Tag Archives: human interest

Enchanted by the Mongolian

Nomadic lifestyle caught my attention. After comfortably adopting a minimalist mindset a few years back, I started to like the idea of living my life more towards a nomadic mindset too.

Not that I wanted to pack my things and move from places to places … hmmm not yet I guess… but I sense (acewah! boleh plak sense lol) that with a nomadic mindset I could explore more in life.

And being able to experience living with a real life nomads in Mongolia even just for a few days was a nourishing moment for me. Approximately half of the Mongolian’s population is still leading a nomadic lifestyle, rearing their livestock freely throughout the entire Mongolian’s land.

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Origil lives in Terelj National Park, Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

They live in gers, a big comfortable tent like moveable home and moves from a campsite to another for at least 4 times a year in search for the best place to rear their livestock and to protect themselves from the harsh climate especially during winter.

Living in ger would free them from the need to attend to house rentals or bank mortgages, a great step out of any financial burden.

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A family that we met in front of a Shrine near Ulaan Baatar

My first time in Mongolia … and my first experience with anything about Mongolian culture. The food … the people … the culture … the harsh winter, everything was totally new to me.

Our local guide, Alma had everything properly figured out for us in advance and we were like an empty shell that willingly waited to be filled with whatever Mongolian adventures by her.

The cold winter didn’t stop us from our quest to explore. There was one time when we were kinda lost in the middle of nowhere in an unfamiliar valley as the snow was quite thick that it covered the road trail (just some tire marks along a wide plain) … wow!  it was like surrendering yourself totally to Alma and Oyunna (our driver) and depending totally on her experience and her guts feeling.

Well … it was a very raw adventure for us … not complaining at all.

I will share a few photos of people that we met along our 8 days journey here in Ulaan Baator, Mongolia. Looking back at these photos … remind me of their warm hospitality and all the funny moments that we had experienced while trying so hard to blend in with their culture.

We stayed for two (2) days at Janat’s home, a kazakh Mongolian family. Watching him and his son Bota tendering their herd every morning and afternoon. Experiencing the nomadic life. Janat and his family members were super friendly. We even shared their everyday food too.

I tasted my first steamed horse meat and chewed on steamed cow testicle like a pro (just because I didn’t know that it was what it is). My first in everything … he he he

Living in a minimalist home in a ger … kinda cool too except that the toilet was sooo faaar aaawaayyyy … as in winter at lower than -17℃ with the strong icy wind chill, your mind refused to obey your bladder’s command.

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Grandma Dorjsuren with her daughter Enkhtuul (purple) and Oyunna (blue)

We stayed for a night with grandma Dorjsuren Dambiinyam and her hardworking daughter. To reach her place we have to travel for hours wandering on a roadless plain … towards a certain mountain he he he I was also lost track of our whereabout.

Grandma Dorjsuren looked like a reserve type of a person,  I could feel that she is quite a strict no hanky panky lady but her hug was so warm, it melts my heart. I like her … I think my soul like her very much.

Their gers were located hidden behind a small hill … but still, the sub-zero chilling wind was so strong that it shook our ger for the whole night. Oh well … I was tough like a nail stuck in a wall!

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Grandma’s home

We stayed for another one night at Grandpa Bor (80s) and Grandma Yandag (70s). The route towards his valley was very challenging as it was snowy and the plain was totally white covered by the thick snow.

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Grandpa Bor with his livestock

He claimed that at one time he owned 1000 goats and sheep before he distributed some to his children. Goats and sheep in extremely cold weather are of different species compared to the one in my tropical country.

When I showed him our goats species like Jamnapari, Boer and Saanen, he was so engrossed with it. He laughed so hard when he saw that most of our goats have long ears. Despite our language barrier, this man never failed to make me laugh with his weird joke … yeah weird because each time I have to take at least 5 minutes to digest his joke lol. Uhh … I can smell his sincerity.

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On our way to Grandpa Bor’s home. Oyunna manually changed the tire setting to 4×4

Hmmm … observing their nomadic lifestyle and listening to their stories on how they cope with the hurdles of shifting from one campsite to another makes me wonder again about how resilient they were towards the unpredictable life.

Having the opportunity to change their surroundings at least 4 times a year made them more flexible with life. I have respect for them …

And, being a nomad doesn’t mean that they are totally disconnected from the society. They are as alive as every human I met across the globe. They are fully equipped with all basic modern materials … solar electricity to power their electrical appliances, cars and trucks to transport them around.

Yeah … maybe I should learn more about this nomadic mentality and add it onto my minimalist lifestyle, use it to strengthen my self-mental so that I would be more resilient towards the hurdles in my life.

Looking back at these photos makes me yearn for my next adventure … I am still not sure where would I be heading to next. Probably a short weekend trip to Mt Bromo in Surabaya, Indonesia to observe the upcoming Kasada festival. In Sha Allah ….

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At the 10th Eagle Hunter festival in Ulan Baator

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return” ~ Maya Angelou

Cheers,

MM


Obsess with Faces

Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror, or the painter? ~ Pablo Picasso

I am always puzzled when people ask me on what sort of photographer am I? And, before I could even finish answering that question … they’ll start pushing me into another question … do you shoot weddings? I guess everybody with a camera shoot wedding these days.

Not that I don’t shoot weddings. I do. I shoot weddings too if the price worth my effort. It seemed that everybody wanted a piece of a photographer. They expect diamond but paying peanuts.  Charging as low as RM500 to cover for a wedding is crazy. With the amount of effort, time and gears used to shoot the lovely groom and bride for a few hours … I think it is just cruelty and an insult to even consider offering that to a photographer.

Me … I tried my best not to negotiate with my potential customer, pay me on how much my work worth to you but bear in mind that I know how much I am worth.

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Pose 1: A sadhu that we met at Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

Okay! back to my story for today. As at now … I am still obsessed with photographing human face. This is a series of photos that I took of a Sadhu in Kathmandu, Nepal.

He has a very long hair that he can even wear it as a turban. He has an amazing personality, charming and smiled politely during an hour of our photo session. Fyi, as you walk through the back lane of the temple you will stumble into a few sadhus that gather freely around the area. We spotted him and wanted to take his picture. And yes … it was not free.

Sharing some of his poses here.

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Pose 2: Capturing him in frames within frames

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Pose 3: Trying different angles that show his crown aka hairs

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Pose 4: He is a bit relax here with a hint of smile hidden under his mustache. Maybe he is amused by my antics

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Pose 5: Rapunzel … Rapunzel … let down your hair

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Pose 6: Namaste! My favorite pose of all

I love the earthy tone if his skin, his hair and his emotion shown on each poses. These pictures are a keeper moment for me. Gorgeous face …

Bye for now.

 

Cheers

MM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


More Create Time

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” ~ Ray Bradbury

2017.03.27 – am at home recuperating. I was on the road for almost 22 days. 16 days backpacking with 2 of my travel buddies and another 6 days back home to my mom’s at Bachok, Kelantan (7 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur).

My head is full of stories now … stories about my traveling moments (which I intended to write about it in my next post), about my mom, about my loved ones, about my new kitty, my maid who ran off from home, my never ending sleep deprived etc … ahh and today’s post is just about my work this month. Well … keeping every each of it here for my own reference.

My article for NST on March 2017 is about what to shoot in the market.

And, that new kitty, Nala aka Lala is everywhere in the house. We have another adult cat by the name of ‘Chicken’. Being the only cat for 11 years makes my ‘Chicken’ a very dominant cat and we are having a hard time right now … to convince ‘Chicken’ that the new kitty is here to stay.

And my work appeared in a local magazine too. Well … I am honored. I hope that all this would be a stepping stone towards more opportunity for me to CREATE.

Off I go. Will write about my journey in Mongolia and Lake Baikal soon.

Cheers!

MM


Riding the Light

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A lady sitting on the floor of a market in Bantul, Jogjakarta

I was in Jogjakarta, Indonesia for a few days in mid-November last month. Hanging out at Kota Gede with my local photographer friend, Romeography of Studio 76. We planned to wander aimlessly around the east part of Jogjakarta with our cameras.

It was already the beginning of monsoon season here in Southeast Asia … and I was pretty sure that the sky would be dull and the light would be challenging in Jogjakarta too, as the raining season is here to stay until at least towards the end of January next year

After a few failed attempts to hunt for sunrises and sunsets, we decided not to waste our time wandering around hunting for gorgeous landscape anymore… we were out on the street focusing on human interest instead.

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Plaosan temple at sunset

We hang around markets mingling with locals selling all sorts of daily items. We snuck around a group of people selling roosters or cocks for the gamecocks or cockfights. Uh … scary sight of bleeding roosters fighting for its life.

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Spontaneous gamecocks

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6-months old  rooster was for sale at rp600,000

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Caged birds were for sale

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Mbah Madio selling palm tree sugar at a market in Bantul, Jogjakarta

Wandering around with motorbike hunting for subjects and lights has its pros and cons. Other than the pain in the butt (from sitting on a small seat for too long), it was also the risk of getting wet from the rain.

But … it was the easiest way to move around from point A to point B without having to worry about the condition of our routes plus we can just park the bike anywhere we wish. Talking about convenience right …

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The horses of Malioboro street were having their morning bath here at a river near Bantul, Jogjakarta

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Hunting for light at the nearby bridge in Bantul, Jogjakarta

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Farmers along side of the road in Bantul, Jogjakarta

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Spent a few hours here at Pak Sugiman’s workplace at Putat Village, Gunung Kidul, Jogjakarta

Well … the rain doesn’t stop me from achieving my primary goal for this trip lol … which was to have a stress free moment chasing the light. I had a great time … getting close and personal with my subjects, good food and good companion all the way … ahhh I couldn’t ask for more, alhamdullilah.

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My closing sunset for this trip. A dramatic sunset due to the unpredictable weather

We are planning for more future trips to explore more of the landscape surrounding Jogjakarta … maybe after the monsoon season is over. Who knows … In Sha Allah

And …. life goes on and on … and I am learning throughout the journey. Learning to be grateful for each moment that Allah presented to me. Learning to see and accept people as who they are. Learning to love every soul that cross path my journey … and letting go the one that decided to venture out of my path. People changed … a heart changed.

“Oh Allah, please ease my path. Guide my iman. Guide my every single actions. Guide me to love for Your sake. Protect what is in my heart. What lies in the future, only You know. Verily, Allah is All-Knower, Most Merciful and Most Gracious.”

Bye for now,

Cheers

MM


Wandering Soul

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Sulaiman: Danau Tarusan Kamang, Agam, Sumatera, Indonesia

New places always excite me.

I could spend hours just wandering and observing my surrounding for something to learn from or just something to look at. Sharing 5 of my favorite portraits that whenever I look at it … I felt like packing my bag and start wandering on the street again.

Pic above: Sulaiman, our local talent posing for me with his fish cages. Danau Tarusan Kamang is a natural pond that seemed to have a mind of its own mind. It dried up and swelled up with water according to God knows whatever rules … I think it has something to do with its underground geographical structure.

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Mr Freedom: Bukit Tinggi, Sumatera, Indonesia

Pic above: Mr Freedom showing off his ‘freedom’ … tattooed hard on his chest. What a coincident since freedom is my all time favorite words lol.

Meeting strangers from all part of life while wandering around is an eye opening. I learned to listen well too. Stories about their day-to-day life which is most of the time would be an opposite story from mine.

Engaging a simple and sincere chat with strangers on the street came naturally to me too… I like it. And, I think that it would be rude for you to just showed up from nowhere and suddenly just click on your camera on somebody’s face.

Have some respect … kot.

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A woman from Karo Tribe: Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Pic above: My lady from Karo tribe of Omo Valley, Ethiopia posed with my colorful shawl. We were curious about each other lol.

I smiled whenever I saw this photo. She probably has never seen a shawl as colorful as mine in her life (Malaysian women wear colorful clothing at every chance that we have and we have a whole bundle of choices to choose from hu hu hu).  And, I envied her beads collection.

So, she wanted my colorful shawl for an exchange with her photos and I ended up having a series of her photos looking satisfied with our deal ;-P .

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Omak/ Mother: Bukit Tinggi, Sumatera, Indonesia

And, I personally think that it would be more satisfying to have some sort of connection with your subject. Especially when I am taking portraiture or faces on the street, I want to have meaning to a face that I would probably keep for a very long time in my external HDD.

Pic above: A loving mother that I met while wandering at one of the morning markets at Bukit Tinggi, Sumatera, Indonesia. We had a loving chat together … talking about her children and how lucky she was to be surrounded by her loved ones.

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Chacha: Northern Pakistan

And lastly, the chacha (uncle) that we met at one of our stops on our way to Skardu, Northern Pakistan. Strangers in this part of the world are rare. I never expected that we would be treated warmly.  it is true then … “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met”. (pls ignore the salt bottle on the table … lol)

I am feeling grateful … for the soul that decided to leave me, the soul that wander together hand-in-hand with me and the newly discovered soul that decided to stay … the best word to express my gratitude is alhamdullilah.

Bye for now.

Cheers,

MM

 

 

 

 


The color of Kindness

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India 2015: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

It has been awhile since my last post here. So many things happened during that period of time … smacked down moments that make the happy go lucky me went silent without words …  my ‘maturity’ lesson, I called it.

Or maybe a trade-off for my current lifestyle that I am having now. In order for me to enjoy my “jiwa MERDEKA” or “free spirited” life … I have to experience these emotional confusion about responsibility, accountability, loyalty, trust, love, friendship, religion (as what PEOPLE imposed me on believing) and death.  More you get of X, less you get of Y.

Accepting and understanding death is the hardest for me. Loosing someone who is close to you through death does not feel the same as loosing him/ her through a devastating broken relationship. But well … life continuously goes on and on … and time heals you accordingly. For arwah Abah and Paksu … al-fatihah.

What really helped during those confusing moments? … the act of kindness by people closed to me and by those unexpected strangers in my life … helps to ease up my confusion and at the same time giving me hope and space … so that I would rise up better than before. Alhamdullilah and thank you …

If I rant further more … then this post will ended up as philosophical as Sigmund Feud thesis paper on understanding human psychology.

"We rise by lifting others." -

India  2015: “We rise by lifting others.”

The truth is … I am craving for my solitude and silence more than ever now.

With this thunder inside me now … if I continue forcing myself out, words spoken or written surely would sound more defensive and hostile. The hidden drama queen in me would probably go berserk  😉 … but ‘I am no hero and I’m not made of stone.

Looking at photos has a temporary tranquility effect on me … my all-natural tranquilizer. Sharing some human interest portraits from my recent India trip with my readers here. Images are mostly in monochrome, if you want to view in color then you can check-out my flickr account.

I need a lullaby to keep me going while preparing my today’s post. I am singing my heart out with my karaoke version of  “Until it Sleeps” by Metallica. Let’s sing along together with me … 1… 2 … 3 😉

Note: click the video below so that you can continue reading while listening to the song as your background music

"A warm smile is the universe

India 2015: “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.”

Where do I take this pain of mine?
I run, but it stays right by my side

So tear me open, pour me out
There’s things inside that scream and shout
And the pain still hates me
So hold me until it sleeps

"Respect is a two-way street, if you want it you have to give it." - R.G. Risch

India 2015: What is the color of kindness?

Just like the curse, just like the stray
You feed it once and now it stays
Now it stays

They said PINK is the color of kindness

India 2015: They said PINK is the color of kindness

So tear me open but beware
There’s things inside without a care
And the dirt still stains me
So wash me until I’m clean

It grips you, so hold me
It stains you, so hold me
It hates you, so hold me
It holds you, so hold me
Until it sleeps

Kindness

India 2015: And, he has the color of kindness neatly tucked on his shoulder

So tell me why you’ve chosen me
Don’t want your grip
Don’t want your greed
Don’t want it

kindness

India 2015: “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ~ Dalai Lama

I’ll tear me open, make you gone
No more can you hurt anyone
And the fear still shakes me
So hold me until it sleeps

kindness

India 2015: “The kindest word in all the world is the unkind word, unsaid”

It grips you, so hold me
It stains you, so hold me
It hates you, so hold me
It holds you, holds you, holds you
Until it sleeps

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India 2015: “Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns”

I don’t want it … no … no … no

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India 2015: “To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others”

So tear me open but beware
There’s things inside without a care
And the dirt still stains me
So wash me… till clean

India 2015: “In the end … only kindness matter”

I’ll tear me open, make you gone
No longer will you hurt anyone
And the hate still shapes me

So hold me until it sleeps

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“What is a rebel? A man who says NO” … so hold me until I SLEEP 🙂

I am signing off right now … and continue taking my recovery sleep. When I finally decide to wake up … I will strike harder and better than before … In Sha Allah. Till then … 🙂

Cheers

MM

 

 

p/s Ramadhan Mubarak to all my muslim readers … and we are moving nearer to the last 10 days of Ramadhan. The most blessed days in the blessed month of Ramadhan are the last 10 days of Ramadhan. May Allah grant all of us strength and will to make the remaining days of Ramadhan work to our advantage … ameen.

 

 


Angelic colors in Maiga Island

Heading straight-on to Maiga Island

Heading straight-on to Maiga Island

Perfect natural light … perfect cloud … perfect wind … perfect weather … ahhh just speechless!

I couldn’t ask for more. Great companion as always … photographers from Brunei, Singapore, Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur … mostly are strangers turned companions. We shoot like a mad soldier with infinity bullets 😉 . I was surrounded by non stop camera shutter sound from my left and right side, it makes me feel  inferior lol … like I am not working hard enough accumulating my own stock photos …. argh! bunch of pro photographers. And … in 2 days, I accumulated more than 1000 images from my “crazy! memory space eater” D800/ D800E 😉

And, great food too as our host Muslianshah bin Masrie is not only a great photographer but he turned out to be a darn good cook too. I couldn’t complaint more … why should you complaint when your belly is full, right? *wink*

Maiga Island under the sun

Approaching the island

View from one of the jetty here in Maiga Island

View from one of the jetty here in Maiga Island

The other side of Maiga Island

Stunning landscape here … sun, sky and cloud overload

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My addiction with clouds continue here

Photographer’s heaven …!! <— I know! I need to stop ranting and start writing instead.

Maiga Island is just a small remote tropical island. No hotels, no facilities … just a few simple and humble homes owned by the island people from Suluk and Pala’u (Bajau Laut) descent. Typical Sabahan hospitality… playful, friendly and polite. So, I would like to remind you … that you need to have an adventurous soul to be able to see and enjoy the beauty of this place.

We shared their homes for 2 nights and we hang around with their children during our sunsets and sunrises. You would probably feel a bit curious …  about the safety issues surrounding this area especially after the major security breached incident regarding foreign intruders last year. Well, it felt safe when we were there … and I saw groups of China tourist wandering freely around some small islands there too.  Well … there is always a RISK in everything that we do, right?

Sunset here at Maiga Island. The downside of having cloud overloads is ...

Sunset here at Maiga Island. The downside of having cloud overload is … my round yellow “egg yolk” sun … ended up playing peek-a-boo with me

Catching the last color of the day at Maiga Island. Yeah ... I admit , another boat as my foreground ...

Catching the last color of the day at Maiga Island. Yeah … I admit , another boat as my foreground

The curfew hours from 6pm to 6am is still on-going though … so, no island hoping activities at night for us. Just some relaxing and frustrating milky-way night shoot … and this is due to the cloud overload activities that continue during night time too.

Milky-way attempt at Maiga Island

Milky-way attempt at Maiga Island

And, this is how my sunrise look like:

Morning light peeping  out from the nearby island

Morning light peeping out from the nearby island

Children doing their routine jump at the jetty during my sunrise moment

Children doing their routine jump at the jetty during my sunrise moment

Bohey Dulang Island

A gorgeous fisheye view of the Bohey Dulang Island

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Island children playing with their small boats

Island children with their routine jump at the jetty

Island children with their routine jump at the jetty

I made some new friends here too, Patricia, Azmal and Chinta.

Regardless of whatever or whoever our background is … human is still human and children will always be children. Most of the children here are without proper nationality and ‘politically’ they don’t entitled to experience school (… sarcastically saying). With no proper education, most of them can’t read or write but they are not slacking on their manners. Well mannered children that makes my heart nervous … thinking of their future.

This is Chinta with her audience

This is Chinta with her audience

The boy with a lollipop is Azmal. My diplomatic little tour guide ... I paid him to guide me around the island

The boy with a lollipop in his mouth is Azmal. My diplomatic little tour guide … I paid him to guide me around the island

Playing with my sea gypsy friends

Playing with my sea gypsy friends

Me and you moment

Me and you moment

Chinta … is not her real name, her real name is so difficult to remember so I just called her Chinta lol. She is a great story teller and a very imaginative child too. Whenever she started telling her stories …. the rest of the children would definitely be glued to her … including me, an adult child he he he.

I had a hormone imbalance moment when it was time for me to depart from the island. I had dust in my eyes whenever I look them in their eyes … especially towards Azmal, Chinta and Patricia. It felt like leaving your own child alone at a strange and dangerous roadside. Emotional attachment in 2 1/2 days … I am definitely getting older … or is it an early menopause sign? … emo 🙂

Wefie moment with my island friends

Wefie moment with my island friends

May Allah grant them protection, peace of mind, guidance and remain in his guidance always. And, may Allah grant a continuos resources, energy and time for me to travel and learn more from life … ameen.

“Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their chests” (22:Al-Hajj:46)

I pressed published before  before checking on my post ... lol ... and missed this photo. A child playing with her swing ...

The joy of witnessing life:  A child playing with her swing … love it!

And as at today, my traveling schedule for the next few months is still remained empty. I am planning to stay glued at home … editing photos, updating my photo portfolio, generating money to finance my next travel project and working on GayaIzzah.com. Wish me luck yea …

Cheers

MM

 

p/s If you plan to visit here, I would suggest you to bring some gifts for the children. Children clothing or swimming goggles or pens/ pencils or simple reading books or books for writing. Or you can spent some moments with them, reading for the children or just playing “tag you’re it” game with them. Sharing is caring …