Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thaipusam Festival

Thaipusam Festival: "

Believe me. Thaipusam Singapore-style is one Festival that can give you goosebumps. No where else will you see people piercing themselves with so many types of sharp objects.

It is extremely spectacular, but a little overwhelming if you have a weak stomach. For me, it is a fascinating festival to watch. Thaipusam usually falls in January or February. If you are visiting during this season, be sure to see the Thaipusam Singapore Festiva!

Meaning of Thaipusam Thaipusam actually celebrates the birthday of the Hindu deity Subramaniam. On this occasion, Hindus show the sincerity of their faith. It is a time for making and fulfilling vows. Devotees pray for divine help and make vows. When their prayers are answered, they fulfil their vows.

To do this, a devotee would pierce his cheeks, tongue, face or other suitable body parts with sharp objects. Next his friends or relatives load a *kavadi on his shoulder. Finally, in a trance-like manner, he goes on a 4km journey of faith.


New Zealand

New Zealand: "

New Zealand
Jan 2010

Just a few of the 1000s of shots we took on this two week trek over the New Year's Holiday. More to come soon!


Fishing Port - West Africa

Fishing Port - West Africa: "

August 2009

Takoradi, Ghana

Some small JPEGs from the road. I'll update with some better versions once I get back to my real computer.


Vietnam Cooking Class

Vietnam Cooking Class: "

Vietnam Cooking Class. From Market to Table...


Louvre Museum

Louvre Museum: "

Assorted photos of the Louvre Museum. Paris France -2009


Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower: "

Assorted photos of the Eiffel Tower. Paris, France -2009


Marseille - South of France

Marseille - South of France: "

Assorted photos of Marseille, France -2009


Water Drops

Water Drops: "

Playing with water droplet photography, via the Srtobist website.

Try the Slideshow!!


Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong, China: "

Hong Kong, China

May 2009

Hong Kong was a good trip. We had a fabulous hotel with a great view of the harbor and Hong Kong Island. (Langham Place Hotel, which I highly recommend). We only stayed 4 days and spent much of that time shopping in the street markets, along with a little big-ticket shopping… cell phones, cameras, and earrings.

My overall impression of Hong Kong is fantastic! This is defiantly one of my top 10 cities. It is a much cleaner city than Shanghai and doesn’t have the same “Red Book” feel of Beijing. The Chinese call it “One Government, Two Systems”. Hopefully as the 50 year transition plan ticks away, Mainland China will become more like Hong Kong and not the other way around. Being an ex-British colony, (only ten years have past), it was very easy to negotiate local transportation. Most of the cab drivers (and everyone else) spoke English, and the subway system is top notch.

The photography was a bit challenging at times. Heavy smog and pollution was the order of most days, which made for bright gray & yellow skies. The locals will tell you the pollution is all blown in from the mainland. Whatever the case, it made panoramic landscapes imposable without some creative editing.


Taste of Asia - Updated

Taste of Asia - Updated: "

Based in Singapore
July 2008 - Current

Here are a few shots from Singapore and a few other select shots of our journeys so far. I'll try to keep this updated with a few shots from the Travel Galleries as they are posted.

Our goal is to visit the following places!

• Australia - Visited Sept. 2008
• Brunei
• Cambodia -
Visited Dec. 2008
• Fiji
• Indonesia -
Visited Nov. 2008
• Japan - Visited 1982 return planned
• Kiribati
• North Korea
• South Korea -
Visited 1983 return planned
• Laos
• Malaysia -
Visited July 2008
• Marshall Islands
• Federated States of Micronesia
• Nauru
• New Zealand -
Visited Jan. 2010
• Palau
• Papua New Guinea
• Philippines -
Visited 1983 return planned
• Samoa
• Singapore -
Home Base 2008
• Solomon Islands
• Taiwan (Republic of China)
• Thailand -
Visited April 2009
• Timor-Leste
• Tonga
• Tuvalu
• Vanuatu
• Vietnam -
Visited Oct 2008
• Mainland China - Visited Sept. 2008
• Hong Kong - Visited May 2009
• Macau
• United States Territories-
• American Samoa
• Guam
• Northern Mariana Islands

Read more about them HERE.


1st Singapore Tattoo Show

1st Singapore Tattoo Show: "

Working ... more to come.


Night - Perth, Australia

Night - Perth, Australia: "

Assorted photos of Perth, Australia. - 2008


Formula 1 Grand Prix - Singapore

Formula 1 Grand Prix - Singapore: "

Formula 1 in Singapore baby!!

Well we managed to scalp some 'walk around'passes for the second day of the Grand Prix.
It was a great time with great weather (for Singapore). The sound and speed of these cars is heart stopping.

After walking around the general admission area, it was clear our $200 scalped tickets were not going to let us get a very good view of the action.
To really see the race we were going to have to break some rules. Armed with our biggest lenses mounted, and making sure not to look any security guys in the eye, we walked the Grandstand line... confident and with a mission. Spotting a likely opportunity, we walked directly towards some guards... with cameras & equipment in every hand, we looked at them as to say 'get out of the way we are coming through and we're official'. To which security stepped aside.

The Grandstand was great.
We watched several time trials and practice sessions. About 5 mins before the last session ended we were busted... as some very late arrivals complained their seats were occupied. Oh well... no worries, at $500 per seat we figured we had gotten a pretty good bonus on our 'walk around'passes!

The pictures are the best we could do under the circumstances.
Light was pretty good for a night race, but still these cars are fast. With the Safety fence, the crowd’s heads and the high speed... well you can see that Hi ISO and lack of panning shots made for less than perfect pictures. Still in all, it wasa great event.

Below is some press info.

Already billed as one of the most dramatic and atmospheric races on the calendar, the 2008 FORMULA 1™ SingTel Singapore GrandPrix was held on an exhilarating street circuit in the very heart of downtown Singapore. The event has already confirmed its place in the history books as FORMULA ONE’s first race to be held night and its first street race in Asia.

The 5.067km long street circuit offers multiple overtaking opportunities and challenging turns as the drivers tackle the circuit in speeds in excess of 300kph. Located at Marina Bay, the circuit is just minutes from exclusive 5-star hotels.


Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Dubai - United Arab Emirates: "

Dubai - United Arab Emirates

March 2009

Dubai was a nice trip. We spent 4 days there in route to London. The weather was extremely pleasant, although I was a victim of the Arabian sun, only to leave with more of a tan (burn) than I bargained for.

This is a very unique city… basically devoid of any “old” cultural sites, the city is roughly 10 years old. Sure the sightseeing tours will tell you the city has been populated since 3000BC, and I sure that’s true. But those old Bedouins have long since gone, and their tents are dust in the wind. There are a few modern structures built to look old.. but trust me, Dubai is not the place to go if you want to explore ruins of the past.

My take on modern Dubai… roughly 10 years old, the current city was primarily developed after the Word Trade attack of 9/11. With increased focus on non-US investments much of the Arab’s (and other’s) monies were invested in Dubai. (Although if you think about it, with the US and Europe being the largest users of oil prior to 9/11, I guess you could say the West build Dubai)

My overall impression of Dubai is “Stunning”. Anyone who has ever been involved in a construction project knows how much work and logistics go into building a large building… now multiply that by 1000. It’s unbelievable to see what has been built in such a short time. I was also amazed at how almost every building was totally unique in both design and shape. Unlike New York, Chicago, Houston and most big cities, Dubai is not just a urban center full of square, indistinct, industrial looking buildings with the occasional modern chrome and glass structure breaking the aged skyline. Everywhere you look in Dubai you see a new and unique skyscraper, in shapes that challenge conventional design. Stunning….

I will be curious to see how Dubai handles the future and how the current economic crisis effects this city. As our visit showed, many (and there are a lot) of the current projects have stopped or slowed. The airport is overloaded with abandoned cars from workers fleeing the region as project are put on hold. With very little oil of it’s own, Dubai was a place for the uber-rich to play… and it seems more and more like playtime is over. I’m glad I had the chance to visit, as it seems very possible the Arabian sands may just reclaim Dubai… not unlike other great Arab cities of the past.


Singapore Flyer

Singapore Flyer: "

A few night shot of the Singapore Flyer.

The Singapore Flyer is a giant Ferris wheel in Singapore. The final capsule was installed on 2 October 2007, the wheel started rotating on February 11, 2008 and it officially opened to the public on March 1, 2008. Tickets for rides on the first 3 nights were sold out for S$ 8,888 Singapore dollars (US$6,271)(£3,150.83GBP), an auspicious number in Chinese culture. The grand opening for the Flyer was held on 15 April 2008.

Reaching 42 stories high, the Flyer comprises a 150 m (492 ft) diameter wheel, built over a three-story terminal building, giving it a total height of 165 m (541 ft). This exceeds the Star of Nanchang by 5 m (16 ft) and the London Eye by 30 m (98 ft). Each of the 28 air-conditioned capsules is capable of holding 28 passengers, and a complete rotation of the wheel takes approximately 30 minutes. Initially rotating in an counter-clockwise direction when viewed from Marina Centre, its direction was changed on 4 August 2008 under the advice of Feng shui masters[3].

Located on the southeast tip of the Marina Centre reclaimed land, it offers broad views of the city centre and beyond to about 45 km (28 mi), including the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan, as well as Johor, Malaysia.


Beached Blue Whale

Beached Blue Whale: "

While in Perth I was checking the Surf Report and hoping to catch some Aussie beach bums hanging ten on those notorious big waves… but the surf was pretty piss poor the whole week I was there. Although they did report a dead whale had beached up north… near Sorrento Beach, Australia, about 40 Km NW of Perth.

Here are some shots of what was an all day affair. Took the crews about 7 hours and half a dozen pieces of equipment to get this monster hauled away. Apparently it was a adolescent blue whale, maybe 1 or 2 years old. The report said that it had died at sea the night before and they tracked it as it drifted into shore. Makes me ask… why they didn’t hook on to it and drag it way out to sea, before it washed on shore?? I’m sure it would have been easier to dispose of 100 miles out. Oh well.. at least they didn’t blow it up with dynamite like they did on the West Coast of the States years back… can you say raining blubber!

The whale was about 45 feet long… the truck was 30 feet long. You do the math. It sure made for a interesting ride through the neighborhood.

WARNING some of the pictures may not be what you want to look at before lunch.

As you can see… the place was a hit. By 1pm there were a couple hundred people watching the move.

No worries mate… it’s just nature

Gudday Bruce, waebalonga sheeabdeep!


Cambodia, Angkor Wat & The Killing Fields

Cambodia, Angkor Wat & The Killing Fields: "

Christmas in Cambodia

December 2008

Here are some select photos of our trip to Cambodia. We spend about 8 days in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat and traveled via Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I have also posted a larger collection with more photos of our trip in the 'Cambodia -Working Gallery', but I figured one can only look at so many temples and bones before getting too bored.

Cambodia was a excellent trip! The weather was just perfect with cool mornings and present days. The people of Cambodia were extremely friendly and the local economy is about 10 years behind what you find in Vietnam. This seems pretty good, considering that it was 1991 (following the genocide of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 and the invasion by Vietnam) which kept the country closed to outsiders.

Almost everyone we met was directly effected by Pal Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and if born before 1980, they were directly involved (either as a prisoner/slave or as a Khmer Rouge member). With that said.. it's amazing that they can work side-by-side (victim and persecutor) with what seems to be, little or no animosity towards each other. Cambodia is about 95% Buddhist which may explain the lack of animosity towards each other, but this also seems very ironic as these 'Buddhist' people are the same ones that inflicted such torture on their fellow Cambodians?

Siem Reap is a small township just down the road from the massive Angkor Wat region. Once nothing more than a wide spot in the road, in the last few years Siem Reap has become a tourist enclave. It was startling to see the amount of tourist. I guess there really isn't many isolated spots on the globe anymore? I tried my best to keep the tourist out of my shots, which was fairly easy in the early mornings, but by noon the buses arrived. We very much enjoyed Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. It's amazing that we were able to totally explore and climb any of the temples with little or no restrictions or oversight. And if you visit the more remote temples and locations, you can escape the crowds. Very much an 'Indiana Jones' kind of adventure.

Phnom Penh is very much a city on the move. like Vietnam, Phnom Penh is in a race to join the 21st century. Still very much a 3rd world city.. it's remarkable to see how much progress has been made in the few short years since the city was repopulated following the total evacuation in the late 70's & 80's.

All in all it was a good trip.. and we are looking forward to visiting again.

Short History of the Khmer Rouge and Angkor Wat.

The Khmer Rouge was the communist ruling political party of Cambodia - which it renamed the Democratic Kampuchea - from 1975 to 1979 The Khmer Rouge is remembered mainly for the many deaths of an estimated 1.5 million people or 1/5 of the country's total population under its regime, through execution, torture, starvation and forced labor. Following their leader Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge imposed an extreme form of social engineering on Cambodian society - a radical form of agrarian communism where the whole population had to work in collective farms or forced labor projects. In terms of the number of people killed as a proportion of the population (est. 7.5 million people, as of 1975), it was one of the most lethal regimes of the 20th century.

One of their mottos was:

'To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss.'


Night Stuff

Night Stuff: "

Collection of Night Photography.


Paintings by Franzi

Paintings by Franzi: "