November 30, 2010

Slideshow for Sep-Nov 2010


November 22, 2010

Golden temple- it is really gold!!

Location: Golden Temple at Amritsar, India (31° 36' 0 N, 74° 52' 0 E)
Date: 24 June 2007: 6.30pm
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70mm/f2.8-4.5

The Sikh Golden Temple of Amritsar is definitely one of the highlights of anyone’s visit to India. Though it is not as well-known or popular as some other Indian destinations such as Taj Mahal, Red Fort etc, it is to me, one of the most memorable destinations of India. As was discussed in a previous post on this temple, this place exudes a certain sense of peacefulness and tranquility like no other places in India. If the UNESCO Heritage Site includes existing places of worship, the Golden Temple will definitely get my vote as a candidate.


November 18, 2010

China is rebuilding Tibet’s transport infrastructure at a frantic pace

Location : Tingri region, Tibet, China (28° 34′ 0″ N, 86° 38′ 0″ E)
Date : 28 April 2003; 8.25am
Camera : Canon G1
Tibet is developing so fast that it is quite mind boggling. Billions are poured into the province’s transport infrastructure with the headlining rail connection to Lhasa. Apart from that, China is building the world’s highest airport at Ngari (base to explore Mount Kailash), airport in and extension of the Lhasa rail line to Shiigatse. It is also expanding and improving the road network in the province. Few years ago the road between Lhasa and Shiigatse was a single lane bitumen road; now it is a 4-lane highway! However most of the roads in Tibet are under-utilized. It is not unusual to be on one of these roads for 20 or so minutes before encountering another vehicle. Most of the constructions connecting the major centers are undertaken with heavy machineries but some of the lesser connections are invariably still mainly built by manual labour, with little heavy machinery. This photo was the norm as far as road construction is concerned about 8 years ago- men and womenfolks using shovels- and is still the same in the smaller town connections.


November 14, 2010

The carvings of Borobudur are in danger of being damaged by the volcanic ashes of Mount Merapi

Location: Borobudur, East Java, Indonesia (7°36′29″S 110°12′14″E)
Date: 21 July 2008; 9.40am
Camera: Canon 400D with EF 70-200/f4 IS L

Borobudur is under siege again, this time from nature. The continuing eruptions of Mount Merapi with its consequent release of huge amount of volcanic ash into the air are causing great concerns to the experts on the preservation of Borobudur. Apparently the statues and stupas of the monument are already coated by volcanic ashes 5 cm thick. The volcanic ashes are acidic and could cause irreparable damage to the monument as it embeds into the pores of the structures. Army of staff had been deployed to clean up the ashes and the authorities planned to cover the monument with a huge piece of plastic to prevent the ashes from contaminating the monument. However due to the size of the monument, the huge plastic sheet is only big enough to be used to cover the more important structures. Let’s wish them success.

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November 9, 2010

Mount Merapi at sun rise, before the current round of eruptions

Location: Borobudur, East Java, Indonesia (7°36′29″S 110°12′14″E)
Date: 21 July 2008; 6.10am
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. It has just blown its top for the last 2 weeks and had claimed at least 150 lives. It is a beautiful volcano to look at when it is inactive especially as a backdrop to the fabulous Borobudur complex. This is diametrically different to what it looks like in the last few days with reports of ashes being thrown up 8 km into the sky. In fact the volcanic ashes even fell on Borobudur, 28 km away causing experts to fear that the acidic ash might damage the historic site. Though it is dangerous to live close to the volcano, the fertility of its soil resulting from the volcanic ashes, had attracted a huge population of farmers on its slope. I would venture to guess that after the ashes had settled, farmers will flock back to till on its slopes.

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November 6, 2010

The ever popular Erawan shrine of Bangkok, Thailand

Location: Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand (13° 44′ 49″ N, 100° 32′ 23″ E)
Date: 28 October 2009, 11.05am

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

The Erawan Shrine or San Phra Phrom is located diagonally opposite to Central World Shopping Mall in central Bangkok (part of the Central World Shopping Mall was burned down in the recent Red Shirt riots on 19 May 2010). The shrine is a well-known landmark in Bangkok, familiar to Thais and foreigners as thousands of devotees both Thai and foreigners pray at the shrine to seek blessings, fulfillment of dreams, success in personal lives and careers every day. The shrine was actually constructed to honor the 4-faced Hindu god, Brahma. However the shrine is popularly known to foreign visitors as the 4-face Buddha; which is incorrect as it is a not a Buddha. The shrine got its name, Erawan, from Brahma’s 3-headed elephant.

The gold plated plaster Brahma statue was smashed and destroyed on 21 March 2006 by a mentally ill man- he was beaten to death on the spot by two workers. The statue was replaced by metal one made of an alloy, nawaloha, consisting of nine metals including gold and silver. It remains as popular prayer shrine as its predecessor.


November 1, 2010

China’s old folks are really healthy!!!

Location: Tian Tan, Beijing, China(39° 52′ 56.07″ N, 116° 24′ 23.29″ E)
Date: 18 October 2010, 9.10am
Camera: Canon 500D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

I am always amazed by how healthy the elderlies of China are. Whether in the rural farming areas or in the cities, the majority of the elder folks in China are generally very healthy and mobile. I supposed the cause of this in the rural areas is the laborious nature of their life in the farms while in the cities, the reason is their devotion to exercises of all sorts. In fact in the cities, one can always see the residents exercising in the parks in the mornings and evenings. A popular exercise is of course, taiji; but it is by no means limited to that. Some of the more popular exercises/sports are dancing, badminton and the various forms of light martial arts.