Cameron Highlands Tea Plantation, Malaysia

Friday, April 30, 2010

PhotoHunt - Black

As much as I love colour photography, I enjoy black and white shots immensely. I can't say I have the experience in converting to black and white, so it is actually my first attempt at it. I took this photo originally in color and switch it to black and white in Picasa. When I saw the results, I was pretty pleased with the conversion. I like the perspective, the different feel of it and the black and white textures.

The Ortakoy Mosque as seen from across the Bosphorus cruise in Istanbul.


What is your preference? Have you experimented much with black and white digital photography?

First Commenter - Criz Lai

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

RT/ WW - Quack!







First Commenter - Rainfield

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Scenic Sunday - Acropolis of Athens

For years it had been my dream to visit the Acropolis of Athens and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Greece. It was a beautiful spring day with clear blue sky but it was pretty humid for a walk around the ancient sites. Despite the warm sunny weather, it truly was amazing to see how well preserved these sites were and we got several nice captures over Acropolis.

Here are some of my favourite shots of different scenes from the historical Acropolis, in Athens.

The Propylea is the Gateway that serves as the entrance to the Acropolis. Walking along the paths can be difficult as they were rocky, slippery marble so watch your step.

As we walked through the entrance, we couldn't help but be awestruck by the glorious sight of the Parthenon. The temple dedicated to the Athena appears to glow in all its glory. I can understand why tourists are mingling busily around the sites, waiting patiently for their place in the photo with the Parthenon.

This is another classic view of the Parthenon. It is what most people would envision when thinking of Athens. It is a sight to behold, even when part of the structures are seen through restoration scaffolding.

There are few other structures up on the Acropolis as well. One of these is the
Erechtheum, the most important monument of the Ionic style and this temple was devoted to the worship of Athena and Poseidon, as well as Erichthonius.

The first thing that impressed me of Erechtheum is the famous Porch of the Caryatids, where six female figures supporting the weight of the porch roof. Today's statues are replicas though. Not all of the sculptures from the Acropolis remains in Athens. As far as I know, four of the original ones are in the Acropolis Museum, one is in storage and one is in the British Museum in London.

In a near distance, you will see the Odeon of Herodes Atticus at the south slope of Acropolis. During ancient times, the theater was used as a venue for various performances and music concerts with a capacity of 5,000 people.

One of the best things about the Acropolis is not just about the monuments. It also has the best views of the city and as can be seen here, Lycabettus Hill is the highest point in Athens.

and here is another magnificent view over Athens from the top

If you should visit Athens, Acropolis is definitely worth a visit. Pictures alone cannot do justice to this amazing feat of architecture and history.

Scenic Sunday

First Commenter

Friday, April 23, 2010

PhotoHunt - Addiction

I've always loved chocolates and it is a strong addiction that I can't break free from. If you love chocolates of any kind, the Sachertorte is a must have when visiting Vienna. I can't say it is the most amazing desert I have ever tasted, but it's something everyone ought to experience at least once in a lifetime!

For those who may not be so familiar with this cake, the Original Sacher-Torte has been the world's famous cake since 1832 and the original recipe is a well-kept secret. I was told that there were hundreds of imitations of this dessert to date, but it's highly recommended to go to Hotel Sacher itself where it was originally created.

The Sacher cake is made of chocolate sponge cake with a thin coated apricot jam in the center and dark chocolate icing coating the entire cake. Each slice is traditionally served with a huge dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. The cake is slightly dry yet it tastes best with a portion of the whipped cream. I enjoy the less sweet taste of it and the chalky feel of dark, dark chocolate.

And one piece is definitely not enough to fill my chocolate addiction. There's no time to even think about the calories. So I had two slices of tortes of different varieties along with the outstanding cuppa coffee to soothe my addiction.

This is the plush cafe outside the Hotel Sacher overlooking the Vienna streets. It's a great feeling being able to sit here enjoying my cravings and the atmosphere is very inviting, personal and welcoming. It’s not just about enjoying the delightful cakes, but also to get a taste of Austria’s traditional coffee-house culture with the Sacher flair.

Having a cuppa coffee here is sure to please even for those non-coffee drinkers like me. For my choice of coffee, I choose Wiener melange, a Viennese blend of coffee and milk foam. It has a comforting creamy quality and is typically dusted with cocoa powder. If you're a coffee lover, this is definitely the place to satisfy your daily addiction to coffee.

First Commenter - Autumn Belle

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

WW - The Fairy chimneys of Cappadocia

I had read and heard all about the awesome views in Cappadocia, located at the heart of central Turkey and glad it didn't disappoint me. Its setting alone is breathtaking. Having realized the immensity of the region and the few transportation options, we decided to join a local tour. Our guide was extremely professional and knowledgeable and her enthusiasm throughout the tour was amazing.

The main draw for tourists to Cappadocia is the opportunity to view its extraordinary landscape of eroded valleys and unique fairy chimneys up close. The unusual rock formations so-called fairy chimneys were the result of a volcanic eruption and thousands and thousands of years of wind, water and lava forming them into different shapes through the valleys.

Various types of Fairy Chimneys are found in Cappadocia. Among these include those with caps, cones, mushrooms, chimney columns and pinnacles.

For anyone who has ever wanted to experience a hot air balloon ride, this is the place for a great perspective of Cappadocia! We also contemplated on going for a hot air balloon ride, but the price was 110 euros for a 45 minute journey, which was too costly for our pockets. I'm sure it's a fascinating experience but it's not my main priority though. Cappadocia is more than enough to blow me away, even without a balloon ride! :D

People have made homes in the caves since prehistoric times. Some still live in them today as they are reluctant to move to the cities. If you ever wondered how it would be like to live like the Flintstones, I believe this is the closest you will get to experience how they lived.

There are a few towns in Cappadocia that cater to tourists or backpackers, but I suggest staying in Goreme. It seemed to be the most ideal location for visiting all the amazing sites. It also had a lot of cave hotels and hostels offering at great bargains for budget travelers.

Apart from visiting interesting valleys, we explored a few underground cities as well as some ancient Christian churches which I'll be featuring more about them in my upcoming posts.

I've been to some very wonderful places and seen some magnificent sights but the Fairy Chimneys in Cappadocia were truly out of this world. I will never forget this magical place.

First Commenter - Lina

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Scenic Sunday/Today's Flowers - Early Spring Blossoms

I like the feeling of spring when flowers starting to bloom. When I visited Europe last month, it was still late winter, early spring, so everything was not in blossom. After what seems a long, cold winter, the early signs of spring is finally making its appearance in Vienna. I was glad to be able to enjoy some of these beautiful bursts of spring colour popping up around the city.

These two shots showcase both signs of the winter and also spring life.





Scenic Sunday

Friday, April 16, 2010

PhotoHunt - Covered

One of my absolute favorite places to visit in Istanbul is the colourful Spice Bazaar. It’s an essential shopping haven if you’re in the city and you’re at all interested in food.

There are about 100 small stalls in a covered bazaar selling everything from exotic spices, candies, dried fruits, fruit tea, among a hundred other Turkish delights. True to its name, my nose immediately detected the aroma of various spices the moment I entered the market. It was also impossible to walk past one of these stalls without sampling different types of local delicacies.

Row upon row of different types of fruit tea, exotic spices, pepper in the background with locals jostling for the lowest prices. It was nice to look at the display of pretty coloured spices even if you were not buying anything.

Dried figs and dates are displayed on the front row while the rest of the rows are all lokums (Turkish delights) in a riot of flavours and fillings. Some varieties are covered with coconuts, some nuts, mint, rose and most commonly, with powdered sugar. My favourite version are the nut flavours. With a wide range of flavours like hazelnut, pistachio, walnut and almond, my hands-down winner would be definitely pistachio. They are sinfully delicious with a tinge of nuts dancing around my taste buds.

Turkish Helva, or Halva, is a sweet confection that is similar to lokum, but made with sugar syrup and sesame oil. The helva is usually cut into wedges or thin slices according to customer requirements. It is believed that the locals served helva on special occasions such as Ramadan and other holy days but more commonly to mark births and deaths.

Further down, we came across some stalls selling a wide array of candle holders covered with decorative designs. They are colourful and eye-catching and I couldn't resist taking a picture.

Apart from that, a great variety of herbal tea are widely sold here. Apple, rose and linden flower being the most popular flavours. It has been a long tradition of drinking tea here I would say. The best type of tea for me was the apple tea. It was bitter yet refreshing and I liked it very much and drank a lot of it while trotting around Istanbul.

I came home with small bags of tea, a box of lokum and a luggage full of wonderful fragrance. :) This is the ultimate one-stop shopping destination for souvenirs as well as a wonderful place to meet interesting people. I'd recommend travel there to anyone. The Turkish culture is nowhere more alive and colourful than here.

First Commenter - Dora