Monthly Archives: August 2014

Minimalist mindset in Tibet

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Fish eye view of the sky and the cloud

Last year, I visited Tibet via overland route from Xining to Lhasa  (1,907km long). I had been curious about Tibet for quite sometime.  The mysterious Tibetan that stayed up high on the mountain and their features looked a lot like the Native Americans in US, the stories of the Dalai Lama with monasteries and nunneries playing a very strong role in Tibetan culture, the political struggles and so on.

My road trip started from Xining and ended in Lhasa, covered only a small portion of the geographically huge and famous Qinghai-Tibetan plateau. The Tibetan plateau was amazingly vast and as I can see it … Tibetan inherited a freedom of space from their ancestors, the sky was the limit. But the vast geographical space smelt resistance. Checkpoints by stern police and army personnel at every border crossing point created unnecessary twist on my stomach (checking for travel permits, passports and sometimes just finding excuses to look at your face). There were police personnels at every corners in Lhasa too.

And, the risk of experiencing altitude sickness was very high here as Lhasa itself was located at 3660 meters above sea level, passes and some inhabited plateau areas that we passed through along the way were mostly over 3000 meters. The highest was at Tanggula Mountain pass at 5231 meters.  I thought that I could survived this journey without popping in the anti AMS pill but I started to experience a bad headache when I was at Xining (2275meters). The pounding headache stopped only after I took the anti AMS pill.

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Tangulla Mountain Pass at 5231 meters. The highest summit in the world reachable by motor vehicles

Our journey from Chaka- Geermu- Tuotuohe- Dangxiong felt very isolated. It felt as if we were in a twilight zone. Some nights we were totally disconnected from the world (no phone signals at all, no electricity, no pipe water etc). The view along side of the roads were empty, bared and cold. No trees just piles of rocks, occasionally some open grasslands and plains (totally inhabited). The huge and beautiful man made roads were empty except for some trucks and a  few daring motorist like us. The landscape view was splendid, the sky was in deep blue color and the clouds were thick like cotton candies. I had a blast time admiring the sky and the clouds … God’s blueprint was everywhere for the thinkers to witness and to confirm on HIS existence.

For more landscape photos taken during this trip, please browse through my Tibet Zenfolio photo gallery here at Minimalist Mindset in Tibet.

I seldom feel homesick when I travel but during this trip after a week on the road, I started to feel bored and restless. The journey from one point to another was too long … and most of the time we were stuck on our seat in the bus. Plus the constant headache that I had, some drama here and there makes me a bit tired.

I think it would help to have a good companion during a hard trip like this. But finding a good travel companion was not easy. Some times a good companion during our ‘laughing’ time would turned into a monstrous  companion when we were on the road. Me? … I prefer to be alone and sticking to my own business, less drama and less distraction. Kurang kan kontroversi, tingkat kan produktiviti (less controversy, more productivity 😉 ).

What else did I see during this trip? From the eye of an outsider who spent just a few days mingling around locals there, what I noticed about Tibetan was their devotion towards their religion. It seems like most of them had that praying beads hanging at their finger tips at all time. Most of them were Tibetan Buddhism but … I did meet some muslim Tibetan while I was roaming around Lhasa’s back alleys.

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A very familiar sight among the Tibetan

We came across a few monks performing their ritual act of religious … prostrating at the road side of Geermu on their way to Lhasa. Amazing devotion … it took them a few weeks to reach Lhasa and they survived through donations (food, water and shelter) from passers by. Talking about being a complete minimalist and living with no material burden at all,  I think they were obviously a champion minimalist.

I have a lot more photos of Tibetan devotees performing their prayers in Lhasa, feel free to  browse through my Tibet Zenfolio photo gallery at Minimalist Mindset in Tibet  yeah …

I am a self declared minimalist myself but for this trip I went overboard with my luggage and I left traces everywhere (i.e left my favorite jacket at one of the hotel and a few more here and there). It created unnecessary worrisome to my ‘simple’ mind. I had been taught well during this trip on why I need to be a complete minimalist traveler. Nowadays I traveled super light (except for my never ending struggle with my photography’s gadget). I applied the same minimalist method of living to my personal life too, yeah I don’t visit shopping malls as frequent as before and I am more mindful on my spending (except on my camera gadgets 😉 ). But, hanging around GayaIzzah.com gang and my Breakfast buddies … wow! I am diverting my fashion shopping from the malls to … online shopping arghhhh!

So, what did I get for myself during this trip? Honestly, I didn’t grab anything for myself because nothing caught my eyes. Bought some souvenir for friends and family but I discovered that I can get all these touristy Tibetan jewelry here in Kuala Lumpur with much cheaper price. You can find made in China jewelry just anywhere in Malaysia, no big deal.

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Tourist stall selling various ornament targeting on tourist at Lhasa

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I bought some souvenir for my friends at this stall

I bought one weird looking pendant for my daughter for 20 Yuan (after much bargaining). While doing my soul cleansing (my jewelry soul cleansing 😉 ) at Ikano Power Center in Damansara, Kuala Lumpur … darn! I saw a replica of that necklace pendant (a cat face instead) at RM10.00. Wow! lesson learnt … girl! … you are a lousy bargainer, lol.

Cheers,

MM

P/S – Happy Birthday Malaysia … my Malaysia is always my Home Sweet Home

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True Blue …

Sky is the Limit

Sky is the Limit

I have been resting well these few months and I will be traveling on and off again starting this September until the end of the year. Before my mind goes cuckoo while wondering somewhere in Neverland, maybe now is the best time to re-organize and re-check my stock of jewelry findings and beads. At least I would have a clear idea on how and what to get on my next purchase.

Been having too much fun shopping for beads during these few months. Most of the time, my beads selections comes from my subconscious ‘heart’ instead of from my  conscious ‘brain’ . While doing my bead’s “spring cleaning” process, I noted that my beads collections are mainly dominated by BLUE colored beads and … this is not a good sign. Some of the BLUEs need to go. So, as part of my “spring cleaning” effort I am declaring that the color theme for my September  2014 collection will be in the shade of BLUE.

My True Blue jewelry set is now on sale at GayaIzzah.com Facebook page and GayaIzzah.com IG account. It is made of dyed blue agate (natural stone), rhodium plated steel beads, rhodium plated steel pendants, rhodium plated steel toggle/ findings and stringed with wires.

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True Blue necklace

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True Blue bracelet

Set of 7 BLUE bracelets are available for sale too. Please visit GayaIzzah.com Facebook page for detail descriptions of each BLUE bracelets.

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7 BLUE bracelets are on available for sale. The beads are mixtures of natural stones, mini crystals and red corals

 

Cheers,

MM

(I am loving it … )

 

 

 


Color of the beach

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A blissful day at the beach

I love beach. When I am facing fear face to face,  after putting my ultimate hope towards my Almighty Creator to wash off my fear, I played a mental game of peace by imagining myself at the beach.  Laying on the sand while listening to the sound of the waves were like a free therapy to the soul. But … a hyperactive me can only stayed idle for half an hour (the most) and then the explorer ME would start kicking out ;-). What will I do when I am at the beach? Note: click on the picture to view full photos

Hanging around the beach with a camera is so much fun. Apart from shooting the same old sunset and sunrise, shooting moon rising (full moon) is also a cool thing to do.  Watching the moon rising slowly while enjoying the night breeze is priceless. I did that once with my lovely ‘chatty’ daughter, yeah she talked a lot and I could not focus well 🙂 . And, like all the time we ended up doing our cat fight while watching the moon and me kept telling her to keep her voice low and she kept on reminding me that I love my camera more than her arghhh!.

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I hope that I will have another chance to shoot moon rising again. Need proper planning next time

I am thinking of creating a bracelet and a matching necklace that would remind me of the beach. I want to make it a bit dreamy with tangling stones hanging around my pendant. So, a mixture of milky colored agate stones; milky colored shell beads; ‘silverish’ colored pearl seed beads; ‘sand brown’ colored glass seed beads; some metal starfish beads and a big steel pendant to add some drama into it; and wallah! a dreamy necklace 😉 .

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The beads

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The necklace. I wish I have a tall proper stand to fully display my necklace. Been looking for one but nothing catch my eyes yet …

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The bracelet. Generic jewelry display rack sold at most shops looked awkwardly dull to me.  I think they cater more towards mass produced jewelry and not for a hobbyist like me. So, I just used anything that is available around my working area to display my jewelry

I think pearls would look good in this design too. The ‘milky powdered’ color of pearls in different sizes matched with some milky shell beads and peach colored zircon pendant would feel more genuinely ‘beach’. If you want to know detail description of each jewelry piece here please check it out at GayaIzzah.com Facebook page and GayaIzzah.com  IG account or you can just email me directly 😉 . Off ME goooo to the dreamland ….. enjoy yeah …

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This is another set of mix sized pearls, white moonstone, milky colored shell beads, glass seed beads, pear like seed beads, steel beads and a Zircon pendant

 

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The same dreamy necklace design but with different size of pearls, shell beads, white moonstones and peach colored zircon pendant

 

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The matching pearl bracelet

Cheers,

MM


The colourful side of Whang-od from Buscalan, Kalinga

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Wang-od or Fang-od in-front of her house

I visited Whang-od or Fang-od of Buscalan, Kalinga in Philippine last year with my daughter and a group of photographer friends. Whang-od is the last Kalinga membantok or tattoo artist from Buscalan, Kalinga. I was not aware that she is quite well known among the tribal tattoo artist until I googled her. A small framed 95 years old woman with shy eyes and I can see that she has that colorful vibrant personality too. You can read details about Whang-od and her tattooing skill here at Lars Krutak: Tattoo Antropologist. And, if you enjoy street photography please feel free to browse through my Zenfolio gallery here at Street in North Luzon, Philippines for more photos of my journey there.

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The price that you have to pay for being famous … paparazzi 😉

It was not easy to reach her at her village. We started our approximately 4 hours journey to Buscalan, Kalinga from Segada via our cramped transport van. The road was narrow and winding but the view of the mountain was superb. I love mountains and greens … and more mountain … and … more more mountains, 😉 I know … this will never end.

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Heaven on earth mountain view

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Another superb God’s jewel taken from a moving van … noticed the panning effect? The driver refused to entertain my gazillion request for a quick stop to shot this view … thanx to my superb Nikon camera ( … Canon users please move aside 😉 )

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Our journey was delayed by 2 hours because of a landslide near Buscalan

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Temporary solution for the landslide problem

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The Buscalan village was located on the other side of the mountain and the only way to reach the village was through walking. It takes us around 1 hour of light trekking up and down the narrow slope of the mountain.

We spent one night at the village and the whole morning roaming around every corner of the village mingling around with the uncles, aunties and children there. The highlight event of the day was watching Whang-od at work, giving her tattoo services to a few of her willing customers. I used to feel fascinated by people with tattoos, maybe because previously tattoos were earned. The tattoo bearer’s (especially in a certain tribal group) were entitled to wear their tattoos as a medal of evidence to show life accomplishment  such as the act of bravery or courageousness or a rank within their community. In our modern world now, tattooing are more towards fashion statements or body art and anybody can wear tattoos according to their personal liking.

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Typical scene around the village

She and her jewelries

Whang-od at work

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My ‘colorful’ KGB friend Ruel posing with another Whang-od satisfied customer (Ruel, please PM me if u don’t want me to post your photo here 😉 )

Honestly, after half an hour of watching Whang-od carving on her customer’s skin while listening to the soft repetitive tapping sound of her needle, made me sleepy and my eyes started to wonder around my surroundings, hunting for interesting subject of colour to simulate my senses. Then, I noticed Whang-od’s  jewelry. Wow, such a stylish lady she was … with abundant glass beads necklaces hanging on her neck and her striking colored hair decoration. The beads were mostly glass beads mixed with a few ceramic beads. I was informed that most of the beads were family heirloom passed down by her ancestors. And, I noticed her earrings too, a pair of silver earring charm that symbolized good luck.

If I had known earlier that Whang-od loved beads then I would probably bring along some beads for her as a souvenir. A good tip for anyone who plan to visit her, bring along some gorgeous beads for her 🙂 and I bet she would love it for sure.

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Her hair decorations and her earring at full display

 

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It seemed that everybody here in the village preferred glass beads jewelry

To tell you the truth, glass bead has never been my kind of bead maybe because it looks a bit old fashion, heavy, fragile and most importantly man-made (I love natural stones). But, seeing Whang-od with her heirloom glass beads … hmmm makes me want to have my own unique glass beads collection too but trying to get hold of a one-of-a-kind glass bead here in Kuala Lumpur is not easy. Maybe I will get lucky and stumble upon them during my next visit to Xinjiang and Tashkurgan Country, China and yeah maybe I will share it here.

So, what did I get for myself during this trip? Yes!! … I bought my own Kalinga native silver charm as an addition to my treasure chest collection. Ruel told me that the shape represent ‘good luck’ by the Kalinga native. Super cool right? Up until today, I still can’t figure out how to wear this charm. Should I wear it as a pendant or should I just tie it to my leather bracelet?

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My own Kalinga native ‘good luck’ charm

 

Cheers,

MM

 

 

 


Inspire me Africa …

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Earth tone necklace

I was in the middle of editing and organizing my 1000++ Ethiopian images when out of boredom I decided to create a necklace and a matching bracelet that will remind me of Ethiopia. Out of my remaining beads, I found some earth tone dyed agate, combined it with some colorful china seed beads and matched it with a rhodium plated steel pendant for my necklace. You can wear the necklace in 2 styles, remove the attached hook then you can wear it long (about 43cm diameter) or just wear it short like the picture shown above.

And, the same combo beads also goes to my Ethiopian inspired bracelet with some little brown agate gemstones tied together to the rhodium plated steel toggle. Please checkout Gayaizzah.com page and IG for details.

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Earth tone bracelet

Cheers,

MM

 

 

 


Colourful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

Wedding ceremony of Hamar people

Wedding celebration back at the village, celebrated by friends and family

I grew up believing that Utopia and Ethiopia was the same place. Had a rough childhood and I liked the idea of of living in Utopia where the community/ people were heavenly pleasant, even a little lost child can roam freely without worries. In reality Utopia and Ethiopia is a completely different opposite in every each way. I discovered that Ethiopia is an african country next to Somalia and famously portrayed as a poor, under developed country and prone to experience famine, just like the rest of its neighbouring african country. This country  or any other african country has never been listed in my bucket list – of places that I need to visit before I die.

Out of curiosity (and my urge to try something different) I decided to join Photosafari Malaysia when they organised a trip to Ethiopia for the first time. Yup, it was an out of the world kind of experience and I ended up going there twice (first trip covering Southern part and second trip covering Northern part of Ethiopia). Ethiopia is geographically adventurous and Ethiopian are amazingly colourful people. It was a real eye opener for the ignorant me and I experienced my ‘advance’ humanity lesson here. Honestly, I need to write a 200-page book to be able to express everything that I had learned there. But, since my blog is about colour and jewellery then let us just stick to that 🙂

I was at Omo River Valley of Southwestern Ethiopia last year visiting a few ethnic people of Ethiopia like Karo, Hamar, Benna, Mursi and Dassecnech. The people of Hamar struck most of my attention probably because of the way they carried out themselves. They seemed to have the air and pride of a warrior. The same feelings that I felt while I was lingering around people of Afar from Danakil Depression, Northern Ethiopia. While hanging around with them at the market and their village, I noticed that male and female of Hamar people are very fashionable and colourful people. The choices of color on their jewelry were strikingly matched their skin colour. Their jewellery and accessories were either made of african seed beads or metal (like brass, copper and silver).

Lucky me, I had the opportunity to attend the famous Hamar Bull Jumping ceremony and a wedding celebration back at their village. Bull jumping or bull leaping ceremony is where a Hamar man has to successfully leap over a line of cattle in order for him to get married. It is an initiation right of passage to qualify him to get married, own cattle and have children. And, I managed to witness and captured a collection of photos of them with their full jewelry on display during both of the ceremonies. Images taken during my visit to the market, the Bull Jumping ceremony and during the wedding celebration are compiled into a gallery below . Detail description for each photo is included, click on each photo for full view and full description of the image.

There are great stories behind the Hamar’s unique fashion statement, you can visit Lars Krutak: Tattoo Anthropologist’s blog for details facts and stories. For a full view of these images in higher resolution, please visit my zenfolio gallery: Colourful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

Before the Bull jumping ceremony started, women from the groom’s side need to endure a series of whipping on their flesh to prove their love towards their men. Honestly, it was not a very pleasant scene to witness. I was traumatized by the whipping sound and seeing blood oozing out from a dangling flesh was not something that I want to share here. But you always can google for further information about the ceremony. The Hamer women are as fashionable as their men. If men can show off their brave accomplishment through their body scars and mud cap, women of Hamar have the same way to display their braveness and status to the public.

Other than body scarification, their fashion statement generally are based on their marital status (depending whether they are married, engaged or single). Married women wear their hair with that muddy hairstyle called goscha, some kind of fat and special mud (ochre imported from african neighbor country like Kenya) blended together to create a wet looking hair that they believed can attract their men. Married and engaged women of Hamer need to wear 2 neck rings around their neck, and an additional heavy neck ring called esente for the first wife of a Hamar man. Like their men, the jewelry and accessories for Hamar women are mostly made of  african seed beads and metals (either brass, cooper or silver) too. Below are some images of the Hamar women with their jewelry. For a full view of these images in higher resolution, please visit my zenfolio gallery: Colorful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

I bought myself a bracelet during my second trip there, a simple metal bracelet just to remind myself that I survived the Danakil Depression (the hottest place on earth) . We were at the Dalol of  Danakil Depression campsite when I saw Muhammad, a local Afar boy, wearing a bracelet that I kind of like and I ended up buying it from him for 300 bir. Well, I know it was kind of expensive but I was desperately in need to reward myself for being able to endure the agony that I had to experience during my visit. A sweat agony indeed … love every moment I spent here in Ethiopia … alhamdullilah

A metal bracelet that I bought from Muhammad, an Afar boy from Dalol, Danakil Depression

The metal bracelet that I bought from Muhammad, an Afar boy from Dalol, Danakil Depression


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