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Stories not atoms I started 'stories not atoms' to enter the documentary competition... but after discoveirng what and how I can share future travels online here, I will be back to add more and more!

About gemmadeavin

What is life if, full of care, we have no time to stop and stare. – W.H. Davies

There aren’t too many things we can be 100 per cent sure of in our lives. But passion is one of them.

I will watch, gaze, gape, ogle and gawk – at anything. I stop. I stare. I am often caught out.

Where does this leave me? With a bad habit for one. And a passion for observing the world around me through words, images and experiences.

Born in the US to South African parents (studying in the US at the time) it wasn’t long before I was back in Johannesburg. But immigration was on the cards and Sydney, Australia had captured the hearts and imagination of the extended family. An old weatherboard cottage, a big green orchard, one caravan and a shed was our 12 person empire.

We built a house – in that orchard – but it hasn’t always been home.

The end of 1997. We were moving to Amsterdam. My sister, brother and I had places at the International school and a small village called Laren was going to be our new home. It was different. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Nothing ever felt quite so insurmountable again.

Years 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 passed. High school – I loved it – was over.

What next? It was never going to be uni straight away.

Five months and four concurrent jobs later I had scraped together enough money to spend eight months wondering South and South East Asia.

First stop. Nepal. From the moment the plane sliced through the clouds, I knew. There, like a patchwork quilt, was the Kathmandu valley. This was some place special. 

Cows, as if they were in the middle of a peaceful green pasture, sat idly in the middle of the streaming streets. To the rickshaws; multi-coloured trucks with horns as lyrical as a song; buses piled with people, goats and chickens and motos, cars and those darting in between on foot, the slumbering animals were islands they weaved around – careful not to interrupt. 

Life was present. Everywhere. 

Once you lose your heart to Nepal, there’s no getting it back. I lost little pieces to so many things. The Kathmandu ring road. Jumping on the mini buses whizzing past, door open. Wandering through my local market place. The colours. Holi day. Water. Dye and an entire city in celebration. Eating. Momos. The hills. Leaving the city to stay in Gorkhana where the river ran through our village. Jor. Living with a family of seven. Eating rice and potato cultivated from their small plot of land. Teaching. Laughing. Playing. Flying. With the himalayas at eye level. Hiking. To Everest base camp. Observing. Early morning pujas and the peacefulness of Buddhism. Listening. To my Ama’s daily Hindu rituals. Loving. My Nepalese family.

The journey stretched on through India, Thailand, Loas, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. I arrived home inspired by the world and the people I had met along the way. 

One of these people was a young British guy working as the editor of the Vientienne Times in Laos. He told stories. He had the privilege of looking into other lives and ways of being. 

I applied for a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications). 

The story continues with four years at The University of Sydney interspersed with an exchange to Stirling University in Scotland, an overseas fellowship to work at the Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia and range of other internships and a second exchange to Uppsala University in Sweden. 

These forays gave me the opportunity (I have been so lucky) to travel, see, learn more about the world. From Moscow to the Arctic Circle, to the white pebbled Albanian beaches on the Ionian sea to the joy that is Phnom Penh, I have gleaned so much from these experiences.

Almost two years down the track and I'm loving life as a writer, amateur photographer, videographer and storyteller. www.tellwell.com.au keeps me busy.

Here. Now. Excited.

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