Monday, December 30, 2013

Best of 2013

With 2013 almost at a close it is time to look back and reflect on some of the key photographic moments of the year. It was a busy year indeed on the travelling front with 4 major trips to Cambodia, Nepal, Europe and China.


At the start of the year I was involved in an interesting photo assignment for a property development company who had major investments in Kuala Lumpur and in particular in the Mont' Kiara area. I prepared a portfolio of images of the Mont' Kiara area to highlight all the key facilities such as schools, shopping centres and sporting facilities as well as photographing the properties themselves. This image is a large panoramic view taken from the roof of a property in Mont' Kiara looking over the Kuala Lumpur skyline.

Kuala Lumpur skyline from Mont' Kiara

In February we headed back to Cambodia staying in Siem Reap and this time visiting some of the more remote temples. One of the temples I had always wanted to visit was Preah Vihear which sits right on the border with Thailand in the north and has been in a border disputed area for some time. This magnificent temple sits on top of a large cliff and has a commanding view over north Cambodia and Thailand. More pictures can be seen here.
Preah Vihear, Cambodia

Malaysia has always been known for tin mining and one of the last few tin dredges (TT5) sits close to Tanjong Tualang just south of Ipoh. I made a visit here to capture this incredible piece of machinery. More pictures can be seen here.

Tin Dredge TT5, Tanjong Tualang, Perak

As part of an online video series on photography called "Behind The Lens" by Peter Tan we did one of the video shoots at a favourite lookout point in Damansara Heights overlooking the city of Kuala Lumpur. This is one of the images I captured at this location.

Kuala Lumpur skyline from Damansara Heights

In March it was off to Nepal to trek up the Everest Base Camp Trail from Lukla to as far as Tengboche. After a hair-raising flight from Kathmandu to Lukla it was a 4 day trek up through incredible scenery to Tengboche and then a 3 day trek back down. The views of the Himalayan mountains including Mount Everest as pictured below were just breath taking and worth all the effort of the trek. More photos can be seen here.

Mount Everest from the trail from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche

Kathmandu was a very interesting place to visit and after the trek up to Tengboche we had a few days there to explore. Boudhanath is one of the holiest Buddhist sites, full of interesting sights, sounds and smells as hundreds of worshippers visit and circle around the giant structure. More photos can be seen here.

Boudhanath, Kathmandu

In June we made our annual pilgrimage back to UK and took a visit to the historical city of York for a few days. Clifford's Tower as shown here is part of the York Castle complex. More photos can be seen here.

Clifford's Tower, York

Directly following the trip to UK we headed off to Italy and embarked on a 12 day Mediterranean cruise from Venice, covering Split and Dubrovnik (Croatia), Corfu (Greece), Naples, Civitavecchia, and Livorno (Italy), Monte Carlo (Monaco), Marseille (France)  and finishing in Barcelona (Spain). This was really a wonderful trip and the quality of the cruise could not be criticised. The view below is taken as we left Venice. More pictures can be seen here.

Venice taken from the deck of the ms Nieuw Amsterdam on the Grand Canal

Our good friends Paul and Lindsey left KL for Dubai in July so they hosted a great party with a Black & White theme. She asked me to do the photography so naturally this was done in black & white. 

Paul & Lindsey's "Black & White" Party

In August we returned to Ipoh for a weekend to stay at our favourite spot, Indulgence Restaurant & Living managed and run by the great chef, Julie Song. The food was as ever wonderful and the rooms in the small boutique hotel very comfortable. More photos can be seen here.

Indulgence Restaurant & Living, Ipoh

September was a time to celebrate my wife's birthday and as usual she likes to record this in a photograph taken at home as we toasted here a Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday Suit Yoo

In October we went on a 12 day tour of China flying to Chengdu then on up to Juzhaigou for a few days. We then flew back to Chengdu and spent a few days in that area, flew to Guilin and completed the trip by taking a cruise from Guilin down to Hangshuo. The scenery, particularly in Juizhaigou was incredible with all the autumn colours of the trees and contrasted by the magnificent clear waters of the lakes. More photos can be seen here. 

Long Lake, Jiuzhaigou, China

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Liu Sanjie - River Light Show - Yangshuo

The stunning scenery of the Li River south from Yangshuo forms what is said to be the largest natural theater in the world for the now famous Liu San Jie Impression Light Show in Yangshuo. The waters of the Li-river set the stage and a dozen beautifully lit karst formations form a natural backdrop. The light show is a creation of Zhang Yi Mou, also director and choreographer of the impressive opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and famous Chinese movies like Raise the Red Lantern. The first light show in Yangshuo was held in 2004 and currently features over 600 locals, mainly from the Zhuang minority, including farmers, fishermen and young girls singing and performing simultaneously in a show that looks different each time as mist, rain and moonlight naturally alter the set of the stage.

The Liu San Jie Light Show is a performance like you have never seen or experienced before. Liu Sanjie is a love story about a young woman called Liu Sanjie, which means “third sister Liu”. Her voice was so beautiful that it touched everyone. The legend is that a warlord falls in love with Liu San jie but she has already fallen in love with a farmer’s boy from the village. The warlord does not accept this and kidnaps her but Liu San jie‘s lover and friends in the village go to free her and the couple escape living happily ever after.

Maybe you have heard of the film 'Sanjie Liu' produced in 1961, which made the Li River famous worldwide. Sanjie Liu is a fairy singer in the myths and legends of the Zhuang ethnic minority. She is incomparably beautiful, and has voice to match her beauty. In the 'Impression Sanjie Liu', what you can see are the impressions derived from the daily life of the people living around the Li River, rather than the specific details of the stories. From these impressions, you will gain a realistic impression on the background of Sanjie's birthplace and understand the beauty of the folk songs' hometown.

The performance is divided into seven chapters including the preface and epilogue. At the beginning, the lights are all turned off and the image of Sanjie appears indistinctly in the sky with beautiful songs 'Sing the folk songs, here I am singing and there you are echoing...'. As the lights come up, the twelve hills appear in front of the audience; and a small fishing boat is rowed from the hills. This is the Preface - the Legend of Hills and Rivers.


The first chapter is the Red Impression: Folk Songs. On the water, many fishermen are rowing their bamboo rafts in a column. Either standing or squatting, they hang the large red silk in the sky and or upon the water. This red picture symbolizes the enthusiasm and praises the labors of the local people.

The second chapter is the Green Impression: Garden. The color green symbolizes nature as well as the vitality. Among the green hills and rivers, the smoke from cooking fires curls upward; herders are heading home with their cattle under the gleam of the sunset. The women, washing clothes beside the water are waiting for their husbands who are rowing the fishing rafts back home. This chapter reveals the peaceful and happy life of the local people.

The third chapter is the Golden Impression: Fishing Lights. Hundreds of bamboo rafts with golden fishing lights are spreading all over the river. The rafts, gently rocking make the golden fishing lights dance upon the waters, the straw rain capes, the frolic cormorants and the hills construct a perfect picture describing the simple existence of the people around the Li River.
The fourth chapter is the Blue Impression: Love Songs. Under the deep blue sky, and on the dark blue water, the performer of Sanjie is singing classical love songs. Then, a crescent-shaped boat with a charming fairy dancing in is flying onto the surface of the water. A group of pretty and young girls, dressed in red or white are bathing around the boat. In this blue world, these beautiful girls seem to become the notes of Sanjie's love songs.

The last chapter is the Silvery Impression: Performance Grand Ceremony. As the 'Wonder of Lijiang Culture', this scenery reflects the traditional ceremony in Sanjie's hometown according to the legend. Over 200 Zhuang girls form a long column across the bridge over the Li River. Their silver dresses make the river shimmer in a mysterious manner.
In the Epilogue, the fishing rafts are rowed farther and farther from the audience while the beautiful songs of Sanjie are still echoing among the hills. The girls on the bridge present their thanks for the audience with their affectionate folk songs.

Except for the perfect seven pictures, the performance also boasts both modern and classical music played by famous musicians of China. Additionally, there are in excess of 600 performers, all of whom are local people of the Li River. They present the reality of life for the people in Sanjie's hometown through their primitive and wonderful performances.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Lí Jiāng

The Li River (Chinese: 漓江; pinyin: Lí Jiāng) or Lijiang is a river in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. It ranges 83 kilometers from Guilin to Yangshuo, where the Karst mountain and river sights highlight the famous Li River cruise.


The Li River originates in the Mao'er Mountains in Xing'an County and flows in the general southern direction through Guilin, Yangshuo and Pingle. In Pingle the Li River merges with two other streams, and continues south as the Gui River, which falls into the Xi Jiang, the western tributary of the Pearl River, in Wuzhou.

The upper course of the River Li is connected by the ancient Lingqu Canal with the Xiang River, which flows north into the Yangtze; this in the past made the Li and Gui Rivers part of a highly important waterway connecting the Yangtze Valley with the Pearl River Delta.
The 437-kilometer course of the Li and Gui Rivers is flanked by green hills. Cormorant fishing is often associated with the Lijiang (see bird intelligence). Its unusual karst topography hillsides have often been compared to those at Halong Bay, Vietnam.
Tourist cruises in different boats (varying from small bamboo rafts to larger, air-conditioned ships) are offered on the Li River throughout the year and are one of the major attractions of Guilin.


Reed-Flute Rock: a limestone cave with a large number of stalactites, stalagmites, stalacto-stalagmites, rocky curtains, and cave corals.
Seven-Star Park: the largest park in Guilin.
Mountain of Splendid Hues: a mountain consisting of many layers of variously colored rocks.
Elephant-Trunk Hill: a hill that looks like a giant elephant drinking water with its trunk. It is symbol of the city of Guilin.
Lingqu Canal: dug in 214 BC, is one of the three big water conservation projects of ancient China and the oldest existing canal in the world.
Other attractions include: Duxiu Peak, Nanxi Park, the Taohua River, the Giant Banyan, and the Huashan-Lijiang National Folklore Park.
The imagery of the Li River is featured on the fifth series of the 20 yuan note.