I'm floating on my back. Bobbing along at speed. The Ganges is carrying me effortlessly downstream, my body buoyed by the swift current. I am copying the young Indian boys who leap into the river as it flows through the pilgrimage town of Haridwar - where the Ganges descends from the Himalayan foothills to the plains. The hard part is getting out. I grab one of the metal chains dangling from beneath a footbridge and my body is jerked up and out of the water. I swing along the looped chains, monkey style, grinning all the way to the bathing ghats lining the river.
Definitely up there in my top ten exhilerating experiences of all time. And it was there in Haridwar that I decided to follow the sacred river right up to its glacial source (another top tenner). That pilgrimage became my first travel story and a photo illustrating it made the cover of Hong Kong's Asia Magazine back in 1981. Much of the next decade and a half I spent on the road, returning many times to the Indian subcontinent as well as China, as it began to open up more and more unexplored areas to the adventurous traveller in the mid 80s. Xishuangbanna, Omkareshwar, Dwarka, Dali, Cox's Bazar, Jharkot & Jhong, Pushkar, Rishikesh, Somanath, Vrindavan, Kovalam, Kandy, Unawatuna, Pashupatinath, Zanskar....I was drawn just by the sounds of the exotic, mellifluous names.
Most of the photos on this website are from that itinerant period (plus a few, more recent ones), the old fading Kodachrome and Fujichrome slides dusted down, scanned in high res, digitally cleaned up, spot-healed and photoshopped to hopefully achieve that perfect exposure, contrast and colour balance again. Leap in!