June 30, 2008

Blazing Sunset at Grand Canyon, USA

Location: South Rim, Grand Canyon, USA (36.05335° N, 112.08344° W)
Date: 5 September 2006; 6.45pm
Camera: Canon Ixus iZoom

Grand Canyon is great for weather shots- I have seen many beautiful photos of thunderstorms at the Canyon. Sunsets are also popular.


June 28, 2008

Lovely Yi costumes at Baoshan, Yunnan, China

Location: Baoshan village near Laohuzui, Yuanyang, Yunnan, China (23° 9'34.26"N 102°44'58.77"E)
Date: 25 February 2007, 3.05pm
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 70-200/f2.8

The ethnic minorities of Yunnan celebrate many different festivals during the year that are distinct from the Hans. The Dragon Feast Festival - 长龙宴- is celebrated by a few minorities including the Yi people (a good article on this is available here. The Yi people are distinguished by their colourful costumes which they still wears everyday. Their headdress is even more elaborate and intricate as is seen here.


June 26, 2008

Chess Grandmasters in the making, Kathmandu, Nepal

Location: Asan Tole market, Kathmandu, Nepal (27° 43′ 0″ N, 85° 22′ 0″ E)
Date: 27 May
2003; 1.45pm
Camera: Canon Powershot G1

There are many markets in Kathmandu. Most of them are fruit and vegetable markets that get really busy especially in the morning. Things quieten down a lot during noon as the weather warms up with the sun beating down. This is the best opportunity for the sellers to practice their chess skills.

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June 25, 2008

Slideshow for June photos


June 23, 2008

A Storm is Coming In the Namib Desert!!!

Location: Namib Desert, Namibia (24° 44′ 0″ S, 15° 22′ 0″ E)
Date: 15 April 2001; 2.15pm
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with slides and scanned

A storm cloud is coming at the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park!! The average annual rainfall in the desert ranges from 5 to 80 mm and yet we have to be in the desert on the day when nearly half the year's rainfall fell. Locals were really excited about the rain on that day- it is extremely rare for such a high volume of rainfall in a day but we were not amused! We came to the Namib Desert to see the desert and the sand dunes not to be washed and chased away by the rain! Such is life.

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June 21, 2008

Vernazza, another beautiful Cinque Terre village, Italy

Location: Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy (44° 8′ 0″ N, 9° 41′ 0″ E)
Date: 9 March 2006; 3.35pm
Camera: Canon Ixus Izoom
Vernazza is one of the 5 villages making up the famed Cinque Terre. It is a tiny quaint fishing village, the only one with a proper harbour among the Cinque Terre villages. It has old colourful houses that cling to steep cliffs. There is also an old castle perched high above the harbour and a beautiful seaside church.

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June 19, 2008

Ancient Buddha carving at Binglingsi, Gansu, China

Location: 炳灵寺 Binglingsi Grotto, Gansu, China (35°48'32.18"N 103° 2'51.98"E)
Date: 21 May 1999; 3.15pm
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with negatives and scanned

Binglingsi may not be the oldest Buddhist complex in China but its construction was started around 430BC. "Bingling" means "thousand Buddha's" in the Tibetan language. The grottos are carved into the cliffs of red sand-stones along the HuangHe (Yellow River). It is a historically significant site being in the site of a very early dynasty (Western Qin) and regularly visited since it is along the Silk Route. It was not easy to visit this site back in 1999, though I suspect there are easy regular transport & boats across the river to the site today.

The largest statue (above) stands at 27 meters, with its upper body carved into the cliff and lower body made of clay.

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June 17, 2008

Summit of Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Location: South Peak, Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia (6° 4' 59"′N, 116° 33' 17"E)
Date: 15 November 1999; 5.45am
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with slides and scanned

Mount Kinabalu at 4,095m had been regarded for along time as the highest mountain in South East Asia (SEA). However that is actually incorrect. It is in fact only the 5th highest mountain in SEA. The highest is Hkakbo Razi (5,881m) in Myanmar followed by 3 peaks on the Indonesian territory of Irian Jaya- Puncak Jaya (5,030m), Trikora (4,751m) and Mandala (4,701m). However some experts asserted that the last 3 peaks are not technically considered "Asian" since they are located on the Australasian rather than the Asia Plate, though politically they are part of South East Asia. Anyway Kinabalu is still the most accessible of the highest five SEA peaks.

Until a couple of years ago, most trekkers used the Kinabalu Summit Trail starting from the Park HQ to reach the summit and backtrack the same way down. It is now possible to do a loop using the slightly more challenging Mesilau Trail, which is more pristine.

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June 14, 2008

Cheerful Muslim boys at Hyderabad's Old City

Location: Old City, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India(17° 21′ 57.6″ N, 78° 28′ 33.6″ E)
Date: 26 November 2005, 9.20am
Camera: Canon 300D with Sigma kit lens

Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh like most cities of India has a big Muslim minority. The Old City or Muslim Quarter is where Muslim they concentrate. Most of the shops around here are operated by very friendly Muslims, who are always ready with a smile. There are many mosques within this area and the landmark of Hyderabad, the Chaminar is also situated here.

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Fishing boats returning to shore, Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia

Location: Off the beach of Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia (8° 46′ 10″ S, 115° 10′ 26″ E)
Date: 17 May 2001; 7.15pm
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with slides and scanned

Jimbaran is a tourist resort and fishing village, just south of the airport in Bali. It gained notoriety in the last couple of years, being the location of the 2nd Bali bombings. It is popular with tourists who come to have barbeque fresh seafood along its beaches in the evening.

The fresh seafood is caught by fishermen around here, normally overnight. They will return early in the morning and there's always a pandemonium along the beach as catches are unloaded and deals being made. This is also the best opportunity to buy fresh seafood at great prices.

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June 12, 2008

Bare tree in winter, Florence, Italy

Location: Somewhere in Florence, Italy (43° 46′ 13.08″ N, 11° 15′ 16.92″ E)
Date: 17 March 2005; 4.20pm
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens.

I chanced upon this tree with beautifully spread-out bare branches in the winter of Florence. I was just amazed and attracted by how the branches spread out in a symmetrical fashion.


June 9, 2008

Sunrise rays on Mount Kailash looming above tents, Tibet

Location: Mount Kailash, Ngari, Tibet, China (31° 4′ 0″ N, 81° 18′ 45″ E)
Date: 5 August 2007, 8.20am
Camera: Canon 400D with Canon 70-200/f4L USM

Mount Kailash, one of the most holy mountains in the world as well as one of the remotest parts of Asia. It is holy to Tibetan Buddhism, Bon as well as Hindus. It attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims of these religions every year. Despite the improvement in road systems, it is still a very difficult place to get there, not to mention the potential danger of AMS if insufficiently acclimatised.

Pilgrims that make the difficult journey to Mount Kailash will normally also circumambulate (walk around) the mountain. Buddhists and Hindus do it clockwise while Bons in the anti-clockwise direction. Tibetans can complete the circumambulation of about 55 km, starting from 4,675m to the highest point at Dolma Pass at 5,630m in 15 hours; mortals like me take two days.

The massiveness of the mountain can be gauged here, compared to the tiny blue tents.

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June 7, 2008

Novice Tibetan Monks Playing Carrom, Mysore, India

Location: Mysore, Karnataka, India (12° 18′ 0″ N, 76° 39′ 0″ E)
Date: 3 December 2005; 5.50pm
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens
Mysore is an old city and the seat of the Maharaja of Mysore. It has a good mix of Muslims and Christians among its population. There are also a fair number of Tibetans who lives in Mysore, like these novice monks. While nowadays novice Tibetan monks in China are preoccupied with handphones and computer games - yes, they normally go out to internet cafes near their monasteries in the evenings- those in India are still very much into a good-old game of carrom.

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June 5, 2008

Fishing in the morning at Vang Vieng, Laos

Location: Vang Vieng, Laos (18° 56′ 0″ N, 102° 27′ 0″ E)
Date: 4 November 2004; 7.00am

Camera: Canon EOS 300D with kit lens
Apart from Luang Prabang, which I did not find to be that exciting anyway, Vang Vieng is my favourite destination in Laos. It is only 160km from the capital Vientiane and so is easily accessible. It is a bit like a backpacker town with guesthouses, restaurants, travel agents and shops lining the main street of the town. It has a very chill-out atmosphere.

Vang Vieng has acquired something of a reputation as the adventure centre of Laos as well mainly due to the rubber tube riding down the Nam Song River. There are also some limestone caves in the hills that are becoming popular. However to me, the attraction of the place is its rustic feel and its beautiful scenery of limestone hills, farms beside a slowing flowing river and extremely friendly people.

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June 2, 2008

Cattle enjoying the morning sun, Colac, Victoria, Australia

Location: Near Colac, Victoria, Australia (38°22'14.01"S 143° 9'35.58"E)
Date: 22 May 2008, 8.20am
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

The area around Port Campbell National Park where the famed 12 Apostles is located is one of the best dairy farming area in Victoria. It has rolling hills reminiscent to similar dairying areas of NZ. I was not so lucky with the weather when I drove along the Great Ocean Road to take in the sights but bad weather has its own awards such as the rising sun behind rain clouds here. I will be following up with a write up on travelling the Great Ocean Road soon.


June 1, 2008

Slideshow for May photos