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.

My Europe Trip #2 (Paris)

29 06 2011

It is easy to fall in love with Paris or ‘The City of Light’. For a first time visitor like yours truly, the city is everything a tourist can ask for. From famous landmarks to impressive architectural public buildings, Paris never ceases to amaze with its grand vistas. While the spectacular landscape can easily leave anyone in awe, the French capital has a lot more to offer.

1. Being France’s tallest and most famous monument, the Eiffel Tower is the international symbol of Paris. Standing at 324 meters high, the tower is built with 7,300 tonnes of iron and held together with 2.5 million rivets.

2. One of the most notable monument in Paris is the Palais Garnier which was built in the 19th century.

3. Paris boasts stunning architectural style. Known as art-nouveau architecture, buildings around the capital are truly a sight to behold.

4. The details on many of its public building are immaculate. One can literally stand right in front of any building admiring the attention to detail put onto its architecture.

5. Street side cafes are found everywhere in Paris. One doesn’t need to look far to find food around the city. For a set lunch costing € 10.50, our set meal came with a complimentary glass of tiramisu and cappuccino.

6. When it comes to food, Paris has everything from fast food restaurants to non-French cuisines such as pasta or spaghetti. In fact, foreign food is what Paris does better than other cities in the country.

7. Paris has 373 metro stations and there is always a station within 500m of wherever we were.

8. Although well connected, the Metro stations are in a deplorable state. Funky smells, badly lit stations and aging structures are commonly seen everywhere.

9. The Arc de Triomphe is the second most famous monument in Paris which was built in honour of those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary War.

10. A view of the spectacular city of Paris from the terrasse, the viewing platform of Arc de Triomphe which is 50m above ground.

11. The spiral staircase leading up the the terrase.

12. The inner walls of Arc de Triomphe shot from ground level.

13. The walls of the Arc is decorated with characters from the Roman mythology.

14. A candid shot of some locals shopping along the main district of Paris.

15. The biggest shopping mall in Paris is Galeries Lafayette. Established in 1893, this is France most famous department store. The interior architecture is magnificent with its dome looking like an eye from ground level at certain angle.

16. Another shot of the Galeries Lafayette at the foyer.

17. The Gare du Nord train station as seen beneath the glass roof starts operating from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. daily.

18. The Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the most visited site in Paris. The cathedral is the pinnacle of Gothic architecture which also inspires Victor Hugo’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ back in 1831.

19. It is interesting to note that the construction of the cathedral started in 1163 and took nearly 200 years to finish. Notre Dame measures 130m long, 48m wide and 35m high and can accommodate more than 6,000 worshipers.

20. The west facade of the cathedral features many statues to help illiterates understand the Old Testament stories, the Passion of Christ and the lives of the saints. These shots were taken using a long range lens from ground level.

21. A view of Notre Dame Cathedral from the south.

22. The west facade of the cathedral features sculpture of gargoyles.

23. A groom was seen helping the bride with her gown as she gets herself prepared for a wedding shoot in front of Notre Dame.

24. Two candid shots of bird around the cathedral.

25. A nearby building shot from the west facade of Notre Dame.

26. A view of Eiffel Tower from ground level. I used a wide angle lens to covey the width of the imposing structure.

27. A merry go round just across the street where the Eiffel Tower stood.

28. One can enjoy the many views of Paris by taking the river cruise along the Seine River. The 70 minutes cruise features commentary in both French and English.

29. Miniature Eiffel Towers are commonly sold at the street market as souvenir item.

30. Cheap perfumes at around € 10 per bottle are sold outside Galeries Lafayette.

31. Another sculpture seen along the main district of Paris.

32. A college student from Budapest, Hungary reading a book about Theology at Place du Trocadéro, a site facing the Eiffel Tower.

33. A street artist along the river bank sketching out a picture of a girl.

My Europe Trip #1 (London)

22 06 2011

For the first time, I embarked on a multi-country journey across Europe in a short two-week period, experiencing various cultures, people, landmarks, and of course, food. Most of the time, travelling within the various cities in Europe was on foot and occasionally via the underground Metro system. Getting around the cities wasn’t difficult as Europe has one of the best public transportation system.

Here are some of the random pictures that I took in the City of London, a metropolis filled with fascinating sites and vibrant cultures.

1. Originally designed as a temporary structure, the London Eye is now a permanent icon in the city. Towering at 135m tall, the Ferris wheel is London’s most distinctive landmarks. Here is a shot of the London Eye taken from the Westminster Bridge.

2. The cheapest way to get around London is via the underground tube. It starts from 5:30 a.m. to roughly 12:30 a.m. and convenient to use. While it can be rather congested during peak hours, most stations are relatively empty after 10:00 a.m. Here is a picture of the Bayswater station.

3. Covent Garden is one of London’s must-go place for shoppers. With tonnes of restaurants, souvenir shops, bars, street performers, and bazaar like market in the morning, the place is bustling with activities all day long. Key chains spelling out the city name come in all shapes and sizes are sold there.

4. The heart of the Covent Garden is the ‘Piazza’, which houses a large market with side bars, cafes and shop. Here is a typical scene of the place during morning.

5. Universally known as the ‘tube’, London underground transportation system is well connected with 14 different intersecting routes.

6. London underground stations are relatively cleaner and well maintained as compared to those in other Europe countries. Each station is brightly lit with ample directional signage to help tourists to get around places. The tube is the second largest Metro line in the world and reputedly the third busiest Metro system in the entire Europe.

7. Barclays’ bicycle for hire scheme is another popular mode of transportation in London. Simply pick any bicycle from the allocated docking station, ride it anywhere and park it for the next person to use. It is the one of the most convenient method for travelling around the city.

8. The Victoria memorial erected in front of the entrance of Buckingham Palace.

9. A street magician performing the classic Houdini trick at Covent Garden.

10. The interior view of Covent Garden with casual stalls selling jeweleries, gifts, antiques and other stuff.

11. Walking along the street in London is a sight to marvel with interesting mixture of small shops to huge ultra-modern shopping district and classical architectural buildings.

12. A candid shot of a man inside the tube.

13. The Admiralty Arch which links Trafalgar Square to the Buckingham Palace is another famous landmark in London.

14. One of the top attraction in London is the changing of the guard which takes place at Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Her Majesty. The event starts at 11:30 a.m. daily (from May to July) and on alternate days for the rest of the year. Here is a shot of a Grenadier Guard patrolling the grounds of Buckingham Palace before changing took place.

15. A Grenadier Guard standing at the entrance of palace providing sentry duty during the day.

16. A policeman keeping an eye of the crowd during the changing of the guard. We were told to keep a close eye at our bag and wallet as pickpockets are a common occurrence in crowded places.

17. Another policeman on horse was keeping a close watch at the crowd to ensure that everyone is standing within the boundaries when the foot soldiers were about to march in.

18. Foot soldiers marching in to the front gate at the beginning of the ceremony.

19. As the changing of the guard is one of the highlight when visiting London, throngs of tourists are seen outside the palace to witness the event.

20. Soldiers from the Line Infantry standing in line during the ceremony.

21. A tourist was seen reaching her hands out into the iron grills of the palace gates taking pictures of the ceremony.

22. Some additional shots of the changing of guard. While the event lasted only about 30 minutes, the entire ceremony was very elaborate.

23. Dining out in London is certainly not a problem with an abundant range of restaurants around. Prima Sapori D’ Italia located near to Covent Garden provides a decent range of italian dishes such as pasta and spaghetti.

24. This shot was taken at nearly 40,000 feet above sea level inside the Qatar Airways airplane during the flight from Doha to London.

25. A candid shot of a man walking along the street in London.

26. A group of tourists posing with a street performer, impersonating as the Queen.

27. A Chinese lady was seen preparing some dough in her shop at Chinatown.

28. Apart from the impressive architecture along the streets, the signages are equally appealing. Far from being an eyesore, these signages contribute to the aesthetic appearance of the city.

29. A guard mounted on the horse in front of the Household Cavalry Museum at Whitehall.

30. Another calvary guard standing by the entrance of the Museum.

31. A picture of the Judicial Committee of Privy Council building.

32. An imposing monument standing in front of the Buckingham Palace with the Victoria memorial in the background.

33. A monument of King George IV at the Trafalgar Square.

34. A policeman stationed in front of 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister.

35. A pair of sunglasses resting on top of some reading materials at the Literature Museum.

36. An interior view of the buildings next to the River Thames.

37. An intricate design of lions and horses at the main gate of Buckingham Palace.

38. The Westminster Abbey standing at 225 feet tall boasting an impressive English Gothic design. This is also the famous church where Prince William and Kate Middleton were pronounced husband and wife. In fact, every monarch has been crowned in the Westminster Abbey.

39. A closer look at the intricate design at the entrance of the church.

40. A couple walking along the street leading down to the Buckingham Palace.

41. The Marble Arch which was originally built as a gateway to the Buckingham Palace was moved over to junction of Oxford Street and Edgware Road.

43. A candid shot of a woman walking past a Marks and Spencer outlet.

44. A walk along the Tower Bridge which leads over the Thames to East London. Many consider it to be the world’s most beautiful bridges.

45. A landscape shot of the Thames River with the shadow of the bridge resting on the murky water.

46. Another view of the Tower Bridge from afar.

47. The clock tower Big Ben which is located near to the Houses of Parliament as seen from the Westminster Station.

48. Incidentally, Big Ben actually refers to the 13-ton bell inside the tower which was named after Benjamin Hall and not the clock tower itself. In movies, ‘Big Ben’ has come to be a symbol of London as the famous icon has been featured over and over again in numerous movies.

49. A street performer impersonating Charlie Chaplin was seen along the street opposite of the clock tower.

50. A close view of Palace of Westminster, a royal residence for ceremonial purposes which is located next to the clock tower.

Pasar Besar Wakaf Bharu @ Kelantan #2

13 02 2011

Every Friday, Wakaf Bharu becomes crowded as stalls are lined up along the street of the famous “Friday Market” near ‘Pasar Besar Wakaf Bharu’. Apart from the street market, the town is also well known for its morning market which is buzzing with activities during the day.

1. Fresh vegetables are sold in the morning market. Most of these vegetables are home grown by the sellers themselves at their kampung (village).

2. Stack of cucumbers sold at the market place. These cucumbers are free from pesticides as they are all homegrown.

3. A Malay woman was seen selling ‘Kacang Kuda Rebus’ or Boiled Chickpeas. These beans are soaked in the water overnight before being cooked in boiled water.

4. An unusual sight of fried red rice vermicelli at the market.

5. An old woman sitting behind heaps of fresh vegetables. The four-angled beans were tied with rubber band as can be seen in the picture.

6. ‘Mee rojak’ or rojak noodles were nicely packed and arranged on top of the metal tray for morning consumption. These noodles are accompanied with thick peanut sauce which is sweeter than the common rojak found elsewhere.

7. ‘Pulut pagi’ is a popular breakfast snack in Kelantan. These glutinous rice are cooked with brown sugar and is eaten with coconut flakes and boiled beans.

8. The thick stems of ‘Kai Lan’ or Chinese broccoli provide an interesting composition to shoot from top view. These vegetables are tied together with rubber bands.

9. Fresh vegetable salad with beautiful hues of green under natural light.

10. Another woman selling a variety of vegetables.

11. ‘Ketupat palas’ or glutinous rice wrapped in triangular shaped fan palm leaves is another unique offering only found in Kelantan. It is commonly eat with chicken or beef rendang.

12. Fresh gingers and other vegetables as sold in the market.

13. A combination of green and white chendol nicely packed in plastic bags.

14. A view of the bustling Wakaf Bharu morning market from afar.

Pasar Besar Wakaf Bharu @ Kelantan

10 02 2011

I had a chance to visit the morning market at Wakaf Bharu during Chinese New Year. Known as ‘Pasar Besar Wakaf Bharu’ or Wakaf Bharu Big Market, this is the largest market in the district of Tumpat, Kelantan and it is very crowded during day time.

1. A woman was seen selling selling ‘Apam Balik’ , a popular Malaysian version of crepe. Apam Balik is usually prepared with sugar, sweet corn and crushed peanuts.

2. Although meat and fresh vegetables were the common items sold at Wakaf Bharu market, non-food items were also abundantly seen around the place. Used shoes were spread out on the ground for buyers looking for cheap buys.

3. ‘Pisang Goreng’ or banana fritter is another popular snacks commonly seen at road side stalls. Apparently, fried snacks are popular among the Kelantanese.

4. A batik trader was seen haggling prices with the buyers. Spotting a piece of batik cloth wrapped around his torso, his antics were spotted against the vivid colours of the batik cloths at the background.

5. Fresh chillies and other vegetables as sold by one of the traders.

6. The aroma of freshly fried prawn fritters or ‘cucur udang’ was tantalizing enough to attract passersby. The lady who was selling the light snack was busy preparing the batter.

7. A Malay woman clad with malay ethnic wear was looking at the towel hangers.

8.  ‘Ikan Masin’ or salted fishes are usually cooked with some local dishes. These fishes were dried under the hot sun with sea salt so that they can be kept for a long time.

9. Another trader seen selling used shoes.

10. A lady carrying her child with a pink balloon walking along the busy market street.

11. ‘Lekor’ (or ‘Keropok Gote’ in Kelantanese dialect) is another popular snack here. These fish sausages are deep fried in hot oil and are distinctively longer than the usual lekor found in other states of Malaysia.

12. A child curiously looking at the camera while I was taking some candid shots of the market.

Happy Chinese New Year

3 02 2011

To all my friends, family members, relatives and blog readers (that’s you!), I would like to wish all of you, Gong Hei Fatt Choy! May the year of rabbit bring good health, luck, abundant wealth and joyous moments.

Bandung Trip

12 10 2010

It is finally time to do a short review on my Bandung trip. Instead of writing a chronological event from the time I boarded the plane till I landed home, I thought it would be a nice idea to highlight the pictures that I had taken with a short description behind it. I always like how The Big Picture website presents their pictures with a strong narrative for each of them. While I am nowhere near their photography skill, here are some of the shots that I had taken from my recent Bandung trip.

1. A pair of Javanese Dolls which represents Lord Rama and Goddess Sita were seen at the front counter of Hotel Cihampelas. Both Rama and Sita were principle characters in the epic story of Ramayana, which is a well known Hindu poetry and literature. Dolls like these are found everywhere in Bandung with some of them varying in colours and features.

2. The Valley – Bistro Cafe and Resort was built on the hill top which offers customers a panoramic view of the Bandung city during evening time from the hill. The tables are decorated with small lights which gives a romantic feel during dusk. A waiter was seen lighting up the small oil lamps which were later placed on each table.

3. Another view of The Valley with tables arranged next to the balcony. It is really impressive to find such an up-class dining restaurant in Bandung.

4. Custard puffs were served with a miniature umbrella which gives a nice touch to the food presentation.

5. The oil lamp on the table provides a nice warm ambiance against the blue backdrop. In Bandung, the sky gets dark around 5 p.m.

6. One of main highlights in Bandung is shopping. Factory outlets are abundant selling branded items such as Armani, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger and etc. However, not all of them are genuine as a handful of them are considered second or third grade imitations. Seen here are Dunhill ties at The Secret factory outlet.

7. Clothes typically cost around RP 30,000 – RP 150,000. The most reputable factory outlet is known as Rumah Mode (pronouced: Moh-Duh). Cameras are strictly not permitted inside most factory outlets. This shot was taken just seconds before the security guard requested my camera to be kept inside the bag.

8. Other brands such as Baby Milo is also available. This shot was taken at The Secrets which is another well known factory outlet.

9. Toyota is a very popular car brand in Bandung. Ironically, the Innova range of MPV is known as ‘Kijang’ which means ‘Deer’.

10. The Air Asia flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bandung took around 2 hours. At 40,000 feet above sea level, the clouds as seen from the window seat was truly breathtaking.

11. Air Asia now flies to Bandung every day. The air fare costs around RM 333 for a two-way trip.

12. Street side stalls were aplenty in Bandung. Just about every roads in Bandung city are filled with make shift stalls selling food or merchandise.

13. Tourists are seen walking down the path at Tangkuban Perahu which is an active volcano 30km north of the Bandung City. Stalls selling various merchandises are seen on both side of the path.

14. An old lady was selling barbecued corns at Tangkuban Perahu. With the cold temperature below 20 degrees Celsius at the highland area, a hot piece of corn was certainly a nice welcome.

15. Bandung has many local skilled craftsmanship. This man was seen sculpting from a piece of wood with a machete.

16. A pair of wooden ducks, sculptured from a piece of wood were selling for RP 30,000.

17. These wooden heads were skillfully crafted and sold at Tangkuban Perahu.

18. Keychains, apparently made from volcanic rock were selling for RP 15,000 per piece. These keychains are reputedly scratched proof.

19. Mie Baso is a well known dish in Bandung. Using the noodle from instant noodle packets, it is cooked with bean sprout, meat balls, fried shallots and vegetables.

20. At Tangkuban Perahu, each bowl of Mie Baso costs around RP 10,000. Depending on the stall, it could be cheaper. Despite the simple looking meal, it was nevertheless very appetizing.

21. A huge spider was spotted weaving its web at a Buddhist temple near to Sapulidi.

22. Pak Ude operates a stall at the foothill of White Ciater. He specialises in selling ‘goreng-gorengan’ which are basically fried fritters and fried tofu. According to him, the locals enjoy eating fried tofu with cili padi (bird’s eye chili).

23. The tofu are freshly fried thus ensuring that they are crispy despite the cold temperature.

24. Jalan Cibadayut, or more popularly known as the shoe street at Southern Bandung sells shoes of all sorts and sizes. From hiking shoes to casual wears, these shoes are sold at a bargain price.

24. Constant heavy traffic is seen along the Cibaduyut street. Taxis are called ‘Angkutan Kota’ in Bandung which is basically a truck with passengers seated at the rear.

25. Naruto, a popular Japanese anime character is very famous in Bandung. Just about every road side stall has miniature Naruto characters for sale.

26. A man is seen selling Bandung t-shirts besides the street of Cibaduyut. For some strange reason, the Volkswagen Beetle is often imprinted on Bandung t-shirts.

27. A boy was seen standing at beside a house at along the alley just off the main street of Cibaduyut.

28. A group of kids who were playing ‘flying slippers’ were excited upon seeing my camera. They quickly rushed towards and posed in front of me.

29. Oleh-oleh (souvenir snacks) is very popular in Bandung. They are deep fried using oil in a circular stone stove.

30. An old man cycling with only one hand along the busy street of Cibaduyut whilst holding a bird cage. Ironically, there was a safety banner just across the street.

31. A young boy sitting inside Angkutan Kota was peeping outside the window.

32. Trishaw pullers are a rare sight in Bandung. This puller was seen relaxing in his own trishaw while waiting for the next customer.

33. There are certainly plenty of food to choose from in Bandung. One of the most famous Nasi Padang restaurant is Rumah Garuda. Every dish served on the table will be counted based on consumption.

34. Nasi Padang dishes also include exotic delicacies such as skewered cow tongue.

35. One of the most highly recommended place is eat is Rumah Makan Dago which cooks Sundanese food. Rumah Dago is located at Ir. H Juanda 127, Bandung, Jawa Barat.

36. Sapulidi which is a restaurant built on top of a vast paddy field offers a delectable range of local cuisine. Bandung also has their version of salad known as ‘Gado gado’. In Malaysia, we usually term it as Rojak.

37. Fish is a staple food for the local people. Seafood are generally fresh as there are abundant of supplies around the Jawa island.

38. Ondel-ondel is popular show in Indonesia which depicts ancestor protecting the safety of the village and everything in it. Red face ondel-ondel symbolises male while white face presents female.

39. A group of handcrafted Ondel-ondel dolls were selling for RP 25,000 each at a local souvenir shop.

40. Some of the bigger handcrafted Ondel-ondel dolls were selling for RP 65,000 each.

41. Minature music instruments are also popular souvenir items among tourists.

42. Hand made replica of electric guitars used by popular rock band such as Gun’s N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, Metallica and etc. were selling at stalls at Tangkuban Perahu.

43. Along the road from Bandung towards Lembang, there were many pineapple stalls. These sellers skillfully cut the pineapple and place the slices inside the plastic bag for consumption.

44. The pineapple sold at the street are very sweet as can be seen from the bees on the fruit.

45. Cihampelas street or otherwise known as Jeans street is populated with factory outlets with superheroes icons at the front of their shop.

46. A closer look at Spider-man from the main road.

47. There were also some other famous movie icons such as Tarzan and Rambo.

48. This sewing machine is used for clothes altering.

49. Ultraman is looking after the food stall in front of the Superhero factory outlet.

50. A father with his son was being ‘watched over’ by the Terminator in front of the Superhero outlet.

51. J.Co which is a popular donut outlet in Malaysia is seen in a shopping mall called Cihampelas Walk. Apparently, yogurt is quite popular in Bandung and J.Co has capitalized on it by offering their fruit yogurt.

52. J.Co serviettes were creatively printed with ideas to be jotted down in case inspiration came up while eating their food.

53. A wedding shoot was done along the Al Fresco street at Cihampelas Walk. The groom was having some lighter moments with his chihuahua which he had brought along for the wedding shoot.

54. Cihampelas Walk is a modern shopping mall filled with many contemporary dining outlets. The mall had recently gone through some upgrading works to cater for the shoppers.

55. Customize bags selling for RP 150,000 each were seen displaying on the wall rack at a shop near to Cihampelas Walk. There was only one shop in Bandung city that sell such bags.

56. Amazingly, customize bags like these are made from just an old sewing machine. One of them has just be completed as can be seen on top of the red shelves.

57. A big gorilla signboard teasing the onlookers with its butt.

58. An old man pushing his wooden cart along the Cihampelas street. Business was brisk on that sunny day as many customers were buying ice-cream from him.

59. A wooden doll depicting Lord Rama was sold at a stall facing Situ Patenggang lake. According to myth, there was a love story between the prince and princess which resulted in the lake water filled with their tears.

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