Don Gurewitz © Jan Shim Photography
SIXTY. That’s the reply from Don when asked the number of countries he’s visited to date. Earlier today, I caught up with him earlier today for lunch in Kuala Belait at an undisclosed location together with my associates, David Cheok and Anthony Er. In what is Don’s last leg of his Brunei visit and a last minute notice, Anthony took over the baton from David and offered to drive Don across the border into Sarawak where he (Don) will meet with representatives from the Sarawak Tourism Board to visit the the rural areas of Kuching. Don had been in Brunei for two weeks now having visited (I’ll bet) a lot more places in Brunei that I have been to or seen my entire life. This is precisely why the Brunei Tourism Board launched the “KNK” campaign (stands for ‘Kenali Negara Kitani’ in the Malay language to promote “greater awareness of domestic tourism.”) Don also documented His Majesty’s 61st Birthday celebrations in a number of districts including the Royal Palace.
I’ll spare you the background of Don Gurewitz that you can easily read up on his website. In short, he’s a seasoned and highly accomplished award winning photographer. Over lunch Don shared his travel experience in war-torn countries such as Vietnam and how he had “stupidly” evaded being blown up by landmines that existed at the time (a way of protecting their farms against foreign elements). [Don, we prefer to call it bravery.] Conversations hopped from one topic to another like Don has from one country to another—exchanged opinions on politics, food, weather, etc .. barely on the equipment we use except that Don likes to travel light and have his gear stored in a Lowepro Rolling CompuTrekker AW Plus, the same bag I have and plan on bringing to Hanoi when I shoot there next month.
Here’s something interesting I learnt from talking with Don. For years now I’ve noticed that Americans have an unusual fascination for landscapes and wildlife in particularly birds or what is also known as birding. In particularly, on DPreview.com Forums the discussion of bird photography spans across all forums, more than I care to remember and Don confirmed this fascination of his with a certain hornbill he came across in Brunei. In response I said I normally take no notice of the number of hornbills that are present in my neighbourhood and they appear nearly every day at about the same time in the evening. Not once had I bothered to photograph them—perhaps now I’ve found a reason to, that there’s a big audience of bird lovers who may actually find the species in Brunei rare and exotic.