A necessary part of travel is letting go of your everyday self to explore and discover the world beyond. New places are mysterious and exciting. A travel journal from Sikkim performed.
A cold, wet, wintery landscape. In the foreground a low, hand-laid stone wall, snow-capped craggy Himalayan mountains beyond. A young man in a puffy down coat and Tibetan knit hat walks into the frame and blows up a light blue-coloured penny balloon.
With camera eye that is tottering, precarious, giddy – slapdash - we share a visceral experience of this trip on the former Silk Route.
The young man tosses the blue balloon up and taps, and the balloon is off, rushing down the road. We follow the balloon as it travels through a mountain landscape, over bridge, on water, up and over snowy mountains, through some towns and on encounters with people, mostly kids.
You don’t know who you may meet when you travel or how the encounter will go. We follow a hand coaxing the blue balloon on.
Some of the kids are too sleepy-eyed to play, or have other concerns. Some want to possess the balloon… There is a brief volley interaction with two people. Through narrow alleys and on a slippery road, we follow a saffron-robed Buddhist monk as he briskly walks towards the chiming of a gong. Another kid, this one too shy to play or too busy, he is turning a prayer bell twice his size.
Moving along through a foreign landscape with the buoyancy of the penny balloon, light and empty, like a young spirit…
Cut to steps along a river, a small and highly excited child who really wants to play. She cajoles and rushes to the balloon when it is released towards her. But it escapes her, bounces around the steps leading down to the river. She catches up with the light blue balloon but inadvertently pops it.
… and also delicate, fragile, vulnerable.
watch Khổng Việt Bách's Travels with blue balloon here