My wife and I have just completed our second tour with Adrian, the first being to Mount Bromo 6 months ago. Bromo was more active in the sense of having to get up super-early and sleep when we normally wake up so as to beat the crowds for astrophotography, sunrises and sunsets. It was a medium-sized group but so well-coordinated by Adrian, even out in the dark freezing rain trying to find the Milky Way. His quick-thinking and flexible planning countered a potential problem with the withdrawal of 4WD jeeps due to last-minute local issues. He instilled a sense of collective responsibility among the group so there was no single episode of \”lost\” member or time delay throughout the trip. Adrian paid attention to how every member got their shot and made photo-taking technique as simple as he could for the less experienced.
On this recently-completed trip to the backwoods of Rakhine State in Myanmar, we were clearly feeling jittery about safety and possible military conflict. Adrian went to great lengths to ensure personal safety and in providing for our different dietary needs in this religiously-sensitive area of Sittwe and Mrauk-U, centre of the Rohinggya and Arakan conflicts. This situation meant that there were almost no foreigners jostling for position and throughout the tour, we had all the scene to ourselves. Sunrise over the stupas was also thankfully devoid of hot-air balloons like those hanging over Bagan. We also interacted with displaced communities by Adrian\’s foresight to encourage us to bring and distribute small gifts as a friendship gesture, thereby strengthening rapport for street and portrait photography. A two-hour boat ride allowed us to document the fading face tattoos of Chin tribe women as this practice has been banned for a generation. Again Adrian\’s contingency planning skills came to the fore when our connecting flight out of Yangon was cancelled at last minute and we had to stay in town for 24 hours. Instead of chilling out in a hotel, Adrian arranged for an impromptu street photo session at a jetty followed by shooting sunset over a lake before dinner. On trips like these participants must be flexible and lay their trust in the leader, and on both trips for us Adrian delivered the itinerary goals and we took back great photos and more importantly wonderful memories, and made good friends.