Exciting new sights and fresh, vibrant colours – nothing revives a jaded eye like travel does. Learn how you can make the most of your holiday snaps with our tips for better travel photography…
Tag Archives: Ron Yue
Posted on 5 Oct, 2017
Posted on 2 Jul, 2017
Photographer Ron Yue tells us what he’s most excited about seeing in Burma on our new photography holiday, Burma through a Lens
Posted on 4 May, 2017
Faces from the Land of Snows
Many of us are nervous when it comes to taking a stranger’s photograph, but portraits often provide the best memories – and the most striking images – from a trip. Professional photographer and our photography coach, Ron Yue presents some of his favourite portraits from Tibet…
When travelling on the Tibetan Plateau, one of the most striking things is how devout most people are. Their Buddhist faith decides and drives many aspects of everyday life.
The lady with the beautiful coral earrings (below) was pausing mid-kora (prayer circuit) on the Barkhor in Lhasa. To the uninitiated, the Barkhor’s foot traffic seems unceasing, but to Tibetans it is punctuated with holy places and tiny shrines, spaces to stop, reflect and pray.
The Barkhor is Lhasa’s religious heart, but the city is also ringed by great monasteries, each with its own tradition of learning. Here, at Sera, young monks gather each afternoon to debate scripture. Each point is illustrated with a dramatic flourish – the clapping of hands, the stamping of feet and the striking down of their opponent’s point.
These scenes are repeated – with local variations – acoss the Tibetan Plateau, from Yunnan to Ladakh. Below, a lady prays with a mala (a string of 108 prayer beads) wrapped around her fingers, in the dawn light outside the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, a thousand kilometres east of Lhasa.
It is not just the elderly that follow Buddhist traditions. In fact, many pilgrimages are so strenuous that only the young can attempt them. Below, a teenagerl prostrates herself on the Barkhor kora. After I shot this photograph she stood up, moved two paces forward and lay down again, measuring the length of the circuit with her body. She will complete the kora 108 times like this before her pilgrimage is complete.
Not all religious practices are so arduous though – for the onlookers at least! Below, a man picked from the crowd at Gyantse’s Saga Dawa celebrations is covered with flour by a clown. These clowns are tasked with keeping the audience amused, against a backdrop of solemn religious dances.
Far from Tibet’s towns and monasteries, a nomadic lady (below) welcomed us into her black yak-hair tent. Once common, nomads’ camps are becoming harder to find, as the government encourages the drokpa to move into permanent housing.
As a photographer, these final two images are among my favourites. A young boy in Shigatse shows me how it’s done…
…and a lady decked out in beautiful turquoise and coral jewelry takes a quick snap in Yunnan:
Each time I travel in Tibet I find new inspiration from its incredible landscape and wide open skies, but it’s the memories of connecting with people here that I always remember most fondly. What a special part of the world!
Our journeys in the Land of Snows…
From Lhasa to Mt. Everest Base Camp…
Where do we go?
Day 1: Arrive in Kunming
What you will discover
⦁ Lhasa, the capital of Tibet with the Potala Palace and the holiest Tibetan temple, the
⦁ Visit the old towns of Gyantse and Shigatse
⦁ Drive along Lake Yamdrok and Lake Namtso, the two holiest lakes in Tibet
⦁ Enjoy an unforgettable view
Our ALL NEW, UNIQUE journey from subtropical Lao to the Himalayas…
Where do we go?
Day 1: Arrive in Laos
What you will discover
⦁ Drive from charming Luang
⦁ Highlights include: Luang Prabang, Xishuangbanna, Meili Snow Mountain, Ranwu Lake, Lhasa and much more in between
Our most magnificent photography trip in Tibet
Where do we go?
Day 1: Arrive in Kunming
What you will discover
⦁ Lhasa, Mt. Everest, holy lakes, adventure, blue skies, snow-capped mountains, red-robed monks, the Jokhang, the Potala, open roads…a journey for *your* life time!
⦁ Learn how to see beauty and capture moments with Master Photographer Ron Yue and
Posted on 26 Sep, 2016
There aren’t many places in the world that present the traveler with such varied landscapes as southern Yunnan. From fields of rich red earth, to swaths of golden rapeseed, and glistening tiers of water-filled rice terraces etched into hillsides, it is a distinct experience to photograph these agricultural marvels for beginners and seasoned photographers alike.
The array of intense colours – red, brown, green, and white – at Dongchuan creates interesting patterns across the land that will challenge the photographer to construct an aesthetically balanced image. At Luoping, the vivid yellow flowers contrast sharply with the darker karst hills that intermingle with the fields. We will get amongst the rapeseed and explore working with depth of field and how to find and create order in a photographic environment where many different elements vie for attention. At Yuanyang, we will photograph the expansive rice terraces from a number of different locations, learning to isolate interesting sections and move beyond generic shots as well as observing the changing light conditions at sunset and dawn and their effects upon the landscape, as the sunlight creates fleeting and unrepeatable moments.
The trip, of course, wouldn’t be complete without fascinating roads to explore. The drive from Dongchuan is dramatic, climbing high along a fantastic valley with views to match, and the way out from Luoping follows meandering roads through bucolic countryside where you may be tempted to stop and soak it all in. By the time you roll back into Kunming, you will have experienced an incredible agricultural region with a complement of images to match, as well as new photographic capabilities that you will be able to take on your next journey, wherever that may be.
Posted on 30 Aug, 2016
I have been working for On the Road Experiences since 2013. I started as a host…
What does a “host” do? As a journey host I oversee the whole journey from greeting guests on the first day until we all say goodbye on the last. I am responsible the service we provide and for the experiences guests enjoy; our aim is to make each journey enjoyable for all parties involved.
My role has grown over the years, and now I enjoy researching new itineraries, enhancing our existing journeys, and meeting guests before they join a trip and developing the German market. Peter gives my colleagues and I the chance to grow – sometimes it seems that every day I find myself with a new project, which makes me busy and happy!
Looking back at all the journeys I have hosted, I remember a lot of laughter and happiness, and my hard-drive is full of pictures of sunsets, beautiful landscapes and people. Two things that I can’t capture on film, though, are the hard work and long days that go into making each journey a success.
Explaining my job to friends isn’t easy, because it is not at all like being on holiday, and neither is it “just” being a tour guide. We have to work with the fact that on each journey there will be many unforeseen events along the way – hopefully these will be fun things, such as yaks on the road or coming across a colorful local festival, but they might include road closures or even landslides.
In March, for example, we got held up by market day in a small village on the way to Puzhehei, where all the roads were gridlocked with trucks both big and small.
Nobody could move until the stallholders began to clear up two to three hours later. Thinking of it now, the pictures it brings to my mind are of our guests sitting on the side of the road, relaxing – one smoking a cigar, and chatting with the market-goers.
Our drivers got stuck in, handling and coordinating the traffic while the policemen lolled about drunk on the pavement! I love that our guests and my colleagues managed to make the most out the afternoon and still find something good in a situation that wasn’t so good. It was very hot that day. As I tried to get cold drinks to keep us all refreshed, I ended up going from shop to shop as I discovered that none of the fridges were working! Finally, in a tiny shop I found cold beverages and local snacks, which I took back for us all to share.
This kind of experience is a good reminder for everyday life – of course I had all sorts of worries going through my mind: “What if we’re stuck here forever? “How long will this traffic jam last?” “What are our customers thinking?” “Will it get dark before we arrive?” “Are there any short cuts we could use?”, and so on and on… And I wished that we might have had a smoother journey on that day, but the reality is that life doesn’t always go to plan, and sometimes you just have to make the best most out of whatever happens!
Curiously, almost without fail, it is the unforeseen events, well handled, that our guests remember the most after we return home. Sometimes it’s the bends in the road that are the most memorable and meaningful!
Posted on 28 Mar, 2016
Since our last update in December, Christmas and the Western and Chinese New Years have come and gone…
In January, Mareen and Nancy, accompanied by Htein Linn, a Burmese photographer, went to Burma for three-and-a-half weeks. This on-the-ground research, together with knowledge gathered over the years, formed the basis for our first Burma itinerary (about which more below).
In March, Mareen, Nancy, Ron, and Fiona hosted a group of guests, many of whom have previously joined quite a few of our journeys, on a new itinerary, Yunnan through a Lens: Red Earth and Fields of Gold.
One of the guests told us after the journey that: “…we had a wonderful trip, passing thru the most beautiful scenery ever. Mareen, Nancy & Fiona served us really well with their heart, that we appreciate & Ron has been a most professional mentor, patiently coaching the least qualified photographer like us. Our driver Mr. Wu was such a cautious driver with excellent driving manners.“
Burma really is the next big thing for us. In the next few weeks, we are very pleased to be able to share more information about our first Burma journeys. For now though, we can tell you:
The first journeys will depart 9 November, 2016 (4 cars booked, 1 more car available) and 29 November, 2016 (available). January 2017 is fully booked and Feburary 2017 (available).
You can view our all-new Journey Dossier here.
For those of you in Hong Kong, we will organise a Burma talk-and-dinner event in May.
We’re hiring… We are looking for journey hosts. If you know anyone like Mareen, Nancy or Peifen, our wonderful journey hosts, please let them know that we are hiring and ask them to visit our “Join us” page.
Between May and September, we are offering journeys for photography lovers, for families with children and more. In case you’ve missed our announcements, please take a look at the schedule below:
Searching for SHANGRI-LA – April 8th & 29th and July 15th
- Our most popular Yunnan journey…
- Why go? Read our blog essay right here…
- In a nutshell
- In just a few days, see how beautiful China can be!
- Discover where Shangri-La really might have been!
- Stunningly beautiful boutique hotels, along back roads, far away from the crowds.
- How long? 7 or 9 days
- How much? Starting from CNY23,700/person
- Click here for yet more info
PHOTOGRAPHY: Yunnan through a Lens: Tea Horse Trails – June 3rd
- For photography lovers…there’s nothing like working with Ron!
- Read Ron’s recent short essay about travel photography in this region…
- In a nutshell
- Where? Hidden gems of Yunnan along the tea horse trail
- Capture moments with your camera like never before.
- Work, hands-on, with Ron and learn his techniques for portraits, landscapes, architecture, low-light and many other situations.
- How long? 6 or 9 days
- How much? Starting from CNY29,600/person
- An unforgettable adventure for the whole family!
- In a nutshell
- Experiences, not things!
- Haggling in the markets (in Pugonghua), gentle hiking, batik making, up-close-and-personal encounters with a Tibetan family…
- Memories of a great time together!
- How long? 8 or 10 days
- How much? Starting from CNY78,000 (for a family of 4) less early-bird discount of 10% for those who book by March 31st!
FAMILY & PHOTOGRAPHY: Travel Photography with Ron Yue – June 24thand October 21st
- Start the holidays with a Family Adventure with Master Photographer Ron Yue
- Click here for more info and read Ron’s latest blog entry about photography…
- In a nutshell
- Give your children the gift of photography…to see beauty everywhere!
- See beauty where others don’t, learn to simplify life, re-learn the value of patience…
- How long? 8 or 10 days
- How much? Starting from CNY84,720 (for a family of 4) less early-bird discount of 10% for those who book by March 31st!
CROSSING BORDERS into Lao and Vietnam – May 13th and September 16th
- Travel through ancient Asian Border Lands
- In a nutshell
- At the best times of the year…
- … drive from Yunnan via northern Lao to Mai Chau in Vietnam.
- Discover, along back roads, a region brimming with different minorities…
- How long? 9 days
- How much? Starting from CNY39,900 less early-bird discount of 10% for those who book by March 15th!
- Alternative date September 16th : For a longer version “Summit to Sea: Yunnan to Vietnam”, please write to us for details.
On 16 April, On the Road will be a live-auction sponsor at the annual Gala Dinner of a Hong Kong-based charity called Kids4kids. Our sponsored prize is for a family of four to join our “Family Adventures – Travel Photography in Yunnan” journey. We have designed this journey to inspire an interest in travel photography – the art of seeing beauty everywhere – something that might become a lifelong passion for children, and an activity that parents and children can share. In this world of “insta-” everything, having a chance to explore a new environment as a family and learning a new skill together provides a particularly meaningful break from the frenetic pace of everyday life.
We are proud to be sponsoring several other charitable events in the months to come.
Over the Easter period, Angie and I will be in Europe. I’m selling it to her as a “holiday”. As she does every time, she will ask me “Do you call this a holiday?” Why? Because, during our trip we will be also researching a new itinerary that will run through the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy (Fruili and Alto Adige). Whether business or pleasure – fortunately the two often overlap, we can’t wait to go!
We wish you, too, Happy Easter and a Peaceful Qing Ming!
Posted on 18 Dec, 2015
Welcome to our quarterly update, a whirlwind summary of what we’ve been up to in the past few months and what is to come in 2016 besides the smell of ginger bread cookies my wife will be baking in our kitchen this weekend.
The second half of 2015 stands out because we saw, at last, our first journeys in Europe. Given that “On the Road in the Europe” has been gestating for 15 years, it is with a great sense of pride that we can finally introduce our first itineraries in the Europe – to watch a beautiful video of our journeys in the Alps, click here.
I have two memories from our European journeys this autumn that I would like to share with you.
First, in Gstaad, a small Swiss town, we had arranged the surprise appearance of a Jodl (or Yodel) Choir to entertain our group while they dined on fondue one night. As the Swiss singers yodeled, they coaxed our guests to join their song.
Though initially shy, one of our Hong Kong guests suddenly seized the initiative and launched into a rendition of Teresa Teng’s classic, “The Moon Represents My Heart” (月亮代表我的心) for the Swiss yodelers, with the remainder of our guests swiftly joining him for the chorus. Despite their lack of a common language (the yodelers speaking a Swiss dialect that I found difficult to understand myself), the two groups sang to each other with moving warmth, and toasted each other with infectious enthusiasm.
On our second foray into Europe, I was immensely pleased when our guests all selected open-top cars, perhaps following my advice that, for our European journeys, you “can drive any car you like, so long as it is a cabriolet!” Even on the trip’s rare grey mornings, our small convoy would roll away from the last night’s hotel, each car with its top down. When we pulled into the next hotel’s driveway that evening, the tops would still be rolled back, having remained that way throughout the drive. It was wonderful to see so much enthusiasm for driving in the crisp, fragrant mountain air of the Alps. 一百分！100 points to all of the participants!
In the second half of 2015, our team grew with Peifen, Liu (劉佩芬) and Kayin, Chau (周珈妍) joining us.
Peifen is based in Taiwan. She brings a breath of fresh air into the development of our business there, and in a very short period of time she has turned many customers into fans of hers and On the Road.
Kayin has joined our Hong Kong team and now takes care of “Operations” – all the things that need to happen before a group of guests can hit the road; reserving hotel rooms, renting cars, booking flights and a million other details. This role was formerly filled by Cathy Choi, who is now focusing on marketing our journeys in Hong Kong.
We’re in the midst of developing two new journeys, one in Asia, and one in Europe:
2016 will see the launch of On the Road in Burma, if I can call it this. We have long wanted to offer driving journeys in this remarkable country, and in January and February we will complete our ground research so that we can – fingers crossed! – begin taking bookings for our first journeys there in November 2016. Stay tuned!
In March, we will continue our research for a new set of European itineraries in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, with the focus on the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia. Our initial research has been incredibly exciting and we can’t wait to share the gems of cultural and scenic beauty that we’re discovering in this region!
This look ahead wouldn’t be complete without a brief mention of our upcoming journeys:
Our all new photography journey in Yunnan takes in three of the province’s most photogenic places: the striking fields of red earth around Dongchuan, the golden sea of rapeseed flowers that surrounds Luoping’s otherworldly karst scenery, and the “Mirrors of God” paddy fields outside Yuanyang. The journey starts on March 4th – it’s not too late to make time to join Ron and our team!
Over Easter, our “Family Adventures: Travel Photography in Yunnan” journey with Ron is fully booked, but there are two border-crossing journeys – one from Shangri-La via Laos to Chiang Mai in Thailand ; the other from Kunming via Laos to Mai Chau in Vietnam – that you will not regret joining. The variety of cultures, cuisines, landscapes and roads you will experience along both these routes is sure to make the holiday especially memorable!
And now off to Perth, Australia, I go to celebrate the holidays with my wife Angie’s large Chinese family. Since they can all drink – no faces turning red in this family! – and all love to cook, I am, as always, in for a treat.
I wish you, your family and friends, wonderful end-of-year holidays too and thank you for all your interest and kind support throughout the years.
Posted on 22 Nov, 2015
The first trip I led with Ron Yue, our team’s professional photographer, covered familiar ground. I had completed the itinerary through southern Yunnan several times before, both for research and with groups of guests, so I knew what to expect. Except that I didn’t.
Over the course of our week-long trip I discovered that travelling with a photographer is quite different to travelling without one. The pace is a lot more leisurely, for one thing, with plenty more photo stops, both scheduled and impromptu. The conversation over dinner tends towards discussion of f-stops and exposure compensation, and you return home with distinctly better quality holiday snaps. But the most significant – and unexpected – difference was that I discovered a fresh new beauty in those familiar places, thanks to Ron and to my camera.
Following Ron’s example and with his coaching, our group of photographers became more and more observant of our surroundings as we travelled. I found myself stopping more, enjoying scenes and noticing details that would have passed me by before. An everyday market was suddenly filled with unexpected moments of loveliness – a child playing amongst piles of chilli peppers lying around her mother’s stall, or an elderly lady deftly binding piles of damp, field-fresh herbs into bundles ready for sale.
If photography can help us to appreciate somewhere as down-to-earth as a local market, the impact of a truly splendid sight is magnified many times for the photographer. On that first trip, we visited one of Yunnan’s many photogenic landscapes, the Yuanyang rice terraces. Patterns emerged where before there were none, light danced over the landscape in a newly entrancing way and fleeting moments captured on film (or in pixels) still give me pleasure now, five years later.
By opening our eyes to the beauty that surrounds us, and by providing a keepsake to remind us of treasured moments, photography is a wonderful complement to travel, whether we’re documenting a family holiday or a once-in-a-lifetime expedition, whether we’re in the wilds of Yunnan or in the middle of a city. But maybe we can also bring that awareness back home, to help us reconnect with the beauty of the everyday, from the reflection of a vivid sunset on an office building to the warm smile of a loved one.
While our original photography itinerary (The Exotic South) took in just one of Yunnan’s iconic landscapes, the province has many more in store – as Ron says “there is an incredible diversity of colours and landscapes in Yunnan – plenty to keep a photographer busy!” Now, we have introduced a new photography journey that features three of the most beautiful landscapes on a single itinerary, Red Earth and Fields of Gold.
From the vivid red earth of Dongchuan to the limestone karsts and blazing yellow rapeseed fields around Luoping (and one of our favourites, the Yuanyang rice fields) generations of local people have dramatically added their own imprint to landscapes across eastern Yunnan, creating patterns that fuse the manmade with nature and creating scenes found nowhere else.
Posted on 16 Nov, 2015
When we leave the highway behind and opt to discover the world from its back roads, curious things can happen. More often than not, those things can give us a glimpse of what makes local people tick.
A recent research trip of ours ended in Shangri-La, the main settlement in Yunnan’s ethnically Tibetan northwest. On the day of our team’s departure, we caught a taxi to the airport. Our driver was a burly Tibetan gentleman with an infectious laugh, who had somehow managed to squeeze himself into the cab’s cramped driver’s seat.
On the outskirts of Shangri-La a large white stupa stands at the centre of a roundabout – seemingly a typical piece of Chinese municipal architecture. As we joined the roundabout, the driver turned left instead of right and calmly circled the roundabout clockwise, against the usual flow of traffic.
Mercifully, nothing seemed to be about to crash into us. Still, we asked with some alarm, “What are you doing?! Aren’t you supposed to go the other way around?!”
“No, in the mornings we can go around it this way,” he assured us, smiling, “because the stupa is holy, isn’t it?” For Tibetans circle all holy things – roundabout stupas included – clockwise, in a show of respect.
“And what if a non-believer should come the normal way around?” Peter pursued the argument to its inevitable conclusion.
“Well, there might be a crash,” he said, his expression deadpan.
My mind wanders terribly. While I might look as though I’m sitting at my desk or riding the subway, in my head I’m watching crowds celebrate Saga Dawa in Gyantse or cycling across New Zealand’s Southern Alps – remembering long-ago trips and planning future travels.
While I’ve always thought of these daydreams as being one small step away from procrastination, recent psychological research shows that by reliving fond memories and anticipating future experiences I’ve actually been enjoying one of the few ways in which money can buy happiness.
The relationship between money and happiness has long been a source of debate. Reams of psychological studies have been produced on the topic since the 1970s, when a group of Californian academics discovered the Easterlin paradox – that money does make people happier, but only up to a point. Once our basic needs have been taken care of, it seems that it’s up to how we spend any surplus that makes the biggest difference to our happiness.
Research has found that the best way to do this is to invest your money in experiences – whether that means concert tickets or cooking classes, the holiday of a lifetime or a daytrip – rather than material possessions.
Logically, buying something would seem to make more sense – a hi-tech watch or a beautiful book will be around long after an experience has ended, after all. However, this logic glosses over several facets of human nature, which combine to turn that thinking on its head.
For one thing, we easily take things for granted. It’s not long before we get used to a shiny new toy and it becomes part of the background. Our levels of happiness soon return to where they were before, a process psychologists call hedonic adaptation.
While material goods deteriorate with time – getting scuffed and scratched – the memory of a pleasant experience improves with age. Even a bad experience can become a good story with enough retelling and time, and in this way fleeting experiences can become an ingrained part of our identity in a way that a possession rarely does.
Apparently even the way we anticipate experiences and purchases is different. Psychologists found more positive interactions amongst people queuing for concert tickets than among those queuing to buy smartphones, for example. Waiting to buy a new gadget tends to fill us with impatience, rather than anticipation, as I’m sure many of us have found!
Instead of giving in to the desire for impulse purchases and instant gratification, we can wring more enjoyment out of spending our hard-earned money by planning purchases far in advance. As the saying goes, “anticipation is the greater part of pleasure” – especially when it comes to experiences.
Shared experiences also bond us to others in a way that a mutual preference for a certain brand does not. While owning a 4K TV might give you something to talk about with another 4K TV-owner, it won’t make for an instant connection in the same way that, say, having climbed a mountain together would.
So, the lessons seem to be: buy experiences, not things; plan far in advance to maximise the pleasure of anticipation; enjoy recalling past pleasures – and keep daydreaming.
To read more about this topic, visit: