Posted on June 9, 2017
I got this idea from one spontaneous traveler. He would spin a globe and stop it with his index finger. He will look at the place where his finger had landed and then pack his bags or suitcase quickly to go to that place. I did the same thing. My finger landed somewhere in the Gulf (or purposely made it land there) and decided that it’s Dubai. At least it had to be because it’s the only place I know that is within that neighborhood. So I literally ran to the airport and fly to Dubai right after that. Of course I am just kidding. 🙂 I believe I planned this all along and I am not a spontaneous traveler. My passport is not really one of the strongest in the world, so traveling to Dubai is a challenge. Besides, the Middle East (or Western Asia) is a dream (up until now) and way over my travel budget. Looking back now, it was not also the best time to visit the place. Summer has started and it was 40 degrees during the day; with the heat a different kind of painful on the skin and the air a bit stifling and suffocating for first timers. But it was also the time to take advantage of lower hotel rates and speedy Visa processing. I lodged in my Visa application on a Saturday afternoon and got the Visa the following day (a Sunday). So if you don’t mind staying inside malls during the day (which I am sure you don’t), early summer is a good time to visit this wonderful country.
I am doing quite well at the moment, happy and busy with work; having found a job in a new company with a more positive atmosphere. I am inspired again and I can draw again; doing now what I believe, the things I was always meant and supposed to be doing (with the added bonus of deciding for myself which direction my projects should go, which maximizes my time) and still manage to squeeze in a bit of time-off from work. A big project was coming up over the horizon and I needed to prepare for that one. So despite my busy schedule, I decided to go to find fresh inspiration and do something else other than my architectural work (in this case, to practice photography). 🙂 And what is a better place to find inspiration in architecture and to do travel photography than in Dubai?
I’ve read somewhere that Dubai can be viewed in two ways: either as a stopover destination for people traveling to Europe (if you’re coming from Asia), or a place where you can do something different or impossible. I have to agree. I really love spending time in stopover and day trip destinations because it’s in these destinations where you will find the most interesting places often overlooked by travelers and day trip packages. Impossible is also a word that you will not find in the Emirati’s dictionary. Dubai is preparing to host the 2020 World Expo, so a lot of architectural projects are pretty much well on their way; most of which are without precedent.
Obviously, tourists come here to experience the Desert Safari, as well as Skydiving. Tourists (and even the locals) take the time to escape from the big city and into the desert landscape of Dubai and come back later refreshed. A desert experience can be amazingly mind-clearing. But I didn’t do all that (for fear of getting sand or dust into my camera 🙂 ). I didn’t do skydiving either. Sorry about that. I’m a certified bore; and extreme sports and adrenaline rush can really make me sleep to death. Besides, I honestly really don’t like guided tours and traveling with a group (except with my wife and daughter). I could very well read my travel guide beforehand so I could maximize my time in my destination. But I love and enjoyed the architecture of this beautiful city. If you’re an architect, it would be a sin not to see Dubai in your lifetime. Suddenly, 40 degrees for me was not so hot anymore. 🙂
So you see? That’s the good thing about travel and photography. It helps you (and others) change perceptions about certain places. It’s a counter to the never-ending stream of images provided by news media which oftentimes focuses only on the negative. This recent trip certainly changed my perception of the Middle East. I stayed here for five days. If you plan to do the same (or have plans of coming back), you should be able to cover the following places:
1) Deira and Bur Dubai: Deira is one of Dubai’s oldest districts oftentimes overshadowed by the glitz of the modern city. Built around Dubai Creek, its most prominent feature is the cluster of souqs (or markets) connected by narrow lanes and alleys which can be very busy in the late afternoon (particularly the Gold Souq). The Abras (traditional wooden ferries) are still in use here today; not so much for transporting merchandise but for sightseeing along Dubai Creek. Bur Dubai provides you with a glimpse of Dubai’s past. Take a tour around the beautifully restored Al Fahidi Historic District and understand Dubai’s beginnings at the Dubai Museum housed inside Al Fahidi Fort.
2) Burj Al Arab and Madinat Jumeirah: Burj Al Arab (perhaps Dubai’s most recognizable and iconic building; and the only 7-star hotel in the world) sits along the beautiful coast of Jumeirah Beach. Madinat Jumeirah (another recent development) is a modern rendition of a traditional Arab village built around an artificial river flanked by palm trees and signature restaurants. Don’t miss Burj Al Arab at sunset and see Madinat Jumeirah at night when the buildings are beautifully lit with Burj Al Arab in the background.
3) Downtown Dubai: Burj Khalifa towers over Downtown Dubai, the city’s main urban hub and a major destination for sightseeing tourists. Climb your way to At The Top (Burj Khalifa’s observation deck at the 124th and 125th floor) and experience the exhilaration of standing on top of the world’s tallest building. Dubai Mall (the mother of all malls as they call it) is nearby with its overwhelming 1,000 or more shops. Adjacent to Dubai Mall is the equally handsome Souk Al Bahar, with its grand colonnaded atrium and signature restaurants, most of which have enviable views of Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain at night.
4) Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah: Dubai Marina is a posh private residential development and provides you with a glimpse of the Dubai high life. The best way to experience the Marina is by walking along Marina Promenade in the evening where you pass by fancy restaurants and berthed yachts set against glimmering high rise buildings. Opposite Dubai Marina Beach is Palm Jumeirah, a palm-shaped artificial island jutting into the Gulf; with several residential and commercial developments along the Palm’s fronds. At the tip of the Palm along the outer crescent is Atlantis The Palm (another hotel development) and the adjacent Aquaventure Waterpark, a family theme park.
A visit to Dubai usually includes a day trip to Abu Dhabi, which you can reach in 2 hours by bus from Deira. Sadly as always, I really don’t like day trips. Abu Dhabi I’ve read is equally beautiful and deserves a proper visit and write-up of its own, which I look forward to doing so soon. 🙂
So here you go: my personal postcards from this beautiful and peaceful Emirati outpost. I hope I kept you inspired and as always, grateful. Enjoy the images as much as I do. See you in my next post. Cheers!!! 🙂
(Click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)
Posted on March 5, 2017
This wanderlust has been an effective family therapy for us. I’ve been writing here for a while but I forgot to mention that I work abroad (currently based in Singapore) and away from my family. Like most overseas worker, I made it a point to go back to my hometown every 6 months and spend a week or so with my family. But before that one week is over however, we were already crying; knowing it will take another 6 months or more for us to see each other again. My father also used to work overseas when I was a kid; so I know how it feels like now for my own family. Nowadays however, distance (and long distance communication) is dead and modest travel is available for everyone. So instead of just me traveling alone, my family and I decided that (if I have the resources) we will meet regularly in some nearby foreign lands and explore those places together. Parting ways at the end of those journeys however is stll difficult; but now, the sadness is eclipsed by the memories of those travel experiences . Whatever. 🙂
Anyway, I am being cheesy and talking gibberish back there. Sorry about that. It’s been a month since I took the photos in this write-up and I really don’t know what to say about this recent trip. Except maybe that I was glad my new employer announced the Chinese New Year break a bit early last year; which gave me enough time to plan on spending the week-long break in a place that’s Chinese. I could have chosen Hong Kong (which would be the easiest), but decided to see Macau instead; a small Chinese outpost known mostly as a day trip destination for most people touring Hong Kong. You can’t blame them; as Macau is generally a walkable city and most of the major sights are within walking distances from each other.
But that wouldn’t do justice to the beauty of this place. I love Asian cities especially if it has a history of colonization. Because the end product would always be a blending of cultures of sorts; confusing but exciting. Which is very much like Macau. Known as “The Vegas of China”, the city obviously comes alive at night with its megacasinos, luxury resort hotels, and shopping districts. So the word “day trip” wouldn’t be correct. 🙂 But Macau is more than that. A Portuguese colony for more than 300 years, it only became part of China in 1999; two years after the British withdrawal from Hong Kong. Remnants of colonial architecture, churches, and grand public squares give the place a tangible Mediterranean flavor; oddly picturesque and peculiar in a city that is strongly and culturally Chinese. You can walk through cobblestone lanes and hear people chatter in Cantonese; asking for directions to find streets with Portuguese names. To add to this, megacasinos and modern high-rise hotels in ambitious themes and scale appear almost every minute in districts with well-preserved Macanese architecture. I fell in love with the confusion almost immediately. 🙂 If you’re a fan of postcards, night photography, and architecture, your day trip to Macau will not be enough for you.
Needless to say, food is a part of the general travel experience. But you won’t find it here. I’m a mindless eater and a really lousy food photographer (sadly) so you just have to believe me (or anybody else who has been here) when I say that the local food here is one that you should try and experience. 🙂 Obviously, my bias has always been towards the major sights and architecture of a place; which is my way of understanding a new city. So a typical photowalk in Macau covers its 2 main islands; within any of the two you can do some exploring on foot as the major attractions are close to each other. A bus ride however is needed to get from one island to another.
The Macau Peninsula holds the Old City Center, with its 2 most popular day trip attractions: The Ruins of St. Paul’s Church and Senado Square, a grand public plaza. It is also the site of some of the earliest hotels and casinos including the Grand Lisboa, Lisboa Hotel, Wynn Macau, and MGM Hotel. Along the fringes of the peninsula are Macau Fisherman’s Wharf (a themed park) and Macau Tower with its open-air observation deck. Towards the south are the integrated islands of Taipa, Coloane, and Cotai. Taipa has well-preserved colonial houses. Coloane has Macau’s beaches, and Cotai is home to the high-rolling Cotai Strip (Macau’s version of the famous Strip in Vegas), an avenue of megacasinos, luxury hotel and shopping centers including The Venetian Macau and Galaxy Macau, as well as the recently completed City of Dreams, Studio City, and The Parisian with its Eiffel Tower replica. As much as I would like to give a description of each of these (and for fear of boring you to death), I will just allow my personal postcards below to hopefully speak of the glitz and beauty of this city. 🙂 I tried to cover as much places as I can during my 5-day stay here but missed out on the important Chinese temples and colonial churches (which speaks so much about the place’s history) because of a rain shower on the day I planned to visit them. Sorry about that.
Not surprisingly, I was able to take home more photos from this trip as compared to previous ones. Only because my family and in-laws decided on our fourth day to take a day trip to Hong Kong to do some shopping (only to find out later that most of the stores there were closed for the holidays) while I decided to stay behind and catch up with my personal photowalk. So what happened to that family bonding we were looking forward to that I was talking about earlier? And I thought Macau is supposed to be the day trip destination (and not Hong Kong). 🙂 I hate to say it, but I have to admit that the brief moment alone helped me maximize my time. Don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but I guess the travel therapy really worked. 🙂
So there you go. My two cents worth on this beautiful and quaint city (which I think deserves more than just being called a day trip destination) and my first of many other adventures I am looking forward to in days to come. Enjoy the postcards below. Stay grateful and inspired.
See you in my next post. Cheers!!! 🙂
(click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)
Posted on February 15, 2017
Two weeks ago, I was given the Liebster Award for bloggers by Audrey, author of the blog Living for Experiences. I thank Audrey for this nomination as I did not expect people to be reading a lot of my writings and musings. It is an honor to receive such a nomination. Check out Audrey’s blog here and be inspired by her amazing insights on life and her useful tips on travel.
What is the Liebster Award?
Dating back to 2011, the Liebster Award is an award that exists only in the internet, and is given by bloggers to fellow bloggers to promote each other’s blogs. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.
As a sign of my gratitude and my appreciation of other writers, I would like to nominate for the next Liebster Awards the blogs I follow below because of their authors’ amazing zest for life and passion for adventure. Do check out their sites.
Rules of the Award
1) In a blog post, thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2) Answer the questions sent by that person who nominated you.
3) Nominate other bloggers for the award and ask them a new set of questions.
4) List the rules for the nominees and display the Liebster logo in your post and in your blog.
If my nominees do not wish to accept the award, I am fine with that. Although it would be great to know more about you my fellow bloggers. If you are new to this nomination (or your first time to hear about it), you can click here for more ideas about the guidelines, questions to ask your nominees, and some latest Liebster logos you can attach to your post. Remember to notify your nominees about their nominations and link them back to your blog post.
My Questions to My Nominees
1) What or who inspired you to start your blog?
2) What do you think made your blog successful (in terms of number of followers, visibility, etc)?
3) Where are you from and what top 3 places in your country / hometown would you recommend travelers to visit?
4) What are your Top 3 Dream Travel Destinations and why?
5) What place or country left the most impact on you and what is your most important take away from that place or country?
6) Any unique experience / advice / lesson you want to share with other travelers / bloggers?
My Answers to Audrey’s Questions
1) What is the story behind your blog’s name?
I originally wanted to write a book about my specialized work in architecture but busyness caused that writing project to be shelved. I picked up photography as a cure for tunnel vision and found myself writing about my photos instead. My blog title (From Lines to Lenses) explains that shift from writing about Architecture (Lines, Drawings, etc.) to writing about Photography & Travel (Lens, Cameras, etc). Pretty lame isn’t it? 🙂
2) Why did you start blogging?
I was already using photo-sharing sites before I started this blog, but found those free sites to have ever-changing formats and interfaces. Having your own blog allows you to contol appearance, format and content. Nowadays, almost everyone has a web presence, and owning your own blog (or domain) is a powerful medium to reach other people with the same interests. If you have something to share (or if you love writing), the blog is a perfect venue to do that.
3) What according to you is the best thing about blogging?
I realized that there are many talented and creative people out there, and some of them are very inspiring writers and bloggers. Blogging allowed me to reach out to other people with the same passions; and their experiences and stories help me improve my own skills. I love photography and travel; and blogs are the best sources of travel advice and real-world experiences for me.
4) What is/are your goal(s) for 2017?
Other than my personal & career goals (which I think are too many to write here), I plan to see either Australia (Sydney) or the Middle East (Dubai) in the later part of this year. As I am working in Singapore and away from my family, it will take a bit of logistic planning to travel with them to either of these places. Meantime, I just came back from Macau and will be back in Hong Kong next week for a company trip. Singapore also has 7 long weekends this year, so I will do a lot of road trips and photography projects around those long weekends. I am also looking at the potential of earning revenue from my photography.
5) Where are you from and what is the common stereotype / misconception about your home town / state / country?
I am from Manila, capital city of the beautiful Philippines. One of my former employers had a branch office in Manila but I heard the owner of the company never really visited that Manila office for fear of being kidnapped. While crime is always present (what country doesn’t have one?), those isolated incidents of abducting aliens (and alien abductions 🙂 ) still will not take away the fact that my country has its own unique set of resources and beauty (I’m a good example by the way 🙂 ). When traveling to the Philippines (or to any unfamiliar country), it is good common sense to have a friend or someone who knows the place well to guide and accompany you. Each country I have visited has certain areas I was told to avoid, and I was wise enough to follow that advice.
6) What kind of traveler are you- spontaneous or planner?
The trips I take are never long enough so I do a fair amount of planning to maximize my time when I get to my destination. With my trips planned around photography and with the speed at which I need to take pictures, a good deal of research about the places I plan to cover is always a key.
7) Share your worst travel experience ever.
All my travels so far were pleasant ones (thank God). Most of the locals we encountered were kind to tourists; except for a few cranky ones inside crowded trains, buses and restaurants who are oblivious of the tourists around them. Language is a challenge sometimes (my fault by the way) but adds to the beauty of the experience.
8) What is one important lesson you have learnt in your travels?
Not just one, but a lot actually. Traveling helped me respect other cultures and to understand friends and colleagues who come from all sorts of nationalities and backgrounds. When visiting another country, I also learn more about my own country than the country I am visiting. Also, travel photography (being different from a family holiday) is best done alone to maximize the time (I apologize to my family who will read this 🙂 ). To travel to take pictures is different from taking pictures while traveling. If you have to do both travel photography and a family holiday, it is always best to plan the holiday sightseeing around the places you plan to shoot. As always, I plan well and try to cover a place like it will be my first and last chance to see it.
So there you go. Again, stay grateful and inspired. My sincere thanks once more to Audrey of Living for Experiences for this wonderful Liebster Award. Do check her wonderful blog at www.audreysimplicity.com
See you in my next post. Cheers!!! 🙂
Posted on September 11, 2016
It’s been a while since my last write-up (or to be more accurate, since I last travelled). Honestly, I have maxed out my paid leave for the first three quarters of the year and have to wait for a few more weeks to be able to make use of the available balance. But that may not happen. I have resigned from my current post which might cause that balance to be forfeited; and it will take another long period before I could be allowed to take a long leave under my new / future employer. The good thing is that Singapore will have 7 long weekends next year. Some of the public holidays in 2017 will fall either on a Monday or Friday; so I am looking forward to working my road trips and photography projects around those long weekends. At least; until I get to my next major holiday. Meantime, I take the time to write this post to feature this beautiful country that has been second home to me for almost a decade.
It’s my 9th year working as an FT here in Singapore (Foreign Talent, as they call it) and my first time to find new work since I came here. This post simply could have waited for my 10th year anniversary (which sounds more appropriate) but it couldn’t; thanks to this period of inactivity and travel hiatus. Honestly, I just felt guilty I didn’t write about Singapore’s 51st Anniversary which happened last month. None of the fireworks photos I took during the celebrations was really successful; which was supposed to be the highlight of my aborted Singapore Anniversary write-up. So I simply write here and make use of the photos I have; images I have created recently as well as those I have amassed during my long stay here.
You know what’s good about anniversaries? They actually help you remember. I have been blogging for a year now and I just realized I really haven’t featured this beautiful city. How could I forget a country that took care of me for the last 9 years and that has allowed me to do my best work and rewarded me accordingly? Ten years ago, I never would have imagined working here; much less move outside my own country and travel to see other places. But now I am here; and for too long. Familiarity does breed contempt (or even complacency); and you’ll never know of the wonderful things you have until you find yourself stuck somewhere in limbo with all the time available in your hands (which happened to me just recently). 🙂
Anniversaries also remind you to be thankful. The problem with being a foreign talent is uncertainty. I honestly feel quite fortunate for still finding new work in a foreign country especially at a time when most companies are either downsizing, reorganizing, or folding. Back where I come from, it will require an enormous amount of fortune, an intricate network of connections, and a miraculous economic upheaval to be able to succeed in my profession. Working in another country has levelled the playing field for me and has allowed myself and others to reap the benefits of meritocracy. So like any foreigner working in another country, my mantra has always been “to endure and succeed, or pack up and go home”. 🙂
Lastly, anniversaries allow you to start afresh. It allows you to take stock, appreciate your own uniqueness or strengths, and assess what worked well and what didn’t so you could better prepare and be stronger the next time around. We are only as good as our last projects; and this tempering process has painfully changed me from being an impractical theorist to more of a humble, open-minded learner. This recent activity of finding new work has taught me just that (the hard way, to be honest). 🙂
In most of my posts, I usually write a short historical background of the place or city being featured. But in this case, I am happy to forego that one and just allow the images to speak of the beauty and wonder of this place (hopefully). I just wanted it to be more personal and leave all the researching to you. Travel photography is all about shooting places in the best available light (those fleeting moments before sunrise and after sunset) which you do not have a lot of when you are traveling (how ironic isn’t it?). The best thing about living in a photogenic country is that you have all the time to do just that. So I share them here; my personal postcards from Singapore (my favorites) which I hope will entice you to visit this surprising and beautiful country (in case you haven’t done so). Enjoy the images and stay grateful and inspired. 🙂
See you in my next post. Cheers!!! 🙂
(Click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel.)
Posted on June 20, 2016
So I post them here. I am not getting a commission for promoting this place in this post by the way. 🙂 It is just not fair not to share these few images. Some other people contemplating on coming here could still use a little more of these images to get a sense of the beauty of this place. The colors in the photos here are real and without much processing or editing.This is our third company retreat in Indonesia (the first two we had in Batam and Bali). The first time they announced this Bintan trip, I have to admit I was ecstatic; even excited about the prospect of experiencing another airplane ride. Then I realized we were in Singapore, and our destination is not like Bali. Bintan is just 30 minutes away and can be reached by ferry or boat. Silly of me actually. 🙂 So, do I still consider this 30-minute boat ride as travel?
This post is relatively short compared to my previous ones. And I apologize for not writing more about the beauty of this place and about the things that we did while we were here. Maybe I ran out of words to say or just simply uninspired. At the moment, I am okay with that. If there is one thing I learn again from this trip and this unexpected dry spell, it’s that Silence is Golden (and Speech is Silvern). Do you remember your dear friends who talked lengthily when all you needed from them at that moment is the comfort of their presence and silence? I don’t have the gift of gab but I do write occasionally. But even that I can overdo sometimes; and the first people to tell me that I write long emails and letters are people who love writing long emails themselves. Experts cancel each other out. 🙂There are moments when writing is spontaneous and a narrative is clear. Sometimes, you have to wait for inspiration to come. And other times, words are not needed to get your message across. That last one I began to appreciate just recently through the posts and works of others; and only the real photographers are able to move me just like that. In meditation (and in prayer) listening is as important as talking (or chanting). It is in that moment of silence when you have nothing more to say (and your mind is clear of all clutter) will you hear that soft, gentle and clear voice. And the message there will be profound. Honestly, we all could use more of that right now. ‘Nuff said. 🙂
See you in my next post. Cheers!!!
Posted on May 15, 2016
And I was not disappointed. It was not really the best time to visit this place though. We did miss the spring blossoms (since my daughter had to wait for the school year to end before we could get here) but the weather was the most pleasant with the air still cold and chilly despite the sky being bright and sunny (the closing of spring and the beginning of summer) which made this trip one of the most memorable. This is one of those places that lightning gets to strike only once. But unlike lightning however, tourists make it a point to hit this place at least twice in their lifetime. How can you blame them? Seoul is one of the most beautiful and tourist-friendly places on the planet (at least in the region I have visited). It is a shopping haven for travelers (you ask the ladies) and a food mecca for the adventurous. The locals are the most friendly; going the extra mile to make the tourist experience memorable and speaking the most sweet-sounding of all languages (even though I didn’t understand). I apologize for that. Maybe we listened to too many Korean songs and watched too much Korean drama while we were there 🙂 . It is a very lovely and picturesque place with old neighborhoods preserved and nestled within a modern and bustling metropolis; with different seasons providing new perspectives on every familiar scene. Despite the ravages and destruction of war, Seoul has come a long way to emerging as one of the world’s 21st century cities. This is one model city enjoying a comeback that should not be missed.You have to believe me. The photos in this post don’t do justice to the ultimate bliss of actually being here. I originally wanted to do several posts about this trip with each post corresponding to each day I spent here; but then decided not to. As much as I wanted to relive the experience, I also did not want the memory to linger any longer than it should. It is one of those “I-wanted-to-stay-but-I-had-to-leave” situations you sometimes find yourself in. Again, too much of that Korean drama 🙂 . Besides, I also messed up my itinerary for my personal photowalk and committed the grievous sin of seeing most of the places I planned to shoot but actually forgetting to shoot some of them. It is because the place is so beautifully distracting and the local food so sweetly unnerving. All those preparations and plans to photograph the place with a fresh pair of eyes and from new angles all went down the drain. I just simply didn’t care about doing original photography but just immersed myself in the moment. I don’t even remember ever complaining about long walks and large crowds. It was a welcoming change from previous tropical ramblings.
What am I talking about anyway? Okay, I’ll spare you the Korean drama. This is one place you definitely have to see. But don’t take my word for it. You just have to be here. I am trying to make sense and order out of a disorganized bunch of random photos from my distracted photowalk and trying to write the names of places and their descriptions as I remember them. So I share them here: my must-see places in Seoul (the Seoul I love); not in the order of their importance but in the order I found them worthy to be salvaged from my camera’s memory card 🙂 . Enjoy the images and stay inspired.
Gyeongbokgung Palace: Gyeongbokgung is the largest of Seoul’s four main palaces and perhaps the most recognizable of all the city’s attractions. It has served as the principal residence for Korean royalties. Much of the palace’s structures were destroyed during the 20th century Japanese colonial rule. What you see now are mostly accurate recent reconstructions. Take time to walk through the palace grounds beyond the Throne Hall to admire two beautiful floating pavilions: Gyeonghoeru and Hwangwonjeong.
Seoul City Hall: The recently redeveloped Seoul City Hall embodies the modern interpretation of traditional Korean architecture. The curved top of the new glass and steel building resembles the roof of old palaces and temples. Underneath its shade is the beautiful stone-cladded old City Hall building. Deoksugung Palace: Also called “The Palace of Virtuous Longevity”, Deoksugung is one of several main palaces built during the Joseon dynasty. It is the only palace ground that is open until late evening so you could admire the buildings when they are illuminated. The highlight of this attraction is the unusual mix of traditional Korean and Western Neoclassical buildings within a single palace ground.
Cheonggyecheon Stream: This famous stream of the Joseon era was once covered by an elevated highway that was built after the Korean War. In 2003, the highway was removed as part of an urban renewal project to restore the stream to its present state. The stream is 11 km. long running through downtown Seoul and passing under 22 bridges with several attractions along its entire length. Namsan Hill: Namsan Hill is Seoul’s geographical center and is topped by N Seoul Tower, its iconic observatory. The cable car ride to the base of the tower is impressive enough; but the view of the city from the top of the hill is breathtaking. Counter the cold weather with a cup of coffee and churros from one of the restaurants at the base of the tower. 🙂
Bukchon Hanok Village: Walking through the alleys of this village feels like going back to the time of Korean kings, dynasties, and royal subjects. Bukchon is a cluster of traditional Korean houses (or hanoks) nestled between two main palaces at the heart of an urban city. Some of the houses were recently converted to small coffee shops, restaurants, and homestays for tourists who want to be near major local attractions.
Some Sevit and Banpo Rainbow Bridge: Some Sevit is a cluster of contemporary flower-themed buildings set on a man-made island off Han River. The buildings house restaurants and a number of multi-purpose spaces. Come during the blue hour to admire the buildings when illuminated by color-changing LED lights. Next to the buildings is Banpo Rainbow Bridge (the world’s longest bridge fountain). At night, colored lights illuminate the fountain as it sends up jets of water into the air with synchronized music.
National Museum of Korea: The simple but impressive exterior doesn’t divulge much of the diversity of exhibits found in its interior. The stories and cultural treasures within its walls are topics that require a separate discussion. The lush garden and beautiful park outside the museum provide a calm and soothing contrast to the rigid and stately character of the buidling. Thank you for reading. 🙂
See you in my next post. Cheers!!!
Posted on April 3, 2016
Even the hard-working aspiring writers find themselves struggling for words sometimes. I was almost tempted to simply post these recent photos and let the images speak for themselves. Besides, a picture paints a thousand words, right? Yeah right. But a part of me also believes that a thousand words paint a beautiful picture. If you love writing, use it to make up for a lousy photography (which I have already done so many times 🙂 ). This is a blog anyway so try to make use of what you’re paying for. Use it or lose it. Constantly moving or travelling does not always get you somewhere. So we stop for a while and write about our most recent travels to help us articulate and reflect on the things that we have learned from them. And what is a more perfect time to reflect and to remember than during the last Easter weekend?
For those staying in Singapore, Malacca is a favorite destination for long weekends and public holidays. Much has already been written about this beautiful place which makes it difficult for me to write about something new and to find fresh inspiration. So what can I write about? How about food as a topic? Nope. Not that one. Admittedly, I am a bit of a food junkie myself, but a really lousy food photographer. 🙂 By the way, the food here is really great and one that you should experience (the Malacca coffee is superb). How about “Things to do in Malacca”? Not that one either. Too lazy to do those things; whatever activities those might be. Top Family Attractions? I travelled solo this time (surprisingly, and sadly). So I guess that leaves me with “Top Places to See in Malacca” to write about. Nothing out of the ordinary but something I really like; where I could put my photography into use. But even that one was a bit frustrating. The problem with major tourist spots is that they have been shot to death. You find a beautiful place (and there are lots of it in Malacca) and shoot it from an apparently unique angle; only to find the same angle later already posted in the net by other photographers (ain’t the internet grand?). So in the end, all I have is a set of beautiful postcards which are very special only because they were created by me personally. So the photographs in this article do not really speak truthfully about its title. Talk about originality. So the only value of this post now is what you could learn from it. Use this post as your travel guide; your visual companion to Malaccan architecture; or your encouragement to do better, creative, or original photography. 🙂
Malacca is perhaps Malaysia’s most historical state. It was here where European colonial forces first made contact with Malaysia, which eventually shaped and formed the country’s current political, cultural, and economic system. The Portuguese, Dutch, and the British all made their marks here (with varying forms of responses from the locals); their strong influences basically evident in what remains of their public buildings, museums, churches, forts, and town squares. Its rich and colorful (and complicated) history has created a feel and flavor that is uniquely Malacca today. It is a seamless blend of cultures so to speak; with strong local traditions standing alongside modern lifestyles that will leave you in a swirl and in awe. Malacca is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The major tourist spots can get really crowded (duh); obviously like all tourist spots we know. So most of my photos here were taken either early in the morning or late in the afternoon when most of the crowds haven’t arrived yet or has already thinned out. In between these times, tourists (who all look the same, and dress the same) come in by the busload every minute. If you don’t mind having them in your photos, then shoot away anyway. 🙂
Needless to say, my bias has always been towards the architecture of a place. This (alongside with the food which I enjoyed very much when the crowd at the tourist spots was at its thickest) is my best way to learn and appreciate a city’s history and culture. I have featured below some of these wonderful works of architecture and picturesque places in Malacca. My take (sort of). 🙂
A’Famosa Fort: A’Famosa is perhaps Malacca’s most famous sighseeing spot. It was built in 1511 to house the Portuguese administration and as an outpost in Malacca, which was an important link to the Spice Route in China during thr 16th Century. It has changed hands from the Portuguese to the Dutch and finally to the British who ordered the destruction of the Fort. Fortunately, Sir Stamford Raffles (founder of Singapore) visited Malacca in 1810; and because of his love for history, stopped the destruction of the Fort. What remains to this day is the lone gate (Porta de Santiago) that stands at the foot of St. Paul’s hill.
Christ Church Melaka: Christ Church is the most recognizable of the Malacca structures with its brick red exterior and large white cross. It was built in 1753 by the Dutch to commemorate a century of occupation and to address the need for another place of worship other than St. Paul’s Church. It has changed hands from the Dutch to the British who turned it from a Protestant church to an Anglican one. The church sits squarely infront Dutch Square along Jalan Gereja.
St. Paul’s Church Ruins: The beautiful ruins of St. Paul’s Church stand on top of St. Paul’s Hill which can be reached via a long flight of stairs from the lone gate of A’Famosa at the bottom of the hill. The original structure was built by a Portuguese captain as a sign of gratitude to the Blessed Virgin Mary for saving his life during a storm at sea. The ruins is now famous for its breathtaking views of Malacca City below it.
Malacca River: Malacca River was once called the “Venice of the East”. Now it is famous for the river cruise that takes tourists past several riverside establishments, bridges, Malay villages and settlements. It is considered the birthplace of Malacca because it was here where the Sumatran prince Parameswara established the Malaccan sultanate.
Masjid Terapung Selat: This mosque is situated on the man-made island of Pulau Melaka facing the Straits of Malacca. It is perhaps the only Middle Eastern-inspired structure I have seen during my stay there, and a much more recent building compared to the ones mentioned earlier. Tourists come here for the magnificent view of the mosque against the sunset.
Malacca is usually a day trip destination for most tourists visiting Kuala Lumpur. From Kuala Lumpur, take a bus to Malacca where you will alight at the Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal off Jalan Tun Razak. From there, a taxi can take you to town where all the major tourist attractions are located. Most parts of the town can be explored by foot as the major attractions are near each other.
So there you go; my take on this beautiful and quaint city. I hope I have kept you inspired in this adventure of exploration. Enjoy the images as much as I do.
See you in my next post. Cheers!!!