Features from Issue Two of MERGE Magazine
Into The Heart Of Asia -> Four Years Living & Working In Bustling Hong Kong
Words and Photos by Nina Fussing
Location: Hong Kong, China
It’s a city like no other. It’s one of the densest in the world with over seven million people crammed into only 426 sq miles (1,104 km²). It’s chock-filled with high-rises, stores, streets, and evening lights so bright you forget there’s such a thing as stars. It’s bustling, crazy crowds that crush you like spawning salmon in the human flow.
“Hong Kong is a place where tourists stop to shop and those in the know come to stay.”
It’s a potpourri of people from all over the world reveling in high-end shopping and all-night parties. It’s a place no nature-loving Dane in her right mind would ever venture. Or so it might seem. Lurking beneath the surface Hong Kong is actually something entirely different. It’s unique, artistic, culturally historic, spiritual, a foodies dream and a place where just about anything is possible. There are miles of open hiking trails, parks and even an abundance of wildlife, if you know where to find it.
Words and Photos by Hannah Loaring
Location: From Cambodia
The day begins much like any other. We dress, hurriedly bundle our scattered belongings into our daypacks with little care for creases, grab our helmets, and with one quick check under the bed, we are out the door and greeted by our travel companions, Sophia and Russ.
But today is not like any other. Today is different, and my heart is heavy with the knowledge that we have come to an ending of sorts: the end of our Cambodian road trip, traversing the countryside on a rusty 125cc Honda with two strangers who have become firm friends.
“I could almost feel my chest crack open as I let go of my tension and stress, my fears and reservations, and gave way to the countless possibilities that awaited us.”
We first met Sophia and Russ back in Battambang over a month ago. We’d been crossing their path for the past few days, drinking at the same bars, eating at the same restaurants, each time a smile of recognition passed between us. But it wasn’t until we came face to face as my partner Lee and I made our way out of a tiny cave in the hillside at Wat Banan that we finally exchanged words, and agreed that this serendipitous meeting was surely a sign that we should meet again. And so we did, the very next evening, to share beers and travel stories well into the night, before deciding to write a new one together on a month long adventure across Cambodia by motorbike.
IS VOLUN-TOURISM YOUR KEY TO PERPETUAL TRAVEL?
An exploration in Nicaragua
Words and Photos by Susan Shain
Location: From Granada, Nicaragua
The air is thick with moisture and the smell of garbage. The thermometer, if there was one in the vicinity, would read well over 95°F (35°C).
I’ve just taken a cold shower, yet I’m already dripping in sweat. I’m perched precariously on my bicycle, swerving and often dragging my feet on the ground to maintain balance.
“I’ve built my life and career around my love of travel.”
This morning, I’ve already narrowly avoided collisions with a horse, a cart bursting with bananas, and at least three different taxis. As I ride, I pass by a group of men sitting on a curb in undershirts and sandals. They appear to still be drunk from the night before. They yell a variety of colorful expressions at me (none that I haven’t heard before).
Why am I here? Is it worth it?
Escaping Kyrgyzstan’s ‘OTEL from hell on horseback
Words and Photos by Jacob Moss
Location: From Kochkor, Kyrgyzstan
I stood before the shackled door below a neon sign reading OTEL. Somebody had stolen the H it seemed.
A feeling of unease had groped me since arriving in Kochkor off that windowless minivan – the kind of unease a traveller feels when they arrive in an unknown place with the night at their back. Their rucksack is heavier; their senses flicker on like street lamps as they feel a vulnerability that can only be shaken by checking into a room, a place to shed their belongings, to gather themselves – a home base. These emotions are familiar to the kind of traveller who doesn’t plan,
“Here, in the fence-less land of nomads, I wanted to see this world from astride a horse.”
yet fumbles; who reads a map, rather than a guidebook or a brochure; who travels in countries that his government recommends only travelling to if absolutely necessary. Travelling is always necessary.
Exercise a high degree of caution in the Republic of Kyrgyz was the advice given by the Australian government’s Smart Traveller website. While such advice would deter many, it only plays into temptation’s hands for a traveller guided by curiosity. It’s like mother saying don’t play with the snakes in the creek across the road.
What if there weren’t any beds around? A prospect I turned over in my head while kicking the dust and shaking the melodramatic padlock on the doors to – what I had been told – was the only hotel in town.