2012-11-20 A nice relaxing day

21 11 2012

We didn’t do too much during the day on the 20th, but we did head over to Mong Kok in the evening to have dinner at a friend’s place.  It was my first time being in a regular Hong Kong apartment.  It was lovely, albeit a bit small.  Apparently the thick concrete walls means that you don’t hear your neighbours, which is good, because everyone lives pretty close to one another!

Our friend has two dogs, which made a significant part of the evening fun – trying to photograph people with dogs 😉

Here are some of my successes:

The Pomeranian – Cookie

The Chocolate Lab – Choco

Mrs Dragonspeed with Cookie

Claire with Choco

and then there are the “Fun trying to shoot dogs” shot:

Between the dogs, the good company and the great food, it was a fun evening!

On the way home, the requisite night shots:

Mong Kok lights:

Night food

The full set of photos is at my flickr set:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157632067410173/

Next Blog entry will be Ocean Park!





2012-11-19 Christmas approaching in a semi-tropical City

20 11 2012

t’s really odd being in Hong Kong, weather is 25C and seeing Christmas displays. You gotta admit, they do it up big. In Times Square they have a Lego display for Christmas:

1) Snowman

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

2) Sleigh ride and Cross Country skiers!

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

3) Freaky Lego Santas to give nightmares to small children

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

4) What would Christmas be without a Piper???

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

5) On a food related note, you can enjoy a variety of tasty snacks at the street vendor – including a small girl with a puppy???

You can even get a little girl or dog? by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

6) Need a cab?

Need a cab? by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

7) In case you forgot what keeps the Hong Kong economy going

Buy! Buy! Buy! by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

8) The annual sale at Sogo – stand still too long and you’ll get swept along with the crowds

Sogo annual sale! by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

The whole set for the day can be found at my Flickr site: 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157632063195786

Merry Christmas – Enjoy! (it’s 24C right now)





2012-11-19 A day on Cheung Chau

19 11 2012

We headed over to Cheung Chau on the 19th for a bit of a walk, fish balls, gai dan zai and a big family dinner… It’s a great island to visit with always SOMETHING good to shoot.

1. IFC II reaches up into the clouds in Central District, Hong Kong

Build up until you reach the Gods! by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

2) Wedding announcements!

Marriage announcements! by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

3) Yue Dan, or Fish balls on a stick – a Cheung Chau fave

Yue Dan – Fish Balls! by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

Yue Dan – Fish Balls! by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

4) The old fashioned way

The good old way by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

5) 
Workhorses by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

6) The Dragon

Dragon by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

7) The Ghost King at the Cheung Chau temple

Scene from the Cheung Chau Temple by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

The whole day of fun can be found in the flickr set:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragons…57632051784735

I hope you enjoy them!





2012-11-14_17 Scenes from the days

18 11 2012

1) A colourful tram
Image
Colourful Tram in Hong Kong by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

2) Towering Skyscrapers
Image
Towering above by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

3) Could you do this to a $7,000 camera?
Image
I don’t know if I could do this to a 7,000 dollar camera! by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

4) Sign. Sign. Everywhere a sign…
Image
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…. by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

5) Light up the night.
Image
Light up the night by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

More from this set can be found at:
 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspee … 2042881139

I hope you enjoy!





2012-11-13 Scenes from Hong Kong

18 11 2012

We found ourselves down in the Wan Chai and districts of Hong Kong for the day and a few interesting shots came of it.

1. Cool building in Central
Image
Cool building in Hong Kong by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

2. Giant Billboards dwarf pedestrians below
Image
Giant Billboards by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

3. The night speeds by
Image
The city never sleeps by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

4. A VERY cool Rolls Royce
Image
One seriously FLY Rolls Royce by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

5. Late night neon
Image
Lights of the streets in Wan Chai by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

The whole set is at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspee … 195645113/

Feel free to browse and enjoy!





Birds of the New Territories in Hong Kong

16 11 2012

I went out around the various wetland areas of Hong Kong’s New Territories. I was surprised to find a variety of birds other than just the Herons and Egrets…

1. Great Egret with a Fish

Great Egret (Ardea alba) with a fish by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

2. A collection of Egrets and Herons resting on the mudflats

Great Egrets and Grey Herons at rest by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

3. Grey Heron in flight

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) in flight by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

4. Great Egret Fishing

Great Egret (Ardea alba) by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

5. Red Whiskered Bulbul

Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

6. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

7. My favourite from the day, the Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

The whole set from the day, including some butterflies can be found at my Flickr set:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragons…th/8190179179/

I hope you enjoy them!





2012-11-10 Birds of Prek Toal Sanctuary

15 11 2012

We took a birding trip that also included a visit to the floating village of Prek Toal.  The village was cool, but some of the birds that we saw were brand new ones for me!  The noisy boat was a drag, but we DID manage to get close enough for a FEW decent shots.

1) The Oriental Darter, known often as a "snake bird" due to its neck:

Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

2) The Eastern Great Egret (seen here in the trees)

Eastern Great Egret (Ardea alba modesta) in the trees by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

3) The Chinese Pond-Heron (in flight)

Chinese Pond-Heron (Ardeola bacchus) by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

4) A pair of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters

Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

5) The Spot-billed Pelican

Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

6) The Grey-headed Fish Eagle

Grey-headed Fish Eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus) by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

7) The Brahminy Kite

Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

I hope you enjoy them!  There are some more available along with other pictures from the day on Tonle Sap Lake at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157632017826116/with/8187428673/





2012-11-09 and 2012-11-10 Floating Villages of Cambodia

15 11 2012

We visited two floating villages while in Cambodia.  Kampong Pluk and Prek Toal.  The villages are located way out in the flooded plains of Tonle Sap Lake.  In the dry season, it’s not so far out, but now, at the end of the wet season – it’s a LONG way to land.  These villages are, for the most part, simply a conglomeration of houseboats with a few permanent structures such as the Buddhist temple.

Things work differently in a floating village.  The store comes to you.  There was a general store boat

and also boats that specialized in different foods. 

You don’t just run over to your friend’s house, you get in your boat and paddle over, you take the boat to school, and you basically live life in boats

When you live in a floating village, your main industry is, unsurprisingly, fishing.

Most importantly, if you don’t like your neighbours in your floating village, you just pull up anchor and move – HOUSE and all.

If you’d like to see more from these two floating villages, please visit the flickr sets at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157632005287691/
and
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157632017826116/

Thanks for taking time to visit!





2012-11-09 Beng Melea – the coolest of the temples

14 11 2012

Early in the morning, before breakfast, Mrs D headed down to the lobby to get her WiFi fix…

Sure enough, the un-airconditioned lobby was where I found her, happily connected to the outside world.

We had a good breakfast and then we headed out at 0830 to go see the cool temple.  It’s the REAL Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider Temple. None of that Hollywood "pseudo-ruins”  This is the real thing.  But first…. a stop along the way to see some rice harvesting.  Of course the kids have other plans:

The parents, however, were hard at work with sickle in hand, harvesting bundles of rice to dry along the side of the field

Many things still go the “old-fashioned way”, including transport as this gentleman with the oxcart passed us while we were shooting

Some things are a mix of modern and old… this guy was taking his pigs to the market

Ewww.

We arrived at the temple grounds are were reminded of Cambodia’s horrible past:

yes, that’s over 1200 pieces of things that go boom that they have cleared from the temple area. A not-so subtle reminder to stay on the beaten track.

The temple was amazing.  There were piles of stones lying around and complete galleries had collapsed under their own weight into a neat “implosion” of stones.  I’ll stop the talking and let you see:

Collapsed Walkway:

Someone that felt more at home that people would:

Mrs Dragonspeed in what used to be a hallway

The Jungle taking back the temple

Roots and moss reclaim nature’s prize

Forgotten artwork

A most surreal scene

In the grasp..

I could go on forever with more pictures of this truly INCREDIBLE place, but you can see the set of photos from the day at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157632005287691/with/8184550747/

I hope you find them as amazing as I did.

Tomorrow, I’ll write a bit about the floating village, as well as the birdwatching!





2012-11-08 Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre

12 11 2012

The itinerary for today, thankfully only included two temples and a bit of driving to get to them.

On our way to get to the first, Banteay Srei, we stopped at a little village where the local people were making palm sugar. It was very interesting to see how similar the process was to the way we make maple sugar in Canada. The molds for the sugar, however were made from palm leaves not little maple leaf shaped tins.

The resulting discs look a lot like dried scallops (strangely) and the texture is identical to that of our maple sugar.  The taste was not of plain sugar but a bit different.  It was quite good!

Banteay Srei was our first stop.  The temple is a lovely, one level (Thank God – no stairs) temple.  The core foundation stones were made from lava rock as were most other temples but the sandstone in this one was all ORANGE/RED, resulting in a lovely coloured temple.

The carvings were very ornate and the depictions of Vishnu going into battle as well as various other Hindi tales were emblazoned on the various piedements.

One particular door frame held an extra surprise for us

That’s right!  A leopard gecko with a head about the size of a lemon was hiding in a crack between the wall and the door frame.  It was an amazing addition of natural beauty to this man-made marvel.

Even Muk Muk and Boxer Duck enjoyed the beauty of this unique temple

Our next stop was Banteay Samre.  This seems to be the poor step-child of the “Angkor Wat Temples”  It was nearly deserted when we arrived. That meant we were able to spend a little more time enjoying the amazing things that the temple had to offer.

The two temples were just enough for our last full day of temple watching.  We were beginning to get a bit “Templed Out”  We headed home after lunch at a countryside restaurant, enjoying views like this on the way home:

A lovely way to end the day’s outing.

We came back to our hotel to find the usual, lovely water flower arrangement, reminding you of the more delicate things than rocks and stones.

To enjoy the whole set of pictures from today, please visit the flickr set at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157631989183097/

Our entire Cambodian trip is in the collection at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/collections/72157631926458473/

Take your time, enjoy the pictures and get lost in a world that time left behind.





2012-11-07 Angkor Wat Temples

10 11 2012

I must start by apologizing.  I have been wiped out by the heat and humidity every day. It has caused me to fall further behind in blogging than I would like.  That being said, I have finally finished up with the photos from the 7th.  We toured a bunch of the temples on the “grand route” around the Angkor Wat complex.  They were cool.  One was even the one where they shot Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie!  It made for a really long and HOT day, but it was worth it.

The set is located at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157631972471685/

Some of the highlights of the best are below:

Wow!  So many good shots, didn’t know what to show… Still so many good ones left in the set!  Go see them! More later… probably once I get to Hong Kong tomorrow!





2012-11-06 Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat

7 11 2012

We got up at the ungodly hour of 0430 to catch a 0730 plane out out of Phnom Penh.  The hotel doesn’t have any food at that time, so no breakfast for us 😦

Getting to Siem Reap was generally uneventful, highlighted only by the fact that you walk of the wonderfully air-conditioned plane onto the tarmac what was just missing a bit of oil for frying eggs!  At 0900, it was already 28C!

Our guide, a nice fellow, met us and we were whisked away to start the tour.  “What about breakfast"?” I asked, trying not to sound like Samwise Gamgee. 

“The hotel should provide breakfast, we don’t” was the answer…

“Oh”

We motored directly to the Angkor complex and got our picture ID tickets to have for our three days admission to the complex.  More heat.  A short drive later we hop out and start the sauna.  We took some great pictures of the South Gate of Angkor Thom.

We then proceeded over to the Bayon Temple of Angkor Thom.  Our guide explained the may bas-relief around the temples, as well as the carvings. 

Mrs D nose to nose with the Buddha!

Wow – I am now totally confused regarding the different Hindu Gods. Perhaps one day, my friend Hiren can explain more fully.  I have visions of multi armed, multi eyed guys swimming in my brain.  Also multiheaded snakes and half naked dancing women… Wow… So much in one day.  

After going through the Bayon temple, we decided to try an elephant ride.  Sort of a “bucket list” kind of thing.  Well – scratch that off, and don’t expect me to do it very often in the future.. What a BUMPY ride! 

We did, however, get some good angles for some of our best pictures of the Bayon temple.   We continued to see various other temples of the Angkor Thom complex,but damned if I can remember what they were!  We had a brief downpour, but it let up, leaving just dark clouds around.  Like I wasn’t wet enough from the heat already!

Seriously sweating by now, and weak from lack of food, we headed over to a restaurant near Angkor Wat for lunch.  It was neat – you could actually see the towers of Angkor Wat from the restaurant.  I think I had 4 Sprites in an attempt to rehydrate and sugar up!  The food was good, but I think our 2nd day lunch in Phnom Penh outshone this stuff.

We proceeded to the temple of Angkor Wat next.

Angkor Wat is a “Mountain Temple” which means there are a crapload of stairs to climb to get to the top, most holy area.  Wow.. STEEP STEPS! 

We took lots of interesting pictures of the temple and from the temple before heading home.

Mrs D – the Dancer 🙂

Dinner was out at a restaurant that included dancing entertainment and a “Typical Cambodian” buffet.  The food was pretty bland.  Apparently “Tourist version” of “Typical Cambodian” is not as good as the Real Thing.

The evening's entertainment

The evening's entertainment

The dancers were good and the the whole evening went well. We got back to our room around 2100 after stopping to get some beer at the supermarket ($0.65/can!) rather than have to pay $2 down at the hotel lobby bar.

Then it was off to bed – more temples to tour on the 7th!

I put up 54 photos from the day at my flickr page:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157631951737846/





2012-11-05 The Killing Fields

5 11 2012

Today was another hot, humid day, with the temperature hovering around 30C at 0900, you knew it was going to be hot! 

After breakfast, we headed out to see Tuol Sleng, the interrogation centre where the Khmer Rouge tortured confessions out of anyone suspected of being more than a simple peasant. Once they had the confession they wanted, they shipped them off to the killing fields to be executed. A brutal, horrid system.

While there, prisoners were shackled at the feet and bound with their hands behind their back. They were force to stay in small stalls and given only an ammo box to use as their toilet.  Torture happened everyday for prisoners, sometimes more often.  The “interrogation” continued until the victim died or confessed to being an American or Russian agent, in which case they were then sent off to be killed.

After Tuol Sleng, we headed over to Choeung Ek, about 15km out of Phnom Penh. It was here that the Khmer Rouge did their nastiest work.  Everyone here was killed as they arrived.  About 300 people per day.  Babies were tossed in the air and shot at for target practice.  Small children were held by their legs and their head swung against a tree to kill them. It was gruesome.  It really was a crime against humanity.

The remains of the victims are now kept in what amounts a large ossuary. A shrine to their suffering.  It stands so tall, and is so full, it chokes you up to see it

Inside:

Layer upon layer of skulls

The visit was a sobering reminder of the brutality of mankind.  It was both saddening and overwhelming to think of the horrors that happened only 35 years ago.

There are other pictures from the day (not all from the Killing Fields, some happy things too!) on my Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157631935036662/

Tomorrow we fly to Siem Reap, so we are leaving our hotel at 0530. Time to sleep!





2012-11-04 First Day in Cambodia

4 11 2012

Wow – after 20 hours of travelling, we finally arrived in Phnom Penh.  Exhausting.

But!  we can’t let that stop us, can we?  We then headed out to our hotel, had a quick shower before going out to Khmer Surin for lunch.  Lunch was tasty and the environment was really nice. Post lunch, we hit the Royal Museum and Royal Palace.   The Palace was not originally planned,but we did it today since with the recent passing of the former king, the palace grounds could be closed at any time without notice.

Wow – it was probably about 38C today and the sun baked like an oven.  Now, 23:23  and I’m FINALLY getting a short blog entry. The set of photos from today is up on Flickr at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157631926911120/

Tomorrow promises more heat and this time the killing fields. Should be a sombre experience.

The Royal Palace

The Silver Pagoda at the Royal Palace

Lunch!

See you tomorrow!








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