Tag Archives: pakistan

Reciprocal kindness

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


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 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

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