Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NYC Skyline

This dramatic skyline view in New York was taken at the south eastern corner of Central Park at 5th Avenue and West 59th Street. You can see the Plaza hotel at the right hand side. The contrast between the serenity and open space of Central Park and the high rise buildings here is dramatic.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Selamat Hari Raya

Selamat Hari Raya to all my muslim friends here in Malaysia and elsewhere.

Eid ul-Fitr, Eid al-Fitr, Id-ul-Fitr, or Id al-Fitr (Arabic: ‎عيد الفطر ‘Īdu l-Fiṭr), often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity," while Fiṭr means "breaking (the fast)". The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the thirty days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The first day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month Shawwal.

Eid-ul-Fitr Salat (Namaz in Persian) is a Wajib (obligatory), Sunnah muak'kad (strongly recommended, just short of obligatory) or mandoob (preferable) – depending on which juristic opinion is followed – Islamic prayer consisting of two raka'ah (units) which is generally offered in an open field or large hall called an Eed-gah. This salaat or prayer, can only be performed with Jama’at (i.e., in congregation) and has an additional extra six Takbirs (raising of the hands to the ears while saying Allahu Akbar (God is Great), three of them in the beginning of the first raka'ah and three of them just before ruku' in the second raka'ah in the Hanafi school. Muslims are commanded by God in the Qur'an to complete their fast until the last day of Ramadan and pay the Zakat al-fitr before doing the Eid prayer. 

The photo here is the Federal Territory Mosque or Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan which is a major mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is located near MATRADE complex and the Federal Government Complex off Jalan Duta. The mosque's design is a blend of Ottoman and Malay architectural styles, heavily influenced by the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. It has 22 domes made from a composite material of glass fibre fabric mixed with epoxy resin to make it durable and light.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Shower Time

This group of boys are taking their shower at the Sunrise orphanage in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Using an old water pump they collect water in their buckets then swoosh the water over them for a refreshing wash. The Sunrise Children's Villages are two orphanages, one in Phnom Penh and the other one in Siem Reap. The orphanages were started by Geraldine Cox, an Australian who visited Cambodia many years ago and along with some friends started efforts to help out some of the unfortunate orphans she had seen in Cambodia. These initial efforts have now grown into two wonderful orphanages with a third now under construction due to Geraldine's fund raising efforts.

 I had the opportunity to visit the one in Siem Reap over the course of 10 days putting together a story about the orphans in Cambodia.

A video of my story can be seen here:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Light Through Windows

Sainte Chapelle, located within the Palais de Justice complex on the Ile de la Cite in the centre of Paris,  is one of the most beautiful and ornate churches I have seen with magnificent stained glass windows and a wonderful arched roof. The sun coming in through the coloured glass bathes the interior in a special light adding to the tranquil atmosphere.

A video of this church can be seen below.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Angkor Photography Festival

I attended the Angkor Photography Festival in 2007. This event is held every year in Siem Reap, Cambodia and attracts hundreds of photographers worldwide to an exciting exhibition of a wide range of photography genres. If you look very closely at this photo of a poster advertising the event you can see my name. 

There are normally many workshops arranged to coincide with the festival and you can get the opportunity to perhaps attend one given by some well known photographers. I attended one arranged by the VII Agency run by Gary Knight and Philip Blenkinsop.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Craig Hill Stands To Attention

Craig Hill is a Scottish comedian, TV presenter and actor known for his cheeky, irreverent and camp act. His act comprises stand-up, comic characterisations and improvisation styles with musical diva impersonations, notably a parody of Shirley Bassey singing the football chant ‘Who Ate All the Pies?‘.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


An epitaph is a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial. An epitaph may be in poem verse; poets have been known to compose their own epitaphs prior to their death, as W.B. Yeats did.
Most epitaphs are brief records of the family, and perhaps the career, of the deceased, often with an expression of love or respect - "beloved father of ..." - but others are more ambitious. From the Renaissance to the 19th century in Western culture, epitaphs for notable people became increasingly lengthy and pompous descriptions of their family origins, career, virtues and immediate family, often in Latin. However, the Laudatio Turiae, the longest known Ancient Roman epitaph exceeds almost all of these at 180 lines; it celebrates the virtues of a wife, probably of a consul.
Some are quotes from holy texts, or aphorisms. An approach of many epitaphs is to 'speak' to the reader and warn them about their own mortality. A wry trick of others is to request the reader to get off their resting place, as often it would require the reader to stand on the ground above the coffin to read the inscription. Some record achievements, (e.g. past politicians note the years of their terms of office) but nearly all (excepting those where this is impossible, including theTomb of the Unknown Soldier) note name, year or date of birth and date of death. Many list family and their relation to them; such as Father / Mother / Son / Daughter etc. of.

Notable Epitaphs

Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing bythat here, obedient to their law, we lie.
— Simonides's epigram at Thermopylae
I am ready to meet my Maker.Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.
— Winston Churchill
To save your world you asked this man to die:Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?
— Epitaph for the Unknown Soldier, written by W. H. Auden
Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!
Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,
— Virginia Woolf
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.
— William Shakespeare
I told you I was ill.
— Spike Milligan
That's all folks.
— Mel Blanc
If anyone at my funeral has a long face, I'll never speak to him again.
— Stan Laurel
Consider, friend, as you pass by: As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, you too shall be. Prepare, therefore, to follow me.
— Scottish tombstone epitaph

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake Destroys Temple Complex

The effects of numerous earthquakes can be clearly seen at this World Heritage Site in Indonesia where the temples collapsed in the 16th century.

Prambanan is a ninth century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Sustainer (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound is located approximately 18 km east of Yogyakarta city on the boundary between Yogyakarta and Central Java province.

The temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy School Days

School Lessons in Siem Reap Cambodia by HighlanderImages

They say that school days are the happiest of your life .... no idea who said this and why! However these young Cambodian kids  in Siem Reap seem to be enjoying their lessons although distracted by the large, strange looking, white fella taking photographs through the school window. If I had tried this in UK I would be arrested immediately for sure.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, built by Ferrovial and located in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. It is built alongside the Nervion River, which runs through the city of Bilbao to the Atlantic Coast. The Guggenheim is one of several museums belonging to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The museum features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists.
One of the most admired works of contemporary architecture, the building has been hailed as a "signal moment in the architectural culture" because it represents "one of those rare moments when critics, academics, and the general public were all completely united about something." The museum was the building most frequently named as one of the most important works completed since 1980 in the 2010 World Architecture Survey among architecture experts.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Our Lady of Paris

Notre Dame de Paris (French for Our Lady of Paris), also known as Notre Dame Cathedral, is a Gothic, Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. It is the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris: that is, it is the church that contains the cathedra (official chair) of the Archbishop of Paris, currently André Vingt-Trois. The cathedral treasury houses a reliquary with the purported Crown of Thorns. 

Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in France and in Europe, and the naturalism of its sculptures and stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture. The first period of construction from 1163 into the 1240's coincided with the musical experiments of the Notre Dame school. The cathedral suffered desecration during the radical phase of the French Revolution in the 1790s, when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. An extensive restoration supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc removed remaining decoration, returning the cathedral to an 'original' gothic state.

Notre Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports). The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave. After the construction began and the thinner walls (popularized in the Gothic style) grew ever higher, stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. In response, the cathedral's architects built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued the pattern. The cathedral was essentially complete by 1345.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Antoni Gaudi's Organic Architecture

A view of Barcelona from the rooftop of the colourful and bizarre architecture of Antoni Gaudi's Casa Batllo. This wonderful building hardly has a straight line and is adorned with brightly coloured tiles. The architecture definately has an "organic" feel to it and inspired by biological life.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Wash Day

Everyone has those wash day blues .... the day you have to do your washing and clothes ironing. Well in Mumbai, India this is done on a different scale at the Dhobi Ghat where hundreds of workers toil away washing, drying and ironing clothes sent from all over the city. Miraculously the clothes end up back at their respective owners. These wash pits are used to scrub and pound the clothes before rinsing, drying and finally pressed using charcoal fired heavy irons.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mountain Bike

These cyclo drivers wait in anticipation of some work in the hill town of Dehradun, India. This small hill town sits in the foothills of the Himalayas and can be very cold and misty as you can see in this image. 

Dehradun is the capital city of the State of Uttarakhand in northern India. Located in the Garhwal region, it is 255 km north of India's capital New Delhi and consists of 6 tehsils, 6 community development blocks, 17 towns and 764 inhabited villages. The city has been chosen as one of the "Counter Magnets" of the National Capital Region (NCR) and is being developed as an alternative centre of growth to help ease the migration and population explosion in the Delhi metropolitan area.

Dehradun is renowned for its natural resources, publishing services, and for its prestigious educational institutions such as the Forest Research Institute, Indian Military Academy and several day and boarding schools which are highly reputed across the country. It is also home to national foundations such as the Indian Institute of Petroleum, Survey of India, Wildlife Institute of India and the Oil and Natural Gas Committee.

Located on the foothills of the Himalayas, the Doon Valley is nestled between two of India's mightiest rivers - the Ganges on the east and the Yamuna on the west. Dehradun is famous for its picturesque landscape and pleasant climate and provides a gateway to the surrounding region. It is well connected and in close proximity to popular Himalayan tourist destinations such as Mussoorie, Nainital and Auli and Hindu holy cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh along with the Himalayan pilgrimage circuit of Char Dham.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vienna State Opera

The Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) is an opera house – and opera company – with a history dating back to the mid-19th century. It is located in the centre of Vienna, Austria. It was originally called the Vienna Court Opera (Wiener Hofoper). In 1920, with the replacement of the Habsburg Monarchy by the First Austrian Republic, it was renamed the Vienna State Opera. The members of the Vienna Philharmonic are recruited from its orchestra.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spinning a Yarn

This lady is from the long-neck Karen tribe who live in northern Thailand. Her distinctive brass neck rings give the impression of an elongated neck but in fact they actually just push down the collar bone. She is spinning her cotton threads for weaving of the colourful textiles you see in the background.

Monday, August 15, 2011

These Boots Are Made For Walking

This guy means serious business in his wellington boots and he was spotted at a tree planting event organized by EcoWarriors in Malaysia in a peat swamp just outside Kuala Lumpur.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To The Glory of God

This magnificent church in Vienna, Austria is St Peter's Church and really exemplifies the ornate and detailed architecture that can be seen in many of the churches and cathedrals of European cities. You can tell the effort, the money and fine detailed work that has gone into a building like this and built all to the glory of God.

The word “cathedral” is sometimes mistakenly applied as a generic term for any very large and imposing church. In fact, a cathedral does not have to be large or imposing, although many cathedrals are. The cathedral takes its name from the word cathedra, or "bishop's throne" (in Latinecclesia cathedralis). A cathedral has a specific ecclesiatical role and administrative purpose as the seat of a bishop.

The role of bishop as administrator of local clergy came into being in the 1st century. It was two hundred years before the first cathedral building was constructed in Rome. With the legalising of Christianity in 313 by the Emperor Constantine I, churches were built rapidly. Five very large churches were founded in Rome and, though much altered or rebuilt, still exist today, including the Cathedral of Rome which is San Giovanni in Laterano and also the better-known St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

The architectural form which cathedrals took was largely dependent upon their ritual function as the seat of a bishop. Cathedrals are places where, in common with other Christian churches, the Eucharist is celebrated, the Bible is read, the Order of Service is said or sung, prayers are offered and sermons are preached. But in a cathedral, in general, these things are done with a greater amount of elaboration, pageantry and procession than in lesser churches. This elaboration is particularly present during important liturgical rites performed by a Bishop, such as Confirmation and Ordination. A cathedral is often the site of rituals associated with local or national Government, the Bishops performing the tasks of all sorts from the induction of a mayor to the coronation of a monarch. Some of these tasks are apparent in the form and fittings of particular cathedrals.

The church that has the function of cathedral is not always a large building. It might be as small as Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. But frequently, the cathedral, along with some of the abbey churches, was the largest building in any region.

There were a number of reasons for this:

  • The cathedral was created to the Glory of God. It was seen as appropriate that it should be as grand and as beautiful as wealth and skill could make it.
  • As the seat of a Bishop, the Cathedral was the location for certain liturgical rites, such as the Ordination of Priests, which brought together large numbers of clergy and people.
  • It functioned as an ecclesiastical and social meeting-place for many people, not just those of the town in which it stood, but also, on occasions, for the entire region.
  • The cathedral often had its origins in a monastic foundation and was a place of worship for members of a holy order who said the mass privately at a number of small chapels within the cathedral.
  • The cathedral often became a place of worship and burial for wealthy local patrons. These patrons often endowed the cathedrals with money for successive enlargements and building programs.
  • Cathedrals are also traditionally places of pilgrimage, to which people travel from afar to celebrate certain important feast days or to visit the shrine associated with a particular saint. An extended eastern end is often found at cathedrals where the remains of a saint are interred behind the High Altar.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Spanish Serenade

Traditional Singers, Laguardia, Spain by HighlanderImages

Laguardia is a small walled hill town in the Rioja wine country of northern Spain. Sitting high on a rock foundation under the shadows of the mountains to the northwest, the city retains, intact, its historic walls from the 13th century including its four entrance gates. Within its walls can be found historic building from various time periods. Today, the outer village walls are breached with glass windows, but it is easy to imagine the village as it must have been in the Middle Ages. There are only a few streets with in the old city, so navigating is fairly easy. Still, the village is large enough to provide you with some shopping, and magical eating experiences, not to mention the experience of consuming some of the best wines of Spain.

While walking through the small narrow streets of the town I followed the sounds of singing and celebration and eventually rounded a corner to find this group of men celebrating something ... a wedding perhaps, a birthday ... or just life itself!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Horse Break

This could be a scene from the wild west in US or perhaps the high mountains of Peru but you would be wrong. It's India. In the hill town of Mussoorie just above the town of Dehradun in northern India. This hill town sits in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains and you can see many horses here used to trek into the hills and carry supplies to the hill town. These horses are having a welcome break and a time to nose bag!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Potty Time Cambodian Style

These two kids at an orphanage in Siem Reap, Cambodia take the opportunity to socialise during a very necessary potty break.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Long-Neck Karen Girl

In northern Thailand around Chiang Rai you can still find the long-neck Karen tribe living in certain areas. They are well known because of the bizarre habit of the women wearing traditional brass rings around their neck. Starting at a very young age the young girls start with a few rings and as they grow they gradually add on rings till the neck appears very elongated. In fact the appearance of a longer neck is a visual illusion. The weight of the rings pushes down the collar bone, as well as the upper ribs, to such an angle that the collar bone actually appears to be a part of the neck.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Blue Stairway

The architecture of the older classic buildings in New York really impressed me and especially the way in which many of these buildings have been maintained and restored to their former glory. This building with strong blue coloured stonework, blue fire escape stairs and ornate arches made a very bold statement.

Monday, August 08, 2011

La Rambla

La Rambla is a street in central Barcelona, popular with both tourists and locals alike. A 1.2 kilometer-long tree-lined pedestrian mall between Barri Gòtic and El Raval, it connects Plaça Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus monument at Port Vell.

La Rambla can be considered a series of shorter streets, each differently named, hence the plural form Les Rambles (Spanish: Las Ramblas). From the Plaça de Catalunya toward the harbour, the street is successively the Rambla de Canaletes, the Rambla dels Estudis, the Rambla de Sant Josep, the Rambla dels Caputxins, and the Rambla de Santa Monica. Construction of the Maremàgnum in the early 1990s resulted in a continuation of La Rambla on a wooden walkway into the harbour, the Rambla de Mar.
La Rambla can be crowded, especially during prime time tourist season. Most of the time, there are many more tourists than locals occupying the Rambla, which has changed the shopping selection, as well as the character of the street in general. For this reason also, it has become a prime target for pick pocketing.
Spanish poet Federico García Lorca once said that La Rambla was 'the only street in the world which I wish would never end'.
The name rambla refers to an intermittent water flow in both Catalan and Spanish, and is derived from the Arabic 'ramla' which means 'sandy riverbed'. The name of the city of Ramla, now in Israel, shares the same origin.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Cambodian Folk Music

Cambodian Folk Music 1 by HighlanderImages

When traveling in a foreign country it's always good when you come across some local musicians playing traditional music.While visiting one of the many temple complexes in Siem Reap, Cambodia I came across this group of land mine victims who were all playing traditional instruments and selling CDs. You can listen to the music in the SoundCloud link below

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Lake, Central Park, NYC

The Central Park Lake, in conjunction with the Ramble, creates an essential part of the "Greensward" design plan created by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux when designing the initial features of what would become Central Park.
What is now a stunning and picturesque 18-acre lake was once nothing more than a large, untamed swamp. After its excavation in 1857, the Lake was opened for its first winter of ice-skating in 1858. Until 1950, the Lake was used for ice-skating during the winter months and boating in the summer. After 1950, however, the skating rink was officially closed, allowing the Lake's former wildlife inhabitants to take up residence there once more. As such, the Lake is now an excellent location for bird watching, where one can spot swans, ducks, and even the occasional egret or heron.
The second largest man-made body of water in the Park, the Lake provides wonderful opportunities for viewing its abundant flora and fauna from rowboats, which are available for rent during the spring and summer months at the Loeb Boathouse. Aside from taking a boat, other options for nature sightseeing include taking a Venetian-style gondola ride around the Lake, or simply walking along the shore.
Like many other Park attractions, the Lake was also restored by the Central Park Conservancy. It was reopened to visitors in 2008. The Lake is a sight not to be missed if you're in the mood for a calming boat ride through bamboo patches, bridges, and natural splendor in the Park.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Ipoh Song Bird

Keeping caged song birds is a very common hobby in Malaysia and this caged bird was seen hanging in a small back alley of Ipoh. You often see many Chinese men gathering in an area with their favorite birds in cages all hung up high above so they can all admire the birds and listen to their songs. Sometimes the cages can be highly decorative and can be used in their own right as a house decoration.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Iron Man

This wonderful statue stood in central Madrid, Spain and from a distance looked so lifelike it was only the lack of any motion and a closer look that made me realize it was a statue. This photo was post-processed in Silver Efex Pro which I feel gave the image more impact.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Calum's Seal Trips

This little shop in the middle of the main street of Plockton, Scotland was geared up for visiting tourists. The shop had canoes for hire, fishing nets for sale, holiday gifts and a variety of tourist trips including "Calum's Seal Trips". I'm only guessing but maybe the shop belonged to Calum. Just a wild guess!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A Throat Surely Touched by the Hand of God

Sean Connery described "her  throat as  surely touched by the hand of God" and the Billboard magazine described her as "the finest gaelic singer". 

Karen Matheson OBE (born 11 February 1963) is a Scottish folk singer, who frequently sings in Scottish Gaelic. She is lead singer of the group Capercaillie and was a member of Dan Ar Braz's group L'Heritage des Celtes, with whom she often sang lead vocals, either alone or jointly with Elaine Morgan. She and Morgan received much acclaim for their joint lead vocal on the Breton language song "Diwanit Bugale", the French entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 1996. She made a cameo appearance in the 1995 movie Rob Roy singing the song "Ailein duinn".
She grew up in the small village of Taynuilt in Argyll. She was awarded an OBE in the 2006 New Year's honours list.
Matheson also appeared as a guest musician on Spirit of the West's 1997 album Weights and Measures.
She is married to fellow Capercaillie member Donald Shaw, and they have a son named Hector and hector is 10 years old

Monday, August 01, 2011

Battlefield Band Bagpipes

Bagpipes are a class of musical instrument, aerophones, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Though the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe and Irish uilleann pipes have the greatest international visibility, bagpipes of many different types come from different regions throughout Europe, Northern Africa, the Persian Gulf, and the Caucasus. 
This photo was taken at a concert with the Battlefield Band from Scotland and this is Mike Katz playing the bagpipes, with much gusto by the look of it.