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Thumbnails - February 2009

February 2009
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Locked Horns Photo:  Somewhere in the Gobi desert, a Korean travel-mate stands at the ridge of an impossibly tall sand dune over a valley of smaller sand dunes.  To reach the tops of these sand dunes, requires a surprising amount of stamina.  For every 2 steps forward, one step is lost slipping back down the dune.  I estimated these dunes to be approximately 150-200 meters tall. Sand Mountain Photo:  Somewhere in the Gobi desert, a Korean travel-mate stands at the ridge of an impossibly tall sand dune over a valley of smaller sand dunes.  To reach the tops of these sand dunes, requires a surprising amount of stamina.  For every 2 steps forward, one step is lost slipping back down the dune.  I estimated these dunes to be approximately 150-200 meters tall. Ghat Gazing Photo: Three lovely Indian tourists sit by the ghats, taking in the hustle of daily life on the banks of the Ganges.  As illustrated in this photo, India is a feast for a photographer's senses.  Besides sight, a day in India brings chaotic stimulation to the rest of your senses.  This is a top reason India is one of my favorite countries in the world.  It, however, is not for everyone. Sad Bear Photo: The Golden Boulder, in the lower right corner, is an important pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists.  Legend says a strand of Buddha's hair is enshrined in the pagoda there.
Religious Rock Photo: The Golden Boulder, in the lower right corner, is an important pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists.  Legend says a strand of Buddha's hair is enshrined in the pagoda there. Barefooted Dance Photo: Northern Thai traditional dancers at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep during what was supposed to be a monk filled celebration for the Thai new year of Songkran.  The monks never materialized, but as you can guess by the dark clouds, torrential rain did. Stilt Fishing Photo: Unique to Sri Lanka, fishermen wade through the water and onto their stilts to fish the shallow waters.  The prized stilt positions are passed from generation to generation along with the skills needed to pull fish out efficiently from the ocean.  Sadly, I was told by one of the fishermen that many of the older generation fishermen perished during the tsunami of 2004. Empty Lot Photo: A father and daughter sit in an empty parking lot at the ferry port.
KL Skyline Photo: The Menara Tower pierces the skyline of a modern metropolis. Head Scarf Photo: A local Sikkimese girl pauses for a quick portrait.  Sikkim is situated in the northeast corner of India but more importantly, within the swath of Buddhist land bordering southern Tibet where the Asian and Indian divide is evident in the diverse ethnic makeup its people. Road To Circumambulate Photo: Early morning within the old Tibetan section of Lhasa, the devout are on their way to walk three times around the holy temple, Johkang. One Horn Photo: At the Chitwan National Park, a wild, one-horned rhinoceros eyes us suspiciously while chewing on an evening snack.
Markswoman Photo: The archery portion of the Naadam Festival held in July each year.  A female archer in elegant Mongolian dress aims to topple a small wall of marked blocks from over half a football field away.  The skill demonstrated by the archers in the competition is absolutely amazing as they more often than not hit the center portion of the marked blocks.  What's even more amazing, to me at least, is that they arc the arrows at the target as you can see from the position of this archer's bow, yet still manage to hit the target consistently. Forbidden March Photo: Every evening at Tienanmen Square in Beijing, the masses crowd around the Chinese flag as soldiers retire the ol' red and yellow for the night during a formal flag lowering ceremony.  Afterward, the soldiers march through the tunnel underneath the large painting of Mao towards the Forbidden City. Accepting Alms Photo: Within the walkway of Angkor Temple.  (Please someone correct me if I'm wrong)  I believe this is a female monk accepting alms to light a stick of incense at the feet of a headless idol.  I'm not confident enough to call it a Buddha statue considering the Angkor temples were originally created by Hindus.  If my Khmer (Cambodian language) were a bit more fluent - or existent - I would've asked the woman myself. Preserved Paintings Photo: Frescoes that are believed to date back to the 5th century.  Even after over 1500 years, they've retained their detail and color (well they also received a little help from an Italian restorer).
Table For One? Photo: Street-side restaurant in Paharganj.  The regular foreign customers don't even bat an eyelash at the occasional bovine beggar.  This particular cow comes by at least twice a day for handouts from the restaurant proprietors.  She doesn't leave until she gets a snack so, ultimately, she gets her way. Cloud Shadows Photo: Coming home from a river safari in Borneo.  This is the first and only time I've seen a sunset so sharply broken up by low-lying clouds.  It almost gives the impression that the sunset light is flat and planar. Pier Flip Photo: Kids escape the late-afternoon heat on the Chaopraya river.  Call me an old curmudgeon but that seems awfully dangerous, no? Pond & Gateway Photo: The reflection of a grand gateway in the center of old Dali.
Lines of Wisdom Photo: This local woman's daily routine involved sitting at the town square and socializing with members of the village.  I can only wish to know a small part of her rich life experiences and all the hardships she's probably endured living in one of the poorest countries in the world. Makeshift Ferry Photo: Somewhere between the Thai border and Sihanoukville, Cambodia.  Rainy weather and unpaved roads delayed our 8 hour van-ride to over 12 hours.  Rivers en-route are crossed on the backs of these twin diesel engine driven makeshift monstrosities, complete with drawbridge.  The ferries function, albeit slowly but the problem was the inability of automobiles to climb up and down these steep, slippery ramps of mud.  It's all part of a day's journey for a backpacker, especially one who cares to experience the day to day life of the average Cambodian. Famed Bridge Photo: The Golden Gate Bridge linking San Francisco to North Bay with a view of the city lights in the background.  This is definitely one of the more "mature" subjects that I will ever post but the beauty of photoshop allows anyone to put their own fresh spin on a subject that's a little long in the tooth (in a photographic sense). Knock-Knees Photo: At the Siam Center, one of Bangkok's modern malls full of air-conditioned goodness, a rather visceral (and humorous) men's restroom sign.  In the background, you can faintly make out the women's restroom sign depicting a female stick-figure in a similar predicament where both knees are knocking hard upon each other.
Boat Spotlight Photo: The sun sets on another perfect day on the islands off the west coast of Lombok.  If you're not into the noise and hubbub of Gili Trawangan, there are a couple other islands nearby that each offer a different feel for different folks.  I happen to arrive on the "party" island in the off-season so lucky for me, there weren't too many drunken shenanigans to endure. Prostrator Part I Photo: In the Barkor area just after dawn, a devout man fixes one of his wooden "gloves".  The front leather apron and wooden "gloves" protect his body from repeated contact with the ground while he loops the sacred temple a few times on hands, knees and stomach.  Stay tuned for tomorrow when I'll post a photo of the same man but in the prostrated position. Prostrator Part II Photo: Continued from yesterday's image, part II shows the same devout man, fully prostrated.  After this, he stands, takes 3 steps forward, then prostrates himself again.  The circuit around the Jokhang Temple is about a half mile, if not more so this man must repeatedly do this for three full loops around the temple. Scarves Photo: A local man waits in a covered roadside platform.  His face has an incredible amount of character but what drew me to him was the fact that he had so many scarves draped on his person.  Being in an overwhelmingly Christian area that isn't known for a certain style of dress, I can only speculate that his wardrobe didn't involve any particular religion.  Maybe the man just enjoys himself a scarf or three.
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