Travel Theme: Glow

Today, as part of Ailsa’s weekly travel theme ( Where’s My Backpack ), we are heading to Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand and entering Wat Phra Kaeo, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This week’s theme is Glow.

A candle is lit for for contemplative gratitude and inspiration.

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The Emerald Buddha glows with pure Jade.

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Travel Notes: Chiang Rai’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha claims to be the ‘original’ Wat Phra Kaeo, at least in Thailand. In 1434, lightning struck the chedi (since restored) and cracked it open. The ‘Emerald Buddha’ was found inside the broken pagoda. Soon after its discovery, the sacred image was moved to Lampang, then Chiang Mai, then Laos and finally to Bangkok in 1778.

The ‘Emerald Buddha’ is actually made of jade. In 1991 a replica of the original was commissioned to honor the Princess Mother’s 90th birthday. A large hunk of Canadian jadeite was donated by a rich Chinese businessman, and the replica was carved in Beijing. Following Buddhist protocol, the new ‘Chiang Rai Jade Buddha’ is not an exact copy of the original. It’s slightly smaller with other variations. The new Buddha was installed in a custom-built pavilion at the back of the main compound.

Travel Theme: Clean

In 2012, two beautiful wwoofers from Chengdu, China came to stay with me for a month. They chose Melbourne as they had read that it is the world’s most livable city. Part of the charm of Melbourne and its hinterland, for the Chinese visitors, is clean air. Australians take clean air for granted, but as our cities and freeways become more clogged, and our government pays little attention to policies addressing global warming and carbon emissions, clean air might become a thing of the past. Ailsa, from Where’s My Backpack has chosen clean as the photographic topic of the week, after she read this article in the Guardian about the air in Beijing.

 The following photos were taken in Tasmania, Australia. If you could bottle clean, the island of ‘Tassie’ would make a fortune.

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The spit at Bruny Island, Tasmania. ( below) Don’t forget to try the oysters at ‘Get Shucked’ for a taste of clean. ( above)

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The famous bridge at Richmond.

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Sunday Stills. Yellow

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School holiday time and my house and kitchen have been turned upside down by the invading tribe of wild things. The ten year old wants to work outside all day as he is saving for a motorbike,( but its raining), the seven year old goes through ten costume changes a day and the five year old tries to keep up with her, the three year old likes to play outside in the rain. My table is covered with art materials, there are balls and blankets in the lounge room, chaos has descended.

Here is my escape into the world of yellow as part of the Sunday Stills challenge: Yellow

Marigolds above and sunflowers below in the gardens of Chenonceau, France.Image

A yellow painted vegetable stall in West Java, IndonesiaImage

A doorway in Bagan, Myanmar

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A fruit platter on board a houseboat in the backwaters of Alleppey, Kerala, India

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Travel Theme: Misty

This week’s travel theme, chosen by Ailsa at Where’s My Backback, is Misty.

When I think of mist, my mind wanders back to Britain, Ireland and Scotland, recalling the mists hovering about the standing stones of Cumbria, or rising over the ancient dry stone walls of Inisheer and Inishmore off the west coast of Ireland, or seeping through the cold walls of  Dunvegan Castle on Skye, or chilling the seas near Tarbert, Outer Hebrides. Robbie Burns songs, softly spoken celts, peat and strong whisky, many scenes follow.  Alas, these images only survive in my mind.

My misty offerings today come from far warmer climes. The high altitude areas of India are often shrouded in mist. The tea gardens of Munnar, Kerala, India offer stunning views, the mists and waterfalls rise over the Westminster carpet of green tea plantations.ImageImage

Another hot and misty region, Mae Salong in Northern Thailand, also specialises in tea. Still the home to ex Kuomintang escapees from China, the food is superb and Yunnanese in style. Naturally, tea shops abound.Image

Everyone rushes around like a loony when Mt Rinjani on Lombok peeps through the mist over Lombok Straight. Out come the cameras.  Rinjani is the sacred twin of Mt Agung in Bali.ImageImage

The mists in my own front yard, early winter time, Victoria, Australia. There is a kangaroo highlighted on the ridge.

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Indonesian Curry Pastes and Sambals: the Uleg in Action

I recently introduced my Indonesian Uleg as part of my April’s IMK post. The Uleg had a great workout over summer and before the season changes and gets too autumnal, requiring more Cucina Italiana, I thought I might show off some of the impressive curry pastes made in this wonderful mortar and pestle. When B and I bought our Ulegs in the market in Cipanas, Java, I was surprised to hear the elderly vendor use the old Hindu word ‘Lingum” for the pestle, especially in a largely Islamic Indonesian region.Image

A lingum is

“Sanskrit for “shaft of light” and is the term for the Hindu god Shiva as represented by a phallus (erect male organ). Usually found in conjunction with the Yoni (‘vulva”) which represents the goddess Shakti – the source of Creative Energy. They co-join to form Bhrama – the Universe. This is the Hindu Trilogy; the representation of the twins of Creation and Destruction as the highest manifestations or aspects of the One (Bhrama).” 1.Image

I must admit that the Indonesian pestle is more phallic than my others and certainly does a very good job.

A very hot sambal makes the perfect side dish for spring rolls and nasi goreng.

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The photos above and below are some of the wonderful curry pastes and sambals Barnadi introduced me to this January. As you can see, all sorts of wonderful things get ground in the Uleg, not just spices. After some practice, the combinations become intuitive. Once ground to a paste, magic cooking follows.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

 

Travel Theme: Statues

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I am always drawn to Buddhist temples when travelling in Asia.The busy temples along the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok, or the quiet Lanna style temples in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The colourful temples, with attached monastery schools for young boys, in Luang Prabang, Laos and the small Buddhist temples dotted throughout the Islamic towns of Java. I attempt to visit them all .

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These Statues of Buddha are a few from my Buddha files. They were all taken in Myanmar ( Burma), where the Buddhist Pagodas outdo all others in scale and opulence.

Ailsa’s ‘Where’s My Backpack‘ hosts a weekly travel themed blog every Friday. Check out some of the others.

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Travel Theme: Pink

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Trawling through my digital shoebox, I tried to ignore subjects and focus on the colour pink.  It’s an interesting exercise to sub- categorise by colour and one I would highly recommend.  After exporting my pink images to their own file, Mr Tranquillo was consulted about pinkness. He saw red where I saw pink – the maroon of  the monks’ robes. He saw brown where I saw pink-  the terracotta temples of Bagan, Myanmar (Burma). The eye sees colour in so many different ways. Tints, hues and complexions of pink fade into beige,mauve and orange. Here are my pink offerings for Ailsa’s Where’s My Back Pack weekly theme.  Taken in Myanmar ( Burma), a country that is usually associated with gold.

A pink terracotta building in Bagan, Myanmar. Built between 11th and 13th centuries,  2,200 brick temples like this one remain. It takes days to tour this area.

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Temples of Bagan at sunset.Image

The pink lit rooves of the monasteries surrounding the Shwesandaw Pagoda in Paya. Paya, around nine hours by car from Yangon, is a small town on the Ayeyarwady river.Image

A pink umbrella on a rainy day at the golden Schwedagon Pagoda, Yangon.

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Young monks leaving the temple grounds.

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Sunday Stills, the next challenge: the Colour Brown

I have decided to have a go at a few photography challenges lately, including the Sunday Stills Photography Challenge. These challenges drive me to look at, and sort, the back log of photos in my files. It is also a way of distracting me from food blogging, which can get obsessive at times. I never go anywhere now without my camera, but when it comes to sorting, labelling and discarding, I’m hopeless. Here is my ‘brown’ offering for this weeks challenge.

                     Brown boxes arranged in a doorway in a suburb of Tokyo.

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Travel Theme: Gardens

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It is always a pleasure to visit a garden when travelling overseas. Some delight, others offer peace and sanctuary, a place to picnic, or to stroll in natural surroundings. Central Park in New York and the Villa Borghese gardens in Rome both provide a chance to retreat from frenetic crowds and busy street life.

But becoming a traveller when at home is also on my agenda. The gardens of Victoria, Australia never cease to amaze, excite and challenge me. I was fortunate to visit a few local gardens last Spring with my dear friend Dianne, enchantress and gardener extraordinaire. “I’ll just pop this seed in my pocket!” “Could we ask for a small cutting of that plant?”

As part of this weeks travel theme on WheresMyBackpack.com, I am taking a stroll in the gardens of Alowyn Gardens , one hour from Melbourne, Australia. At each fork in the path, new and exciting choices need to be made. The garden provides such enormous variety: perrenial borders, a Parterre garden, an edible garden followed by a forest garden, a dry bed garden and the truely amazing Wisteria archway, just to name a few.ImageImageImageImageImageImage

Travelling with Fear Factor

What is travel without a touch of fear?

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Every time Mr Tranquillo suggests a journey, I begrudgingly agree because I am usually too busy to check the ‘fear factor’ rating of the destination and even if I did, would it make any difference?  We are both gypsies at heart and have always enjoyed wandering the globe. But lately, we seem to be following the earthquake trail more often than not: Santiago in Chile, Tokyo, the North Island of New Zealand, the Abruzzo region of Italy and of course anywhere and all the time in any part of the Indonesian archipelago.  Add in a few rumbling volcanoes, tsunamis, floods and mudslides and there you have Indonesia, one of the most beautiful and fertile countries on earth.

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As Australia’s nearest neighbour, many Australians are familiar with the islands of Bali and Lombok. Not so many venture further afield, despite Indonesia’s 17,508 islands. Indonesian language used to be popular in Australian High Schools. It has been on the decline since the Bali bombings ( 2002/5) and the Schapelle factor, despite how easy it is to learn basic Indonesian. Others fear the great Islamic Sea and the emerging fundamentalist approach in some regions. Some fear leaky boats, different food, road travel without seatbelts ( me!), mosquitos and any other number of things.  Our government used to relate to its nearest neighbour with diplomacy, respect and tact. This has not been the case in recent months. Now that is a worry!  Reading the Jakarta Post on-line at least enables one to keep abreast with accurate news regarding the Australian- Indonesian situation, news that is not available now at home.Image

This year’s visit to ‘Indo’ took us to West Java and Sumatra, both notorious this year for volcanic action. We stayed beneath the towering bulk of Gunung Gede in Cipanas, a smoking giant that, in the wet season, rarely emerges from the tropical mists above.  We visited numerous caldera of old volcanoes,  sleeping beauties waiting for their day, situated in the Bandung region: the stunningly beautiful caldera in Lembang, and  Kawah Putih nearby.Image

Our time in Sumatra was spent on Samosir Island in the middle of Lake Toba, site of the biggest volcanic eruption ever.  Yet another sleeping volcano, Lake Toba is part of the Great Sumatran Fault fault,  which saw Gunung Sinabung  active whilst we were there, a short 25 miles away. Almost one month later, the residents ( 20,000 or so) may now return.ImageImage

I always worry about the Indonesian people who are evacuated and relocated during these events. Where do they go? Who provides for them during their dislocation? In the densely populated island of Java ( 141 million),  this must cause great suffering for the local population. Fear factor travel involves respect. The Indonesian people are remarkably friendly and adaptable. The land provides but fertility comes at a price.ImageImageImage

The list you don’t want to look at- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_volcanoes_in_Indonesia#Sunda_Strait_and_Java