April 27, 2009

The Buyi/ Buoyei minority of China

Location: DuoYi He, Yunan, China (24°45'56.77"N 104°29'50.85"E)
Date: 1 March 2007, 7.30m
Camera: Canon 400D with EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM

Buyi is a minority tribe in China, living predominantly in the provinces of Yunnan, Guangxi, Guizhou and Sichuan. A big proportion of them lives at the border of Yunnan and Guizhou, an area know as GuiYun with deep canyons in limestone karsts cut by numerous rivers. The Buyi are indistinguishable from the major minority of Guizhou, the Zhuang; studies had established that they share common ancestry. Those who lives in the urban area in fact looks no different from any Hans. However in the villages, most of the women still wear their traditional clothing of "trousers with a long-sleeved blue jacket buttoned on the right or an embroidered coat with a long pleated batik-design skirt. The front sleeves and shoulders of the coat will be decorated with batik cloth or embroidery. Women may wear brightly coloured aprons. Unmarried women may wear a black or striped kerchief with a bow on their heads. Married women will wear a turban. Men wear long pants and short embroidered jackets." (quotes from an excellent article on the Buyi).

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April 22, 2009

Bologna's own Leaning Tower, Italy

Location: Torre degli Asinelli, Bologna, Italy (44° 29′ 39.48″ N, 11° 20′ 47.4″ E)
Date: 19 March 2005; 12.40pm
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens

Bologna has many unique medieval towers built between the 12th and 13th century that stood over 60m. These towers were built by rich families for defensive and offensive purposes. Many of these towers had since collapsed; however there are two that remain standing and are the symbol of the city. Both of these towers are leaning and are popularly dubbed Bologna's own leaning towers. The taller of the two, Aniselli is 97.2m tall with an overhang of 2.2m. The name of the tower is derived from the family that constructed it.


April 20, 2009

Snow-blanketed farms at Pangboche, Nepal

Location: Pangboche, Khumbu, Nepal (27°51'23.92"N 86°47'17.18"E)
Date: 12 April 2000; 10.45am
Camera: Canon EOS 500N (analogue) on slides and scanned

Most trekkers trek the Khumbu and Annapurna regions in the high season of October/November window as the skies are crisp and clear. However the other trekking season of April/early May can be just as attractive especially since there are a lot less people even though the clouds do come in earlier during the day. Even during this period, one can be rewarded by snow-blanketed views such as these snow covered farms of Pangboche (3985m). Unfortunately I have lost track of the name of mountains around the village- such as the two giants here.


April 17, 2009

On the way to the summit of Mount Semeru, Java, Indonesia

Location: Climbing Mount Semeru, Java, Indonesia (8° 6′ 28.8″ S, 112° 55′ 12″ E)
Date: 17 July 2008; 12.20pm
Camera: Canon 400D
with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5 lens

Mount Semeru, also known as Mahameru is one of Indonesia's most active volcano as well as the tallest mountain in Java. It erupts at quite a regular interval, every 20 minutes and belches out a huge cloud of steam and smoke, sometimes interspersed with ash and stones. Despite the eruptions, it is popular with hikers and tourists alike. There were several recorded cases of tourists being injured by flying debris from the eruptions. Normally it takes 2 days to climb the mountain, with a night camped at Acropolo to facilitate an early start to the summit the next day. Most summiteers normally start around 2-3am and takes at least 3 hours for the final assault. This is the most challenging section of the climb as it involves hiking on soft sand at a steep gradient where it is not unusual to walk two steps up but slide one step down. However all the pain and fatigue quickly dissipates when one reaches the summit with a sense of achievement.


April 14, 2009

Hope for a peaceful resolution of Thailand's political crisis

Location: Chiengmai, Thailand (18°47'59"N / 98°58'0"E)
Date: 5 November 1995; 1.45pm
Camera: (analogue) Minolta compact with negatives and scanned

Thailand is again mired in another political turmoil that has ended in violence. It is sad to witness the descent of the country into another spiral- one after another. It is a beautiful country of gentle people who deserves better political stability than the seemingly endless cycle of coups and corrupt leaders. I hope the current standoff between the various factions of its society can be resolved in a peaceful and lasting manner.


April 12, 2009

Sunset over Zambezi River, Zambia

Location: Zambezi River, Zambia, Africa (17° 55′ 28″ S, 25° 51′ 24″ E)
Date: 3 April 2001; 5.50pm
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with slides and scanned

The 4th longest river of Africa, the Zambezi originates from Zambia and flows through 4 other countries before emptying into the Indian Ocean. The river changes in several places along its course from placid flow in sandy plains to annual flood plains as well as tumbling rivers of falls and rapids. The Zambezi River is widely used by wildlife and humans alike. Apart from being a source of water for both, it is also an important source for transportation, irrigation, tourism and hydropower.


April 9, 2009

Colourful buildings of Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Location: Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy (44° 6' 0 N 9° 43' 60 E)
Date: 10 March 2005; 11.15am
Camera: Canon IXUS IZoom

Manarola is beautiful at night. However one will appreciate its multi-coloured medieval buildings better during the daytime. It is a small town and so does not take long to walk around it. Well, more like up-and-down the town as the roads wind around the hillside. There are numerous vineyards on the hillside, which afford a great panoramic view of the town.


April 7, 2009

Yangshuo, China- the changing face (Part 4)

Location: Yangshuo, Guangxi, China (24° 47′ 0″ N, 110° 30′ 0″ E)
Date: 27 April 2002, 7.20am
Camera: Canon G1

Back in 2002, there weren't too many tall and new buildings in Yangshuo yet. They were starting to build a tall'ish hotel at one end of XiJia then but mysteriously when I went back there this year, I did not see the hotel at all. However there are plenty of new hotels and cafes; more outside of XiJia as well. Many empty lands had been converted to hotels. Even the morning market is no longer in existence- the area had been claimed by a huge hotel. The whole town is no longer quaint as before.


April 4, 2009

The world's biggest flower, Rafflesia

Location: Rafflesia at Tambunan Rafflesia Forest Reserve, Sabah , Malaysia (5° 46′ 38.4″ N, 116° 20′ 36″ E)
Date: 18 November1995; 1.20pm
Camera: (analogue) Canon EOS 500N on negatives and scanned

Rafflesia is a parasitic flower found mainly in the Malay Archipelago including parts of Indonesia. It was named after Sir Thomas Raffles, the founder of Singapore and a renowned botanist in his own right. The plant has no stems, leaves or true roots and most of the flower is inside its vines. The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is the five-petaled flower. The flower is the largest single flower in the world, if not by size, at least by weight. Some species can grow to over 100 centimetres in diameter and weigh up to 10 kg!! Rafflesia smell like rotting fish or meat and is nicknamed "corpse flower" by the locals. The vile smell that the flower gives off attracts insects such as flies and beetles which transport pollen from male to female flowers. The Tambunan Rafflesia Forest Reserve in Sabah is a good place to go looking for Rafflesia in the wild. The reserve has an abundance of wild Rafflesia, most of which are on the mountainside; which can be accessed by a couple of hours of hiking on trails in the reserve.


April 2, 2009

Smoky Mount Merapi in the evening light, Java, Indonesia

Location: Gunung Merapi, Java, Indonesia (7° 32′ 26.99″ S, 110° 26′ 41.34″ E)
Date: 20 July 2008; 5.20pm
Camera: Canon 400D with Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens

Gunung Merapi or Mountain of Fire is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. Thousands of people live in villages on the fertile slopes of the volcano. It has erupted several times since 1548 and has killed many people and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless. Smoke can be seen billowing from the mountain crater virtually all year round. Local Hindus revere Merapi as a representation of Hinduism's holy Mount Meru, on which Shiva is ever seated in meditation.


April 1, 2009

Slideshow for March09