances, no doubt.
    Me, for example, get people confused.
    They have no idea what I'm but an
    Asian...

    I dress Korean. I look Thai. I have
    Singaporean toys (nice cameras). I
    speak American English. My partner
    speak mandarin. And we converse in
    Cantonese. With my look, complexion,
    dress, shades, i could pass as a Malay
    Chinese, Thai, Taiwanese, Korean, or
    Mexican (to a few). I'm good at
    blending in...
     
  14. Have fun Anne, SE Asia is a treasure trove for photographers. I have lived and traveled extensively in the area and never had a problem. Mind you, in big cities like Manilla or Jakarta, I would be more careful - just use common sense. Personally, I would regret not bringing my " A gear" on a trip like this vs the outside chance that you will be mugged.

    Cheers,
    Joel
     
  15. Anne, according to your bio, you are a seasoned independent traveler within the US. [Like your work, BTW, especially the night shots.] Is this your first trip overseas? If so, being mugged is only one of many other concerns. Perhaps a shorter trip to get your feet wet can be a good learning experience. Here's related thread you may find helpful:
    http://www.photo.net/travel-photography-forum/00YIA7
    I would like to go hiking, if possible, and see temples, ruins, strange animals I haven't seen before. That kind of thing. I read in some forums that there are places where if you need money, you should store it in your shoe or risk having your purse snatched, and this worried me because if I take my camera bag, I'd be walking around with $1,500 worth of stuff that I probably won't be able to replace until I get home...​
    Shooting locally or close to home, you have the luxury of scouting for the locations and returning multiple times for the keepers. That is impossible on the road with a schedule. Time becomes the most valuable commodity and luck plays a huge role. Finding a good local photography guide or buddy may well worth the effort and expense (considering the trip's expense, your gears' cost and an "once in a life time" trip). Especially if you want to avoid the tourist traps and are interested in those off-the-beaten-path locations. Aside from assisting your photography, they can also provide you some safety as a companion, and offer other helpful advices. Here are my comments on this idea:
    http://www.photo.net/travel-photography-forum/00M1c1?start=10
    My suggestion here for finding lodging can also be a source to find a local guide.
    http://www.photo.net/travel-photography-forum/00bfrk
     
  16. Robert,
    It would be nice to be able to go twice, but since I live on the other side of the world, the ticket costs about, uh...$1500+? So I don't think I'll be going again. My next adventure would take me to Europe! Anyway, I know I won't get awesome photos because it has a lot to do with luck and knowing where you're going, how to get there, the lighting etc. but I'll be happy enough knowing that I did my best with what I had presented to me.
    Leslie,
    "Your sony A390 won't stand out in Angkor Wat, every Chinese tourist, young and old, guy or gal has a dslr around their neck...A thief would want a Nikon or Canon:)))"
    Gee, thanks.
    Ian,
    Someone commented that perhaps people aren't bothered with you as much because you know some local language, know their customs etc. I ask then, is there anything I should know that might make me less offensive to locals and blend in more? For example, maybe Asians of a particular country are very irritated by hats worn in a store etc.
    Thanks for the help!
     
  17. I ask then, is there anything I should know that might make me less offensive to locals and blend in more?​
    Yes, there are many. Too many to list actually. But the locals are usually very welcoming and don't expect you to know better. SE Asia is huge. There are various customs and could be very different depending on where you visit. Seriously, experience takes time, effort and actually being there. You can read internet forum, research, read guide books etc...But it's never the same...
     
  18. If you like and have time...read up the basics of the Chinese, Buddhism, Hinduism and Muslim cultures. These are the majority of people in SE Asia, but there are countless others. Religion plays a big part of people's customs (do and don't) here.
     
  19. It's not that difficult to avoid offending the locals. Basically, be polite, don't show anger, and dress conservatively. Good intentions and a smile go a very long way.

    A couple of tips regarding Buddhism in that area: the head is sacred and feet are dirty. Don't touch people on the head, and try not to step on places where people sit or sleep. And, because you're a woman, don't touch the monks and don't hand them things directly. If you want to give them something, hand it to a male third party or place it on a table.
     
  20. True, be polite and don't show anger. But you don't want be had as well. Learn to say no with a smile. Be stern especially when it comes to bargaining, it's a fact of life here. It's not whether you get ripped off or not, it's how much...and whether you realize it or not:)
     
  21. I read in travel forums that pick pocketing and general thievery is common in SE Asia, particularly in the Philippines.​
    I never had a problem in the Philippines either. That included Manila and a number of cities in Mindanao; visited poor squatter areas, weaving through wet markets. IMO, the Filipinos are some of the kindest and friendliest people in the world. Most would happily pose for you. Apply tourist common sense and you'd probably be safer than in NYC.
     
  22. I have traveled throughout city/rural areas in Asia and Africa 15+ years.. I put my camera and lenses in neoprene zing cases in a durable knapsack. I wear a loose button down shirt over a t shirt, that I can drape over my camera over my shoulder when I am walking around.
    I have only been held up once by fake policemen (in broad daylight) in Nairobi. I gave them all of the money in my money belt ( $100), that was enough to keep them happy, they did not get to the $1000 in my underarm pouch or the camera gear in my knapsack. I think you have to be more careful in the cities/tourist areas, than in remote villages. Also you can ask the local hotel clerk about the local safety.
     
  23. Lived in Asia for four years and traveled in 12 countries. Heard warnings, but never heard of anyone being hit by pickpockets. Yes pay close attention to your gear. But I do that anywhere. Maybe more so in India with huge crowds, trains, etc.
    Always felt safer in the streets even at night than at home in the US. Why in Asia? Many devout Buddhists and NO GUNS!!!
    First trip to Rome and wham! Gypsies got us in the Metro.
     

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