Tag Archives: world

Uluwatu: Cliffsides in Southern Bali

Uluwatu, located along the cliffsides of southern Bali, Indonesia, is famous for a Hindu temple which is set upon a dramatic backdrop of cliffs.

 

 

 

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Daily Life in Yogyakarta.

Whenever I travel, I try to get an idea of the more mundane aspects of life in the place I’m visiting. Getting away from “touristy” areas (though this is hard sometimes), eating local food, and just observing and interacting with people is sometimes more fun for me as a photographer.

These are from Yogyakarta in central Java.

Above: a Catholic school lets out in a district near the Kraton, or Sultan’s palace.

Above: What seems to be a bulk snack food store in Kotagede, an older section of Yogyakarta.

Above: The “Jogja” (Yogyakarta) skyline in a residential area. Locals told me you can see Mt. Merapi on a clearer day.

Above: Residential neighborhood, Yogyakarta.

 

Above left: Neighborhood mosque, Yogyakarta. Right: Neighborhood, Yogyakarta.

Above: A busy market near Kotagede, Yogyakarta.

Above: A vendor in Yogyakarta.

Above: A pedicab, or becak in Yogyakarta.

 

Above left: Maliboro, the main shopping district in Yogyakarta fills at night. Right: Tugu Monument, which sits at a main intersection in Yogyakarta.

 

Above left: A girl leaves a nearby Islamic school in Kotagede. Right: A sign for what I think is an Islamic school in Kotagede.

Above: Kotagede near the river. Notice the mosque and speakers for prayer on the left. This also shows off the Javanese architecture which can also be seen in structures of other religions.

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Prambanan, Indonesia

Not far from Borobudur is Prambanan, a similarly dated temple complex. Originally, it consisted of 240 temple structures, of which only a few remain. The largest and most important of these is devoted to the Hindu god Shiva, and roughly translates as the “Realm of Shiva.”

Architecturally, I was struck by how similar it is to Angkor Wat, which makes sense as both are Hindu temples. Like Borobudur, it also includes many bas reliefs of significant lore. Most important is probably the Ramayana, a great Hindu epic telling of a king’s daughter who is captured and rescued.

 

 

   

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In Taiwan: Year of the Horse

Some random shots from back in Taiwan. I do still live here after all!

I’ll be posting more from Indonesia again but here’s Ilha Formosa in the meantime.

 

 

 

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A Diagram of Enlightenment: Borobudur, Indonesia

Borobudur, located in central Java, Indonesia, is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and one of the oldest and most important Buddhist structures. Lost to the jungles and the earth until the mid-19th century, it was first completed around 825 CE, when Java and much of modern-day Indonesia was predominantly Buddhist and Hindu. By the 14th century, the Hindu and Buddhist dynasties declined, giving rise to Islam in the archipelago.

Today, Borobudur and its nearby Hindu companion, Prambanan, are sources of cultural pride for the predominantly Muslim country of Indonesia. Much like Angkor Wat of Cambodia, Borobudur and Prambanan connect to a mighty and mysterious past when traders from India, the Arabic world, and East Asia converged in the region to form great dynasties.

The monument is meant to portray a sort of “diagram” of Enlightenment. From above, Borobudur represents a Buddhist mandala or map of the universe, and this is noticed when climbing the monument. As the pilgrim ascends the monument, one sees bas reliefs of different stages of  Gautama Buddha’s life as well as the law of karma. In addition, statues of the Buddha represent certain meanings with mudras, or the positions of Gautama’s hands. These seating positions take place inside and out of stupas, or places for meditation which resemble cages. As a result, the top of this monument leads to the Buddhas being commonly referred to as the “caged Buddhas” of Indonesia.

Above: Tour groups, mostly from Indonesia, descend on Indonesia’s most-visited tourist attraction. Notice the school group at bottom right. Western tourists can expect to be asked to be included in quite a few of the locals’ photos!

Above: Buddhas sit in their stupas along the exterior of the temple. Notice the missing heads of some Buddhas. As with Angkor Wat in Cambodia, many heads are missing due to treasure hunters.

Above: One of the more complete statues which has survived the elements and treasure hunters.

Above: These two shots show the extensive bas reliefs along the sides of the temple. Stories of teaching, enlightenment, and the results of karma are told. Many of these reliefs are being slowly torn apart by the elements, including the harsh monsoon rains.

 

 

Above: A Buddha sits in a half-open stupa near the top of the temple. On a clear day, Mt. Merapi, an active volcano, is present. We seemed to have had too much haze to see it clearly.

Above: Caged stupas near the top.

 

In addition to Borobudur, there are two other temples in the area. The larger and more impressive of the two is Mendut, which also consists of a Buddhist monastery. Actually older than Borobudur, it is a starting point in a yearly religious pilgrimage for local Buddhists. It is geographically located in a straight line connecting Borobudur on one end, Pawon in the middle, and Mendut on the other side.

Above: Mendut temple.

Above: Main statue in Mendut Temple.

Above: The adjacent Mendut Buddhist Monastery. Notice the Javanese architecture in the main building to the left.

Further Reading: Borobudur Wikipedia Article and Mendut Wikipedia Article

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Spiritual and Financial Landmarks

These shots are from Kuala Lumpur, an incredibly diverse city I didn’t give nearly enough time to explore during a brief visit last week. I mainly visited the Petronas Twin Towers, the Batu Caves, and made a brief stop on the subway at Jamek Mosque, as a street of Indian restaurants (including the Betel Leaf) were just around the corner. I was really impressed at the diversity and “human capital” of the city and really need to return to see more of the country.

Above: The famous Petronas Twin Towers from the ground. We didn’t visit the observation deck but could see the scale of these from below.

Above: Masjid Jamek, which sits at its own metro stop in a main part of the city. Closed to non-Muslims on Fridays (the day we were exploring the city), it can still be seen from the nearby subway station.

 

Above left: the “touristy” part of the Masjid India Bazaar, a covered market mostly full of t-shirts and bags. Right: Hijabs for sale at the market.

Above: Street scene near Masjid India.

Above: Train station for Batu Caves.

 

Above left: Hindu altar at Batu Caves. Right: Statue at Batu Caves.

 

Above: a monkey at Batu Caves finishes bits of a coconut. It’s best to stay away from these adorable monsters while walking up the stairs. Don’t bring food with you up the stairs and watch your personal belongings. Very similar to the monkeys at Uluwatu, Bali (I’ll post on them later) and Songboling, Taiwan.

Above: A 42 meter/140 foot tall statue of Hindu deity Murugan stands at the entrance of the stairs leading up to the Batu Caves.

 

Above left: Another angle of the Murugan statue. Right: A 15 meter / 50 foot tall statue of Hanuman, a deity in the form of a monkey.

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In Korea: Snowy Changdeokgung (창덕궁) Palace (Korea Post 4)

Changdeokgung (창덕궁) Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the five grand palaces, along with Gyeongbokgung (경복궁), which I posted about earlier. Both were landmarks of the long-lasting Joseon (조선) Dynasty, which lasted from 1392-1897.

Changdeokgung is known not only for its castles, but its royal gardens. While we did not get to see these due to time constraints, the palace complex is huge in and of itself, and it was apparently more preferred to some kings over the main palace, Gyeongbokgung.

Above: notice the intricate detail of the painting as well as the net installed to keep birds out.

Above: a marker in the central courtyard marks where officials would line up for court meetings. This official is ranked #9 (九).

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Makishi Market, Naha – Okinawa Post 4

Makishi Market is located in a central part of Kokusai Dori Market, located in Naha, Okinawa. This market is much like the ones I’ve seen and taken photos at in Taiwan, though it was attached with restaurants that prepared your food and allowed you to eat your fresh fish as sashimi or a cooked dish.

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Single Shot: Tourism Tricycle in Lu Kang

This was taken quite a while ago during a trip to “Lukang,”, or 鹿港, an old town further south in Taiwan that was once an important harbor. Apparently, this cart is from the nearby Presbyterian Church, and I forgot about this picture as I was getting other shots posted and moving along.

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A Tuk-Tuk Drive in Bangkok

While visiting southeast Asia, you’ll inevitably see tuk-tuks, or small taxis that resemble a mix between a scooter and a covered back. Some are combined so the driver is covered in the front as well and others just involve what amounts to a motorcycle pulling a trailer.

In Bangkok, while ordinary people use these regularly, tuk-tuk drivers do prey on innocent tourists, and it’s best to stay away from these in favor of metered taxis so you don’t get ripped off. However, if you can get a ride for, say 50 baht (about USD $1.65) they work well for short distances in crowded streets. Of course, we didn’t get this price until we asked not one, but two tuk-tuk drivers… the first wanted 100 baht.

Anyway, these shots are from that tuk-tuk ride. Since it is extremely hard to take shots out of a moving tuk-tuk even if I go into shutter-priority mode and bump my ISO up a little, I took a shot whenever our driver stopped, which was quite often because of the traffic. This was taking place near the markets along the Chao Phraya that are in walking distance from the Royal Palace and Wat Pho.

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