Nuffnang Space

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Sunset and A Silhouette

Hey there friends, I'm back from a cruise to Phuket. My mission that fellow blogger,One, had assigned me this time was to capture a silhouette against the sunset. Easy enough, except the best opportunity I had, happened to coincide with the Captain's Gala Dinner. I managed to capture the earlier part of the sunset before the dinner was served. Fortunately, we had a table with a window view, so I could monitor the sunset. While the first course was being served, I could see some orange and red hues colouring the sky. However the colours were not very obvious, so I decided not to leave the table yet. Then the serenading trio came to our table to play us a song just as I thought I should make a move to capture my sun hitting the horizon. So I waited for the song to end. When I had successfully, and unobtrusively, made my way out of the dining room to the deck, there was not a soul for me to photograph leaning against the ship's railing. Fortunately, I spotted a waiter striding down the gangway, so I just grabbed him and made a fast decision...should I get him to pose for me, or should I get him to get a shot of me with my back facing the camera? Both options would be deemed a little odd. Which would be less odd? I thought the second option would seem more natural. Not wanting to waste his time or mine, with explanations, I just asked him to take a photo of me and the sunset. That was what I exactly those words. As I posed with my back facing the obliging man, trying to look as if I always have my photograph taken this way, there was no sound to be heard from him. Was he still there? I couldn't turn around until the photo was taken, and he didn't say, "Say Cheese", for that wouldn't sound right, would it? He didn't say "One, two and Smile" either, so I counted to three myself, and turned to him. Poor man didn't know what to say. However he said, let's take one more.(Just in case I had blinked at the moment he clicked?) Maybe not. Well, I just had to report this in detail to my Chief, 001. So here's my report, Ma'am...and Mission Accomplished(?)

I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon
We'll meet I know we'll meet 
beyond the sea
Happy we'll be beyond the sea
And never again I'll go sailing

I am sharing the joy of that sunset that I thoroughly appreciated. There are more beautiful sunsets, I know, but this sunset is unforgettable because I had set out to capture it, and in the process, I watched it from the beginning to the sizzle when the sun touched the water! This is not something I do everyday, and I felt the joy. And I am sharing the joy of the game that One and I have begun. My mission for her now is to capture a picture that would fit the theme 'as tough as a nail' And anyone who would like to join in the fun is welcome to do so. Just link to my new meme, "Mission Quite Possible" which I shall launch next week on Tuesday in travel-i-tales.

For more blazing skies, do visit Skywatch Friday.
For Share The Joy Thursday, visit Meri's Musings
For Thursday Theme Song visit Hootin' Anni's.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Reporting to 001...Mission Quite Impossible

Before I went to Bandung, Indonesia, I received a mission from One ( who is probably also a  blogger-friend of many of you who visit my blogs) to capture a picture of non-human animal critters there. I was thinking that it would be a cinch. I thought I would be able to photograph an album full of street dogs, or dogs being walked by their owners, or birds, especially seagulls, that I seem to see almost everywhere I travel. Incredible that I could not see any animals here. This was Mission Impossible! The critters  must all be camera-shy and hiding from me when they see my camera in my hand, ready for action. I almost failed my mission until I saw something that saved me. There they were, the only live critters that I could find. I had planned, in desperation, to present to One the stone-art orangutan that was 'swinging' in the garden until I heard the splish-splash made by the koi in the same garden. Mission acccomplished. Whew!

I am dedicating this post to One, or  to be more precise, 001 (as I have decided to call my Mission Chief by that name). However, to make up for the scarcity of critters in this post, I include the critters I have managed to capture with my trusty camera on my trip to a destination where there were photo opportunities to shoot a variety of animals... New Zealand. .

Here is a delightful deer fawning for attention, waiting for the camera to focus on her.

A celebrity llama looking a little irritated that the paparazzi is not giving him any privacy in his own enclosure.

 A lion (yes a lion in New Zealand), not giving me the time of day...but my camera caught this disdainful expression which seems to say, "Why can't you just let me have my nap in peace!?"


And you can't be in New Zealand and not get a shot of sheep in their paddock, can you? These black-faced sheep were actually hard to find...I finally saw a few in the east coast of South Island.They do not appear to be particularly bothered about being photographed...but that's because they were not aware that I was taking a photograph of them from afar, or they would have shown their back to me as they were wont to do each time I got too near. Come to think of it, that would also be iconic... the black bottom of the black-faced sheep.

born to be king
the lion's heart quietens
captivity in dignity 

Hope you enjoy my Camera Critters. You can find more at Misty Dawn's.
For more haiku reflections with the prompt 'Born', visit Haiku Heights and drop in on Haiku My Heart just to see what's cooking there.

Famous Sunset-Watch Destination in Siem Reap

I thought only photographers,both professional and amateurs, would be interested to make the trip To Phnom Bakheng near Angkor Wat to watch the sunset there. I was mistaken. There were not only photographers but also an assortment of tourists, locals, including children, a man with a walking stick, just about every type of person you could imagine. This was a 'happening' place...I thought to myself...what a phenomenon; people congregating there almost every evening to witness and document a daily event??? I wasn't going to miss out on this.

You could opt to go up the hill on this elephant, you know.

The hill was not steep; it had a gentle gradient and a leisurely walk would take you about 20 minutes to get to the temple at the top of the hill. The challenge would be to walk up the very very narrow steps up to the small plateau where the temple is located. To say that the steps are almost perpendicular to the ground is not an exaggeration. It  was really daunting. Climbing up would be possible using all fours, as the others ahead of me were doing, but how on earth were we going to get down those steps? Reverse direction but on all fours again? That would be like abseiling but without any harness or ropes. Impossible. Go down like we would any normal staircase? But there wasn't any railing to hold on to in case I lost my footing on the very, very narrow steps. I do have a slight fear of heights. Should I abort this mission I had set for myself to capture a Bakheng sunset for Skywatch Friday?

Can you see how the people are climbing the steps here?

My husband encouraged me to go on with my mission. We surveyed the perimeter of  the base, scouting for a less perilous ascent for me. We found a narrower flight of steps which had a wall on one side. That would be a good alternative for a railing. At the least I could lean back for some support as I descended. Mission resumed.

At the top, we could see camera tripods already set up on several strategic locations. People were just sitting around, waiting. Every inch of the plateau was occupied. A few people were already taking photographs of the view as soon as the sky was changing colour. The evening light was softer now and the sun was making a slo-mo dive, spreading its light in shades of vermilion. I captured my Bakheng Sunset, and was glad that I could be part of this expereience. 

As the number of people on the top of Bakheng Hill was growing, we decided to make our way back before the crowd made their exit, and before it got too dark to actually see the steps. My dread of the vertigo-inducing descent turned out to be unfounded as I made it down with my dignity and composure intact. Not a slip, my knees didn't buckle and I didn't lose my nerve. The experience was a milestone of sorts for me although the bit of sunset I captured wasn't the show-stopper splendour that the other photographers would have caught when it got dark.However, I have a tale to tell from this experience, and with delight I place my "rosie@travel-i-tales" label on the photograph below!

For other Skywatch Friday moments, please visit Skyley.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bandung Vibes

Most ladies who visit Bandung make a beeline for the fashion houses and factory outlets of branded goods. That is the main attraction for those interested in high fashion. What is Bandung really like? I would have to say that there is a mix of  modern and  ethnic ambience that was quite interesting.

Dining in Kampung Daun  in a typical village setting would please just about anyone looking for the authentic Bandung vibe. People go there to catch the sunset and enjoy the village feel of the place. Set in lush greenery, it feels like being in the jungle, especially when the torches are lit ( and I don't mean electric torches!) You get that campfire atmosphere when you pass the strategically-placed torches burning to show you the path to your special dining hut. You sit on the floor, not on chairs, and if you are not comfortable sitting cross-legged, you could stretch your legs under the low table and risk having your feet land on the feet of the diner sitting opposite you!


Or you could dine Parisian-style in Paris Van Java...known fondly by the locals as PVJ. Here you can find international cuisine. You could dine outdoors or in the restaurants. We chose the Japanese restaurant which was decked with cherry blossoms.
You can find middle to high end items here at the mega shopping centre, it is really can shop till you drop!


We had lunch the next day at a Sundanese Restaurant which had a delightful rustic theme. The furniture, walls and windows were basically made of bamboo. Indoors, there were ferns attached to a cave-like wall with water trickling down into a pond over which was a bridge!


Shopping at the Rumah Mode is very pleasant...of course one can spend hours in the shop itself but I particularly love the landscape design outdoors which had a Balinese influence.

Those who prefer shopping in an 'everything under one roof 'concept of the multi-level shopping complex can enjoy shopping in shopping malls like Istana  Plaza in Pasir Kaliki.

For My World Tuesday...go on and explore our world!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Incredible Lifestyle at Lake Tonle Sap

I have been featuring lakes in New Zealand in my series of posts on lakes, and today my post is on a lake in Cambodia. It is certainly not like any lake I have featured. Tonle Sap is the largest fresh water lake in the whole of South East Asia. However, it is incredibly shallow for most of the year. I could hardly believe that the large expanse of water we were travelling on was only a meter deep. It is only during the monsoon season that the lake swells to more than 7 times its size! The lake then has a depth of 9 meters or more.

What is unusual about this lake is that it supports a floating village with homes, a school, and even a church.
Most of the people who live on the floating village are Vietnamese who have emigrated to Cambodia seeking a better life there. Three quarters of fish caught inland in Cambodia come from Lake Tonle Sap itself.

The school for the ethnic Vietnamese children.

There is a church behind this boathouse.

Two decidedly more up-market versions of boat houses compared to the previous one.

A fascinating image of a typical mode of transport for a child to get around the neighbourhood!

"Look what I found to play with!"

For Watery Wednesday, please click here and for Outdoor Wednesday, click here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Angkor Wat

I had booked the flight for this trip months earlier, and I did not realize that April would be really hot in Siem Reap. And it was hot the first two days we were there. Fortunately it rained a little on the third and fourth day so it was tolerable. Better hot and humid in April and May than wet and muddy during the rainy season from June to October! So here we were, travelling back in time, drenched in sweat! But visiting Angkor Wat is worth the discomfort. There was a pervading sense of tranquility as we worked our way among the huge monuments. It felt to me like I was in the hallowed hallways of a place of learning. And no wonder, as we entered from the West, before we reached the temple, were the libraries on both sides of the path.

Angkor Wat is one of the ancient world's most magnificent work of architecture which has endured the test of time. It is a must-see if you are  in Cambodia. Angkor Wat meaning City Temple, is situated about 5 km from Siem Reap, and is the Cambodian Nation's most precious treasure. It is mind-boggling that it was built so long ago in the early 12th century! King Suryavaram built it to honour the Hindu God, Vishnu. I had expected to see just broken blocks but the buildings  look remarkably intact and inhabitable to me. The architecture is amazingly modern!

From Angkor, the Khmer Kings ruled over territories that covered Vietnam to China. All that remains today are about 100 temples made of stone. The palaces and other buildings had all decayed as they were wooden structures.

The temples are decorated with figures of guardian spirits (devatas or apsaras), bas reliefs as well as narrative scenes of episodes from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata..

Towers shaped like lotus buds, a moat protecting the temple...Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious building.

UNESCO declared the Angkor Archaeological Park a World Heritage Site in 1992.

Footsteps nigh
Devata eyes spy on mortals
Leaves suspended in the breeze

For Weekend Reflections, Scenic Sunday, Haiku Heights and Haiku My Heart.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Melaka River

This is my first post in a series on my hometown, Melaka, in Malaysia.

Melaka (or Malacca) is a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site. Certain parts of Melaka have been designated as being part of the world's heritage sites. These sites are The Melaka River, St. Paul's Hill, The Dutch Stadhuys buildings, Jonker Street, Jalan Tukang Besi, and Kampung Morten.

The Melaka River has played a significant role in the history of Malaysia, ever since Melaka was founded by Parameswara in 1402. This river was where the Malacca Sultanate grew and extended its Empire in the region. The Portuguese and later the Dutch fought for power and trade on the banks of the river. In its heyday, the river dubbed the "Venice of the East" was the meeting place of traders from the East and West. Even during  the English colonialisation and the Japanese occupation, the river flowing  into the Straits of Melaka had a strategic feature which was most sought after. Today visitors to Melaka can take a river cruise and enjoy a different perspective of  the river.

A sign post  with names of places in the Malay language, and one sign in English!

Here's the river and the boardless 'boardwalk' beside it.

You will love the old village look of kampung houses.

One of the many bridges along the river.
My World Black