January 30, 2009

Hmong girl at Sapa, Vietnam

Location: Sapa, Vietnam (22° 21′ 0″ N, 103° 52′ 0″ E)
Date: 2 June 2005; 3.45 pm

Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens
There are many ethnic minorities living around Sapa- Hmongs, Dao, Zhao and so on. They make various ethnic handicrafts such as clothing, embroidery and silver trinkets to be sold in town to tourists. Most of these items are peddled by either ladies or children. The minority children begin making a living when they are around five years old. They could walk for 3 hours or more from their village to town every day to sell their stuff. They have to do the same or if lucky, catch a ride back to the village at the end of the day. Some of the girls get married at a young age, from ten years old and have a couple of kids by the time they are twenty. This is especially so for the better-looking ones. So the next time you are at Sapa or any of the places with many minorities selling their wares, do spare a thought for them and not get easily irritated by their repeated attempts of sale.


January 27, 2009

Panorama of St Peter's Square, Vatican from the top

Location: St Peter's Square, Vatican, Italy (41° 54′ 8″ N, 12° 27′ 23″ E)
Date: 23 March 2006; 10.35pm
Camera: Canon IXUS iZoom

This is another panoramic view of St Peter's Square at the Vatican. However unlike the earlier one here which is the view from the ground, this photo is a panorama of the Square from the top of the cupola or dome-top of the cathedral.


January 25, 2009

Ethnic kids at Nepal/China border

Location: Tatopani,, Nepal (27° 56' 60 N, 85° 55' 60 E)
Date: 29 April 2003; 3.40pm

Camera: Canon PowerShot G1

Tatopani is a small town near the border of Nepal and China. It is a nondescript town that most land travellers between Nepal and China will not pay much attention to. However in 2003 when I crossed over from China to Nepal, I was stuck at the border (which is close-by) and this town by a 3-day strike called by the then-Maoists insurgents. There was nothing to do but to fill my time exploring the surrounding countryside and playing with the kids.


January 23, 2009

Romantic Lahore Fort, Pakistan

Location: Lahore Fort, Lahore, Pakistan (31° 35′ 25″ N, 74° 18′ 35″ E)
Date: 26 June 2007; 10.15am

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

Lahore Fort is one of the major representative Mughal architecture and the only one in Pakistan. Its origin was obscure and supposedly dated back to the 1st century. However the present structure was built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar Khan. There are few structures within the fort, including the magnificent Moti Masjid. It is a nice place to spend a few hours, away from the hustle and bustles of Lahore.


January 21, 2009

Yangshuo, China- the changing face (Part 1)

Location: YuLong River, Yangshuo, Guangxi, China (24° 47′ 0″ N, 110° 30′ 0″ E)
Date: 12 April 2005, 2.30pm
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens

Yangshuo was the original backpacker haven of China. It used to be a very relaxed, cosy and friendly town with un-spoilt and unrivalled rural sceneries. Wary travellers who have spent some time travelling around China would come to relax and collect their senses amongst the spectacular beauty of limestone peaks, rural farms and charming riverine retreats. Its fame soon attracts all sorts of travellers, including the well-heeled and package tour kinds. The town has since developed into just another "major tourist attraction" like so many places in China.

I have visited Yangshuo four times since 1995 and have witnessed its transformation from a sleepy attractive town to a full-blown tourist destination exploited by well-connected local and foreign business interests as well as the destruction of its beauty and charms. I will attempt to illustrate this by various photos that showcase its past glory and current state as well as tracing the changes to these places.

This is a photo of an old farmhouse along the YuLong River, one of the beautiful rivers close to Yangshuo town. This scenery is no more prevalent along the river; the lush greeneries along this river has now made way for a road that runs from town along the river for cyclists as well as easy access to the bamboo rafts stations all along the river. The road is being built by the county government and the rights to the river, to run bamboo rafts and other facilities, are given to a company owned by Taiwanese and Singaporean businessmen. There were no tenders or involvement of the local villagers in the decision despite the fact that the villagers have now lost the right to run their own bamboo rafting businesses along the river- these are now only run by the company. These villagers had since become employees of the company instead.

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January 20, 2009

Slideshow for Dec08/Jan09