Weekly Photo Challenge: Ornate (Ceiling)

This picture speaks for itself.

The roof is one of the very ornate ones which I have ever seen.DSCF6255A

The picture was taken in a temple dedicated to general Yuefei, while stopping by various places in my cruise trip on the Three Gorges.

A general who fought the Jin barbarians only to be recalled back by the emperor and finally executed.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Misty ( on the YangTze River)

This week’s photo challenge is Misty.

For the several days we cruised along the Yangtze River in China, it was almost misty throughout.

Yangtze flows from the Tibetan mountains to the sea and is the longest river in China and also Asia.

It s the third longest river in the world after the Nile and the Amazon.

The river is ladened with a lot of silt.

We started our journey near Wuhan and made our way upstream ending at Chongqing.DSCF6141

While at the Three Gorges dam, we have a good look at the dam. The mist was so heavy that it seems to disappear at a distance.

I went up to the upper deck of the vessel, trying to take some photos of the early morning mist. Very soon, I found it was just futile if I were to take  pictures of faraway landscape without contrasting it with some nearby objects as the whole picture appeared to be blur.DSCF6190

Later in the day, the mist become less heavier, the whole scene is still misty.DSCF6153

The most common sight were the coal barges transporting coal up or down the river.DSCF6227

Here and there, there were occasional view of villages by the side of the river.DSCF6134DSCF6137ADSCF6187

The mist also covered much of the mountains on the sides of the river.DSCF6155

In some instances, you can see the landform just faded out at a distance.

Have experienced quite a few misty trip while up the mountains. Didn’t expect it was also  this misty along the river.





Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning!

Not all mornings start with colors; although I prefer it that way.

Our mornings in Langkawi, Malaysia  have always started with colors. During the golden hours, the sky exhibited streaks of beautiful colors before it gave way to the orange color when the sun finally crept up in all its glory.DSC_0381

The views from our bungalow  in Langkawi was delightful. The image shows an adjacent bungalow in silhouette.DSC_0382

While in Hvar island, Croatia, I slipped out of the hotel early in the morning. Wandering down the harbor, I could see this only fisherman making preparation on his boat, before he set out for a fishing trip.DSCF0533

Our second day in Plitvice Lakes, Croatia started out as a misty day. The photo taken from the hotel window shows mist oozing out from the lakes below.DSCF0341

Coming back to the East, while cruising up the Yangtze River as part of the Three Gorges tour, again mist was all around. Early in the morning, all I could see from the ship’s deck was a sleepy village engulfed in mist.DSCF6134

Early one morning in the open grassland of Inner Mongolia, all I could see were horses grazing on the wide plains. It was an Autumn morning; much of the grass have turned yellow.DSCF2220

Looking out from my living room is a tennis court. The courtyard was still wet from the heavy rain which fell throughout the night. Up above the hills, the clouds were hanging low but the sun has just broken through. It seemed that the sun has finally won the tug of war, rays of light were emerging.CIMG1837

The last photo was taken during our early morning walk in the Liu Shui Heung raw water reservoir in Hong Kong. It is my ideal way of starting the morning. The sun is up and illuminated the pavilion and every plant and tree in the green surrounding.CIMG2911

If we are lucky, we may have more than 30,000 mornings in our lifetime. Just hope that all our mornings are full of joy and gratitude, before a new day is unfolded.

Travel Theme: Hidden

Ailsa’s Travel theme this week is Hidden.

Woke up early in the morning, I stumbled onto the top deck of our ship that was cruising up the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze River and, as the only person on the deck, I found myself terribly alone.

There was total silence and a thick mist was around me.

Out of the thick mist, I could see mountains rising steeply on both sides of the river. The distant mountains appeared as layers of blue and green before my eyes.DSCF6137

Hidden behind the clouds and sometimes barely visible was our tiny sun.

Dwarfed by the mountains was this partially hidden speck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  so tiny that I have never seen anything like it before.

Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

This week’s Challenge is on “Background”. Background generally means the part of a pictorial representation that appears to be in the distance and that provides relief for the principal objects in the foreground.

My favorite picture is one taken in Okinawa’s aquarium. The principal objects are the visitors who were taking  pictures or pointing towards the fishes in the aquarium. The interesting thing is that the background was changing all the time, with different types of fishes appearing on the scene.DSC_0211

On my next picture, the principal objects are the yellow fishes, in a background of rocks and corals in the aquarium.DSC_0197

In Furano, Japan, while the principal objects are the lavender flowers in the foreground, the rolling hills behind and the sky formed an interesting backdrop.CIMG0142

The limestone columns at Zhangjiajie, China are the main subjects but the multitude of similar limestone columns at a distance serves as an interesting background.DSC_0166

The trees in the foreground at Zhangjiajie, China contrast sharply with the misty background of hills behind.DSC_0103

The nearest hill sloping down into Three Gorges River on the right appears very distinct, however, the two vessels and hills at a distance are somewhat blur;  look as if they are disappearing into the mist.DSCF6153

It is fascinating that the background can be as interesting as the principal objects! Good photos have backgrounds that enhance the principal objects so that taken together they form interesting images.

Weekly Photo Challenge : Patterns (2)

How could I have forgotten this image when posting on “Patterns”?

As part of the Three Gorges Cruise in China, we stopped by this temple and have a good look in the interior.DSCF6255A

Apart from the following which caught my eyes:

* four red timber columns supporting the roof with beams painted blue on the underside framing into them.

* four figures jutting out from the columns each with musical instruments in their hands.

* a Chinese lantern slung in the middle.

what attracted me most were the colorful patterns everywhere: on the ceiling, on the beams, gold-plated wood carvings near the bottom of the image.

Fantastic and colorful patterns!

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. . . . . . . . . . .

Three Gorges (三峽) – A Brief Friendship

The Three Gorges  dams are built and the hydropower plants are operational, is it too late to take a cruise on this stretch of the Yangtze River?

After much debate, in June 2011, we finally embarked on a cruise that started from Wuhan, sailing upstream to Chongqing as destination. For 5 days, we were on board of the Jenna Katrina, one of the newly renovated vessels.

We first made our way by car through Wuhan to Yichang, stopping at a Chinese Garden黃鶴樓(above). On our way, we passed by  an ancient walled city 荊州古城. While going through the city, we were amused by people cooking and dining just by the side of the carriageway. What a strange sight!

We boarded the vessel at Yichang 宜昌and were happy that each room had a balcony overlooking the river.   Sailing through the Yangtze was like passing through fjords, but after the construction of the dams, water has risen 110m above the original sea level. This made the sight less dramatic.

While on board, we came to know a friend Mr. Au. He was sort of a shutter bug, always carrying his camera with him and taking anything of interest in the whole trip. He was a well-travelled man in his 70s, energetic and sociable. We learnt that he had spent part of his life in Jamaica! For several days, we chatted about practically everything, from travels to families, etc.

Navigating the river when the sun was setting was a memorable event. For very long stretches of the waterway, all you can see were layers and layers of mountains in different shades of the same color on both sides.

The Three Gorges dam was pretty  awesome; it was indeed an engineering feat.

It was a  foggy morning when we arrived at the dam site. All we could see were some portions of the dam disappearing into infinity.

Then this was this monotonous journey going  through a series of double gated locks which successively raised vessels to the higher levels.

Once out of the locks, we sailed through further gorges and made several stops on the way. At each of the stops, we were permitted to go onshore to visit some places of interest. One of the places we went was the Gate of Death ( see Chinese characters below).

It is a Chinese belief that when death comes, we all have to pass through the Gate of Death and interrogated by the guards (see statutes on either side of the steps in the picture above) there to determine whether one is to go to hell ( with 18 levels depending on the degree of purification required).

The trip finally came to an end when we reached the “hill town” of Chongqing. We said goodbye to all the people we met on the vessel and happily made our way home. While our friend Mr. Au continued his travels to Inner Mongolia and then Taiwan, meanwhile keeping in touch with us.

Mr. Au has become a good friend of our eighty years old dad who was with us on the cruise to Yangtze River. In January 2012, 7 months after we met Mr. Au, we learned with sadness that he has passed the Gate of Death. He was diagnosed to have pancreatic cancer in September (like Steve Jobs) and fought a short brave battle. This is indeed a brief but memorable friendship.