JOSH BULRISS is a traveling photographer. Before heading to Thailand for the Buddha Project, he had no idea that he would find a soul mate for his travels. This is the story of Josh and Tara, entwined with photography and the Buddha.
After the passing of my mother in 2014, I decided to embark on a focused photography project called the Buddha Project. The aim was to discover and photograph some of the world’s most intriguing and unique statues and temples, capturing their essence. With a deep-rooted interest in traveling Asia and photographing subjects that evoke a sense of peace, this project held a special significance. My mother had always believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. She would have been thrilled to witness their realization.
The plan was to begin in Thailand, the gateway to Southeast Asia. Given the extensive time I had spent there, I knew it would serve as the perfect starting point. The country boasts an abundance of breathtaking temples and ancient statues, offering an incredible opportunity for photography. Recognizing the potential benefits of a local guide, I sought assistance from the local community through a chat site. To my delight, the first person I contacted agreed to help me explore Bangkok for a couple of days. The more we conversed, the more our travel plans expanded. Eventually, we decided to embark on a three-week journey across central Thailand.
Polunawara, Sri Lanka
Wat Phou, Champasak, Laos
Marble Mountain Da Nang, Vietnam
Upon landing in Bangkok, I anticipated meeting Tararat. Initially, we spent a couple of days exploring the city before setting out to discover the small towns and villages scattered throughout this ancient Buddhist country.
The joy we experienced while traveling together was unparalleled, leading us to decide that we would venture into north-eastern Thailand after I returned from Myanmar. There were countless places to explore and each new destination only fueled our desire to keep going. We ventured across north-eastern Thailand, extending our journey over the next couple of years into Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, and India. We have no intention of halting this project, as there is still so much left to discover and capture.
On May 3, 2019, Tara and I exchanged vows in a magical moment in Bangkok, initiating the beautiful journey of marriage.
In December 2019, we led our first successful tour across seven provinces in central Thailand, sharing the breathtaking beauty of our favorite Buddhist sites with others. The experience left us eager and hopeful to lead more tours.
As we transitioned into the new year of 2020, we embarked on a profound three-week journey venturing deep into the heart of India, accompanied by a Theravada Buddhist monk. This expedition was one of the most transformative experiences of our lives. We explored ancient Buddhist sites that held immense historical and spiritual significance. We had the privilege of visiting Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath, where Buddha imparted his teachings during his first ceremony. We explored Kaushambi, where Buddha spent his 6th and 9th rainy seasons. It was an awe-inspiring experience to walk in the footsteps of such profound wisdom and enlightenment.
Ellora Caves, Aurangabad, India
During our travels, we encountered relics and precious artifacts that held a deep spiritual resonance. We marveled at some of the oldest Buddha statues in existence, dating back to the first century. These majestic statues bore witness to centuries of devotion and represented the timeless impact of Buddha’s teachings.
Our journey through India was life-changing, an opportunity to connect with the roots of Buddhism and to deepen our understanding of the path Buddha paved centuries ago. After returning to Thailand, the world was on the brink of a global shutdown due to the Covid pandemic. As the situation unfolded, I made the difficult decision to return to America in March 2020, where I began the necessary paperwork for Tara’s journey to join me. Tara landed in Rochester, NY, on July 16, 2021, marking the beginning of a new chapter together.
Over the past two years, the Buddha Project has led us to museums across the United States, and we’ve been privileged to explore the beauty of numerous sites, discovering wonders we might never have otherwise encountered. As we press forward, our unwavering pursuit of the world’s most unique and intriguing Buddhas continues, a testament to the path that united us and a guiding light toward the future.
Inle Lake, Myanmar