Tag Archives: Travel Photography

Curiosity Killed the Cat

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Photo taken from Mr Google

I have been reading quite extensively this past few weeks. Upscaling my photography technical knowledge … to be able me to teach (yes! teach … I, myself am surprised too) a Basic Photography Class for a small crowd of students last few weekends. My first teaching stint aka my excuse to learn from my observers.

A good thing that I decided to do this as I found a strong excuse to refresh and brush up my camera and composition knowledge. So … I have been reading more than usual too.

Sharing with y’all an interesting write-up on street photography that I am currently trying to digest:

‘100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography’ by Eric Kim   

Street photography is always my first choice of photography. Being a curious cat since as long as I can remember helps me to enjoy street photography more than any other photography genre that I have tried.

Being curious on the street with strangers from all sort of background makes the process of meeting new people kind of adventurous to me. Like a child mind … everything and everyone looks trust worthy in my eyes. But often enough I have to restrain myself from being too curious or too friendly with my subject knowing that every culture has its own social restrictions that I need to be well aware of.

p.s – pics of me being curious with these fisherman and fisherwoman at the Pedu Lake jetty

Yep, curiosity killed a cat for sure (my cat lol). Encountered an uncomfortable aka social resistance aka an awkward situation recently, that put me down for a few days too. But nonetheless being an optimistic bitch … my eight (8) other cat lives were struggling up to gasp for oxygen at no time … alhamdullilah.

Maybe a platonic relationship between man and woman will never exist in the world of pessimist. A curious mind of a woman in the world of pessimist belongs to a slut or a husband snatcher huh wth. I am blessed that I lived in the world of optimist … sayonara to the pessimist, I am off to explore more of this part of the world.

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Taking my time-off at my favourite spot at Seri Mahawangsa BoatHouse, Lake Pedu, Kedah

Well … I decided to join my photographer friend for a short trip to Kedah, Malaysia for a quick stress reliever. I took an early train (ETS KTM train) from Kuala Lumpur to Anak Bukit, Kedah. Slept one night at my friend’s house in Jitra, Kedah and spent another night at Seri Mahawangsa BoatHouse, Lake Pedu, Kedah. Then … I took an afternoon train back to KL again.

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Our lunch before we headed to Lake Pedu, Kedah

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I got to shoot the full moon

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And, I got to shoot the morning sunrise too

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And, I snooped around and shoot the lovebird

And this was how I spent my time at the Seri Mahawangsa BoatHouse, Pedu Lake, Kedah. Ahhh …  a simple mind and a simple life …nothing more. 

Bye for now …

Cheers

MM

ps – … … … 🙂

 

 

 


Chasing The Light

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Seri Mahawangsa Boathouse at Pedu Lake, Kedah

“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” – Aaron Rose 

I learnt from observing and listening to people around me, therefore most people that I met are my teachers and mentors in their own way. Yup … a bit cliche, I know but well … a lazy middle aged woman like me doesn’t have much time to spend on trials and errors 🙂 .

I have been following Yaman Ibrahim for closed to a year now. Observing and learning from him, a great teacher who loves doing whatever that he is doing. He has that eyes for spotting good lights around him … he called it “Yaman’s Eye”.

By all means … the “good light” in photography yeah peeps. Not that near to death moment light or that spiritual spotlight or that seeking the light aka mysterious haunted light thingy huh.

So, I spent a ‘rich’ 3-days with him and a group of great companion at Pedu lake, Kedah, Malaysia last weekend. We were ‘chasing the light’ around the lake. Good light that can creates a sense of drama to our subject.

Yaman has been working closely with tourism Malaysia for years. He has the experience and opportunity to explore Malaysian culture more than other photographers that I know. Looking at his photos made me longing for the same opportunity to shoot and document my own home culture through my own lens.

Sharing some martial art moves from the boys of Silat Gayung Nusantara Kedah with y’alls. Fyi … I got a lot more interesting shoots around here in Pedu Lake but well, every picture has its own moment.

So, I had my first opportunity to shoot subjects that close to my heart. A traditional action-packed Malaysian Malay martial art. The morning light and the rays were superb.

I was enjoying my moment. The backlight from the morning sun rays were a bliss.  There were 10 of us … photographers from various genres. And listening to our camera shutters sound at the highest possible burst rate, at the same exact time … was interestingly comical.

Listening to them (and myself) again and again, commenting and admiring our own photos was hilarious too. Yep … photographers and their egos, right? We were ‘high’ with our own moment, self achievement moment … lol, I am guily as well, it felt pathetic now … as I recalled back the moment he he he

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My second favourite spot after the hammock

I had a good time while in here. It was super quiet … no phone coverage, no wifi, no TV … a total disconnected from the noisy life. And, having surrounded by a great companion was a bonus too. The owner of the boathouse is a very talented host. He is the boatman, the cook, the wireman, the karaoke man, the technician, the talent etc. Yaik … talking about him … I still owe him a collection of his portraits.

If I was not holding my camera … I would either chewing on food or daydreaming in the hammock … enjoying my quiet moment, snoozing. My companions were as noisy as always hu hu hu yep! a very cheerful and lively crowd but my mind was at peace … alhamdullilah what matters is the heart … right?

I will repeat this trip again in March 2016. Thinking of spending more time there … like a week of totally disconnected from the world. In Sha Allah …

Bye now

 

Cheers

MM

 

p/s … “You wander from room to room … hunting for the diamond necklace … that is already around your neck!” ~ Rumi

 

 

 

 


Perfectionist vs Rightist

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Tools vs Photographer

“People call me a perfectionist, but I’m not. I’m a rightist. I do something until it’s right, and then I move on to the next thing” ~ James Cameron

I kinda like this quote … and yes, I am a rightist for sure 🙂 .  An attempt to explain my super slow reaction on each job that require my thinking hat. Yeah … and I am blunt if I didn’t have my thinking hat on.

Alamak! (oh my!) … and I have not posted any new entry since November 2015, which was last year. Last year sounds like a long months ago. Happy New Year 2016 to all my readers and to my followers (small group of followers coz I am too shy to market myself lol), thank you for putting that extra effort to follow my writing aka babbling. I feel honored … thank you.

I fulfilled at least 1/3 of my last year 2015 New Year resolution (… I shall think so 🙂 ). And … I don’t have any new additional resolution for 2016. Thinking of not having any new year resolution this year … maybe I will let my options stay open and just follow my heart.

What was I doing in the past few months that kept me locked up in my own cave? I wonder too or must be that laziness syndrome again … I need to write often as the more I write … the more I read.

I settled down (not so peacefully) in my new home in mid November, traveled to Nepal in early December, flew around Cyberjaya and Kundang air space with my paramotor buddies during my free weekends, traveled to Krabi, Thailand via train/ van in early this month and now I am packing up my gears again for my next weekend gateway to Pedu Lake, Kedah, Malaysia.

My Nepal trip was very different and interesting at the same time. Giving me the urges to keep on coming back to Nepal. I will share more about my Nepal trip once I am properly settled with my new office and my new studio. Yes … I am having my own creative space now … uhh and am super nervous and excited about this too.

Sharing with y’all my moment with my new friend Nima that I met on my way back from Pokhara to Kathmandu, Nepal. Saw him at one of the street side coffee shop on our tea break and I decided to approach him for a quick street shoot. His beautiful “sad look” caught my eyes … and he had a cultural shocked too (I bet!), seeing a daring blunt woman wanting to photograph him lol.

The thing that I love about street photography is … meeting up with beautiful strangers on the street. Beauty is very subjective though. Beauty in my eyes will not necessarily a joy to your eyes.

I am so hooked up with faces now a days. Maybe this is just a phase …

Bye now

Cheers

MM

p/s:  …. blank

 

 


From courage to freedom, Paramotor

From courage to freedom

From courage to freedom

“Fear is your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s like fire. If you can control it, it can cook for you; it can heat your house.

If you can’t control it, it will burn everything around you and destroy you. If you can control your fear, it makes you more alert, like a deer coming across the lawn” ~ Mike Tyson

I had an ‘adrenaline burst’ moment with my PPG or powered paraglider pilot friends a few weeks back. A cross-country (XC) flight from Kuala Besut to Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu.

The distance from Kuala Besut to Kuala Terengganu is approximately 1 hour 10 minutes drive along the seaside road.

We were on a slow-mo mode that morning as we want to enjoy our morning ride as it is. And up there, on the zero highway route … every direction is our highway. Amazing feeling … fear and survival instinct blend together with the most awesome view. And … the salty air smells FREEDOM.

Sharing some snapshot photos from my gopro videos with all of you.

It was a great pleasure to be able to take part in this mind-blowing adventurous way of exploring the world ;-).

PPG pilot needs to acquire an adequate engine,  glider and thermal handling skill to be able to do cross-country flight here at the Terengganu coastal area.

At 10 am onwards the heat was unbearable. If you are flying closer to the ground/ shore you might experience some turbulence due to thermal heating. Yeah … I know that I am just a passenger to my PPG pilot but after spending hours flying with them I couldn’t help but noticed the character of the wind too.

I used to fly early in the morning and late afternoon when the wind a bit calmer and colder.  Not used to fly at odd hours like this time around , I was a bit shaken by the unpredictable wind and the turbulence caused by the heat or thermal energy.

My advice to you before you decide to try riding with PPG tandem is to know your pilot skill level first (to be able to trust him with your life), study their equipment (engine/ glider) and to TRUST them with their skills. Extreme sport requires great skills to be able to execute each activity safely.

Yes … I do have fear and no, it’s not acrophobia (fear of height) 😉 .

Cheers

MM

P.S – Well … I am scared of the dark 🙂 . I used to have fear of being alone or monophobia but through photography I managed to divert my fear to my advantage. And, I noticed that I am more focus and creative when I am alone … guess that my survival instinct would start to kick-off whenever I feel lonely.

Sharing JanjiFly XC video @besut 091015


Photo Exhibition with Yaman Ibrahim

 

A Hamar tribe of Ethiopia, Africa ~ photo credit to hana

Me and my ‘A Hamar tribe of Ethiopia’ photo ~ photo credit to hana_mujahidah

There is always a first time to everything … and, this is my first time joining a photo exhibition.

It is an honor to be selected as one of Yaman Ibrahim & his Mutual Friends #Kolektif 1  photo contributor.  Yaman Ibrahim is a very talented and famous photographer here in Malaysia. A simple, humble and down-to-earth artist that I find easy to work with. 28 photographers (from Malaysia and Brunei) exhibited 78 pieces of travel photograph around the world during the exhibition period. Do come and have a look at our photos on display at MaTIC Kuala Lumpur. Admission is free.

Detail information about the photography exhibition:

  • Event: Yaman Ibrahim & his Mutual Friends #Kolektif 1
  • Location: Matic Art Gallery, MaTIC Malaysia Tourist Center, Kuala Lumpur
  • Date: 3rd September 2015 to 30th September 2015

Honestly, I felt weird seeing my own photos on display and a bit awkward when people start to ask questions. Reason being … when I shoot my photos I was totally in my selfish mode. I love the moment and I wanted to capture and keep the moment to myself. I want to look at my photos and be reminded of the feelings that I had while capturing those moments. And this is totally new to me …well, there is always a first time to anything, right?

But, seeing it being printed and hang-up on the wall triggered an excitement in me. I want to have more and more of my photos printed out on beautiful papers for my personal keeping or maybe once a while I want to share it with public through photo art galleries. I want to be an artistic photographer … a fine-art photographer maybe. Hmm what a dream huh?

And, these are my photos exhibited during the photo exhibition.

I learned a lot from this experience and I need to reassess my photography direction … again and again. So much to learn, so little time.

Ok. I gotta go now. Need to pack my gears (and my crazy COURAGE)  for my next adventure 😛 ,  a cross-country (xc) expedition via paramotor ride from Tok Bali, Kuala Besut, Terengganu to Batu Buruk beach, Kuala Terengganu. It is going to be a long ride … will update the outcome here for sure. Bye now ….

 

Cheers

MM

p/s Credit: The IG photo of me and my ‘A Hamar tribe of Ethiopia’ photo is from hana_mujahidah Instagram account

 


A Muddy Business at Pacu Jawi, Tanah Datar

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“The journey itself is my home” ~ Lembah Anai waterfall, Jalur Padang

Pacu jawi or bull race is a popular photography event among photographers here. Pacu means the race speed and Jawi means cow.

When I told my (photographer) friend that I haven’t been to Pacu Jawi before they were puzzled. Every serious photographer that I know have been to Pacu Jawi in Tanah Datar, Pariangan, West Sumatera, Indonesia for at least once.

I need a quick short break from my routine life and rekindle with my traveling spirit lol … so, I signed up for the bull race event. I need to experience the adrenaline rush while shooting the bulls and the thrill of pressing the shutter button while on burst mode.

The subject is the same … the same group of jockey, the same bulls, the same location and the same ambience. They’ve shown me their photo version of Pacu Jawi , which by the way … look all the same to me 😛 … I can’t help but wondering on how am I to create my own unique version of Pacu Jawi photos … lol?

And … here are my version of Pacu Jawi bull race. Not bad huh … for a first timer

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A muddy business in Pacu Jawi, Tanah Datar

Bull Racing

And, this is the thrill … to capture the Jockey while he was bitting the bull’s tail

Wow … the feeling of shooting fast-moving Pacu Jawi or bull race is sensational. The bulls will run along the muddy paddy field while the jockey will do some tricks to excite the bulls, like bitting the bull’s tail or smacking the bull’s backside. Surprisingly the bull remained calm and composed, not going berserk over the crowd excitement.

And I ended up with hundreds and hundreds frame of the jockey and their bulls, I run amok with my shutter button 😛 … don’t ask me why, I got carried away by the thrilling moment.

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Pacu Jawi with its audience as a background

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A real muddy business here … yaiks!

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Mud splattered all around the place

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Side view of the muddy business

After all the running and chasing between the jockeys, the bulls and us the photographers lol, the bulls were treated with a cold shower under the sun.

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Bulls getting their cold shower under the sun

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Yaik … a pushy shower time moment

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Massage and tender loving time 😛 after the shower

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More shower time

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I’m loving it …

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Play time …

The main event for this trip was to shoot the famous Pacu Jawi and Indonesia has never failed to surprise me with its gems. The landscapes, the people, the food and the ambience has never failed to excite me. There would always be something for my curious eyes.

We started our journey at Padang, drove further up and spent a few nights in Bukit Tinggi before we proceed to Tanah Datar, Peranginan for the Pacu Jawi event. The weather when I was there was not that great for a landscaper. Occasional rain here and there created a gloomy ambience around Bukit Tinggi. I am just glad that I am a ‘rojak’ photographer … I will shoot anything that pleased my eyes … and the gloomy sky would never be a hindrance to me.

Despite the dingy mood, we had a great moment exploring Puncak Lawang, Malinjau, Bukit Tinggi while being surrounded by a thick mist … a mysterious and haunted thick mist hu hu hu.

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Misty landscape at Puncak Lawang Maninjau, Bukit Tinggi

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The afternoon light is sneaking behind the thick mist at Puncak Lawang

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I was mesmerized by the mist, lost in my own thought

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Wefie on top of Puncak Lawang

Here are some of my photos of lakes surrounding Agam, Kamang Magek, Bukit Tinggi during a cloudy and rainy afternoon.

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A buffalo looking up at me as I was enjoying my landscape

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A calm morning at the lake … my heart is at ease alhamdullilah

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Fishing activity around the lake

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Activities around the lake

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Afternoon light before the rain

And lastly, here is my video for the Pacu Jawi trip. I made this video for the fun of it … and I noticed that a good short video could be a great story-teller for my audience. I am currently learning on how to take a good video and to edit it to perfection. so, enjoy yeah …

Bye for now ….

 

Cheers

MM

 


Taste of Courage in Danakil Depression

 

27 -29th April 2014: Ethiopian Danakil Depression

“Courage is found in unlikely places.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Ethiopian Danakil Depression – the most challenging place that I have visited so far.

This place challenged the tough me to the core. Not a usual kind of place for your vacation gateway … indeed, this is the place where you go for self-discovery… nope! I am not being sarcastic.  This place is where you will see the TRUE you at your most physically difficult and challenging situation … at least for me. I survived 3 days 2 night stay in this ‘hot sauna heaven’ with an understanding that … anything that doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.

Warning: This is going to be a very long post. Reason being … this post is a ‘keeper’ in my personal digital journal

Entering Danakil Depression from Semera, capital of Afar state

27 – 29th April, 2014: Entering Danakil Depression from Semera, capital of Afar state

Danakil Depression is located at the Northeastern part of Ethiopia. Listed as the hottest and the lowest place on earth (nearly 120m below sea level). This place is used to be part of the sea bed of the Red Sea . And because of its geographical complexity, this place is rich with salt and mineral deposits. If you are into science and nature phenomenal, Ethiopian Danakil Depression is just the place for you. Salt canyons, salt lakes, hot springs, acid lakes, colorful sulfur acid mixed landscape, active volcanoes with bubbly basaltic lava and many more geological fascinating sights that could blow your mind.

Harsh and unforgiving brutal landscape indeed. When I was there, it felt like I was not on our earth …  the gruesome heat was unbearable and my mind went totally disoriented, I was confused on my whereabouts … was I in planet Mars or was I at the gate of hell.

Children playing soccer under the heat. Estimated temperature was around 34 degree

Semera, Ethiopia: Children playing soccer under the heat. Estimated temperature at this time was around 34-38 degree

We were there at the end of its summer season, talking about being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Just imagine … the average temperature during daytime is around 35 degree and during summer it soars as high as 40s and low 50s. In summary … I was looking for trouble when I signed up for this daredevil trip. The downside of being a follower … oh well.

The curious cat got a ‘lesson learned’ experience here .. after all, they said ‘a cat has nine lives’ … alhamdullilah.

We were heading towards the extremely salty Lake Alfera.

We were heading towards the extremely salty Lake Alfera

Lake Alfera, 120m below sea level. The temperature at this time was at 49 degree

Salt Lake Alfera, 120m below sea level. The temperature at this time was at 49 degree

We entered Danakil Depression from Semera, the capital city of Afar state and exited through Mekelle.

Danakil is the homeland of the Afar people … famously known for being proud and independent warrior like character. They are predominately Muslim. These people are the unbelievable great survivor as they could survive the harsh and extreme living environment that surrounded them. There are lots of documented stories about these nomadic, courageous and unpredictable heroes of Afar that you can read over the web.

A typical look of an Afar man with his sword

A typical look of an Afar man with his sword

The killing part about this place is its extreme heat combined with its high humidity air. I had experience dry and hot season before in Saudi Arabia … but with low humidity. Here in Danakil Depression, the heat made breathing difficult … I choked from the dust, the heated wind (it felt like being blown by a hair dryer at full heat … on your face)  and my own heavy sweat.

Gobbling on warm drinking water did not help at all. Too much of plain water made my stomach nauseatic. Isotonic drinks or water added with a packed oral rehydration salts would be a great help during a humid extreme hot day … at least for a start until your body get fully adjusted to its surrounding environment. Science vs logic rant … hmmmm

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Crossing the hot desert with our 4WDs heading to Mt Erta’ Ale Basecamp

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The challenging and piping hot route to Mt Erta’ Ale. I was in car no. 2 ( three 4WDs team) and I  shoot this using my 70-200mm f/4 from a very bumpy ride

Our tough and reliable transportation

Our tough and reliable 4WDs

A parking spot at nowhere while waiting for jeep no.3. Noticed the landscape? it is just totally bald and empty

A parking spot at nowhere while waiting for car no.3. Noticed the landscape? it is  totally bald and empty

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Don’t be blinded by our smile. The heat was unbearable here … I was wearing my sandal but the ground was so hot, I can’t even put my feet down on the ground. Wow … looking back at this picture, make me miss my moment with both Tameru (orange shirt) and Barakat (red shirt)

Jeep no. 3 and the bald landscape

Car no. 3 and the bald landscape

Erta Ale based camp. This where we hide for the sun and the heat until the temperature dropped before we start our 3 hours trek to Erta Ale volcano

Mt Erta’ Ale Basecamp … and that is my shadow 😉

We were heading to Mt Erta’ Ale, known by the Afar people as the “smoking mountain” and the “gateway to hell”.  A continuously active basaltic lava with two lava lakes. Sitting at 600m from below sea level … this place is not for a faint heart. We planned to stay overnight near the crater, shoot milky-way, enjoy sunrise at the crater overseeing the active bubbly lava as our background, head down right after dawn and reached Basecamp before the sun start to release its intense heat.

Our local guard/ ranger with his AK-47

Our local guard/ ranger with his AK-47 guarding us at Erta’ Ale lava crater

Erta Ale Volcano: Ethiopia:

Erta’ Ale lava crater at dawn

It takes 3 ‘normal trekking’ hours to reach Mt Erta’ Ale from Basecamp. And with the extreme heat, we could only start hiking when the sun is down. Everything went wrong that night though … we took 6 hours to reach the crater, we were lost in the middle of nowhere … in the dark desert and we were out of drinking water too. 

hate all sort of trekking or hiking activities … so much that I avoid any Nepal trip … and I never trek at night too. I thought that this one would be as easy as hiking up Mt Bromo in Indonesia …well, I was totally wrong and I was not prepared for this. There were a lot more things happened that night but I am still not comfortable talking about it … lol … life is already interesting as it is and a few breakdowns here and there will never break my spirit.

I am sharing my lesson learned moment here with all of you, so next time when you plan to visit here … you will be well equipped:

  • Avoid summer season, the heat is intense beyond normal
  • Be mentally prepared that you will be trekking (15km) up at night with the heat (35-40 degree) and camel riding is not advisable due to the rugged volcanic terrain landscape
  • Wear proper trekking shoes with socks on and no sandal at all (including trekking sandal) as the landscape here is nearly 100% badlands terrain of volcanic rocks.
  • Carry 2 liters of water as the heat is really extreme
  • Bring along extra packed Oral Rehydration Salt as you will be losing a lot of mineral while sweating and drinking 2 liters of mineral water in 3-6 hours could not help to replenish back our mineral lost.
  • If you have chronic gastric, especially GERD …  bring your medication along. As the heat and extreme tiredness will trigger your GERD.
  • Bring extra energy bars to boast your energy especially on your way down from the crater to Basecamp as you will be racing against time to avoid the escalating heat.
  • Bring your mirrorless camera instead of your heavy DSLR (unless if somebody else is willing to carry your DSLR) and I think super wide lens (16-35mm or 12-24mm) should be good enough ( maybe fish-eye lens would be good too). Don’t bring your whole lens collection as you are racing against time here.

We reached Mt Erta’ Ale at 12:45 am (started at 7pm) … nearly half dead. My mind was so disoriented and it went totally blank … and my focus naturally switched from photo mode to survivor mode. No milky-way or gorgeous sunrise shoot for me as everything that I shoot there were merely just some record shoots, nothing to shout about.

But wow … looking at the fiery red light coming out from the crater for the first time was a very memorable moment for me … out of this world experience, it felt like I was in the movie set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy … lol.

Yeah … witnessing and listening to the bubbling sound of basaltic magma straight from its crater is way cooler than watching it on TV. Smelling the hot stingy sulfur straight from its burning pot is way interesting than hearing the story from some strangers on youtube … lol.

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At 6:00 am: Out of this world kind of experience … walking inside a live and fragile volcano crater to get close to the lava crack. I was totally driven by my curiosity and not so much by my courage

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Seeing the bubbling lava straight from the crater is way cooler than watching it on TV … lol. The sulfur glaring smell and the sudden stingy heat on my eyes and face made this trip worth all the pain that I had been through to get here

Most of my shoots up here are either blurred or pointless as my brain was totally frozen

Most of my shoots up here are either blurred or pointless as my brain was totally frozen … he he he maybe a repeat next time huh?

This is the craziest thing that I have ever done … so far (other than staring 30cm eye to eye with wild hyena … lol). All this introvert, impulsive,  blurriness, ‘lost in transition’ and my easy ‘tidak apa’ (careless) attitude that I have could lead me either towards a new life experience or a life disaster tragedy for me … 😉 . I learned my lesson well … I am just glad that I survived well too.

I have the habit of keeping everything bottled up inside me and I refused to complain or put the blame on others for whatever misfortune that I had experienced. I do open up a little bit for a few selective souls … but nowadays … I prefer to just lay low … as the only person that you can really trust is maybe just yourself <— lol, a bit sidetrack here 😉

Dalol Ghost Town

Dallol Ghost Town: 1 night stay at  ‘hotel’ felt like forever … lol.

Our journey continues as we drove out from Mt Erta’ Ale Basecamp heading to Dallol, the famous ghost town in Danakil Depression. We spent one night at the ‘million stars’, minimalist and zen Dallol hotel lol.  It was windy that night 😉 … the hot wind (around 40 degrees) kept on blowing dust straight to my face. I woke up every hour either to gobble in more water or to splash more water onto my face and head … it sure felt like a long lonely night for me.

Lake Asele: The salt lake or  salt canyon is 100 meter below sea level. Salt mining activity here is controlled by the Afar people.

Lake Asele: This salt lake or salt canyon  is 100 meter below sea level. Ancient salt mining method is still being used today by the Afar to retrieve the salt here.

The salt miner has to work for 10 months in a year. The temperature here is easily around 35-53 degree.

An Afar salt miner at work: They have to work for 10 months in a year under the intense sun. The temperature here is easily around 35-53 degree. Just unbelievable …

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This is how the salt flats/blocks looked like. Each camel can carry around 30 salt tiles and walk up to 25km a day. The salt tile is transported to Berahile (75km away from Dallol)

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Colorful sulfur hot spring:  A fascinating alien like land of colors … bubbling sulfur acids pools with a strong stinky smell. Out of this world view ….

I have a lot more photos of Dallol Sulfur land and I will upload it all to my Zenfolio photo profile

Printing my mark on my sneaker. I have lot more photos of the colorful land of sulfur acids in my  Zenfolio photo profile … if you are curious to see more lah

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High acid content lake … don’t be fooled by the tranquil look of the water

Checking out from our 'hotel'  in Dallol

Check-out time from our ‘hotel’ in Dallol

A group photo of us ... the Danakil Depression survivors. A truly depressing experience ... lol

A group photo of us … the Danakil Depression survivors. A truly depressing experience … lol

It was a great relieved when we were finally driving out of Danakil Depression. And, when we reached our hotel in Mekelle … I had the best shower in my whole entire life (3 days 2 night without proper shower he he he) … my bed felt like the best bed in the world and the hotel air-condition felt like the luxurious thing that life could offer me … lol.

Daniel and me

Daniel and me jumping in the middle of the road heading to Lake Alfera at 42 degree

This is a picture of me and my local guide aka host aka friend Daniel Million. I was with him and his team during both of my visits to Ethiopia. A very experienced guide and a well verse ornithologist with an angel heart. I highly recommend him as your guide if you decide to visit Ethiopia. You can contact him via his email or Facebook account at danielhummingbird@gmail.com or you can check out his website Traverse Ethiopia Tours.

Uhh … I am signing off now. Sharing another quote here as a reminder to myself … 🙂

 “Why tiptoe through life, to arrive safely at death? If you’re gonna be afraid to live, what’s the point?”

Cheers

MM

 

p/s Wish me luck … 😉

 


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

check

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

good

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 …


Strange colors in Sabtang Island

Batanes Island: View from my balcony

Batanes Island: View from my hotel balcony

Ahhh … a fantasy island indeed.

The weather was unpredictable during our stay in Batanes Island, Philippines last week. Strong wind, cloudy sky and scattered rain here and there … had made my hunting (for lights and colors) more challenging than usual but experiencing the “heaven on earth” kinda landscape that surround the island  … has lighten up my heavy heart. The crispy clean air had magically chase away my stubborn Indian cough that had been ‘lovingly’ sticking to my throat for weeks (after completing 2 courses of antibiotic the cough still linger).

The island is so spacious … empty hills and mountains with only green grass field and a few here and there trees. It entice the feeling of flying in me … the wanderer me riding the wind while exploring the hills surrounding the island lol.

More photos of Batanes Island from my D800 will be uploaded to my Zenfolio photo profiles soon.

Spacious Batanes ...

Free flying with just the wind … no glider and no paramotor engine needed here

After a few days being surrounded by the gloomy weather, we decided to take a short boat ride to the nearby  Sabtang Island (30-45 minutes boat ride away). A small island with estimated around 1800 people and they are economically depending on the sea (most are fisherman).  We refused to be at the mercy of the weather. Hunger for light and colors … we were all over the place … exploring the island until there were no more light left on the horizon.

At 2pm: We arrived at the Sabtang port

At 2pm: We arrived at the Sabtang port

At 3:15 pm: San Vicente Ferrer Church (Sabtang)

At 3:15 pm: Some maintenance work at San Vicente Ferrer Church

We spent our afternoon looking for the perfect spot to shot sunset at the not so nearby (about one our ride on an open-style truck) fishing village. The weather at Sabtang Island was not as bad as it was in Batanes Island … so we were expecting a nice sunset that afternoon.

For those who love to shot people or streets, Batanes and Sabtang Island is obviously not for you. As for me, I adore beautiful landscape but I need subjects on my landscape … and these islands are so secluded that you need to be extra creative to be able to capture the gorgeous view with your camera.

Internet connection in Batanes Island is super duper weak … but my life has never been depending much on the wifi connection anyway … so, it was not a big deal to me (how I wish). But it is getting harder for me lately to stay isolated from the internet. This past few months GayaIzzah.com needs more TLC (tender, love and care) from me … I know, I need to get used to working hmmm and less playing.

Being an introvert, staying disconnected from such need towards creating extra noise for attention is always my ultimate goal. So … I think that I am sucks at updating GayaIzzah.com fb and IG status everyday … just to create a scene or a viral so that my lovely GayaIzzah.com would get more and more followers. Hmmm … tough job!

Yup … so I was telling you about the closed to zero internet connection in both Batanes and Sabtang islands (especially in Sabtang) right? It was heaven to me … so quiet and peaceful … I was not complaining at all … but my customer did lol. One of the many reasons why I love traveling … is because it is so quiet when you are out there alone.

At 3:45 pm: Spotted a secluded beach on our way to the fishing village

Another side view of the scluded beach

At 3.47 pm: Still here for a quick shot around the secluded beach

So, we were hanging out at the village enjoying the afternoon breeze, waiting and praying for a colorful sunset. It was kinda cool hanging around with the villagers while watching fishermen unloading their catch of the day to the shore.

BAT_8311

At 4:30 pm: We hang around the fishing village

BAT_8389i

At 4.30pm: Fishermen loading up their catch of the day

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At 4:30pm: Hanging around the beach while the fisherman uploading their catch of the day

At 4:30pm: Looking at dried fish at the hanger facing the sea

At 4:30pm: Dried fish at the hanger facing the sea

BAT_8302i

At 4:30pm: Still hanging around here waiting for sunset

At 5:30pm: Still walking around the village looking for moment

At 5:00pm: Still walking around the village hunting for moment

Dried fish hanged along the village

At 5:45pm: Enjoying sunset at the village

Sunset at Sabtang Island

At 5:45pm: Sunset at Sabtang Island

I have a few more interesting shots of the sunset in Sabtang that I would probably upload it to my Zenfolio photo profile later. It was a very interesting afternoon indeed.  We were lucky to have a clear sky that night … so, our next target for the night was … hunting for milky way.

At 4:00 am: Practicing my seeking a signal skill

At 4:00 am: Practicing my seeking a signal skill

At 4:00 am: Still practicing my seeking a signal skill

At 4:00 am: Still practicing my seeking a signal skill

At 4:30am: Hunting for the gorgeous milky way

At 4:30am: Hunting for a gorgeous milky way

AT 5:40am: Watching the first morning light

AT 5:40am: Watching the first morning light on the shore

At

At 6:20am: Enjoying morning light

At 6:30am:

At 6:30am: With my warm and lovely friend … an unexpected companion

At 6:45 am:

At 6:45 am: Still here with my companion … i like him! a great companion!

I met all kind of unexpected warm souls while traveling. Souls that warm my heart … and this new companion that I met in Sabtang is one of a kind soul. If I can have a dog of my own … I want this type of dog. He accompanied me during my early morning shot, he followed me everywhere during my sunrise moment, he lead my way around the bushes on the hills, he sat with me on top of the hill and he accompanied me while I was enjoying my golden light moment … darn! my yellow grumpy cat at home doesn’t do that … gosh! I want a dog … I bet if I have a companion dog like him … I can wander alone, confidently around beaches and bushes in Malaysia taking pictures of beautiful local landscape … I need a dog!

But … with Malaysian crime rate hiking up day to day … I think I will need a bulldog as my companion dog 😛

At 5:50am: Trying to catch the morning light behind the cloudy horizon

At 5:50am: Trying to catch the morning light behind the cloudy horizon

Honestly, I felt a bit discontented with this trip … reason being that the unpredictable weather had made it hard for me to experience the true light and the genuine color of Batanes Island. Too bad huh… but who knows one day I might have a chance to visit Batanes again.

I am preparing myself for my next trip to Maiga Island in Semporna, Sabah on Thursday next week. More landscape and milky ways to feed my D800 lol. Wish me luck ….

Cheers

MM

 

p/s Dada Macusi … in case if you are reading this. I will make it a point to call you up next time if I happen to visit Philippines again, there are so many places to explore there …and chasing whales in Babuyan Island sounds so cool 😛 . Take care …


The colour of Autumn in South Korea

A gingko biloba tree in Jeoju, South Korea

Autumn in Jeoju Hanuk Village, South Korea

Ahh … after spending 2 weeks breathing the polluted air along Old Silk Road route in North China, the autumn air here in South Korea felt so refreshingly good. Yeah … I am in Seoul right now enjoying the refreshing and crispy autumn air.

The last maple leaves

The last maple leaves

Currently spending my own sweet time here in Seoul after a hectic 7-days Crossing Bridges photography event covering Incheon to Gochang, Jeonju, Gyeonju, Chongnamdae and Seoul . The Crossing Bridges event is a yearly event organised by different asian country each year since 11 years ago. And this year the event was hosted by the Professional Photographers of Korea (PPK). 149 aspiring photographers from Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Philippines got together for a photography trip shooting the colour of autumn around South Korea.

KOR_9144

The participant of Crossing Bridges-11 (this is not an official group photo for CB11)

My second time in South Korea and my first time participating in such event. Wohoo! It was a fun experience indeed whereby I can sleep, eat, talk and do just … photography. And the most important thing is I got to experience the real Korean culture and the Korean warm hospitality. Sleeping on the heated floor shared by 7 other photographers in a small room and sharing showers openly with each other … hmm it was kind of a new culture for me though, but I like it nevertheless.

So, I am sharing some of my photos here for my readers and most importantly for my own  autumn colour inspiration. I will post the rest of my photos in my Zenfolio and Flickr profile and you can always check it out there 🙂

A blend of yellow, golden orange, green and red colour

A blend of yellow, golden orange, green and red colour created a fiery look

I extended my stay here in Seoul for another 5 nights after the Crossing Bridges trip so that I could roam around the streets here and hunt for some inspirations (sounds cliche but well that is the truth). Walking around Myeondong street in Seoul enjoying the “beauty conscious” consumers crowding the street hunting for a magic moisturizer, cream, mask or a cosmetic surgery that can transform a woman into an angel … well, it can last me for a half an hour before I started feeling the emptiness inside my shell. Not my kind of place though so I opted for a strolled in Insandong street instead. I like Insandong street …Korean folk art and craft along the street, it felt more human than just a blank ‘flesh’. I am being poetic huh?

Talking about the mask … uhh I need to get my facial mask supply too from that Nature Republic shop down in Myeondong Street before I leave this city. Me being a hypocrite …to prove that I am still human after all lol.

Autumn in my heart ;-)

Autumn in my heart ;-). A pinky looking tree

Today I went for a jewelry hunting around Dongdaemun and Namdaemun market, the famous wholesale market in Seoul. I noticed that the Korean jewelry could be at its most minimalist design to the most extreme bling bling design. I saw a good 925 silver jewelry collection in Dongdaemun market and I bought 3 rings to fit my index, ring and pinky fingers … so much for a minimalist me huh?

A day at the park

A day at the park

The accessories and jewelry section in Namdaemun market are overwhelmingly big and full of all sort of bling bling design. From rings to necklaces, studs, earrings, bracelets, brooch to all sort of accessories but I don’t think GayaIzzah.com needed those bling bling accessories yet. Maybe GayaIzzah.com need more silver rings to add into its jewelry collection. I still have time to check it out again tomorrow afternoon 😉

Fallen leaves

Fallen leaves at the drain

Thinking of going to Nami Island tomorrow morning to check on the trees there … lol I sounded like a real geek checking out trees. If I am lucky enough I might be able to shoot some interesting colours around there too. Hopefully I could wake up super early tomorrow to catch the earliest train to Nami Island … wow … wish me luck for tomorrow.

Autumn afternoon at the palace

An autumn afternoon at the Changgyeonggung Palace

Maple leaves

Maple leaves on the pathway

What did I get for myself during this trip? (apart from those silver rings)

Uhhh … I bought 2 sets of mini pottery jar with lid. A unique minimalist pottery jar with a touch of a Korean art, that could be used to store my daily jewellery … my unique jewellery jar.

Note: Updated on 13/11/04 : I love this olive colored ceramic jar more … here at home … compared to when it was on display at its previous home in the Pottery Village of Gyeongsang, South Korea. Gorgeous beautiful piece … loving this

Mini pottery jar from North Gyeongsang Pottery Village, South Korea

Mini pottery jar from North Gyeongsang Pottery Village, South Korea (updated on 13/11/04)

I have been on the road for almost a month now and started to miss my “home sweet home” … especially my bed, my children, my books, my breakfast buddies, my comfort food … my cat, my sandals … the list goes on and on … 🙂 … and my car key … etc lol

Cheers

MM


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