© Amos Chapple
Husky-eyed student waiting for her bus in Yakutsk, the coldest city on earth.
An illegal tusk hunter at a site where men extract mammoth tusks from the permafrost. Click here for my story on the Mammoth Pirates of Siberia.
Two shepherds lead Palangan’s flock out to pasture. At first light, the lanes of Palangan village are busy with children leading their family sheep into the centre of the village. Once the flock has gathered, these shepherds begin their trek into the hills.
The monastery atop Mount Kachkanar, in central Russia. The monastery is scheduled for demolition on March 1, 2017 to make way for a new iron mine. Click here for the story of the embattled Buddhists of the Ural mountains.
Local boys leap into a stepwell near Jaipur’s Amber Fort.
A truck after nearly breaking through on one of Siberia’s treacherous ice highways. Click here for the story of the terrifying journey made by one man to deliver food some of the world’s most isolated villages.
Tehran’s Azadi (“Freedom”) Tower, draped with black flags to commemorate the death of Ibn Hussein Ali, an important figure for Shia Muslims. The designer of the tower is Bahai’i, and now lives in Canada as a religious exile.
The light from a nearby housing estate illuminates the monument of the Ninth Fort in Kaunas, which was commissioned by the Soviet authorities in 1984 to commemorate mass shootings carried out by the Nazis. The designer Alfonsas Ambraziunas today says the memorial is dedicated to all victims of the occupations of Lithuania.
For 61 years he’s sat here, legs dwindling to sticks as he thumps cooking pots into shape. His sons work beside him, three hammer blows occasionally falling together in synch, then scattering again into the random beat of the workshop.
I ask whether the girls admired his arms when he was young but he scolds me for rudeness. He’s more comfortable talking about the men with firebombs who drove his family out of their homeland. His father had made the decision to stay when Pakistan was formed around them, a Sikh clan in a new Muslim nation, but eventually the mob violence visited their neighbourhood and they fled.
Like so many who’ve lived through big history he’s nostalgic for the past. “Under the British we felt enormous pressure but we were innocent then. Now the people have freedom but we no longer love each other.”
But his old-testament face lights up when his grandchildren appear, they’re educated and will live a different life. He props a favourite onto his knee, “these little ones can choose their own lives and of course I’m happy for that”.
Finally, after the curious crowd have drifted away from us he leans in close, “you asked about my arms? My wife told me she always felt safe in these arms”. He rocks back and sweeps a hand over his children, his workshop, his little empire, “and she was, she always was”
Gnarled by the cold, a dog stands guard in Yakutsk on a -50c (-58F) day. Click here for a full gallery.
A woman hurries through the fog which lingers through the coldest weeks in Yakutsk. In background a statue of Lenin presides over the central square of the city.
A local woman enters Preobrazhensky Cathedral in a swirl of freezing mist.
Warm draughts of air escaping this house freeze into puffs of ice which form, fall and reform throughout winter.
Vladimir Bagadaev crunches towards his log cabin on a -53c (-63F) day. The reindeer herder lives alone in the depths of Siberia’s tundra and is able to sleep under the stars in some of the most extreme temperatures on the planet. Click here for Vladimir’s story.
On the way to the bakery in clear morning sunlight, Toledo.
Getting on with it in the world’s wettest place: Full-time labourer, part-time butcher Winchester Lyngkhoi carries fresh meat up to his stall on market day.
“Is it hard to live with so much rain?”
“We can’t think about that. Here there’s always rain but we have to work, so it’s no good wondering.
A Komodo Dragon charges through rainfall on Rinca Island. Click here for full gallery on the Komodo Islands.
Two boys playing on the shell of a Soviet APC in Murghab, the highest town in Tajikistan. Built by the Russians in the late 19th century, Murghab served as a staging post for the cloak & dagger activities of their operatives during the clash of empires known to the British as “The Great Game” and to the Russians as “The Tournament of Shadows”.
The Katskhi Pillar, Georgia. A monk (standing directly under the terracotta roof) has lived atop the pillar for the past 21 years in order to live “closer to God”. Click here for the story.
Transnistrian soldier on the night he finished 18 months of military service. He had time for two quick vodkas and this picture before heading into the night to celebrate in earnest. Click here for full gallery on the breakaway republic of Transnistria.
Workers at rest in the gothic columns of CST train station, Mumbai. The men had just finished a shift replacing tiles on the roof of the building.
A girl from the Chepang tribe in the highlands of southern Nepal. The girl was on her way to guard a corn crop against monkeys.
“En root to school”: At around 8:30am every weekday these friends make their way through the jungle and across an ancient tree root bridge on their way to class. Click here for full story on the Meghalaya region of India.
The thin aerial roots which locals knot into place to train rubber trees into bridges and ladders which can stand up to the rain-soaked environment of Meghalaya.
A tea picker caught out in a storm near Ooty, southern India. Moments earlier I’d passed in a train crawling cautiously over rivers red with floodwater. It was slow enough I could jump out and scramble back up to this plantation. Getting back to civilisation through the storm took the rest of the day.
Two tourists (lower right) among the vivid Zhangye Landforms in central China. The banding of the rocks is the result of red sandstone and mineral deposits being laid down over 24 million years & the whole “layer cake” then being upturned by seismic churning. Click here for full gallery.
Locals on a ruined pier in Abkhazia, a breakaway republic caught between Russian and Georgian geopolitical ambitions. Pre-war Abkhazia accounted for most of Georgia’s coastline and was famous as the Soviet Union’s “Red Riviera”. Following the war, international sanctions and a naval blockade devastated the region’s economy. Today it is a contrast of natural beauty and ravaged infrastructure.
Lenin looming over holidaying Russians glued to their tablets & iPhones in a soviet-era sanatorium in Gagra. With a newly revanchist Russia as its only ally, the future for the embattled territory of Abkhazia looks increasingly uncertain. Click here for a gallery from the rebel statelet on the Black Sea.
Barry Marriner tears through the tyres of his old Holden during the annual burnout contest in Huntly, rural New Zealand.
A local couple walk through the “Tunnel of Love” in Ukraine. A train runs through the tunnel thrice daily, delivering wood to a nearby factory & keeping the tunnel tightly trimmed. Click here for the full gallery.
Turkmenistan’s Darvaza gas crater. In the 1970s, Soviet engineers accidentally collapsed this cavern while exploring for gas in the Karakum Desert. The escaping methane was lit to avoid poisoning nearby villages. It has been burning ever since. Click here for a glimpse of Turkmenistan’s mad world.
Temple lurker in Varanasi.
Cable cars forming part of the network of aerial tramways built in Chiatura during the Soviet era. In place of buses, the locals still use “Stalin’s Rope Roads” as public transportation in the vertiginous mining town. Click here for full story.
A local lost in thought as a cabin of Tramway 25 docks. This was the first passenger tramway in the USSR and has run almost continuously since 1954.
Two Bedouin brew tea on the roof of Petra, a few steps from this spot is a cliff dropping straight into the gorge of the famous treasury building.
The hill of crosses in Lithuania, a pilgrimage site which has moved beyond its anti-soviet beginnings to become a symbol of independence for the tiny Baltic nation. Click here for the story.