Early February 2002, I am at an airport. I get into an airplane. I arrive in Hong Kong. I need to get on a boat to Macau. I meet a person I never met before who brings me to an apartment on the 11th floor in the heart of the old district in Macau. I need to find a way to make this my home for the next 6 months. And that is how my life in Asia started.
Getting out on the street is the best thing to do in a new environment. See what’s going on. Observe life and the happenings and meet the people. In my case I always bring a camera along. Capture what my eyes see, but my brain doesn’t yet absorb. It gives me the possibility to take it all in when I truly sit down with a cup of tea.
The streets of Macau are busy. They look like European streets, but the vibe and energy is different. It’s chaotic, I smell food everywhere, and people walk without a pattern. The shops are the same as I find back home but the streets are paved differently. My mind can’t get around just yet where I am and what I am supposed to do here. I guess I need to study for a semester, but out on the streets I would learn much more.
Macau would help me develop a taste for the unknown. To explore beyond borders and dive deeper into the cultural meaning of religion, values, and people. When I walk into a temple, I don’t look at the gold ornaments, the posh decoration and immense Buddha statues. I look at the behavior of people first. Follow their movements and observe their prayers. Sometimes you can see what people pray for.
Taking pictures of people practicing their religion is not my main objective. But capturing the atmosphere, the silence and serenity that surrounds a temple makes it worth sitting for hours in a temple, and just observe.