Monday, May 19, 2014

Being a hermit

It's not too bad to be in hermit-mode for a while, which is what I have been doing. I have been at home for past weekends, working on publishing my film photo book about Marseille.

It's a childhood dream of mine to see a book being published, and I'm glad that there were so many kind beings each step of the way, helping me with film knowledge, travelers who showed me a new way to experience traveling and also hosting me, photography enthusiasts young and old who showed me what they knew. Writers and book authors who encouraged me while honing their craft. Finally, this is the final step - I have launched a crowdfunding campaign that would be a great way to validate the idea. I know crowdfunding campaigns are tough but I will put on an armor and fight for my dream!

I can understand a little bit now about the hard-won small successes by entrepreneurs and everyone who is fighting a different battle in life... ... it is not easy to build something for years... Having recently gone through an emotional upheaval, it was surprising that it became a catalyst for me, to really know what I want to try to do. Sometimes, I always get caught up in the hundred things I need to do in work, in my small daily needs that I lose sight of the mountains that are calling me over. I believe I can make it there, soon!

So, I need more support. Please spread the word far and wide about what I am doing, to photography enthusiasts, supporters of the arts, people who love travel.

Click here to watch the video and read more about the project:


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Back from Rome

There has been so much that has been said about Rome that it's hard to add anything else... the ruins are really something, not only ancient but charming as well. Walking around the ruins for a day with the ancient atmosphere, was utterly enjoyable.

Rome is poetic, intense, quite a good representation of Italy, with beauty and chaos combined.

Eats, drinks:
We tried the drinks 'grappa' and 'limoncello' for the first time, buying a bottle of each for about Euro 10 - less than 20. The wines are good too, but it varies. Also tried 'prosecco', a bubbly drink resembling champagne. A range of bottles can be found at any small store and even the touristic ones aren't expensive.

Of course eat as much pasta and pizza (and lasagna and tiramisu and panna cotta) you like! Italy has world famous food!


Delicious pizza...

Not forgetting two hundred flavors of gelato...!

Most underrated sight
One of the most underrated sights in my opinion is the Chiesa del Gesu, it's not even 'on the map', but that's the beauty of travel, going to unknown places and discovering new things. I loved the really 3D frescoes on the ceilings, it's not done by any famous painter but it was the best art I've seen in my short unenlightened visits to churches. Any of the churches in Rome easily makes anyone breathless with their splendour of marble statues, mosaic and stained glass, sculpted and painted art masterpieces, as well as the large buildings and tall columns, but at the end this one was our favorite:

Chiesa del Gesu (Church of Jesus)

Amazing, speechless, could stare at the ceiling forever!
They are paintings but look like they are jumping out from the ceiling! No idea how it is being painted!

Best thing we did in Rome:
For me, I loved the 'unplanned' walk we took to see something I wanted to see, 'The Mouth of Truth'.
It became a longer walk than expected and that was because every single place was too picturesque to rush through - from the fountains, to the sudden grove of orange trees and poplars, to the hidden gardens, and small churches, every place and corner had some ancient stories to tell...

Here are some pictures that do little to describe what an amazing feeling it was just to take your time to walk through the area:

And finally one of my personal must-sees, 'The Mouth of Truth'!

(Also perhaps one of the most un-hygenic places to put your hand onto. We didn't place our hands onto the mouth...)

Spotted a smaller 'Mouth of Truth' (with better sculpted features) on our walks.

At the Colosseo and Palantine Forum area.

Italian moustache.

Just so picturesque it almost seems unreal!

Walking in Rome

We spent a day in the amazingly large gardens in Villa Borghese and it was a really relaxed and enjoyable day. There was a small Leonardo Da Vinci museum just before the gardens, and we also went to Piazza del Poppolo, huge gated way with a large square that had such a nice peaceful vibe. I really loved the entire day and everything we did, including taking photos with the large pink rabbit that was in the front of the zoo in Villa Borghese!

If you can walk for an entire day then you could explore and complete almost all of the main sights in Rome in a week. In 4 full days, we went to:

1. Colosseo
2. The Forum / Palantine Hill
3. Capitoline and its museum
4. Bocca Della Verita, surrounding ruins - Hadrian's Crypt, Octavia ruins
5. Jewish Quarter
6. Villa Borghese - large gardens with zoo and museums within
7. Piazza del Poppolo
8. Vatican City, Basilica St Peter's
9. Outside the Castel near Vatican
10. Santa Maria Maggiore
11. Pyramide
12. Trevi Fountain
13. Spanish Steps
14. Pantheon and surrounding area

Of course, we also visited other small corners and churches all around!

Staying in Rome

We booked the apartment for Rome on Not knowing Rome well, it turned out to be a really good location, in Via Urbana, couple of streets away from Termini Station, a quiet, nice, and rather large apartment.

Travelling around Rome (train/regional train/flight)

Contrary to what I've read online, getting in and out of the international airport Fiumicino was a breeze. Despite some renovations, the signs were easily to locate as well as getting to the train station to and fro. There are nice shops around in the check in area, I enjoyed my time waiting for the departure flight.

For the regional trains, I felt it is very well-organized too, apart from once where the train in Cinque Terre area was cancelled (every train waiting duration is 20 mins apart, so, it is still okay), the fast train (4 hours approximately) from Rome to La Spezia was a breeze. However, J had a little bit of a twisted nightmare taking the ongoing train to Genoa and then crossing the border to Nice. It was too complicated to make sense to the averagely intelligent person, it involves many changes, including bus, but the ticket was a 'general' open ticket. In any case he was able to reach Nice in the end, delayed by a few hours.

Also, a good tip is to always validate the ticket and ask other friendly passengers if they are going in the same direction as the train doesn't always arrive at the same platform.

The only museum we visited, randomly (my trip was quite unplanned) but it was good and apparently one of the best museums in town! (Capitoline Museum) Spotted the Italian features in J! He makes a good Italian!

At Villa Borghese:

I just love these trees =)

Walking around 10 km everyday, I enjoyed Rome on foot, and can't believe I haven't been there earlier.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Photo Friday: Winter time living in Riomaggiore

Having some time over the last weekend to look through my Cinque Terre trip film photos, I found that I really liked this one. It's the exact image of what I'd like to capture - some authentic images, unposed, not so touristic, of the area. Though Cinque Terre is so picturesque that it wouldn't hurt to be a tourist there!

Many people just ambled off to the surrounding vantage points of the small docking marina of the village of Riomaggiore, leaving me and a another photographer enthusiast who seemed to have an unhealthy obsession with photographing boats (he even climbed into them!!!) There was this great old man with frizzy white hair sticking out in all angles, untangling his fishing nets. And some locals, standing around, engaging in daily chats.

I like the color on the wall.

It was a rainy day, but the sun came out gloriously for the half an hour I was there.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Photo Friday: Farmer Lady selling aubergrines in Da Lat, Vietnam

This is my second time trying out black and white film =) and it was the final trip of the year in Da Lat, Vietnam.

It was interesting how these 2 photos turned out. The first one was what I intended to capture, a 'clean' photo with nothing in the background. Very difficult as this was a crowded market, but it was at the end of the market and the lady, the road, the 2 panniers balanced by a bamboo rod just came together.

I took the second photo almost as an afterthought.

I showed them to many people, both photographers and non-photographers, and all of them liked... ... the second one. It tells a story, it shows a scene, there is some feeling there. So this is really interesting to me, finding out about what people like and improving on my skills. One friend even ventured, what if I took this lady in more, varying angles? I'm sure the result would be interesting and I really love to wander around in markets like these to find such topics, the 'everyday life' part of travel photography. And I'm doubly glad that out of this trip there are some photos that turned out well, which I liked very much!