Monday, January 31, 2011

Lion Lager

Lion lager is a beer brewed by the Lion Brewery Ceylon PLC in Sri Lanka and has got to be one of the most beautiful bottle designs I have seen in any beer. After a walk through the back streets of Colombo and a walk along the seafront this drink welcomed me in the Galle Face Hotel, one of the oldest and most traditional hotels in Colombo, and a great place to have a refreshment as you sit at the Veranda overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snake Charmers

These two kids at one of the floating villages on the Tonle Sap Lake near Siem Reap in Cambodia had no toys to play with .... but when you have two live snakes to play with why would need toys! No wonder they look so happy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Colourful Colombo

I love to dive down little back streets of anyplace I visit to get a real feel for the life there away from all the usual tourist traps. This little side street in Colombo, Sri Lanka was delightful with people living their simple life in simple houses. However the place was brightly painted providing a wonderful mosaic to capture with my lens. Even the little tuk tuks were brightly painted red and green. Again photographer's luck prevailed when I lined up this shot as the little girl appeared in the doorway just to complete the scene.

Friday, January 28, 2011

West Lake Fisherman

An early morning walk around the West Lake in Hangzhou, China is a great start to the day. You can see many activities with people walking, cycling, singing, dancing or doing their tai chi. This boatman and fisherman were out early but by the look of their empty baskets it wasn't a successful outing. You can see the Leifeng Pagoda in the background of this photo.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Colombo Lottery

Gambling seems to be an inherent part of life in Sri Lanka. All over the island you see turf accountants and numerous of these small stalls selling lottery tickets. This lottery ticket seller was a happy smiling character who took pride in his work as he touted the tickets to the passing crowds using a microphone.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Colombo Post Box

Wherever I travel I usually collect some photos of post boxes. Don't ask me why ... I just like post boxes and some of the designs you find in various countries are rather unique. In most cases you will find post boxes to be bright red but in Colombo, Sri Lanka this one was a bright emerald green which is a little different.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Castle Hotel, Slave Island, Colombo

The Castle Hotel at Slave Island in Colombo, Sri Lanka may have been a prime place to stay many years ago but is now run down and dilapidated. The yellow colours of the building however still stands out proud and made a great photo particularly with the man in the doorway. Apparently its just a cheap bar now selling beer and arrak

Monday, January 24, 2011

Slave Island Railway Station

Slave Island is a suburb in Colombo, Sri Lanka located directly south of the Fort area of Colombo. The name Slave Island was given during the period of British occupation and administration, and refers to the situation under Portuguese and Dutch administration when slaves were held there, most of them from Africa. Most of the slaves later returned to Africa. However, a very small group of African descendants are scattered throughout Sri Lanka and are collectively known as Sri Lankan Kaffirs. The suburb contains Beira Lake, a large lake and its esplanade is visited by many for recreation. Slave Island is mostly a commercial area with hotels and shopping centres.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Colombo Tuk Tuk

The tuk-tuks of Colombo, Sri Lanka are very bright and colourful as well as providing a convenient and cheap way to get around the city.
Every year they have the  Lanka Challenge where intrepid foreigners drive these local tuk tuks over the island of Sri Lanka - this has got to be the best way to see Sri Lanka. The Lanka Challenge is by no means an easy affair; contestants will embark on a true test of character, resourcefulness, endurance and navigational stupidity. It is a real maker of men and a genuine quest for wonder woman. This usually requires you to patch up your three-wheel mean machine in the most extreme of weather conditions, marooned in the most remote of locations and wearing the most ludicrous of outfits.   

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jolly Green Giant Drink Stand

Along the beachfront of Galle Face Drive in Colombo, Sri Lanka you will find many food and drink stalls as well as other vendors selling brightly coloured kites and balloons. It's a great spot for a late afternoon walk in the fresh sea air as the sun is setting over the Indian Ocean.
This green drink and snack stand really stood out from the crowd and I half expected the Jolly Green Giant to appear from behind the counter. This was an ideal image to take multiple brackets for some HDR post-processing which was post-processed using the latest Nik software HDR Efex Pro.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Magic Bus

Colombo in Sri Lanka is a colourful destination .... the people, the clothes, the houses, the food .... and the buses. This classic Ashok Leyland bus had a psychedelic colour scheme which certainly brightened up the old design and gives it the air of a magic bus.

Ashok Leyland is a commercial vehicle manufacturing company based in Chennai, India. Founded in 1948, the company is one of India's leading manufacturers of commercial vehicles, such as trucks and buses, as well as emergency and military vehicles. Operating six plants, Ashok Leyland also makes spare parts and engines for industrial and marine applications. It sells about 60,000 vehicles and about 7,000 engines annually. It is the second largest commercial vehicle company in India in the medium and heavy commercial vehicle (M&HCV) segment with a market share of 28% (2007–08). With passenger transportation options ranging from 19 seaters to 80 seaters, Ashok Leyland is a market leader in the bus segment.The company claims to carry over 60 million passengers a day, more people than the entire Indian rail network. In the trucks segment Ashok Leyland primarily concentrates on the 16 ton to 25 ton range of trucks. However Ashok Leyland has presence in the entire truck range starting from 7.5 tons to 49 tons. The joint venture announced with Nissan Motors of Japan would improve its presence in the Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) segment (<7.5 tons). Lanka Ashok Leyland was established in 1982 and is a joint venture between Ashok Leyland and the Government of Sri Lanka. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Red Maple

The strong red colour of these maple leaves really stood out against the cool blue sky and made a lovely splash of colour against the drab colours of winter. This photo was shot on the banks of the West Lake in Hangzhou, China.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

West Lake Sunset

Now I'm not much of a sunset photographer .... but here's one from the beautiful West lake in Hangzhou, China. I got lucky and also captured the bird in mid-flight with its wings matching the v-shaped hills in the background.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lake of the Four Forested Cantons

Lake Lucerne (German: Vierwaldstättersee, lit. "Lake of the Four Forested Cantons") is a lake in central Switzerland and the fourth largest in the country.
The lake has a complicated shape, with bends and arms reaching from the city of Lucerne into the mountains. It has a total area of 114 km² (44 sq mi), an elevation of 434 m (1,424 ft), and a maximum depth of 214 m (702 ft). Its volume is 11.8 km³. Much of the shoreline rises steeply into mountains up to 1,500 m above the lake, resulting in many picturesque views including those of Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus.
The Reuss River enters the lake at Flüelen (in the canton of Uri, the part called Urnersee) and exits at Lucerne. The lake also receives the Muota (at Brunnen) Engelberger Aa (at Buochs), the Sarner Aa (at Alpnachstad).
It is possible to circumnavigate the lake by road, though the route is slow, twisted, and goes through tunnels part of the way. Dozens of steamers ply between the different towns on the lake. It is a popular tourist destination, both for native Swiss and foreigners, and there are many hotels and resorts along the shores. In addition, the meadow of the Rütli, traditional site of the founding of the Swiss Confederation, is on the southeast shore of the lake. A 35 km commemorative walkway, the Swiss Path, was built around the lake to celebrate the country's 700th anniversary.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Yummy Yam

Another image from the back streets of the Old City in Shanghai showing the yam (or sweet potato) seller in action.
Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea (family Dioscoreaceae). These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. There are many cultivars of yam.
The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) has traditionally been referred to as a yam in parts of the United States and Canada, but it is not part of the Dioscoreaceae family.
Although it is unclear which came first, the word yam is related to Portuguese inhame or Spanish ñame, which both ultimately derive from the Wolof word nyam, meaning "to sample" or "taste"; in other African languages it can also mean "to eat", e.g. yamyam and doya in Hausa or "to chew" in Dholuo language of the Luo of Kenya and Northern Tanzania.
There are over 100 ethnic groups and languages in Nigeria, and each has different language names for Yam, "Isu" is the Yoruba translation or "Iyan" when it has been prepared to be consumed as a main course for dinner. The yam is a versatile vegetable which has various derivative products after process, it can be barbecued; roasted; fried; grilled; boiled; smoked and when grated it is processed into a dessert recipe. Yams are the staple crop of the Igbo people of Nigeria, in their language it is known as ji, and they commemorate it by having yam festivals known as Iri-ji or Iwa-Ji depending on the dialect.
Yam tubers can grow up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) in length and weigh up to 70 kg (154 lb).
The vegetable has a rough skin which is difficult to peel, but which softens after heating. The skins vary in color from dark brown to light pink. The majority of the vegetable is composed of a much softer substance known as the "meat". This substance ranges in color from white or yellow to purple or pink in ripe yams.
Yams are a primary agricultural commodity in West Africa and New Guinea. They were first cultivated in Africa and Asia about 8000 B.C. Due to their abundance and consequently, their importance to survival, the yam was highly regarded in Nigerian ceremonial culture and used as a vegetable offered during blessings.
Yams are still important for survival in these regions. The tubers can be stored up to six months without refrigeration, which makes them a valuable resource for the yearly period of food scarcity at the beginning of the wet season.
Yams are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Palpifer sordida.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bó bǐng

Bings are usually a casual food and generally eaten for lunch, however, they can also be incorporated into formal meals. Both Peking duck and moo shu pork are rolled up in thin wheat flour bao bing with scallions and sweet bean sauce or hoisin sauceBing may also have a filling such as ground meat. Bing are commonly cooked on a skillet or griddle though some are baked.
Some common types include:
  • Cong you bing (蔥油餅; scallions and oil bing)
  • Fa mian bing (發麵餅; yeast-risen bing)
  • Laobing (烙餅; branded bing)
  • Shaobing (燒餅; roasted bing)
  • Jian bing (煎餅; fried egg pancake, similar to crepes), and a popular breakfast streetfood in Hong Kong.
  • Bó bǐng (; literally "thin pancakes") refers to a thin circular crepe-like wrapper or "skin" (薄餅皮) wrapping various fillings. This is sometimes called "Mandarin pancake" or "moo shoo pancake" (木须饼, mù xū bǐng) in American Chinese food contexts.
  • Yuèbǐng (月餅; mooncakes) a type of bing usually produced and eaten at the mid-autumn festival
  • Luo buo si bing (萝卜絲餅, shredded radish bing) is a type of panfried bing consisting of a wheat dough skin filled with shredded radish
Bings are also eaten in Korean culture, the most common being jian bing, which are consumed together with seafood.
These Bó bǐng seen in the image above were seen being made in one of the tiny back streets of the Old City area in Shanghai. This street was full of food vendors making and selling a large variety of foods and made a very colourful and lively venue for street photography ..... as well as food sampling.
The video below shows the process of making the Bó bǐng.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Historic Prague

Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of twentieth century Europe. Since 1992, the extensive historic center of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, making the city one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.1 million international visitors annually, as of 2009. 
Prague Castle is a castle in Prague where the Kings of BohemiaHoly Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept here. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world with an area of almost 70000 m², being 570 meters in length and an average of about 130 meters wide. 
The roads and stairs up to Prague Castle reminded me of Edinburgh with its castle and similar steep stairs and roads.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Three Shanghai Chefs

Taking photos of people when they are busy at work or tied up in a deep conversation is an ideal moment to capture a candid image. I love getting right into the middle of a busy food market or shopping area where people are so tied up in their own world that they are not bothered about a photographer with a large lens.

These three chefs in Shanghai were out from the restaurant taking a break and were in deep discussion about something important .... maybe discussing their work problems, or wife problems or perhaps deciding on which horse to bet on at the races! No matter what this gives you the photographer an ideal moment of invisibility to capture the moment.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cool Haircut in Shanghai

I have seen many street barbers at work around Asia but this one was seen in the Old City area in Shanghai in wintertime with an outside temperature close to zero - perfect remedy for a cool haircut! I guess if the barber slips you are so numb from the cold anyway you wont feel a thing.

I shot this image just as the barber looked up at me and a second after this he shouted out something in Mandarin ...... and I'm pretty sure he was not wishing me a good day!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Camera Shy in Shanghai

The locals in Shanghai seemed strangely averse to having photographs taken as can be seen in this image. On numerous occasions I had locals turn away or even get downright nasty when my camera was out and armed. This lady took a defensive position by hiding behind her scarf  as she walked down one of the interesting, winding back lanes in the Old City area of Shanghai. I particularly liked the subdued, muted colours of the walls and doors and the outfit worn by the lady seemed to match very well making a good shot .... although a smile may have enhanced the shot even more.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Horny Flying Pig

I always enjoys taking shots of quirky street signs ...... and this one was a good one. Shot in the grounds of the castle in Prague, Czech Republic it was advertising a restaurant which I presume to be called the "Flying Pig and Horn".

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Prambanan Temple, Yogyakarta

Prambanan is a ninth century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, dedicated to Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Sustainer (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound located approximately 18 km east of Yogyakarta city on the boundary between Yogyakarta and Central Java province.
The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, currently is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, and is one of the largest Hindu temples in south-east Asia. It is characterised by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the towering 47m high central building inside a large complex of individual temples.

Friday, January 07, 2011

West Lake, Hangzhou

West Lake is located in the western area of Hangzhou City's center in China. There are dozens of lakes called West Lake worldwide, but "West Lake" usually refers to the Hangzhou West Lake. It is surrounded by mountains on three sides, with an area of around 6.5 square kilometers. The circumference is around 15 kilometers. The average depth of West Lake is 0.8 meters, and the capacity is about 14,290,000 cubic meters. The lake is divided by Gu Shan, Bai, Su and Yanggong Causeways into five areas. Ordered by their areas, they are Outer West Lake, West Inner Lake,  North Inner Lake, Little South Lake and Yue Lake. "Outer West Lake" is the largest. "Gu Shan" or Gu Hill is the largest natural island in the lake. Su & Bai Causeways run cross the lake. Three small man-made islands, "Xiao Ying Zhou", "Hu Xin Ting", "Ruan Gong Dun", lie in the center of Outer West Lake. Thus, the basic layout is "one hill, two causeways, three islands, and five lakes".
West Lake is not only famous for its picturesque landscape, it is also associated with many scholars, national heroes and revolutionary martyrs, thus embracing many aspects of Chinese culture. In addition, many ancient buildings, stone caves and engraved tablets in surrounding areas are among the most cherished national treasures of China, with significant artistic value.
Due to its prominent historical and cultural status among Chinese scenic resorts, West Lake was elected as a National Key Scenic Resort in 1982, one of Ten Scenic Resorts in 1985 and national 5A tourist resort in 2006. Moreover, the picture of "Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon" was printed on the backs of both the foreign exchange certificate one yuan bill issued by the government in 1979 and the fifth version of RMB one yuan bill issued in 2004, indicating the status of West Lake in China.
Along with its cultural importance, West Lake historically was also of value for the local commercial fishermen. According to statistics from 1977, the 560-hectare lake had the annual fish yield of 1300 kg/hectare, quite a bit more than for some larger lakes (e.g., the 1500-hectare East Lake of Wuhan had the yield of only 450 kg/ha).

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Shanghai's 1st Apple Store

This is Shanghai's first Apple store which opened in July 2010. The new store bears a striking resemblance to the flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City. Located next to the IFC Mall in Lujiazui Financial District in Pudong, aboveground is a 40-foot high glass cylinder (apparently with the largest curved glass panes in the world), with a descending spiral staircase that leads into the actual underground retail space. Unlike New York though, there is an inexplicably shallow moat of water surrounding the store, tripping up those who don't watch their step. 
The store itself is 1500 square meters and holds the most goodies in any Apple store the world over - over 250 unique Apple products on display for people to try, including over one hundred Macs. It also boasts one of the largest Genius Bars, taking up the entire length of the back wall. On staff there are over 175 employees to help customers, 75% of whom are native Shanghainese and 80% of whom hold graduate degrees. Apple expects its China stores to be some of the busiest in the world.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Old City of Shanghai

Away from the tourist areas of The Bund, Pudong and Yu Gardens lies the Old City area of Shanghai where a maze of small streets and alleys takes you into another time. This small street in a back lane of the Old City is typical of how life goes on unchanged since many decades ago. Only one small sink with water outside the house to do all the washing, cleaning and cooking, a tiny outside cooking area and of course no heating for the cold winter nights. You can see here the ingenious way of using straw to lag the water pipes to prevent these freezing in winter.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Bund

The Bund is an area of Huangpu District in central Shanghai, People's Republic of China. The area centres on a section of Zhongshan Road (East-1 Zhongshan Road) within the former Shanghai International Settlement, which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River, facing Pudong, in the eastern part of Huangpu District. The Bund usually refers to the buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas. The Bund is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai. Building heights are restricted in this area.

The word "bund" means an embankment or an embanked quay, and comes from the Urdu word band, meaning an embankment, levee or dam (a cognate of English terms "bind," "bond" and "band," the German term "bund," etc.). "Bund" is pronounced to rhyme with "fund". The term was brought to Shanghai by the family of Victor Sassoon, a Baghdadi-Nepali Jew. There are many "bands" to be found in Baghdad, even today. There are numerous sites in India, China, and Japan which are called "bunds" (e.g. the Yokohama Bund). However, "The Bund" as a proper noun almost invariably refers to this stretch of embanked riverfront in Shanghai.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Chinese Art Brushes

I was in Shanghai over Christmas and the old city and back streets of Shanghai provided some great photo opportunities. This image shows some traditional Chinese art brushed used for watercolours and calligraphy and come in a large variety of sizes, designs and colours.