Saturday, May 29, 2010

Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Situated just a couple of hours drive away from Mongolia's capital, Ulaan Bataar, Terelj National Park yields some scenery that seems worlds apart from that of the Gobi. It is thus a very popular weekend getaway for both locals and tourists alike.

The Park covers a huge area (typical of Mongolia!), but a section of it has been developed for tourism. There are semi-permanent tourist gher (Mongolian yurt) camps in the area made out of wood, and there are even restaurants and shops! But the surrounds are indeed beautiful and some say, its like the Alps. Hiking is definitely a highlight, and in summer, there're lots of flowers and birds in the park. My guide also said that during the right season, you can pick wild strawberries in the park and eat! You could also hire horses for rides further into the park, but even short hikes could yield fantastic viewpoints - excellent for photography as in the early morning, you don't have to go far for your sunrise shoots!!

While the Gobi is definitely an item in your itinerary in Mongolia, do check out Terelj National Park as well if you have some extra time! After some hard travelling in the dry Gobi desert, the lush green in the park is a welcoming sight and my group had a wonderful relaxing time at Terelj indeed!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bai Haba (白哈巴), North Xinjiang

Northern Xinjiang is a lovely place to visit, esp in autumn. Besides the wonderful trek between Kanas and Hemu village, there is another village very well worth the time to visit - Bai Haba (白哈巴) village, the most northwestern village in China.

Bai Haba or White Haba village, is situated right at the border between China and Kazakhstan. You can actually arrange to visit the border post with your driver/guide. There is no bus to this village, so transport arrangements have to be made from Kanas, one of the more touristy town in Northern Xinjiang. However, the highlight of the place is the village itself. In autumn, the village is literally covered in yellow and gold, and the setting is so tranquil, just having a picnic in the village surrounds is an enjoyment worth the trip to Xinjiang alone!

The villagers consists of some Kazaks and mainly the Tuwa/Tuva (of Mongolian descent) people. They seem to keep to themselves, not so much as unfriendly, but probably more reserved about meeting strangers. However, we stumbled upon a school and the children, being children, are alot more curious, though still shy. The Tuwa/Tuva people, from what I gather, are dwindling in numbers and am glad that I had the opportunity to meet them.

White Haba village is a place where time had stood still, and is one of my most memorable places that I've visited. Not to mention the excellent photo opportunities here too!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nomadic Photo Show

Bologna (Italy), Arles (France), Gliwice (Poland), these are but some of the places it's been to. No, I'm not talking about a person, but a set of photographic prints. Thanks to enthusiastic organisers in their own respective countries, these prints get exhibited and the number of prints increases as well as it goes country to country.
Named after the person who started it, the only thing Dr Karanka's Print Stravaganza doesn't have is a passport. Now this roving photo show have arrived in Singapore, and will be held from May 15-29 2010. For more details, check out the following :

For those visiting Singapore during this period, check it out!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Memories of Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall

The Victoria Theatre and Memorial Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Singapore. As far as I can remember, I have only been in the theatre once in my life, so when I heard there was an open house, I signed up for it immediately.

Dating as far back as the mid 1800s, where the Theatre was originally built as a Town Hall, the present architecture consists of 2 buildings joined by a clock tower in-between. The Memorial Hall was built only in the early 1900s (in memory of Queen Victoria), and now renamed as the Victoria Concert Hall, where the Singapore Symphony Orchestra plays regularly now.
For a little more history, check out this article.

Gazetted as a National Monument of Singapore, it is one of Singapore's well recognised landmarks, together with the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles in front of the clock tower. It is also featured in The Amazing Race 16, as one of the locations to get the next clue! :)

The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall is scheduled for upgrading works, and hence the open house was organised for photography enthusiasts to capture some scenes before works begin. A small gallery of what I have taken is here. For visitors to Singapore, drop by this historical landmark if you can!