September 27, 2010

Greens and sand dunes- this is Mingsha, Gansu

Locations: Mingsha, Gansu, China (40°5'18"N 94°40'33"E )
Date: 5 October 2008; 9.20pm
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with negatives and scanned

Dunhuang is one of the most interesting stops along the Silk Route of China. On top of its strong Hui (Muslim Chinese) traditions, it has history, thanks in no small part to the infamous tomb-raiding feats of a Aurel Stein, who nearly cut out all the murals of the Mogao Caves and shipped them back to Britain. Dunhuang also has the magnificent Mingsha Desert (Mingsha is so named for the sound of the singing sand, being wind whipping off the dunes). The sand dunes are situated at the edge of town and are fringed by green farmlands as seen above. Most visitors to Mingsha would probably not realised this as one has to climb up one of the higher sand dunes to have a panoramic view to appreciate the amazing nature of the landscape.

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September 23, 2010

Notes in memory of 9-11 victims, New York, USA

Location: New York City, USA (40° 43′ 0″ N, 74° 0′ 0″ W)
Date: 10 February 2006; 4.15pm
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens

This year’s 9-11 commemoration had become a little more controversial with the stupidity of some obscure pastor trying to make a name for himself and his (very small following) church. Furthermore the issue of the Islamic Centre near the 9-11 site had been politicized by politician unnecessarily. This is a far cry from the spirit, unity and general outpour of goodwill towards USA after the 9-11 bombing. I just hope that future commemorations are not hijacked by such divisive issues again.


September 21, 2010

Singapore’s new landmark- the 3 Towers of Marina Bay Sands

Location: Marina Bay Sands, Singapore (1° 17′ 4″ N, 103° 51′ 21″ E)
Date: 18 August2009; 8.50pm
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

As posted previously, Singapore is busy changing the face of its CBD plunging billions of dollars in building up and transforming the new Marina Bay area. One of the latest addition to its skyline and possibly considered a Singapore landmark is the new Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort. This comprise of casino, hotels, shopping and conference facilities built and owned by the US-based Vegas Sands. It was opened in April 2010 though construction of a few of its sites is still in progress. This is supposedly the world’s most expensive standalone casino property. Foreigners are warmly welcome (to lose money) in the casino while Singapore Residents are discouraged to visit the casino by having to pay a hefty entrance fee of S$100 per visit.


September 18, 2010

Rocks of different shapes and forms created by wind erosion, Goreme, Turkey

Location: Devrent Valley, Goreme Open Air Museum, Cappadocia, Turkey (38°40'27"N 34°53'4"E)
Date: 10 April 2010, 9.50am
Camera: Canon 400D with Canon 70-200/f4L USM

All around Cappadocia, the wind had eroded the rocks over the millennia into some incredible shapes and structures. Some shapes need some imagination to decide what they look like; others are amazingly straightforward. This one need no imagination- it really looks like a camel.


September 15, 2010

Ganesha idol/painting outside house in Bundi, Rajasthan

Location: Bundi, Rajasthan, India (25° 26′ 24″ N, 75° 38′ 24″ E)

Date: 22 Dec 2009; 1.10pm
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

I saw this painting of Ganesha outside houses in Bundi. There are different versions but of them are of Ganesha. I did not quite discover the reasons for this but I guess it has to do with the fact that Ganesha is a symbol of prosperity and is believed to be destroyer of all obstacles which come in its way. Hence just like the Chinese Door Gods, Ganesha is supposed to do the same.


September 13, 2010

Pilgrim tents on the shore of Namtso backed by the Nyainqêntanglha mountain range, Tibet, China

Location: Namtso, Tibet, China, (30° 42′ 0″ N, 90° 33′ 0″ E)
Date: 21 April 2003; 7.05am
Camera: Canon G1

Namtso meaning Heavenly Lake in Tibetan, is one of 3 holy lakes of Tibet; the other 2 are Manasarovar and Yamdroktso. Namtso is also the biggest lake in Tibet, the highest lake (4,718m) in the world and the 2nd largest saltwater lake in China (after Qinghai Lake) . Tibetans Buddhists believe Buddha will assemble to hold religious meeting at Namtso in the year of sheep on the Tibetan calendar. So circumambulation (kora) around the lake at the right moment equals 100 thousand times of that in normal years. Every year thousands of Buddhists from Tibetan areas in the 5th & 6th month of the Tibetan calendar, come to the lakeside on pilgrimage to pay homage and pray.

This and many other beautiful places in Tibet are now less accessible to foreigners like me. After the pro-Tibet protests prior to the 2008 Olympics, China had clamped down and strictly enforced the travel restrictions on foreigners to Tibet. These days no independent travellers can get to Tibet without going through the necessary paperwork. To travel there, one not only require a Tibet Travel Permit (TTB) as in the past, a full package have to be booked beforehand with guide and a vehicle ready (if one wants to travel outside Lhasa) when one lands in Lhasa. In other worlds, unlike in the past when one can do travel arrangements including vehicle while in Lhasa, all of these must be done before getting to Tibet. Furthermore there are more checkpoints where TTB are actually checked. I considered myself lucky to have already visited so many places and met so many people in Tibet- many of which were already off-limit to foreigners in the past.

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September 9, 2010

Ancient Rock Art at Twyfelfontein, Namibia, Southern Africa

Location: Twyfelfontein Rock Art, Namibia (20° 35′ 26″ S, 14° 22′ 20″ E)
Date: 18 April 2001; 2.15pm
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with slides and scanned

When someone mentioned Rock Art, invariably one would think of ancient paintings and engraving by people who lives thousands of years on rocks. Rock Art has been discovered all over the world- mostly by ethnic inhabitants of the place concerned. Hence there are Aborigine, Maori and plenty more in Europe, India, Central America and so on. One common theme of such Rock Arts is that they normally depict animals of the time or motifs and hand prints. Most of such sites that have been discovered around the world are now listed as UNESCO Heritage Sites. Twyfelfontein in Namibia is one of the most well-known Rock Art site in Africa. There are a few thousands of such rock engravings in Twyfelfontein, many of them in relatively good condition; no doubt helped by the dry weather condition in that area. Most of the engravings are chiseled into the sandstones and are depictions of animals such as lions, giraffes, buffalos, wildebeests and so on.

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September 1, 2010

Slideshow for Aug 2010