Boarding Pass – Kate Pocrass

Kate Pocrass is the creative mind behind Mundane Journeys, a project she started several years ago that sought to take a closer – mundane – look at San Francisco, the city she calls home. Her accompanying book Mundane Journeys: a field guide to color was one of the things I discovered that has helped me re-evaluate how I travel and to savor the small, unlikely things of any city. She even still gives bus tours from time to time! (Way cooler than any of those [stereo]typical tour companies). So given Kate’s great ideas and creative talent, I was dying to get some insight into how she travels when she steps beyond SF. I was thrilled when she agreed to participate in Boarding Pass, so enjoy her responses below! Thanks, Kate!

last trip taken:

Montreal, Canada

next trip on deck:

New York, NY

one place you would go back to again and again:

Hanoi, Vietnam. Just to sit and read in various cafes. Like this back alley oasis.

place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:

Eating your way through Shanghai & the surrounding area. Zhou Zhuang’s hairy lake crab & freshly harvested local rice. The place was a dive & the food looked like it was going to hurt me, but I still remember that meal years later. There is an abundance of the elusive mangosteen & glazed strawberries on a stick. And my most memorable culinary experience, I like to call “roof-pig.” One minute it’s on the roof next to the mops, the next minute it is on my plate.

preferred method of transportation:

Depends where I am. On foot is my favorite way to explore a city. Train is my favorite way to get from place to place, especially with a group of women dressed in purple with read hats . I use to love airplanes but now they are just a necessity. The exception to this is a layover in the Icheon Seoul Airport. If you happen to land there on a weekend, you can marvel at all the newlywed s dressed alike to embark on their honeymoon.

place you’ve never been but dying to go:

Egypt & the White Desert

place you’d never go back:

If I had to pick someplace, I think it would be Dubai. It just was not my style. That being said, even the worst trip has its highlights. I don’t think there is anywhere I wouldn’t go twice. Each time you go somewhere, you bring new vision and new associations with you.

most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:

My first trip to Shengzhou, China. The highlight would be getting a head massage at a local shop where 15 young locals with bleached, teased manes and pompadours descend on you with Q-tips & blowdryers.

how do you prepare for a trip?

I like to do a little research but too much can kill the spontaneity of the journey. When I have a list of things I want to explore, I organize them by neighborhood for ease once I arrive. Reading short stories about a place before going is always great. Before I went to Turkey, I read an account of someone going to a Turkish barber. I was so enthralled that I forced my travel companion to get a shave once we were there. It ended up being a great way to have tea with some locals & conversation we would not have had otherwise.

how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?

I usually photograph things to record my travels. Sometimes I will jot notes down as well, but I don’t keep an ordinary journal. I find that if I am too busy reflecting while I am there, I miss out on seeing things in front of me. I like to record in the same manner I do in my own city.

what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?

I like photographing color stories that inspire me for use in future projects or mundane oddities: like benches on a slant in Baltimore. Or the day of the week carpet in the elevator to my hotel. Or strange window displays.

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?

Depends on the length of the trip & where I am. Maybe 15 per day. I only bring my camera out when things really strike me. I don’t like viewing the entire trip through a lens. I do the editing in my head before snapping the photograph.

what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?

I use different cameras for various trips. Sometimes compact is more important to me than image quality. In the past I’ve used an old film SLR but recently switched over to a Nikon D90 which is bulky, but proving to be my new trusty travel companion.

At the risk of sounding like one more person singing the praises of Moleskine, is there really anything better? Simple, compact, void of personality, chock-full of function. I like the 3 pack of un-ruled, pressboard covered sketchbooks. And their City Notebook’s tracing paper post-its are perfection. Drawing over the map route you want to take without ruining the map is a little bit of genius.

what do you do after a trip?

Nothing, really. I get film developed, I upload photos to my computer. I file them under date & place. Occasionally I will send friends a link to the photos if they ask for them. Most of all, I simply tell stories.

{click to enlarge Oakland map}

how long after a trip does this happen?

The first month after I return.

favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?

I like collecting foreign toiletries, like toothpaste. I also like to bring tea , coffee or condiments to share with friends upon returning. Like the best coffee I have ever tasted, from this unassuming, converted photo-mat in a strip mall parking lot in Homer, Alaska.



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1 Comment

  • Hello Anne!

    Found your blog today and spent some time browsing and having a huge stream of old memories! (I lived in Paris my last 3 years of high school. I was a completely awkward teenager, by the way but can´t find the right French term either… the ones you put manquent le coté “mal à l´aise”..

    Reading your Amélie report brought to my mind the van Eyck picture “Les epouses Arnolfini” (I´m sure you know this, big green dress?)

    and the thing I thought to tell you about was that Julio Cortazar wrote a short story where the green dress is the inspiration for the green couch in the story. And then the things going on in the mirror of the picture inspire the whole structure of the story (I wont go in detail or else ruin it for you if you dont know it. It´s called “Continuidad de los parques”, I guess maybe continuité des parcs in french but I´m not sure, but that´ll be easy to find.

    I´m Laia by the way. I´m a Mexican writer, living in Buenos Aires, Argentina drawing and enjoying…


    ((Sorry about posting a super long comment here, but I couldn´t find your email adress))

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