Category Archives: Photography

Ramadhan 1440 H/ 2019 M

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25th Ramadhan 1440

We are in the last 10 days of Ramadan. Out of the 30 days of a blessing month of Ramadan, the last 10 days is the most blessed and anticipated nights. Believers take extra effort to increase their prayers and devotions toward the Almighty during these nights.

A month of self-restraint against food, drinks, wrongful desires, bad habits, negative temptations etc.

Fasting for 30 days in Ramadan month is one of the 5 of Islamic pillars. Fasting is just 1% of the effort while the other 99% is the extra effort that believers need to perform to strengthen their bond with the Al-Mighty.

Fasting is very hard for me with this Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that I had for almost 20 years.

With my health condition, to be able to fast during this month is a blessing.

I don’t want to miss my train. It’s my personal journey and I hope to fulfill my duty through my own pace. With a strict diet and the right amount of medications, I manage to fast without me ended up injuring myself.

Understanding that every deed of the son of Adam is for themselves except fasting; fasting is solely for Allah. Allah will reward it according to him.

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Indeed your Lord said: ‘Every good deed is rewarded with ten of the same up to seven hundred times over, except for fasting.’

I was assigned to write about Ramadan for my photography article in the News Straits Times this time around. Ideas on what to capture with your camera during this holy month.

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having dates of odd numbers during iftar. It is a sunnah food

Ramadan Bazaar is the most visited place in Malaysia, you could find it at every corner of the town. Operating between 4pm to 7:30pm. Food heaven where you could get food for iftar in one place. Because of my strict food diet, I don’t frequent Ramadan Bazaar that much anymore.

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a food stall selling murtabak, a famous dish for iftar

I decided to skip the food part of Ramadan and focus on how to capture the spirit of Ramadan through close-up photos. A close-up photo adds intimacy or relatable feeling onto your images. Sharing my article here for reading pleasure.

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I tried to discipline myself to be closer to the community of the mosque.

Tried my best to have my iftar with my family and friends at the mosque every day, sharing food in one big tray, eat together, perform our Maghrib-Isyak-Tarawih prayers together, read certain surah from the Quran together.

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sharing food during iftar

As I sit quietly at my corner observing my surrounding, I saw one big group of orphan of different ages occupying another corner of the mosque while some corners are filled with believers of different races, different level of lives, poor or rich sat together sharing whatever food served during that day.

I feel humbled. Being broken, I have this unrealistic pride I tried so hard to overcome. That feeling of pride that I should rely on my own, that I am the sole provider for my own needs. Accepting others gratitude is not something I am used too. I am trained to give but not to accept.

Accepting food from others is something that I am not comfortable with. Here I learned to let down my pride and tone down my expectation. Feeling grateful with whatever food served in front of me and not complaining.

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sharing food during iftar

Praying together as one big ummah create strong bonding between us. I personally need the motivation boost to excel during the last 10 days of Ramadan. The late-night prayers, the almsgiving aka sedaqah, trying to read as many surahs from the Quran as possible and rushing for suhoor.

Doing all these spiritual activities together within a group make it achievable. I could not do that alone, am a dreamer that would drift into my own cave if I am left alone … cruising in my own world.

The divine journey to get closer to the Al-Mighty is the essence of Ramadan. It is not easy to achieve but it sure is joyful, spiritually joyful.

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Arissa reading her Quran

A few more days before the month would end. Still feeling that I am not putting my best effort, yet the clock still continuously ticking.

Will I be able to experience another Ramadan again next year?

In Sha Allah, if Allah permits.

Cheers

MM

 

 

 

 

 


on how to photograph children

Sharing tips on how to capture my favourite subject … our little children in NST BOTS/ click!

On the street or in the studio, these 5 essential tips would definitely help create the cultivating ambience for our little subject for us to capture their growing up moment.

Sharing it here.

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Photographing the little ones. Monday 07.01.2019

It’s Friday. Enjoy your weekend.

Cheers

MM

11.01.2019

 

 

 

 

 


Reciprocal kindness in Kalash Valley

I hate the word ‘busy’.

Oh … I have been busy, much busier than you (competing which each other on who is busier).

For me, the word ‘busy’ is like an excuse … oh, I could not spend my precious time with you, as my dear you are not worth my time, I would rather spend it with someone else which is more important than you. That is why you are so busy.

Hmmm … me being grumpy at my introductory paragraph. Excuse me … lol.

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A carrier horse in the middle of Peshawar market

Me? I have been busy too and like always I admit that I have been crazy busy catching up with I dunno, maybe work, life or just recuperating from my back-to-back trips. And … despite being busy,  I make times for my loved ones. The 3-ones that I always cherish, my pets too and my mom.

But …always a satisfying feeling despite how tired I am right now … ‘do what you love, love what you do’. I guess that I love myself the most when I am wandering around the stranger’s land more than when I am at home worrying about my unpredictable future.

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Kalash kids in front of their home

I was in Pakistan for the second time last July with my travel mates.

We wanted to visit the Kalash people of Pakistan. Took a domestic flight from Islamabad to Chitral and a jeep ride to the remote area of Kalash Valley, Northern Pakistan. Reside between the mountain of Hindu Kush, this place is geographically harsh but for a person who loves nature, ahhh this place is beautiful.

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I am not sure what is going on with these 2 children from the Kalash valley

In a country dominated by Muslims, this mountain people of Kalash is still holding on to their ancestor’s belief. Estimated around only 3000 Kalash people who are still practising the culture and their ancient pagan religion. Some of the Kalash people converted to Muslim, abandoning their traditions and adopting the Muslim lifestyle but still staying together around the valley.

The Kalash girls and women dressed up in a thick embroidered black robes with matching head gears and heavy bead necklaces every day. While the man adopted the same Kurta shirt as the rest of the Pakistani man. They have a colourful lifestyle and I think it is interesting to explore more about their culture.

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My article in NST on how to photograph other culture

Summer has just started when I touched down in Islamabad.

It was interesting as I always choose to travel to certain places either during the end of winter, spring or autumn and never in summer, as I prefer staying home in my hot and humid 24×7 country more than experiencing the heat of summer of another country.

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Morning chai at a street in Peshawar

In Chitral and Kalash Valley, the summer heat is the same as at home but the air is drier and windy, which made it bearable. But in Peshawar during Summer is … wow! challenging, due to the greenhouse effect temperature during the daytime is very warm (38’C feels like 42’C).  Walking along the small alleys in between markets with the heat is not something that I look forward too but well … I survived Peshawar.

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Busy street of Peshawar’s old city market

I always wanted to visit Peshawar.

My late university professor was from Peshawar (he passed away from dengue a few years ago). He told me that tomatoes in Peshawar are as big as mangoes. It makes me curious. Where got such thing as tomatoes as big as mangoes. I told him that one day I would love to visit his hometown, Peshawar and check out the tomatoes. And he said, ‘Please don’t go to Peshawar, that place is a dangerous place to walk around’.

My curious mind will never listen to NO. Oh … and I checked out the tomatoes, the size is still the same size as our tomatoes back home in Malaysia.

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Busy street of Peshawar old city market

Walking on the street of Peshawar as a woman with a camera is not easy as you need to adhere to the local custom. Proper dressing is required. I wore my favourite black abaya and yes, it helps with the heat. But my gender becomes a hindrance for me to walk alone on the street and yes, I need a male companion to be able me to walk around the market. Thank God my local companion is very helpful and friendly, so my wandering process went smoothly.

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Morning crowd around my hotel in Peshawar, Pakistan

When I am at home now, recuperating, I asked myself … what do I remember the most about Peshawar?

Uhhhh … the food.

I tasted the best lamb stew ever (better than in Xinjiang). The food tastes different from Islamabad, Chitral or Skardu. I was told that food in Peshawar is delicious due to the influence of Afghanistan, as Peshawar is just 57km away from the Afganistan border. And now I wonder … about the food in Kabul. Is it good? Hmmm curious mind.

I overstuffed myself with lamb and chicken every day, 3 times per day in 11 days. Never in my life that I’ve been eaten overload of animals in a day … Masya Allah. A happy Masya Allah actually as I lurvvveee lamb. I need extra energy for the walking (aka wandering) and extra strength for me to carry my heavy camera bag, lol.

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My breakfast … roti

What an experience.

I could see myself exploring Pakistan again and again. Maybe I should start strengthening my knee and my legs so that I could hike up on those beautiful mountains surrounding Skardu and enjoy the smell of the glaciers. I should start tomorrow … lol  In Sha Allah.

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A little lady from the Kalash valley

Time for bed. Catch you again on my next post. Bye for now …

Cheers

MM


Strike of luck

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A moment when I passed through this fishing boat

What does photography teach me?

As I add more months and years to my photography experience, I learned about the role of “stroke of luck” in my artwork. Unplanned moments or shall I say accidentally moments that just hit the “jackpot” or a rewarding moment that made my day as a photographer.

It was 100% totally luck. I was in the right place at the right time with the right people.

Just that.

I always see it as a gift … a gift from the invisible hand, the Planner. Each time I came across such moment I feel grateful and contended.

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A moment when I passed over a pond filled with wild buffaloes

So each time when I am sad and feeling unlucky … I would scroll down and browse through my lucky moments. Telling myself … for each moment that I am at lost, I would experience more lucky moments as a reward for my perseverance and my patience.

I take photography personally. Most of the time I captured my own moment … moments that related to me. A way for me to learn and understand about life. To calm my soul when things don’t work accordingly, as the Planner always has a better plan for me. I just need to trust Him.

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A sunset moment when the golden light decided to be generous

“Art depends on luck and talent”

Whenever you came across that lucky moment, you need the talent to be able to recognize such moment and you need the technical skill to decide on what and how to properly frame it. How do you do it?

Practice makes perfect.

Sleep deprived. Need to doze off. Bye …

Cheers

MM

ps: TEDx Talks about  Mastering Change by Michael Yamashita.

 


Eid Fitr Mubarak 1439H/ 2018M

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Now I understand the reason why writing will always make me feels good. I always wonder why does it feel good to pour your thought out for others to discover?

It is an opportunity to be heard and it feels good to be heard.

And the soul-nourishing month of Ramadhan has ended while the joyful Syawal has begun. It’s interesting to observe how people around you interpreted their belief system. Am not talking about the belief system between different religions but I am more concern about the different interpretation of the same belief system.

Islam is just one belief, one teaching and one God … don’t add yourself as another interpretation of other arrogant God.

If you believe that a religion is beautiful then your interpretation of that religion should be that beautiful too. If the teaching of a beautiful religion is to worship the Al-Mighty while at the same time to look for the best in human (as we humans are created as an equal Khalifah on this earth), to bring out the best in human-being and to unite people of various races in the world … stick with that teaching and please interpret this beautiful religion rightfully.

I felt frustrated with the arrogant believer that think that they are better off in front of Allah just because they have better religion knowledge (they believe so) than the rest. If you think that you have more knowledge than others please SHARE in a well-manner more civilize way. Not through a barbaric way as we are now living in an informative and intelligent era. Everybody has their own limitations and challenges … the sincerity of the heart matter the most; the HEART MATTER …

Sorry for the long ranting … I got distracted by the MAN who thinks that part of his leg is already firmly planted on Allah’s Heaven. Well … the more I see the more I want to ask why? And, a woman who always asks WHY is a nuisance for such MAN MADE FOR HEAVEN (so he think so).

Sharing my thought and my latest article in NST about how to capture the spirit of Hari Raya (eid) from a photographer’s point of view aka my point of view.

Eid Mubarak to all my readers.

Cheers,

MM

ps- The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The believer is friendly and befriended, for there is no goodness in one who is neither friendly nor befriended. The best of people are those who are most beneficial to people.”

Source: al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ 5937


new tool for my art

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Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque, Kuala Ibai, KT/ XT2 16-55mm f/2.8

Bought XT2 Fujifilm camera before my trip to NZ last few months and I paired it with a 16-55mm f/2.8 Fuji lens. My shoulder is not that strong anymore and I don’t consider carrying 2 DSLRs while traveling is traveling ‘light’.

I hope that I made the right choice as migrating into a new camera system is expensive … at least for a freelancer like me.

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Horses at Kuala Ibai, Kuala Terengganu/ XT2

Last month Fujifilm Malaysia organized a trip to Kuala Terengganu and I tagged along with the other 100 over Fujifilm camera users, gathered together to capture the essence of Kuala Terengganu. A very interesting trip and it was an opportunity for me to learn more about this new tool in my hand. So, I took a few photos of the event and share it here.

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Batu Rakit beach, Kuala Terengganu/ XT2

Bought my D810 way back in 2014 and it was at her own ‘class’ during her time. And technology has changed a lot since then. Cameras are getting lighter, user-friendlier and super fast nowadays … I feel old and left behind with my old D810/ D800E. But quality wise, my images in my old camera is still superior compared to XT2 though 😆 … sour grape!

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Young warriors/ XT2

After using this XT2 for over 3 months now, I kinda like this small camera. Small yet a very powerful tool. The XT2 camera ergonomic feels just right in my small hand. The lens is superb too and the price is still within my budget (to be honest , I don’t prefer spending my money on gadgets … I prefer spending it on my traveling instead)

This investment would last me for a few years, so I keep telling myself each time I decided to add more Fuji compliance gadget to my collection. And, with all the technology advantage embedded into this new camera … it’ll help me focus on the only one important thing which is my CREATIVITY.

I compiled more photos during this Fujifilm X trip in my Matsuda’s Zenfolio. Please check it out here but it is still not complete yet as I take time looking at my photos and decide what should I do with it … yes! not a pro yet in organizing 😂😂

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Pak Ali kite maker of Terengganu/ XT2

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My new tool XT2 Fujifilm with 16-55mm f/2.8

Gotta run … bye.

Cheers,

MM

ps: … saving my money to get myself the new Nikon D850.


Grasp of Technique

Being an organized freak, I always wanted to organize my thought during each photo moment that I had. What is the best angle, compo, light, subject positioning, mood etc? I would go back and forth figuring out on how to do it right and fast.

I want to simplify that process and reduce my mistake during each photo moment.

It goes back to the right technical knowledge, mastering the tools in your hand and having the technical understanding of visual compositions. As my mentor told me … before you decide on bending the rules, master the rules first.

So, I started with something simple as the classic six design elements. Understand the elements of color, line, shape, texture, space, and form are an advantage.

In the NST Bots Click! column for this year, I had covered 5 of the elements (line, shape, texture, space, form) and my friend Razz Rossfaisal of Travelberdua.com covered the element of color.

Sharing it here for my easy reference.

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1. The classic 6-design elements: COLOR

April2017
2. The classic 6-design elements: LINE
The classic 6-design elements: Shape

3. The classic 6-design elements: SHAPE

3 July2017

4. The classic 6-design elements: TEXTURE

31 July2017

5. The classic 6-design elements: SPACE

Sept2017

6. The classic 6-design elements: Form

Knowledge sharing works in both ways, the giver and the giving gained. As we are moving closer towards the end of 2017, I feel sad. Have I learned enough during this year? Have I worked hard enough?

Life has its own karma … if I didn’t work hard enough and if I didn’t learn well enough … life would come back and hunt me again with regrettable errors and mistakes.

Thanks for dropping by. Gotta run …

Bye

MM

 

ps- still trying to figure out on what topic to cover in 2018 … hmmm hmmm hmmm

 

 

 

 

 

 


Yes … the street of India

IND_9528Re-visiting my India’s photos for my latest NST assignment to celebrate Deepavali or Dewali. All these photos bring back memories of me surviving India and I think its time to repeat India again.

I am yearning to experience another round of emotional burst … in India maybe in 2018.

Sharing a few more photos of the bustling street of Old Delhi, New Delhi.

And my article on India for the NST readers is turning out well too, alhamdullilah. I am sharing it here for my own future reference.

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Bye for now.

 

Cheers

MM

 

ps- buzzing head … need to stay focus!


Eid Fitr Mubarak 1438H/ 2017M

Eid Fitr Mubarak to all my Muslim readers near and far, all over the world.

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My mom preparing Kelantanese traditional ketupat for Eid celebration

Ramadhan 29th, 1438H/ 2017M: Last day of Ramadhan for this year and tomorrow would be the start of Shawal. Sad to see the holy month is about to end this afternoon. The spiritual night routine and the day time struggle to guide oneself towards understanding humanity is very nourishes to my soul.

I experienced new lessons during this Ramadhan. The first time for me breaking fast/ iftar at the nearby mosque with hundreds of fasting Muslims. A few of us shared the same tray of food, sitting on the floor while enjoying our rice with side dishes together. Then we performed our tarawih prayers together as one ummah. The warm feeling flew deeply inside me … my first time.

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My ‘food tray mate’

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And this is how the food moves

A calmer month for me this time around, learning and seeking for in-depth peace between me and my Almighty Creator. Thanks to my children and friendly soulful friends around me … they never failed to warm my heart. And, thanks to that particular soul too. Alhamdullilah ….

And, tomorrow would be back to normal business again for me. I hope to be able to adopt whatever that I have learned during the holy month into my daily life too … a quest to be the better me. In Sha Allah

 

Bye

MM

 

ps- am placing my camera on alert for my mom’s beautiful moment while preparing for the Eid Fitr celebration. Life is short … a soul would come and go, according to Allah’s plan.

 


A sub-zero journey in Siberia

“If you want to catch a beast you don’t see every day. You have to go places quite out of the way. You have to go places no others can get to. You have to get cold and you have to get wet, too” ~ Dr. Seuss

Love … love .. love that quote by Dr. Seuss about hunting for beast at the most difficult and isolated place. A place where I should get wet and cold. In fact, the place that I went to was far beyond cold but freezing below sub-zero type of icy cold.

Ulan Baator of Mongolia and Lake Baikal of Southeast Siberia via Trans-Siberian railway train.

I would briefly share the details of our journey and the actual transportation cost in this post. Hoping to inspire you to be a little adventurous and travel more.

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#travelers ~ Areza Mansor, Azli Wahab and Matsuda

Definitely the most chilling journey.

I haven’t been to either North or South pole yet …so I am not sure how to compare the difference, but I was informed that here in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia -36℃ during winter is just normal. It’s darn cold enough for a tropical girl like me.

For almost 2 years, I have been wanted to explore Mongolia but friends kept on telling me that travelling to Mongolia and Russia is difficult and expensive.

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#stuckonice: Rashaant Village, Bulgan province, Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia

Early this year (2017), out of the blue I posted about Eagle Hunters of the Kazakh people of Mongolia on my facebook timeline and my trekker friend (I met during my last trip) invited me to tag along with his backpacking trip to China- Mongolia- Russia- Europe. They plan to explore Mongolia and Russia via Trans-Siberian Railway.

Being the green brain with an impromptu mind, I agree to travel together with them. But decided to join only for the first half of the trip (15 days) covering Mongolia and Lake Baikal, Southeast Siberia.

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Shuvuun Am, Valley, Altan Bulag village, Tuv province, Mongolia

We started in Beijing. I traveled alone from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and met them at the airport. Pick up our train ticket and took the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Ulan Baator, Mongolia and continue to Russia.

Traveling in-between boarders is challenging on its own especially in winter. Dealing with the language barrier and the immigration procedure requires a high level of patience.

Having a good travel companion is a bliss.

My travel companions were a gift from heaven … my first time traveling with them but the understanding and tolerance between us were excellent, we wickedly clicked! A blessed again … Alhamdullilah and I have no complaints.

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#metime ~ Resting time before lunch at Lake Baikal, I miss this moment

Some people love to travel alone and some just couldn’t.

As I traveled along this trip, I realized that I don’t prefer to travel alone. Having a good companion while traveling especially when you were stuck on a train for days and when you were traveling in hard places like this … a good companion is a blessing.

So, we spent 27 hours on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Ulan Bator, Mongolia (rm1340). Explored Ulan Baator and its surrounding for 8 days and continued our journey again to Irkutsk, Southeast Siberia via Trans-Siberian Railway from Ulan Baator to Irkutsk (35 hours for approximately rm822).

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#minimalistme ~ Every day means of transportation here in Lake Baikal

The train ride was comfortable, the heater available at all time along the journey.

Our only issue was on power point. We constantly need to charge our gadgets and the only available power point is in the hallway in front of our room. We were basically hibernating like a little squirrel curled up in its little burrow in winter. Thank God we did not miss our Irkutsk station.

We reached Irkutsk train station at a wee hour, grab a car (200 rubles/ 500 rubles)  in front of the station heading to Irkutsk bus station and tried to catch an early bus to Olkhon Island of Lake Baikal, Russia. Never thought that it would be this easy though.

The 10.00am bus to Olkhon Island was right across the road in front of the bus station (800 rubles per person/ 1100 rubles per person). The arrangement was quite easy but the language barrier seemed to be the major problem as the English language was like an alien language here at this side of Russia. (actual cost/ ripped off cost)

Lake Baikal in winter is beyond words.

Totally an alien place for the 3 of us. Amazingly different. It was freezingly cold but the view and experience of spending our moment there is priceless.

We stayed for 4 days in Lake Baikal exploring North (800 rubles) and South (1000 rubles) sides of the frozen lake. When we were there, the weather was a bit disturbing. It snows heavily a few days earlier and most of the frozen surface was covered with snow.

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Lake Baikal the frozen lake

We booked our accommodations online and decided to go easy with our transportation arrangement as booking for transportation through the internet was quite expensive. We stayed in a shared hostel in Olkhlon Island and discovered that arranging for transportation to and from the Island was surprisingly very convenient.

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Lake Baikal, Southeast Siberia, Russia

We took a public bus on our way back from Olkhlon Island to Irkutsk for 800 rubles per person and grab a car from bus station to our hostel, which turned out that it was just a few km away (200 rubles/ 500 rubles) lol. Well … opportunist is everywhere and things just happened.

We spent a day wandering around Irkutsk… an industrial city but in winter, there was nothing much to see. I would probably come again one day and wander around interesting places in Russia too. Who knows … right?

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My article in NST click! sharing tips on taking photographs in extreme cold

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Us in 3 at Lake Baikal, Southeast Siberia, Russia

Conclusion: Traveling as a true traveler (not a touch and go tourist) matures us but I do understand that not everybody is built for an extreme adventure like this. I agree that the journey from Beijing to Ulan Bator and to Lake Baikal is challenging. To be able to enjoy this type of adventure you need to be healthy and well prepared.

I admit it was tough. Not everybody can do this especially when we have such a comfortable and warm life at home, and for me, if you want to experience and learn more about life, you gotta step out of your comfort zone. I am currently pushing myself out of it every day now …

Owhhh … am very sleepy, I need my power nap! gotta run … bye

Cheers,

MM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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