Mirbek & Meerim @ Bukit Jalil

20 07 2011

I had a photoshoot session with Mirbek and Meerim this morning. It was a very brief shoot as Meerim had to rush off to sit for her exams which was starting at noon. Despite the rush, Meerim wanted some pictures with Mirbek as he came all the way to Malaysia to surprise her. Aww… isn’t both of them romantic?





My Europe Trip # 6 (Madrid)

19 07 2011

Being Spain’s largest city, I didn’t manage to explore the entire city of Madrid during my two days stay there. Still, it was beautiful place, particularly the atmospheric and colourful sights at Plaza Mayor, which I spend most of my time there taking pictures during my last day stay in Europe.

1. Plaza Mayor is usually packed with people throughout the day and night. Built in the 17th century, the place was traditionally used as a market but has since turned into a major tourist attraction with many festivals, street markets, performers held there.

2. A talented street performer was playing music by rubbing his fingers along the rims of wine glasses filled with water along the street of Madrid.

3. A lady dressed in a silver costume was seen posing as a maid cleaning the ‘floor’.

4. Another street performer dressed up as a goat at Plaza Mayor which caught the attention of many tourists.

5. It is a customary practice to give some money to these performers before pictures can be taken. I tried to shoot this particular ‘Spider-man’ before he turned his back on me and said “No money, no picture.” Note: There was also a miniature Spider-man in between his legs.

6. This headless man in a black suit was a real eye catcher. I took this shot using a long range lens while he was walking down the street.

7. It was amazing to see how this man made huge bubbles using only two sticks attached to a string.

8. A military man in copper red giving me a salute when I dropped a few cents into the can.

9. Plaza de la Villa or Town Hall Square is located not far away from Plaza Mayor. Till today, the town hall still retains its 16th century Gothic architecture.

10. Some random shots taken around the city of Madrid.

11. A wide angle shot of Palacio Real de Madrid or The Royal Palace of Madrid.

12. A headless man was seen sitting outside the palace.

13. This photographer uses his wooden box camera to take portrait pictures in black and white print in front of the Royal Palace. Scores of tourists were waiting in line for their picture to be taken.

14. Another shot of the photographer in front of the Royal Palace.

15. Each picture takes around 30 minutes to be ready by rinsing the film with water inside the blue bucket on the left. The photographer’s wife was helping a tourist to pose in front the camera.

16. Another headless man sitting along the street in front of the palace.

17. Statue of a Gothic King built at Plaza de Oriente.

18. The best way to explore Madrid is by walking its street. One can also explore the city by joining the numerous walking tours organised by the municipal tourist office or alternatively, hopping onto the city tourist bus as seen at the bottom right of the picture.

19. Located at Plaza de Cibeles, the Madrid City Hall is an iconic symbol of the city.

20. ‘Superman’ standing boldly among the crowd near Plaza Mayor.

21. Spongebob SquarePants was spotted selling balloons along the street.

22. This ‘bronze man’ was sitting without any visible support.

23. Another shot of the bronze man from side.

24. A man dressed up as a monster standing in front of Burger King.

25. A group of people in costumes were parading along the street at Plaza Mayor during Sunday morning. Apparently, street parades are common on Sundays where tourists gather at the plaza to watch these colourful performances. There were also marching bands, dancers and musicians joining the rest of the ensemble.

26. Some other shots taken at the street parade.

27. This man was attempting to do a ‘teh-tarik’ stunt using a cup and a bottle of liquor.

28. A man with red plastic hair wig was walking towards the plaza while checking his text messages.

29. A man dressed up as Mickey Mouse was seen selling balloons during mid afternoon.

30. Two woman walking from the Plaza Mayor Arch towards the street market.





My Europe Trip #5 (Lisbon)

10 07 2011

The city of Lisbon is a heady mix of old buildings covered with painted tiles, grand squares and a labyrinth of narrow alleys. Spreading over seven hills, the city certainly has its own charm, offering a diverse range of attractions from religious sites with rich historical values to construction marvels of modern Lisbon.

1. An old man was seen looking at a postcard picture of Lisbon along the shopping street at Baixa .

2. A monument of King John I situated at the Praça da Figueira Square.

3. A view of Castle of Saint George which sits at the highest hill in Lisbon. The castle is one of the main historical and touristic site of Lisbon.

4. A wide angle shot of Gare do Oriente. Also known as Oriental Station, it is one of Lisbon’s major railway station and transport terminal.

5. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the station was completed in 1998 for the World Expo.

6. Two passengers were seen waiting for the next train. Gare do Oriente has an annual turnover of 75 million passengers and is considered the world’s busiest station.

7. Located at Praça do Comércio square, the Rua Augusta Arch is situated near to the Tagus River. After the great 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, the square was completely remodeled to indicate its new role in the economy of Lisbon while the arch was built to commemorate the city reconstruction.

8. A closer view of the upper section of the arch.

9. A street performer wearing a hand drawn mask performing at the Bairro Alto shoping district.

10. A bus station at the upper level of Gare do Oriente which serves both local and intercity destinations.

11. Some random shots taken around the city of Lisbon.

12. A very animated street performer dressed in black was giving out balloons during an opening ceremony for a bathroom product outlet.

13. Another street performer in white was attached to a huge balloon on his body for the same event. At one point, he was nearly thrown off balance due to the strong wind.

14. A reflection of the building at Praça do Comércio from the huge glass panel at Museum of Design.

15. Jerónimos Monastery is a very prominent monastery located near to the shores of Belem. The architectural theme revolves around maritime elements intricately carved on limestone.

16. A fountain at Praça do Império, featuring a pair of horses from the symbol of the zodiac.

17. Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) was built to celebrate the Portuguese who took part in the Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. It is located next to the Targus river where many ships once departed.

18. On both sides of the monument, huge figures were carved to represent monarchs, explorers, cartographers, artists, scientists and missionaries from the Age of Discovery. A man was seen posing on the side ramp at the lower left corner of the picture.

19. A closer look at some of the figures.

20. A picture of the Hard Rock Cafe building located near to Praca dos Restauradores.

21. Casa Das Bifanas offers a good range of local food. As with most restaurants in Lisbon, breads are usually served with several choices of butter. Casa Das Bifanas also includes a mini sardine spread for the bread.

22. Not surprisngly, local seafood is widely available such as the popular Portuguese grilled fish.

23. These snails are available only on certain seasons (June till August) and are reputedly very healthy food due to its low calorie count.

24. Pedestrians crossing the road towards the Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre.

25. Another view of the shopping centre from the exit of Oriental Station.

26. Vasco De Gama is Lisbon’s finest mall with over 100 shops within the complex. Featuring a large transparent roof and modern architectural design, many shoppers enjoy the scenic view of the sea on the upper level. Photography was strictly prohibited and these shots were taken before the securities reminded me to put my camera away.

27. Built in the 16th century, the Belem Tower is now listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located along the Tagus River, the site was once a defense fortress which has now become a major tourist attraction.





My Europe Trip #4 (Seville)

4 07 2011

If there is one word to describe the weather in Seville, it would be ‘hot’. During mid afternoon, the scorching sun can be unforgiving, with temperature hovering at above 35°C. Hence, most locals prefer walking under the shades along narrow lanes as it much cooler than open areas. Despite the hot weather, Seville is a gorgeous city and it is easy to fall in love with its very laid back lifestyle.

1. Built in 1915, the Adriática building is a beautiful example of Seville unique architectural characteristic. Today, Adriática serves as an office while the ground floor houses La Confitería Filella, which is a popular dessert shop.

2. The upper portion of the Adriática building featuring a green striped dome and checkered rooftops.

3. A wide angle shot of the street where the Adriática was built.

4. Churro or otherwise known as Spaninsh donut is popular snack in Spain. It is very similar to our local ‘Yau Char Kwai’ in terms of its texture and taste. What makes Churro different is the inclusion of a glass of hot chocolate for the Churo to be dipped into before eating.

5. Seville bicycle for hire is conveniently found in most tourist areas.

6. The entrance of a church which is lavishly designed with intricate carvings.

7. A musician performing along the Tetuan shopping street.

9. A street artist looking for inspiration for his sketch.

10. Six, a clothing boutique at the Tetuan shopping street.

11. Sliced ham are very popular in Spain. These thinly sliced, salt cured ham are usually served as tapas (appetizers).

12. Seville received many influences from Arabic cultures despite having medieval, renaissance and baroque heritage and this is evident from the various buildings that reside in the city.

13. One of the church along the main street of Seville.

14. A closer look at the church…

15. These roasted nuts coated with caramel were selling for €2 per packet at a local market. Yummylicious!

16. A typical scene at a fruit market. To preserve the freshness of the fruits, customers are not allowed to touch or handpick them.

17. One of the main attraction in Seville is the Seville’s cathedral which was built back in 1401. Although the structure is primarily Gothic, the internal decoration is Arabic.

18. The La Giralda standing at 104.5 m tall is a bell tower located next to the cathedral. It was formerly built as a light house in 1184.

19. A candid shot of a woman walking in front of the Seville cathedral.

20. A horse resting under the shade with a two wheel carriage mounted on its body.

21. In Seville, people work from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then from 5 p.m to about 8 p.m. Most people still follow the tradition of heading home for lunch and enjoying their ‘siesta’ (short nap). Typically, people at Seville have a very laid back culture. The locals stroll along the street at a relax pace enjoying their life to the fullest.

22. An elderly lady looking at the city from the balcony during mid afternoon where most shops are closed for ‘siesta’.

23. Located at Plaza de la Encarnacion, the Metropol Parasol is the largest wooden structure in the world. This impressive design is both unique and also mind boggling at the same time. The wooden panel are aligned in honeycomb shape to form a huge parasol.

24. A typical set up of a local restaurant in Seville with chunks of meat hanging from the ceiling.

25. A street performer rendering some Western country songs with characters from the Simpsons ‘dancing’ along to the tunes whenever he taps his foot. The characters are tied to his feet via a fine steel wire.

26. Some additional shots around the city of Seville.

27. Plaza de España is the best showcase of Spain’s Renaissance architectural style featuring huge boulevard, beautiful canals, fountain, bridges and gardens. Located at Maria Luisa Park, the entire Plaza was built in a huge semi-circle shape.

28. It is interesting to note that the Plaza de España was used by George Lucas for the filming of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

29. A shot of the huge boulevard from the main building.

30. Plaza de España was built by Spanish architect Aníbal Gonzalez in 1914. Brick was chosen as the main material, in combination with tiles and marble columns.

31. A shot of the tower taken from Maria Luisa Park.

32. The ceiling of Plaza de España with honeycomb shaped tiles.

33. A woman in red was seen walking past a huge arch in the Plaza.





My Europe Trip #3 (Barcelona)

3 07 2011

When we arrived at Barcelona, we were told by our cab driver that the city never sleeps. And true to its words, the city of Barcelona was bustling with activities even after midnight. From medieval buildings to modern plazas, stylish boulevard and beautiful waterfront harbour, it is not surprising that Barcelona has something to offer for everyone.

1. Port Vell which means ‘Old Harbour’ is anything but old. After major extension works in recent times, this beautiful waterfront harbour is now a big tourist attraction featuring a huge shopping mall and variety of bars and restaurants.

2. Monestir De Montserrat which lies 50km northwest of Barcelona is another huge tourist attraction. Sitting at 1,236m above sea level, the Benedictine monk retreat is built next to mountains of weird jagged formation.

3. One of the highly detailed sculpture on the interior walls of Monestir De Montserrat.

4. Although photography was not allowed inside the monastery, I managed to capture this shot using a wide-angle lens when the monastery boys’ was performing a choir session

5. Another shot at the entrance of the monastery with the mountain of bulbous peaks in the background. The monastery was founded in 1025, after a statue of Virgin Mary was found there.

6. Candid shots of a little girl feeding the pigeons at Plaça de Catalunya or Catalonia Square. During day time, pigeons are seen everywhere at this place.

7. Barcelona features many cutting edge design and art. Tourists will marvel at the many modernist building designs even at the most unexpected corner of the street.

8. Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe is the home of FC Barcelona since its construction in 1957.

9. A shot of the FC Barcelona merchandise store next to the stadium.

10. Reputedly the best market in the world, La Boqueria has a rich history dating back to 1217 when the place was nothing more than a few tables selling meat near the old door of the city.

11. This vendor sells one of the best home made chocolate I ever tasted. It was so good that most branded chocolate doesn’t even come close to the ones sold there.

12. A shot of the home made chocolates sold.

13. The variety of goods sold at La Boqueria is endless. This friendly lady sells tinned food at one of the stall in the market.

14. Many of the vendors are fourth or fifth generation of the families that helped create the market.

15. A variety of colourful sugar candies sold at a stall near to the entrance of the market.

16. Sausages were seen hanging at one of the stall in the market.

17. The market is located along the street of La Ramblas and it is not difficult to find given the unmissable crowd entering in and out of the market.

18. Known as Barcelona’s House of Bones, Casa Batlló is an architectural marvel by the famous architect, Antonio Gaudi. The residence was remodeled by Antonio in 1904 and features a unique appearance of skulls and bones. The facade is made of coral coloured sandstone and the roof resembles a scaled dragon.

19. Located at Paasseig de Gracia, tourists gather outside the building day and night admiring its unique form and shape.

19. Some of the pictures taken along Rambla de Mar, the pedestrian walkway between La Ramblas and Port Vell.

20. A candid shot inside the metro train. Getting around Barcelona was a breeze as there are 11 lines connecting 164 Metro stations.

21. A wide angle shot of Estadi Olimpic at Montjuic which was built for the 1992 Olympic Games.

22. La Ramblas is the most famous street in Barcelona filled with everything from souvenir stalls, street performer to high end boutiques and cafes.

23. Sagrada Família is the most recognisable icon in Barcelona. This fantastic church is Antoni Gaudi’s greatest masterpiece. Work began in 1882 and was Gaudi’s life work until his death in 1926. The church is still under construction and is believed to be completed by 2020.








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