Tag Archives: mountain

LOTR moment at Tongariro National Park

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A seagull checking on me while I was staring at the view of the Wellington Habour

I am in Wellington at this time being. Accompanying my daughter for her first-year University registration here in the city. Spent 2 weeks here with her, exploring the city and its surroundings while at the same time trying to make her comfortable with this new place where she would call her second home for the next 3 years.

Well, I got bored with CITY easily, flipped through the Free guide to NZ Arrival magazine that I took from the airport … the turquoise color of a lake in South Crater valley of Tongariro National Park caught my attention. But … naaaah! 8-hours walk of a total 19.4km would kill me instantly … so I think.

Then … I got really bored and kept thinking of that National Park. The view of the mountains … Mt. Tongariro 1967m, Mt. Ngauruhoe  2291m (Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings filming locations) and Mt. Ruapehu 2797m … make me more curious as I can’t hold it anymore and I purchased my Intercity bus ticket from Wellington to National Park station for the next day trip and booked my 2 nights stay at YHA hostel, National Park. I said to myself … fine, I just have a look at that place and walk around the easiest walk while enjoying my favorite air … the mountain air, hmmm nice … it feels like home.

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View in front of the hostel where I was staying. Well, look at that … thick clouds covering Mt Ruapehu. Not a clear weather to do the crossing

I don’t mind travel alone as I don’t have the urge to talk or even binge talk to anyone because most of the time my mind is always fully occupied with my own thoughts and imagination. I tend to forget about my surroundings too. My first time in NZ … ohh I love New Zealanders as they treated me more as a co-human than as a strange Muslim lady with a head covered wandering loose alone.

New Zealanders are super cool and very helpful too.

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The view of Mt Ruapehu without the thick clouds

The weather was not very good on the day that I arrived at the National Park. Raining with thick fogs surrounding the valleys. While contemplating either I want to do the crossing or just hang around and breath-in the natural ‘mountainous’ air, a group of people popped into the hostel front desk returning their gears. They just did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the rain and the thick fogs … and with their red and cheerful face even when they were soaking wet. Damn it … I said to myself.

And this guy from Thailand with a wide happy eye just bluntly tell me … hey! have you done the crossing? If you haven’t, you better just do it … even if the weather is like this … it would be worth every single second.

And guess what … I paid the 40 NZ dollars for the National Park return transportation and rented a waterproof boot, a walking pole and a raincoat. I fixed my mind … I am all in. I need to see what the havoc is all about. Well … well … well … bare in mind that I hate trekking, I am not well trained and I am not even sure which box to tick in as Lucy … the front desk lady passed me a form to fill in … which level of mountain trekker am I? should I tick the beginner box? As I am not even a beginner lol coz I am the type of person if given a choice where to park my car at the shopping mall … I would always choose the one very very very near to the entrance door.

Well … done with that. Lucy asked me … what makes me want to do this? And I said … hmmm, I just wanna get over this. This curiosity bugs me … and she laughed.

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The park signboard … I had a goofy feeling while looking at this

Omg … It was a beautiful sight as I first stepped in the Mangatepopo car park but as I looked at the signboard (above) I got scared again. Urghh I am gonna die … I told myself lol.

Overall, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is worth every second of the 8 hours walk despite the thick fog and the occasional rain. I managed to click a few photos with my iPhone while struggling to keep up with the trails.

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The beginning

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Moving forward with the running water sound coming from the stream along the way

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The moody and wet surrounding has that calming effect on me

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And the horror parts came … the trail starts ascending

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And this view as I looked down at my trails

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This is the point where we start descending and trolling along the longest 11.3km in my whole entire life. Honestly … I never walk this far in my entire life

As I continue for another 11.3 km trails to Ketetahi Carpak the weather started getting irritated. The fogs thicken, the temperature started to drop further down (9-12 degree) as the raindrops started to clouds my glasses … omg, I was standing on a narrow trail between 2 very steep craters while my feet were shaken due to lack of sugar aka energy and my glasses was clouded. The sulfur smell filled the air.

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This is the turquoise colored lake that I saw in the magazine, the one that makes me want to visit this place

I was tired … near to the ‘I want to give up’ mode. But this place even in its worst weather is uniquely beautiful and I couldn’t help wondering to myself … how would this place look like if the weather is beautiful?

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Passing a flat crater before trekking up again in thick fog

It was all foggy and raining the whole journey down towards the carpark and I didn’t take many photos as I was super-super exhausted. This trail is not for beginners but maybe for intermediate trekkers. You need to be well prepared if you decided to do the crossing. It was so hard for me and I still have sore muscles all over my body now (after 3 days).

I nearly cried at the very last 6.3km … as my feet could not take it anymore. Other trekkers passed by me one after another leaving me alone struggling with my incapabilities. Oh I hate that feeling of being left behind … but I kept my chin up and walk slowly imagining myself doing brisk walk at my most favorite park.

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Struggling even to lift up my iPhone, ohh I am not fit … something that I need to work on

Would I do this again? Yes … I definitely would do this again maybe in December when summer is here. I want to capture the beautiful landscape of this place in its most beautiful setting but I am gonna make sure that my body is fit enough to do this … so that I could see more and enjoy more of this place.

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I saw colorful plants along the crossing trail … very interesting

 

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The trail from my STRAVA 

 

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My shaky feet with that rented waterproof boot after the 8 hours journey. Yaaay! I walked 19.4km for 8 hours … victory!

I took the next day bus to Wellington with a victory and blessed feeling. Alhamdullilah, thank you oh Allah for giving me the opportunity and the will to do this. I love it …

I plan to explore more of NZ during this 3 years, taking it slowly and meaningfully. Learning to improve me … while inspiring my children and people around me to do more in life than just merely living. Anybody can do this … just do it, no excuses.

Bye for now

 

 

Cheers,

MM

New Zealand: Tongariro National Park February 27th to March 1st, 2018

 

 


The Art of Seeing

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Shangri-La Resort at Skardu, Northern Pakistan against the mountains

Yes … I am still digging into my collections of external HD, hunting for hidden treasure. A continuous quest for me or for every photographer out there … a never ending chore to filter thousands of photograph  for just one or two killing images.

While digging … I found a few interesting photos that related to ‘reflection’ that I wanted to share here.  Sharing some photos of the landscape surrounding Shangri-La Resort in Skardu, Northern Pakistan (please excuse my watermark).

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View of Shangri-La Resort at Skardu, Northern Pakistan from a different angle

Capturing reflection either on a puddle of water, on a lake or on some mirrors have a satisfyingly calming effect. The sense of calmness came from my need to be super quiet and totally immersed in the moment, to be able me to notice details in my surrounding such as reflection.

The camera setting to capture reflection is the same setting as capturing photos of any landscape. But our eyes need to be more cautious though, aiming at various angles and at the same time maintaining the best composition. And don’t forget to wait for the right light and the moment when the wind decided to stop meddling with the water surface.

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View of Shangri-La Resort at Skardu, Northern Pakistan with an interesting foreground

Looking back at these photos brought back sweet memories of us in Skardu, Northern Pakistan, we were hanging out at the edge of the lake while waiting for the wind to stay idle for us to capture a perfect reflection of this place.

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Me … enjoying my moment

I think I am more of a traveler than a photographer. Photography is just another reason for me to pack my bag and travel.

So it is kind of annoying when some ‘real’ photographer judging my photography skill based on whatever that I posted on FB after each trip. They’ll ask to see my winning photos of each place that I went … and questioned on why were I still travel to such places when I knew for sure that I can’t even shoot people on the street.

Hmmm. Speechless …

I need to remind myself that I am a traveler first before a photographer.

Having a good photography skill helped me to sharpen my eyes towards details around my surrounding. So … when I traveled … I can see more. The more I see the more I learn. And, if traveling with my camera could turn me into a ‘real’ professional photographer … then I am truly blessed.

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Me … looking down to make sure that my feet still sit on the ground

The world of photography has no boundary … you can be as unique and as creative as wish you could be.

Bye for now

 

Cheers,

MM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Street walk in Skardu, Pakistan

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A sundry store located behind the main road of Skardu town. 

Morning start late at most places that we stopped in Northern Pakistan. Business venues and markets started around 10am. The time where morning lights were at the most unforgivably harsh.

Not the best moment for a street photographer who love to chase morning ‘dramatic’ lights. But the opportunity to be here … and to witness the  uniqueness and authenticity of this place overcame all my “chasing the light” needs.

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The shop where restaurants or street stalls get their roti supply from.

Everything looked brown, old and rustic here. It felt as if I was in an old movie set.

It was 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon when we decided to stroll along the street and watch life around this small town. The sky turned brown and dusty as a sand stormed has just passed through the town leaving behind a trail of thick lingering dusty air on the street … a normal occurrence around here I guess.

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Old and rustic looking sundry shops 

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Life goes on as always

Fine dusty sands laid everywhere here. My face was dusty and same goes with the rest of the people on the street. I bet I looked rustic too like my environment … I blend well lol.

But … we still looked ‘obviously’ foreign here. This town seldom sees tourist or foreign traveller walking on the street. In fact we were the second group of foreign visitors that stayed in the hotel (that we stayed in) for this year.

I like to walk like an invisible soul when I am on the street. I always imagine that I am invisible … when I am in public 😉 . But the four (4) of us caught too much attention while we were here … maybe because everybody knows everybody in this small little town.

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A fruit seller at the street side

Honestly, I am used to being stared at while I am on a strange or foreign land. Most of the time people would be curious seeing me maybe because of my head cover or my shawl … but I could overcome their curiosity with a sincere smile and a brief greeting.

But here in Pakistan is different.

In a male dominated society, women does not walk on the street without their men. We don’t see women wandering around restaurant or markets too. I saw one or two short glimpse of women on the street but most were fully covered by their long shawls.

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We attracted attention

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The curious crowd circling us

It does felt weird in the beginning of the trip to experience an intensive stares came from the male crowd but as always I learnt a few tricks to get around as I went along.

Maybe next time I should wear a cotton Kurta when I am on the street.

The morning before we catch our flight out of Skardu to Islamabad… we climbed up on our hotel’s rooftop to catch the full view of this town. Mesmerising view we got up there … this place is surrounded by gigantic mountains.

The thing that I like about travelling is … when I have zero expectation about a place and decided to take a risk … and I ended up falling in love with it. It taught me to be open … to stay receptive regardless of whatever condition that I am in … as the end matters the most.

“The only lasting beauty is the beauty of the heart.”~ Rumi

I am signing off right now … 🙂 . Bye …

 

Cheers

MM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Judgemental Mind of Mine

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A victory toss (with mango and pineapple juice) to celebrate the end of our Pakistan journey

Being human … a normal human being, I admit that I am too quick on judging things. My excuse is that I need to take a good care of ME … my physical, my mental and my heart. I need to safe guard ME. As I grow wise (and aging lol) … an achy breaky me is not easy to recover from either physical or mental torture.

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A stop on our way to Besham, Northern Pakistan

So, I refused (at first) to join my travelling friends on their quest to explore Pakistan. My concerned was upon my safety but towards the last minute I changed my mind. With a good travel companions, a full trust on my ultimate protector (my Creator) and my survival instinct … so I thought the rough Pakistan journey won’t be that bad.

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This is a common view along the road. Most men I saw on the street were wearing kurta (long cotton shirt) instead of T-shirt and jeans. 

I was telling my girlfriend that “if we could survive this trip babe, it would turned out to be our most valuable experience .. ever” and true enough, the journey was tough to the bone but it was worth every second of it. You need to be physically and mentally  strong to truly see the beauty of Pakistan.

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The road was not crowded at all … occasionally you would see decorated lorries, buses and a few private cars.

We travelled from Islamabad-Gilgit-Karimabad-Hunza-Skardu via road and travelled back to Islamabad from Skardu via flight. Driving to Gilgit via the  Islamabad-Mansehra-Nahran-Chilas-Gilgit  would be around 10-11 hours drive but we were unlucky that day as that road was closed for a few months due to landslides. And, we have to travel via alternative road that took us approximately 19 hours to reach Gilgit. Yes … and 19 hours on a rough road felt like a week lol.

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What a view …

Half of the journey was tolerable as we passed through Masya-Allah … the most beautiful and unique landscape view along the way and we drove through small towns after another … a very memorable journey. But after Besham, the roads and the geographical area turned rocky and rough. We were surrounded by rocky gigantic mountains and the road conditions were really bad. As the day turned night … the tough journey became very challenging.

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A quick snap shoot along the road to Gilgit, Northen Pakistan

Police security roadblocks were at every km away and we … the “tourist” have to be safely escorted by the appointed police personnel upon entering Bersham and straight to our hotel in Gilgit.

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At one of the small town after Besham. I didn’t shoot much here as we were rushing through and this was taken from my jeep’s window. 

Tough journey in 10 days either can be a disastrous experience or a rich moment for your soul. I am glad that I made the decision to step out of my comfort zone … alhamdullilah I am a step richer in experience.

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The Eagle’s Nest of Hunza valley, Northern Pakistan

We travelled further up from Gilgit to hunza valley via the famous Karakoram Highway (KKH). The KKH connected Gilgit-Baltisan region, Pakistan to Xinjiang region, China. The highway is listed as the Eighth Wonder of the world due to its high elevation (4,693m) and the difficult geographical conditions in which it was constructed.

The view …. Subhanaallah, I am glad I have eyes to witness how beautiful our earth is. I’ll share some photos in my IG and 500px when I have the time to dig out all of my Pakistan images.

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The Eagle’s Nest of Hunza valley, Northern Pakistan

And here are a few photos taken from my favourite spot in Northern Pakistan … the Hunza Eagle’s Nest. I seriously will come back to this spot for a night camp, just to watch the stars and capture the milkyway crossing over the glaciers … uh tak sabar nya tunggu /uh I can’t wait for our next Pakistan trip.

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The self acclaimed Queen of Eagle’s Nest of Hunza valley at her throne he he he

Hmmm … this photo (above) remind me of the people that I met along the road here in Pakistan. The 10 years old girl, Misbah from Hunza valley. The girl opened up her story about her so called normal life that bring tears to our eyes. Another 10 years old boy, Abdullah from Rawalpindi. A curiously intelligent boy that followed us around the market (near his home). Both are lacking in education and materials but well brougt up with proper manners … a proud and beautiful people, Pakistan ….. I will be back! lol

Uhhh … I need to stop typing words here or else I might sound like an old immobilised ‘makcik’ or aunty that kept on reminiscing on old memories hu hu hu gotta run 🙂 .

Bye for now

Cheers,

MM

 

ps- “Be selective with you battles. Sometimes peace is better than being right.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


2-cats and a family

I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells - Dr Seuss

aku dan kamera

I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells - Dr Seuss