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Old March 15th, 2009, 07:51 PM   #1
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Travelling in Asia with full gear...my experience.

I just spent six weeks travelling in India, Nepal and China. I am still here - in Beijing right now and due to travel in central China.

Firstly, I had no problems going through customs and immigration in India (Delhi) - I brought a full Ex-3 outfit, with large Kata bag, Miller tripod with bag etc, and one assistant. I also travelled in 7 interior Indian flights. Twice I had to sit my camera bag on the seat next to me due to small overhead bins - the airlines are very relaxed in India. Security is the big issue - not carrying gear, but checking bags - 3 x-ray scans before the gate!!
Filming in India is great - I had no problems on the streets, inside precious buildings and temple grounds, etc. I filmed in 8 cities. You do need a local guy to help - I usually pick out a taxi cab guy who speaks English - then you get a car as well. I then hire the driver all day. Only once did I get reall problems - when officials stopped me filming from a boat I had hired on the Ganges at Varanassi - but $100 sorted this out.
I had to go through a rigerous security check that took 6 hours in a police station in order to interview a Tibetan Lama - you need local security passes to visit this Monk. Again, no problems. And all this was done on a 'tourist' visa - not an official media permit (which I have doen in the past, but not again).
Again, China is not a problem. I took my complete outfit through Beijing customs and immigration without a beep. I am filming in Beijing's hospitals and clinics and not had one security issue yet. Everyone is very helpful. I do use a local translator who I actually employ part time, as I visit China a lot. Again, I did not pull an official media permit.

The main point of this post, is that you should hire a local person wherever you go in case something needs fixing - mainly being polite when you ask to film. Official permits prior to arriving in the country are not always required. Hope this helps. This trip I also filmed in Tibetan Monasteries in Dharamsal and yes, I got official permissions from Tibet Government for this part of the filming.
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Old March 16th, 2009, 12:50 PM   #2
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Jon,

Good advice indeed. I'm back in Beijing this weekend if you are still around? Would love to meet up.

Dan
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Old March 19th, 2009, 09:39 AM   #3
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Hi Dan -

I am now in Fujian Province - actually filming with the Hakka people for a week. Sorry to have missed you, as it would have been nice to hook up in Beijing.
I leave back to the USA on April 2nd.

Next time I hope!
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Old March 19th, 2009, 10:19 PM   #4
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Ah, the land of my forefathers! enjoy it. I love it down there. Drop me a line next time you pass through.

Dan
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Old March 30th, 2009, 09:27 PM   #5
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Hi John,

It's awesome that you get to travel around Asia and haven't run into any real problems yet. I'm sure the footage you're shooting is going to be amazing!

Also, can you tell me the set up of how you brought all your gear with you? I made a post (http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/home-away...lp-advice.html) about traveling to Japan with my full gear (EX1, Miller tripod, Letus Elite, and misc. items) but I'm having HUGE worries about how my gear is going to be treated here on U.S. soil (what with the TSA and all). I'm debating on whether I should check my camera in (it will be in a Storm case) or if I should bring it with me. Some personal advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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Old April 4th, 2009, 07:22 AM   #6
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I just arrived back yesterday from China.

Firstly, do not check your camera!! DO NOT. I took a total of 18 flights in Asia over 2 months and the only airlines that screwed up my luggage was American within the USA - both ways - yes incredible as it seems. I departed from Chicago to Delhi and AA lost my bags - I ended up getting my luggage finally sent to Bangelore airport in South India a week later.
My carry on was a Kata 197 bag with my Ex-3 and accessories. My assistant carried my miller solo tripod as carry on, so we were grateful we did this and could start filming immediately. Only check stuff like portable HD's (a must for portable storage) and other things that you could actually buy in Japan. However, when I travelled alone, I had to check my Miller tripod in it's own bag. To do this I wrapped the fluid head in heavy padding - this worked fine and nothing got damaged.
The security and the airline stewardesses were very helpful when you tell them you are a professional with equipment - this is a must to do - especially on small jets when your bag does not fit the bins. There is always a space somewhere - on one Indian flight they let me use the pilots own cupboard to store the camera bag.
I do not use hard cases due to weight - I shoot in some tough places - mountains, etc. I usually use a back pack, but the Ex-3 was too big so I used the Kata 197 - superb bag, but hard on my shoulders.
As I said before - I did not find one problem with immigration and customs bringing my full gear into the countries in Asia. It seems they are getting used to tripod bags finally.

I will be in Kyoto in the first week of may filming. Good luck.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 01:54 PM   #7
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Thanks for sharing your experiences Jon! Im also planning on going to Asia during next year
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