Jan 23, 2017

crossing paradise - Longji ... music from paradise

music from paradise
longji rice terraces
longsheng, guangxi, china
august 2016

one of the days when we were at Longji. we woke up early morning, when it was still dark, and had our morning hike to the view point to see these iconic 'music from paradise' of this rice terraces. the trail, well...it wasn't that hard as we were actually just passing the locals houses, and there was a bit here and there steep trail that we had to deal.

there was sort of a platform, built next to trail that we walked. i wasn't that sure whether as part of the on-going construction, or as the place for visitors to view the place. we stopped there, and then start to set up our tripod and gear as the earliest light of the day started to shine.

i couldn't recall how much frames that i took, but it was plenty, as i felt that every seconds there worth to memo-graph.

i was shooting raw, and i am impressed with the amount of details that my a7ii managed to captured despite a wide range of light latitude you had to deal with, when sunrise, especially when you don't have any filter etc.the image above, by default, was almost 80% dark as the sun was dominating the camera metering, but it was all beautifully preserved and revealed as i opened the raw file and pull around the setting.
well...honestly, i can't get enough with this place. and i wish to come back, someday..to memo-graph it again at different time etc.

try google 'music from paradise of  longji' and you'll know why! :)

Jan 22, 2017

crossing paradise - Longji ... the nine dragons and five tigers

morning at longji
longsheng, guangxi, china
august 2016

the night ended early for most of us. other than lina being the only girl, all the boys stayed up for the photo-critics session. it was a good session for me personally, as listening to jimmy explaining the elements of AOS in our photos. well...most of us like me, didn't aware that by understanding the basics, we'd bring out the best of the moment that we were trying to capture. we bid farewell to the night, after more than an hour, discussing about the photo.

it was cold up there and we had a good sleep, hence able to recover our energy that drained by the long day, especially the hiking to our hotel. a deep good sleep, didn't need a longer hour, as i was able to wake up as my alarm rang, without any effort...other than freezing to touch the water for cleaning up myself and wudhu. 
i heard the boys' voices as the first light of the day appeared from the east. i went out at the balcony and saw zuky's and dudu already at setting up their gear to capture the sunrise, while abg fathul and abg man decided to photograph the moment from their balcony. i took my gear, as decided to join zuky and dudu.

the tripod was now set, and we began the day with shooting the sunrise from our hotel.
the later part of the day was spent wandering around the village, after we done with our photo-shoot session with the locals.

enjoy the pics!

Jan 11, 2017

crossing paradise - Longji ... the dragon backbones

from the golden buddha peak
longji rice terrace, longsheng
guangxi, china
august 2016

i slept almost throughout of our morning flight to guilin that day. obviously, because of my lack of sleep the night before, guarding myself to get readied for the meet up with the rarecation team as early as 3am. i recalled my short conversation with jimmy, and then sal. the 4-hours flight, for the part of where i stayed awake, turned out a smooth one. well...you know my phobia with flying, aite?

we met andy, our guide and then rode on the bus to Longsheng for our first leg of the journey. the ride was a dreary one, as most of us decided to continue the affair with our rem cycle. we woke up as noticing the dwindling road as we started to ascend the hilly part of the region.

jimmy bought all the last available hot meals sold by the flight as our lunch, and we had a quick bite while waiting for our bus to the cable car station. once done, we were on our way to the cable car station, which was a short ride passing a more dwindling and narrow road. well..you could drive straight away to the station, if yours is a small vehicle. another short cable-car ride brought us to one of the peaks of the county, feasting us with the magnificent view of this hundred years tradition that still intact. voila!
we had to hike up and down for almost 2 hours, to get to our hotel. well...it was worth a journey, as the view was nothing short from breathtaking. obviously, everything made my admiration on Tegallalang and Jatiluwih of Bali went to the drain. this one obviously 1000x awesome, in my humble opinion.

so we arrived at our hotel. it was good everybody back into mood, after some of us struggling to complete the long hike, while entertaining Andy's non-sense of  everything 'just around the corner'. till then.

Dec 11, 2016

yellow ... an anecdote of Lopburi

Lopburi, Thailand
Jan 2016

i know. it happened like almost a year ago. but i have to do justice, as the memoirs of visiting this place has its own charm to be shared. this anecdote was part of my Bangkok trip, that happened during the long new year break early this year. i don't fancy that much to write about most of the trip as i don't feel that i have chemistry with this metropolis. it was too touristy - the city, the chatuchak, the floating market etc. and staying in Silom, ergh...it felt too much to stomach the vibrancy of the night life of the city. then again, our trip had some drama as it ended up to be only two of us (a guy and a girl), that finally decided to proceed with the plan. 
fortunately, having Lopburi in the plan really made it up. it was on the day of the new itself. we left our hotel with the taxi trying to catch the earliest train to Lopburi. 7am and we left Bangkok to our destination. 

the girl at the counter sort of telling us, there was no assigned seat number for the 3rd class coach, but we had people moved around as new passengers were getting on-board, as the train made the stops at stations along the journey. and communication was an issue as we couldn't clarify things with the locals that on board. so we were sort of had our eyes and mind wandered, whether to move or not each time we saw new passengers getting on-board.fair enough, our journey was not interrupted, and even had the one of the old local-guy that kind enough to remind us to get ready, when we were about to arrive Lopburi so that we don't miss the station.  
we were that obvious for playing tourist as a young guy came and approached us straightaway as we entered the platform. communication was limited, but he quoted sunflower and 800baht. that was it. we left him and went to check the timetable of the train. there was two option i.e. 1230 and another one at 2pm. we decided to hold first from buying and then went straight to the information counter to ask about the sunflower farm to visit. the young guy was still around and tailing us when we walked towards the counter. the guy told us the location based on the map, but then he seemed clueless to give further advice and recommendation on how to go there etc. and he pointed out that we could go with the guy. just that.

we seemed had less option and rather than wasting time, decided to agree with what the you guy offered. we told him that we wanted to go to muslim restaurant to eat etc. and he mumbled, noting that he understood with our request.

so our journey began. and our transportation was a midget pick-up truck, that only comfortably fit for 2 adults, while the back seat apparently small. well..it was hot, so we didn't opt to sit at the back, breathing the open air.

it took a while to reach the area where the sunflower farm was. the guy made a turn at a junction and we started to see the field of sunflowers on our left side. he made another turn, and then stopped the truck. voila! we were at destination already! ok. it confused me for a while as i thought there'd be a proper entrance and visitor centre etc. to visit the farm, as i was pretty sure the one that we went was a private farm, but was entered like illegally. i quickly browsed my ig to verify the location, and guess what, most of the pictures were taken at where we were. friend agreed that this should be it and then we started to wander around, memo-graphing the day between the yellows.

enjoy the pictures! :)

we were the only visitors that wandered around, as far as i could see. and the farm was huge and impressive, like a sea of yellow. we walked and tried to find the biggest petals that we could memo-graph, and we finally reached the point losing our interest. less than 30 minutes, we already felt done...and that was quick for such a hype and 3 hours train ride.

we walked back to our guy, and thought that there'd be more to be shown, but apparently for him..that was it! and we were on our way back to the town already. he took us to a local muslim restaurant which located actually just across the train station, and we had our early lunch. the yellow rice and chicken, with soup...obviously taste like our nasi ayam / chicken rice.

he drove us back to the train station and completed his service. 800 baht? well...it was too much for us, for such a short trip. perhaps it was worth if we had more company, but then the guy's ride could only fit 3 of us inside, and few more outside. we went to the ticket counter, and bought the 1230pm ticket, back to Bangkok. this time we decided to buy the business class tickets where we could sit in the air condition coach.we still had like another 40 minutes to go, and decided to pay a visit to the old wat/temple that located in front of the station. enough to kill the time. 

we walked back to the train station, and then waited for our train. the train was full house with most people heading to BKK. luckily we bought the business class coach, and we had our seat number assigned in the air conditioned coach. the 3 hours journey back to BKK was spent nothing less than being in our rem cycle.

well... sunflower at lopburi? ticked. in general...i was a bit disappointed with the trip. we spent like 6 hours to travel back and forth, and only had like 2 hours to wander. the place that we visited seemed didn't live up to the reputation that i heard and been reading. perhaps, i'd been to the wrong part? or perhaps i could have asked a better deal with the driver to drive me further and longer around lopburi? perhaps...

note: bangkok rail annually offers the train ride specifically to this region to visit the sunflower field, and if i've not mistaken, it'd even stopped in the middle of the railrack journey, to allow you to visit the farm. but the trip is limited and at a price, if i've not mistaken.

Nov 19, 2016

Memoirs of Rangoli ... (p47) - alvida India....

Taj Mahal, Agra
#finally. it was then 10th day of the trip, hence the last day where i'd be departing and back to home. 

the last night in Agra don't have much to shout about, other than me wandering the ghost-mall to buy some last minute souvenirs and watching the happening traditional wedding of the locals, hosted at the street nearby the mall. i went back to the room and then packed up all my stuff, getting readied for the departure on the next morning.

despite the early bed time, me and madan happened to be overslept. well..it was more that we took our time to get up, and then getting ready for the departure. no one came to our door for the wake up call, and the whatsapp group was even silent that morning. i only knew that everybody was already on the bus as i got a call from syib, told me that they were waiting for us. darn! we left agra when it was almost 4am. well...just half-an-hour late from the schedule i.e. 330am, and the journey was nothing fancy other than everybody went back to the rem cycle. it'd be another 4 hours journey to Delhi.

we arrived safely at the airport, and small incident happened due to our big fuss on having a last gathering etc. well..two of us would be departing on the next day and apparently, as like most airport in the world that prone to the safety threat, only passengers flying are allowed to enter.  so we had to be separated earlier instead of meeting again after the luggage check-in. the commotion was luckily agreeable to be stopped, as we even had one of the security heads came etc. and we were still not allowed to gather etc. even, when we, the passengers flying asking to go out from the compound to meet our group, after check in our luggage etc. 

5 hours flight with Malindo Air, back to Malaysia. Alhamdulillah...it was a good weather throughout the journey. we arrived KLIA2 around 9pm, we bid good bye to each other, and guess what...few minutes later, the whatsapp group suddenly filled with the local food pictures - tomyam, nasi goreng etc. hehehe...i guess everybody was really missing the malaysian food! we had enough curry, dhal etc. for the past 10 days!
thank you for being patience with me. perhaps my India travelog that spanned almost 50 entries, is the longest tales that i'd ever told in my blog. the telenovela has come to its finale.capice! eventhough, i only had like 9 solid days (as minus the travelling time from and to Malaysia), this journey was such an epic-tales for me, and i had so much things to show, to share and to tell. like the theme of this travel entries - memoirs of rangoli, my journey has been literally as vibrant and colourful, as the colours of rangoli. the culture, the people, the history, the monuments, the food...all speaks its own uniqueness. i am truly not hesitate if i were to ask to go for another voyage on this land of wonders.

India again? i know. but India to me is among the places that you should visit, in defining yourself as a traveler, regardless either you are a flashpacker, backpacker or a tourist on a tourist's bus. the magnitude of the reality of life, particularly, will open up your perspective and pushing your own boundary.
travelling with Rarecation, on the other hand, has broaden my world, meeting with new group of travelers. i was on a limbo, due to some hard decisions and disheartening episodes that happened back then, and as i quoted, my 2-weeks before flying decision, had been among the best things that i had done in my life. the people that i met, and been my travel's buddies were great and crazy, despite it was the first time for most of us to be in such a long journey together. there were ups and lows, but somehow we managed, and it came to my surprise how easy to tolerate things, compared when i was travelling with my close buddies etc.
one thing for sure, my India journey, which somehow sounds like my spiritual journey to overcome my problem, has been my memorable journey, as i could do what i love most about travel - photography. with our kapten, as well known photographer, and a group of people who are not just love to travel, but also photography, i feel like had my reset button being pushed when i turned my dial mode to M on my camera.
smell the roses. ah...it was too irony as you would not smell the roses...or even the saffron in this land, other than the reality - stench, spices etc. but my journey with them allowed me to stop from chasing the moment, but made time to smell, to see, and to wander, and to memo-graph. it was totally hit me for a while, as it outdo my flashpacker/backpacker habit that tend to touch base with the destination. the appreciation grew over time. 
even at the first night, it struck me when Syib asked me why i didn't shoot anything yet as we walked towards Kareem's restaurant for our dinner. then we happened to spend time memo-graphing the acts of the cook at Chadni Chowk...we stood beside the busy street of Khaori Baoli...meeting the locals and memo-graph their portrait etc.

India is rich with its history of old kingdoms, hence explaining the existence of many forts and palaces that spread all over the country especially Rajashtan, where we spend most of the time of our trip. i visited few old kingdoms' palaces and forts before, in other places, but what India have, from its old empire, awed me at huge magnitude for many reasons - the size of the places, the details of the architecture etc.
well...if i were to pick among the forts, Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur, perhaps was my admiration. not because of its cameo appearance in the Dark Knight trilogy, but the fort felt majestic as you entered and passed the main gate. once you started to wander around, and look closer to the details of the carving, for example...and the way each rooms and spaces play with lights...etc. it felt such a wonder. 
'Jodhpur!' i answered without hesitation when Syib asked me during the interview, about my favorite places that we had visited for the past few days. despite, this part of the city seemed to be dominant with Hindus, and we had problem to get halal food and had to stick with vegan diet, but i fondly remember the kindness of the people of the blue city, the cheap auto-rickshaw ride, the majestic fort, the memorable night at the desert of Osiyan etc.
The Taj Mahal of Agra. a visit to this iconic place of India finally made a tick on my wishlist. i don't have much things to shout about it. been there and done that. yeay!
so...47 entries. i hope you enjoy this sort of telenovela thingy. pardon me, as again, i don't share much details if you were to plan the trip to india, as i believe there's a lot of travel blog that has shared about it before. whether you like or not, my writings meant to tell my own story of the journey, and details speaks of what i felt, what i remember etc.
i hope you enjoy the photos that i memographed and shared here. my next project will be to produce a coffee table photobook and/or a photo-journal book of this journey. i am a self-obsessed, as i love to see it as a hardcopy where i can browse and glance through, while sipping my latte in the late afternoon etc. hehehe. do you want to buy a copy?

ok. so India will definitely be in my travel wishlist again for the coming years. i want to extend the route as far as Jaisalmer or Amritsar (perhaps border crossing to Lahore), and maybe down to Varanasi to witness its holy festival...well..who knows?

till then! :) and enjoy our theme song of the trip!