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).
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.
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.
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.
I’m doing something I don’t normally do and posting on the weekend to show off a slideshow I made of my time in Cambodia, with special emphasis made on ancient Khmer culture and the ruins of Angkor Archaeological Park.
The music in this slideshow comes from a recording made by Tara Alan and Tyler Kellen. They recorded a group of landmine victims playing traditional Cambodian music for their blog about bicycling around the world, Going Slowly. While they seem to be back according to their posts, you can get a lot of insight about world travel through their ginormous website. They were nice enough to allow me to use their recording. Remember, you can buy CDs of this music from the musicians themselves, who frequent areas around the temples.
I recommend seeing this video at full screen and if possible, at 1080p quality, the highest available.
Apsara, the traditional Cambodian ballet which dates back thousands of years, is a dance form which is a bit of a mainstay of southeast Asian culture. Many people associate the dance form with Thailand, but Cambodia and Thailand probably share this form as a result of their Hindu-influenced strains of Buddhism.
We saw this performance in a pretty luxurious hotel (which we didn’t stay at) which offered a dance and a dinner for about $25 – a fortune for a meal in Cambodia. Also included was a form of Cambodian folk dance.
While we were seated near the front and I soon noticed photos were OK, I had trouble with the stage lights being unpredictable, not wanting to use flash (though others did), and the movement of the dancers being much quicker than I had realized.
Left: I included this image from Angkor Wat to show you how similar these dancers are. They could be apsaras or devatas, and I’m am not 100% certain.
Above: a representation of the killing of a demon. I believe this relates to the Hindu story of the Ramayana, detailing the stealing away of an Indian princess named Sita and the rescue of her by Rama, an avatar of Vishnu.
Today’s image is a standard scene taken by thousands of photographers before me. I woke poor Yuling up at about 4:00am to meet Thean, our tuk-tuk driver for the two days of exploring temples. We then hopped in the back of the tuk-tuk at about 4:40 and rushed in after buying our park passes.
I was startled and amazed at a few things after seeing this scene in person for the first time. The first is that the water in front of Angkor Wat is NOT the famous moat around the complex as I had thought before. It is a manmade pond on the northwest corner of the complex that looks east for the sunrise. It DOES work wonderful for reflections and the fact that there are some breakfast stands to the left doesn’t hurt, either.
The second thing that startled me is the huge mass of photographers and tourists who group up around this small lake for that one picture. In the future, when I see documentaries of Angkor Wat talking about this as a “remote jungle temple complex,” I will laugh. The site itself is in the hands of the tourists now, for better or for worse.
While I’m glad I woke up for the shot, part of me is startled by how little reward there is in getting an image like this – I think this is why I like the concept and practice of street photography, which is infinitely more interesting. With that said, I’m not complaining about my chance to get “the Angkor Wat shot” I was looking for.
This was taken at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. I had remembered that I took it after visiting last weekend and hadn’t realized that it was never posted. It’s my favorite image of a trip I took to the memorial when family members visited me in Taiwan.
I was taking these images with no flash and with the firing mode on the camera set to silent. This allows me to take a very quiet shot and then release the shutter button to put the mirror back. Perfect for a ceremony such as this where cameras are questionable, anyway.
Next week is the beginning of Chinese New Year, and it seems like things are already winding down. I’m planning on showing some family members around and am looking forward to exploring southern Taiwan. In addition, we’ll be taking part in New Year’s festivities, so it’ll be a loud week, if anything!
These were taken while walking around a year-end celebration in the community. Lots of reds here, as you’d expect!
Gloomy day outside. I figured these black and white shots would fit in well – it’s always a good choice for post-processing with this crummy Taiwan winter weather.