August 30, 2008

Happy Uigher kids at the Sunday Bazaar, Kashgar, Xinjiang

Location: Sunday Bazaar, Kashgar, Xinjiang, China (39° 45' 26 N 78° 24' 18 E)
Date: 5 June 1999; 10.10am
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with negatives and scanned

Kashgar, an oasis town on the western fringe of the Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang, was an important stop of the ancient Northern Silk Route. In the last few years, it had developed into a busy tourist destination; a major hub to explore the rugged and stunning beauty of the surrounding desert as well as the snow-capped Pamir and TianShan ranges. As much as the stunning scenery, it is the incredible mix of people of the region which give colour to Kashgar.

One of its most well-known event and draw used to the Sunday Bazaar. The Bazaar had been a regular feature of the town for more than 2,000 years. During the Bazaar, the town's population would more than double when traders, herders, farmers and nomads from all over the nearby regions and far-flung countryside would come to town to trade. These would be people of different ethnic origin- Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Uighers, Mongols, Chinese- you name it. All sorts of things are traded here- from produce, every day needs to livestock such as sheep, cattle, horses and camels. In the old days there was only one lively, chaotic and magical Sunday Bazaar where everything including livestock are traded at the same location (different sector). This changed a few years ago when (supposedly) for hygiene reasons, the livestock trade was separated and located at a different location, just outside of town proper. To me, this has robed part of the magic and fun out of the Sunday Bazaar.

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August 28, 2008

Apostles on Ocean? Port Campbell National Park, Australia

Location: 12 Apostles, Port Campbell National Park, Victoria, Australia (38° 39′ 57″ S, 143° 6′ 16″ E)
Date: 22 May 2008, 7.35am
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

The 12 Apostles are a collection of limestone stacks off the shores along the Great Ocean Road in the Port Campbell National Park. There are actually only 8 of the Apostles left despite its name. This is perhaps the most well-known and visited destination in Victoria, probably also due to its proximity to Melbourne. The 12 Apostles can be quite spectacular especially when there are menacing skies from impending thunderstorms.

There is public transport to the 12 Apostles and there are heaps of one or two-day tours that run from Melbourne. There are also accommodation in the nearby towns such as Apollo Bay and Port Campbell as well as homestays at the farms. I stayed at the excellent 13th Apostles backpacker hostel at Princetown when I drove there recently.


August 26, 2008

The Seat of Power- Washington D.C., USA

Location: Sunset behind Washington Memorial, Washington D.C., USA (38° 53′ 22″ N, 77° 2′ 7″ W)
Date: 7 March 2006; 5.30pm
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens

One cannot escape the sense that Washington D.C. is a planned city with its neat broad avenues in tidy blocks, open spaces and landscaping. It is a city packed full of historical monuments, memorials and official buildings. Everywhere one turns, it oozes with the feel of officialdom and somewhat overwhelming security. However it is a pleasant place to spend a day or two visiting the well-known museums, institutions of arts and education.


August 25, 2008

Slideshow for Aug


August 24, 2008

Sculpture on A Historic Building In Florence, Italy

Location: Historic Centre of Florence, Italy (43° 46′ 13.08″ N, 11° 15′ 16.92″ E)
Date: 17 March 2005; 4.35pm
Camera: Canon IXUS iZoom

This is the entrance panel to one of the monuments at the Historic Centre of Florence. The problem is that there are so many such incredible marvelous sculptures and door panels around the Historic Centre (Duomo, Batistery etc) that I cannot recall which building does this belong to. I seem to remember that this is one of the sculptures above one of the door of the Baptistery; but I cannot be sure. Anyway Florence is an incredible place to spend a few days, to soak in the atmosphere, see the arts and monuments and relax in the centre of Renaissance. One doe not need to be a history or arts expert to enjoy Florence.


August 21, 2008

Suspension Bridge in Sagamartha National Park, Khumbu, Nepal

Location: Dudhkosi Bridge below Namche Bazar, Khumbu, Nepal (27°47'23.81"N 86°43'8.27"E)
Date: 29 April 2000; 9.25am
Camera: Canon EOS 500N(analogue) on slides and scanned

There are many deep gorges in the Khumbu region of Nepal, mainly before Namche Bazar on the way to Everest Base Camp. These gorges are formed by fast-rushing rivers. Suspension bridges are normally the only means across them. Some of the bridges are high above the river while others are just swung across boulders. Some of these crossings can be quite fun or nerve-wrecking, depends on your experience and state of mind. I definitely find them to be great fun.


August 19, 2008

Countryside at JiuLong, Sichuan, China

Location: JiuLong, Sichuan China (29° 1'2.40"N 101°29'30.15"E)
Date: 18 October 2006, 7.50am
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

JiuLong 九龙 is a small one-street town in western Sichuan. It has a mix population of mainly Pomi Tibetans, Yi and Han Chinese, with the majority being Tibetans. However the local houses are predominantly of Chinese sloping tile roofs like this one, rather than the Tibetan-style flat roofs. The town is a main jumping off point to the stunning sceneries surrounding it. These includes a couple of beautiful alpine lakes such as WuXiHai and a deep gorge of the Yarlung Tsangpo Jiang (flows as Brahmaputra into the Indian Sub-Continent. It is in fact such simple rural sceneries with stunning landscapes within reach that keeps me going back to remote China.


August 17, 2008

A Springbok Among Devils' Thorn Flowers, Etosha, Namibia

Location: Etosha National Park, Namibia (18° 31′ 12″ S, 16° 16′ 30″ E)
Date: 19 April 2001; 4.25pm
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with slides and scanned

Etosha National Park was the largest game reserve in the world when it opened. However as a result of political changes, it is now only a quarter of its original size. Despite that, there is a bewildering range of animals which tend to concentrate around the waterholes within the park. The dry season is the best season to see these animals as they come to drink at the waterholes.


August 15, 2008

Golden Dome of Ananda Pahto, Bagan, Myanmar

Location: Ananda Pahto, Bagan, Myanmar (21° 10′ 0″ N, 94° 53′ 0″ E)
Date: 3 December 2000; 2.15pm:
Canon EOS 500N (analogue) on slides and scanned

Ananda Pahto is the first of the great temples in Bagan. It is one of the largest and by most acclaim, the most beautiful. According to the traditional story, it was built by a Myanmese King who was inspired by stories of their life in the legendary Nanadamula cave in the Himalayas, told by eight visiting Indian monks. The Ananda Pahto was built to recreate a vision of this cave. The temple then inspired the meritorious temple-building of later rulers.

Bagan should have been designated a UNESCO Heritage Site by virtue of its cultural, architectural and religious significance. However the military junta had restored the ancient temples and stupas in a haphazard manner, ignoring original architectural styles and using modern materials that bear no resemblance to the original designs. On top of that a paved highway, golf course and a tall watchtower was built nearby that guarantee its disqualification a UNESCO site.

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August 13, 2008

The Romantic City of Light along the Banks of the Seine- Paris

Location: Banks of the Seine, Paris, France, (48° 52′ 0″ N, 2° 19′ 59″ E)
Date: 27 February 2006; 7.05pm
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens

Among the many nicknames of Paris (Romantic City etc), the most famous and the one I find most appropriate is the "City of Lights". It is known as such owing to its fame as a city of learning and ideas as well as its early adoption of street lighting. And the city is really all attractively lighted at night especially along the River Seine. I guess it is also this beautiful ambience along the river that earns it the romantic tag.

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August 11, 2008

Sunset at Miri River, Sarawak, Malaysia

Location: Miri River, Sarawak, Malaysia (5° 17' 60 N 115° 10' 0 E)
Date: 11 November 1999; 7.15pm
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with slides and scanned

Miri is the gateway to Brunei’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan, which is about two hours drive away. Miri is often the stopover point for visitors travelling to the Gunung Mulu National Park. It also sits on the edge of huge tropical forest tracts of Sarawak and is a major port for the exportation of timber. Hence it is also known as the city of timber and oil.

It is the default entertainment centre for expatriates living and working in Brunei where alcohol is unavailable. Miri is the closest and easiest place for "thirsty" expatriates to get a beer or two.

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August 9, 2008

Life Among the Limestone Islands of Halong Bay, Vietnam

Location: Halong Bay, Vietnam (20° 54′ 0″ N, 107° 12′ 0″ E)
Date: 8 June 2005; 9.20 am
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens

Halong Bay in north Vietnam consists of about 2,000 limestone monolithic islands, most of them topped with thick jungle vegetation. These islands rise quite spectacularly out of the ocean. Most of the islands are very small; two of them are big enough with permanent towns and settlements. There are also many clusters of boats connected with floating platforms that constitutes a somewhat permanent floating presence.

Halong Bay is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. Many people just spend a day or two, taking a cruise around the islands or spend a night on a boat or on one of the two big islands. If you are planning to visit from Hanoi, it is cheaper and much easier to join one of the one or two-day packages offered at every corner of town.

Personally I felt that Phang Nga Bay in south Thailand on the shore of the Andaman Sea to be a much more spectacular experience. It is also less touristy and easier to visit independently.

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August 7, 2008

Bronze Guardian Lion inside the Forbidden City, Beijing

Location: Forbidden City, Beijing, China (39° 54′ 53″ N, 116° 23′ 26″ E)
Date: 7 May 1999; 11.50am
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with negatives and scanned

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming to Qing dynasty, spanning a period of over 500 years. It served as the home of the Emperor and his household, as well as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government. After the Great Wall of China and Tiananmen Square, it is perhaps the most recognisable symbol and name of China's heritage.

It has now being renamed as the Palace Museum and underwent a massive renovation over the last few years. It was still awe-inspiring and majestic place to visit in 1999; I believed it remains just as magnificent today. I found that one of the best way to enjoy and understand the history and significance of the palace is to hire one of those audio guide device or better still (if you can afford it) get a guide to explain to you.

With the Olympics starting tomorrow, this place will no doubt be swamped by tourists, many visiting China for the first time.

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August 5, 2008

Praying to Allah beside the Mountain Gods, K2 Trek, Pakistan

Location: Khuburtse Campsite along the Concordia Trek, Pakistan (35°41'42.28"N 76°11'0.85"E)
Date: 9 July 2007; 5.45pm
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

I just read the sad news of 11 climbers died on the slopes of K2. Reading the news brought back memories of the rugged beauty of the place.

Khuburtse is one of the campsite along the Concordia Trek to K2 Base Camp. It is set beside a stream along the mess of rocks and ice of the Baltoro Glacier. Among other things, it has a spectacular view of the Trango Towers group, as above. It is more or less one of the compulsory campsite on the route to K2 base camp. However being remote does not stop the devoted, such as porters and guides to spend time to pray.


August 3, 2008

Beautiful Sunset over the Pacific at Santa Monica, USA

Location: Santa Monica beach, California, USA (34° 1′ 5.99″ N, 18° 29′ 25.01″ W)
Date: 3 September 2006; 7.25pm
Camera: Canon Canon 300D with kit lens

Santa Monica is probably considered as part of Los Angeles. Anyway LA itself is so huge that I believed SaMo is probably regarded as a city of LA County. Whatever it is, LA is so huge that it is rather difficult to see the place at all; so my visit there was mainly concentrated in SaMo. I have to say that it is a very pleasant place to spend a couple of days with some nice beaches and fabulous sunsets. It is also a fun place to hang out with great holiday atmosphere.

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