130414 Nia Birthday Party

April 13, 2014

From the greatest mum and dad who dotes Nia so much to set all of this up. Enjoy this summary!

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

130414 Nia Bday Party

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

April 4, 2014

I had the opportunity to visit the land of the Land of the Thunder Dragon in 2014 with my wife! (Bhutan AKA country on a mountain, originally named by India. Or also previously known as Drukyul).

As you also know, this is the country that started the Gross National Happiness (By the 4th King AKA the people’s king. He passed his power to his son, who is the current king while he is still alive. Still alive now FYI)

One thing to take note before you read on: Bhutanese guides treat their clients with the following motto, Travel as guests, not as tourists. They treat you like friends so you will enjoy the trip as much as possible (at least mine did). Exchange rate for easy reference: 1usd to 60 Ngultrum (same as Indian Rupees)

Equipment used on this trip: Mainly a Nikon DF with 35F2 for most shots and a FujiXE-1 with 50-230mm for telefoto. I also brought a 18-35 UWA for tight spaces. The 35mm was a fantastic choice as it was light and the fixed focal length allowed me to focus more on the composition. The F2 aperture helped with POPPING the images. =D

This is gonna be very very draggy and I ain’t a good writer but I still want to share more images so if you hate to read, just scroll and enjoy the images!

200314: We took a 630am flight from Singapore to Paro, with refueling at Calcutta at 11am (On a a319 plane) and landed in Paro at 12.50pm. Remember to take right window view on the way there and right on the way back. Reason? To get a good view of the Himalayas!

Exiting the airport, we met our BluePoppy (tour agency) guide, Kezangdawa and driver, Mr Nala. So excited to meet someone who will be leading us for the next 9 days! It was a quick warm up since our guide is quite a joker.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The Druk Air planes! I have to say the pilots were pretty great at landing! Smooth!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

At their simple customs, I sneaked a shot with my DF.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

We first stopped by a temple in Thimpu, which had a iron bridge made by the iron builder.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

We stopped for lunch in Thimphu at 3.30pm. Well, Chilli cheese was the most spicy thing i have ever eaten and yes, really taste like chilli!

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Stir fried Cabbage (taste pretty nice!)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The locals fave dish, Chilli Cheese. Way too spicy for me!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Vegetables Dumpling
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Stir Fried beef
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Pumpkin cubes

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Buckwheat noodles (quite bland I say)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The red rice commonly eaten by locals
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Chilli Cheese Photo taking time!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
4pm: Our guide sent us to hotel Galingkha (4star) to close off the day. The energetic us went out for a 2 hour of walk to check out the city. We basically walked from one end to the other to see what the small city have to offer before scrambling back into our room to escape from the cold.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The traditional costumes of the Bhutanese.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The cute little girl who so kindly agreed to pose for a picture upon request.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

A minishop under a staircase
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
We idled for a few hours while waiting for inner time. Great chicken pakora, spicy prawn+lemon soup (tastes of chilli), excellent tandoori prawns and great penne bascaiola!
I have to say that it was really too cold a night to sleep at 7 degrees even with the room heater on and after a great warm dinner

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip 200314-290314 Bhutan Trip 200314-290314 Bhutan Trip 200314-290314 Bhutan Trip 200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

210314: Woke up to a great view before breakfast at 9am, they make good eggs! Also a view of snowcapped trees in the distant and it is pretty cold for me! (7 degrees)

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

A  picture of Galingkha from the side.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The portrait of the king and queen are everywhere. Shows how much they like their rulers.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Snow capped trees in the distance.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
11am: Visited the National mMmorial Chorten (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Chorten,_Thimphu)

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

The religious locals will just go round and round the Chorten while chanting and praying.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Turning the big prayer wheels in a clockwise fashion while reciting some mantras for merits and benefits.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
12pm: Buddha point to see the huge statue. Guide shared about past buddha (mediate mode), present buddha (hands down) and future buddha ( teaching mode).
Buddha is made of Bronze and the dot on the forehead comprises of diamonds donated by the royal family (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha_Dordenma_statue)

A view from Buddha Point
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Much of the Buddha point are plated in gold. So majestic!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
Next, we drove to Jang Dong Kha old temple (built in the 12th century)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Prayer wheels everywhere. Don’t say you don’t have a chance to mediate!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
1.30pm: Viewing of the Takin (head of goat, body of cow) at Takin reservation centre.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
On the way back to lunch, we were drove to a view point to see the king’s palace. This have to be the smallest palace I have ever seen. LOL
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

The buildings for the ministry
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
2pm: khorlo restaurant for lunch. Tried Druk11000 beer and thought it tasted sweet. Now, feels like a dragon.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
After lunch, went to museum to appreciate how buthanese live their lives.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
4.30pm: handicraft centre to view the students at their craft, from painting, sculpting to weaving. Had an introduction to the national library to see the world largest picture book as well as translated Sanskrit. The picture below are of the 4 friends (a very popular story in Bhutan about Harmony http://www.conservenature.org/learn_about_wildlife/biodiversity_in_bhutan/four_friends.htm)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

A talented carver at work!
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One of their handwork!
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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Another happy artist at work.
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The art of painting starts with drawing.
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Embroidery classes ongoing
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Sewn on, not drawn.
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Near by was the National Library where we had opportunity to view the 4 levels of the library (including the biggest photo book in the world)!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The next location was the textile museum (no photos allowed) where we get to see the different materials (made from raw materials as well as the dyes for coloring) used by the Bhutanese.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
6.30pm: kazangdawa brought us to the market to see the locals sell their goods like chilli and cheese etc. We bought some really sweet grapes back to savor in our hotel room.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

A view of a lady standing in the cold, taken from the hotel room (Left and Right)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
220314: 11am start off to punaka (3hours) at 5 degrees. By 12noon, it was down to 2 degrees with slight snow, as it hits the windscreen.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The fine snow hitting the windscreen
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

No joke, 2 degrees outside with the bokeh of snow in the background.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The muddy ground makes it hard for all the drivers.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

It looks so much like winter now. Awwww
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

12.30pm: We reached Dochu la (La means a pass) and it was snowing like mad.

1pm: there was a massive jam at one point, due to a car that fell off the cliff. Another reason was the muddy slopes further down that caused the big vehicles to be unable to ascend up.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

2pm: 5 degrees at last after we descend from the higher altitude. No more snow though. =D
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The muddy ground causes many cars to sway left and right while ascending (we are no exception)
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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Everyone’s friendly!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

3.40pm: Finally got through the jam and reached Punakha. We had lunch before proceeding to the hike to Temple of Fertility. In this area, you will see many Phallus (penis) pictures and carvings in sight (sperm included).

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

It will be a 20 mins walk to the temple of Fertility through the crops fields
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Every house have a mountain view behind it.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Red rice with cabbage, chicken and potato cheese.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Planning of crops
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The cute aunty that kindly allowed me to take a photo of her.
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Our friendly guide, Kezangdawa.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Starting the walk to the temple!

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

This curved gate was meant to deter cows from entering the path.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Entrance of the temple had a Phallus at the top too. LOL
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Carvings inside the prayer wheels.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Cute monk that happily posed for the picture (but I had to tease him slightly haha)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Phallus souvenir shop.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Any size also possible.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The always curious cow that kept looking at us to and fro.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Our happy guide, Mr Nala.
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6pm: Next was a tour to unakha fortress before proceeding back to the hotel at 7.30pm (There is a great view of the paddyfields). This should be one of the lousy hotels around. Dinner at 9pm (not so keen).

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Bee hives are left alone near the roof.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The detailed carvings of all the fortress/temples etc are just amazing.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Monks going in and out of the fortress day in day out.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Great fengshui I say! Mountain behind, Water in front!
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Finally arrived at the hotel!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

One shot for the blue hour!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Happy woman in happy land
200314-290314 Bhutan TripMini Toast
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

One of the many birds seen during the trip.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Woke up to another great view, with the multiple layers in the scene.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

230314: Started the long drive to bumthang (will past through Wangdue, Trongsa before hitting Bumthang. I had a good picture of the silk cotton flower tree (red) with birds in view.

 

Silk Cotton Flower Tree (Yes, that red!)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Drove past the Wangdue Dzong (fortress) that was burnt down in 2012 due to a short circuit. Still in repair (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wangdue_Phodrang)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
12.15pm: reached Wangdue restpoint (8 degrees). I had the opportunity to tease some of the kids before getting them to pose for pictures for me. They were enjoying the photo taking! After the duo shot, they requested for a group shot! XD
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Speeding down the slope as he saw me shooting him (thus the slight grin on his face)
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Portrait of our Prado with the massive clouds
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The local gang shot. hehehe. So cute I say!
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At the same time, this gentlemen was viewing me taking the photos and I invited him for a shot too!
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A view of our rest point in Wangdue
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After that, we proceeded to Trongsa. Along the way, we were so mesmerized by snow capped mountains in the distance that we had to stop for a shot (each).
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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

A close up view of the awesome view.
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While we drove on, more snow again. This time, thicker.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

A necessary portrait when one’s clad in mono tone. Fits so well!
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My Mei’s freezing!
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Act cute time.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
1.15pm: Reached Pela pass at 2700m, between Wangdue and Trongsa.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Never forget to take portraits of iconic people portraits. This is an assistant who helps to sell the local fabrics out in the cold.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

This is the lady boss I reckon since she looked more like a boss. LOL
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Yaks along the way (usually appear at higher altitude). Locals have a joke where they say long ago, Yaks borrow the cows’ hair and promised to return but they never did. Thus, they always stay up in the mountains while the cows at lower grounds with the heads looking up, always looking out for Yaks to get back their hair.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

2.30pm: Crossed over to Trongsa before stopping over for lunch.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
3.10pm: Drove through Trongsa business centre before reaching Trongsa fortress at 4.30pm. Take note of the huge Cyprus tree (they claimed as old as fortress because trees are usually planted at the point of building the architecture).
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Huge Cyprus tree.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Kezangdawa claims this mark was left from a long time ago and was a slash from a knife during war.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

A cheerful monk who posed for my photo.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The texture of the fortress walls.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Animals are left to freely roam wherever they want too. More freedom than humans LOL.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The watch tower at the top, that catch sights of enemies in past times (now used as a Trongsa museum)
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Soaring pigeons1
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The colorful gate.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
Left at 5.30 to proceed to Bumthang. Temperature went from 5 to 2 degrees and we saw snow again at 6pm.

6.30pm: Finally reached yotong la pass and it was still at the freezing 2 degrees.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
7pm: Reached textile shop in Bumthang (guide says the yak hair made items are slightly cheaper here). Nay, we didn’t buy because we have no use for it.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
7.50pm: reached Gongkha resthouse (in Jakar) to rest for the night. We have a firewood stove! XD

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Black tea to host their guests. Grateful to hot drinks on a cold day!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Another car portrait for Mr Prado at dusk.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Dinner was, not. so. good. for a start LOL.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

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Saw Redbill common choughs  flying around this area (black bird with red beak) in the morning. Seems like they welcome us alot. Great view once we got out of the room, check out the snow capped peaks in the distant!!!!

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Buckwheat pancake. You will definitely prefer the normal pancake but do try it for experience.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

For information sake, kids in Bhutan can walk to school for a 35 mins journey. That is a long time to reach school!  Kezangdawa says that it will also help them appreciate that being able to study is not easy to come by. We are so lucky in Singapore….
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Red Billed Common Chough
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Jakar Fortress (aka white bird fortress)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Before we set off, portrait for 3 pretty ladies and a shy dog.
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Poor dog was injured by wild animals previously. Such a gentle black beauty.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

11am: off to burning lake. Story of Cow Herder who dreamt of Guru Rimphoche to get treasures from the river. He entered and returned from the river with a lamp lighted. Thus, flaming river.

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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Men-made Stupa
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Behind this yellow enclosure are the carvings of some gods where people will visit to pray.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Prayer flags tied all over.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

As we got deeper, there was a great scene of the rocks, trees, sky and the calm sacred river.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Some mini Stupas placed by locals.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

12pm: Drive to Jakar dzong (white bird). Reached at 1225, left at 1pm.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Korean popstar!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Crows flying around (shadows captured!)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Roaming rooster.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Lurking rooster.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Saw these peach flowers on e way down.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Reached Jampa lakang (temple) built in the 7th century. Not much pictures to share because no photography allowed here (except for the outside). There were a 30kg metal chains made in the past times and people now use to carry it while walking around the temple to gain merits. I did try it for 3 rounds and I say it gets heavier and heavier each round (not because I was weak and tired). For you to believe and to try if ever you go.

Cutesy puppy outside the temple.
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and prayer wheels
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

and prayer wheels.
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and some bigger ones. LOL
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Left at 1.50pm for lunch at the business district.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

2.50pm to 3pm : Drove to Kurju Lakang  where the body imprint of  Guru Rinpoche is in the temple. It really looked like the shape of a human body who had lay in a sitting position against a cake.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
After this, we drove to a swiss factory to check out the readily made cheese for sale. Not keen so we made back to the hotel shortly to end the day.

 

250314
10am: Left guesthouse for a 2.5 hours drive to Trongsa museum (the old watch tower. Remember we visited the fortress earlier?) and another 3 hours to Gangtey (Phojikha Valley). Heard that his is not a good time to view the birds as the last sighting was in mid march.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
Trongsa fortress is behind and below us.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Our cheeky Kezengdawa teasing and touching the little calf.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

1.15pm: Another 2 hours drive to lunch.

3pm: Stopped for lunch for 45mins before another hour to Gangtey monastery (in Phojikha valley)

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
5.15pm: bought a 4 friends wood carving outside the Gangtey Monastry for 1800nuu (30USD approx).
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

A view of Phojika valley.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

After I bought the carving of 4 friends from this lady, I requested to take a picture of woman with child. It was really hard to get her attention as she was constantly chatting with Kezangdawa.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

A view of Gangtey Monastry before driving off to our hotel.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

5.30pm to 6pm : Drive into Phojikha valley to our hotel. A very bumpy road into the Dewachen resthouse but its a very comfortable place with a great view.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Laze time before dinner. She and her Korean shows.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

The bed covers.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

A couple shot at this nice woody place.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The ever popular firestove.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Indian cuisine for dinner because there was a big group of Indians who was staying and requested vegetarian too. Alright, my favourite (not hers!)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

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8am: Saw god rays (Photographic term where the sunrays peek through the clouds) before leaving Phojikha valley for a long 7 hours drive.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

God’s rays!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Saw a male Himalayan Monol (colorfulbird) along the way. They claim that this is a very hard to view bird in the open. The female on the other hand looks brown and dull.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

1245pm: stopped for a break in wangdue before another 3 hours drive. The road gets very dusty if it is not raining! Hope to see the himalayas!

2.30pm: reaches Dochu la pass but there it was too cloudy to be able to see the Himalayas. so I took the equally beautiful and colorful local lorries. =D
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Reach Thimphu for lunch at 3.15pm (bhutan kitchen). I realized Thimpu food seems to be more suitable for a Singaporean like me. Kezangdawa gonna laugh when he reads this. LOL
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

4pm-4.30pm Visited the Simtokha Fortress built in the 16 century. Took me 5 minutes to stand to wait for local people to enter my frame as I always like people in my shot to make it look more real.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

5pm: Ugen Phendeyling resort to rest for the night. We have a direct view of tiger nest but too far away to get closeup shot.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The furthest I could zoom in with my 50-230 lens on a Fuji crop sensor (that’s like 300mm already!)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Our simple but big room.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Paro (west of Bhutan) serves more Indian cuisine so I ordered more Indian food for dinner.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

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After breakfast at 1045, we stood outdoors to take the snowcapped peak (Jomolhari, 2nd highest Himalayas peak!), pear flowers and a lonely cat.

 

 

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The cool cat portraiture. I did ask for permission.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
Peach flowers.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

1145am: Dumtse Lakang 15 century, by iron builder. 3 levels high (Bottom level up: world of suffering, world of humans and world of gods)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

12.30pm: Paro museum, to see artifacts as well as the old museum affected By earthquake in 2010 (See the left of the structure for the repaired portion, yet painted)
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Pine trees.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

Closeup view of the repair done. It is much worse inside but no access allowed.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The logs against the city
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Our handsome guide Kezangdawa posing unknowingly that I was shooting him. =D
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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

2pm: To Paro Rinpungdzong (means heap of jewel)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

3.30pm: Lunch time after visiting art gallery (I bought a piece of painting!)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

My circle of life for the new house.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Another artist at work.
4pm -5.10pm: Walked around the Visitors Centre for items to buy where Kezangdawa was on the lookout for dart boards to play later.

Heavy darts that made my muscles ache the next day.
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Want me to play? pose a picture first.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

5.20 -6pm: Kichu Lakang built in the 7th century.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

On the way back to the guesthouse, we saw god’s rays again.
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6.30pm-7.30pm play traditional darts with the local men!
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I tell you… they are so strong and accurate. I could almost never hit the target distance  or if I got the distance right, it will be way off target. Such an utter shame of myself. LOL
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

9pm: Dinner before ending the night to rest well for Tiger nest tomorrow!
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9am: Woke up for breakfast before starting the hike at 9.45am. Want a ride up? Nah….

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Start walking!
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Its uphill all the way, not that easy.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

My dear little dog guided me the way every time I reached a fork. Smartie pants!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Reach half point at 1045am where there is a big prayer bell and a much closer view of Tiger Nest.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

With a tele lens, you can peek through the forest while hiking through.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

A look back to see how well I have done for 1/2 of the journey as well as finding my wife and Kezangdawa.
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Found them 10 minutes later! She looks tired!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

At the rest point, there were many birds waiting to eat our biscuits and this sneaky one flew in to snatch a bite while no one was looking!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Tiger Nest from the restpoint’s cafeteria.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

This kitty just climbed onto us and conveniently sat on our lap. Probably just feeling cold and wanted the warm from our body.
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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Taking a photo with men’s best friend.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Old men’s beard. Some type of moss that only grows when the air is very pure.
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Horses for hire along the way if you still cannot make it. XD

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

We are closing in to TigerNest. See how much of a good view we have now!
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A must take shot!
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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

The wife also cannot tahan taking more pictures.
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Lovely rays from the side of the mountain.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

One selfie to get a change in perspective..
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Just a few more steps! Less than 200 I say.
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100 more! Push on!
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Reached tiger nest at 1150am. A quick summary about this monastery. It was rebuilt because a fire burnt down the temple in 1998. To be honest, I was slightly disappointed as I thought it would be as old as I thought it was. Also, no cameras are allowed to enter the temple so all needs to be surrendered and subjected to body checks.
Within the temple, Kezangdawa gave us a 50mins tour before we started descending.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

One last look back
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Descending photos along the way.
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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Mini waterfall along the way, shot with the minimal exposure I can slow down my shutter to (with the aid of a CPL)
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

I overheard many tourists asking how was the prayer flags able to be tied from one end to another at such great height and distances. Seems to be done by bow and arrows (not surprising since archery is their national sport)
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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Met this friendly uncle who kindly smiled for a photo request while spinning his prayer wheels.
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A local guiding the horses down to the start point to rent them out again.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Prince charming have to carry bags now. = (
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

This picture was shot along the way while coming down. 2 things: the rice and the red (rice came from the horses carrying rice up to the mountain for the monks and the red is the doma juice after chewing the betel nuts.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

It was said that if you looked closely at this side of the cliff, you see the other transformation of Guru Rinpoche (in his wrathful form: Dorje Drolö). Google for this and you will see the face in this side of the cliff!
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Or also in this wider view.
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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

At the mid way point, we see other locals carrying things up to the monastery.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

One kind local also allowed me to get his portrait. He is very nice, unlike his angry face. =D
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Last few shots before I get down
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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Lunch at 3pm! Late lunch today

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

4.45pm: Left for ruined fortress (Drukgyan Dzong). Burnt down in 1951 due to fire and it might collapse if another earthquake occurs in this sacred land.

200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Signs of the burning from the old fire.
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200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

6.30pm: Reached hotel and had our dinner and a chat with Kezang+ Mr Nala till 12 midnight as it is our last night! A last photo for the 4 of us together!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Prepared for the ride to airport at 6.15am and reached the airport at about 6.35am. While waiting to board the plane, the entire holding area lights just blew and we were in some low light for a couple of minutes.
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

On the way back to Singapore!
200314-290314 Bhutan Trip

 

Thanks for viewing this long set of images!

140214 – 170214 Mount KK Trip

February 18, 2014

I have conquered her 12 years ago and I am back to relive the memories again!

The 5 adventurous souls decided to let their bodies to take a beating from the magnificent Mt Kinabalu so here we are!!!

We reached Kinabalu airport in the evening to get a cab (42ringgit) to Lavender lodge in the city zone. This is a nice lodge where the staff are very helpful and nice. Do consider staying here if you visit.

Next day, we left at 530am for a mini-bus ride to Mount KK headquarter’s base.  The mini-bus driver was zipping around and overtaking at blind spots for the next 2 hours (where at one point, I saw Francis freak out and raised his hands in fear instead of holding on more tightly LOL). Note that luggage can be left there if there are any excess luggage not needed for the hike.

We had a decent breakfast 5 mins away from the Timpohon gate before starting our hike at 0830am. It took us about 7+ hours (0300pm) to reach the Laban Rata resthouse. I had a nose bleed after we started resting (not sure why!)

After dinner, we were supposed to have a good rest before waking up at 0130am for a hike up the Low’s Peak to see sunrise. I practically couldn’t sleep at all probably because of the massive headache that came from the high altitude.

At 0200am, it was still raining and the mountain ranger declared that it was unsafe for hiking. It was delayed till about 0800+am before we were allowed to hike up after much persuasion by our guides to the ranger. We left at 9am for the summit and reached 2.5 hours later.

Truly magnificent and awesome!! The view was impressive and there was a huge sense of achievement! We hanged around for about 20 minutes before heading down to Laban Rata, which took us 2 hours. Enjoy the photos and hope they makes you wanting to visit her!

Things to note about Mount KK:

1) Waterproof bag, top layer and shoes, as well as well insulated clothing are very important (temperature is very erratic in Mount KK. Both times I were there, it was filled with both rain and blazing sunrays)

2) A hat (I guess this is very key because I am nursing my facial sunburns while typing this!)

3) A torch is needed for the dark times.

4) Basic medication like aspirins etc (1/2 of the group felt the need for aspirins!)

5) Bring a decent camera, don’t have to be a full frame camera! (I brought my Nikon DF there, which added much weight to the trip!)

6) Bath wipes are very useful in Mount KK because the Laban Rata resthouse don’t have heating facitilies (No hot water or heated room!) so its easier to have a dry bath for an overnight stay in Mount KK.

7) Thermo flash is a plus but not a must (hot drinks are a luxury in Laban Rata)

8) Having an extra hike bag helps since you can leave your excess item at Laban Rata’s hotel room before ascending to Low’s Peak.

9) To summarize points 1 to 8, waterproofing and weight are primary packing criteria for Mount KK.

10) Lastly, training is very important. I run about 8km + climb 3X16 storeys of flats weekly and I was still at the mercy of Mount KK. Train well!

Camera gear: Nikon DF + 28mm F.8 CRC AIS + Zenitar Fisheye 16mm F2.8.

Tour guide: Jackz’s team from kinabalutourguide.com. Dedicated tour guides and reasonable price for the hike. The team was also very obliging to all our requests! Lastly, the food provided on Laban Rata was surprisingly very good!

 

 

Off to Sabah!

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

A refreshed group photo where everyone are full of energy! =D

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

The famous Proboscis monkey that have most of their male portraits with a hard-on. Took this in Lavender Lodge.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Our bunk for the short night before meeting our guide.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Entrance of Mount KK after a 2 hours bus ride.

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Breakfast group photo (still looking strong haha)

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Hikers combine! Hike hike hike!

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Awesome distortion from the fisheye!

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Our uber fit guide.

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Where we are…

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Where we need to reach tonight

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Our final goal!

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Francis marking off his start point.

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The team of 7, including our Vietnamese friends

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Lets go!

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Can still smile. XD

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Large ferns along the way that are beautiful not to capture.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Portrait along the way.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

One of the simple and many steps.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

My rain protection gear! Including the cold storage bag that prevents water from sipping into the shoes. The guy behind me must be thinking I am siao.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Portrait for my Vietnamese friends

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Portrait for the two smarty pants

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Portrait for my crazy ex-colleagues

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Focus at the top, focus at Low’s peak.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Porter’s at work. They carry huge loads, walked at regular pace and treks up faster than us!

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Another portrait of myself while I trek on (still looking energetic)

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Part of the team climbing hard!

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Lots of mist in the mountain.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Largest earthworm I’ve ever seen! Guide said that its predator is a leech that can swallow it up!

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Electricity cables along the way to power the Laban Rata resthouse (it tends to have power cut intermittently at the top)

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Natural Ice Water refill point.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Nature holding it together.

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Our guides!

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Francis going strong!

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Farid still looking hip and good!

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Me still happy looking.

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Our Hanoi partners also looking fit and strong (they actually are very fit!)

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Squirrels that are bold and curious, coming close to the mountain visitors.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

A very wet day that made us quite wet.

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Go Francis and Svet!!! Go Go Go!

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I am looking happily drenched!

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

The tree that fell over but still holding on.

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My turn to try if it’s still strong

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My method from preventing rain from entering the top of my shoes: Plastic bags!

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Bonsai looking trees

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Misty misty at the resthouse zone due to the cold and rain

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Buffet styled dinner served at the Laban Rata resthouse.

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Another group photos of the ever-going-strong team!

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Fisheyed again!

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Laban Rata at 2amm shot at 12800 ISO. PHEW!

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My modified means of preventing rain into shoes: like a space man! Got much attention though!

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Morning shot at Laban Rata

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Morning view of Laban Rata (around 8am)

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Crazy hikers gather for some crazy images.

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Fisheye that made Francis “Taller in picture”

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Started the hike off at 9am towards the summit once ranger opened the gate!

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Time for some “Rock Climbing”

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Use the rope, don’t act smart! It’s pretty steep!

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Rocks after rocks after rocks…

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Farid looking handsome in most photos I say.

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Me trying hard to look good in photos. Duh.

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

7km mark. just 1,7km more!

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Sayat Sayat hut in sight!

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Still trying hard to catch up with Farid. Phew.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

8km mark: 700 metres more! Come on Bert!

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Finally met the guys at Low’s Peak!

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My turn to get into the frame!

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My personal shot! XD

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The gorilla face viewed from Low’s Peak

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My 2nd encounter with this sign. Yeah.

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Farid and the gorilla

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Danger, do not go beyond

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Old map of this mountain. Weathered.

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Farid looking afar

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Fisheye fun moments with Farid

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Fisheye fun moments with Farid: while the timer is still active

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Fisheye fun moments with Farid: Looking up, looking good.

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On the way down now!

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Flowers, Stones and a blue sky

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140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Final group photo at Lavender Lodge before we all prepared to go home with aching legs.

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

Before I end off this post, I must share some simple food! We got this Sri Kulai branded food box off a 24hrs convenience stall for 6.90 ringgit and it taste very good for a meal that comes off the microwave in 4 minutes! Must try! XD

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

140214 - 170214 Mount KK Trip

250114 Toa Payoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

January 25, 2014

This is one of the rare playgrounds designed in the 80s that is still around today. Many have been removed to give way to more modern structures and “safer” playgrounds.

Kids who never played on this playground, will never understand the fun we had (Playing “Catching” is real fun on a dragon playground!)

I took the opportunity to view this playground since I was walking to a nearby temple to return offerings for the past year.

Enjoy!!!

 

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

250114 ToaPayoh Lorong 6 Dragon playground

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

January 18, 2014

Finally the exhibition my NLB is up in the esplanade library from Mid Jan-End Feb 2014. Some of my images are featured there and they have kindly acknowledged me. Note: The old cinema chairs from the old theatre have been refurbished and in a much better state now. =D

Visit this link to view my old posts on Capitol Theatre: https://bigbert.wordpress.com/tag/capitol-theatre/
Enjoy the photos!

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library

180114 Capitol Theatre at Esplanade Library


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