17 Days. 3 Continents. 5 Countries. 2 Newlyweds. 1 Hell of an Adventure.
This is the long version (20 minutes) of this trip without the honeymoon couple. There is also a 3-minute version here:
Story Behind this Video:
Two weeks before I moved back to Texas from Beijing, where I had lived and worked the past seven years, I got a phone call from an old friend in the film industry. Not knowing that I was leaving China soon, she asked if I'd be interested in taking a job shooting video of a Chinese newlywed couple on their honeymoon. Preoccupied with my imminent move, I wasn't all that interested until she started giving details: safari in Kenya, oceanfront hotels in Santorini, Ferraris in Milan, and 7-star hotels in Dubai. So they were having one of those kinds of honeymoons, eh? Still I said no. The problem was that I had a ticket booked to Houston for August 17, and I started my orientation for film school on August 21. This job would require me to fly to Kenya on August 9 and return to Beijing on August 25, two days before classes started in Austin.
Of course that night as I thought about the job, I was kicking myself for saying no. So I contacted my school and asked if I could miss orientation and arrive the day before classes started, giving details of the job to let them know it was for a worthy cause. They told me I'd be crazy NOT to take this job, which made me feel great not only because I might get to go on this crazy trip, but because I knew I was in good hands with the school I had decided to attend!
Now the only problem was that I had less than a week to clear out my apartment, sell off all my stuff, tie up all loose ends on seven years in Beijing, change plane tickets... oh yeah, and pack and plan for the craziest, coolest 17-day trip I had ever taken in my life. Sleep was not an option. I would sleep on the flight to Nairobi.
So I went, I saw, I conquered. Well, not totally, as I had no time in advance to even think about what I would shoot, how I would shoot it, or how I would tie it all together in the edit (which they had informed me two days before departure that they expected me to do... originally I had only signed on to shoot the trip, not edit it... they also asked me to take pictures along the way). But I did my best, and my camera was firing away 18 hours a day. Really. I made it back to Texas (barely), drove straight from Houston to Austin in the middle of the night (gulping down copious amounts of coffee along the way), and started my first day of film school the next day. Yes, really.
Over the next two months while adjusting to life back in Texas and trying to keep up with school, I sorted through the 5000+ pictures I had taken and photoshopped almost 1800 of them. At that point I was so far behind in school that I had to put off the video editing until the winter break. Then I spent pretty much the entire break going through the endless hours of footage I had shot and editing three videos for the travel company that had hired me for this: two videos of just the locations we visited - one short, one long - and one short video of the honeymoon couple.
All of the places we stayed were awesome, but the two that really stood out the most to me (besides Dubai, and it's easy to find information about the Burj Al Arab "Sailboat" Hotel if you want to go there) were in Kenya, one in the Masai Mara reserve and the other in Laikipia. Here are the names and websites of these two places, in case anybody is interested in visiting (and I would highly recommend it... both the locations and accommodations are amazing!!!):
Richard's Camp (Masai Mara): richardscamp.com/
The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille (Laikipia): ol-lentille.com/
Also, if you are in China and interested in custom-tailored travel, here is the name and website of the travel company that arranged this whole trip, and they were great to work with:
Sun Pala Travel: sunpala.com