July 31, 2011

Quirino Bridge

Quirino Bridge crosses the Abra river connecting the rocky mountain slopes to the north of the town of Santa and the southern tail end of Bantay in the province of Ilocos Sur.  

The bridge is named after the former President Elpidio Qurino, the sixth president of the Philippines (1948-1953). He was born in this province in 1890. 
A super typhoon washed away one of its steel spans in 2001, destroying the bridge. This shot is taken from the new bridge to the old, more appealing, bridge.

Ilocos Sur, 2010

The bridge is also locally called Banaoang Bridge after the barangay it is located in. Barangay is a Filipino term for a village, district or ward or the smallest administrative division in the Philippines.

This bridge joins Sunday Bridges and Scenic Sunday.

July 30, 2011

How Much for This Trinket?

My honey and I have spent the better part of the last few weeks packing and moving house. And while neither of us are much into shopping, it shocks me how many knickknacks and doodads we've still managed to accumulate over the years. We could set up our own flea market, I kid you not.

This is a photo of a woman in a mirror I took a few months ago at a flea market in Bucharest. For Weekend Reflections and Weekend in Black and White.

Bucharest, 2011

Tonight will be our first sleep in our new home.

July 28, 2011

O is for Outhouse

Should you have visited my blog before, you know I do more than a modicum of travel. And my treks occasionally take me to what is ostensibly the outer limits of our orb where the comforts of home are sparse.

For Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday, the letter of the week is O, and I want to offer you an outhouse in the most out-of-the-way location I have even been: the far western province of Hovd in Mongolia.

First let me show you our whereabouts on this occasion.

Hovd, Mongolia, 2007

On to the prettiest privy I've ever observed.

And to add a little more humor to this story, I offer this STOP sign in the middle of this no man's land right by this outstanding outhouse for Lesley's Signs, Signs.

I was told that the officials of the provincial government had the onerous objective of making this a tourist destination. It didn't quite work out that way. Or at least not yet.

July 27, 2011

B is for Black

Each January 9, the city of Manila holds a procession in honor of the Black Nazarene, locally known as Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno. 

The Black Nazarene is a dark hardwood statue of Jesus that was carved in Mexico by an Aztec carpenter and brought to the Philippines in the 18th century. The story goes that the wood statue was blackened in transit by a fire on the ship. The statue, believed to confer miracles, is kept in the Quiapo Church.

For the procession, male devotees in bare feet and dressed in maroon pull the Black Nazarene through the streets on a gilded carriage. Followers seek to catch a glimpse, if not touch, the statue in hopes of being healed, being cleansed of their sins, or receiving another kind of miracle.

Devotees from all over the Philippines come to participate in the Fiesta of the Black Nazarene. They bring banners from their neighborhood, association or whatever group they attend with, as well as their own versions of the statue on platforms carried on shoulders. Believers throw towels or handkerchiefs to the people, mostly children, guarding the statue and ask them to rub the cloth on the statue in order to receive its blessings.

This year, the crowd was estimated at 7-8 million, the largest ever, partly perhaps because it fell on a Sunday, and  the procession from beginning to end went from 7:30 am to midnight.  I joined the fiesta with a friend for a couple of hours in the morning. These are a few of my images [click to enlarge] to tell the story.

Manila, 2011

The final photo shows the real Black Nazarene statue.

This is linked to ABC Wednesday where the letter of the week is B.

July 26, 2011

Night Fishing Banca

Filipino fishermen use lights on their often brightly colored bancas (hand-made outrigger canoes) to attract the fish at night.

 Quezon, 2010

I'm linking with Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday.

July 24, 2011

Another Guizhou Bridge

This is the second bridge I post from the beautiful province of Guizhou in China. It may not be as unique or interesting as my earlier Wind & Water bridge; still the setting with the terraced rice fields is so serene, don't you agree?

 Guizhou, 2006

July 22, 2011

The Golden Pavillion

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion Temple) is the only one of the original main structures remaining on the grounds of Rokuon-ji (Deer Park Temple) in Kyoto. And even this is not really the original. While the pavilion survived centuries of natural disasters, sadly in 1950 a misguided young arsonist monk razed it to the ground. Yet it is a true replica. And it IS grand.
In the 13th century this gold-leafed building was the not-so-humble villa of a shogun (general) until his death, when in accordance with his will it was turned into a Zen temple. 

Sitting on the edge of Kyoko-chi (Mirror Pond), it offers a perfect reflection for James' Weekend Reflections. This is a photo that's been taken by millions of admiring visitors over the years.

 Kyoto, 2009

As a bonus, I offer this less postcard perfect but more unique reflection of Kinkaku-ji as liquid gold with a purple water iris. 

This last photo is a closeup of the third floor with the gold-leafed bronze phoenix standing over one meter / nearly four feet tall. The bell-shaped windows are in the Chinese Song Dynasty style. The smallest of the three floors, this room was used for tea ceremonies and visits with close friends. 

Each floor was designed in a different style of architecture and had its own function. The ground floor was a reception hall used to welcome visitors and the second floor was for important meetings with honored guests. Simply put, the higher up you got into the building, the more intimate you were with your host, the shogun.

In 1994 this site joined the many historic monuments of ancient Kyoto inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage list.

[SkyWatch] Moon Before Night

Manila, 2011

The moon pull'd off her veil of light,
That hides her face by day from sight
Mysterious veil, of brightness made,
That's both her lustre and her shade,
And in the lantern of the night,
With shining horns hung out her light.
~ Samuel Butler (author, 1835-1902)

The lanterns glowing in the setting sun are made of capiz shell.
For SkyWatch Friday.

July 21, 2011

N is for Notice

Today I share with you merely three of countless poorly translated notices and signs I've come across over the last decades of traveling throughout China. They are from my archives, from a time when digital photo quality did not match today's.

Hebei, 2004
Guangdong, 2005
Hunan, 2005

You get the gist, right?

My purpose is not to make fun, just have a little fun. Consider this: Being the third or fourth largest nation on earth in size (tied with the USA, depending on how areas are measured), with the largest population (over 20%), and not using the Roman alphabet, it's not really too surprising that China is a rich source for such bloopers. Yet I've seen them everywhere, even, and thus more reproachfully, in English-speaking countries.

There are entire websites devoted to these kind of funny notices. These three of mine join Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday where the letter of the week is N and Lesley's Signs, Signs.

A note to my blogger friends in Ontario: There are a slew of free or near-free fun ethnic events happening in the Toronto area this week. Check out what's on at the Toronto Multicultural Calendar Blog. And tell Ruth I sent you.

July 20, 2011

A is for Amber

Can you believe it! ABC Wednesday is back to the start of the alphabet! After you ooh and aah my photo, go check out what others have been able to do with the first letter A.

Here's a fun shot I got a few years back in Hong Kong, a smiling vendor of amber jewelry. Isn't that an amazing chunk she's wearing? Did you ever imagine anyone could sell ONLY jewelry made of amber?

Hong Kong, 2007

July 19, 2011

[MyWorld] Working on a Car and Hanging Out

For MyWorld Tuesday I share a couple of typical street scenes in, well, my world, in the Philippines.

I took these photos this week close to the "wet" market we go to for much of our fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs and seafood. I've posted a number of images from this area before.

[Click image to enlarge.]
Manila, 2011

For these street photographs I did a bit of post-processing to make them more appealing to me. Tell me what you think... did it work? 

July 18, 2011

Just a Color Story

I almost blew it by titling this post Primary Colors. But just in the nick of time I caught myself... 

Manila, 2010

This funky scene joins the joys of color at

July 17, 2011

Shadow of a Tree

Ilocos, 2010

The coastline of the northern tip of Luzon province in the Philippines is a sight to behold. I sat on that makeshift log bench (better seen when photo is enlarged) for quite a while to watch the waves roll in and feel the cool wind brush against my skin.

This joins the shadow chasers at Shadow Shot Sunday, as well as lovers of photogenic scenes at Scenic Sunday.

July 15, 2011

Old Movie Town

Downstream from Kaiping on the banks of the Tanjiang River is the historical town of Chikan. The charming streets of the old town, parts of which go back 350 years, have long been used as backdrop in Chinese movies. There is even a movie studio where hundreds of blockbusters have been produced.

Kaiping County, 2007

I am joining Weekend Reflections, Weekend in Black and White and Sunday Bridges. [You can enlarge the image with a click.]

July 14, 2011

M is for Metal Memorial

There are many roadside memorials in the Balkan region. I spotted this metal cross on a meander in Bucharest, but I found more of them in the countryside than in urban centers.

Bucharest, 2011

This is a mournful memorial for a mother (31) and child (6) who I'd surmise met a mortal motor car mishap together on this spot on November 20, 2005. 

Memorials like this make me pause and reflect how fragile and unpredictable life is. And reminds me to carpe diem. 

I've seen them in other regions of the world, too. Do you see any in your neighborhood? 

In recent years, these kinds of public shrines are meeting a measure of opposition and have sparked mainstream media debates. Want to share your musing on this matter?

M is the letter at Alphabe-Thursday. Many more M mentions may be found there.

They are also placed as a warning sign for drivers to stay alert and drive carefully. So I join Signs, Signs, too.

July 13, 2011

Z is for Zimbabwe

Okay, I am cheating a bit today. Maybe not just a bit.

The challenge at ABC Wednesday is the letter Z, a tough one. So what I offer you is a stone sculpture by a Master Zimbabwean sculptor in the park surrounding Burg Lichtenstein in Maria Enzersdorf not too far from Vienna.

The medieval castle sitting on a crag overlooking the Vienna Woods was originally built in the 12th century. It was destroyed twice by the Ottomans (Turks) in the 16th century and later rebuilt in 1884.

Austria, 2011

What do you think of the sculpture? [Click on it for a closer look.]

Check out the other links... I'm sure others could do better with Z!

July 12, 2011

[MyWorld] Notre Dame de Vie Chapel

Since I returned to Manila, my honey and I have been hunting for a new home. Wanting to stay in the same area we've lived most of the past two decades, in the southern part of the city, we've been cruising around, looking at options in different subdivisions.

One day we stumbled on a development we'd not seen before, and this is the sight that caught my eyes.

I've since learned that this is Notre Dame de Vie Chapel, a venue for weddings and other social events. I think another time I'll have to go in closer to see what else there is to discover. But this day we were on a mission, so I stopped with just admiring this large glass dome.

Manila, 2011

I am also happy to report that we found a suitable house and are now fully engaged in packing up our belongings to make the move over the next weeks.

And this is my world at the moment, so I share with the community at MyWorld Tuesday.

July 10, 2011


This cute baby and its mama I spotted in Bucharest just a few weeks ago join Camera Critters and NatureFootstep Winged.

They are Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major), quite common in Europe and northern Asia.

Bucharest, 2011

July 9, 2011

Stroll in the Park Reflected

Kaiping, 2011

On the edge of the park along the Tanjiang River running through the town of Kaiping is this restaurant built to appear like a ship. Its colored glass revealed interesting patterns and shapes. Linked with the communities at Weekend Reflections and Weekend in Black and White.

July 8, 2011

[SkyWatch] Take Off

No matter how many hundreds of planes I've boarded, I never fail to feel the wonder of the take off. Airports and long flights long ago lost their glamor for me. But the take off is different. 

Those few minutes from taxiing down the runway to when the 385-ton metal box on wheels defies gravity, lifts off the ground, and soars into the sky, leaving an increasingly distant world below, are simply magnificent.

This was my take off from the airport in Amsterdam last Friday as I headed home to Manila. It's my contribution to SkyWatch Friday.


And that little bridge crossing the canal joins Sunday Bridges.

July 7, 2011

L is for Laundry... Again

What do you suppose are the chances of my conceiving the same theme for one letter for Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday

While ruminating about what to post for the letter L today, I recalled my photos of these women and children doing laundry and bathing in a small river in the far-western Mongolian province of Hovd. And yes, I've posted about laundry before (as I have about Hovd; you can find them by clicking the name in the list in the right sidebar). But I hope you'll agree this scene too merits viewing.

Next time you're inclined to lament having to do your laundry... (well, you know how this thought ends...)

 [all images can be enlarged with a click of the mouse]

 Hovd, 2007

Tina has invited me to link with her PicStory meme where the theme of the day is hand-made. There you'll find links to more stories of interesting way bloggers have used their hands. Thank you, Tina!

PS. My horizontal photos are set to Blogger's large, since x-large makes them run outside the margins. I've tried to enlarge the photos in html, but find that makes the images go blurry, as in yesterday's post, until they are clicked to see enlarged. If anyone can teach me how to go around this, I'd be grateful.
PPS. Thank you, Kaori and Perry! It works! Both posts have been fixed.