I will keep the commentary short this time around, said most of what I needed to about Brunei in my last post. Pictured above the official seal as seen on the gates to the Sultan’s Palace, while below you see the magnificent Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque.
We had rented a car and drove around… from the Sultan’s palace (couldn’t really get a good view), legislative buildings, beautiful mosques, beaches and parks. Brunei spares no expense!
Just a quick note about the image of the house on stilts… it is a very rare site, as Brunei is pristine!
Night photos comin’ in the next post…………
We had rented a motorcycle the night before with the intent of making a trip into the island of Borneo. Since I was a young kid I had always heard of the mystical creatures and plants that grew on this tropical island. Of course a day-trip into just a piece of the island is never enough, and I was a little disappointed to go away not seeing a rafflesia in full bloom (which is trickier than I thought). It is the largest flower on the planet and is supposed to smell like rotting flesh, which is also why it is known as the “corpse flower.” We talked to some local farmers and were shown some wild buds, but since they take many months to mature, then only bloom for a couple weeks, and are worth a small fortune (+4,000 USD), many are stolen or are sold-off before maturing.
Either way, we snaked ourselves around the impressive Mount Kinabalu, passing the Tamparuli Suspension Bridge and headed into the natural reserve to have a short hike up the mountain. Climbing back onto the beastly 4-gear bike, we directed ourselves inland once again visiting hot springs, waterfalls and of course plenty of jungle.
It was incredibly hot during the morning and day, but since the dramatic changes in altitude I had read to bring along a sweater, which I reluctantly did… but thankfully I did, because as soon as the sun started setting it got pretty cold up there, especially going downhill on a motorcycle!
Arriving back in the town of KK that night, after a day of riding almost 300km of mountain roads, we retired back to the restaurant we had eaten at the night before. A great market-type deal located next to the fishing port, I couldn’t recommend it more. A collection of severalteen restaurants clustered together under tents right next to where the fishermen come back and unload their fresh catches. I kid you not, I had one of the most amazing dishes of my life here… buttered and battered prawns. A light and crunchy batter that I can hardly describe in any terms other than simply amazing. The mango and avocado shakes are pretty refreshing too!
HAPPY 12/12/12 !!!
The name of this recently opened park now eludes me (and my googling has turned up nothing)… either way, it is located on the Puxi side of the Huangpu River, opposite the old World Expo site.
Slightly hungover but very much content, we took a van from Pattaya to Bangkok… what a crazy [good] city.
We were staying with a friend out in Lam Luk Ka, and the first night (01/01/12) we went into the city’s chaotic center… visiting the enormous Chatuchak Weekend Market (largest market in Thailand; 5000+ stalls; 200,000 daily visitors; covers 35 acres). Where we also ate dinner at some dodgy-looking street vendor-type restaurant (pictured with the tuk-tuk’s), which, naturally, was delicious. We then hopped on to the brand new Bangkok metro, more precisely the BTS Skytrain Sukhumvit Line from Mo Chit to Victory Monument (which is exactly where the van from Pattaya had dropped us off earlier in the day).
To be honest, I found Bangkok a little dirty… but being a true city kid, I could live there no problem. I like real cities… gritty cities… cities that have a soul and a feeling that you can just sense. BKK totally had this (Shanghai for example, doesn’t really have this). However, with all the litter and muck around, I could not, and would not, like to see what it was like during the flooding (only weeks before our visit). Let’s just say I’m happy they caught all the loose crocodiles.
Taken over a month ago (yeah, I know… but it’s been a busy couple weeks for me) this was one of the first spring-like days to hit Shanghai. Originally I had wanted to see the “pr0tests” dealing with the Jasm1ne Rev0lution… but what we found were almost 100 “undercover” agents stationed all around the Peace (irony?) Cinema… it was a tense and creepy scene (made more so by getting stared at by each and every one of them; foreigner + camera = no good). So instead, we just walked around People’s Square and enjoyed the nice weather.
My roots lie in Antwerp, but many of my friends live around Brussels… so rain or shine (or snow), there is a lot of driving back and forth. Honestly, there is nothing better than snow on the ground and a rental in your hands. I just thank them lucky stars that my rental car had German plates, as winter tires are mandatory in Germany but not in Belgium.
The snow was amazing, all the years I spent in the Benelux and I’ve never seen such a blanket across the entire country (the south got up to 60cm). I was there for 10 days, and it snowed every other day… truly amazing. First white Christmas since the 60′s, and the most snow since WWII!
One morning I also went for a little hike through the Sonian Forest (Zoniënwoud / Forêt de Soignes) located just south of Brussels, which was simply amazing.
Day’s 3+4 of shooting with the 12-24mm Sigma lens… first two are near my office building (left, in picture #2), while the others were taken around Jing’An Park.
And yes, there is a semi-naked dude chilling in the subway entrance in that last image… keep in mind, it has been +35C all week (right now it’s 39C)!
I got the chance to borrow an absolutely wicked lens from a friend for the past week (Roy Frankland; check out his work), these are shots from days 1-2. It is a Sigma 12-24mm… mix that with a Canon 5D MkII and this is what you get.