THR-23

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Doors

Ready to walk on through? This week, share an image of a door.

Well, this week I’m going to share many images of a door – doors of various designs and colours from my travels – some of which you have seen in previous posts and some are new images from my travels to Penang and Iran this year.

Enjoy! :-)

Doors of restored (and not so restored) Pre-War Buildings in Penang

Doors in heritage sites in Tehran and Esfahan

Door of a house in Heeren Street, Melaka (Chinese New Year 2013)

MCC-12

Indo-Portuguese doors in Goa

Senggingi Beach, Lombok.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sunsets My Muse

What subject keeps you coming back? This week, show us your muse…

Sunsets are my muse. Wherever I travel to, if I do hear of a place which has the greatest sunset to watch, or if I happen to come across it, I would capture the images over and over again until the sun disappears from the horizon but streaks of yellow, orange, red (sometimes pink and purple) colours are displayed beautifully on the sky.

Some people enjoy sunrise as they believe that the first rays of light signify a new beginning. Well, I’m not really a morning person (hahaha), therefore I prefer sunsets. To me, sunsets are not the end, but rather a moment for me to be thankful and grateful for a full day of activities and experiences, and I’m still alive to live for many more experiences!

Here are some gorgeous sunsets from my travels, enjoy!

Sernabatim Beach, Goa.

Sernabatim Beach, Goa.

Senggingi Beach, Lombok.

Senggingi Beach, Lombok.

Marine Drive, Mumbai.

Marine Drive, Mumbai.

Zayandeh River, Esfahan.

Zayandeh River, Esfahan.

Tanjung Aru Beach, Kota Kinabalu.

Tanjung Aru Beach, Kota Kinabalu.

A symbol in Zoroastrian for Nowruz— eternally fighting bull (personifying the moon), and a lion (personifying the Sun) representing the Spring.

In Pictures: Ancient City of Persepolis and Tombs of Necropolis (Naqsh-e-Rostam)

Persepolis is located 70km from Shiraz and was the ceremonial capital of the Archaemenid Empire circa 515 BC. Persepolis means city of Persians and its construction began during the rule of Darius the Great. Archaeological evidence shows that Cyrus the Great chose the site of Persepolis and according to ancient tablets found at Persepolis, Darius planned for an impressive complex of palaces for government administration and cultural centre of the Archaemenian kings and their empires. Darius lived long enough to see only a small part of his plans materialised but the rest of his grandiose plans were executed by his son Xerxes I.

PLS-11

Persepolis was claimed to be the richest city on earth. Its treasury held vast stocks of gold, silver, ivory and precious stones. Sadly, the splendour of Persepolis was short-lived when its palaces were looted and burned by Alexander the Great in 331-330 BC. It was said that the treasury of Persepolis was looted and carried away on 20,000 mules and 5,000 camels.

PLS-3

PLS-9

The ruins of Persepolis were laid buried until it was discovered and excavated in the 1930s.

Bas reliefs in Persepolis

A symbol in Zoroastrian for Nowruz— eternally fighting bull (personifying the moon), and a lion (personifying the Sun) representing the Spring.

A symbol in Zoroastrian for Nowruz (Iranian New Year) representing the advent of Spring. The fighting bull personifies the moon and the lion personifies the Sun. After the moon, comes the Sun (light), hence Spring.

PLS-8

PLS-6

*****

Necropolis or Naqsh-e-Rostam is another ancient site, 12 kms from Persepolis. It is the site where 5 tombs of kings were carved into the side of the mountain. The tombs belonged to the Achaemenian Kings: Darius 1, 2, and 3, King Artaxerxes and King Xerxes. The tombs were looted following the conquest of the Archaemenian empire by Alexander the Great.

PLS-2

*****

After walking around these ancient ruins, we left Shiraz for the second leg of our journey – to the city of Esfahan :-)

From Shiraz to Esfahan..a toy beetle on the car dashboard :-)

From Shiraz to Esfahan..a beetle on the car dashboard :-)

*****

If you have missed previous posts on Iran, click Palaces & Museums: Part 1 , Palaces & Museums: Part 2 , But…Why Iran? ,Vivid Colours of FlowersColours & PoetryShah-e-Cheragh Shrine

Note: My trip to Iran was done with Homafaran Agency via Iran Traveling Center

Flowers sold outside Hanuman Temple in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

Weekly Photo Challenge: “Roy G. Biv”

“Roy G. Biv” is an acronym made of the first letters of the seven colors of the rainbow, Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet.

I love rich, vibrant colours especially when they give such a bright contrast against just an ordinary background. And I love it when they are featured visually well in my photographs. Here are some “Roy G Biv” from my travels, enjoy! :-)

Flowers sold outside Hanuman Temple in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

Flowers sold outside Hanuman Temple in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

Persian buttercup in Shiraz

Persian buttercup in Shiraz

Performers brightly attired at the Hemis Festival in Ladakh.

Performers brightly attired at the Hemis Festival in Ladakh.

A kavadi during Thaipusam Festival in Ipoh.

A kavadi during Thaipusam Festival in Ipoh.

Glittering sarees at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Ipoh.

Glittering sarees at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Ipoh.

Colourful mosaics and frescoes in Chehel Sotoon, Esfahan.

Colourful mosaics and frescoes in Chehel Sotoon, Esfahan.

SZ-25

The Glitter and Dazzling Lights of Shah-e-Cheragh Shrine

In my previous post, I wrote about our visit to Nasir al Mulk Mosque in Shiraz. We were thrilled to see the morning light streamed through the stained-glass windows of the mosque, resulting in rich and vibrant colours of red, pink, blue, green & yellow splashed on the deep red Persian carpets laid on the light green marble floor.

While the experience at Nasir al Mulk Mosque was certainly delightful, the visit to another mosque in the afternoon was more exciting because I had read earlier that the entire walls and ceilings of the mosque are adorned with intricate coloured glass and mirrors. It is the Shah-e-Cheragh Shrine, a mausoleum and mosque wherein lies the tombs of important figures of Shia Islam – the brothers Amir Ahmad and Amir Mohammad, brothers of Imam Ali Reza, the eighth Imam of Shia.

Shah-e-Cheragh means “King of Light” and the shrine is one of the most important pilgrimage centre of Shiraz. The shrine became a pilgrimage site in the 14th century when Queen Tashi Khatun erected a mosque and theological schools by the shrine. Queen Tashi commissioned for the tombs, walls and ceilings inside the shrine to be covered with millions pieces of coloured glass and mirrors so that the shrine would glitter and its light magnified a thousand times.

*****

Some rules to adhere to upon entering the mosque: SZ-22

Tour Guide: Foreigners cannot just walk in but must be led by a guide of the mosque’s International Affairs office. Our tour guide in Shiraz, Nargis, was not allowed to give us the tour, however, she was welcomed to join us and other foreign tourists in a group as the mosque’s guide led us inside the shrine.

Dress Code: Although we were properly attired with our headscarf, long-sleeved shirts and pants, we were not allowed to enter without wearing a chador. A chador is like a cloak worn as an outer garment over the woman’s head and is held closed by her hands or tucked under her arms because the fabric does not have any buttons or clasps.

The International Affairs office has chadors made available for foreign female tourists and the they are washed, cleaned and packed in a plastic bag. However, they are not black in colour like the majority of Iranian women wear in public. Instead it’s a print chador.

SZ-23

I wanted to wear the black one to be inconspicuous but they insisted that we wore the printed ones. Oh well, I’m an Asian tourist in Iran, I could hardly be inconspicuous! In the end, sorry to say this but I looked like a walking curtain, and this is the only picture of me in the chador (my readers would be disappointed but am happy to show the back only!)
SZ-24

No Photos Allowed: That’s right, no photos allowed inside the shrine but it’s permissible to take photos of the mosque and the courtyard. It’s such a shame because the highlight of the visit, especially for foreign tourists, is to see the glitter and bling of glass and mirrors inside the shrine.

Footwear: Everyone must remove their footwear upon entering the shrine. But for the ladies, I have to share this with you as you would wish for more than 2 hands.

Imagine this. It was such a windy day. I had to remove my shoes while standing up and put them in a plastic bag but the bag almost got blown away by the strong wind.

Then my day backpack kept falling off my shoulder, so I had to adjust the strap underneath the chador with one hand while the other hand to hold on to the plastic bag…and probably a few fingers to hold the chador together.

My chador had a clasp to close it tightly around my neck but the fabric was quite flimsy. It was flapping in the wind like a billowing tent.

I felt rather tired juggling all of that before we stepped into the shrine!

*****

We walked inside the shrine (men and women are separated into different entrances) and immediately I was blinded by the dazzling light. The interior walls were covered with hundreds and thousands of cut glasses and mirrors, the large windows were made of stained glass which reflected the mosaic of mirrors on the walls, and large crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling above.

They are very strict about not taking photos inside the shrine though I believe some tourists have secretly taken photos, much to the chagrin of the locals. To show you how magnificent the shrine is, here are two images sourced from the net:

Photo Credit: Qoen/Flickr

Photo Credit: Qoen/Flickr

Photo Credit: Skoll/Flickr

I sensed the hushed stillness inside the shrine – women were solemnly engrossed in prayer rituals or quietly reading the Quran. No one was talking, even if some did, they spoke in hushed tones. I wasn’t really listening to the International Affairs guide – firstly, she spoke too fast, and secondly, there were two French ladies in my group who kept giggling about their chadors so much so that the guide reprimanded them for being rude. Literally! Wow, she didn’t mince words and that shut the French ladies up for a while.

The tour was really short and I felt a little disappointed. Nargis sensed that I didn’t look too happy, so she asked if I wanted to go inside the shrine again. I said yes, and we went back, sat down on plush, red Persian carpets and admired the glitter of the shrine.

I have been to a few mosques during my travels, but have never sat down inside a mosque (or a Islamic shrine). It was such an incredible experience: As I sat there, no one made me feel awkward for being a non-Muslim amongst their presence. These women smiled at me, some greeted Salaam quietly to me while others continued performing their prayers. I wondered, if only the world could be like this – we respect each other though we are different in cultures, customs and religions.

*****

After some time, we left the shrine and walked out to the courtyard to take some photos.
SZ-25SZ-26The visit to Shah-e-Cheragh shrine was surreal. The bling and dazzling mosaic pieces of glass and mirrors inside the shrine were unbelievable. Also, wearing a chador for the first time especially learning the art of holding it together is something for me to reflect with much amusement. Cheers to Shiraz for those special moments, it was an eye-opener and certainly an experience to remember for a lifetime :-)

*****

If you have missed previous posts on Iran, click Palaces & Museums: Part 1 , Palaces & Museums: Part 2 , But…Why Iran? ,Vivid Colours of FlowersColours & Poetry

Note: My trip to Iran was done with Homafaran Agency via Iran Traveling Center

Ancient ruins in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Travel Theme: Off-Centre

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge had a theme called “Rule of Thirds” a few months ago, and I didn’t know what “Rule of Thirds” meant. You see, I never had formal photography lessons though I picked a few fundamentals such as ISO and White Balance but nothing more than that. Most of the time when I take photos, it’s all about the emotions I feel about the subject.

Now that I have read a little bit on Rule of Thirds, it’s one of the first things that budding photographers learn about shooting well-balanced and interesting shots. Rather than having the subject placed in the middle of the screen, place it off-centre with something in the background that fills the remainder of the image.

Having said that, there’s no harm in breaking this rule, and just enjoy taking photos!

For the Travel Theme: Off-Centre by Where’s My Backpack, here are some photos from my travels for the theme:

PNG-31

A bicycle parked on a jetty in Penang

MCC_6

Vintage Volkswagen van in Melaka.

BOM-22

Sunset at Marine Drive, Mumbai.

12_IMG_2118

Louvre Museum, Paris.

Ancient ruins in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Ancient ruins in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

For more images of Off-Centre from my travels, click here.

This post is also linked to #MondayEscapes.

TingNewBlue

 

 

KB_8

Weekly Photo Challenge: Off-Season in Krabi

Umbrellas in winter? Balaclavas in July? Show us what “off-season” means to you…

Apart from budget, weather is a factor whenever I plan my travels. I research on the best time to go to my destination of choice: not too hot, not too freezing, not too wet. But this means that, inevitably, my trip would take place during the peak season which cost more.

I have since then learnt some tips from fellow bloggers on saving precious money, and one of which is to travel during “off-season” time, well, sometimes ;-) Hotel accommodation becomes cheaper and places of attraction have lesser tourists.

My first “off-season” destination was Krabi, Thailand in August 2013. August and September months are the rainy season in Thailand. The timing was perfect because at that time, I was on a smaller budget and the purpose of the trip was simply to do nothing. No sight-seeing, no island-hopping.

I stayed at a 4-star boutique hotel, Centara Anda Dhevi Resort & Spa, only 15 minutes walk to Ao Nang Beach. It cost me US$60 a night for a double deluxe room and prices typically increase about 3 times more during the peak season.

Choices were endless when it rained during that long weekend: I read, ate, slept, drank beer and had a relaxing massage :-)

KB_1

KB_6

KB_10