September 28, 2011

This looks like Venice- but it is Bangkok

Location: San Saeb Jetty, Bangkok, Thailand (13° 44′ 49″ N, 100° 32′ 23″ E)
Date: 18 September 2011; 7.35pm
Camera: Canon 500D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

Bangkok used to be known as “Venice of the East'” as it used to be filled with canals. Residents used to live on water while carrying on their daily activities by boats- and boats were the major mode of transportation. In the last 10 over years, many of these canals were filled to make way for new roads and buildings. However many of these old canals still remain on the Thornburi side of the Chao Phraya River. People still carry out their day-to-day life along these canals here- floating residences, postmen delivering mails and vendors hawking their wares on boats. Even monks do their alms rounds on boats- that’s also because many of the historically old temples are still situated along these canals. Back in the east bank of Chao Phraya (or “Bangkok proper”) the importance of canals had diminished but not disappeared. There are still many canals served by long boats. This is still an important mode of transport around the city as water transport beats the city’s notorious traffic jams.


September 24, 2011

Volcanoes are beautiful and symmetrical

Location: Gunung Batur from Kintamani , Bali, Indonesia (8° 14′ 31.2″ S, 115° 22′ 30″ E)
Date: 28 August 2011; 12.15pm
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

Gunung Batur is one of several active volcanoes on the island of Bali. It has 2 calderas and a beautiful lake. The area is a popular tourist destination. The area around here is very fertile and there are 2 villages at the foot of the volcano. People in Indonesia are used to living under the constant threat of volcanic eruptions from the hundreds of active volcanoes spread all over the archipelago. Volcanoes are both feared and revered as abode or manifestations of divinity. Furthermore volcanoes are revered for giving fertility to the surrounding area (from its lava). That’s why despite the danger, volcanic areas are still highly populated- and that’s why volcanic eruptions in Indonesia invariably cause big death toll.


September 12, 2011

This is uniquely Greek

Location: Samos Island, Greece (37° 44′ 0″ N, 26° 50′ 0″ E)
Date: 3 April 2010; 3.35pm
Camera: Canon 400D with Canon 70-200/f4L USM

At the moment Greece is in the dump economically. I wonder if things has gotten cheaper in the country. When I visited the country a year or so ago, I was surprised to find that it is much more expensive than Turkey- due partly to the fact that it is Euro-based. However I was already wondering to myself as I noticed that the Greeks (at least the ones that I encountered) do not seem very motivated to work hard for a living. This feeling is especially pronounced to me, having just spent a few weeks in Turkey- the Turks just seem to be more hungry. Little did I realised that this appearance foretells a bleak economic reality. In any case, as a tourist I enjoyed its unique character and its rich cultural and historical heritage. I find its unique Mediterranean architecture extremely exciting- such as this church on Samos Island.


September 9, 2011

Foreigners are seeing less and less of Tibet and Xinjiang, China…..

Locations: Lhasa Valley, Tibet, China (29° 45′ 28.8″ N, 91° 28′ 30″ E)
Date: 10 August 2007; 9.0am
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

I have to consider myself lucky as far as traveling to Tibet is concerned. I did 3 trips to Tibet between 2003 and 2007 and went to a fair number of places that the Chinese government forbids foreigners to visit. Some of the landscapes and tradition/culture of the people I met and visited are etched forever in my memories. I am lucky because the Chinese government has closed off more and more of the province to foreigners for political and information censorship reasons. In any case, the Han Chinese are changing Tibet so dramatically and so quickly that the character and spirituality of many wonderful places in Tibet are just no longer the same- in some ways one can say the same of the whole of China. Hence I consider myself lucky to be able to experience the magic of these places and their people before their modern and developmental transformations.


September 7, 2011

A temple atop a chariot from ancient times- India

Location: Vittala Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India (15° 20′ 6″ N, 76° 27′ 43.2″ E)
Date: 29 November 2005; 1.30pm
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens

Hampi in Karnataka should be a destination on every visitor to India. It is an atmospheric village strewn with huge boulders traverse by a river. It is both scenic and strange at the same time. Perhaps the most famous of the ruins in Hampi is the Vittala Temple with its iconic stone chariot, which has been adopted as its symbol by the Karnataka Tourism. The chariot resembling a ratha (or temple chariot) in which temple idols are taken out on traditional processions, is actually a miniature temple. Contrary to popular legend, it was not carved from a single rock. Regardless it is still an amazing piece of ancient art- complete with four round stone wheels.


September 5, 2011

Nope- this is not Africa- this is Rome!

Location: Rome, Italy (41° 53′ 24.61″ N, 12° 29′ 32.17″ E)
Date: 2 April 2005; 3.20 pm
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens

Rome is a city filled with surprises everywhere one turns. Apart from the huge number of churches and fountains, there is history everywhere. Beautiful sculptures adorned every other buildings and undoubtedly most of them would have been from a very early age. If one does not record down what and where, there is simply no way of remembering what one sees in the city. I think I saw this elephant head sculpture at the front facade of a boutique hotel but then I just cannot be sure- there are so many beautiful sculptures at every corners!!


September 1, 2011

The Pinnacles of Gunung Api, Sarawak, Malaysia

Location: Pinnacles of Gunung Api, Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia (4° 7′ 55.2″ N, 114° 55′ 8.4″ E)
Date: 14 November1995; 8.20am
Camera: (analogue) Canon EOS 500N on negatives and scanned

Gunung Api, popularly known as the Pinnacles is situated within the UNESCO heritage site of Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak. It is known as Pinnacles due to its striking smooth razor-edged limestone karst formations, resulting from water erosions over the centuries. The mountain itself is not very high- most of the more spectacular pinnacle formations are close to the summit but not necessary to reach the summit itself. However it can be a rather tough ascend up the mountain to enjoy the stunning views. The ascend is steep at various places and is punctuated by ravines caused by the erosion of the limestone structure of the mountain. The Park Rangers had secured metal ladders, laid out flat, connecting the top of limestone pillars to negotiate such ravines. Visitors should be prepared to go on fours while walking on such ladders. Any visitors to the Mulu National Park itself should attempt to spend a few more days to marvel at this wonder and savour the real sense of achievement and adventure on reaching the destination.

Technorati Tags: ,,,