December 19, 2008

Merry X'mas and Happy 2009 New Year

I wish to wish all readers a Merry X'mas and Happy New Year. I will be travelling till late January 2009. During this period, I will not be able to psot new articles. However more interesting stories and photos will follow. Please check back regularly.


December 12, 2008

The trees engulf the temple! Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Location: Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia (13° 26′ 6″ N, 103° 53′ 21″ E)
Date: 15 November 2002; 11.40am
Camera: Canon G1

One of the most atmospheric temples within the Angkor Wat complex is the Ta Prohm temple. The temple was totally swallowed by the jungle, literally, being covered by trees and their roots twinning all over the structures after centuries of abandonment and neglect. It more or less remains the same as the conservationists decided to leave the temple in the same state as it was found after it had been stabilised. Apart from the Buddha heads that adorned most of the temples of the Angkor, the winding roots of the trees around and engulfing the temple architecture is the next most recognisable icon of the Angkor Wat temple complex. Ta Prohm also gained fame as the location of the Tomb Raiders movie.

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December 10, 2008

Sun set behind Singapore's skyline from Batam, Indonesia

Location: Singapore skyline from Nongsa Marina, Batam, Indonesia(1°11'47.04"N 104° 5'52.71"E)
Date: 16 February 1996; 7.10pm
Camera: Minolta Compact

Batam is part of the Riau Island group of Eastern Sumatra. It has benefited tremendously from its proximity to Singapore with many companies based in Singapore setting up factories on the island. It also has many beautiful beaches, especially in the north of the island, rivaling some of the best of Asia. As such it is also a favourite weekend getaway for Singaporeans, who come to enjoy the beaches and the cheap and abundant seafood. It is so "Singapor-ise" that prices on the island are quoted in Singapore Dollars and are only marginally cheaper than in Singapore. The island is also well-known as a "mistress haven" where Singaporean men keeps Indonesian mistresses and only visits them during the weekend.


December 7, 2008

Panorama of St Peter's Square, Vatican, Italy

Location: St Peter's Square, Vatican, Italy (41° 54′ 8″ N, 12° 27′ 23″ E)
Date: 23 March 2006; 9.05pm
Camera: Canon IXUS iZoom

The Vatican is one of the most interesting places that I have visited while in Italy. It is so full of history and the arts in display there is just amazing. The architecture and stories behind the various structures are just as interesting. The place carries special significance if one is a Catholic. The Pope blesses the faithful gathered at St Peter's Square from the window of his studio at noon every Sunday. He also appears in person to attend the General Audience with the crowd every Wednesday. On most days the Square is full of both tourists and pilgrims.


December 4, 2008

Meru structure of Balinese temple, Besakih, Bali, Indoneisa

Location: Besakih Temple, Bali, Indonesia (8° 22' 0 S 115° 27' 0 E)
Date: 15 May 2001; 9.10am
Camera: Canon EOS 500N (analogue) on slides and scanned

Besakih is the holiest Hindu temple in Bali. It is situated at the foot of the holiest mountain in Bali, Gunung Agung. The temple was constructed in the 11th century in the unique Balinese temple architecture style with several multiple-levels pagoda-like structure known as Meru. To visit the temple, one needs to be dressed appropriately with sarong, sash and so on, as well as paying an entrance fee. However all these smack of squeezing money from tourists as it had been regularly reported that the entrance guard had demanded as much as US$30 entrance fee from each tourist. On top of that, guides are supposedly compulsory- and more money to be spent. That's why we did not bother to enter the temple grounds when we visited the place a few years back.


December 3, 2008

Red Karen Padung woman of Northern Thailand

Location: Mae Hongson, Thailand (18° 45' 0 N 97° 55' 0 E)
Date: 5 November 1995; 1.45pm
Camera: (analogue) Minolta compact with negatives and scanned

There are many minority tribes in Northern Thailand and many of them are concentrated around Mae Hong Son district. Most of these tribes are indigenous to Thailand. However some of them also came to Thailand from neighbouring Myanmar to escape the war and persecution by the Myanmese military. Some of the members of such tribes had been in Thailand for over 20 years but are still on refugee status. The most famous of these are of course, the long-neck Padung Karen women who are been kept in zoo-like village to be visited by tourists at a fee. This photo is of another sub-group in the Karen Padung tribe- the Red Karen (Kayah) with long earlobe resulting from elephant tusks inserted in their pierced ear over the years.

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December 1, 2008

Duck shepherd at Yongding, Fujian, China

Location: Yongding, Fujian, China (24°38'14.18"N 116°54'27.63"E)
Date: 12 December 2007, 3.30pm

Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

In rural China, it is very common to see ducks being herded just like sheep by a duck shepherd. These ducks are left to roam around the farm or a specific area during the day. In the evening the owner or a member of the family will round the ducks up and lead them home. It is actually quick fun to watch these duck quack their way home.