Saturday, November 29, 2014

2014, Day 333 - Wielding

I am endlessly impressed with the women who work in the markets.  They're working before the sun comes up hauling heavy loads, arranging their wares, wielding massive knives, and all the while chatting and laughing with the people around them.  I've never seen a hint of fatigue or a falter in their smile and when they notice you taking their picture their smiles grow and it warms my heart.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f1.8, 1/125 sec @ 320 ISO

Friday, November 28, 2014

2014, Day 332 - Serene

It seems odd that I should be comforted by the presence of Buddhist monks and nuns but find most members of the clergy from western religions unsettling.  I wonder why that is...

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 10-24/f4R OIS
24mm, f5.6, 1/60 sec @ 3200 ISO

Thursday, November 27, 2014

2014, Day 331 - Artisan

I lament the lack of craftsmanship today.  Artistry in everyday objects is hard to find or astronomically expensive.  This beautiful woman has been making attractive functional umbrellas for decades and is a master of her craft.  Hopefully she has and will train others to follow in her vocation so that the art won't be lost to future generations.  We focus so much of efficiency and modernity that the things in our lives lack soul.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 35/f1.4R
35mm, f1.4, 1/125 sec @ 640 ISO

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2014, Day 330 - Pristine

I am on a mission to bring container gardens to every home!  Okay, that is probably a crazy statement but would like to see it happen.  One of the things I loved about Thailand is that almost every home and business has a water garden out front.  Most are small and have a water lily and a few guppies but others are much larger and have lotuses and larger fish.  They are quite literally everywhere in Thailand and I want them to be everywhere in Portland too!

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 60/f2.4R
60mm, f5.6, 1/170 sec @ 200 ISO

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2014, Day 329 - Farm fresh

One if the things I will miss most about Asia is the abundance of fresh cheap food.  Don't get me wrong, we eat well in the Pacific NW but here we consider it a lifestyle, in Asia it is just life.  I like that.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f1.2, 1/125 sec @ 320 ISO

2014, Day 328 - Parting

It is a traveling day today so this is a scheduled post as I will be somewhere over the Pacific when you see this.  What I love about travel is the unexpected.  Most of the time the surprises are delightful, exciting, or heart-warming but on occasion they can be disappointing or unsettling.  In the end it all balances out and you learn something either about yourself of the place and culture that you're visiting and you're a better person for it.  It has been a great trip with some retracing of old steps and much that was new and exciting.  I'm grateful to have had such wonderful companions to share my adventures and as this one comes to a close I am ready to start thinking about the next.

I hope that wanderlust finds you all and that your journeys are as fun and fulfilling as my own.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 10-24/f4R OIS
10mm, f8, 25 sec @ 200 ISO

Monday, November 24, 2014

2014, Day 327 - Odd man out

Today is our last full day in Thailand, we leave early tomorrow morning so it is truly the end of our vacation.  All that is a long way of saying we're starting to get tired so we had a slow morning with a relaxed breakfast after which we decided to tackle some of the packing early.  These things take planning and with all the things that people asked us to get for them we've had to purchase a second shared bag.

But out excitement of the day came when we left at nine o'clock for Chatuchak Market.  Yes we were there on Saturday but today we are just going to meet up with a gentleman I knew by reputation but have now had a chance to meet in person, Mr. Preecha.  He is a retired English teacher who has spent the last few years really focusing on his first love, betta, also known as Siamese fighting fish.  Mr. Preecha is a respected authority and travels all over Asia to judge fish in massive competitions and we were invited to visit his breeding facilities.

From Chatuchak it took another hour to reach his place which is out in the country nestled between to rice paddies.  Under netting and shade cloth is his operation.  Along one side are some thirty two hundred old whisky bottles with a horizontal cut one third the way through to allow water to drain out packed into neat little rows.  Each bottle houses a single fish and the bottles are so tightly nested that he can walk across the top of them.  Every so often there is a bottle that is marked with tape or turned upside-down, this denotes that the fish between are all from the same spawn and it allows you to see the variations produced.

The other side is occupied by row after row of round concrete basins.  Along the top is a drip irrigation system that is constantly running and in the middle projecting from the bottom up to the top almost even with the rim is a drain pipe.  This is designed to keep a constant but gentle flow of water as there are dozens if not hundreds of fry in each.  Some are tiny and others are almost adults but he has dozens of nurseries.

At the front is a long room where the betta get paired with their mates.  There must have been close to a hundred pairs and in each the males are courting the females by displaying their massive tails and swimming in circles around her.  Even though there are neighboring males clearly visible they only have eyes for their intended mates.  Some were colors I have seen before, others are totally new and Mr. Preecha was quite excited for the possibilities that might arise from the pairings.  He also showed me some that he considered a work in progress because he is breeding for specific physical traits that are only slowly emerging.

It was really interesting.  On one that the sheer scale was impressive and it is obviously labor intensive but most of the work that goes into it seems relatively straightforward.  Betta, for all their beauty, are relatively simple fish and in the native environment their care is easy.  Needless to say I am intrigued by the possibilities...

As it was getting into the afternoon we decided to adjourn for some lunch.  Mr. Preecha took us to a great place on the river.  He said it was his favorite place and I can see why, the view was amazing and the food was spectacular.  Two different kinds of fish served as a stir fry and as a soup; both were spicy and flavorful.  An interesting dish of nuts, lime, coconut, herbs, and chilies was delicious but unfortunately was served towards the end of our meal so we didn't really have a lot of room left to enjoy it.

With an errand to run Mr. Preecha dropped us off close to the market where we hailed a cab back to our hotel.  Much of what remained of the afternoon was spent planning and gathering of belongings together so that our early morning departure doesn't require much in the way of additional work.  When we got hungry we popped over to Khao San Road for a quick bite to eat and a little last minute shopping.

Now we're getting cleaned up and packing away the things we won't need again until we get home.  I know the heat was a bit of a shock when we arrived and I suspect the cold will be similarly traumatic especially because I probably don't have the most appropriate clothes for near-freezing weather.  Shorts and flip-flops are what most people wear, right?

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 35/f1.4R
35mm, f2, 1125 sec @ 200 ISO

Sunday, November 23, 2014

2014, Day 326 - Ice boys

After a couple long days in Bangkok following a long sleepless flight we decided that today should be an easy day.  With that in mind we were still up early and ate a quick breakfast before hailing a tuk-tuk.  We were on a mission that led us to Wat Pho first thing in the morning.

Associated with the venerable temple is a massage school and we felt that we deserved a bit of pampering.  Not that it is a spa experience, far from in fact when you consider a room full of beds side by side where dozens of people are getting massages but the training that the masseurs have received is impeccable.  So we were literally the first through the door and soon we were being worked like dough.  Thai massage is vigorous and they use every part of their body to work out the knots while apply most of their weight to the targeted areas.  It was a little intense but afterwards I felt like I was walking on air.  And for the bargain price of less than twenty dollars for an hour.

Loosened up, we wandered the temple complex with take up much of a block.  Walk around the massive and stunningly beautiful reclining Buddha.  Watch the girls practice their traditional Thai dancing.  Try to dodge the other children who were in some kind of weekend class.  Past the forest of tiled stupas and all of a sudden we were back on the street.

When I was in Bangkok four years ago we missed the Jim Thompson house despite it being a short walk from our hotel.  When Francene suggested we go I agreed and after two failed negotiations with tuk-tuks we hopped a cab instead who agreed to run the meter.  As it turned out the tuk-tuk drivers wanted three times as much as the metered taxi, something I had suspected but not to that degree.

The Jim Thompson house is actually six old Thai houses that he transported to the current site and married together to create a larger western style home with Thai style.  While the home was pretty the grounds were amazing and his art collection extremely impressive.  All of the art is of Asian origin and of that the majority is from southeast Asia.  Aside from the art Jim Thompson is a notable figure in Thailand for his work on reviving the Thai way of weaving silk which, until his intervention, had slowly been dying out.  His story ends in a mystery as he disappeared in the late 60s in Malaysia when he took a solitary walk and never returned.  Authorities searched for him for years before giving up and his fate remains unknown.

At this point it was getting hot so we decided to head back toward our hotel and find lunch.  We decided to try another vegetarian restaurant we saw yesterday.  It turned out to be a good choice because we has a wonderful meal and the staff was, probably unintentionally, quite funny.  The kitchen is adjacent to the street and the chef kept calling out greetings to everyone who passed.  She was clearly visible in the dining room and we really enjoyed her animated antics.

After eating we went in search of a duffel bag.  On the way we came upon an old man selling amulets and charms.  Francene couldn't resist and eventually she purchased a few despite the complete lack of a common language.  Eventually we did find a duffle bag although it is bigger than we wanted it appears to be well made and the price was impossible to refuse.

Much of the rest of the afternoon we spent relaxing and we left the hotel only long enough to get dinner which was decent but ultimately unremarkable.  The rest of the evening has been spent reviewing our pictures and contemplating how we will pack for our departure on Tuesday.

Pictured is a group of young men that I have come to think of as "the ice boys."  From this storefront the grind ice which they bag and sent all over Bangkok by motorbike.  There is always at least four of them there at all hours of the day though usually only two or three are working while the rest nap in the hammock or sit upstairs smoking.  I suspect they own the business as I have yet to see anyone of apparent authority in their shop and we walk by a few times a day every day.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f1.2, 1/125 sec @ 1000 ISO

Saturday, November 22, 2014

2014, Day 325 - The center of Thailand

Today was busy but not necessarily exciting to the outside observer.  We were allowed to sleep in a little but Bangkok's bustling life still woke up pretty early.  Since there was no rush we took our time getting breakfast and slowly got ready for the day.

At nine o'clock Nut, our guide, picked us up and we left for Chatuchak Market.  The market has over eight thousand official vendors but there are many more lining the streets that surround the thirty five acre site.  You can find just about anything at Chatuchak from clothes to jewelry to food to antiques to plants to pets and more.  We spent much of that day there, about six hours in total, and we still barely scratched the surface.  It was really great having a guide because he knew, generally, where to find everything.  Francene and I were careful to ensure that we made a list before leaving this morning so we could focus on the important tasks.

By about three o'clock we had enough and decided it was time to find some relief from the chaos of the market so we gathered our purchased and returned to the car.  Although Nut was willing to help keep us occupied we decided to finish the day early so he dropped us off at our hotel and we went in search of a late lunch/early dinner which led us to an odd restaurant populated by some colorful backpackers but serving good food cheap.

And that is pretty much how we spent our day.  After the sun set we ventured out to the Democracy Monument.  It was built in 1939 to commemorate the Siamese Revolution of 1932.  Although the intent was to set up a western style democracy what the nation ended up with was more a military dictatorship.  Still, it was that event that set Thailand on the path to democracy which has been a bit shaky lately but the people here seem to support the changes that are coming.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 10-24/f4R OIS
10mm, f14, 20 sec @ 200 ISO

Friday, November 21, 2014

2014, Day 324 - Sugar pusher

We got up before dawn to get ourselves together before heading out to Ayutthaya.  I visited the area four years ago when I was last in Bangkok but Francene had never been so we planned on making a day of it.  Our guide Nut was waiting for us in the lobby of our hotel well before the appointed time.  After quick introductions we were speeding through the city and onto the highway.

Our first stop was for breakfast as it was still early and we didn't have time to eat.  I love that you can get a decent breakfast in Thailand for a dollar or less.  Once our plates were clean we visited Wat Phra Chedi Chaimongkol which is dominated by a giant stupa.  Built in 1357 this temple was the home of monks who had recently returned from Ceylon after completing their studies under Phra Vanarat Maha Thera.  Adjacent to the temple is the Wihan Phraphutthasaiyat,  a statue of the reclining Buddha where is it said that if you can get a coin to stick to the bottom of his feet you will have good luck.  Guess who managed the task?

Next we stopped off at Wat Panan Choeng which was built in 1324 and houses an enormous statue of the Buddha that stand nineteen meters high.  Also within the temple complex are two large statues of the Buddha made from solid gold.  To keep from being stolen during the war with Burma they were taken into the jungle and coated with plaster to make them appear a less tempting target.  What's interesting is the number of Chinese figures in murals and sculptures of the Buddha in the Chinese style.  Apparently the immediate area had an ancient tie to China that has not totally been explained.

Before making our next stop Nut decided we needed an energy boost so we stopped for roti sai mai.  This is essentially Thai cotton candy eaten in a piece of flat bread.  The sugar is first melted and then placed in a bowl floating in cool water where natural flavoring is added.  When the flavor is mixed in and the sugar becomes cool enough to handle it is transferred to a heated plate with melted palm sugar to act as grease.  Initially the sugar is held in the hands, pulled, and folded back on itself, then it is put on the hot plate and pulled using wooden pins and folded back on itself until the sugar had the consistency of hair.  It is then bagged and sold with flat bread which is rolled around it prior to consumption.

Next we went to Wat Mahathat.  This is the temple where you can see the iconic carved head of the Buddha peering out from between the roots of a strangler fig.  Built in 1374 it is an important site in Ayutthaya because it housed relics of the Buddha and was close to the grand palace.  The central prang was partially destroyed be a lightning strike and subsequently lightning rods have been placed at the top of other culturally significant places to prevent another such disaster.

Just north of Wat Mahathat is Wat Rajaburana.  Built in 1424 the central prang, tower, dominates the landscape and is partially encircled with scaffolding as restoration work in currently underway.  The monarch who built this temple dedicated it to his two brothers who died fighting each other for the throne he later came to occupy.  The prang was looted in 1957 and even though the culprits were apprehended only ten percent of the stolen contents have thus far been recovered.

We then decided to have a little lunch in a quaint restaurant that overlooks the river.  As we ate we watched barge after barge pass by with massive loads of sand.  It made me glad to have a little shade to cut the sweltering heat of the midday sun.

Once our energy had been restored, at least in part, we went to Wat Na Phramane which was built in 1503.  This temple was spared destruction as the Burmese use it at a barracks during the war.  It is said that the statue of the Buddha is weeping due to the set of his eyes but I can't really say that I see it.  This was the temple where we received a blessing from a kindly monk who wanted to know where we were from and if our hometowns were one of those affected by the winter stormed he had heard about.  Apparently he was quite up on the news of the world but it was nice to have him take an interest.

At this point we had been out for seven hours and the heat was wearing us out so we decided to head back to Bangkok.  Fortunately we managed to get back right before rush hour so we had time to rest at our hotel before going out to dinner which was at a place only a few blocks away that Nut recommended.  The food was good and cheap and with our hunger sated we decided to spend the rest of the evening relaxing.

Tomorrow we're wading in to Chatuchak Market with is comprised of over eight thousand vendors and covers more than thirty-five acres.  I expect it is going to be another exhausting day!

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 35/f1.4R
35mm, f2, 1/170 sec @ 200 ISO

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2014, Day 323 - Idle

I didn't really sleep last night because out flight from Colombo to Bangkok left at 1:30 in the morning.  With the time difference we landed three and a half hours later and what with insisting on serving a meal and handing out immigration forms there was almost no time at all to sleep.  So we stumbled through customs in Bangkok, collected our bags, and went in search of a taxi.

We were able to get a taxi at the queue and were quickly mired in the traffic nightmare that is Bangkok.  Our drive kept trying side streets because the main streets weren't moving.  At one point he received and made a number of calls and then explained his father had been taken to the hospital so he needed to go.  He had called another cab who would meet us and we wouldn't have to pay for the rest of our ride.  Francene had some bad luck in Bangkok over a decade ago with cab drivers and was sure we were getting scammed.  I didn't think so but you never can be sure.  However, within minutes another cab pulled up and we transferred ourselves and our luggage over and the rest of the trip to the hotel was made without incident.

Of course it wasn't quite nine o'clock yet which is too early for check in but for an extra fee they let us into our room early.  At this point we were both so exhausted that we couldn't sleep and were starving so we dumped out stuff and went back downstairs for breakfast.  Once we had eaten we decided to have a little wander and find an ATM because the cab ride took almost all the cash we had left from our time in Chiang Mai over a week ago.

The obvious choice is Khao San Road which is a backpacker area.  It wasn't terribly interesting or exciting but it gave us an opportunity to stretch our legs.  When we returned to the hotel I took a quick shower and had a bit of a nap and when I got up again I was hungry so we left to find an early dinner.  So we walked back to Khao San Road.

There were plenty of choices and we settled on a nice little vegetarian Thai place off a side street.  It was clean and nicely furnished and the food was quite good.  By the time we finished it was starting to get dark so we had a bit of a wander, stopped off for drinks and snacks for our room, and headed back to the hotel.

Our return took us on a different route and we happened upon a local street market.  Most of the vendors were still setting up but it was quite lively already and a totally different atmosphere compared to the tourist area.  We took our time and enjoyed the scenery on our way back.

Now we're ensconced in our room with the air conditioning on and relaxing.  Tomorrow we have another early start so it is probably time to start thinking about sleep again.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f1.2, 1/125 sec @ 2000 ISO

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2014, Day 322 - Whorl

Tonight, in the wee hours of the morning, we are leaving Sri Lanka.  On our last day we had a few things planned but mostly we are preoccupied as to how we are going to spend the evening while waiting for our flight.

We got an early start and after a light breakfast at the hotel we loaded up our bags and left Bentota.  Our first stop was at Brief, the home of Bevis Bawa who was the brother of Sri Lanka's famous architect Geoffrey Bawa.  It is located in the countryside past rice paddies and into the jungle.  As you drive down a narrow lane it opens up into a circular driveway.  From that driveway there are two doors, one leads into the house and the other into the grounds.

Bevis Bawa worked on his home for years and the beautiful garden is a testament to his dedication.  There are paths to secluded sitting areas under large fragrant trees.  Along a sloping stretch of lawn there are a series of ponds leading up to the house which sits at the top of the hill.  Songbirds flit in and out of trees and everywhere there is lush sweet-smelling vegetation.  Scattered throughout the property are sculptures and statuary in hidden natural and man-made niches.

The house is interesting because although it was built in the 1920s and contains much of the original furnishings it has a distinctly mid-century modern feel.  Here Bevis Bawa entertained heads of state, kings, queens, and all manner of celebrities.  He was a bit of a rockstar and yet the house is relatively modest in size but with large outdoor living and entertaining spaces.  It is a beautiful marriage of style and location.

When we finished at Brief we resumed out journey north and soon found ourselves back in Colombo.  Here we stopped at the bank so we could pay our driver for all his help, had a quick lunch, and picked up an additional bag to relieve pressure from the straining zippers of our luggage.  After that we asked Nanda to drop us off at a hotel we booked for the night near the airport.

It isn't as though we need a place to sleep, it is more that we wanted a place to relax, maybe take a shower before the flight, and catch up on a little down time.  For less than twenty dollars it is money well spent.  So here we wait until almost midnight before we jump a cab to the airport.

Tomorrow, a sleepy day in Bangkok!

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 10-24/f4R OIS
10mm, f16, 1.1 sec @ 200 ISO

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2014, Day 321 - Warning

It seems like we packed in a lot of things today.  Our morning started early and after catching up on the news of the world we decided to take a walk.  The hotel we're staying at is kind of in the jungle and past a bunch of modest homes.  Along the way we saw a mongoose and a number of birds including some pretty kingfishers.  When we arrived at the bridge we stopped to take a few pictures and turned back.

On the way back to the hotel Nanda, our driver, passed us and when we all made it to the hotel we decided to start out earlier than we had initially planned.  Our first stop was a quick breakfast at a local bakery and afterwards we headed to the river to go look for wildlife.  Nanda found a guy with a boat to take us down the canal and on the way we saw water monitors, crocodiles, more kingfishers, chipmunks, cormorants, fruit bats, and supposedly some bee eaters but we didn't actually see them ourselves.  It was okay but most of these animals we had already seen on our own previously.

But despite that mild disappointment we stopped off on the way to Galle at a sea turtle conservation place.  Much like the organization in La Libertad they enlist local fishermen to collect the eggs which they in turn purchase for twenty rupees each and create new nests in a protected area.  After forty-five days the baby turtles hatch and they then keep the babies for an additional three days before they are released.  The gentleman who was showing us around said they would like to keep them longer but they have so many babies that they often run out of room. Furthermore it would not really affect the survival rate which is less than one in ten to adulthood.

The center also houses some larger sea turtles.  These are either there for educational purposes or because they had some kind of handicap that keeps them from being fit for release.  One was born missing to flippers so he cannot swim well, another was born without eyes, and they even have one albino that is beautiful but whose lack of pigment would make an easy target.  It was fun to visit and I love sea turtles so I had a great time even though we didn't get to release them like we did in El Salvador.

Having had my turtle fix we headed south to Galle.  There we met up with Francene's friends Monica and Jean Ann.  They were a lot of fun so drinks turned into lunch which led to wandering around Galle Fort for most of the afternoon.

The fort was started in late 16th century by the Portuguese and further reinforced by the Dutch in the 17th century.  It is a world heritage site covering some 130 acres and is considered important because of the interplay of European and Asian architecture and design.  It is positioned so well that the tsunami that hit in 2004 did little damage to the fort even though it is right of the water.

We strolled the streets taking in the architecture and the humid Sri Lankan air.  A couple shops captured our interest briefly but that was fleeting and eventually we ended up at a waterfront restaurant where we had drinks and continued chatting, mostly about travel in and around Asia.  In no time it was almost five o'clock so we decided that it was time to head back north to catch a waterfront sunset and find dinner.

Initially we had a plan for sunset but because we lost track of time we went to the fish harbor.  Fishermen lined the road selling their catch but we didn't have much time to look and with no means to cook little motivation to linger.  Instead we headed for the water and caught the end of the sunset.

That complete we asked Nanda to help us find a place to eat.  He is not really familiar with the area so we tried one place that looked to serve locals and found the menu had a number of reasonable options.  Once we finished eating we returned to our hotel to consider packing and worry about the next phase of our travels.

Tomorrow is our last day in Sri Lanka as we're catching the red eye back to Bangkok where further adventure awaits.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 10-24/f4R OIS
17.4mm, f5.6, 1/280 sec @ 200 ISO

Monday, November 17, 2014

2014, Day 320 - Anticipation

I was dreading today but it turn out better than I had anticipated, for the most part.  We got up early to pack away all of our stuff as it had exploded all over our rooms, had a quick breakfast, and leapt into the car to head back to Colombo.

It took about eight hours to get from Colombo to Kandy and this time there was a timeline to stick to as Araceli and Melissa were hopping a plane to the Maldives.  With that being the case they needed to be at the airport to check in early so we couldn't afford another eight hour day in the car.  Nanda took the back road which was a bit longer in terms of distance but so much shorter in terms of time.

Along the way we stopped to see how palm trees are planed and turned into timbers ready for home construction.  Having built his own home Nanda explained that the darker wood is denser and therefore stronger so it is used for heavy loads.  It was quite interesting and the men waved us over to take a closer look.  After we made additional stops at workshops making architectural items out of concrete and again to see how bricks are made and fired.  All these stops make what could have been a tedious morning much more interesting.

We made it to the airport ten minutes before they wanted to be there so kudos to Nanda and his kamikaze Sri Lankan driving skills!

And back into the car driving for what we thought was Galle.  Turns out Nanda put us in a hotel in Bentota which is about forty-five minutes from Galle.  It is a beach town, a little bit sleepy, but that's the allure.  We had lunch in town, did a little shopping and then checked in to our hotel.

This is where is gets a bit disappointing.  The room is big but it is poorly lit with small windows, stained linens (although they appear to be clean), and an A/C unit with a remote that doesn't display the setting so you're pretty much just guessing.  Even the staff was underwhelming, not especially interested and asking a question is usually met my a blank stare and passing you off to someone else even though the person to whom you posed the question answered previous queries.  Weird.

But the room is fine for a couple nights and we caught up on life in the real world before asking Nanda to take us to the beach for sunset.  The sky was cloudy and a storm was coming in which meant we got a nice sunset.  We walked up and down the beach, Francene made friends with a fisherman whose boat is pictured below.  He has a big red smile, his teeth stained red from chewing betel nuts; he explained that they will go out despite the storm and their hope is to catch about five kilos of lobster before returning in the morning.

Sandy and sweaty we decided it was time to find some dinner.  We asked Nanda to take us to a local place, somewhere tourists probably wouldn't go.  He found us a little restaurant with good cheap food and we ate until we were stuff and the whole thing cost less than it would to feed one person at an establishment aimed at tourists.

Tomorrow we head to Galle to meet up with from of Francene's friends who are, coincidentally, in Sri Lanka too.  More on our adventures tomorrow!

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 10-24/f4R OIS
10mm, f8, 26 sec @ 200 ISO

Sunday, November 16, 2014

2014, Day 319 - Loading

We kept it low key again today.  Another morning where we allowed ourselves to sleep in though it didn't happen so I caught up on some work from a distance and had a lazy couple of hours before we ate breakfast.

Today's agenda was pretty simple, see a bit of the Kandy's old city and run through the market as we are losing Araceli and Melissa to the Maldives tomorrow.  So we visited a batik workshop, wandered through the market for a few last-minute purchases, had a late lunch, and did a lot of people watching.

As we were leaving the market area we found a really interesting Ayurvedic pharmacy so we had to take a look.  They had all manner of herb remedies for things as simple as dry skin to boosting the circulation of people with diabetes.  I don't really know why but I always feel compelled to try different kinds of toothpaste when I travel.  Perhaps it is because the mint that we typically get does not mix well with food and I am seeking an effective alternative.

The other thing I spied was men loading and unloading trucks completed packed with boxes.  Not just in the trucks but on top of them too.  It looked like such sweaty work because, although it was rather overcast, it was really humid so it was a bit like being in a sauna.

By the time we finished it was mid-afternoon so we returned to our guesthouse to relax for a while.  One of the things our host suggested was a traditional dance performance but that isn't really my kind of thing so I let the others go while I had a nice afternoon to unwind.

Because it is our last night in Kandy the proprietors of our guesthouse cooked us a special meal.  It is probably the best food we've had in Sri Lanka and I think we have had some great culinary experiences.

Tomorrow we have to get up early to get Araceli and Melissa to the airport in time for their flight and then Francene and I are off to Galle for a couple days.  I think it is going to be a long day in the car...

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 35/f1.4R
35mm, f4, 1/2000 sec @ 200 ISO

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014, Day 318 - Roly poly

After the crazy exhausting day we had yesterday it was nice to be able to wake up whenever we wanted.  Unfortunately we're all so programed to get up early we caught another sunrise.  But that's okay as today we had a mellow day planned.

After breakfast we ventured to Nuwara Eliya to see the famous tea plantations of Ceylon.  Along the steep hillsides are row after row of tea plants.  Women move among them picking only the new growth and never more than the top three leaves which they deposit in the baskets on their backs.  They move so methodically through the plants, some of which are over sixty years old, picking the tender green leaves which are then dried in one of three processes and sorted by size.

The very fine powdered teas are so strong that they must be diluted with milk otherwise it will be far to bitter to drink whereas the larger leave make a much more mellow brew.  Sadly I am not much of a tea drinker so I cannot attest to the quality of the tea we tasted but judging by the price they must be very proud of what they're producing.

Other than visiting the plantation we stopped to see a few waterfalls along the way which we pretty but not nearly so novel to those of us who hail from the Pacific Northwest.  We also stopped for a nice lunch which consisted of rice, a variety of vegetable curries, and a health dose of meat curry as well.  I, of course, skipped the meat but for a little over two dollar per person it was a great value and quite delicious.

When we finished eating we took a walk through the market in Nuwara Eliya.  It was relatively small but still lively and interesting.  Here we found more fresh meats than I had seen anywhere else in Sri Lanka thus far and there was plenty of fresh produce and dried fish products.  We also stopped off at a couple bakeries to try the local types of breads and sweet which were all good if sometimes a bit unexpected.

As it was getting into mid-afternoon we decided to head back to our guesthouse and have an early evening.  Our hosts prepared another exceptional dinner, the highlight of which was a spicy coconut sambal which made everything extra delicious.

Tomorrow we're planning another easy day as Monday will be another travel day with much of it spent in the car.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f2, 1/125 sec @ 250 ISO

Friday, November 14, 2014

2014, Day 317 - Monklets

Today was the day of a million steps.  That is a bit of an exaggeration but it certainly didn't feel like it at the time.  Our day started before sunrise and we lingered just long enough to brush our teeth, put on sunblock, and have a quick cup of coffee before running out the door and hopping in to our waiting vehicle.

Nanda, our intrepid driver, whisked us a couple hours away to Sigiriya.  The name literally means Lion Rock and 660 feet up at the top of the giant rock formation King Kasyapa built his palace.  More than halfway up the final ascent is a stairway carved into the rock between two massive lion's paws.  There was once a lion's head to accompany the paws but it collapsed centuries ago which is unfortunate because it would have completed the effect nicely.

Legend has it that Kasyapa was engaged in battle with his half brother who was the rightful king.  During this battle Kasyapa moved his war elephant and his army misinterpreted the maneuver as a signal of retreat when he was merely trying to take the strategic advantage.  Thus, abandoned by his army, King Kasyapa took his own life rather than accept defeat at the hands of his half brother.  It is hard to feel bad for Kasyapa because, if the story is true, he seized the throne by murdering his father so it seems like a case of karmic justice.

Once we completed our descent we decided it was time to stop for lunch.  Predictably it was another buffet.  We seem to have little luck finding anything small and local near these sites.  It was okay and, like yesterday, during the course of our lunch thunder boomed and it started to dump rain.

In the downpour we returned to the car to make for our next stop in Dambulla.  Here we went to see the Golden Temple of Dambulla.  Fortunately by the time we arrive the rain had let up and we were left with a light misting as we climbed yet more steps in the boiling humidity of a fresh rainfall.  At the top there were about five chambers each with numerous statues of the Buddha and several stupas.

Frustratingly you have to climb down to climb yet more stairs to go to the massive golden Buddha statue that looks out over Dambulla.  It was a bit like Buddhist Disneyland as there were lots of statues of monks made out of fiberglass lining the walkway.  But it was impressive nonetheless.

Feeling spiritual, we left the temple and started on our way back to Kandy.  We stopped briefly at a spice plantation and again at a Hindu temple called Sri Muthumariamman Thevastanam.  When we arrived they had started lighting the lanterns at the various altars and the ceremony was accompanied by percussion and wind instruments.  It was rather beautiful.

All templed out we set out again to return to our guesthouse where we had dinner waiting for us.  It was an excellent meal of fish and rice cooked to perfection and followed by a big plate of papaya.  Everything was delicious and I am now fighting off a food coma.  More to come tomorrow!

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 10-24/f4R OIS
24mm, f4, 1/950 sec @ 200 ISO

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2014, Day 316 - A short walk

This morning I was restless and ended up getting up a little before five o’clock.  The sun was just rising and I was treated to some really nice color out of the balcony (and a very small cat as well but she didn’t really want to be friends).  As I was loitering outside I ran into the owner of the establishment and he invited us on an early morning walk.

What he described as a “short walk” was actually almost five miles uphill.  Granted, we got to see some of the famous Ceylon tea anxious for the picking and some pretty countryside but it wasn’t quite what we expected.  By the time we got back sweat was steaming down our faces and backs.  Oh well, it was an adventure.

So we cleaned ourselves up and went downstairs to breakfast.  The owner’s wife prepared crepes with a sweetened coconut filling as well as eggs and toast plus a fruit plate.  It was a lot of food but we were hungry from our “walk” so we didn’t leave much behind.

Breakfast completed we headed out into Kandy and our first stop was at the botanic gardens.  The grounds are pretty but I didn’t see anything I hadn’t seen before and there was a distressing amount of non-native plants proudly labeled with their regions of origin.  Even the orchid house was disappointing after the plant market in Chiang Mai.  Nevertheless it made for a nice addition to our morning exercise.

Afterward our driver took us shopping with the first stop at a woodcarving co-op.  They had lots of statuary and it was all very pretty but equally expensive and impractical.  With that out of the way he then took us to a jeweler.  There they showed us a video about mining for gems after which we were invited into their showroom.  Sri Lanka is well known for their high quality sapphires as well as rubies and a number of semi-precious stones like garnets, aquamarine, and moonstones.  I’ve given up giving jewelry as gifts because everyone has such different tastes and I don’t roll like a pimp so there wasn’t much for me to do other than waste the time of the pushy woman who insisted that she must show me something.  I picked expensive things, haggled, and walked away.  In the end she got the manager to offer me a good deal but what do I want with gems?

Everyone else was exhausted haggling for things they actually wanted so we went to lunch.  It was a buffet of mostly lukewarm food but it was quick and filling so it was okay.  During the course of lunch it started to rain, and then it started to pour.  When we left it was still raining pretty hard but not nearly as bad as it had been moments before.

Then it was off to Sri Dalada Maligawa, known also as the Temple of the Tooth.  Here they claim to have a tooth from the lord Buddha which makes a a significant site for Buddhists from around the world.  The temple was founded over four hundred years ago but it has been damaged and rebuilt many time, most recently in 1998 by the Tamil Tigers.  We had a guide who showed us around but there weren’t any major revelations.

By this time it was getting into the late afternoon so we decided to head back to our accommodations for some relaxation.  Tomorrow is going to be another early morning so we wanted to get to bed early to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 14/f2.8R
14mm, f4, 1/420 sec @ 200 ISO

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2014, Day 315 - Numbing

Today was rather a waste of a day.  Our drive was meant to pick us up at 10:30 and while he arrived on time his car was too small for the four of us and our luggage.  So we waited for two hours while he arranged for a van and a new driver, Nanda.

Once Nanda arrived we hopped in the van and headed out for Kandy.  It is a little over seventy miles away and usually takes three hours.  Today there was, inexplicably, a massive amount of traffic and we ended up on the road for about eight hours less a quick stop to have a really late lunch.  Otherwise we were trapped in an admittedly comfortable van that was getting increasingly uncomfortable with time.

Finally, hours after the sun set, we made it to our guesthouse.  The proprietors greeted us warmly and showed us around.  They live in the house with their guests and we were immediately treated like family.  In anticipation of our arrival they prepared a wonderful lentil soup and from fresh fruit.  It was a perfect light meal before settling in for the night.

Since my butt is falling asleep and there is no internet connection at the moment I will sign off.

Pictured below is the Old Town Hall in Colombo.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 10-24/f4R OIS
10mm, f4, 1/125 sec @ 2500 ISO

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

2014, Day 314 - First impressions

Despite the late arrival this morning we were still up pretty early so after killing some time on the internet we had breakfast provided by the hotel.  It was plain European type breakfast fare but it did the trick.  We decided to head out to one of the markets after getting cleaned up.

A short time later we were leaving the hotel and found a trishaw driver (a trishaw is the local version of a tuk-tuk).  Because there are four of us he had to call a friend and soon we were headed off to the market.  We waded in to the produce section and it wasn't until after we left that Melissa confessed that she was the object of cat-calls and a few pinches.  I guess a nearly six foot tall red-headed woman is hard to miss but I hadn't expected that she would have garnered such unwelcome attention.  Which made us reflect that the markets here have a lot more men working at them than in much of Asia and resolve to look out for each other a little more closely in the future.

Lest you get the wrong idea, the young man pictured was friendly and a perfect gentleman.

Once we left the market our drivers took us to the old town hall so we would have a look around.  It is not really a museum but the doors were open so we had a look around and signed the guest register at the instance of one of the gentlemen inside.

Then Saman and Yoga, the drivers we had hired, took us to a Hindu temple.  There was a lot of elaborate statuary some of which they tried to explain to us but the language barrier coupled with brain-frying heat meant a lot got lost in translation.

When we left it was to head over to a restaurant to meet some of Francene's friends for lunch.  As luck would have it we arrived within minutes of each other and were treated to a nice meal.  I had my first sampling of Sri Lankan food and I think we're going to do just fine here.

Once we had our fill it was off to do a little shopping before heading back to the hotel to rest.  The long day prior was taking its toll and all we wanted to do was get out of the heat and relax which is exactly what we did until dinner time which took us away from the hotel for a little while to enjoy a meal where the ambiance was probably better than the food.  Oh well, you can't win them all.

Now I think it is time to consider an early night...

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f2.8, 1/125 sec @ 200 ISO

Monday, November 10, 2014

2014, Day 313 - Attitude

I am keeping this post short and sweet because it is late and I am tired.

This morning we went through the Chiang Mai Gate Market before getting breakfast after which we picked up our laundry and went back to the hotel to pack.  We finished a little early and decided to grab lunch before heading to the airport.  Our cab driver took us to a great local place where we had good cheap food.  The service was fast and the atmosphere lacking so we still ended up at the airport super early.

Caught our flight to Bangkok, went through insane immigration lines, and bing-bang-boom we're in Sri Lanka!

There, our day in a nutshell...

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f1.8, 1/240 sec @ 200 ISO

Sunday, November 9, 2014

2014, Day 312 - Enlightened

Today we availed ourselves the driver's services but before Josh was to pick us up we went into town for a quick breakfast.  Many restaurants are closed on Sunday but there is a nice little vegetarian place adjacent to the market that was, with a little prodding from Francene, open for breakfast.  We had a nice array of dishes and scampered back to the hotel before Josh arrived.

Our main objective was to head up to Doi Suthep, a beautiful mountain temple initially constructed in the 14th century.  It was a busy day on the mountain but we had a nice time exploring the temple and were even blessed a couple of times by different monks.  Even with the crowds of people there is a feeling of serenity at Doi Suthep.

Once we extricated ourselves from the crowds we headed down the mountain and at the bottom Josh took us to a restaurant which he declared made the best khao soi, a curry dish with egg noodles that is common in Chiang Mai.  It was immediately apparent that none of the staff spoke English and were afraid to take our order until one was obviously instructed to do so.  It took a little time with the English and Thai menus but we got our orders placed and were eating in no time.  It was a nice meal and cost us less than three dollars each.

Next we tried a visit to JJ Market.  Not a produce market but more a local antique mall, unfortunately most of the shops were closed because it was a Sunday but we find that there was an exhibition of orchids in one of the courtyards.  From massive plants to tiny specimens there was a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

I think we've all been feeling a little ragged and the additional heat today didn't make things any better so we decided to head back to the hotel a bit early today.  After a little cool down in our rooms and some quality time catching up on the news of the world we decided to cool off in the pool.  The water was colder than I anticipated but very refreshing and we all stayed in until we were nice and wrinkled.

For dinner we headed out to the night market but, as with much of the city, many businesses were closed.  We finally got desperate and decided to sit down at the nearest restaurant.  Dinner was a bit of a disappointment but, as Melissa noted, we've had so many amazing meals we were due for a bad one sooner or later.  So we ate our flavorless food and decided to have a little ice cream before heading back to our lodging.  Tomorrow afternoon we leave for Sri Lanka so we will have a nice relaxed morning before heading to the airport.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f1.2, 1/160 @ 200 ISO

Saturday, November 8, 2014

2014, Day 311 - Sassy

This morning I woke up early wide away well before the sun was up.  That time, waiting for everyone else to return to consciousness, was used to catch up on a bit of work.  It's hard to believe we're already a week in to our trip.

Once everyone was up and about we went out to pick up pastries for a light breakfast.  Today we were headed off to cooking classes so we figured something light as we would be eating what we cooked.  Our quick snack out of the way we were picked up by the cooking school where we met up with the other students in our group and headed out to the Mae Jo Market.

That's not really the name of the market but it is what everyone calls it because Mae Jo is the name of the neighborhood where it is located.  Mae Jo's university also happens to be the site of the mass lantern release as it is far enough away from the city so as not to negatively impact all the people that live in the area.

Personally, I like the market near our hotel better, it is much bigger although a bit more dingy and I like that kind of grittiness.  The vendors at this market were nice and one lady offered me a sample of the fruit she was selling.  It was small, about the size of a grape, bright green with flesh a bit like an apple.  The flavor was quite sour and the juices a bit astringent but it leaves a sweet aftertaste.  I think we had something similar in Cambodia served with salt and chillies.  Anyway, she got a chuckle although I don't think my reaction was severe as she had expected.

Once we had finished our market tour we headed out to the farm.  Here we had a tour of their facilities and then selected the food we were going to make.  The dish I was most excited about was khao soi which is a northern Thai curry served with noodles.  I've actually had it at home but I think they try too hard to make it fashionable as I like it better the way it is prepared here which is a lot more simple.  Otherwise a lot of what we made is similar to the Thai food that I've learned to cook before except maybe for larb which is typically a minced meat salad but I've had it before with tofu and mushrooms although this time it was just tofu.

Our class covered seven dishes and ended up taking longer than expected and advertised.  By the time we got back to our hotel the sun was beginning to set.  Tonight is the Saturday Walking Street on Wua Lai Road which is pretty close to our hotel.  Unfortunately I have some incredible congestion so my plan for the evening is to relax with a hot compress although I'm happy to say that my travel companions are taking advantage of the opportunity even though I didn't feel like going.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Chiang Mai but fortunately we will have much of Monday as well in case there is anything we don't get to before we set off for the next leg of our adventure.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f2, 1/125 sec @ 320 ISO

Friday, November 7, 2014

2014, Day 310 - Crafts and consumers

We helped stimulate Thailand's economy today.  This morning we work up early, as per usual, and headed out for breakfast but not before making a stop for coffee.  There was a restaurant we scoped out yesterday but, unfortunately, it wasn't opened early enough to accommodate our plans for the rest of the morning.  Slightly disappointed we headed back to the local vegetarian place and has another great meal for less than a dollar per person.

Bellies full, we returned briefly to our hotel to finish getting ready in preparation for a day out with our driver.  Josh, the name he gave us, was the taxi driver who took us from the airport to our hotel when we arrive.  One the ride he seemed like a nice guy, he spoke English well, and had a sense of humor.  So we had arranged for him to drive us around to explore and do a little shopping.

He started off on the right foot by showing up early and when we showed him the list of places we wanted to visit he nodded at each and off we went.  First we went to Khamtieng Market, the city's plant market.  It was amazing, lots of little shops with all manner of beautiful tropical plants, water lilies, and gardening supplies.  The sheer variety and the riot of color was almost overwhelming.  It made me wish I had a tropical garden to plant but we contented ourselves with admiring all the plants.  Especially impressive were the orchids that came in all manner of shapes, sizes, and colors with prices as low as a dollar per plant.

Next we headed in search of a teak spirit house for Francene so Josh took us to a sprawling teak furniture place.  I will admit that their offerings were impressive, especially some of the furniture, but they didn't have any large spirit houses and while their prices were fair for teak they were still extremely expensive.

Coming up short we decided to go to Francene's tried and true celadon place.  They make all of their pottery on site and have an extensive variety of traditional and contemporary celadon available for purchase.  What's more, they also ship, so that took a huge obstacle from our path.  In the end we all made a purchase or two and we should be seeing them again in two to three months; given the exorbitant cost for air shipping we all felt that we could be patient.

At this point we had been such good consumers that we were getting hungry so Josh took us to his second choice place; the first was closed.  We had a nice lunch and were soon off to see how they make umbrellas from bamboo and paper.  The women working on cutting and shaping the bamboo were rather spectacular; they made it look so easy but it was clear that long experience with those razor sharp blades that our initial impression was completely erroneous.

Next we went to a shop that sold locally produced home decor.  The majority of their large showroom was devoted to rugs.  Originally the owner and his family came from Kashmir almost two decades ago to expand their business and found that they could make better rugs at a lower cost because of the availability of high quality and, relatively, inexpensive Thai silk.  There is something extremely impressive about the was the light shimmers off of a silk rug and the temptation was too much for Melissa who had them unrolling rug upon rug.  I will freely admit I looked at a few myself in the process.

By now it was getting rather late in the afternoon so we stopped to snack on fried pumpkin and decided to make one last stop of a shop renown for their silk.  It was in an really pretty old teak house and while their offering were attractive there was none of the Thai style that you would expect.

At this point Josh had proved himself invaluable and extremely competent.  He had drive us all over the city, found everything without difficulty, and told us silly jokes that made him laugh more than we did.  But it good-natured demeanor won us over and we had a great time.  So, before dropping us back at our hotel, we made plans to have him drive us around again on Sunday and paid him a very reasonable amount for all his time today.

Once we got ourselves refreshed we headed out to dinner.  I suggested a restaurant I had eaten at the last time we were in Chiang Mai.  It was on the other side of town so we caught a ride and ended up having a very nice meal.  In fact we ate so much that none of us was all that thrilled to go out this evening so we headed back to the hotel to rest and relax.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 35/f1.4R
35mm, f1.4, 1/125 sec @ 1000 ISO

Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014, Day 309 - Take to the skies

True to form we were up before five o'clock this morning and, when we couldn't wait any longer, we left our hotel in search of food.  They provide a light breakfast of fresh fruit, coffee, and toast but that is not enough to fuel us for a whole morning.  So we headed out with laundry in hand to drop off which was easily sorted.

Food is always a bit more of challenge because we have to find a place that we either trust or where we can communicate with the proprietors and those places that open early carter to locals.  Fortunately we found a vegetarian place that served a cafeteria style breakfast.  So we filed in, pointed to what we wanted, dressed our food with condiments, and had a very satisfying breakfast.  And the grand total for this feast?  Less than four dollars for everyone!

Contented with our food we made our way back to the market.  I never tire of markets so I am always game.  Araceli wanted spicy nuts and I wanted some bananas.  The fruit was easily sorted but the spicy nuts were impossible to find so she had to settle for fresh roasted peanuts.  Melissa found little rice dumplings with sweetened coconut cream filling sold by sweet little old lady who I noticed sampling her own wares.  Given that she could have bought just about anything else I take it as a good sign that she likes what she sells and they were indeed delicious.

The next couple of hours we spent wandering the streets of the Old City visiting temples.  Most were totally decked out for Yi Peng and almost all were crowded.  Having seen all these temples before it was still amazing and even more so for all the work that has been done in the past four years since I last visited.

Soon we had to make our way back to the hotel as we had booked massages for the early afternoon.  At the appointed time a car came and whisked us away to be pampered for a couple of hours.  First we had a massage and then a second time over with hot herbal compresses.  I found it incredibly relaxing and the compresses were totally new and rather intense and amazing.  It was a blissful couple of hours which ended with transportation back to the hotel.

After resting for about an hour we left in search of dinner.  We took a couple wrong turns but eventually found the place we were looking for that served a variety of vegetarian Thai dishes.  All of the food was excellent and by the time we finished lanterns were dotting the night sky.  First we went to Wat Chedi Luang where we found a few monks launching their sky lanterns.  After taking a few pictures we waded through the crowds to the river where the waterfront park hosts masses of people launching their own sky lanterns.

We found a vendor and purchased a few to release and had a great time adding to the masses that were filling the sky.  After a while we were starting to feel the day catch up with us so we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up, peruse our pictures, and call it a night.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 23/f1.4R
23mm, f1.4, 1/125 sec @ 1250 ISO

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014, Day 308 - Barter

Today, our first full day in Thailand, was not especially exciting.  When we got in to Chiang Mai last night we got settled into our rooms, went out to get dinner, came back, got cleaned up, and went to bed.  It was early but we were exhausted.  Consequently we got up similarly early; we gave up trying to sleep at about four o'clock in the morning but, in fairness, that was after getting eight hours of sleep.

So we spent the early morning doing a little research and planning out the rest of our time in Thailand.  When our plans had more-or-less taken shape we decided to go out in search of food and caffeine.  There was a place close by that came highly recommended but they didn't open for a while but a nice gentleman pointed up to another establishment and suggested we go to the market afterwards.

The food at the little cafe was excellent and we did indeed head to the market.  I love markets, they are the bustling hub of local life and I really like the idea of eating only fresh foods, produce that is immediately ripe and recently harvested, and animals that have been locally raise, treated well, and honored in the lack of waste.  We didn't buy anything which I rather regret because it would be nice to have a bunch of bananas back in our room.

Our market exploration completed, we decided to head back to our hotel to actually put our plans into action and make what arrangements we could.  On the way I pointed out the street famous for all their silver smiths and it was instantly decided that we should take a look.  What followed was a couple hours of popping in and out of various places looking for the pieces that were just right.  Our strategy was to find what we liked going one way and make our purchases on the return.

As it turned out we switched back the way we came after visiting Wat Srisuphan, the famous Silver Temple.  Originally constructed in the 16th century the Silver Temple is not actually silver but aluminum with silver panels.  Unfortunately women are not allowed to enter the temple so I had to go in alone and take pictures to share.  The silver panels are impressively detailed while the interior is not significantly different from most other temples.  In addition to the temple the grounds also house a silver smithing school and meditation classes.

When we finished at the temple we made our way back down the road stopping every block to buy a piece of jewelry here and another there.  In the end a number of bargains were struck and I think everyone felt as though they came out on top.

By this time we had been wandering for a while and the light breakfast we had at the cafe was a distant memory so we thought to find food on the way back to the hotel.  Eventually we settled on and Indian/Thai place and had a reasonable lunch albeit with somewhat slow service.

When we finally made it back to the hotel we stopped off at the front desk to make reservations for the next few days.  Full of pride in our own productivity it was decided that we should at least treat ourselves to a foot massage.  How can you not for less than seven dollars for an hour?  I struggled to stay away throughout.

Feeling refreshed we decided to take an hour break at the hotel and then we would head out in search of dinner and the Loi Krathong festivities.  It was suggested that the best place to see the celebrations would be by the river so we opted to take a cab to the Night Market knowing that we would be able to find food in that area.  As it turned out we had an excellent eight course Thai dinner in the Night Market.

When we finished eating it had started to rain in earnest.  It was coming down so hard that it wasn't a patter on the corrugated steel roof but a constant droning.  Although we expected it would dampen the celebrations we still slowly made our way to the river.  As suspected there were plenty of vendors and few other people.  The rain hard washed out the festivities.  So we made our offerings and decided to come back for an early-ish night.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f2, 1/340 sec @ 200 ISO

Monday, November 3, 2014

2014, Day 307 - Conundrum

I am somewhat befuddled, well, more than usual.  I've dozed on and off for about three of the last forty hours and much makes no sense.  For years I've posted a photo of the day but, admittedly, it always gets a little confused when I cross the international date line.  At home it is Monday the 3rd but in Thailand it is Tuesday the 4th.  How do I transition from one to the other?  It has to be done and, the thing that makes sense in my sleep-deprived head, is to post once for the two days and double post on the way back.  I like this because it is less work now, always good, and I should have a much more expansive library to choose from in a few weeks.  So that's the plan, criticism should be gentle because my brain can't understand a whole lot at the moment...

Fuji X-E2, Fujinon 10-24/f4R OIS
24mm, f5.6, 1/125 sec @ 250 ISO

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2014, Day 306 - Farewell to fall

Well, we're just about to get some fall color.  It started a few weeks ago but has not yet hit its peak.  Sadly, like most years, I'm headed out of the country and by the time I get back the trees will be bare.  I keep doing this and I rather miss fall but it is the most convenient time for me to travel.  Perhaps next year I'll stay home for the autumn color.

Fuji X-E2, Fujinon 10-24/f4R OIS
24mm, f5.6, 1/125 sec @ 1600 ISO

Saturday, November 1, 2014

2014, Day 305 - Parting

Missing my Frank this evening.  He's off with my friends Paul and Karen and they are lavishing attention on him while I'm on my trip.  Frankie left a couple days early because it's been all go here and it makes life just a little easier having one less dog but you would think in house with four remaining dogs it wouldn't be super noticeable but it is.

Fuji X-E2, Fujinon 60/f2.4R
60mm, f4, 1/125 sec @ 1600 ISO