Kuala Lumpur and the f2 lightweights

travel

I’ve been in Kuala Lumpur twice in the past six months but I have never had the opportunity to make a more extended photography coverage of the city (hopefully very soon will have enough images) but still in both occasions I managed to carry my Fuji XT2 and two prime lenses – a 23mm and 35mm both f2 – and take a few shots in the streets.  This two little lenses are up to everything basically and for many reasons they are the first choice when I make my travel plans.

 

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The Fujinon 23mm f2

 

 

The Fujinon 35mm f2

 

 

 

 


Fujifilm XT2

Fujinon xf 23mmf2

Fujinon xf 35mmf2


 

Cambodia and The Khmers

Siem Reap, Angkor Wat and The Khmers

travel

I wasn’t supposed to travel to Cambodia, not this time. For a whole month I planned a trip to Vietnam – Hanoi and the North – but an increase in the price of the flights and a tight schedule made me change my destination on the very last second, to Siem Reap in Cambodia.

 

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First glimpse of Cambodia 

 

So there I was for a short four-day trip with zero expectations and to be honest slightly nervous about the fact that this was the peak of monsoon season in Cambodia but at the same time excited to see a place that I never expected or planned to visit. It’s an old story, right? No expectations, no planning but huge rewards. And so it was. During my four days in Cambodia I had an incredible time, met beautiful people and the most ironic thing of all…it almost didn’t rain!

 

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Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta prohm.

 

The idea of visiting Angkor Wat was something that never crossed my mind, not before I came to Singapore. It’s one of those places that seem intangible, almost unreal, something from movies and old travel books. But the reality is that Cambodia and its Khmer Temples are becoming a mass tourism destination. A good indication of this was the amount of people queuing in front of Angkor Wat at 5.30 am! to watch the sunrise just behind the Monastery. Nevertheless the experience of seeing Angkor Wat being slowly revealed in the horizon was unforgettable.

 

The experience of seeing Angkor Wat being slowly revealed in the horizon was unforgettable.

 

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Angkor Wat is an incredible experience. The place still feels a bit raw and there aren’t many restrictions when it comes to mobility and access to the different areas. There aren’t any signs and security guards in every corridor so we have this feeling of surprise, this permanent thing that something special is about to happen. And it does happen. Whether it’s a beautiful, unexpected game between light and shadows or a monk crossing the gallery or a little girl doing her homework sitting on the floor of the biggest religious structure in the world, you´re bound to see something special. Personally this was even better than watching the sunrise. All my senses were flowing and I felt nothing but pure joy.

 

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The other two temples that are part of the ‘small tour’, Bayon and Ta Phrom, are very distinct from Angkor in size and structure but they still retain that same mysticism that can be found in Angkor Wat. Bayon is characterized by the narrow corridors, small galleries and the statues with smiley faces. Ta Phrom is an incredible place as well with  its ancient trees that embrace entire man-made structures.

 

 

 

The  Old Market (Psar Chas)

The Old Market is located in the heart of Siem Reap just between the river and the infamous Pub Street. It is worth the visit but keep in mind that it can be quite a visceral experience. There are three distinct sections – the souvenirs shops where you can find all sorts of things from t-shirts to small replicas of the temples, the food stalls that serve typical local meals and the wet market.  The wet market can be quite an experience…

 

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Kampong Phluk

Kampong Phluk is a fishing village by the lake Tonlé Sap that is partially immersed during the ´wet season’. It takes around one hour and half to get there – tuk-tuk plus a boat – but it is worth it. There are closer villages to Siem Reap but they lack in authenticity due to the amount of visitors.

Wet Season in Cambodia lasts around six months which means that schools, temples and churches, markets and shops are all reachable by boat only, no side walks or paths, just water.  It is really remarkable.

 

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Cambodia and The Khmers

Fisherwoman by the lake Tonlé Sap

 

A final note to some of the amazing people who I met during this four days.

From all the staff at the Hotel, which I highly recommend ( Chronicle Angkor Hotel ), that really made me feel at home and help me organize my days, to Mr. Seng, the Tuk Tuk driver that drove me around the entire time and to all those people that I briefly met and talked with in restaurants, shops, markets or even on the streets – Thank you very much!

 

Siem Reap, Angkor Wat and The Khmers

  • Daily flights from Singapore with Silkair
  • 40 USD night on a double room with breakfast (on low season)
  • Visa on arrival – 30 USD + 2USD for a photo (you can bring your own mugshot)
  • One day pass for Angkor visit – 37 USD
  • Tip is usually expected but some restaurants already include the tip in the bill
  • USD are accepted everywhere.
  • Mosquito repellent, A MUST!

 


 

Fujifilm XT2

Fujifilm X100s

Fujinon xf 35mmf2

Samyang 12mmf2


 

 

Table Mountain

Cape Town | 开普敦

travel

No matter how organised you are, things never really happen the way you plan, especially when traveling. We went back to Cape Town and some of our initial thoughts to shoot and document the trip didn’t quite happen the way we expected. In fact they didn’t happen at all. You see, we have a toddler and toddlers basically control your agenda. They boss your life without you even notice – If you have one of those you know what I’m talking about. It all started when we set foot on a plane for a fourteen hours flight. After that we needed two days to recover from the experience and another two days to prepare ourselves mentally for the return flight.

Still I managed to take a few shots and share them here, not as much as this city deserves, but we will return to Cape Town very soon and hopefully by then, share a lot more.

 

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Landing in Johannesburg airport at sunrise

 

Lions Head

I used my first couple of hours of ‘free time’ to go to Lions Head mountain. It´s a peak with almost seven hundred meters high nestled between the Atlantic and the famous Table Mountain. The hike takes around forty-five minutes (depending on your level of fitness) and the views you get of the Mother City are fantastic. It was the third time that I hiked Lions Head so I tried to see things with a different perspective but I ended up focusing on the obvious – Table Mountain, the gorgeous Camps Bay and and Robben Island.

 

 

Lions HeadTable MountainRobben IslandCape Town | 开普敦Lions Head19

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Wide perspective of Table Mountain National Park

 

Mouille Point and Sea Point promenade

A brief walk by the seaside just to confirm something that Capetonians are famous for – they vanish during winter. And believe me when I say that winter in Cape Town is not that bad. It is actually fairly pleasant with a few cold nights but mild sunny days. And still, just when the first not-so-pleasant days kick in, they disappear. Well, they don’t really disappear, you can still find them in malls, bars and restaurants but the point here is that the city changes dramatically when compared to Summer. Streets became wider and shadows far more obvious. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s just the way it is.

 

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Time was scarce and days flew faster than the infamous Cape Town wind. But you cannot leave Cape Town without the taste of a good ‘Braai’ especially if you are visiting friends and family. ‘Braai’ is the Afrikaans word for barbecue but in South Africa ‘Braai’ is more than just a barbecue, it’s a whole institution and everyone takes it very seriously.

 

” The word braaivleis (English: /ˈbrfls/; Afrikaans pronunciation: [ˈbrɑːifləis]) is Afrikaans for grilled meat. The word braai (plural braais) is Afrikaans for barbecue or grill and is a social custom in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi. The term originated with the Afrikaans-speaking people,[1] but has since been adopted by South Africans of many ethnic backgrounds. The word vleis is Afrikaans for meat. ”

from wikipedia

 

Cape Town

Cape Town CBD

Braai Master

Our ‘Braai Master’ for the evening

Cape Town | 开普敦24Braai

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The Little Boss !

 

See you soon soon Cape Town!

 


Fujifilm X-T2

Fujinon 35mm F2

Fujinon 56mm f1.2

Samyang 12mm F2


 

Bangkok Wide

travel

Before every travel I have this uncontrollable habit of doing extensive amount of research about my destination. It is somehow an obsessive behaviour that can eventually spoil the entire trip. The discovery factor, that sense of exploration and seeing things for the first time, is no longer there and as a consequence the trip becomes a fact-check rather than a sensorial journey. And still, I often do it. But not this time.

 

Airplane window

Bangkok Train

30 minutes ride from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to Phaya Thai train station

 

I had less than forty-eight hours to see Bangkok, an impossible task knowing that this is one of the biggest cities in Asia with an estimated population of over eight million people, it has an unpredictable tropical climate – though you can predict that it´s going to be hot – and a chaotic traffic. So I packed light, a small backpack, a camera and a travel book.

 

Chinatown

Chinatown.

The whole area is a feast to the senses. Endless narrow streets that form an intricate maze,  shoppers selling things that have no apparent meaning or utility, the intense smell of durian – typical Thai fruit – mixed with the smoke produced by the heavy traffic, motorbikes that drive through pedestrian passages with the utmost normality. “It´s chaos, good chaos. I wanted to stay and live here, at least for a while,  at least more than just two hours.”  But when you travel you know that you need to let it go.

 

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The Grand Palace.

The most popular touristic site in town and yet I didn´t see it. Why? You need long pants, as a sign of respect, to get inside the palace and obviously I didn’t have any of those. I heard someone saying that it was possible to get in with a borrowed pair at the main door but once I got there, and looked inside, I saw thousands of people. I mean, it seemed as though all the tourists in Bangkok were gathered there at that specific moment. So I took it as a sign and decided not to go. It might sound weird but I had a great time just seating and observing people passing in front of those naked walls, and, of course, taking some shots.

 

The Grand PalaceThe Grand PalaceThe Grand PalaceThe Grand Palace

 

After seeing The Grand Palace, at least the top of it, I headed south along the Rop Krung channel, checked the flower market which was practically closed and took a boat to the west bank of the Chao Phraya river and from there walked another couple of hours untill I realized that I was completely lost. I was exhausted by then. Its hot in Bangkok, very hot, and it was time to find my way back to the hotel for a cold shower.

 

Chao Phraya River

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2nd (and last) day.

Bangkok had me as soon as I landed. It’s one of those places that you can tell  that you´re going to get something special from it. I was feeling ‘complete’ just from the experience I had on the first day but still I was lucky enough to get a second one. I choose a spot by the river (Shangri-la hotel) and walked up the Silom Road with no specific destination in mind.

 

Bangkok StreetsBangkok streets

 

Bangkok has several bridges and ‘fly-overs’ that allows to observe the traffic. I know, it’s not something that everyone appreciates or enjoys doing but from a photography point of view it gives a cool perspective to shoot.

 

MotorbikesPolice man

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My last shot in Bangkok from the Ratchaprarop Train station

 

After a brief stop in a random mall – there are plenty of those in Bangkok – for a meal and aircon, I went for my final stretch of walking. Around forty minutes from Ratchaprasong Junction to Ratchaprarop train station . My last forty minutes in Bangkok streets. It’s hard to identify what makes this experience so pleasant and fulfilling. There are many different answers and in most of the cases they are all true. I travel with a camera around my neck and the way I see things through the camera usually defines the whole experience. But Bangkok…well Bangkok is more than all of the different answers you can think of and surely more than all the images you can print in the heart of your camera. My wife travels frequently to Bangkok for business and she often tells me that she feels an overwhelming but great sense of energy when she is there. And I guess that there is no better way to describe it. Bangkok is energy, a lot of it, that surrounds you and affects you every second of the day.

 

Street scene

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Bangkok Wide

Fuji X-T2

Samyang 12mm F2