This was my second visit to Qibao (my first visit back in July 2010). Located right off metro line 9, the ancient water town of Qibao is a great (and easy) visit from downtown Shanghai.
Besides the iconic views, the next most appealing thing to me are the 2元 (0.25€) and 10元 (1.24€) shops, where everything inside is that price. Second would easily have to be the food stalls, carrying everything from freshly-made banana bread and steamed dumplings to fried crickets and other things I couldn’t quite recognize.
The Oriental Pearl Tower is undoubtedly Shanghai’s most iconic landmark. Completed in 1994, it was also one of the first structures to be built on the Pudong side of Shanghai (ie- all the famous skyline images you see).
It has a love/hate relationship with most Shanghainese, and I certainly don’t know why exactly that certain color was picked, but at night it is spectacular. At 468m tall, it is currently the 5th largest tower in the world, with which you get some insane views of Lujiazui (downtown Pudong) and across the river of the Bund and the Puxi side of Shanghai…
I can’t recommend visiting the Pearl Tower enough, if for one simple reason: the view straight down through the glass floors at almost 300m up!
There is also an unusual exhibition located on the ground floor, as seen in the last few images… make sure to look through them all, there are some real gems in there!
Well, another CNY experienced and once again I can happily report I am not blind and/or missing any limbs, although some close calls once again (you can just make out my hat/head in the above image on the right).
Below is a collection of images taken throughout the week of Chinese New Year (which is over 7 days long). Makes for some great photography sessions, but not so much for relaxing at home with a movie.
If you didn’t get enough imagery of fiery explosions, check out my past posts from CNY:
The small nation of Brunei (“The Adobe of Peace”) was a complete mystery to me… all I knew before going here was that it was rich in petroleum and that it’s leader, the Sultan, has an massive car collection (including over 300 Ferrari’s as well as a 24k gold plated Rolls Royce).
One of my first own discoveries was that it is “dry” country, which means alcohol is prohibited. I learned this upon my arrival in the ferry terminal, when I was picked out for a “random inspection” and questioned over the can of ginger ale in my backpack, which I had to explain was non alcoholic (although foreigners coming into the country are allowed to bring a certain small amount) of alcohol).
With a population of around 400,000, Brunei is a constitutional sultanate, and its legal system is a mixture of English common law and Islamic shariah law. Forbes ranks Brunei as the 5th richest country in the world, while the IMF reported in 2011 that it is one of only two countries in the world with public debt at 0%. But to be honest, there is hardly a thing to do in Brunei, as there are no taxis, extremely limited bus routes, and of course zero nightlife with the entire country shutting down by 9pm. Prices are also pretty steep, especially coming from Malaysia (and going to Indonesia), with a similar cost of living as found in Singapore. Although, one exception would certainly be the price of gas/petrol (€ 0.38 per liter), which makes it cheaper than bottled water!
These are some photos from nearby our hotel in the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan, the first night we got in. The pictured mosque is the Jame’asr Hassanil Bolkiah in Kiarong, the largest mosque in Brunei.
Easily one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen…
Kota Kinabalu part II, a day of lounging ended with one of the most dramatic setting suns ever… you can see in the photos how the sky changed colors, it was quite spectacular to say the very least.
What made the experience all the more surreal was that this boardwalk was closed off (just to the right of the above image), secured from public view and guarded by the United States Navy. We were talking to one of the guards, a older gentleman telling us of his previous tours, who then warned us for the possibility of a not-so-quiet night ahead, as it was the first off-duty time for over 4000 Navy military personnel from an American aircraft-carrier docked just off the coast. Wonderful.
In the last two images you can see the restaurant/market I mentioned in my previous post (yes, we ate there again). After shooting and dinner, we went to a bar for a drink… and I felt like I was at some sort of strange frat-party with an South East Asian twist… the Navy kids had swarmed the small downtown area and were yelling, screaming and drinking (then puking) everywhere in sight. It really made me not miss living in the US. Shame that people behave that way, especially when you are a guest in a predominantly Muslim country!
I ordered a bucket of beer and watched the mayhem from a bar balcony, while my girl ordered a margarita (but they had ran out of tequila), then ordered a mojito (but they ran out of rum), so she got a vodka pineapple. Luckily the obnoxious Cinderella’s had to be back aboard their “carrier” before midnight, letting the town of Kota Kinabalu lull back into tranquility (albeit with the stench of alcohol and vomit still lingering a bit).
The next morning it was off to country number 30something for me, bye bye Kota Kinabalu. hello Brunei Darussalam!
Just a quick note that [lots] more pics from Malaysia/Brunei/Indonesia coming soon… only just got back last night from 2+ weeks in the Philippines for the holidays.
So, don’t fret, more shet comin’ your way.
Kuala Lumpur was the first stop on a multi-leg tour through some strange corners of South East Asia. Arriving late one night then leaving roughly 30 hours later, gave a nice 24 hour window to explore the amazing city of KL.
I must say I was a little surprised with Kuala Lumpur, as I had imagined something entirely different… a crazy busy bustling metropolis. I was further surprised to find out the population doesn’t even hit 2 million! Although bewildered by my lack of knowledge of this place, it was an incredibly beautiful city… clean, colorful, efficient, and super friendly. It still had that “small town” feeling in my opinion (although I live in Shanghai, so my premises might be a little screwy).
The food was simply amazing (and cheap!), what a amazingly tasty melting-pot of South East Asia cuisine… given the large Chinese and Indian communities… and yet, the best that culinary Malaysia had to offer was still to come (in the form of battered butter prawns that I was going to eat for 3 days straight in Kota Kinabalu in the upcoming days, but more on that later).
Anyway, back to my 24 hours in KL. Arriving late at night, checked in to the hotel, unpacked only my tripod and set out straight for the Petronas Towers (as you can see in the first few night shots). The next day was spent on a tour through various spots throughout the city, including KLCC, Bukit Bintang, KL Railway Station, Keretapi Tanah Melayu, etc… then finally back to the Petronas Towers for vespertine time!
Nothing too exciting… just some pics down the street from where I live. I sensed a good sky coming on (of the vespertine variety) so decided to photograph my 5min walk from my apartment to the subway station, Jiashan Station. As with everywhere in Shanghai, some major construction going on there too… this thanks to the extension of yet another metro line.