Travel Theme: Walls

This week, Alisa’s  challenge on her blog Where’s My Backpack is Travel Theme: Walls

A wall  is a vertical structure, usually solid, that defines and sometimes protects an area. Most commonly, a wall to a building protects its inhabitants from wind, snow, rain and even fire. Other walls, like the Great Wall of China, are a defense which keeps the enemies out and protects the people within the wall boundary.

When walls serve as a protection, their functions are fulfilled. Sometimes, walls like the Berlin walls, are not made for protection. They are seen  as restraints to freedom.

We are fascinated by walls of different kinds and have taken photos of some of them in our travels.  The collection of photos below, however, has not included building interior walls, curtain walls, boundary walls  and retaining walls.

We like the white colored or honey colored walls on Hvar island, Croatia. The photo below, with a bicycle in front of a wall imparts a very leisurely vacation feel.DSCF0500

On the same island, we were delighted by this wall which is the shop front with  colorful flowers, bench and window.DSCF0643

Walking along the shores of Hvar island, there are walls fronting the seaside walk. The wall looks ordinary. However, while travelling, some of the ordinary things do look impressive.DSCF0511

Climbing up to the Spanish Castle on Hvar island, we were impressed by the castle walls and the plants at the wall base.DSCF0560

We were fortunate to have included Split, Croatia in our itinerary. While many houses have limestone walls with smooth surfaces, for a change, the wall of the house below is built of rugged  stones jutting out.DSCF0424

At Split, we noted some of the old Roman buildings have been altered to house residents. The one below shows walls  added onto the ancient colonnades of the Roman structures.DSCF0408

The climb up the Dubrovnik walls in Croatia was interesting. The walls were built to keep the enemies out. They were so effective that, in history, the walls were never breached by their enemies.DSCF0812

The walk up on top of the Dubrovnik seawalls was just breathtaking. The photo below shows the zig-zag walls with a magnificent view of the sea and an island where Richard The Lion Heart have landed and resided.DSCF0933

While the above walls are all of early construction, the  photo below shows a modern building in Estonia, the Baltic area which is cladded in metal which seem to have rusted. It appears that the rust on the wall surface protects the underlying layer from further rusting.DSC_0015

Near Cappadocia, Turkey we saw the wall below which forms part of the buildings which served as accommodation for the early traders and merchants. The design is quite different from the walls we saw in Europe.CIMG0278

Back to Asia, we like these buildings in Hokkaido, Japan which were built next to the canal. We like the walls and reflections in the water.006

Again in Hokkaido, we found this wall, with the exception of the doorway, was fully covered with maple leaves.034

Below is a castle in Okinawa, Japan. Many ancient castles have walls which are very similar to one and other. By just looking at the walls, few would have guessed this, in fact, is in Okinawa.DSC_0107

The walls in China have never failed to impress us. Below is a historic building in Inner Mongolia with black and white walls.DSCF2169

In Fung Huang (Phoenix City), China, the houses have very distinct architectural features. The walls  gave us a very warm feeling when illuminated by the setting sun.DSC_0002

As part of our Three Gorges tour, we stopped by this historic city which has an ancient wall surrounding it.DSCF6124

We walked all four sides along the lake front of the West lake, China. There were many impressive buildings on the north shore. One of these has white walls as depicted on the photo below.CIMG1140

Late last year, we walked the MiuTianYu section of the Great Wall, China and were awed by the beauty and the length of the wall. There is a Chinese saying that unless one has walked the Great Wall, one cannot claim to be strong.DSCF2694

Although it is not true that the Great Wall is the only manmade structure visible from the space shuttle,  it is still one of the greatest structures ever built.DSCF2647

I am glad that Alisa has raised this theme. Given the many photos that I want to include, my first reaction was to split them into two posts. On finish drafting this post, I think I have done the right thing to  include all photos in one post as otherwise, it would be much less interesting.

Travel Theme: Up

The Travel Theme…over at Where’s my backpack is “Up”

We are now into daily walking in the Country Park not far from home ( please see my earlier post: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 2012  Outdoors and Nature ).

We have started learning to recognize the shrubs, trees, flowers and fauna around us as we walk through the park. We are also interested in spotting and recognizing the birds around us but believe that our knowledge in this area is still very limited; we will need some good binoculars.

Once in a while, we would look up towards the sky and have a good look at the trees above us. This picture was taken a couple of days ago when we looked up the sky from the trail in the woods.CIMG2962

The trees seem to be closing in from all directions; with the sky in the middle.

Although this is winter time, our subtropical climate means that some of the trees have shed their leaves and become bare while others are still green.

I am happy that the picture still makes sense even if you rotate the picture around.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

I like the theme of this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge which is “Beyond”.

For a couple of hours, I have been shortlisting my photos for the challenge.  I find it rather difficult to come down to just a handful of photos; I have too many photos which in my view should take the viewers’ eyes beyond the subjects in the foreground and I don’t really know how to choose between them. So, in the end, they are all here.

To start with, here are some photos from my China tours. The first one, taken in West Lake, China shows the willows and other trees in the foreground, leading the viewers’ eyes to the grass and trees further away.DSCF6343

I can’t help showing two photos taken on my Three Gorges cruise. The one below was taken while the sun was setting. On both sides of the river, there was an endless series of hills in different shades of grey.DSCF6175

The other one was taken during the daytime. While travelling up the Three Gorges river, you wonder what was beyond the river bend.DSCF6218

Rivers seem to flow on forever. Here is a river scene taken in Yunnan, China. While I was interested in the reflection in the river, I was also curious as to know where the river was leading to.DSC_0117

Up in the hills of ZhangJiaJie, we saw trees and limestone columns in the foreground; there were more pillars and hills further from our eyes.DSC_0164

Outside China, the views are equally lovely. While travelling from Cairns to Lake Barrine, Australia, our eyes were caught by the open view of the blue  mountain ranges and white clouds further beyond.CIMG0532

In Cappadocia, Turkey, our sight line was attracted further away from the cave dwellings in the foreground.CIMG0357

Beaches are our favourites. In Langkawi, Malaysia, looking through the leaves hanging down from the palm trees to the sandy beach and islands beyond was just inviting.DSC_0082

This picture below was the only beach we have visited in the Baltics. The beach in Estonia was more or less deserted but our eyes were taken further to the somewhat dramatic clouds  beyond.DSC_0131

While the UNESCO city of Vilnius, Lithuania was picturesque, we could see chimneys and other structures at a distance.Baltic Capitals  15-Aug-09 058

On a good day, you could see forever. . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday Lingering Look at Windows: Week 1

This is the first week Lingering Visions is hosting the new Thursday Lingering Look at Windows: Week 1.

I have two pictures both taken in Latvia, a Baltic country, showing windows which I find interesting.

I like many of the details in the picture below: the flower-pot in the form of a pig, the yellow flowers, the color and texture of the timber frame and shutter,  the black hinges, the contrast in colors etc.DSC_0008

On the other one, the focus is more on the wall than on the windows. Again, there are flowers below the window sill, the reflections from the window pane, the old  windows.  The paint on the wall below the window has cracked off showing a bad state of repair.DSC_0074

A window is defined as a framework of wood or metal that contains a glass window pane and is built into a wall or roof to admit light or air.

I like windows, not only for the light and the fresh air; gazing out the window often gives me the opportunity of day dreaming and deep thinking. . . . . . .

Travel Theme: Glass

Where’s My Backpack travel theme this week is Glass

This photo is taken in Latvia, Baltic region. The picture shows on the left the glass maker and his undivided attention in the process of making glassware. The multi-color glassware, which are his products, are displayed on the right.DSC_0048

Not many of us would remember that glass, however, is actually neither a liquid—supercooled or otherwise—nor a solid. It is an amorphous solid—a state somewhere between those two states of matter.

The colored glassware in the picture reminds us how beautiful and useful glass can be.

Glass itself reminds us of the strength and fragility that exists in every one of us.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

We only see because objects are illuminated, either by the sun, the moon, the stars or other artificial sources. In this post, I am trying to limit myself to artificial sources for illumination as otherwise, I may just flood this post with pictures.

Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb has forever changed the world. Our activities do not necessarily have to stop after  sunset. The views after dark in many places may also be very attractive.

This is a familiar sight you see every night in Hong Kong if you view from the Kowloon side, weather permitting. Many cities called themselves city of light; HK has the added benefit that it can look so charming in the night with the lights on from the tall buildings fronting the harbour together with the colored reflections in the sea.DSCF2040

The Pest side of Budapest looks so picturesque even during night-time, with the reflection from the River Danube.DSCF0087

The town of Split in Croatia looked ablazed on the night of Saint Domiuus Festival. The blue color came from the blue lights of the stage where they have musical performance.DSCF0404

As always, I am charmed by the  lights and the reflections off the sea. The picture below is the Osaka harbor, Japana with the ferries wheel.DSC_0257

Another example would be the harbor lights in the old port of Dubrovnik, Croatia. The sight was so charming that we couldn’t resist gazing out to the night scenes.DSCF10004

Alfresco dining out in Dubrovnik is an experience that we would not forget. People really seemed to be enjoying themselves and , of course, their dinners.DSCF0766

Walking back to our hotel up hill of the Dubrovnik harbor, we were guided only by the street nights.DSCF0780

You can’t imagine how an airport will work at night without any illumination. The picture below was taken at the Istanbul airport before taking a night flight.DSCF1172

Sorry I have to show this picture again as it shows how the vast space within the Blue Mosque is illuminated by circles of lights hanging from the roof.CIMG0451

Back near home, this is a tea tasting shop in ChongQing, China with cylindrical lights hanging from above at the shop front to attract customers.DSCF6298

Downtown Beijing, China in an area which is named TianJie where they have installed a gigantic TV screen (upper left hand corner) as a big roof over a pedestrian area, with shops on the right.DSCF2772

Again, I can’t help repeat posting a picture which was taken in Luxor, Egypt with the colossal columns illuminated by lights; while seemingly tiny people passed by.My beautiful picture

So, let there be light. . . . . . . . . . .  .  and cast away the darkness.

Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge: Metal

This week Cee’s challenge is about the first of the Chinese five Elements: Metal

I have always been interested to find out what metal was used in human history and how they were used.  Of particular interest is the metal used the Qin dynasty (which is 2200 years ago) when China was unified for the first time. I got some of the answers when I went to a Terracotta Relics exhibition which displayed many of the terracotta army, soldiers, generals, horses, chariots etc. as well as some metallic relics.

One of these was the Gold Tiger-shaped Tally (hufu 虎符) which is a Grade 1 Cultural Relic of China. It was unearthed in 1972 in Shanxi Province where the Terracotta Army was also found.CIMG2322

This tiger shaped tally has an exaggerated design with huge eyes and ears, the tiger crouches on its four limbs, swishing its tail and ready to devour its prey with its protruding teeth. Used as a means of identification in ancient times. Tiger-shaped tallies became prevalent in the “Spring and Autumn Warring States ” periods as tools for sending military departures. The goldsmithing of the early Qin (221- 206BC) era was distinguished from that of other states, which can possibly be attributed to the exchanges between the Qin people and their nomadic neighbors.

The other one, a bronze  ge or “daggeraxe” (戈),  is the most characteristic weapon of ancient China. The ge is the one on the left of the picture below; note the sharpness of the blades and the ancient Chinese characters inscribed on it.CIMG2324

Starting 1974, the Terracotta Warriors Pits have unearthed large amounts of bronze weapons which include swords, spears, scimitars, billhooks, dagger-axes, arrowheads and crossbows. Despite being buried for over two thousand years, these military weapons still in a usable state and their edges are as sharp as  new. This reflects the high level of metallurgical technology of the Qin Dynasty. From this we know that the warriors were fully equipped with the then state-of-the art bronze weapons. The assemblage excavated so far includes over 40,000 arrowheads, as well as hundreds of crossbow triggers, swords, lances, spears, dagger-axe, hooks, honour weapons (Su) and the ferrules that were fixed at the end of the wooden shafts of the longer weapons.

These give us some insight as to the already high level of metallurgical skills even 2000 years ago!

Travel Theme: Multiples (2)

This is my second attempt at Alisa’s theme “Multiples” for this week. While I like nature and photographing nature, I also like photographing still objects. For a change, this post is not about nature.

Again, my photos are taken in various places. I am glad that I can show them in a set under a theme.  On their own, it would be rather difficult to present the individual pictures. When drafting  this post, I looked up the dictionary for the meaning of multiple. Usually, I am given a mathematical interpretation as to what is a multiple. I guess multiple may mean more than two (which is called couple or duplet etc). Here are some of the “Multiples” which have impressed us in our travels.

High up in Shangrila, Yunnan, we spotted these multiple timber screen doors in a temple. We liked the fine wood carving and the gold color on them.DSC_0058

Some very Chinese styled red lanterns at “Yellow Crane Tower”, a historic tower in WuChang, China, swaying in the wind.DSCF6108

Multiple umbrellas affording shade to visitors in the Resonant Desert in Inner Mongolia, China.DSCF2264

Multiple Aobaos at the Masuoleum of Genghis Khan in Inner Mongolia.DSCF2316

Multiple columns to the Celcus Library at Ephesus, Turkey.CIMG0226

Multiple columns and facades at the Dolmacbache Palace, facing the Bospohrus in Istanbul, Turkey.CIMG0544

Multiple ornamental columns and statues arranged in a semi-circle at Hero Square, Budapest.DSCF0148

Multiple arches seen in Lithuania, while travelling in the Baltic countries.DSC_0365

So, the world is full of  interesting “Multiples”!

Travel Theme: Multiples

Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack has a weekly Travel Theme.  This week it is Multiples.

My mind is still filled with “outdoors and nature” from the last post.  In nature, it won’t be difficult to find multiples as many species do exist in multiples . What about starting off with some flowers, then trees and other plants. . . . . . . .

These are the flowers found at Victoria Park, Hong Kong.DSCF6118

The tulips were in full bloom when we were in Morges, by the Geneva lake, Switzerland.DSCF0024

Some flowers from a flower show in Hong Kong.DSCF6108

A forest of bamboo in Tateyama Kurobe, Japan.DSC_0044

A line of casurina trees at the beach front of Langkawi iland, Malaysia.DSC_0062

Multiple palms on a beach in Langkawi, Malaysia.DSC_0119

More palms at a beach in Koh Samui, Thailand.DSC_0618

Several bare trees in New York City, USA.New York 2

Several trees by the side of a peaceful lake in JiuZhaiGou, China.065

Multiple trees and multiple flowers in Furano, Hokkaido, Japan.CIMG0205

A field of chrysanthemum in Xian Shan park in Beijing, China.DSCF2766

Countless numbers of lotus leaves floating on a pond in Hokkaido, Japan.038

It seems good things do not come singly. They occur in multiples. May your happiness multiply in the year 2013!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: My 2012 Outdoors and Nature

2012 will be remembered as a year in which I have successfully transitioned from work to retirement. A year in which a new routine is established – among other things, weather permitting, each morning, we will go for a walk or hike after breakfast. This has now become part of our daily exercise. For the first time in my life, I have more time for outdoors and to be more in touch with nature!

Not far from where we live, there is a Country Park with a good walking trail into the forest. The walk starts off with a steep trail, passing by some resting ground for visitors (photo below),  a stream and then you are into the wooded forest.CIMG1201

The narrow trail usually have trees on both sides and with foliage on top so we are sheltered from direct sunlight.CIMG1224

Once in a year, a section of the trail is covered with pink petals fallen on the ground. Many times, we wondered whether we should walk on it as it is just so beautiful. We walked as if we were walking on a soft pink carpet. CIMG1244

Everytime, we walk past this slope which is covered with a close mesh of tree roots, we couldn’t help amazed that trees have such a strong will to survive reaching down for water.CIMG1234

We also pass by woods that have lianas (wooded vines) hanging from trees to trees. In Chinese, they are known as ” river crossing dragons” as they look like dragons which fly from one tree to another without any intermediate supports.  CIMG1202

This wood is not just about trees, shrubs and roots. It has exotic  flowers too.CIMG1231

Sometimes, we were delighted at the ordinary sight of leaves and tree trunks illuminated by sunlight.CIMG1208

When we have time, we may wander further afield, stopping by an educational farm. Here we are in close touch with nature.

We like the mix of red flowers and green plants. . . .  . .DSCF6026

as well as the ferns, trees and the shrubs, imagining that we are inside a tropical forest.DSCF6029

Every now and then we come across flowers which we do not know much about.DSCF6046

Occasionally, we stroll by the seaside, maybe just to have a good look at the rocks on the beach. . . . . . .CIMG0457

or wondering how on earth these abandoned cows have survived so many years near to the beach.CIMG2823

Other times, we would walk up to open green areas where we take a deep breath. . . . . . .CIMG2465

or have a close look at placid ponds to appreciate the delicate ecological balance.CIMG2463

Finally, we may just stop by a picturesque pond and take a good rest.CIMG0429

This is probably a snap shot of what we did when we did not travel overseas.

We are thankful that  nature has been so kind to us, revealing itself in all its beauty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .