Happy Lunar New Year

Happy Lunar New Year!

Best of Health in the year of the Horse ūüôāCIMG3706

This is my wish to all readers, families and friends.

Calligraphy of four letters prepared in gold ink and traditional red paper by my calligraphy  teacher Mr. Fung Man Yu for the new year starting today. Top two characters mean body, lower two characters mean healthy.

PS¬† Within this new year holiday period, there won’t be posting until Monday 3 February.

Dubrovnik in Black and White

Can never forget the colors of Dubrovnik Рthe blue sky, the azure Adriatic sea water, the terracotta roofs, the green island offshore, just to name a few.

Dubrovnik reminds of me of the interesting fortresses, the walls, the churches, the houses, the beach etc.

Some of the images, however, appear to be even more interesting in B&W.

This image was captured while walking up the walls of Dubrovnik – lots of terracotta roofs, the blue sea and the green island – all underneath an arch!DSCF0863

We always started the day first having our breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. What a wonderful experience is to sip your coffee/ tea while gazing at the panoramic view of Dubrovnik, with the sea breeze gently caressing your face!DSCF0795

There were also some quiet moments for reflection as one saw the bell tower against the serene sea and quiet hills as background; while the roofs showed an ever repeating pattern of tiles.DSCF0824A

After walking one complete round of the Dubrovnik walls, we took a rest nearby a seaside fortress. The sun was setting and your eyes gaze out peacefully on the horizon.DSCF0733

By this time, we were all hungry and scouting around to look for a restaurant for dinner!

After dinner we walked back to our hotel – a place we have breakfast, a bath and some sleep. Some took the opportunity of having a swim in the beautiful swimming pool, while I walked around the hotel and took a couple of the photos.

These B&W photos show the celebrities who have been staying in the hotel.DSCF0786

I am sure you will recognize some of them.

Some of them are conductors, pianists,  film stars, members of the royal family.DSCF0787

So, it was just another day in Dubrovnik which we will never forget!

Rocky Mountain – Mist and Snow

We enjoyed very much the fall foliage in South Korea last Autumn.

For most part of our trip, the weather was fine. However, the weather changed quickly when we were making our way up Daedunsan in a cable car. By the time we were up in the mountain, rain has started. We hiked for a distance up the mountain but the rain was so heavy that we have to retreat. This picture taken just before we retreated, shows the mountain and the foliage in the mist and the rain.DSCF3417

Several years back, we also made a trip up the mountains in Japan. It was late Autumn. When we made our way up the mountains of Tateyama- Kurobe, there were no signs of snowing.DSC_0114

Snow was falling when we reached almost the top. We didn’t have any thick clothes. Many of the pictures taken there appeared as black and white. However, this one taken of the rock slope do have some colors.

The last image was taken in Zhangjiajie, China.DSC_0095

The view of a stone column jutting up in the mist with trees on top was just spectacular!

Mist and snow always add a bit of mystery to mountains.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition

This week’s challenge is Juxtaposition.

I have six photos here and was wondering which one I should show first.

The first image was taken in Budapest, Hungary. It involves a juxtaposition of three things. The most interesting items are the work of art displayed in the shop window. These contrast somewhat with the paintings you can see within the shop. Within the shop, there is a portrait of a woman hanging in the middle. To the left is a reflection of me taking the photo; also to the right is a lady doing window shopping.DSCF0175

The second image shows a giant advertisement sign against the backdrop of the night scene of Hong Kong island and the brightly lit street of the touristy area Tsim Sha Tsui.CIMG2930

The third image was taken when we had tea in a tea house in Lijiang, Yunnan, China. It is a juxtaposition of the window frames and the thousand tiled roofs of houses in Lijiang.DSC_0179

After enjoying our tea, we had a stroll of the Lijiang area – where we took our fourth image. Red lanterns on the right in contrast with steps leading up to a local house. On top of this, there is the head of somebody slipped into the lens – his head can be seen on the lower right hand corner (this is sort of photo which I will never show, if not for the theme of this challenge!)DSC_0181

The fifth image was taken in Geneva, Switzerland. We have this strangely shaped tree contrasting with the big glazed windows of a modern high rise, which also presents a contrast with the older and shorter buildings to the left.DSCF1170

The last image shows a juxtaposition of the Christies sign against the church spire.DSCF1145

It looks like contrast can be found almost everywhere, be it east or west, old or modern, manmade or nature!

Travel Theme: Silver

This is not a black and white photo.CIMG3683A

Several months ago when I walked past this mangrove area, the leaves were all green and waxy. Just two weeks ago, when I photographed them, they seemed to have lost all their leaves. The trunks and twigs appear silvery and I was awed!

I have done nothing to change the color of the image.

If I may show you the color of the next image Рamong all this silvery and black, there are some green mangroves remaining. Perhaps, you may still suspect that I have changed part of the image to green.CIMG3684

Zooming further out, you can see that there are some further greeneries in the background.CIMG3685

I have never seen mangrove close to dying like this before. They are a strange plant that can survive salt water and commonly found in river estuary’s tidal region. They are also a valuable resource of the earth too – they have lots of ecological and other values.

Maybe, they are infested with a disease or maybe, the salinity of the water has changed – due to the lack of fresh water coming in or there is a reduction in salty sea water in the area, or maybe the water is polluted and there is a deep root problem.

As I am no botanist or marine biologist, I shouldn’t have guessed what happened to this mangrove.

I will see what’s going to happen to¬†this mangrove area in my next visit, which will possibly be several months away.

My Chinese Calligraphy Homework

Last year, I provided an update in the “About” page ¬†on my activities in¬†retirement.

This is about time I should provide another update.

I have been learning Chinese Calligraphy for slightly over one year now, I am struggling with learning my Spanish grammar and I have also started learning a special form of TaiChi known as the “Water Flowing” form which does not emphasize on the mechanical external form of the exercise – it focuses on the internal work of the body (really hard to explain and learn!).CIMG3702

This week, I have spent over one hour writing the attached calligraphy. This is for handing over to my teacher for his comment coming Saturday. In the past year, I have learned writing in  four different fonts of the Chinese characters. The one posted is the simplified free-flowing form. Every week, my teacher will tell me what are the problems with my writing and how I should improve.

Have also attended some Chinese calligraphy exhibitions locally.DSCF2722

What I enjoyed most was visiting the BaiWangShan garden in Beijing where they have some calligraphy carved in black slate for appreciation.DSCF2735

The slates have poems written by scholars carved into them. It was not only the calligraphy but also the Autumn foliage in the gardens which added to the poetic mood.

With the different Chinese fonts now readily available from the computer / internet, less and less people are learning or practising Calligraphy now.

It is foreseeable that Chinese Calligraphy could become a dying art as well!

Nine Dragons Group of Waterfalls, Yunnan

We were up on high gazing out to the waterfalls and hills in Yunnan, China.

I was not able to photograph the whole panoramic view with my wide angle lens.

The picture has been stitched together from two photos.Jiulong Waterfall

This is the only way I can get the group of waterfalls and the terraced field on the other side of the mountain into one picture.DSCF2917A

The original photos separately showing the waterfalls and the terraced fields are attached.DSCF2923

The scenery at the Nine dragons Waterfalls (Jiulong Waterfalls)  Yunnan, China was just beautiful.

Please enjoy ūüôā

From Summer to Winter in the Subtropics

Living in the subtropics, it seems that we only have two seasons: Summer and Winter.

Spring and Autumn, which are the best seasons, are relatively short. They come and go so quickly that you just keep on missing them.

Summer here is terribly hot and humid while Winter is cool and dry.

I have been visiting this island in the northern part of Hong Kong every season. It is an island where white egrets inhabited.CIMG3693

Last Sunday when I visited it, it was like a fairy tale island – leaves of trees on the island have changed color and there was a perfect reflection in the sea which was at low tide.CIMG1804

In big contrast, the Summer view is diametrically opposite. The leaves are all dark green, the water is blue under direct sunlight. You can also see a lot of the background hills as visibility is good after the summer rain.CIMG1805

But, I like the Winter scene. Trees almost bare at the top of the island, foliage in different colors; egrets appearing as white dots in the scenery; some even wade out to the shallow waters trying to catch fishes.CIMG3694

The Winter scene is also different in that winter days here are usually hazy. The yonder hills seem to fade away from the picture, leaving the island almost standing on its own.CIMG3688

Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, this island is my favorite; my favorite place to take in the views and refresh myself!

Travel Theme: Silver

This week’s Travel Theme is Silver.

As a landscape guy, it is really a challenge to find something which is silver from my travels.

I am trying to depict silver from my travel photos.DSC_0571

Every cloud has a silver lining Рat least, these clouds over Koh Samui (island) do have a silver lining.CIMG2912A

Back home, while visiting a raw water reservoir known as Liu Shui Heung, I captured this photo in the still waters of the reservoir. The reflection from the placid water do look silvery to me.

Maybe, I should get some silver threads and golden needles together and take a photo!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Window (3)

Windows are always fascinating.

That’s what I saw, ¬†gazing from¬† a window in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.IMGP1190

There are at least four Buddha faces showing in the image – two side views and two frontal.

They just look so peaceful!

While also in Angkor Wat, we noticed two boys were sitting on the window ledge, chatting to each other.IMGP1291

The boys looked relaxed and we have a glimpse of the local life.