The benefit of a 28-300mm is that I can stand a way back and get in really close. This skittish little fellow was quite a way. I watched him make his way through the scrub … until he paused for a shot. Shot on the Isla Plaza Sur.
Hiking in the Borneo rainforest is not for the faint of heart. Leeches, mud and slippery – slippery paths with lots of elevation change. The guide said he had never had someone have a heart attack while hiking but a few came “close”.
There are huge bugs in Borneo. Touch this insect and you get the following result.
It really isn’t the type of place that you go to if you are don’t like insects. There are a LOT of them.
I am sad to say that there is one place I FAILED as a photographer, and that is the leeches. We went during leech season and it was nasty. There is no other way to describe it than nasty. They are everywhere, they are heat seekers and they are aggressive. I did not get a single clean shot, even with a lens that could go to 300mm because I was too worried about stopping and having 10 other leeches drop down on me. Enjoy this fuzz shot.
Why is it stretching? Because it is seeking a host. It is crazy – you put your hand a few inches away and it will wriggle around in a frenzy. They are everywhere – under every branch, on the path, in the canopy above waiting to drop down on you. Everywhere.
This fellow eats insects. I almost put my hand where he/she was sitting on the log as I climbed up the trail.
This probably should have been my first post on Borneo. On our trip there we stayed at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge – deep in the primary rainforest – which is a rainforest that has not been logged.
It was a remarkable and remote place, with trees that are only rivaled in size by the redwoods of California.
It had a very Jurassic feel to it, with the swirling mists, wild animal calls and abundance of wildlife. Definitely not the kind of place that you want to get lost in, vast and unyielding to the untrained Canadian.
A few shots.
Magnificent. One hopes that tourism can sustain and protect it.
Millions, if not 10s of millions of bikes. This one got a ticket – how they knew who to make it out to is beyond me? Not broadly known, but there is no identification system in Tokyo (i.e. Social Insurance number).
As a testament to the Japanese and their honor/honesty – without a name – one can expect that the owner of the bike will go to the police station and pay the fine, despite being anonymous because that is what the culture dictates.
Rules make this city of 40M the most unique in the world.
This time of year, due to their refusing to implement daylight savings time, the sun rises in Japan around 5:30am and gets earlier and earlier. At it’s peak, the sun will come up at 4:40am. It does not matter how good your blackout blinds are – when you have a full on tropical sun shining down on you (Tokyo “feels like” 40-50C in July and August), you are waking up.
The sunrises are beautiful, but I do not miss 4:40am sunrises.
The marine iguana of the Galapagos Islands. This iguana was quite comfortable posing for me.
They are big.
Note the evolved nostrils. These creatures feed off of the algae on the rocks in the ocean, able to hold their breathe for up to 30 minutes. But while they eat the ingest sea water and salt. The nostrils are specially developed to expel salt.
It is a life and death type environment, as they are cold blooded as they swim – the ocean saps the heat from their bodies weakening them. To survive, they spend hours basking in the sun, building up the warmth to go swimming again.
Charles Darwin took a step down in my mind when our guide told us that he tied one of these magnificent creatures to a rock under water to see how long it could survive. He came back an hour later and it was still alive. A reflection of the callous approach and values with regard to the world in those days.
Beautiful creature. I highly recommend watching BBC Galapagos. Great insight into the islands.
Pit 2, located 20 meters north of Pit 1 is very different. Smaller (but still 6,000 meters square), and shaped in an “L” it contains mixed military forces of archers, charioteers, cavalry and infantry. At present, a large portion remains unexcavated.
I would think that when deciding if you wish to be an archaeologist, the first question you should ask yourself is “Do I like jigsaw puzzles?”
The Terracotta Army went on my personal bucket list many years go while living in England, at the O2 for one reason – seeing 30 warriors at the British Museum did not cut it.
The army is estimated to have taken 36 years to complete and 700,000 workers. At the time I did not know where Xi’an was in China, I certainly did not think that we would be living in Tokyo (although Singapore was always heavily under family consideration), but I knew it had to happen.
It was worth the wait and the effort. Broken into a series of “pits”, with several still being excavated, the scale of the place is staggering.
Thousands of warriors, each different standing in rows, their weapon disintegrated but their bodies remaining. Amazing.
On many you can still see the paint remnants.
Rows, and rows and rows.
Oddly enough, this is the only warrior I saw that looked out of proportion. A charioteer.
If you have followed this blog at some point you know that one of my favorite places to visit while traveling is a market. Beijing was no different. The markets are the best places to enjoy the “life” of a city.
When you stand outside a street vendor like this, it makes our North American dining experience seem so .. pedestrian.
A few black and whites.
It also seems like their food is fresher. Farmer to market …. perhaps it is different in January.
In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences. Many neighbourhoods were formed by joining onesiheyuan to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another. The word hutong is also used to refer to such neighbourhoods.
Since the mid-20th century, the number of Beijing hutongs has dropped dramatically as they are demolished to make way for new roads and buildings. More recently, some hutongs have been designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history.
A few of my favorite shots from around the Hutongs.
Everything is painted grey … I was told in large part due to the previous Olympics, although now it is the standard. Black and white shots seem to be the best, as it was rather hazy.
Very old mailboxes.
Progress. Slowly, but surely, the old buildings disappear.
Many of the cars have pieces of carpet or wood against the wheels – to stop the dogs and cats from marking the tires.
Mixed in behind the side streets are a few remaining temples and buildings – buried deep.
This many hundreds of years old plaque (if I remember correctly) is a list of the local elders.
Resting at the top of a tower after the arduous climb up the mountain/hill left time for reflection and two predominant thoughts.
First, we simply hiked the 800m up to get to the top. Imagining the quantity of human labor needed to move rocks/bricks to the top and build the walls seemed very “pyramid-like” in effort.
My second thought was what would it be like living up here as a soldier? Kilometers of empty wall to patrol as you watched for the hordes from the north. Looking out across the mountain from our tower you can see the wall snake it’s way along a ridge. In this area, a strategic pass between the mountains, the Chinese had built walls along different ridges.
A 300mm shot. You can see the wall making it’s way up some very steep terrain. According to our guide, that area of the wall is like mountain climbing and quite treacherous, for some deadly.
Imagine sitting on that tower 700 years ago, watching for an invasion in January.