Trapped in Walls

As promised, here are some close-up shots of a few relief sculptures around Prambanan temple.Image

Relief is actually a sculptural term for chiselling away the background material to give the piece a raised effect.

You could just see the effort that went into this especially since the entire Prambanan complex was just covered with these. Whoa!

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Ch-ch-changes

As you might have noticed, the blog format has been updated to reflect the changing times—or more specifically to soothe my control-freak-obsessive-compulsive tendencies better.  I do like things done a specific way (yes, I realize I should see a shrink about this but I simply cannot afford one!) and the old format really wasn’t cutting it so THIS happened!

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Himalayan Sunrise

If there ever was a more stupidly spontaneous travel moment in my life, it would be when I took this photo. The Himalayas are the highest mountain range in the world and it stretches across five countries: China, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan. This picture below was taken from Nagarkot, Nepal and you could see the outline of the snow capped mountains looming in the distance. One of them should be Mount Everest. Which one? Oh I don’t know! I was busy trying not to lose my toes from the cold.

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Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world and is the holy grail for serious mountaineers. You know, fit and athletic people unlike me. So how exactly did I end up here wearing only flip-flops? Well my shoe broke and so was I but hell, it’s not everyday that you get the chance to see the sunrise over the Himalayas even if it might cost me my toes! I’d have to say the view was well worth it. So there. No regrets.

Now it’s your turn. What’s the stupidest thing you’ve done in the spirit of travel and adventure?

Jerusalem

It took me a while to make up my mind on whether I should post this photo or not. Maybe because the past few days have been an especially trying time for this region and I don’t know exactly what to say but an exasperated “Can’t you all just get along?”  To hear about all the aggression going on in the news after having been there only a few weeks earlier is partly sad but mostly maddening.

Like most people in the world, what I know of the Israel-Palestine region is whatever the news feeds me. I had a lot of naysayers telling me not to go through with my trip but heck, where would the world be if we all listened to the naysayers.  And so I went… and fell in love with everything.

Above is Jerusalem, one of the oldest cities on earth and home to three major religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. You don’t have to be deeply religious to grasp the cultural and historical richness of this region. You don’t even have to be an anthropology, art or architecture nut.

What’s needed is the basic understanding that none of these really matter if we don’t bother to preserve it and pass it on to the next generation. Preservation does not merely refer to the buildings nor artefacts but more importantly the people.  They are after all the heart of culture and no amount of reconstruction and restoration can make up for the loss of human lives.

Boracay Sunset

This will always be one of my favorite shots because it’s a reminder of that perfect day spent in the small island of Boracay in the Philippines—I didn’t even have to get up from my lounge chair to take this photo. It’s like they all conspired and posed for me on cue!

Although getting to this paradise island requires a domestic flight, land trip and ferry ride, the beaches are surprisingly packed. Who can blame them (us!) though when you’ve got the perfect mix of powdery beaches, water sports, fantastic night life, fresh food and cheap beer. At night, the restaurants spill out their tables onto the beach complete with live music thus creating the perfect beach atmosphere. The beautiful people who walk by on occasion certainly enhance the experience too.

For a country spoilt with warm waters and white sands, Boracay certainly tops my list.

Taj Mahal on the Horizon

Here’s a view of the Taj Mahal you don’t see quite often.

This white marble structure was built in memory of Shah Jahan’s third wife Mumtaz Mahal who died giving birth to their fourteenth child.

One of the greatest monuments built for love is sardonically also one of the largest mausoleums in the world.

Banyan Tree in Angkor

Unlike other temples in the Angkor complex, Ta Prohm has pretty much been left to the elements instead of being restored.  The overgrown banyan trees add an eerie and otherworldly character to the ruins.Whatever the design intent was, the Khmer empire sure had an incompetent gardener. I mean seriously!

Fun Fact: This was where they shot some scenes in the Tomb Raider movie with Angelina Jolie.

Deserted Beaches of Pamilacan Island

With the advent of budget airlines and on-the-cheap travel guides, once secluded beaches have now turned into party centrals dotted with hotels and pubs. Although there is certainly nothing wrong with that, the appeal of having an entire stretch of white sand and pristine waters all to myself still holds superior to ogling hot guys in board shorts while continuously getting drunk under a giant umbrella.  Well sometimes anyway. One such example is Pamilacan island off the coast of Bohol in the Philippines.

The international flight + domestic flight + land trip + boat ride sure was worth it. And it’s not just the view, or the wild dolphins we sighted, or the freshly caught grilled fish served for lunch. At the end of the day, it’s just being able to lie on the beach without having to worry about your wobbly bits exposed in public. That’s what really matters.

Hanging Out in Agra Fort

Do you guys think that some places are more photogenic than others? I do and I think India is one of those countries wherein you can never ever take a bad photo. Maybe it’s the light; that the sun for some reason shines more radiantly in India. Others say that it’s the abundance of interesting sights, sounds and smells… really just a sensory overload.

The above was taken at the Red Fort in Agra. From this ledge you could actually see the famous Taj Mahal from a distance… which I guess justifies risking plunging down into the ravine a few meters below. Life choices.

Note: For the record I never did find the courage to step out into that ledge.