About Me

My photo
"Harmony & Contrast!! - all beauty comes from these two"

Monday, November 26, 2012

While Loitering in KTM/PKR

After EBC Trek I did quite bit of loitering around in KTM and PKR. Needless to say took oodles of shots. Will post few ones here in coming days. Below six are taken all with iPhone 4s. The quality is not there to that of full  frame DSLR. But suffices for a drive-by-shooting.

In Bhakatapur at Thanka Painting Center. I saw these discarded paint bowls by the window as I was going down the stairs. Made an interesting frame.  iPhone 4s

Wooden Canoes at Fewa Lake at PKR  iPhone 4s

Yup - the same.  iPhone 4s

More wooden canoes against the backdrop of evening sun and blue mountains.  iPhone 4s

Temple run around KTM. Not sure which one it is though. iPhone 4s

Garden of Dreams Thamel.  iPhone 4s

Sunday, November 25, 2012

EBC 2012

Sharing some of the pictures from my EBC12 trek................much more of pics, videos and blogs  to follow......will keep you posted.

(Click on any of the pics for a larger view. These files are humongous)

Faces on The Trail

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Koh Chang Trip

Made a trip to Koh Change last weekend with Mike, Apidi and Sarah. Mike wanted to check out a sail boat (50 footer Catalina I think) and invited me to join him. This is my third trip to Koh (Island) Chang. Previous two trips were in middle of August and we were drenched in rain the whole time we were there. And this third trip, you guessed it, again ended up being in middle of August. But luckily no rain this time. 

From City of Trad you take a ferry to get to the Island.  Koh Chang is very mountainous. Is the second largest island after Phuket and is in Gulf of Thailand near Cambodian border. Island probably is about 20 by 10 miles big. When you got the mountains and shores - you've got the best of the both world. Reminds me of Hawaii.

Quite an imposing sign that sits on this tall mountain next to the pier. It always reminds me of the movie scene with the line "Welcome to Jurassic Park".

Just another point and click drive-by-shooting with no particular thought or preparation thinking it would trun out ok. This was near the pier where we went sailing on this beautiful sail boat.

This is a decommissioned US Naval vessel that city of Koh Chang had acquired  - with Mike at the helm near captain's deck. They will sink this boat off the coast to be used as a reef for divers. Mike saw it from highway while driving back after sailing. We got there - few Thai Soldiers were guarding it - but to our surprise they let us climb it. It was a giant iron beast with lots of rust.

Self potrait!!! If that counts. This was below the captain's deck. I am sure this mirror has seen numerous faces in its lifetime with thousands of miles of journey in open seas. Not sure if the mirror will survive during the sinking - in such case I am the last face it will reflect I thought - as I took this photo. The round marking around the hole to the left is for them to cut a bigger opening so that divers can swim through the haul inside the ship. 

If you like lots of rust you have come to the right place. This was on the bow of the ship. Almost looks like a cannon stand. The contrast of blue and rusty red caught my attention.

Evening Skies over Koh Chang.

Standing at the same place few minutes later.

Once the sun set beautiful array of color splashed all around us. 

Will be adding more pics.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

KTM Valley Nagarkot-Dhulikhel Hike

Had made a quick trip to Nepal last week to take care of few things and while there I decided to do this Nagarkot-Dhulikhel Day Hike - which I often recommend to people who are looking for a short trek in outskirts of KTM valley. I have hiked around Nagarkot and Dhulikhel but never hiked between these two hill stations.

This had to be done - these trails needed to be boldly trodden as they had never been before!!!

And even though late July / early Aug is right in the smack middle of the monsoon season - not ideal for any hiking or trekking excursions for most of the sensible people  - because the trails are muddy and the views of mountains are just not there - not me - I decided to take my chances anyway.  It was very cloudy in morning and it had rained a day earlier - and everyone told me that I was crazy to even think about it. When am I going to learn and start listening to people - I don't know. But I had this small hunch that may be it wont rain - would just stay cloudy - just long enough for me to do the hike and that I would be fine. With that optimism I left KTM that morning and over an hour later got dropped off in Nagarkot in  small car. By the time I got there tt was around 11 AM already - so decided to hit the trails right away - again  not knowing when and if the rain would drench us. This hike supposedly took 4-5 hours - after which I was to be picked up at Dhulikhel to get back to KTM.

Trail to starts1.5 KM from the Nagarkot bus station - right off of the main road that goes towards "Tower" . ("Tower" is at the top of Nagarkot hill where there are bunch of radio antennas - hence the name)

Trail starts out wide - is actually a dirt road and there are several lodges and resorts there - some already built and many others still under construction. Once you leave the last set of resorts behind (and a bottled water factory - fresh mountain spring water - we stopped and bought some) the trail narrows somewhat. Thick vegetation - giant ferns and bushes hug the trail. Someone once told me that these surrounding hills of KTM are home to many many unique species of butterflies and dragonflies. (Some estimates putting this place at having the most species in the world) I remember seeing a whole lot of them when I used to come hiking in these areas as a kid some 25 years ago. But this time around I didn't see a whole lot - may be because of time of the year - not sure. Only occasional flutterbys and whizzing-bys of butterflies and dragonflies here and there ..............

Picture above to give you an idea of the trail - otherwise a rather unremarkable photo.

But the cool thing about this trail is that you hike along the side that faces the mountains not the side that faces the valley.  So if it was clear  you would see the all the mountains (including Everest) most of the time during your hike. Isn't that awesome?? 

2 hours into the hike - view of some village down below. We must be at around 8K ft - always cool to see clouds below you. Like I said if the clouds were not there I would be looking at worlds tallest mountain range. It was all cloudy and misty so the shots are not as crisp as I would have liked. 

After hiking slight uphill for about an hour and a half the trail now goes downhill sharply. Lots of pine trees and rolling hills along the way. This light and cool mountain air is always very -  uplifting physically and mentally  - a world of difference from muggy thick air of  BKK where I live  - that feels like a heavy blanket over you most of the time :(

These trails would make a kick-ass mountain biking trip. I may plan to do that next year. I am surprised that there aren't much activities going on here for a place being so close to KTM. During the entire hike we only ran across few trekkers coming from Dhulikhel side. 
One tricky thing at times is figuring out the trail. On some places it is well marked but on others you will need a guide or a good map. After about three hours into the hike you pass through farms and fields and light settlements. 

In that sense this trail offers a variety of landscapes. Saw the locals going about their daily lives on farms and fields. Below are some of the "faces" I saw on the trail. 

This woman was working in a corn field - as you can see in backdrop. After I was done taking her photo she offered us some freshly plucked Apricots - I wanted to pay but she refused. It's amazing that most of the places you travel generous people are the ones who have not much to give. 

This boy appeared out of nowhere from a house above the trail on a tiny village we were passing through. With his two tiny hands planted on his hips He shouted "Eh Dai Mero Photo Khihnus La ; Ma Euta Geet Gaaunchu". Then he started singing while doing these cute dance moves. Awwwww.....quite a showman he was and not a bit camera-shy. I took several shots - he asked me to send him the photos - which was to my complete surprise. I definitely need to find a way to send it to him.

And further down the trail there were these three adorable kids on a balcony of a house. I took about 10 shots altogether. Posting few of them here. If you are into people photography - it doesn't get better than this.

They were simply irresistible.

View in the direction of Everest. Them damn clouds - the timing of it .....!!! Panchkhal valley down below.

Giant ferns - they hug the trail and looked like from Jurassic period.

Some flowers I saw along the trail - not sure what kind they are

Below are the "facades" on the trail. These colorful windows caught my attention.

Dhulikhel lies an hour away behind the hill on the upper left while town of Banepa lies in the valley to the middle right. This hiking will take me 5 hours - by the time I finish. If you stop often then it is a full 8 hour journey. In the end my hunch was mostly correct - it was cloudy and misty but no rain so far. All I needed was to squeeze in another hour and I would have accomplished my goal.

At the end of the trail - rows pine tree. The trail is done - will be back for more - may be a mountain bike trip. And to find the boy to see if I can give him the pictures. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Trip to Koh Tao

Last weekend I took a trip to Koh Tao with two good friends. I was looking forward to spending the three day weekend there snorkeling and chillin' on the pristine beaches of Koh Tao that I had much heard about. Koh means island in Thai btw - and it lies in Gulf of Thailand. While most of the tourists go to nearby Koh Phan Ngan and Koh Samui to party this island attracts people for mainly diving and snorkeling and has a laid back vibe. But there I was to terrorize the tranquility of Koh Tao(ism).

Below are some of the shots I took with my Sony full frame DSLR with Carl Zeiss Lenses (f1.8, 135mm & f2.0, 20mm) during the trip. Few on the bottom are with iPhone. Click on any for a larger view.

Left coastal city of Chumphon for Koh Tao on a ferry early morning after all night driving from BKK with Mike and Apidee to get there. It was a very cloudy and misty morning - not ideal for good shots - oh well.  The hills on the distance caught my attention - they seemed to appear in different shades of blue - as you can see. And water was so calm and featureless  - (as you can see from almost a white featurelss foreground on the photo above) -  like a salt flat almost. None-the-lee captures the sleepy landscape of early morning that is slowly waking up.

View of Chalok Baan Kao Cove from across the resort we were staying at. These giant rocks on the edge were quite something. Rock cliff on the end looks like a giant Gorilla facing the ocean. Local see it as a Buddha praying btw. Below Gorilla (or Buddha depending on who you ask) there's a pointy rock that looks like a turtle head. Actually "Tao" means turtle in Thai. But not sure if it is named as such because of this rock or not. Two more turtle tid-bits. There is actually a sculpture of a giant Turtle near Mae Haad Beach on the western side. Also - while snorkeling on the other side of these rocks the next day I saw a giant turtle that is native to this area. I was quite startled at first actually to see this huge lump of mass move underneath me . Sorry no picture of that. Don't do wildlife. 

Beautiful view of the "fortress" looking dining area of the aptly named "View Point" resort. This belonged to Mike and Apidee's friend. I have to say though from this place a major assault was launched to put a big dent on the "beer supply" of the island by a mortal few. It was successive for the most part but rumor has it they will recover from the temp shortage soon.

Another picture from "View Point Resort". 

This is close to the northern point in Koh Tao looking back at the pier of Mae Haad Bay.

Another picture of  rocks, waters and the skies of Koh Tao. Picture taken from NangYuan Terrace.

Looking over NangYuna Isalnd from Dusit Buncha Resort that sits on the northern end of koh Tao. This island is famous for divers apparently - which I had no intention of doing. I was happy snorkeling on the surface.

View looking towards west from the View Point Resort. Sun was about to set but didn't get a clear view of it - happens usually in Thailand because there is so much humidity in the air hugging the ground. The bungalow that is seen on the right (belonging to the resort) goes for $400 per night and has its own swimming pool apparently. I didn't stay there. I would be too busy oohin' and aahin' about the view and would miss all the opportunity to take these photos. 

View on my way back to View Point Resort from a town nearby. Turquoise water against the blue sky backdrop caught my attention. This is at Chalok Baan Kao cove. The wet rock on the middle anchors this picture.

Orchid - the "hippy" among flowers. It took this at some resort while waiting for a cup of coffee.

Captured few more shots of flowers around View Point Resort.

When you start with a good lens -  it makes you look like a genius. This was an effortless point & shoot.

What makes this picture remarkable (for me anyway) is that I took it at 10 PM at night - capturing the view of resorts near Freedom Beach across Chalok Baan Kao Cove, which was about a km away from a restaurant I was chillin' at. It was full moon night btw.

Sippin' Mojito sitting on a restaurant and peering down Sairee beach. It was drizzlin' li'l bit - but who cared. I had put in all the snorkeling to my hearts content day earlier at Thian Og Bay already.  iPhone Shot

Same restaurant with Mojito - different view. Shot with iPhone.

Heading back from this lovely restaurant to catch a ferry at the beach. Will meet Mike and Apidee there to leave for BKK.   It has been an amazing stay. iPhone Shot.

I took this picture with my iPhone on my way back to Chumphon from Koh Tao - sky was black and blue with dark clouds and was about to start with a heavy down pour. This is a not a BW photograph - this is exactly what the color of the moment was.  It was pretty dramatic to be in the shades of grey completely - as if you are in a B&W film.