July 31, 2010

Reflections in an Antique Market

It wasn't so great to explore an open air antique market in the rain, but it soon stopped, and when it did, I found reflections in the puddles and containers.  

This is one of several grand gates to the market:

Zhongshan, Guangdong, 2009

The Huacai Antique Market near Zhongshan is one I've visited several times over this past decade and it has, like most everything else in China, gotten both bigger and less authentic. Nonetheless, like any good flea market, there are delightful treasures of all sizes and at all prices to be found here, real and reproduced.

I like to rummage around places no one else goes. This is one of the many back alleys of this huge compound. I wish I could think of something to do with one of these old doors:

These stone pots would look fabulous in any garden.


Posted for Weekend Reflections. The link takes you to many other interesting reflections. You'll see a larger image if you click on the photo.

July 30, 2010

[SkyWatch] Sky over Manila Bay

There are certainly worse places one could be sitting in traffic than on Roxas Boulevard as the working week draws to a close, yet I was ever so pleased instead just to sit still in my friend's apartment with our glasses of full-bodied red wine watching the sky over Manila Bay this Friday.

Manila Bay, Philippines, 2010

We did not get to see the sun hit the horizon today, but the setting into the clouds was a delight to behold.

Hundreds more links to spectacular sky views around the globe are to be found at SkyWatch Friday.

July 29, 2010

Light on the Hand of a Saint

When strolling around in Saint Peter's Basilica, it is hard for me not to get overwhelmed by all the art. There are of course the paintings, the sculptures, the carvings, but also the building itself, the walls, the floors, the ceilings; wherever I turn my eyes, there I see beauty created by the hands of men for the glory of their God. 

My own favorite is Michelangelo's Pieta; however I saw it personal and up close when it was in Florence in the mid-80s, and now this masterpiece is barricaded and secured behind glass. Just not the same.

On a more recent visit I was stunned by this sight of the Throne of Saint Peter by Bernini (1666) at the west end of the basilica. In this dark photo, the four church fathers are barely visible at the bottom, while the bright sunlight coming in from the window so vividly illuminates the pointing finger of Saint Elijah:

 Vatican, Italy, 2007

Elijah of Israel is many things to many people. He was a prophet of the 9th century BC, and he appears in the Hebrew Bible, Talmud, Mishnah, New Testament and the Qur'an, as well as in numerous other faiths. He even shows up in folkloric traditions as "Elijah the Thunderer" - responsible for summer storms, hail, rain and thunder. Catholics and Lutherans commemorate him as a saint with a feast day on July 20.

But lest you fear I will leave you with only the hand, here is a photo of the imposing statue of Saint Elijah by Agostino Cornacchini, 1727.

This entry is posted for the theme LIGHT for Brian & team's Theme Thursday. The link will take you to other links of creative interpretations of the theme.

Click on a photo to enlarge it.

July 28, 2010

Parrot Love

New Delhi, India, 2010

It must be Wednesday... no words needed. 

Spread the love and visit other links to Wordless Wednesday.

July 27, 2010

How do you like your watermelon?

Will that be sliced or diced?

Guangdong, China, 2010

It always puzzled me why people in China feel so free to throw their rinds on the ground even when a pail for the purpose is proffered. Then someone told me, "Cleaning that up is someone else's job"! Okay, so that is that. For now. At least until the same consciousness about littering that Westerners have learned just this past century moves over to China. And believe me, it will.

This photo of red watermelon is posted for the meme Ruby Tuesday hosted by Mary. Click on the link and find many more links to posts about RED.

July 26, 2010

Love in a Cup

Astoria, Oregon, 2010

This yellow ochre cup of cappuccino served to me with love is posted for the photo meme Mellow Yellow Monday. The link will take you to more links for this week's yellows.

July 25, 2010

Replica Bridges

Theme parks generally get the thumbs down from me; just not my cup of tea.

Yet this model of a minority village set in the picturesque province of Guanxi with the karst hills providing a dramatic backdrop was a pretty as well as an informative place to take our company team on our annual outing some years ago. Today I post a couple of views of typical Chinese bridges they replicated for Louis La Vache's meme Sunday Bridges.

 Guanxi, China, 2006

The same foot bridge seen from inside a building:

And another smaller bridge:

Click the link above to get to more links of bridges around the world.

[Click on the photo to see a larger view of it.]

July 24, 2010

Cloudy Reflection at Dusk

Ruby Lake, British Columbia, 2010

For more links to reflections, go to the home of meme Weekend Reflections.

[Click on the photo to see it larger.]

July 23, 2010

[SkyWatch] Unnerving Gray Skies

On a beautiful summer day last July we left the main coast of Palawan just north of its capital Puerto Princesa on a small banca (wood and bamboo outrigger) to go island hopping in Honda Bay. Within about 20 minutes we saw ominous gray clouds fast rolling in towards us. By then we were in the middle of the water, far from any shore, and not long after the rains bursting out of the clouds ahead of us were plain to see:

Honda Bay, Philippines, 2009

As we glided on, we got closer to the rain...

...and my friends - who are neither as adventurous nor as strong swimmers as my honey and me - were getting visibly unnerved as the water got more turbulent and the banca swayed with the waves.

So we stopped at the first island to wait out any danger in these nipa beach huts. Even with this gray sky and the intermittent downpours, the sun did occasionally peak through and I relished being in this tropical paradise:

 Starfish Island, Honda Bay, 2009

Our Pinoy friends were incredulous that we went snorkeling in the rain:

Fortunately, it did not take long before the darkest clouds moved on and before leaving the island I still walked to the end of the beach and the mangrove, with my camera, of course:

Despite a few raindrops, the ride back to the main shore was much calmer, and so were my friends.

This blog joins the meme SkyWatch Friday and by clicking on the link you'll find links to many more amazing skies from all over the planet. Clicking on my photos will give you a larger view of them.

July 22, 2010

Parked by the Sea

Sechelt, BC, 2010

When I saw PARK was the challenge for the meme Theme Thursday, I at once thought of this photo I took earlier this year of a turquoise car so perfectly parked by this wonderful sea mural painted by talented local artist Dean Schutz on the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver.  

Clicking the photo will show you a larger image and clicking the link will get you to more links to fun interpretations of the theme.

July 21, 2010

Universal Body Language

Lovers in Kathmandu
Dubar Square, Kathmandu, 2010

When the picture is worth a 1000 words, none more are needed. This post plays along with many other creative folks this week's edition of Wordless Wednesday. Click on the link for the links.

July 20, 2010

A Hit of Red in White

Austria, 2006

So many are feeling the summer's relentless heat, especially on the east side of the USA, so today I thought I'd post a little chill for you.

This garden gnome with his bright red hat I captured on the scenic road from Vienna to Mariazell was well protected from the mounds of white snow.

Here is a bit more of long view:

Again I post for Mary's meme Ruby Tuesday, and clicking on the link gets you to many more who saw red today.

July 19, 2010

Mellow Yellow Market

Split, Croatia, 2009

Yellow bags, yellow tags, all so mellow at the market. 

Posted for Mellow Yellow Monday meme. Click on the link for more links to yellow.

July 18, 2010

Bamboo Bridge

Just a few hours' drive north of the bustling city of Guangzhou, on the tranquil Nankun Mountain Reserve, is the first ecotourism destination in China.  April, with its dreary showers, is probably not the ideal time of the year to visit the award-winning Crosswaters Ecolodge designed by an international team.  Nonetheless, it is a beautiful upscale boutique resort that synthesizes sustainability, elegant design and modern conveniences.

The centerpiece of the resort is this commanding bamboo bridge that leads its visitors over the Gangken River to the lobby and main building of the ecolodge, hence the name Crosswaters:

Guangdong, 2010

Colombian bamboo architect Simon Velez was challenged to use the abundantly available native materials and to make the bridge strong enough to withstand the active forces of weather over time. This interior view of the bridge shows well its sturdy structure with the 12 cm diameter concrete-filled bamboo poles:

A view back towards the verdant bamboo forest:

And finally a view of the bridge from the main restaurant:

This blog about a magnificent bridge is posted for Louis la Vache's meme Sunday Bridges. Click on the link and enjoy more bridges.

July 17, 2010

Art Deco Reflections

Ortigas, Manila, 2010

Rose invited me to join her tonight for the grand launch of Café 1771 owned by her longtime friend Ricky Gutierrez.

A slightly more relaxed version of the upscale Chateau 1771 restaurant I've patronized since the early '90s, this location offers different dining experiences in three rooms, each with its own pleasant decor and ambiance.

I couldn't resist taking a shot of this fabulous art deco mirror in The Winebar for meme Weekend Reflections. Click on the link to join the fun or discover more reflections.

July 16, 2010

Shower of Stones

Makati, 2010

What do my paper designer/maker friends Tes and Tony in Manila have in common with an indie rock band from Guelph, Ontario? Not a whole lot except a creative vision of a shower of stones.

Oh, love can be
Oh, love can be
A shower of stones

You said, "I've never felt this far from home
I've never felt this good before
I watched as the sky was falling"
- Constantine lyrics

That could have been the theme song for the center piece of my friends' exhibit Pumapapel: Art in Paper which opened in the Yuchengco Museum last Tuesday and runs until November 3, 2010. 

I'm sorry pretty Kim is fuzzy, but I like this photo taken from above the shower. The real experience though, is to go lie on your back on that paper carpet, gaze up into the shower of stones and open yourself wide up to a range of new sensations. It will change your relationship with paper forever!

Pumapel showcases paper in a creative range of artistic forms. If you live in the Philippines, go check it out.

July 15, 2010


Kathmandu, 2010

Half of us - over 3 billion humans - live on less than US$2.50 a day. 

The poorest 40 percent among us accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.

Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.

When will we ever learn? When do we start to share? Help!

HELP was the chosen theme for Theme Thursday. The link will take you to more links with creative interpretations of the theme.

July 14, 2010

Wild Winds. Broken Branches.

When I was driving on the highway into Makati yesterday evening and saw gigantic tarpaulin billboards being brought down I knew we were in for a stormy night. At least a few times a year, Manila is in the direct path of a typhoon and close to midnight last night it was Basyang (internationally named Coson) that brought havoc to trees and darkness to the city.

We've experienced much worse typhoons, but it never fails to break my heart to see the damage to plants and trees. These first two photos show the street I live on at 7 am:

Metro Manila, July 14, 2010

I came back out on the street at noon and was amazed by how much had already been cleaned up just by the residents - or rather by their house-help. You can see even the kids chip in:

So I took my camera and went for a walk down the street. This is what I saw when I turned left at the next street:

These boys were pulling at a tree limb that was being hacked by a machete:

We had had no power since shortly after midnight, so at this point I thought perhaps one of the lines in our village (subdivision) was down:

Later I learned the entire city and even a large part of the Luzon province was powerless.

To break the monotony of being in a still home, not being able to work or play, we went to the nearby commercial area to have some lunch. Many more branches had been broken and even some trees had been uprooted entirely:

We did not venture far, but I would guess all over the city there were crews hard at work clearing the streets to make them drivable again. This crew was happy to take a small break to give me their brilliant smiles to let me know that life goes on:

And you know, it does. At 9 pm we got our power back. And for me it meant getting back to work.

Click on this link for more links to OUTDOOR adventures.

July 13, 2010

Seeing Red in Nepal

Kathmandu, 2010

In Manila today the weather is gray and wet. The vibrant colors in this street scene in Kathmandu I shot in February brighten my day... 

...and it is my contribution to the meme Ruby Tuesday hosted by Mary. Click on the link to find more links to creative shots of red.

July 12, 2010


Diorama at Bahay Tsinoy, Manila, 2009

For many hundreds of years, people of Chinese origin have played an important role in the Philippines. The national hero, Jose Rizal, had both Filipino and Chinese blood running in his veins. Several of today's Filipino mega-moguls found on Fortune's 500 list, as well as many more political and financial leaders, are wholly or partly of Chinese ancestry.

Nonetheless, the history of Chinese Filipinos - known as Tsinoys or Chinoys - is fraught with drama and difficulties. Up to this day, the relationship between Pinoys and Tsinoys, although peaceful, is complex and delicate.

If you live in the Manila area, or come here for a visit, I highly recommend taking a few hours to see the museum Bahay Tsinoy (The House of Tsinoy) to get a better glimpse of the cultural and historical legacy of the ethnic Chinese in Philippine life. The dioramas are fun and the displays interesting.

July 11, 2010

Wind and Rain Bridge

Mong Village, Guizhou, 2006

The backwater province of Guizhou in China's south-west is not a top tourist destination and therefore offers the intrepid explorer an authentic peek into traditional lifestyles of a rich variety of minority people living in serene mountain landscape. 

I took the photo above as our small group of four was approaching a Mong people's village. On the right you see what is called a Wind & Rain Bridge. Traditionally these elaborate bridges, long covered corridors made of wood, were built by the Dong people, but the concept was adopted by others over time.

Here is a close up of the covered bridge:

Wind & Rain Bridge, Guizhou, 2006

This bridge is posted for the Sunday Bridges meme. Click on the link to join the fun or see more beautiful bridges.

July 10, 2010

Lacy Reflection

Manila, 2010

Long before they became common, in the mid-70s when I was still in university, a friend and I fantasized about opening a bookstore-and-cafe after we graduated. Too bad we went our separate ways and lost the opportunity to be ahead of a trend. To this day I like the idea, being a lover of both books and coffee.

This past week I had a delicious pesto pasta lunch in The Room Upstairs where they've taken that multi-purpose retail space business model a step further: upscale furniture and food. 

My friend Rose posed for me here in this photograph I took for Weekend Reflections. Click on the meme name to find more links to reflections.

July 9, 2010

A Diablo and A Flame

Paranaque City, Metro Manila, 2010

While we were running some errands in the commercial area of a nearby village (subdivision) today, I was drawn to this magnificent large flowering Flame Tree (Delonix regia) I spotted a few blocks down the street. I was then a bit amused to find this little Diablo!

In North America it is not that unusual to see a wreck of a car parked along the road, in a driveway, or on an empty lot, sometimes on blocks, but here in the Philippines it's a rare sight. We don't see that many rusty old jalopies driving on the streets either.

I'm no expert on the car industry, so I can only guess why this would be so. I don't think it's only because the anti-pollution laws are getting better applied here, which they are. There are far fewer cars emitting billowy black clouds of carbon dioxide in Metro Manila today than there were twenty years ago.

There may also be a cultural reason. Only the wealthier classes can afford to own a car, and for them the car is still very much the status symbol. An old car just doesn't make the grade.

But I think the main reason cars like the Diablo - sadly forgotten - are rare here is that it is a waste. Waste not, want not could be a mantra for the less well-heeled (although it should be for all). In developing countries, technicians and mechanics are masters at fixing anything and everything that consumers in richer countries easily discard.

Cars are meant to be driven, not parked. I'm amazed some guy is not all over it proudly getting it road-worthy.

Gold and Diamonds for Sale

Old Delhi, 2010

This photo is really just for a chuckle.

As my travel companions and I were wandering the streets after visiting the beautiful Red Fort in Old Delhi a few months ago, we found ourselves on this very busy street. There are many things I could mention here, but after the monstrous wires, what caught my attention was the shop with the neon sign on the right.

Would you spend your money on serious jewellery here?

[NB. If you click on the photo you can see the shop sign better.]

July 7, 2010