Tag Archives: Travel Photography

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


Keeper Moment

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The first is always the sweetest, right? Here is another first for me …

Yeszza! I made it to the front page. A baby step indeed but I feel honored. I am posting it here as a reminder to myself to keep on creating my craft … just the way I wanted it.

I am smiling right now … 🙂

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I haven’t posted anything yet about my adventurous moment in Mongolia and Lake Baikal here in my blog. The journey truly blew my mind … something totally new to me but I am still in a fermenting mood.

I am fermenting both my story and my photos during that trip to a perfection lol.

It’s an excuse … the truth is my mind is still preoccupied with something else right now. A mental block!

I am feeling sleep deprived lately and all that I can think of is just my pillow and my blanket. I am in the middle of adjusting my sleeping pattern … instead of being a night owl, I am thinking of switching to a lark. Waking up early before dawn preparing my grips.

Okay lah … I gotta go and get my beauty sleep.

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


Beyond the Fog of Mt Bromo

Mt Bromo

Morning at Mt Bromo hmmm … dreamy!

I visited Mt Bromo at Probolinggo in East Java, Indonesia for the third time last July 2016. I heard from my friends that Mt Bromo was actively coughing off smokes out of its opened crater for the last few months … and I couldn’t resist the temptation for a quick weekend gateway.

We traveled in a very small group this time around. Just the three of us … leaving behind the rest of our “Sailangers” travel mate. I began to love traveling in a small group. Less drama and less need to socialize among us … which mean more time for observing and mingling around with the locals.

Tengger people of Probolinggo was celebrating their Yadnya Kasada festival that week and we intended to observe the ceremony. The ceremony was for the Tengger Hindus to express their gratitude to their believing Gods for good harvests and fortunes bestowed upon them.

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Dramatic sunset that afternoon … the drizzling rain brought along thick fogs

It rained during the 4 days of our stay at Cemoro Lawang, Probolinggo.  The last 2 days were a bit forgiving as we managed to catch morning sunrise before the fog and the rain started to concur the area.

The drizzling rain brought along thick and unpredictable fog that comfortably snuggled  Mt Bromo alley into a deep dreamy sleep. At first, I thought that I was cursed … but rain, fogs, clouds and smoky landscape are always been my favorite moment. The reason why I still love flying with my paramotor/ PPG buddy is because of this dreamy imagination that one day I might stumble into a beautiful thick clouds formation during our flying stint.

Well …  a sure challenge for a landscape or ‘chasing the light’ photographer when the sky is dark and the rain is dancing in the air. This is what I called … a lesson of letting go. Nature is teaching us to learn to let go … nature is beyond our human control and I need to learn to let go, this is not my moment yet. Full stop!

Once I decided to accept my fate … wallah! the sun start peeking out from the thick fogs … and presented us with a dramatic landscape view of Mt Bromo. Ahhhh … blessing in disguise  alhamdulilah … couldn’t ask for more. And … clicking the camera shutter once again … is an exciting thing to do 😛

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Us … looking for the best angle 😛

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Us … doing what we always do … shooting the target 😉

My DSLR is getting heavy and heavier lately … I blamed it on my ‘aging’ 😉 process . My heart still feels young and energetic but my shoulder started to crank up, my knee started to lose its vigor too … damn!

So … I bought a new tool for this trip … a Ricoh GR2 camera, a boxy old fashion looking dude with hmmm an acceptable image making ability. Pictures shared in this post were all taken from my boxy little Ricoh GR2 camera. Not bad for a small point and shoot camera …

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Smoky dramatic Mt Bromo taken with my boxy little Ricoh Gr2 dude

Life is full of wonder … and having a curious mind could always work wonder. Ahhh … I want more and more of this.

 

Bye for now

 

Cheers

MM

 

ps -“Creativity is intelligent having fun.” ~ Albert Einstein

 


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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lesson of Acceptance

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Quran teaching at Jami Masjid, Agra, India

I stumbled upon this particular poem of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi’s while I was struggling to understand the existing and the departing of certain people around me. Sharing it here with y’alls.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi
We are bombarded with all kind of emotions or thought daily … at least I am. A good reminder to a stray soul like mine … beautifully written indeed.
As I strolled through my photo collections, I felt like sharing these photos of a very patient Quran teacher that I saw at Jami Masjid, Agra, India. Why did I thought that he was a patient teacher?
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A humble place to learn to read the beautiful Quran

I was  watching him while he was teaching.
His voice was calm and soft towards his student. And … my friends and I … strangers with cameras clicking around him doesn’t annoyed him at all.
I was comparing this situation back home in Malaysia whereby …certain people, especially those who has certain level of religious knowledge more than the average, would easily get agitated with strangers ( I am being carefully polite here).
But … yeah, I might be wrong though.
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Another shoot from above. A nice warm feeling whenever I looked at this photo

It’s hot and hazy here in Kuala Lumpur. Feels like staying indoor 24×7.

A good reason to start preparing myself for my next gateway. Emptying my expectation and straightening my judgemental mind. A blank canvas could be a canvas full of possibilities … right?

Bye

Cheers

MM

 

p.s – Learning to be at peace with myself. Oh Allah … please be gentle with me and never leave me alone unattended by You. Indeed oh Allah … You are the best Protector and the best Helpers